Navigating the fake from the ‘Fry’- Did the Google ‘experts’ kill Einstein?

My team came last in a pub quiz the other night.

A pitiful last.

Why? Well, we refused to use our mobile phones. The other teams, however, embraced the ‘pocket Einstein’ theory of quizzing.

The pub quiz is therefore dead. Google has killed it. And got away with it- scot free.

Bitter in defeat I pondered those ‘cheaters’. Are they less intelligent because they ‘googled’ the answers? Or am I stupid for not using my mobile?

Radio silenced conversation. Video killed the radio star. Television destroyed imagination. Has the Internet now murdered memory? Has it killed Einstein?

In our society, we admire those who are intelligent. We all love Steven Fry for his ‘knowledge bank’ mind and his skills as a raconteur.

Similarly, my grandfather can still school me at Trivial Pursuit; my mother still ‘fist pumps’ when she gets nearly every question correct on mastermind. It’s a celebration of memory. An ode to knowledge.

They are from the pre-Internet generations who learnt from books and people - not from ‘Wikipedia’.

So has the Internet birthed a new set of genius? Or has it just overtaken the old definition?

Well - there are different ways of defining human intellect (at least in the eyes of psychologists).

The dichotomy they form is defined as Fluid and Crystallised IQ.

Crystallised IQ is what we actually know- i.e. knowledge.

Fluid IQ refers to the ability to acquire and process information.

Over the last few decades, evidence suggests there has been an increase in fluid intelligence and a reduction in crystalized intelligence. No surprise there.

Our access to information and the ease and speed at which we can gain access could only suggest this would be the case.

The philosopher, Edward Spence, offers that to progress from information to knowledge, you must acquire the information.

To then progress from knowledge to wisdom, you must apply the knowledge and, in turn, be held accountable for the consequences.

If we all become ‘pocket Einsteins’, that’s great for a debate or pub quiz, but with this power comes responsibility. What happens when we disseminate fact without true knowledge of the subject? Are we stupidly faking intelligence? And what effect does this have?

Without knowing what is fact or fiction on the web means that, unfortunately, we are ignorant to the consequence of passing on these quickly acquired facts.

And herein lies the ‘real’ problem.

The internet has made it easy for anyone to become an expert and post false information under the appearance of credibility.

And although we have access to huge amounts of information through technology, we actually need a greater ability to critically analyse and discern trusted factual information from information that has been made up.

We need to sift through the reckless, those who offer fiction as fact, and find sources that we can trust.

The internet might make it easy to research these facts, but is it actually better to go back through the evolutionary cycle? To TV, radio, books and back to learning from the experts themselves?

If we all want to be experts so desperately that we lunge for our phone each time we need an answer, then perhaps let’s pause and actually seek the ‘experts’ in order to become one ourselves.

So let’s be intelligent. Let’s search for the theory of relative fact in the universe of irrelevant fiction. For if we don’t, we condemn ourselves to being harbingers of hearsay rather than tellers of truth.

We become fake and not Fry; and Einstein’s murder will have been in vain.

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