Monday, May 02, 2005

Bad is Good
One of the most fascinating and mysterious facts of modern times is that IQ scores

have been steadily rising in developed nations for the past half_century. A political
scientist, James Flynn, noticed in the early 1980s that the "control" group of
teenagers who were regularly being tested to keep scores in line was improving all
the time.
"Every time kids took the new and the old tests, they did better on the old ones,"

Flynn found. "I thought: that’s weird."

For Johnson, the explanation may be staring us in the face. "Over the last 50 years
we’ve had to cope with an explosion of media, technologies and interfaces, from the
TV clicker to the worldwide web. And every new form of visual media — interactive
visual media in particular — poses an implicit challenge to our brains: we have to
work through the logic of the new interface, follow clues, sense relationships."

These, he points out, are the very skills measured in IQ tests. "You survey a field of
visual icons and look for unusual patterns."

Educationists agree. In Britain three years ago, researchers funded by the Department
for Education and Skills found that computer games improved problem-solving skills,
concentration, memorisation and collaboration in the 700 children they studied.

What they do is help players to think: "All the intellectual benefits of gaming derive
from this fundamental virtue, because learning how to think is ultimately about
learning to make the right decisions."

(the above are extracts from a Sunday Times article: the full article can be viewed

here:,,2092-1592248,00.html )

Is it possible that this increase in problem solving ability, this process
of learning how to think for one’s self, is a main factor in the decline of
outdated doctrine-based institutions?

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