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Does reading books make you smarter?

Discussion in 'General Book Discussion' started by ironford, Dec 19, 2007.

  1. ironford

    ironford New Member

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    I read online forums all the time, but i remember hearing a long time ago reading makes you smarter, just wondering if you guys agree with that, like reading fantasy books and non fiction, books you don't actually learn anything in.
     
  2. giddieon

    giddieon New Member

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    I have a hard time with spelling and the more I read the better I have been getting at spelling...

    So I Think it helps...well it helps me...
     
  3. abecedarian

    abecedarian Well-Known Member

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    Talk about a double-edged sword.. While I learn vast amounts through my reading life, it only illuminates more my true lack of knowlege and understanding. The more I read, the more I realize how little I really know.
     
  4. Fantasy Moon

    Fantasy Moon kickbox

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    I suppose the answer to the question lies in what books you read and how much you are able to retain. Who says that one doesn't learn anything from reading fantasy?
     
  5. -Carlos-

    -Carlos- New Member

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    I think that the brain is like a muscle, the more you stimulate it (reading) the stronger it gets- the sharper it becomes. That's my view. :cool:
     
  6. G4G

    G4G New Member

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    Good question. I would say that there are many things to be learnt from fiction and fantasy books: concepts, theories, ideas. They can all be communicated through fiction an fantasy, surely?
     
  7. giddieon

    giddieon New Member

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    I also think that new ideas and answers to hard questions as a species are solved by human imagination, Fantasies and shear dumb luck!!!
     
  8. ironford

    ironford New Member

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    i ment more on the lines of spelling and grammer skills
     
  9. dele

    dele New Member

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    Clearly not in your case! :p
     
  10. beer good

    beer good Well-Known Member

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    Very well put.

    Smarter? Depends on your definition. It makes you use what smarts you have.
     
  11. dele

    dele New Member

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    I don't know if smart is the right word.

    To be perfectly honest, I think reading can be just as dangerous to ones intelligence as it is helpful. Now before anyone drafts an angry reply, please read on...

    Whenever we read, I believe we are influenced in varying degrees. I can see it in myself sometimes in small ways. If I read a fantasy novel, I'll feel exhilarated for days. I'll feel more confident and capable and set goals I maybe wouldn't have otherwise.

    As I read my latest Kathy Reichs adventure, I find her style very sobering (great book though, I highly recommend if you like mystery/thrillers). I can't read too much at once or I start to feel edgy and a tad suspicious.

    I know everyone else here can talk for pages on how books affect their moods, so I'll get to my point. In my own personal life, someone who I once held in very high esteem went through some personal issues and turned to books to solve her problems. Unfortunately, in my opinion she picked the wrong books. She is now a religious fanatic who has abandoned everyone (including her brother, father, and daughter) who doesn't share her beliefs. Now one might rightly argue that it was a series of things that led to this, and I won't disagree... but it couldn't have gotten this bad if she hadn't wasted her time filling her head with garbage.

    That's exactly why books get banned and only the elect were taught to read for hundreds of years. Like it or not, books inspire thought, which leads to ideas, which can be dangerous.

    Do I support book banning and the suppression of education? Absolutely not! The pros outweigh the cons 1000 to 1, but the danger is always there. The key is to train people to use their brains and filter out the garbage.


    So in answer to your question Ironford, yes, I believe that books can make you smarter, but it's up to the reader to put the ideas to use or not.
     
  12. PsychZero

    PsychZero kickbox

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    Speaking on personal experience only, I've noticed direct correlations in the amount I read and my test taking abilities. As I'm sure you're expecting the more I read the higher my test scores tend to be. This isn't shocking at all, but what is shocking is when I would replace studying at night, with reading a novel that had next to nothing to do with my test the next day, and end up not only feeling confident when taking the test, but confirming that by receiving an A for the test.

    My thoughts are that reading helps activate the short term memory, and eventually long term memory which when taking a test has obvious benefits, especially by resolving retrival errors (something along the lines of aphasia or also known as tip of the tounge syndrome).

    Lastly, it increases your vocabulary, which according to the Linguistic Relativity Theory, determines how intelligent you can be.

    I'm a psych major if you couldn't tell...
     
  13. helgi

    helgi New Member

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    What's Linguistic Relativity Theory?
     
  14. PipPirrip

    PipPirrip New Member

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    It comes in various strengths but it suggests in the weakest case that the way you perceive your world is dependant upon your language resources, and in the strongest case the way you think is dependant upon your language resources.

    Personally, I am not convinced by the arguement, but I am a linguist rather than a psychologist.
     
  15. nick_m100

    nick_m100 New Member

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    Changes too much, if you want to know ask.
    You mispelled argument.
     
  16. PipPirrip

    PipPirrip New Member

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    thank you for pointing that out.
     
  17. Sybarite

    Sybarite New Member

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    I think this pretty much nails it.

    In that sense, then reading anything will exercise the brain as opposed to reading nothing and not exercising it.

    But on another level, reading light and escapist fiction (and I'll include fantasy within that) will, if nothing else, continue a process of acquainting the reader with language.

    Literature will probably stretch you in different ways – possibly including making you think about what the author is dealing with. Take a book like William Golding's Lord of the Flies: what is it about – not the essential plot, but what is Golding saying about the human condition, about British society/class etc? Some of the ideas that one reads may not be new, some may be the antithesis of what the reader believes or thinks, but being challenged to rethink matters is always positive.

    And then, of course, there is non-fiction. Reading a history, for instance, or a book about a movement in music, will inevitably broaden the reader's knowledge – as well as exercising the brain.
     
  18. PsychZero

    PsychZero kickbox

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    PipPirrip, does a good job of summing up LRT. And he is correct stating that it is under debate. I'm am however an advocate of it based on yet again, personal experience. For example, when there is a person unknown to the meaning of the word "hubris" then they will without a doubt have a hard time understanding it, and possibly be guilty of it. But when that person is explained to what it is, then hopefully they'll fully apply themselves at avoiding it. This will change their habits and later influence the way he or she think.

    This is only a rough sketch of what LRT is, and I'm sure PipPirrip could give a better example but hopefully this will clarify.
     
  19. silverseason

    silverseason New Member

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    Can you define smart? Most of us recognize book smart and people smart and street smart - all different and all desirable in certain circumstances. Reading involves both a process and content. The more you read, the better you get at the process. The content you take in during the process may be good or bad, useful or not.
     
  20. unKeMPt

    unKeMPt New Member

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    You misspelled "misspell."
     

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