The less Americans know about Ukraine’s location, the more they want U.S. to intervene


 The Washington Post

Survey result: Where Americans (from the U.S.) locate the Ukraine.
The average was 2,900 km off.
We found that only one out of six Americans can find Ukraine on a map, and that this lack of knowledge is related to preferences: The farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S.  to intervene with military force.

It's about time to weep about mankind.
A similar survey in Germany would likely still be embarrassing, I would expect about 1/3 instead of 1/6 to get it right.

How can democracy work, how can politicians represent their constituents if said constituents are clueless?
There's still the approach of politicians representing by trying to get it right on their own, instead of trying to trying to decide according to majority preferences - the technocrat model. But how could - at the next election - the voters judge the technocrats (and new candidates) if they don't even know about the basics?

I've seen issues such as geography and policy knowledge pinned to schooling deficiencies, but I actually don't remember having learnt world maps and their meaning at school, ever. I was able to find all countries and name their capital at some point (often messed up the small Caribbean islands, though), but that was because I was bored in class, not because I was taught it. General knowledge needs to be picked up later. It is about paying attention to the outside world, instead of being consumed by private life fully.

The worker movement of the 19th century worked to politicise the workers by educating them. Clubs and publications with useful functions doubled as political education tools. It's confusing to me how modern "news" can be infotainment (pretending to be about information, but emphasizing entertainment value) and still fail to carry the content across sufficiently.

I am convinced: The historians in the 22nd century will consider our societies as ridden by many very obvious defects - unable to cope with challenges, and quite embarrassing.

edit 2014-05:



  1. A good number of those guesses were aimed at... Canada? WTF, now I have to worry about a yankee battalion invading my back yard. Morons.

  2. Correct; this is the fundamental problem with Western democracy which is, in my experience, emphasized in North America over Europe, as the European school system is generally superior. Democracy relies on an educated and aware population to function. Arguably we have not had a population like that since the late 1950s, where we see an increasing self-absorption take hold culturally. If we are a democracy, we are just as obligated to listen to the citizen-idiots screaming their heads off in a completely clueless emotional fit prompted by agitprop infotainment programming as we are to listen to the people who have a clue and have given some thought to what would be best for them, collectively. The only solution is improved education.

  3. If you just give kids a map with some lines, dots and names to remember they will usually just remember it for the test and forget it. Or just have some trivial information remembered.

    If you show them how to read maps. How some geographical features shaped the warfare style of some nations and their overall development. And explain it as some interesting (hi)story, then it actually becomes interesting to learn and know it. And it helps memorization.

    A lot of what people learn is about what they are interested in and try to find out in their free time. In the end people also share responsible for their own education. Especially in relatively wealthy countries with libraries, bookstores and Internet.

    To not know, because it was impossible to know is excusable.
    To not know because it was willfully ignored is not excusable.

    More so when decisions are based on that ignore-ance.