I like to think of the Internet as a gateway to the collective knowledge of the entire human race… more or less, but that might not be a good thing. According to a new study by the American Psychological Association, the access that we have to this knowledge actually makes us overestimate ourselves and what we know. Basically, being able to search things up on the Internet creates the illusion that we know more than we actually do.
Almost every bit of human knowledge is on the internet – for many, it’s an invaluable extension to our brains. But how would we cope if it suddenly went away? Pretty badly, according to the American Psychological Association. A recent study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, found that we tend to overrate the extent of our own knowledge when we have access to the internet, and underrate how much it supports that knowledge. In short, we confuse our own knowledge with knowledge we have access to. A team of psychologists asked people to rate their ability to explain the answers to common questions like “how does a zip work” after either searching the internet to confirm their explanation or being specifically instructed not to use it. In some cases the participants were given a specific site to search through.