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Made You Think

Oct 17, 2017

For some people, yes, computers are necessary and valuable, but for a lot of other people, they are simply accelerating and enabling this useless information consumption.

In this episode, we cover how the Internet, social media, television, and technology is ruining our abilities to think, reason, entertain ourselves, and what to do about it. Amusing Ourselves to Death is one of both of our favorite books, and it was fun to see how much it related to the other topics we’ve been covering.

We covered a wide range of topics, including:

  • How various forms of information affect our perception
  • The prevalence of fake news now
  • People concerned about others more than themselves
  • Technology negatively affecting our attention spans
  • The psychological aspects of the media and commercials
  • Minimizing technological distractions
  • How technology has changed our conversations

Enjoy! If you want more on Amusing Ourselves to Death, be sure to check out Nat’s notes on the book and to pick up a copy yourself!

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to listen to our episode on The Sovereign Individual, to better prepare yourself for the cyber-economic future, and to our episode on In Praise of Idleness, to reduce the guilt to work so much and to improve your leisure time.

Mentioned in the show:

Books mentioned:

People mentioned:

0:00 - Intro to the book’s discussion, an excerpt being read, and the book’s background.

4:14 - Discussion on how the form of the information portrayed affects how we perceive that information, and some of the informational form shifts that we’ve had so far.

6:57 - The visual components of information, and the power of appearance and charisma on success and popularity.

9:58 - Thoughts on the validity of written things versus other forms of information.

12:20 - Discussion on the media and the change of what now passes for quality knowledge.

17:17 - Talk on the lengthy Lincoln and Douglas debates in the 1800’s and how people were able to sit and maintain focus for upwards of seven hours. Also, discussion on how frequently television changes the screen on you.

21:48 - How much more of a book culture it was back in the day. Also, discussion on how reading and typing in full sentences improves speech.

24:49 - Before the internet, the ability to pay attention was much greater, but now there are constant distractions from the internet that diminish that. Also, talk on how many fewer people are reading longer and tougher books now.

31:59 - Discussion on information requiring much more context and evidence, and talk on the click-baity information out there. Talk on websites pushing information that maximizes ad revenue, instead of quality information.

35:28 - The impact that improved informational transfer speed has had on us, positively and negatively.

38:07 - Thoughts on how so many people are fixated on the lives of others, and the negative impact that social media and technology on us by disconnecting us from the present moment. Also, the social pressure of these things.

47:09 - How little the news affects our decisions and how little we actually do to change things that we don’t necessarily like.

52:05 - The large amount of cases where value is added to meaningless data, especially in the news. Also, the news constantly making small issues seem much larger and promoting fake scenarios.

56:11 - Discussion on the “peek-a-boo” events that pop up quick, blow up, and then disappear, mostly for entertainment.

57:35 - How television has changed conversation, political changes, and the president using the media to get elected.

1:01:15 - People taking news sources seriously, even though the information is taken out of context and misconstrued.

1:06:40 - The issue with us magnifying small differences and making huge deals out of them and some examples of this.

1:11:33 - How frequent the story changes on the news or on social media “the infinite scroll”, and the media manipulating stories so often, making it extremely hard to trust them.

1:19:30 - Commercials being addressed to the psychological needs of the viewer and not the actual product being sold. Also, politicians using catchy sound bites to have people pay attention to them.

1:27:50 - Discussion on various methods of teaching and the huge number of flaws in these teaching methods. Also, how these widespread methods and technology negatively impact us and our attention span.

1:35:18 - How to have an effective schedule for minimizing these technological distractions and some thoughts on this.

1:41:44 - Discussion on us never needing to be bored again due to technology, and the possible negative impact this has on creativity.

1:44:58 - How much computers really help us, and how they accelerate the intake of useless information. Also, the possible future impacts that current technology will have on us and the workforce.

1:54:06 - Some things that will need to change in teaching systems to fix our shrinking attention spans.

1:57:34 - Wrap-up. Be sure to let us know your thoughts on the episode on Twitter!

Simply being able to pay attention will be an extremely valuable skill that ninety percent of us won’t have.

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