Moral of the story: the internet makes dumb people dumber and smart people smarter. If you don't know how to use it, or don't have the background to ask the right questions, you'll end up with a head full of nonsense. But if you do know how to use it, it's an endless wealth of information. Just as globalization and de-unionization have been major drivers of the growth of income inequality over the past few decades, the internet is now a major driver of the growth of cognitive inequality.
"TV is a staple of American pacification." says Bruce E. Levine.
Apart from decreasing our ability to think critically, TV viewing, regardless of content makes us a passive, easily manipulated populace.
There is evidence that the mere act of watching TV -- regardless of the content -- may well have a primary pacifying effect.
The “hold on us” of TV technical events, according to Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s 2002 Scientific American article “ Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor ,” is due to our “orienting response” —our instinctive reaction to any sudden or novel stimulus. They report that:In 1986 Byron Reeves of Stanford University, Esther Thorson of the University of Missouri and their colleagues began to study whether the simple formal features of television—cuts, edits, zooms, pans, sudden noises—activate the orienting response, thereby keeping attention on the screen. By watching how brain waves were affected by formal features, the researchers concluded that these stylistic tricks can indeed trigger involuntary responses and “derive their attentional value through the evolutionary significance of detecting movement. . . . It is the form, not the content, of television that is unique.” Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi claim that TV addiction is “no mere metaphor” but is, at least psychologically, similar to drug addiction. [emphasis mine]
On an episode of Too Cute recently, I saw a dog addicted to TV. She passed her viewing habits on to her son.