Everything Bad Is Good for You

Everything Bad Is Good for You

How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter

Book - 2005
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From the author of the New York Times bestseller Mind Wide Open comes a groundbreaking assessment of popular culture as it's never been considered before: through the lens of intelligence.

The $10 billion video gaming industry is now the second-largest segment of the entertainment industry in the United States, outstripping film and far surpassing books. Reality television shows featuring silicone-stuffed CEO wannabes and bug-eating adrenaline junkies dominate the ratings. But prominent social and cultural critic Steven Johnson argues that our popular culture has never been smarter.

Drawing from fields as diverse as neuroscience, economics, and literary theory, Johnson argues that the junk culture we're so eager to dismiss is in fact making us more intelligent. A video game will never be a book, Johnson acknowledges, nor should it aspire to be-and, in fact, video games, from Tetris to The Sims to Grand Theft Auto, have been shown to raise IQ scores and develop cognitive abilities that can't be learned from books. Likewise, successful television, when examined closely and taken seriously, reveals surprising narrative sophistication and intellectual demands.

Startling, provocative, and endlessly engaging, Everything Bad Is Good for You is a hopeful and spirited account of contemporary culture. Elegantly and convincingly, Johnson demonstrates that our culture is not declining but changing-in exciting and stimulating ways we'd do well to understand. You will never regard the glow of the video game or television screen the same way again.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2005.
ISBN: 9781573223072
1573223077
Branch Call Number: 306.0973 JOHNSON
Characteristics: xiv, 238 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.

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lukasevansherman
Dec 11, 2015

Johnson's book is somewhat contingent on his audience being shocked (shocked!) that anything in the mire of pop culture (video games, tv, movies) can possibly be of value. If you agree, at least somewhat, with his premise, then this book is rather redundant. Johnson, sort of like Thomas Friedman with globalization, is ready to play the cheerleader to such a degree that he doesn't fully take into account objections to or weaknesses in his argument. I don't entirely disagree with him, but he's not very convincing or incisive. Plus, he seems to selectively choose instances that support his point, which is just lazy. If you've got half a brain, you've probably come to some of the same conclusions and this book is a waste of time. Maybe play video games instead.

KCLSRecommends May 08, 2014

The title and subtitle say it all: Johnson argues that so many things that 'we' have long been putting down for being harmful, like videogames, tv and movies are actually improving our minds -- or at least, is of much higher quality than the same shows and movies from decades earlier. Convincing!

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