Mind Change by Susan Greenfield

Mind change is to human psychology as climate change is to the planet. Susan Greenfield’s thesis in this excellent book is that the digital world, especially the online world, is causing the brains and therefore the minds of billions of people around the world to change.

In some regards, this book is similar to Mary Aiken’s The Cyber Effect, but here the emphasis is more on a nuts-and-bolts approach. Dr Aiken is a cyber-psychologist. Susan Greenfield is one of Britain’s best known scientists – as a neuroscientist she has much to say on her subject.

The book makes similar warnings to The Cyber Effect, and it is clear that Greenfield is as concerned as Aiken. Both authors come to similar conclusions: online life is changing the default setting of the human brain, from local-scale, word-based and empathic to meaningless, visually overloaded, cold and shallow. The often repeated concern that far too many young people have the attention span of a gnat is here given a proper scientific basis. Her approach is commendable – often giving alternative interpretations, sometimes admitting that the truth is difficult to ascertain, sometimes demolishing her opponents. It’s also a very good read – she can write.

Enjoyable and interesting, then, but also a warning about a future humanity is sleepwalking into.