Books: Children, Eat Your Trash!

A provocative work argues that pop culture has become brainier--and makes you smarter too

Steven Johnson is a very intelligent man who frittered away much of his youth on TV, movies and video games. You kids out there would be wise to do the same. In Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter (Riverhead Books; 238 pages), the social critic and technologist (Mind Wide Open) makes a thought-provoking argument that today's allegedly vacuous media are, well, thought provoking.

First, we should clarify what Johnson means by "good." Unlike many critics of media--especially media aimed at kids--Johnson is not using the term in its moral or social sense....

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