Lest we forget, we were born to read books that do not interest us and anything else we do to entertain ourselves (outside of a handful of approved activities) is evil.

This isn’t a blow for funky social science, but rather another sign of the destruction of our civilization:

Here’s a blow for funky social science: The second-place finisher in the Intel Science Talent Search, whose finalists were feted in Washington March 15, looked at the psychological effect of denying high school students access to their cell phones for a short period. The results weren’t pretty.

Michelle Hackman, of Great Neck, New York, says she set out to try to confirm an idea that she’d come across in a communications journal: Humans become anxious when they’re separated from their iPhones and Droids. (Cellphones and computers, she says in an interview posted on Intel’s YouTube channel, are probably “more instantly stimulating than anything we have encountered before.”)

Which, of course, proves how completely damaging they are. Unless, of course, the study had shown that they were the ones that hadn’t taken a nap. Then that would prove how damaging they are because they prevent us from getting rest. An active mind (“stimulated”… scary) is bad. An inactive mind (“When kids watch TV, their brains aren’t doing anything!!”) is worse. Whatever effect technology has upon us, it’s bad, bad, bad. Good god, man, the kids might be enjoying it.

This type of thing would never happen if we would just keep them in the basement.

Addendum: Not only do smartphones help kids sleep better at night (if you take them away, I mean), but cellphones generally reduce corruption!

The results of a fixed effects regression of panel data at the country level reveal a significant negative correlation between a country’s degree of mobile phone penetration and that country’s level of perceived corruption. In addition to this, a multivariate regression of survey data reveals that the degree of mobile phone signal coverage across 13 Namibian provinces is significantly associated with reduced perceptions of corruption at the individual level.

Category: Theater

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11 Responses to But It’s Not Books!

  1. PeterW says:

    I take seriously the idea that we’re consciously honing devices to be addictive, and that this intense market competition is producing stuff that’s a lot more addictive than the environment we evolved to live in. Much in the same way that we can now make a candy bar, which hijacks our evolved sense of taste to make something that tastes more like food than real food could ever be.

    Food and gadgets are different from our ancestral environment both in state and *trajectory* – like how companies are competing to tickling our taste buds at a rate that trees couldn’t have evolved. If you take seriously the idea that we evolved to live in an ancestral environment, any area that marks a radical departure is at least worth keeping an eye on. Technology has many obvious benefits, but there’s no reason to assume that it’s *all* benefit, or that whatever feels “natural” to do is the best way to use it.

    More: http://lesswrong.com/lw/h3/superstimuli_and_the_collapse_of_western/

  2. trumwill says:

    I am not wholly unsympathetic. I worry about some of these things, too, and ultimately fall down on the side of restricting youthful access to technology. My main irritation is with the notion that any alteration should be considered to the negative.

    It’s pretty easy to imagine that, had the results been the opposite, the spin would be “smartphones prevent sleep.”

    On the food front, I quite often think of Megan McArdle’s denunciation of inulin and her proclamation that you can’t trick your body with unnatural, fake fiber. When I think of it, I think of how glad I am that I had not read that prior to diving in to inulin-loaded breakfast every morning. Had that not occurred, the weight-loss ball might (probably?) would not have gotten rolling and I would be 70lb heavier.

    Similarly, I am glad that my parents had not read all of those articles about how socially destructive/isolating online communication is for young people and they would have prevented me from getting onto the BBS that provided the social training-wheels and taught me that the social world didn’t have to be the way it was in high school.

    There’s just an ongoing thing that if the kids are doing it (whatever “it” is) differently than we had to do it, something has gone seriously wrong.

  3. Peter says:

    Michelle Hackman’s research into cell phone deprivation is all the more impressive considering that she’s completely blind.

  4. PeterW says:

    Yeah – there’s definitely a difference between caution and reaction, and also between real science (or even science-inspired awareness) and the stuff reported in the science journals. I can certainly understand being frustrated with the formulaic stuff that reflexively comes out against every new thing – especially as someone for whom new things have had large net benefits.

  5. trumwill says:

    I probably should have specified that my main objection was not towards the study itself (useful to know) but rather towards the overall tone of the article (as well as the knowledge that as far as these articles go, the tone was actually restrained).

  6. Nanani says:

    This. A thousand times This.
    Cell phones, like the internet, video games, and rock and roll, are Corrupting the Youth. Of course they are.

    A test of logical reasoning should be required of anyone reporting such findings.

  7. web says:

    The only reason my cellphone prevents sleep is that, as a smartphone, I now have to remember to turn it off (or kill the ringer) lest it buzz/chirp in the middle of the night when my bank’s daily email statement wanders in.

    The downside to this is that when I do this, I would not hear it if a friend were calling and need help late at night.

    I’m working on killing email notifications. The downside there is that during the daytime, it’s actually nice to know when a new email comes in.

  8. trumwill says:

    Web, their may be an app out there (or an option) to cut off alerts certain times of the day.

    Speaking of all this, what kind of phone did you get?

  9. web says:

    HTC Evo Shift. I decided I can take a smaller screen (though it is still plenty big) in order to have a physical keyboard. Plus, after all the incentives, my new carrier will actually be paying me $75 to take this phone.

  10. trumwill says:

    Interesting. Hardware-wise, it’s actually pretty similar to my HTC WinMo phone (EvoS is missing a row on the keyboard, but better processor). Good choice!

  11. rob says:

    Cellphones and computers, she says in an interview posted on Intel’s YouTube channel, are probably “more instantly stimulating than anything we have encountered before.”

    Ah, youth. I hope she never learns about drugs or sex.

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