Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Great Television Shows Make You Smarter

Whether it's LOST, The Wire, or my recent European trip find Mad Men, complex TV series' may be more than just entertaining. In a recent post Jonah Lehrer shows how the Flynn Effect, the measurable increase in IQ from generation to generation, is not just because of improvements in education and diet. If the top 5%, who have had access to plenty of food and education for decades,  has also increased, then there must be some other "environmental stimulation”:
One frequently cited factor is the increasing complexity of entertainment, which might enhance abstract problem solving skills. (As Flynn himself noted, “The very fact that children are better and better at IQ test problems logically entails that they have learned at least that kind of problem-solving skill better, and it must have been learned somewhere.”) This suggests that, because people are now forced to make sense of Lost or the Harry Potter series or World of Warcraft, they’re also better able to handle hard logic puzzles. (The effect is probably indirect, with the difficult forms of culture enhancing working memory and the allocation of attention.) As Steven Johnson argued, everything bad is good for us, especially when the bad stuff has lots of minor characters and subplots.
In the name of self improvement, is there any other "homework" I should be watching?

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