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Do Cell Phones Make Us Stupid? 514

Noodleroni writes "I came across this article on MSNBC that discusses why it seems cell phone users are so stupid sometimes. A very interesting read." Absolutely no scientific basis in this - 'cept for the DoCoMo study, but it still seems true.
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Do Cell Phones Make Us Stupid?

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  • Fallacy: (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:17PM (#4192686)
    post hoc ergo propter hoc. The morons with cell phones were morons before they got them. It's just that they haven't figured out that they ceased being status symbols once they could afford them.

    ~~~

  • by DavidLeblond ( 267211 ) <me@@@davidleblond...com> on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:19PM (#4192692) Homepage
    Cell phones don't make people stupid, they just bring a lot of them to light.
  • I wrote a thought of the day about cell phone usage a few months ago. You can check it out here [suso.org].
  • by AssFace ( 118098 ) <stenz77&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:21PM (#4192707) Homepage Journal
    Less so on the cell phone since I tend to avoid the phone whenever I can. But with the internet, wireless PDAs, computers, and I guess the cell phones - they have taken over pretty much all thought for me. If I need to know anything, there is no real need for me to memorize it, I just have to remember a pointer to where I can find that info in the future.

    This of course allows waaaay more information for me to try to keep track of - or rather the pointers.

    I attribute that to my constant desire to sleep.
  • by digital_milo ( 212475 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:21PM (#4192711)
    Mostly, when you were at the grocery store before cell phones, you had an inkling that other folks were dumb, but they mostly kept silent.

    Now with phones, you actually can hear them talk and they've removed any doubt about their intellect.
  • No... (Score:2, Funny)

    by spoonyfork ( 23307 )
    ... not paying attention to the world around them makes them appear to be stupid. Mobiles phones are the enabler. The real cause is their parents. Think about it. Fat parents have fat kids.
    • Your Japanese is incorrect. It should be a katakana "ku" at the end, not a "ke".

      Just thought I'd let you know.
  • by The Evil Plush Toy ( 513809 ) <.evilplushtoy. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:23PM (#4192726)
    dis iz gay i USZEE CEll fonnes ALL THE TIme nd I ARENT sTUpid!!!!!1111
  • by Malcs ( 95091 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:23PM (#4192730) Homepage Journal
    When Bob Dylan performed Ballad of a Thin Man live on his 1966 world tour he changed the last lyric from "earphones" to "telephone" like thus:

    Well, you walk into the room
    Like a camel and then you frown
    You put your eyes in your pocket
    And your nose on the ground
    There ought to be a law
    Against you comin' around
    You should be made
    To always be wearing a telephone

    Because something is happening here
    But you don't know what it is
    Do you, Mister Jones?

    How prophetic, eh?

  • by majestynine ( 605494 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:23PM (#4192732)
    Cell phones make us stupid? I'd agree with that, but they certainly have some other nasty effects on us:

    Lab rats were found to have their short term memory impaired after being exposed to electromagnetic radiation (EM) at frequencies and amplitudes common in portable phones, markedly affecting their performance in a maze after 1 hour/day periods of EM exposure. In a second experiment designed to measure the time needed to complete a maze task, it was estimated that exposed animals required approximately one third more time than the control rats. {1}

    Using an apparatus which tested for object recognition, researchers found that exposed rats suffered observable memory loss after EM radiation exposure. This test was done in 1994 specifically testing the effects of portable phones. {2}

    The blood-brain barrier in test animals is made permeable to foriegn substances in the blood which would not normally be allowed to pass through brain cell walls. This, according to one group of researchers, was discovered when dye was injected into the blood stream of test rats and found to be absorbed by brain cells in exposed rats after twenty minutes, but not by those in the unexposed control group.{3}

    The general effect of EM on the endochrine system, (the system of glands throughout the body, including the adrenal, thyroid and pancreatic among others,) is also noteworthy. The results from a variety of studies were lengthy and, frankly, difficult to briefly document as it seems different glands react to different frequencies and power levels in a wide variety of ways, sometimes having opposite effects simply by changing the pulse rate of a given wave form. Research only scratches the surface, and it seems that the potential for further study is enormous. Essentially, EM radiation as emitted from Cell Phones, pagers, wireless computer hardware and computer monitors does a wide range of strange things to the human body. One researcher simply summed up the overall effect of EM on the glandular system as resulting in, 'general stress disorder'. {4}

    Delta Wave sleep patterns of test subjects were found to be inhibited after regular exposure, (one hour per day), to frequencies and power levels commonly emitted from computer monitors and in other tests, higher frequency portable phones. {5}

    --With a drive for faster, cheaper and higher power wireless digital equipment, the general public might be well advised to remain cautious of the possible health hazards associated with the increased use of microwave active devices.

    In the few instances where the large telecommunications companies have been challenged regarding the safety of their products, it is interesting to note that their public relations stances have been remarkably similar to those once commonly employed by the cigarette industry concerning tobacco use. It will be interesting to observe the direction and ultimate outcome of these trends.

    References:

    1. Henry Lai, 1998. Neurological effects of radio frequency electromagnetic radiation Presented to the Workshop on possible biological and health effects of RF electromagnetic fields. Project team: Mobile Phones and Health, Symposium, October 25-28, 1998, University of Vienna, Austria. http:// pages.britishlibrary.net/orange/henrylai.htm

    2. James C. Lin, 2000. Effects of microwave and mobile telephone exposure on memory and memory processes. University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, USA http://www.eecs.uic.edu/eecspeople/lin_ieee42_3.ht m

    3. Frey A.H., Feld S, Frey B. Neural function and behavior: defining the relationship. Ann NY Acad Sci 247:433-438

    4. Dr. Robert Becker & Dr. Andrew Marino paper, "Electromagnetism & Life" http://www.ortho.lsumc.edu/Faculty/Marino/EL/ELTOC .html

    5. Drumanskiy, Yu.D., Sandala, M.G. 1974. The biologic action and hygenic significance of electromagnetic fields of superhigh and ultrahigh frequencies in densely populated areas. In Biologic effects and health hazards of microwave radiation, p. 289. Warsaw: Polish Medical Publishers.

    But the most annoying one:
    ".ahh yeah im on the train now..
    • by adagioforstrings ( 192285 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:43PM (#4192836)
      Soooo...

      Rats shouldn't use cell phones?
    • by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:10PM (#4192983) Journal
      None of these studies have produced repeatable results. None are considered credible in the scientific community, without further research.
      • None of these studies have produced repeatable results

        Not quite right. THESE result have been reproduced a lot of times. But similiar studies have been made to test if EM has the same effect on humans. Some of these human studies have proven the same effect, some have disproven them. This is where the controversy lies, but that mobile phones are bad for rats have been proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
    • Old data? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by XorNand ( 517466 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:57PM (#4193161)

      Much of your cited data seems to be conducted during the reign of first gen cellphones -- the analog variety. These older phones operate on different frequencies (obviously) and also require a much higher power output than the digital models used by 85% American cell phone owners today. How valid are these stats?
    • by Zoop ( 59907 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @11:47PM (#4193497)
      I'd agree with that, but they certainly have some other nasty effects on us ...and then you tell me about how they affect rats.

      But you ignore the numerous longitudinal and statistical studies before and since on cell phone usage in humans, and the absolute LACK of increased cancer rates or other diseases relative to controls.

      Besides, as Drumanskiy, et. all 1974 demonstrates, much more powerful electric fields have been around far longer, so the proximity of your cell phone to your brain is nothing compared to, say, sitting next to the air conditioner for an hour. (don't believe me? get a gaussometer and check)...or using one of those nifty electric vehicles. Or stepping onto an electric train (3rd rail, anyone?). Or standing next to a running automotive engine. Or having a transformer outside your room. Or sitting behind a CRT. Or being anywhere close to a lightning strike.
    • by shepd ( 155729 ) <slashdot DOT org AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 04, 2002 @02:06AM (#4193807) Homepage Journal
      {1}, {2}, and {3} do not involve human-brain sized subjects and I therefore cast them out of hand. There is no way to measure the effect of radio waves affecting the brain with creatures that have brains far less than 1/10th our size with any hope of correlating it to humans. Remember the law of squares and how it applies to radio waves, anyone?

      Wake me up when they get some primates involved in these studies.

      {4} Again, I cast out of hand anyone who talks about EM efects of a pager. Pagers do not transmit, and any doctor credible to that title would have either asked someone in the field, or would have noticed the lack of radiation of the device PRIOR to testing. Truly, this person does NOT deserve a PhD title if this is the type of irresponsible trash they pump out. They should be disbarred for publishing such a study immediately before they actually do hurt someone.

      {5} Measures the effects of portable phones. At the time of that study (1974) they ran in the 49 Mhz band, or maybe even lower, in the kids walkie-talkie band. This is 20x lower than many newer analog portable phones and cellphones, and nearly 50x less than that of very new 2.4 Ghz phones.

      Not to even get into the studies that mentioned "the frequencies of computer monitors" as if they had even the slightest relevance to cellphones. 15 kilo-cycles is the same as 900 MEGA-cycles or 2.4 GIGA-cycles?

      Give me a break.

      None of these studies has relevant evidence to what you are discussing, sorry. :-/

      Try your luck next time, though.
  • I can get this obvious article proven scientifically.
  • by Patik ( 584959 ) <cpatik&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:24PM (#4192734) Homepage Journal
    A person on a cell phone in a store, mall, or on the street draws attention to themself. Maybe as we gaze in their direction, we're just noticing the stupid things that people do everyday -- but when they're without a cell phone in hand, nobody's watching them.
  • Maybe they mean distracted, I doubt that cell phones literally lower your IQ when you use them. Besides, I know alot of intelligent people who use cell phones, and it hasn't seemed to affect their overall intelligence.
  • Counterthesese (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sam_handelman ( 519767 ) <skh2003&columbia,edu> on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:28PM (#4192755) Homepage Journal
    #1 - People were just as empty and banal before they got cellphones, but now they're talking about it so you can hear them.

    #2 - Some other factor, not owning a cell phone, causes children with cell phones to do worse in school; I recall a study showing that sexually active teenagers do worse in school (now I can't find it). Sex doesn't make you stupid, teenagers with active sex lives get lower grades for some other reason. Personally, I've never observed much relationship between grades and intelligence, but that is another issue.

    #3 - remember when we were kids? Back in the day, young people NEVER crossed against the light and then were blaze when a car almost hit them. Nope; that is one thing I can say with confidence never happened ever.

    Absolutely no scientific basis in this ...
    but it still seems true


    Here's my prejudice:
    no scientific basis = seems false.

    It's a simple rule that prevents me from believing that aliens visit earth and give people enemas.
    • Here's my prejudice:
      no scientific basis = seems false


      You must not be religious either.

      Score one point for your team!

      By the way, have you ever noticed how "everyone" always says everyone else is stupid/an idiot/bad driver/etc? I'll be the first to say, though, that I may be that idiot on occasion. My problem is that most people who think they're "frickin' geniuses" are, sadly, not.

      I'm a firm believer in the fact that the human race as a whole has a very low average intelligence (which can be lowered further when multiple low-intelligence individuals are placed in proximity). Thankfully, there are some people who decide to use their intellect for more productive purposes, one of which would be not posting this article on Slashdot.

      Absolutely no scientific basis in this ... but it still seems true

      Translation: Either you're not smart enough to understand what you're doing (go ask someone smart), or you're grasping at straws, trying to renew your grant money. At least try to be creative!
    • "Sex doesn't make you stupid, teenagers with active sex lives get lower grades for some other reason."

      Are you joking? That's obvious. Once you're getting laid, your math grade gets a LOT less important to you. I got a car and lost my virginity 4 weeks apart half way through my Junior year of high school. I went from an A- student to a C+ student almost overnight and don't regret any of it.

      -B
    • <i>no scientific basis = seems false.</i>

      remember, science doesn't know everything. For a long time people said to eat chiken soup even though there was no scientific basis. Much later someone did do scientific tests and found out that chicken soup IS good for you, proving what all the old mothers had believed for generations.
  • No, cellphones don't make users more stupid. Why? It's along the same lines that "Posting on the internet makes users stupider" isn't true. For the internet, at least, it's a (somewhat) anonymous forum. You can be whatever/whomever you want to be, be it a genius or a troll. Cellphones tend to drop the inhibitions of being in public tend to produce. (Like: Don't go yelling at the person next to you and stuff like that) Does the luser's IQ drop? No. They just show off the low IQ they already have.
  • Wrong! (Score:5, Funny)

    by r_j_prahad ( 309298 ) <r_j_prahad@hotma ... m minus math_god> on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:32PM (#4192777)
    Cell phones don't make you stupid. Owning a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) makes you stupid, which then causes you to go out and buy a cell phone due to your dramatically decreased intelligence.

    Just what is it about the combination of blonde hair, motherhood, a cell phone, and a big gas-guzzling SUV that destroys brain cells so completely? I'm not being arbitrary here, I had to fish one of these bimbos out of my front lawn last week... she didn't see the stopped schoolbus at the corner in time so she used my hedge as a deceleration device. She was still on the phone when the cops came.
  • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:33PM (#4192786) Homepage Journal
    I was on a train recently when the cellphone in my pocket started vibrating ("is that a cell phone in your pocket...") an alert to me. Anyways, as I was pulling it to read the display (which ended up being a voicemail indication) I noticed the man in the opposing seat wagging his head back and forth in utter disgust, apparently, that I was using a cellphone. Other times I've spoken to my wife as I approached the station to see if she's waiting, and again I've noticed the moral superiors wagging their heads at the use of a cellphone. Note that I am a _very_ quiet cell phone talker (I long ago realized that the compression technology in modern cell phones make whispering functionally equal to yelling, and hence the latter is just a sign of a low intelligence ignorant brute), and me lightly talking to my wife is absolutely eclipsed by the sounds of shuffing newspapers, people clearing their throats, and just general conversations going on throughout the train.

    I guess my point is this: I will concede, without any doubt, that the same social morons and ignoramuses still exist, and now rather than just talking to the person beside them at 96dbA, now they do it into a cellphone. I also will concede that it is unbelievably irritating hearing an endless chorus of ringtones by people who don't realize that yes, there is a volume setting other than superloud. At the same time though a lot of the anti-cellphone rage just seems to be redirected anger: People just simply can't stand each other nowadays, and cell phones give us an easy target.
    • "I also will concede that it is unbelievably irritating hearing an endless chorus of ringtones by people who don't realize that yes, there is a volume setting other than superloud."

      If only it were true ... my phone [lgmobilephones.com] actually has a small number of very annoying eccentricities, one of them being that the ring is either on super-loud or turned off. (You can change the volume setting, but it has no effect.) Still, I chose the phone because it is otherwise all-around excellent.

    • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @10:06PM (#4193197)
      At the same time though a lot of the anti-cellphone rage just seems to be redirected anger: People just simply can't stand each other nowadays, and cell phones give us an easy target.
      I think it's more the former than the latter; that is, the anti-cellphone rage winds up being redirected upon polite cellphone users. I doubt that the guy on the train was redirecting his job-related or marital stress in your general direction; instead, it's more likely that he was upset because he's become accustomed to cellphone users being rude. It's a simple case of perspective, the actions of the obnoxious "majority" reflect upon the entire class.

      I was sitting in class today and a woman's cell phone went off. It wasn't too annoying at first. Then she pulled her purse out of her backpack, and it got louder. Then she pulled the phone out of her purse, and it might as well have been a goddamn fire alarm. All in all, it took 30 seconds or so for her to turn it off, and it completely interrupted everyone's train of thought. When I see someone on a cellphone, this is the type of experience that immediately comes to mind - not the guy who I didn't even notice because he was speaking softly into his phone as I passed him on the walkway.

      Think of SUVs, a good example since they've already been mentioned once in this thread. SUVs seem to carry similar connotations. Many people, myself included, see someone driving an SUV and often think "road hogging, gas guzzling, polluting idiot!" Of course that's not true in all cases. My dad's been driving an Explorer since '96 or so. He's never had a wreck in his life, he's never even had so much as a speeding ticket; he's a very safe and astute driver. Perhaps "gas guzzling" and "polluting" still apply, but he's not a road hog and he's no idiot. Yet I'm sure there are plenty of people who think that when they see him driving down the road.

      It's just a stereotype. People have come to associate cellphones with rude, inconsiderate behavior (and for a good reason). They salivate when the bell rings, you can't expect anything else.

      Shaun
      • Stand in the corner (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jhines0042 ( 184217 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2002 @08:45AM (#4194746) Journal
        The CEO of my company was holding a meeting for the whole company and told everyone to turn off their cell phones (salesmen included) because if it rang they'd have to stand in the corner.

        Of course someone's did ring and they were made to stand in the corner.

        About 6 months later at another company wide meeting. Someone was speaking and a cell phone rings. Turns out it was his the CEO's.

        He turned it off and went and stood in the corner.
    • What I don't understand is how is hearing 1/2 of a stupid conversation ANY DIFFERENT than hearing both sides??

      Why is it that cell phones are banned in some coffee shops, for example, and people feel morally victorious? I mean, what's the damn difference, as the places are usually so damn loud you can't hear anyone else talk anywey?

      I think people like to bitch. Today it's just the cell phone they're bitchin' about. Tomorrow it'll be something else.
    • How do you think people become social morons? By speaking loudly? You notice people's disgust at your using a cell phone yet seem unable to explain it. You're right that a lot of people can't stand each other. Perhaps, cell phones are part of the reason why.

      Now I am not against anyone owning or using cell phones. There really isn't any moral principle I can hold up and say "there, that's why cell phones are bad". I know that all sorts of exceptional situations exist.

      But for too many people, cell phones are a symbol of their self-importance because at any moment they can interrupt any conversation to speak with someone who they can deem at their will as "more important" than the person you are speaking with.

      Still not with me? Imagine these scenarios. Two strangers meet each other at the airport. Neither have cell phones. Because of this, neither have leverage over the other. So they will feel more free to talk to one another.

      Second scenario: one of the two strangers have a cell phone. In this case, the one with the cell phone has the leverage in this social situation. Why? Because he has a group of people who could only possibly talk to him. If you have ever been interrupted in a conversation by a cell phone then you know what I mean. It suddenly makes the cell phone owner seem more important and inversely, yourself seem less important.

      And you wonder why cell phones have become so popular.

      So it would seem that the solution would be when we all own cell phones. Then we'd all be at equal leverage, right? Not quite. Imagine the third scenario. Both strangers have cell phones. But for both of them, the investment to strike up a conversation is much greater since the risk of being interrupted by a cell phone is also much greater.

      So we end up with an even less friendly society than we had before cell phones become common.

      Now anyone reading this knows what the solution is. Ignore cell calls when you are talking to someone. But how many people do you think will know to do this? The same as how many people don't email word attachments or how many people leave the toilet seat up.

      But I can't look into your mind to determine your ethical character. So I'll probably be less likely to strike up a conversation with you. Even more importantly, since you walked into the area I feel less important than you for the reasons I went into above.

      What we need is a clear etiquette for the use of cell phones but so far, I haven't seen any such thing. As cell phones become more common, I hope one gets stirred up. Until then, I know I'm not going to buy a cell phone.

      Again, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with cell phone use. Perhaps I am saying that certain circumstances with cell phones can be frustrating, notably--getting interrupted by a cell phone.

      Now I wouldn't be shaking my head or making rude noises if you walked by with your cell phone. Perhaps the best word to describe it is intimidation--not by you but by your cell phone.

      Just some things to think about.
  • by realgone ( 147744 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:33PM (#4192787)
    "Why Do Articles That Claim To Be About Cell Phones But Actually Read Like Second-Rate Sex And The City Gossiping Make Us Look Stupid?"
  • by i7dude ( 473077 )
    american culture makes the masses stupid. the masses are the ones who fall for the "follow the herd" marketing ploys of corperate america, hence stupid people buy cell phones.

    honestly in my opinion, we have always been a bunch of collective morons...now were just trying to find excuses as to why...so its more than just a little ironic that its a dumb excuse.

    dude.
  • My opinion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Restil ( 31903 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:35PM (#4192795) Homepage
    No scientific evidence here either, but my opinion on the issue of cell phones is one of status. These people aren't made stupid BY the cell phone, they were stupid to begin with. Of course, stupid isn't really the right word. Its more like an inability to concentrate on two things at once. They spend all their cognitive efforts on maintaining the conversation that they tune out the rest of the world. Sure, they can keep an eye on what's going on in front of them, but someone could run them over from the side and they'd never see it coming, hence the first example in the article.

    Up until a few years ago, if someone wanted to talk on the phone, they'd be safely in their homes, confined to a single room, or within 3 feet of a payphone booth. The opportunities for trouble due to their all-consuming conversation were minimal. Cordless phones allowed them to wander so the phone wouldn't hold them by a leash any longer, but they were still confined to the house. Cell phones solved that "problem". Now they can wander freely, not paying attention to ANYTHING.

    And not only an issue of convienence, it might also be one of status. 10 years ago, some people had cell phones, but the majority of the public was still somewhat in awe of them. Most people with cell phones back then didn't wander around conversing about the products on the grocery store shelves because it was TOO DAMN EXPENSIVE. They kept the conversations to important, serious things. Others in public that witnessed this equated cell phones with an artifical importantance. If only they could get one of their very own.....

    And eventually the phones became economical for everyone and their dog to have one, or two or three. And with the average plan including enough minutes to pretty much occupy all waking hours of the month, and even some of the sleeping hours, there was no reason NOT to jabber aimlessly at all hours of the day. And since once upon a time only important people had cell phones in public, they figured the best way to look important is to talk on their cell phone in public. AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Movie theatres, restaurants, anywhere is acceptable to take that important call about who's dating who at that particular moment. I mean, this kind of information simply CAN'T WAIT.

    Still, I think the most appropriate comment I saw once was a cartoon of someone sitting in an outside diner, talking on his phone and he says "Sorry, I need to let you go now. Nobody can see me talking on the phone"

    -Restil
    • Re:My opinion (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hysterion ( 231229 )
      since once upon a time only important people had cell phones in public, they figured the best way to look important is to talk on their cell phone in public. AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

      I remember reading a sociological study (sorry no URL, not even sure if it was on he web...?) which found a definite correlation, in public places populated by males, between

      • presence of a female element;
      • number of cell phones made visible by the males.
  • often times, yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jeffy124 ( 453342 )
    What amazes me are the people who dont realize it's their phone that's ringing. During lecture once last winter, a student's phone started ringing very loudly. The prof normally ignores these, as they usually silence in about 2.4 seconds.

    After about 10 secnods, he started to get annoyed. Finally, someone front row center leans over to her bookbag, and takes her sweet time shutting the phone off. The look on her face was "oh, that's my phone!"

    The person was in other classes of mine that semester, and was the first of many "oh, that's me" moments. I dont think she made any attempt all term to shut off her phone in a timely manner. We all leave the ringer on every now and then and get a call, but good grief! At least make the effort to shut it off when it does!
    • My question is, why do people need cell phones in class. I college I can sort of make the exception in that they aren't always in class through a set amount of hours, but I remember all to well hearing Cell phones go off in my highschool classes as well. My first reaction was always, what an idiot, why did they leave their cellphone on. My second reaction was, why do they even need a cell phone here. But I've also come up with a third question that's even more pressing than the above two: Who the hell is calling? My cell number is given to a slect few people all of whom know my basic schedual and who know when it would not be a good time to call (assuming the cell phone is on during those times anyway), are people truly giving their cell numbers to people that they don't know well so that they can be called at any time by anyone? That's just plain stupidity.

      On the other hand, I will never forget my favorite cell phone mishap. I was in my psychology class when another student's phone went off. Realizing his serious mistake, the student quickly turned the cell phone off and apologized to the teacher (students with manners, imagine that). However, the teacher wasn't quite satisfied. He wanted to know the same thing I did, who was calling at a time like that. (keep in mind this was in highschool when durring a certain set of hours every day, you are in school). The teacher asked the student to take the phone out and call the person back. The student did so and then at the teacher's request turned on the speaker phone aspect and pretended to be the student. Much to the amusement of the class, the student and the teacher, the person on the other end was a college friend of the student who was completely drunk and had no idea what he was doing or saying. Needless to say it was an entertaining class.
      • "The teacher asked the student to take the phone out and call the person back. The student did so and then at the teacher's request turned on the speaker phone aspect and pretended to be the student. Much to the amusement of the class, the student and the teacher, the person on the other end was a college friend of the student who was completely drunk and had no idea what he was doing or saying. Needless to say it was an entertaining class."

        Smart teacher. After that escapade, I suspect that the student *never* forgot to disable the ringer or completely turn off the phone for school again.

    • " What amazes me are the people who dont realize it's their phone that's ringing. During lecture once last winter, a student's phone started ringing very loudly. The prof normally ignores these, as they usually silence in about 2.4 seconds. After about 10 secnods, he started to get annoyed. Finally, someone front row center leans over to her bookbag, and takes her sweet time shutting the phone off. The look on her face was "oh, that's my phone!""

      She knew it was her phone all along. She was hoping that if she ignored it, nobody would realise that it was hers and she would be spared the ridicule and embarassment of everyone knowing that her phone rang in the lecture. I suspect that this is the same problem in movie theaters when a phone rings. Not being identified/embarassed is more important that shutting the thing off.

  • giggle (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Vodak ( 119225 )
    You know, cell phone users are prob stupid from all the bops on the head they get when in car accidents.

    *vodak drive on the highway like a madman on his phone, eating, and bitching at Hoawrd Stern for making fun of O&A.
  • by omnirealm ( 244599 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:40PM (#4192818) Homepage

    At my university, the business college is in a building that is separated by the rest of campus by a road. Every Friday, all the business majors play dress up (the department has a policy that they all have to wear suits on Fridays).

    They all have laptops and cell phones. They circle around tables in the building with their laptops open, busy hammering out assignments in Excel and taking important calls.

    And they narrowly avoid getting sqashed on the crosswalk between the business building and the rest of campus. I see it almost every day with my own two eyes: a young man in a suit, busily yapping away on his cell phone, totally ambivilous to the fact that he is crossing against a green light. I saw a guy almost get creamed once; the driver slammed on his brakes and honked, stopping just inches from the business major. The business major didn't skip a beat in his conversation. He just waved and kept on chatting away as he crossed.

    Someday, someone is going to get a "wake up call."

    • Damn it, that's twice in one day! First I cannot blast N'Sync out of space, then I hear about somebody not hitting a business major with a cell phone stapled to his head! To borrow a line from an acquaintance of mine, "God I'm so depressed".

      How do you tell the difference between a business major hit by a car and a deer hit by a car? Skidmarks in front of the deer.

  • it's an editorial... (Score:2, Informative)

    by rob-fu ( 564277 )
    not an article. Hard up for news today, ./ guys?

    The only thing related to cellphones that may make you stupid (or look stupid, at least) is walking around with the full headset on, without talking, like a complete tool. Many of you know who I'm talking about. :)
    • The thing that disturbs me is people walking along the street having full-blown conversations, gesticulating, etc., all with no gadgetry in sight. Is it a hands-free kit, or only schizophrenia? Sometimes I'm too scared to get close enough to tell. :)

  • Yes, cell phones make YOU dumber.

    Either that, or I'm getting smarter ;- )
  • by Fat Casper ( 260409 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:42PM (#4192830) Homepage
    Cell phones lower the bar of inconvenience in commnuication. Nextels are worse. Radios are scary. Emails suck, and don't even mention "text messages" (isn't that what an email is?).

    Because all of these are so convenient, the message is sent before it is even thought out at all, much less thought out fully. Convenience is good. As long as I'm at my computer and thinking about someone, I can mail them. No getting paper or a stamp or walking to the mailbox. Email is so easy that today's kids (the few that actually know how) rarely bother to spell anything correctly. With a phone's address book, 3 or 4 buttons are all that stand between one and a rambling, meaningless conversation.

    What it boils down to is this: the inability to complete a thought is stupidity.

    All of our wonderful commo toys make it too easy to concentrate on the act of communicating even when we have nothing at all to say. They are making us more stupid even before you look at the dangerous driver/ pedestrian problems.

  • by NewWazoo ( 2508 ) <bkmatt@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:43PM (#4192833) Homepage
    I had an interesting revelation the other night. You see, I'd just gotten my cell phone. I didn't buy it; my mother did, because she wanted me to have it "so she could always get in touch if she had to". I'd previously avoided owning one, but it was free (for me). I'd also thought that it was the other people who couldn't handle using one in parallel with another process.

    Anyway, my girlfriend and my mother and I were all sitting around playing Monopoly when a friend called on my cell. I answered and started to chat. It was a very light conversation, no deep thinking, but I kept playing Monopoly as I talked.

    Bad move.

    We played two complete turns, with my opponents landing on a property owned by me EVERY TIME. Guess what? I didn't even notice. In my mind, I was playing just as well. Of course, I was seriously mistaken. I lost something like $2000 in that short time.

    I took it as a serious lesson. Before, I had "kept the talking/driving to a minimum." Now I won't EVER talk while I drive. Do cell phones make people stupid? No, but it's most certainly a distraction, "hands-free" or not, and those little details that slip one's preoccupied mind are often the most important ones.

    Brandon
    • Anyway, my girlfriend and my mother and I were all sitting around playing Monopoly when a friend called on my cell. I answered and started to chat. It was a very light conversation, no deep thinking, but I kept playing Monopoly as I talked.

      Bad move.

      We played two complete turns, with my opponents landing on a property owned by me EVERY TIME. Guess what? I didn't even notice. In my mind, I was playing just as well. Of course, I was seriously mistaken. I lost something like $2000 in that short time.


      Cell phones make you lose @ Monopoly, too? Cool!

      Now, how do I send a cell phone with a 1-800 number to one Steve "Monkey Boy" Ballmer ? (Back charged to him of course) ;-)

      Soko
    • "I took it as a serious lesson. Before, I had "kept the talking/driving to a minimum." Now I won't EVER talk while I drive. Do cell phones make people stupid? No, but it's most certainly a distraction, "hands-free" or not, and those little details that slip one's preoccupied mind are often the most important ones."

      Lucky for you, you learned this lesson the 'safe' way. Now that you know what can happen, you will be more careful.

      People who do know that cell phones steal your attention will pay MORE attention while driving. If, on the rare occasions that I am driving and taking a call (with my hands free set of course) I deliberately become more alert, checking mirrors, speed limits, blindspots, indicators, lights, road signs, etc very carefully. There's only so much 'attention' to go around so when I'm on the phone, I temporarily heighten the 'pool of attention' that is available so I don't flatten some pedestrian by accident.

      Those fools who use their phone and drive like mad people have never had a close call where they could have gotten injured, or gotten in trouble with the law because of a cellphone related driving offence and will keep driving badly until they realise firsthand that they drove over a pedestrian and their insurance bill doubled.

  • DoCoMo found that kids who carry cell phones do worse on tests than kids who don't carry phones.

    Did it ever occur to them that maybe the kids with cell phones might have more active social lives and thus spend less time focused on school work? I know the chatty little social butterflies where I grew up were dumbasses. Or on the contraverse, smarter kids choose not to use cell phones to call their friends all the time because they know they'll talk to them eventually.

    I study done by a real sociologist should have a lot more data than those two variables. No statistician worth his/her salt would be proud of that relation without additional supporting data.

  • This was on MSNBC today. [msnbc.com] Seems that although earlier they said that cell phone users are stupider, aparently now they are more polite.

    Favorite quote from article: "the survey indicated 39 percent say it's OK to make a mobile call when in the bathroom, down just slightly from 47 percent two years ago."
  • Heh (Score:3, Funny)

    by zapfie ( 560589 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:05PM (#4192949)
    From the article:

    But I cop to it: The use of the cell phone made me temporarily insane.

    Er.. ah.. hey, works for me!


    Judge: You are on trial today for killing 40 pedestrians while driving. How do you plead?

    Defendant: Well, you see, Judge, I was on my cell phone at the time..

    Judge: Ohhh.. our mistake. You're free to go.
  • Well, you have to admit, asking a question like "Do Cell Phones make us Stupid?" brought out some colorful responses. Here are a few other questions that should provide some similar quality answers:

    "Is Everything Microsoft Does Really Bad?"

    "Is the RIAA Just Looking Out for its Artists?"

    "Are Linux Users More Adaptive than Windows Users?"

    "Should we Ban Crying Children From Movies?"

    And so on...

    Yep, I think questions like these will bring out just as much insight as this article did.

    • [quote]
      "Should we Ban Crying Children From Movies?"

      [/quote]
      Fuck movies. Ban the little shits from everywhere. If I can't smoke there, I sure as hell don't want to hear the next potential cell phone user practicing being as loud as he/she can in a public forum.

  • In my early 20s I worked as a courier. We had radios in our cars. No full duplex. You had to key the mike and "capture" the channel. On more than one occasion, I was asked to change routes, rendezvous with other drivers, or even take a different exit while driving. This was an inherently dangerous and stressful business. I had two accidents, neither of which I attribute directly to use of the radio.

    The first one was caused by speeding and an oil slick. The lady I rear-ended even slipped on the oil as she got out of her SUV and commented about it. Damage to my beat-up little 4-cylinder Mustang? $600. Damage to her SUV? $600.

    The second time I was going through a parking lot and this woman backed out. She said I was speeding, I said she was an idiot not to look back before reversing. Insurance said neither party was at fault, so I had no access to her damage figure. Mine was $1100 because she scraped 3 side panels.

    Although I wasn't talking on the radio during either of these accidents, the stress of the job pushed me to drive in an unsafe manner. The radio was part of that stress. Since I no longer do that job, I have had no moving violations and more importantly, no accidents.

    • "The second time I was going through a parking lot and this woman backed out. She said I was speeding, I said she was an idiot not to look back before reversing. Insurance said neither party was at fault, so I had no access to her damage figure. Mine was $1100 because she scraped 3 side panels."

      Parking lots are not government regulated roads and insurance doesn't cover it if your car gets creamed in one of them. (IANAL) If she said you were speeding in a parking lot, you might have wanted to ask her what the speed limit was. As far as I know, only governments can set legally enforcable speed limits on their roads.

      I know this one girl who has had 3 accidents and they were all in parking lots and insurance did not cover any of it.

      As to backing out, I think that there ARE too many fools who look around BEFORE they get into the car, and then back out assuming that the place is still clear. Your only defence in a parking lot is to be alert and keep your horn-hand at the ready. (does that sound dirty?)

  • Statistics show that roughly half of the people bad-mouthing cell phone users in this thread do, in fact, have cell phones.

  • by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:37PM (#4193101) Journal
    People who walk and talk on cell phones are crazy. They should instead do what I do when walking through town - read a book.
    • Terribly dangerous -- I once witnessed a horrific "accident" where a book-reading nerd found his fantasy/D&D book so fascinating he couldn't put it down to visit the urinal.

      Oblivious to the impending danger of two far cooler students, he was unprepared for the inevitable shoulder barge.

      The nerd learns a valuable lesson : book + urinal = wet in the worst possible way.
  • Do Cell Phones Make Us Stupid?
    No, it's just you.
  • My peeve with cell phones is that in the push to make them smaller, they have created a device with which it is impossible to have the earpiece close enough to your ear to hear it, while at the same time keeping the mouthpiece close enough to your mouth for it to pick up what you're saying. As a result, the user is forced to turn up the volume of the phone, so that everyone in the vicinity hears the buzz of the person on the other end, and he has to speak quite loudly to be heard.

    It occurs to me that this may also contribute to the inability to multi-task while speaking on a cell phone. Most people don't have significant problems carrying on a conversation with another person while performing some other task: eating, walking, driving a car. But it's well-known that talking on a cell phone distracts from other tasks. This may be because the poor clarity requires the speaker to concentrate more on comprehending what is being said, and having to speak more deliberately to be understood.

  • It seems to me the real cause of the writer's grief isn't people using cell phones, but people using cell phones while trying to do something else at the same time. There seems to be a belief that you can split your attention between a phone conversation and (driving/walking/unicycling/etc) without any adverse effects, but of course it isn't so. Perhaps we just need a law that says you must be stationary whenever a cell phone is pressed to your ear.
    • Can't remember the source right now (must be that I'm typing on my cellphone whilst driving at 100 mph right now ...:). The study looked at the number of nodes (?term) used by a person's brain during a task. Driving took up about 70 nodes. Talking on the cell phone, about 50 nodes. Doing the two at the same time? (Simulated by a computer driving game) 60 nodes. We aren't as capable at multitasking as we think.
  • The existance of a "Hello Kitty" 'faceplate' for phones is more than enough evidence in my book to prove this point.
  • C'mon people - no one thinks you're talking to the special commando force perched in the Huey just because you hold it sideways away from and in front of, your face. You just look retarded.
  • People who spend more time talking on cell phones seemingly need stimulation beyond the world around them. If people can't become engaged in what's happening around them and feel the need to be somewhere else with someone else. They can't be bothered to stop and smell the roses, blah blah blah... That, or they should have thought about being at that somewhere else to begin with.

    Cell phones don't make people stupid. They're already stupid for thinking they need to use it. They rank right on up there with people who "need" television.
  • Is the COmmunications revolution resulting in decreased communication skills?

    We have mobile phones, email, irc, and slashdot. These communication mediums are meant to be part of the communications revolution, but are we losing the art of effective communication?

    How often do you send 5 or six emails for what could be covered off in a 1 minute phone call? With email people miss your mood, tone, and oftne misinterpret what you mean.

    How important is a face to face meeting? Meeting people face to face allows you to project senses that you just can't with a phone call or email. You get to guage each others body lnaguage and alter your communication to meet the changing mood. This is much harder on the phone, and almost impossible on email...

    So mobile phones probably are making us more stupid, I also switch off to the world in a similar manner when I am writing emails, so email is also making more stupid.

    Note to self, must meet the /. guys in person next time they come to Australia... I am sure I will learn more in five minutes face to face than I have from reading their musings on /. for the last 3 years.
  • The term 'stupid' is overused.

    What I see going on, and it comes from regular phones as well, is that people are becoming too dependent on others.

    Rather than research a subject or situation, and solve it themselves, they are calling someone else to provide a solution.

    Tp illustrate, some years ago a student in a public school had to go to the Principals office to make or receive a call. The extra 'cost' of the procedure to make a call etc encouraged problem solving by the student. Students tended to remember to bring things they needed each day.

    But now with cell phones, no one seems to have any decisive abilities. Children (and adults) call parents and others to ask the most trivial things. What to wear, what to eat, where is the sugar, can't find the peanut butter, should I buy this (insert some inconsequential object), etc.

    It seems the power of reasoning and decision has all but disappeared.

    And, wasn't that what school was all about? Getting away from home and learning to survive and prosper on ones' own?

  • The worst, the absolute worst, is an afternoon rushhour on a crowded NYC commuter bus. People get on, and the phones come out. Dozens of them, inches from your head. It's like sitting in a moving bee-hive. I've started to walk home to avoid it.

    One terriffic anecdote tho - I was coming home one night and the woman sitting in front of me was talking to her friend sitting beside her, and the conversation was making a lot of people on the bus try not to laugh. It doesn't matter what it was about, the point is that her cel went off and she started to tell whoever called the same stupid story. The greatest thing was her ringtone - "If I Only Had A Brain." She really couldn't understand why she was getting such strange looks.

    Triv
  • When cellphones first came out in the UK, you could have endless hours of fun. I was at college near London. When I caught a commuter train, as soon as someone's phone rang and they went to answer it, I'd shout "I'M ON THE TRAIN" and then watch.

    Well, OK, but I was a student back then and these things _were_ funny...

    .02

    cLive ;-)

  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @11:46PM (#4193492)
    Except for an emergency (as defined in the State Codes,
    e.g., you'd be prepared to explain the nature of your emergency to
    a cop and a judge), using a portable phone while operating
    a motor vehicle on a public roadway constitutes a moving violation.

    Exceptions could be provided for licensed amateur radio
    operators, service personnel, security guards, etc.

    Violators to be fined heavily -- as a moving violation.
    One that raises your insurance rates, carries substantial fines,
    and can cause you to forfeit your license to drive
    AND your cell phone after multiple violations.

    Let's make it worthwhile: a $500-1000 fine for the
    first offense, which will generally be waived AFTER a
    court appearence, on the condition that the violator will sit
    through an uncomfortable class or do some service work.

    I'm totally 100% serious here. You can still squawk on the
    phone while driving if you have an emergency (what the
    LAW says is an emergency, not necessarily what YOU say),
    and you can still get a special license that will allow you
    to do it after passing some tests that show you're capable...

    But the routine, always-on nature of the doofuses out there
    who *are* contributing to highway problems has got to stop.

    You want to hear my views on road rage, and my
    ideas of how to stop the trend?
  • There's an interesting article [wired.com] in Wired [wired.com] that sheds light on this problem, sort of. The article is relevant because the problem is similar: being dangerously distracted.

    Basically, it boils down to concentration. People walking around talking on a phone aren't paying attention to the important things, like who is about to squash them. People can't multi-task nearly as well as they assume, which is why people get into these stupid situations.

  • To me, the biggest indicator of stupidity is
    when people think it's somehow appropriate or
    nice to have the monotonic rendition of a mozart
    aria or bach partita as their ringer. As if that
    makes them sophisticated somehow. It literally
    makes me want to kill the owner of the phone.
  • ...in the people who revel at putting down anything that is popular.
  • by po8 ( 187055 )

    Always fashionable to pile on the cellphone users. Here's my contributions:

    • It's not like you ever saw anyone step out into traffic without looking before there were cellphones. (You did? Huh.)
    • Certainly the non-cellphone conversations of those around us in public places are notable for their erudition and cogency. (They're not? Huh.)
    • It isn't like talking on a cellphone in traffic could make driving safer in any way. (You use it for what? Checking road conditions? Reporting drunk drivers? Huh.)

    People were the same way at the dawn of the automobile age. The funny part is, they were mostly right. Cars are more dangerous[1] than horses and buggies, and an annoyance to civilized society. They also transformed civilization, in most ways for the better. (Try taking someone to the hospital on a horse sometime and see how it works out.)

    The cellphone is here to stay. If costs come down just a bit more, everyone in the civilized world will have one. Might as well just enjoy it. If the conversations of those around you are bugging you, call a friend of your own and drown it out, or listen to that next technological marvel: the portable MP3 player.


    -------------

    1. Although folks forget how dangerous horses and buggies were, per road mile travelled. Horses are irrational: they buck riders off, run away with carriages, etc. It would actually be interesting to see a risk study sometime.

    • >If the conversations of those around you are bugging you, call a friend of your own and drown it out, or listen to that next technological marvel: the portable MP3 player.

      works way better to listen to the conversation and butt in. Also rude, but way more fun than a cellphone :) //rdj
  • that shoe phones make Max Smart?

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay

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