More on Dangers of the Internet: Are We Incurable Infovores?

An article1 in the New Scientist compels me to address this question. An analogy is made between our obesity problem and an internet problem. The problem of obesity, not only in the United States but in most advanced countries, is well known. One reason offered for this problem is that our evolutionary history has made us predisposed to crave fat and sugar. Long ago when food was scarce it was adaptive to consume these high energy foods. Unfortunately, now when such foods become easily accessible we tend to overeat them with the resultant obesity.

The New Scientist article argues that we are similarly predisposed to seek novel information because it was biologically adaptive. So we are infovores just as we are carnivores (more properly omnivores with the exception of those who have chosen to be vegetarians or vegans). And with the arrival of the fire hose of information provided by the internet we are being placed in danger from the consequences of information overload.

According to the article, in 2009 the global data traffic was around 15,000 petabytes (1 petabyte equals 1 million gigabytes). The projects is that this volume will exceed 20,000 petabytes this year and will grow to more than 50,000 petabytes in 2013. Of course, no individual will encounter even a small percentage of this information. And as is frequently argued in this Healthymemory Blog, one should use the internet wisely not only to avoid the dangers of addiction, but also to enhance the prospects for cognitive growth.

This article makes no mention of what percentage of this so-called information is quality information. I would not be surprised if a majority of this so-called information is incorrect and is not truly information. Then there is hateful traffic, which cannot be rightfully called information. I would like to see some breakdowns on estimates of the quality of the information on the internet. If anyone knows of any such sources on internet information quality, please provide the names, URLs, addresses of these sources in the comment box. I am thanking you in advance.

1Parsons, P. (2010). Ignorance is Bliss. New Scientist, 16, 38-39. 

© Douglas Griffith and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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