GoogleRad or death by Google


Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head and Neck Imaging, at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.

“With Google I’m starting to burn out on knowing the answer to everything. People in the year 2020 are going to be nostalgic for the sensation of feeling clueless.” —Doug Coupland

I’ve mentioned this before—I examine for the ABR, boards, and CAQ exams—a test of your knowledge and visual skills. This year, for the first time EVER, I had a candidate tell me (without a trace of humor) that they did not know the answer to a straightforward and easy question, but that they could Google it to get the answer. “Huh?” I was dumbfounded. However, shortly thereafter, I got the same response to another question.

I guess this is where we are headed, and we should have known. Check the history on any browser in any reading room, and Google is there. The residents live off it. It should be a window in the PACS viewer (and likely is with some good PACS setups).

The debate: Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? An opinion is all I have. And, I would not contend that my opinion is worth anymore than anyone’s. But, you get to hear mine since I’m writing this. I think it dumbs us all down. The depth of knowledge traditionally gained by reading books and articles, and reviews, and reading still more and seeing a lot of cases is replaced by fast fingers and knowledge of Google search terms that get the most hits. More and more, the depth of knowledge is a “bite,” as it has been termed, or a brief fragment of facts about an entity. Kind of like someone asking you about Shakespeare, and you responding “Yeah. English guy. Wrote some great plays, and sonnets and poems. Said ‘to be, or not to be.’” All correct and factual, yes, but hardly an appreciation of the topic.

Online resources are everywhere. Google is the current king. There are some good points to this, obviously. If you know nothing at all, Google can find you some quick info, and it can be a resource for finding those additional materials. However, unless you probe and go deeper, you are scratching the surface. Knowledge bites. Welcome to the brave new world.

I hope that my job means that I know more than what somebody with a good browser and Google does. Although, yes, I use it from time to time. Mahalo.

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GoogleRad or death by Google.  Appl Radiol. 

February 08, 2012

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