Freakonomics postulates Google is making us smarter and people love their coupons.

Who hasn’t heard a nagging voice growing up saying that too much TV or time on the computer will rot your brain. Now researchers at the University of California Los Angeles have found that searching the web stimulates the area of the brain that controls decision making and complex reasoning. Surfing the web may even delay the onset of dementia in older patients. However, this brain activity was limited to experienced web users, inexperienced web users did not experience the same benefits. This study flies in the face of Nicholas Carr’s essay in The Atlantic earlier this summer where he concluded that Google had lead to the stupidification of global civilization. From Freakonomics

This could be localized by asking students if they feel that Google has made them smarter. Those looking for something a little more offbeat could go to local nursing homes and conduct informal polls of the residents and find out who uses the internet, how comfortable they are with Google and searching and have them do complex reasoning exercises like crossword puzzles. It’s always fun to spend an afternoon with the geriatric.

Everyone hates those old people in line at the supermarket with a huge Rubbermaid container filled with coupons. I swear I am not ripping on the elderly. National Public Radio recently found that despite years of decline people are in fact using coupons more often because of the rising price of food. Additional research found that other shoppers thought of coupon users as cheap – but with the economic downturn eating trumps what other people think of you. From Freakonomics

Everyone loves spending time at the supermarket – or at least the fat kid in me does. This is probably the story that I will end up doing and begin by camping out at Meijer and other places and talk to students that are using coupons or not using coupons. I would like to see who thinks they are too good for coupons and who will eventually turn into that old lady with the metric ton of coupons in her purse. 

Aaron Olson

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