Some studies suggest that regular use of search engines gives people the illusion of increased intelligence.
There has always been concerns about the adverse effects of technology on human development, right from the days of Socrates. In ancient Greece, it was the fear that scrolls and other forms of recording technology would make people mentally lazy. This was based on the assumption that writing would eliminate the need to memorize things. Today, the fear is that “Googling” would make people dull over time, as the need to know or even remember anything would become unnecessary.
It seems being able to fill in those gaps in your memory with a quick Google/Wikipedia search, while not harming you per se, it is definitely boosting your confidence in your own mental power. This article on what happens to the brain when a person becomes accustomed to googling everything, explains that the ease and frequency with which we log on to Google – mid-conversation, on a queue etc – has convinced our brains that Googling is part of the thinking process. Therefore, it credits our online findings to our personal brilliance.
This interview with one Matthew Fisher, a researcher that has worked extensively on this, has a lot more info on the subject (almost an hour long, but the interesting bits are at the beginning).