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Everything Bad is Good for You
 
 

Everything Bad is Good for You [Kindle Edition]

Steven Johnson
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In his fourth book, Everything Bad Is Good for You, iconoclastic science writer Steven Johnson (who used himself as a test subject for the latest neurological technology in his last book, Mind Wide Open) takes on one of the most widely held preconceptions of the postmodern world--the belief that video games, television shows, and other forms of popular entertainment are detrimental to Americans' cognitive and moral development. Everything Good builds a case to the contrary that is engaging, thorough, and ultimately convincing.

The heart of Johnson's argument is something called the Sleeper Curve--a universe of popular entertainment that trends, intellectually speaking, ever upward, so that today's pop-culture consumer has to do more "cognitive work"--making snap decisions and coming up with long-term strategies in role-playing video games, for example, or mastering new virtual environments on the Internet-- than ever before. Johnson makes a compelling case that even today's least nutritional TV junk food–the Joe Millionaires and Survivors so commonly derided as evidence of America's cultural decline--is more complex and stimulating, in terms of plot complexity and the amount of external information viewers need to understand them, than the Love Boats and I Love Lucys that preceded it. When it comes to television, even (perhaps especially) crappy television, Johnson argues, "the content is less interesting than the cognitive work the show elicits from your mind."
Johnson's work has been controversial, as befits a writer willing to challenge wisdom so conventional it has ossified into accepted truth. But even the most skeptical readers should be captivated by the intriguing questions Johnson raises, whether or not they choose to accept his answers. --Erica C. Barnett

Amazon.com

In his fourth book, Everything Bad Is Good for You, iconoclastic science writer Steven Johnson (who used himself as a test subject for the latest neurological technology in his last book, Mind Wide Open) takes on one of the most widely held preconceptions of the postmodern world--the belief that video games, television shows, and other forms of popular entertainment are detrimental to Americans' cognitive and moral development. Everything Good builds a case to the contrary that is engaging, thorough, and ultimately convincing.

The heart of Johnson's argument is something called the Sleeper Curve--a universe of popular entertainment that trends, intellectually speaking, ever upward, so that today's pop-culture consumer has to do more "cognitive work"--making snap decisions and coming up with long-term strategies in role-playing video games, for example, or mastering new virtual environments on the Internet-- than ever before. Johnson makes a compelling case that even today's least nutritional TV junk food–the Joe Millionaires and Survivors so commonly derided as evidence of America's cultural decline--is more complex and stimulating, in terms of plot complexity and the amount of external information viewers need to understand them, than the Love Boats and I Love Lucys that preceded it. When it comes to television, even (perhaps especially) crappy television, Johnson argues, "the content is less interesting than the cognitive work the show elicits from your mind."
Johnson's work has been controversial, as befits a writer willing to challenge wisdom so conventional it has ossified into accepted truth. But even the most skeptical readers should be captivated by the intriguing questions Johnson raises, whether or not they choose to accept his answers. --Erica C. Barnett


Produktinformation

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 4416 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 254 Seiten
  • Verlag: Riverhead; Auflage: 1 Reprint (2. Mai 2006)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B000OI1AB6
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.3 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (3 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #189.397 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Ein Gegenentwurf 11. Februar 2007
Format:Taschenbuch
Man kann es inzwischen nur noch schwer ertragen; im öffentlichen Diskurs haben Videospiele immer noch einen äußerst schlechten Ruf und müssen regelmäßig als Ursache für Amokläufe verwirrter Jugendlicher herhalten. Doch ist die einseitig geführte Diskussion überhaupt wissenschaftlich fundiert? Macht man es sich dabei nicht zu einfach und reduziert die Gründe einfach auf die Punkte, die Einem selbst - aufgrund mangelnden Wissens - am plausibelsten erscheinen? Das die guten Aspekte der Videospiele, die negativen bei Weitem überwiegen ist eines der Themen dieses Buches.

Primär will das populär-wissenschaftlichen Buch den Wissenszuwachs unter den jüngeren Generationen der Industrienationen erklären und führt dies auf den umfangreichen Gebrauch neuer Medien (wie Videospiele und Internet), sowie den Iterationen der alten Medien (man vergleiche die Komplexität von "Dallas" mit den "Sopranos"), zurück. Durch den intuitiven Umgang mit neuer Technik und dem spielerischen Lernen von komplexen Inhalten aktueller Computerspiele, sowie dem Beobachten komplexer Sozialnetzwerke in erfolgreichen modernen Fernsehserien wird das Denken angeregt und verschafft dem Spieler oder Zuschauer neue Fähigkeiten. Diese These des Autors, die er als "Sleeper Curve" bezeichnet, begründet er unter anderem mit dem Flynn-Effekt...

Über 250 Seiten bringen dem geneigten Leser, die Argumentation sehr eindrucksvoll nahe und können getrost als ein Gegenentwurf zu Neil Postmans "Wir amüsieren uns zu Tode" betrachtet werden.
Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Von kuebel
Format:Taschenbuch
Um es auf den Punkt zu bringen: der Band von Johnson (auch in Deutschland in Presse gerade häufig diskutiert) ist ein Plädoyer für Videospiele und (das zweite grosse Thema des Buches) die aktuelle TV-Medienlandschaft (Dramedy, Reality Shows). Die Ausführungen sind dabei sehr pointiert, die Darstellung amüsant und eingängig.

"Everything is Bad is Good for You" ist dabei ein Plädoyer, das die vertretenen Thesen, durch populärwissenschaftliche Erklärungsmuster "aufzupeppeln" sucht. Sicherlich ist die Darstellung dabei notwendigerweise verkürzt und einige Erklärungen fragwürdig bzw. schwer nachvollziehbar (z.B. die These, dass Reality Shows beim Zuschauer die emotionale Wahrnehmung und emotionale Intelligenz fördern können...).

Andererseits sind einige Erklärungen durchaus intuitiv (wenn auch wahrscheinlich empirisch in der Form nicht belegt, auch wenn sich in den glücklicherweise sehr umfangreichen Literaturangaben am Ende des Bandes so einiges findet): zu nennen wären hier die Analyse von Problemlösestrukturen/-hierarchien von Computerspielen unterschiedlicher Generation (am Beispiel von Nintentos Zelda) und die Darstellung zum Multithreading bei TV-Serien...

Ingesamt: ein gelungenes Buch, bei dem aber nicht vieles als selbstevident genommen werden sollte (die etwas seltsame These der "sleeper curve" beispielsweise, die sich durch den gesamten Band zieht) und sicherlich gelungener und fundierter (!) als populäre Bände von "Videospielgegnern" (die gerne neurowissenschaftliche Befunde missbrauchen um zu erklären, das Videospiele dumm machen...)
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Interssanter Blick auf die Popkultur 27. September 2013
Von HelloJ
Format:Taschenbuch
Zunächst habe ich mir das Buch aus rein wissenschaftlichem Interesse an der Thematik Popkultur gekauft. Dennoch bin ich auch privat als Film- und Serienfan tief in der Popkultur verwurzelt und so empfinde ich die Ausführungen von Steven Johnson einfach wunderbar und eine schöne Abwechslung gegenüber den Technik- und Kulturpessimismus, der mir immer wieder von unterschiedlichen Stellen entgegen schlägt.
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135 von 145 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Much to recommend, but misses the big picture. 28. Juni 2005
Von David Fentress - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Johnson highlights the ways in which some pop-culture is in fact more intellectually demanding than that of the past. He points to TV programs such as Hill Street Blues, The Sopranos, Seinfeld, and The Simpsons, with their continuous stories, multiple plot threads, and their references to other pop-culture. He also wrote a great deal highlighting the depth and intricacy of many computer games.

I could quibble on a few points. I think he gives cinema a little too much credit, basing his argument there primarily on a few intelligent films whose box office success ranged from weak to moderate. Strangely absent from Johnson's discussion is popular music, with no disclaimer nor any word of explanation for this. Since music is obviously a vast part of the pop culture landscape, its exclusion scores as a major omission.

But these caveats aside, I found that on the whole Johnson presented a very convincing case that a significant part of pop culture is in fact getting smarter. But regarding his premise that people are getting smarter as a result, that's where he got it very wrong.

For direct corroboration, the only hard statistic Johnson cites is the fact that IQ scores have been rising about 3 points per decade. By his own admission, they have been rising steadily at that rate for the last 70 years or so. Yet he perceives the smartening of pop culture as having started in 1981 (with the premiere of Hill Street Blues). So it seems a bit tenuous to claim the two phenomena are related.

Furthermore, IQ scores only measure a narrow range of intellectual abilities. What they measure is a rather mechanical, almost mathematical, sort of logical ability. They say very little about the more grey and nonlinear intelligence needed to comprehend, for example, literature or political science or comparative religion.

Aside from IQ score data, Johnson builds his case on anecdotal evidence, which in my view is easily refutable by other anecdotal evidence. Johnson presumes that since young people are the ones who soak up the most current pop culture, much can be gleaned from observing them.

That's a sensible rationale, so let's use it. Go into a fast food restaurant where young people work. See how many of them can make the correct change when the computerized cash register fails to work. Count how many teens you can find that can explain anything at length without stammering and peppering their sentences with like's and you-know's. And how long can a typical teen even watch TV without channel surfing?

Johnson acknowledges the studies that expose how embarrassingly little knowledge American students have of, for example, historical literacy. He claims that content is only secondarily important, that young people's skill at video games, computers, and general multi-tasking are skills that easily transfer to other sorts of tasks.

To some extent I would agree. But when significant percentages of young people can't even place the Civil War in the correct century, nor can they give a general description of what the Bill of Rights says, something fundamental and deep is lost. It's a bit simplistic to think that computer game agility is a skill that easily "transfers over" into a grasp of the subtleties of the philosophy of government. There are some intellectual capacities that can only be gained by studying certain things.

He also ignores the fact that these American young people seem to exhibit these skills primarily when something is lighting up, moving, and making noises. What about being able to study and learn when you don't know that there will be a definite reward, as there always is with a computer game? It's quite telling how rarely young people are willing to sit for an extended period of time in a quiet room with only paper and books and no electronic media.

The fact is, students in Russia and some European countries have consistently outscored US students on all sorts of scholastic tests. And they watch TV and play computer games less in those countries.

Johnson mentioned how every household today has a running joke about how the 9-year-old is the only one in the family who can set the VCR clock or figure out how to work the remote. True enough. But that could be for the same reason that any adult found it easier to learn music or a foreign language when they were children. That was always been true long before there was an electronic pop culture. Some skills by their nature are simply easier to learn the younger you start.

Though Johnson misses the point much of the time, I give him credit for attempting to answer a number of devil's advocate counter-arguments. He also writes in a plainspoken and engrossing style. Along the way in making his case, he gives some very readable exposition about other factual matters, such as IQ scores and the Flynn effect. However much or however little you'll agree with him, it's a captivating and enjoyable read.
16 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Tantalizing thesis, light on evidence for causality 12. Januar 2006
Von Chris Chatham - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Steven Johnson's newest book, "Everything Bad Is Good For You" makes the controversial claim that popular culture engages us in a kind of mental calisthenics, resulting in the drastic changes in IQ distribution seen in the last 50 years. He describes beneficial effects of changes in popular culture - changes that have often been decried as hallmarks of societal demise - and shows how these new forms of media exploit our natural reward circuitry. Echoing Marshall McLuhan, Johnson says it's not so much the content (or 'message') of cultural media like Grand Theft Auto and The Sopranos, but the multi-threaded, interactive style of delivery (the 'medium') that engages us in a cognitive workout, and ultimately results in the drastic IQ increases of post-World War II America.

Johnson begins his book with a vitriolic quote from George Will: "Ours is an age besotted with graphic entertainments. And in an increasingly infantilized society, whose moral philosophy is reducible to a celebration of 'choice,' adults are decreasingly distinguishable from children in their absorption in entertainments and the kinds of entertainments they are absorbed in - video games, computer games, hand-held games, movies on their computers and so on. This is progress: more sophisticated delivery of stupidity." This quote characterizes the dominant perspective on popular culture. But contrary to intuition, Johnson argues, today's most popular entertainment is enormously complex according to several different metrics, such as number of concurrent plot lines, the interdependence or 'nesting' of those plot lines, the Kolmogorov complexity of the networks relating the characters, and the kind of thinking required to make sense of all this complexity. And what's more, popular media has been trending towards increased complexity for the past half-century.

The economics driving these developments relate to a shift from "least objectionable" programming into "most repeatable" programming, rewarding those games/movies/narratives that embrace ambiguity, those that require the entertained to take a more active and exploratory role in comprehension, and those that reward the inquisitively entertained with yet more ambiguity to resolve upon the next viewing. This neuroeconomic "device" is perfectly designed to hijack the pleasure system by establishing an expectation of reward. It is precisely this type of cognition which has been shown to modulate dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens, providing the fix craved by pack-a-day smokers, ice-cream fanatics, and gambling addicts alike.

And while the violence illustrated in games like Grand Theft Auto may seem to provide the cognitive nutrition equivalent to gambling, Johnson emphasizes (to use McLuhan's phrase) that the "medium is the message." It is not the content so much as the method of delivery that determines its most important effects: that of rewarding critical thinking and emphasizing interactivity, whether purely cognitive (as in complex narratives) or integrating motor skills as well (as in games). Whatever the detrimental effects of prime-time depravity might be, the positive effect of this new interactive media trend takes the form of "the Sleeper Curve": a 3-point increase in average IQ per year for each of the past 100 years. To put this change in perspective, consider this: a person placing in the 90th percentile of IQ in 1920 would place in the bottom third of a IQ test in 2000.

"Everything Bad Is Good For You" is an incredibly provocative piece of cultural criticism, and while light on experimental evidence for causal relationships between IQ increases and changes in popular culture, it more than makes up for that shortcoming by illuminating ways in which this evidence might be attained. The book's best moments call to mind the optimism of the early 90s for engineering an interactive techno-topia, but these moments are thankfully tempered with a rigorously historical perspective and a firm grounding in relevant neuroscience. The book should be required reading for anyone with even a passing interest in communication theory, and is highly recommended for those with an interest in integrating neuroscientific principles with entertainment and education.
110 von 136 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Eye opening 13. Mai 2005
Von Michael A Dorosh - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Very good book, written from the perspective of a teenaged gamer made good.

Johnson played games as a kid, baseball strategy games, as well as Dungeons and Dragons, and one can detect a certain bias in his outlook. However, his statistical references and footnotes make this book a scholarly look at popular culture - in particular movies, TV and videogames - and is a nice refutation of the "our culture is going into the toilet" crowd.

Johnson argues - to me, convincingly - that even though modern mass market entertainment may appear "dumbed down", it really isn't, and that at a basic physical level, our brains are being made to work harder, get more exercise if you will, and develop higher cognitive functions as a result.

A very complex book written in easy to read language with convincing data to back up the arguments - disguised in a very palatable dialogue that doesn't seem like science at all. He even takes Marshall McLuhan to task on at least one of his conclusions - very daring, and in this case, pays off.

Johnson does miss out on one or two things - the ascendance of message boards is glossed over, or perhaps incorporated into "Internet" "email" and "IMs" in the discussion of why males watch about 1/5 as much TV as they did as little as five years ago.

As a fellow who grew up playing Advanced Squad Leader (arguably a set of rules even more dense than AD&D), I could relate to his argument that kids will learn horribly complex procedures in the name of fun (as he did with his baseball games and D&D sets) and may very well be better for it.

Overall, even if one disagrees with Johnson's arguments or conclusions, the book is fun to read; brings back memories for those who grew up in the 70s and 80s, presents logical arguments, well constructed, easy to understand, and supported by corroborating evidence - including scientific testimony about how the physical (hi Shannon) human brain works. Would love to read a rebuttal, though Johnson has personally sold me over hook, line and sinker. If nothing else, a comforting book amidst doom and gloom prophesies about the fate of our intellect in the hands of TV producers. Well done, Mr. Johnson.
33 von 40 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen argument may be true, but this book butchers it 20. April 2006
Von Spencer Tad - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
My headline should say it all. I can see arguments for why all of these things are SOMEWHAT "good" for you--after all, things are usually have two sides to them--but this particular presentation of the argument is too full of logical fallacies and faulty premises to pull it off. All kinds of sleights of hand are employed here.

Just to give one example. The author sets out to debunk the popular idea that video games are nothing more than instant gratification. As evidence that they are not instant gratification, he points to the fact that many video games are very difficult and frustrating to complete--so difficult that one needs a guide to solve them. He compares these guides to the Cliff's Notes one uses to help understand a novel.

First of all, while this argument shows that SOME video games, such as Sim City, are not forms of instant gratification (the author simply ignores the types of games that would work against this thesis), it simply raises another problem about such games--the kind of complexity Johnson describes is an entirely mechanical one--taking certain steps to earn your character money so he can buy a house so he can buy another house so he can own a whole block...etc. The "complexity" described in these video games is no more complex than the process a bird goes through to build a nest. It's a big assembly line.

The comparison of video game guides to Cliff's Notes is deeply flawed. Cliff's Notes tell you certain things about a book, but they do not necessarily give you a "key" to help you "solve" the book--and of course, they could not hope to do that, because books are much more complex than cardboard puzzles. In fact, as any English teacher knows, Cliff's Notes are often nothing more than a poor substitute for independent thinking about literature. Video game guides, on the other hand, are in fact evidence of the entirely mundane reality one encounters in video games. Essentially, these guides help you cheat. There is no way in a lot of these games to find certain things that you need (magic keys, etc.)--and being smart has nothing to do with whether you find them or not--it's simply a matter of looking long enough and remembering where you've already gone. Again...takes a long time, sure, and you have to push the button over and over. But in the end, it's no more "complicated" than an Easter egg hunt.

There are similar sleights of hand employed in the following chapters of the book, not really worth enumerating.

I was very disappointed by this book, because, although I am no fan of popular culture by any means, I'm no old-fashioned old geezer either, and I do think it is always interesting to question our basic assumptions about things.

If anything, this book does exactly the opposite of what it sets out to do. It shows the kinds of totally flawed comparisons and arguments that often spring up when people try to defend popular culture. This creates the impression (probably false) that somehow, this popular culture is CAUSING people to think that their poor reasoning passes for wisdom.

Wouldn't it have been more interesting to include the dark side too? Most things are both "bad" for you in some ways and "good" for you in others--this seems a more enlightening way to discuss popular culture.
17 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen "Yesterday's brainiac is today's simpleton." 2. Januar 2007
Von R S Cobblestone - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
In Everything Bad is Good for You, author Steven Johnson develops his theses:

1. "This is the Sleeper Curve: The most debased forms of mass diversion -- video games and violent television dramas and juvenile sitcoms -- turn out to be nutritional after all" (p. 9).

2. "But the dominant motif is one of decline and atrophy: we're a nation of reality program addicts and Nintendo freaks. Lost in that account is the most interesting trend of all: that the popular culture has been growing increasingly complex over the past few decades, exercising our minds in powerful new ways" (p. 13).

3. "I am to persuade you of two things: 1. By almost all the standards we use to measure reading's cognitive benefits -- attention, memory, following threads, and so on -- the nonliterary popular culture has been steadily growing more challenging over the past thirty years. 2. Increasingly, the nonliterary popular culture is honing different mental skills that are just as important as the ones exercised by reading books" (p. 23).

4. "Some environmental factor (or combination of factors) must be responsible for the increase in the specific forms of intelligence that IQ measures: problem solving, abstract reasoning, pattern recognition, spatial logic" (p. 142).

5. "Parents can sometimes be appalled at the hypnotic effect that television has on toddlers; they see their otherwise vibrant and active children gazing silently, mouth agape at the screen, and they assume the worse: the television is turning their child into a zombie. ...But these expressions are not signs of mental atrophy. They're signs of focus" (p. 181).

Johnson argues that video games, television, movies, and the internet add to one's ability to understand complex patterns, to probe for answers, and to better understand humans and the human drama. Toward that end, after noting there exist few studies confirming his hypotheses, he notes "But these studies are still rarities, which means the strong argument of the Sleeper Curve is still conjecture" (p. 208).

What do I think? I think Johnson is looking for the ether filling all the space in the universe. And he won't find it.

I happen to agree that the mental exercising in some video games is remarkable. I see less of it in Seinfeld (and I am a fan), and less still in the megafilm Lord of the Rings. The issue Johnson doesn't address, and it is critical, is how much exposure to these stimuli do you need to get the benefits he suggests? Johnson gives no amount here, thus seems to state that 10 hours is good, 100 hours is better, and 1000+ hours is best. I keep thinking that addition and times tables work great, up to a point. When do you practice them, and when do you go on to other things? I mean, 1000 hours of times tables? Don't you pick up most of your skill in World of WarCraft in the first 10 levels? Even if you pick up new skills/connections/threads/patterns every level up to level 60, do you still get something out of playing for another 100 hours?

And I kept being confused with the unspoken alternatives. Of course, if you are not watching television or playing video games, you are doing something else. And what part of driving downtown in a car does not involve complex pattern recognition? Isn't life complex? Doesn't Sense and Sensibility allow for complex thoughts? You can perform addition with a calculator or with an abacus. When you are proficient with one or the other, does it make sense to argue that one teaches you more things than another? Hmm.

Finally, it is interesting that Johnson left out the societal problems with obesity, type II diabetes (previously called adult onset diabetes until too many children developed symptoms), and a reduction in writing and speaking skills. Do video games and television assist with these problems, or add to them? I think it is astounding that these health issues are not even mentioned.

"Yesterday's brainiac is today's simpleton," Johnson states. At best this is simply oversimplification, and at worst it is unhealthy, wrong, and misleading.

I gave this book 3 stars. The first 2/3 was interesting, and already I've gotten into some vigorous discussions because of it. That's a good sign for a book. However, I cringe when I think of some people using this as carte blanche permission to play more and watch television more. Johnson does NOT recommend this, and in this case, I agree.
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