Letter: Land of the dumb

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The Independent Culture
Letter: Land of the dumb

Sir: Much in John Sutherland's article on Dumb Britannia chimes well with the prejudices and selective memories of advanced septuagenarians such as myself.

Nevertheless, I have to acknowledge that over the past few decades such has been the expansion in volume of the data we seem to require to run our lives that the learning processes that served us well enough in my youth are quite unable to cope with the traffic. It is no wonder that today's young people find it makes better sense to retrieve their data as required from external stores rather than attempting to load their minds and memories. The trick nowadays is to know where to find your information.

However, a far more important indicator of whether or not a dumbing-down process is taking place is where we are going with our data processing. The ability to take two or more observed phenomena and out of them fashion new and reliable data is what makes man only a little lower than the angels. I have no evidence that today's youth are any better or any worse in this regard than we were. They have access to better tools, but does that make them better craftsmen?

DOUGLAS SMITH

Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire

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