Rhetorical Analysis Belina

Google vs. Brain

The article titled, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" written by Nicholas Carr in The Atlantic, an online magazine, that dissects the claim that Google is changing the thought process of people. His argument that Google is making us stupid is mediocre because the claims he uses to support his thesis are unverified and from not credible sources. He does not use the credible sources to their full extent making the article sub-par.

Carr seems to direct this article towards other people or readers that are his same age and are literary types as well. These two traits of the audience help Carr get his point across because older types of people are more likely to know what it was like before the internet. They may have a better baseline of reading books and being immersed in deeper reading than younger people. This would help the older age group compare and contrast what their thought process was like before the internet compared to their thought process now. Carr explains who his target audience is in the fifth paragraph as literary types. His argument relies on many references to blogs online. Some of these blogs are somewhat credited sources and others are not. For example, he references Scott Karp, an author who just wrote a blog about online media. Carr does not state Karp's credentials anywhere in his article. However, Carr then goes on to reference Bruce Friedman, who blogs regularly about the use of computers in medicine. This reference seems to wipe out the fact that he referenced basically, as far as we know, some random guy off the internet. Carr uses this style a couple other times in his article as well. This may impact the credibility of Carr's lengthy online magazine article.

The catalyst that prompted the question of this article is basically the entire second paragraph. Carr mentions that he has had an "uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with [his] brain." Carr goes on to state that he can feel his brain changing. He is upset with himself because he used to be able to get caught up in the narrative or turns of the argument, spending hours of time "strolling" through long stretches of prose. Now, Carr states that his "concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages." These two sentences make up the bulk of the second paragraph's content and conveys the reason Carr decided to let other people know about his experiences. This leads him to name the title of the article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" This seems like the main claim of the article. An implied thesis could be, from this question, that Google (Internet) is changing the thought process of many people and possibly making them stupider. Carr then goes on to support his claim with many examples.

One of these supporting claims comes in the fifth paragraph. Carr states, "I'm not the only one," along with some direct linkage such as mentioning troubles to his friends and how they said that many of them have relatively similar experiences. He then goes on to provide very weak linkage between an online blogger and his argument. Even though he uses direct quotes from the online blogger, the blogger may not have any credibility that matters to the current argument. The reader of the article would likely not know who the blogger was because Carr does not state his credentials. He then goes on to create a little better linkage to his statement by referencing Bruce Friedman. Carr states the credentials of Friedman to be a person who blogs regularly about the use of computers in medicine. This is a common theme throughout the article, Carr states something with a weak supporting link to the claim followed by a stronger support that will hopefully take the readers attention away from the first weaker link. Carr's next claim is that anecdotes alone don't prove much. He then goes on to cite a study of online research habits conducted by scholars from University College London. This study suggests that, "we may well be in the midst of a sea change in the way we read and think." He then goes on to state the findings of the study and provide a direct quote from the authors of the study to support his claim. He then goes on to make many claims within a few sentences that are not backed up at all. He makes the claim that, "we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970's or 1980's, when television was our medium of choice." A reader would-or should-expect some sort of supporting statement to back up the claim that we are reading more today and that television was the medium of choice in that time period but he skips right over that part. He then goes on to make another claim, "it's a different kind of reading," followed by zero proof that it actually is a different kind of reading. There are no studies or experts that are cited to back up this claim and this could possibly impact his arguments strength. Maryanne Wolf is one of the experts Carr decides to cite in his article. Wolf is a developmental psychologist at Tufts University and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. Carr's use of this citation seems to be reasonable given the fact that Wolf's credentials are relevant to the argument. Carr then goes on to cite James Olds, a professor of neuroscience who directs the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University, and only gives a couple supporting quotes from him to support his argument. One of his biggest claims of the article is Google's "easy assumption that we'd all "be better off" if our brains were supplemented, or even replaced, by an artificial intelligence." Carr never makes any direct quotes from any study or expert to back up that this is actually what Google's assumption is. Carr is making a lot of assumptions himself at this point in the article. Many of which should definitely be backed up with research.

Carr concludes his article with a quote from "Kubrick's dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence." This statement conveys the interest that he has in the topic of the internet changing our thought process. It calls out the reader and most likely makes them think about their own thought process and how they go about reading at this day in age. It also may have the reader thinking about their own intelligence and what it would be like to lose all of that and have it "flattened" into artificial intelligence. The artificial intelligence topic does not come up until the second half of the article, so I think Carr could have thrown another sentence or two recapping the first half of the article as well to make it a stronger conclusion.

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