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How Google is Changing Your Brain - Article Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 785 words Published: 8th Sep 2017

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When in doubt ask your all-knowing friend google. The authors Daniel M. Wegner and Adrian F. Ward who wrote “How Google is Changing Your Brain” published in 2013 in the Scientific American. Wegner and Ward argue that instead of relying on the diversity of our friends’ knowledge, people tend to ask google first. The article begins building credibility with convincing facts and examples; however, toward the end of the article, the sudden flip to how google is good weakens their credibility and ultimately, the article.

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In the article, the authors first set the stage by describing a birthday party scenario and how each person knows intuitively what to do. While one may remember the time and place of the party, the other may take note of the dress code.  The article then outlines that when presented with new information, people distribute remembering certain facts among their social group. When someone does not remember the right name or how to fix a broken machine they simply turn to someone who knows. The authors provide a few more examples to instill the idea of not only do people know the information stored within their minds; but, also the information of members of their social group.

Throughout the entirety of the article, the authors use many strong examples and experiments that strengthens their claim, credibility and appeal to ethos. Mentioning the experiments boosts Wegner and Wards’ credibility showing that they have done their homework while providing statistics and facts. They also use their own experiments to support their claim which show they have first-hand experience with the subject.

Adding to Wegner and Wards’ ethos appeals, they also have strong appeals to logos, with many facts and logical progressions of ideas. They point out facts, that show people are relying on computers to remember information, instead of the diverse information their friends may possess: “We found that those who believed the computer had saved the list of facts were much worse at remembering. People seemed to treat the computer like transactive memory partners off-loading information to this cloud mind rather than storing it internally.” These facts support the idea that people are beginning to rely on the internet and computers, instead of themselves and friends. Wegner and Ward continue with many more supporting ideas:

“it seems that the propensity for off-loading information to digital sources is so strong that people are often unable to fix details in their own thoughts when in the presence of a cyberbuddy. … As we off-load responsibility for many types of information to the Internet, we may be replacing other potential transactive memory partners –friends, family members and other human experts –with our ever present connection to a seemingly omniscient digital cloud.”

These are a few of the many ideas, that support the authors claim that this is a real and substantial problem that humans are relying less on each other, and more on the internet. The convincing statements appeal to logos and presses upon the reader that this is a topic worth discussing.

However, the end of the article lacks the same effectiveness of the paragraphs before it. For example, Wegner and Ward notes that the internet is up to date, not subject to the distortion that afflicts human memory, and quicker than calling a friend hoping they have the information you seek. This damages the strength of their credibility and their argument.

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Additionally, the authors last statement in the article, refers to the internet in a way that weakens the articles purpose. While returning to the introduction in the conclusion is a   frequently used strategy, they chose to abandon if not to totally disregard their beginning statement. Wegner and Ward states that humans are being “freed” from the necessity of remembering facts. The sudden dependence and off-loading of information to the internet is a movement that people should embrace.

Though the article begins by effectively persuading to the readers the importance of the diversity of information their friends possess Wegner and Ward loses power in the end, where they need to drive home their argument. Readers can see a problem exists throughout the article; however, the sudden shift to downplay the problem, makes the reader not take it seriously in the end.

Wegner, Daniel M., and Adrian F. Ward. “How Google Is Changing Your Brain.” Scientific American 309.6 (2013): 58-61. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Aug. 2016.


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