Steven Pinker is skeptical of new media skepticism

At the New York Times this week, Steven Pinker has a not-to-be-missed op-ed on new media skepticism. A taste:

Media critics write as if the brain takes on the qualities of whatever it consumes, the informational equivalent of “you are what you eat.” As with primitive peoples who believe that eating fierce animals will make them fierce, they assume that watching quick cuts in rock videos turns your mental life into quick cuts or that reading bullet points and Twitter postings turns your thoughts into bullet points and Twitter postings.

Pinker’s analogy is brilliant, and dispatches shallow new media critiques to the status of astrology (poetic analogy literalized: people born under the sign of Aries are hard-headed; Leos are independent; people who devote their brains to Twitter are in danger of turning into twits etc.). In any case, don’t miss Pinker’s brilliant and entertaining debunking of new media skepticism. It’s really, really good.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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