Ron Jeremy hates the net

Apparently Ron Jeremy hates the internet, because it makes people stupid.

He has a point, but I think the benefits outweigh the problems. The real problem IMHO is not that the internet makes people stupid but that people are not educated well enough to tell good information from bad.

It also makes people lazy, the first thing my eldest daughter does when given an assigment is google it and basically paraphrase whatever she finds. Independent research and using your own brain seem to be in decline.

Plus of course, the internet is putting Mr Jeremy out of business.

Of course we don’t buy porn anymore, you can get it all for free with a few juducious clicks.

For a moment let’s completely put aside any jokes and try to remove these remarks from the context of Ron Jeremy - because I’ve heard these same opinions from other people and they do deserve to be addressed seriously.

The idea that the internet is making people stupid is right in some ways and wrong in some ways. It’s true that there is now less emphasis placed on history and on memorization but that doesn’t really have anything to do with the internet - that’s a problem with the public school system in general. What the internet offers is an incredible degree of access to information about every conceivable topic. Now, what you do with that information depends on who you are. Are you going to take everything at face value or are you going to be skeptical and seek out multiple sources, preferably scholarly ones?

Jeremy’s point about porn also applies to a lot of other things. Buy something online, or buy it locally and put money into the local economy? My dad still has the local bookshop order books for him because he wants to support the local shop, not just buy it on Amazon. The same is true of the mom’n’pop porn shop - although something Jeremy is not considering is that ultimately more people are buying porn now because it’s more convenient and less embarrassing to buy it online. For most people, it’s awkward and sleazy to buy porn in an actual face to face transaction.

I am shocked at the extent to which the teachers permit the students to rely on computers. It is exceedingly rare for my son & nieces to bring home any print media for research papers or reports.

On a related note, the spelling ability of our students has become nullified by spell check. At a conference of us parents with the elementary school teachers a few years ago, they admitted as much. I mentioned that my son’s grammar, spelling, and punctuation were routinely overlooked by his teacher and questioned why such gross basic violations were allowed to stand. “Spellcheck & grammarcheck” Oh. Nice.

I will say something about the Internet that makes it exceedingly valuable to me - it makes the world smaller. For the first time we are really realizing that those people on the other side of the world, they’re humans just like us. Not everyone, certainly, but lots of people are realizing - they want to put food on their table, they want their kids to be happy, they want the same things we do. Maybe they have a different language and culture and name but in the end they have the same goals.

A global awareness! I think this is important.

Plus I can finally talk to my family without paying a fortune.

This I think is what the problem is: Not people in general relying on the Internet for their knowledge, but teachers relying on the Internet to help teach their students, and the technology of computers to help correct their mistakes. The problem is, the Internet doesn’t teach in any active capacity, nor do spellcheck and grammarcheck actively teach proper spelling and grammar. If the user pays attention and chooses to learn something from it then that’s good – but by and large they don’t, and they aren’t told to, either.

Many teachers are taking the easy way out of doing actual teaching by telling students to go find X on the 'net and write about it, or learn about it preparatory to a test that will follow. That’s all fine and well, but it leaves the students the option to take the unsupervised path of least resistance by finding the most condensed, bottom-lined version of it and hoping it’s enough to get them by.

That isn’t to say all teachers do this, nor that all students try and Cliff Notes their way through it, but that it happens at all without a fairly well regimented lesson plan with specific methods the student can use to carry out their assignment, it makes for some pretty sloppy education.

I suppose the bottom line is that it isn’t so much that the Internet is making people stupid, but that it’s making many teachers forget how to teach.

In school, well before the internet, I was never taught how to distinguish sources. Sure, if my research turned up an article for the Midnight Globe*, I knew better than to take it seriously. However, outside the “name” newspapers (NY Times, etc), one cite was as good as the next. I can’t blame the internet for not teaching children and young adults of how to critically assess their sources - in my narrow experience, it was never taught.

Regarding spelling and grammar, and again before the widespread use of word processing programs, I dated a budding teacher whose spelling and grammar were horrible. While I was never nor will never be perfect, I try hard to ensure that my grammar and spelling are correct even before software checking it, and I’m good enough to know when the software is incorrect.

I do think teachers should start marking students for plagiarism much earlier, as a learning exercise. They shouldn’t fail younger students, but they should teach that copying/pasting from Wikipedia is not all that needs to be done to accomplish an assignment. By the time the student is a junior in HS, it should be a failure. Personally, I wonder if a teacher could issue an assignment with the constraint that wikipedia not be used as a source, and if it would work (after all, a good wiki article links its sources, so a clever student only has to go one layer deeper).

“It’s good because you can research any topic. In my day, we went to the encyclopedia for that. Nowadays, though, kids can’t memorise anything. No dates, no times tables, no history. If there is anything you need to know, you just press a few buttons. We could be giving rise to a generation of idiots.”

As a person who has trouble with dates, I’ve always wondered “Why does it matter?” It’s the sequence and consequences that matter, not the specific date. For example, I don’t need to know that the Spanish Civil War began on July 17, 1936 - just that it was a precursor in some ways to the big war that was soon to engulf the rest of Europe.

Likewise, without the Internet there’s a lot of interesting information that I would never have come across, for example, the disparate mortality rates in different countries during the Holocaust.

The internet can probably make you dumb, in some ways, but I believe that in many ways it can also make you smarter. Not just by access to more information, but also by access to so many more people. The SDMB is a good example of this.

You put an asterisk indicating a footnote, then you didn’t put a footnote - what do we need to know parenthetically about the Midnight Globe?

I’m not sure this is a battle I’m willing to fight - if kids can’t do anything on their own, always relying on computers, but they always have computers available, isn’t it kind of moot?

When I was a kid and got a research paper, I went home and paraphrased the Encyclopedia Brittanica article while footnoting the World Book Encyclopedia. I did this throughout high school. I don’t see any significant difference between my actions and the actions of my middle-school son. In truth, he hits MORE sources online than I ever did. I check his work and talk to him about trying to ID questionable sites. I also encourage him to hit the footnote sites on Wikipedia, in an attempt to find the original article. I think that while he has lost the “go to the library and look at the books in the area” we had, he has gained plenty through online research.

I did not do any true research until University. It was only in my upper-division courses that I went to using primary sources.

Isn’t one of the songs from Avenue Q about this?

Because before computers, the kids were so good at spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Oh, no wait… **they weren’t. **

I’ll avoid the Gaudere’s Law-tempting criticism of your own grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary.

Jaron Lanier has a new book out on just this topic-I’ll likely be springing for it soon.

Big difference between off-the-top-of-our-heads posts on an internet message board and formal papers submitted for classes. But thanks for not picking me apart.

Also, people used to write much more eloquently than now. Have you ever read letters from Civil War soldiers who barely had a 6th grade education?

My oldest is a junior. He has yet to read a novel. By the time I was his age I had read Pygmalion, The Old Man and The Sea, The Scarlet Letter, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Don Quixote, The Red Badge of Courage and couple others I probably could remember if I had more time. Maybe this is related to the general decline of emphasis on writing technique.


*Okay, I would have known not to trust the Midnight Globe, and I knew which local papers to trust. But I couldn’t tell which Philadelphia or Chicago paper was the NY Times equivalent, and which was the NY Post equivalent.

But memorization isn’t teaching nor is learning.

Why should I write a report on India, when I have thousands of pages from people who live in India that can tell me what it’s like?

As other posters said, the real challange is to figure out the good from the bad information.

Does it really make sense to memorize the capital of every nations when in 3 seconds I can Google it?

The real message should be we need to STOP memorization and wasted stuff and starting working on the how.

Of course we tried that before. When I was a kid we learned, what was called “the new math.” It focused on Set Theory and Base systems. Well it was too hard for teachers and kids to grasp, so they gave up on it. Well it wasn’t so hard that today, I know it and can easily move from base 6 to base 10 and base 14 or whatever. But teachers didn’t want to be bothered with it.

A book report shouldn’t be a simple retelling of a story but an analysis of it. In high school we did a bit of this and in five seconds I learne the key to getting an “A” was not my opinion backed up by quotes from the book, but rather how closely my opinion of the book matched the teacher’s.

The calculator changed math. And for an elementary school a calculator isn’t a great thing. But once you get into advanced mathamatics, it’s a waste of time doing busy work calculations, when you should be focusing on the analytical aspect of the math.

I remember one boss I had telliing me, “Mark I don’t need to have the answers as long as I can hire someone who does.” This way I can focus on keeping the business going and leaving the busy work to someone else.

I’m not sure that has anything to do with the internet. I read all the time and one of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble. My brother, on the other hand, probably hasn’t read a novel for pleasure in a number of years.

Yes. I’ve seen quite a few that were unremarkable. Bear in mind, too, that illiteracy was much higher then, and people who can’t write don’t leave written accounts of their inability to write.

Every generation is convinced that subsequent generations are less literate, have shorter attention spans, have less respect for elders, and so and and so forth get off my lawn you damned kids. Generations before you said it of YOUR generation, and it was said of them by the generations before them. It’s all crap.

You might want to consider the possibility that your oldest is not a typical case (and how has he gotten to this point in his life without having to read a novel for school?) Growing up, I certainly knew a few kids who didn’t read novels for enjoyment, but they were the exception. In fact, I know ADULTS who don’t read novels for enjoyment. My father doesn’t read novels, and he’s 65. It’s nothing new.

I had quite the spirited discussion a year ago Christmas about the difference between memorization and intelligence. Obviously, they’re not the same, but they used to be much more tightly linked. You need some kind of basic understanding of facts in order to have a reasonable understanding of something.

The caches are getting faster, is all. It used to be that it took many minutes (or hours or days) to look up a specific piece of information, so it made sense to cache that data in your brain, but with modern cell phones that lag is down to 30-60 seconds for most info. Sometime in the next 20 years, I expect that time to drop to the sub-10 second range, at which point it really starts to become only slightly distinguishable from knowing it in the first place.

Richard Feynman wrote about the inefficiencies of memorization as a path to understanding.

I can tell you that, at the universities I’ve taught in, Wikipedia is an unacceptable source. Kids still try to use it, but we penalize them for it. Plagiarism is getting pretty easy to catch. There are programs which collect all of the papers turned in for a class and run them against all sorts of things. Web pages, other student papers, etc. Even if they go several layers deep it will catch similar phrases and give you the original source.

I dole out the harshness if I catch students plagiarizing. They fail my course right then. Despite my warnings, there are always a few that test me. :dubious:

You know, I saw Ron Jeremy once suck himself off in some video. So, he must be right.