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Here's a belter of a link from Nicholas Carr at TheAtlantic.com. When I first read it I felt like laughing out loud because it was so improbable. Google and other searches (but mostly Google because so many modern searches are based on it anyway) making us mentally lazy or even stupid? Never, I thought.

Then I came to thinking: when was the last time I actually finished a book? Not writing one, just reading it for fun. When did that last happen? And come to think of it, when did I last look up a word in a dictionary rather than online, or check something in a hard copy encyclopedia?

I was embarrassed enough at the answers not to tell you about it. Even so, this isn't the worst thing about engines like Google. Don't get me wrong, they're brilliant, but they're also a great way of perpetuating falsehoods if they're not checked damned quickly. A colleague of a colleague, for example, was accused a while back of harassing a female co-worker with lewd suggestions about where exactly she'd enjoy receiving parts of his anatomy. He was appalled; he'd never have made any such suggestion. However the case had to be taken seriously - and in the courtroom it unfolded that the woman was a serial accuser who'd made similar accusations to previous employers and rather than face the inevitable court case they'd offered her money out of court.

So he's completely innocent and in the clear, right? Wrong - because if you put his name into Google (and I'm not going to embarrass him by repeating it) you get the accusation that he made indecent advances to his colleague pages before you get to the fact that he was wholly innocent and exonerated. Sure, it's there - but which of us wades through pages of Google results?

I'm actually less worried about Google making us all dumb than making us all accept every 'fact' at first glance. I'm off to do some reading for sanity checks.

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