Everything Bad is Good for You
Because popular media (TV, video games, movies, etc.) are becoming more complex, and requiring more cognitive work to process them, they are making us smarter. This is the so-called "sleeper curve."
The logic of this argument is identical to the claim, "market heroin is steadily growing in purity, therefore heroin is good for us." HOW DOES ANYONE BELIEVE THIS RUBBISH? It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that its target audience consists o...more
That said, the logic here is severely shitty. Thesis: modern films, television, and other technologies are more complex than they used to be. People nowadays have slightly higher IQs on average than they used to have. Therefore, modern media is making people smarter.
This is flawed in too many ways to name...more
Excellent book. Not a convincing argument, but a very refreshing and provocative contrarian perspective.
Johnson provides evidence that much of our mass entertainment, even the stuff we often shudder at, is gradually pushing the IQs of its consumers steadily up. He focuses our attention on aspects of television -- including reality TV!, video games, and much else in this effort.
Two things are crucial to note, though.
First, Johnson’s title and subtitle (”How Today’s Popular...more
A sensational thesis opens the discussion: those once-dismissed hours spent playing video games watching reality TV are actually making you smarter!
Sounds too good to be true, right? That depends if you buy the author's argument: the average IQ has continued to rise over the past 30 years due to more intellectually demanding media, i.e., more complex video games, film, and television. Sadly, the author's case...more
Johnson's basic theory is that popular culture has gotten more complex and challenging over the last few decades, and our consumption of such has assisted us with problem solving and dealing with complex relationships, referring to this as the Sleeper Curve. He also referenc...more
Johnson argues that over the last three decades, popular culture has become more complex, sophisticated and challenging, in spite of everybody's eagerness to dub it "lowbrow fluff." That is, for all the crap they get, programs on "the idiot box" and "those damn video games" ar...more
my main problem with the book is the lack of data to support the hypothesis that johnson argues. if it were simply a polemic arguing that media has become more complex, and that complexity warrants closer inspection and not dismissal, i'd forgive it.
however, johnson begins the book by admitting that he isn't a scientist and then goes on to try to support his claims with scientific data. i'm not a scientist either, but...more
But before we jump into quick judgments about the book, let's first try to understand what the book is actually trying to tell us, the book is try...more
Johnson played games as a kid, baseball strategy games, as well as Dungeons and Dragons, and one can detect a certain bias in his outlook. However, his statistical references and footnotes make this book a scholarly look at popular culture - in particular movies, TV and videogames - and is a nice refutation of the "our culture is going into the toilet" crowd.
Johnson argues - to me, convincingly - that even though modern m...more
However, I don't really buy Johnson's logic. As a Psychology major, I'm pretty familiar with most of the studies he cites in his book. And he succumbs to a temptation many amateurs do: ascribing causation to correlations. For example...more
The crux of Johnson's argument relies on the increasing complexity with which our popular culture is deliberately built, a complexity which forces its audience to multi-task, follow and understand multiple narrative threads, all the while developing advanced cognitive abilities...more
Johnson starts by talking about video games, and how common perception is that kids are wasting their time on it. But he points out that much of playing video games is spent being frustrated (...more
This would ordinarily have gotten four stars from me, but I give it five to cancel the silly deluge of very bad reviews based on sciencey catchphrasing and moral bias.
Yes, "correlation is not causation", thanks for the cliché, but Johnson doesn't really claim to have good evidence. In fact, he says quite clearly that he could have made the argument, as his evil twins on the other...more
Johnson's thesis is that since games and TV shows have become more complicated over the years, they require more of the audience's attention and thus make them smarter. That's the entire book. (I skipped ahead a little bit.)
I knew he'd lost me in the forward when he went on and on...more
However this book fails to reason why violence in games, TVs, or mov...more
Though the research behind Johnson's theories proves interesting, most critics found a few quirks in the construction of its delivery. Driven by a fervent desire to prove that today's media are more beneficial to the human mind than they are damaging, Johnson, author of several books on science and technology (see Mind Wide Open, **** May/June 2004), fails to adequately define his agenda other than showcasing his research. Though his prose is captivating and his enthusiasm infectious, Johnson do...more