• J Skilling

Yesterday on Big Think, Dominic Basulto wondered what’s made the contestants in the Republican primary race so stupid. Specifically: is Google to blame? Basulto refers back to Nicholas Carr’s 2008 Atlantic story on the same question, though Carr was concerned with the population at large: when computers “mediate” our understanding of the world, he wondered, are our brains any good without them? Do we really need to retain anything when whatever information we need is an Internet search away, and will we grow accustomed to not retaining it? With regard to the presidential candidates, Basulto seems to be alone in pondering this particular question, which he answers a few paragraphs later in the negative—no, he writes, “Google is not making our candidates stupid.” Instead, it’s heightening our expectations of them. We can be, in our own way, omniscient. That the candidates are not themselves omniscient, at certain crucial moments, means that they can only disappoint.