Note — Sep 02, 2018

We’re Mistreating Our Brains

Seen in → No.47

Not directly related but these two are in a continuum of effects we are studying about our bodies and brains, the ways we are changing and depleting them.

Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound

Rounding up a few different studies, all showing that our intermittent, often screen based, reading is changing the way our brains develop and operate, hindering our ability to memorize as well as our “critical analysis and the generation of insight.”

The neuronal circuit that underlies the brain’s ability to read is subtly, rapidly changing - a change with implications for everyone from the pre-reading toddler to the expert adult. […]

We should be less concerned with students’ “cognitive impatience,” however, than by what may underlie it: the potential inability of large numbers of students to read with a level of critical analysis sufficient to comprehend the complexity of thought and argument found in more demanding texts, whether in literature and science in college, or in wills, contracts and the deliberately confusing public referendum questions citizens encounter in the voting booth. […]

The subtle atrophy of critical analysis and empathy affects us all. It affects our ability to navigate a constant bombardment of information. It incentivizes a retreat to the most familiar silos of unchecked information, which require and receive no analysis, leaving us susceptible to false information and demagoguery.

Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence, study reveals

Title kind of says it all really. Also links to the capitalism vs climate vs destruction of the world article above.

“The research was conducted in China but is relevant across the world, with 95% of the global population breathing unsafe air. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.”

And from a few issues back, I’ll mention The Cognition Crisis again, which is worth a read.