Americans know very little have surprising gaps in their knowledge about themselves, and know even less about the world around them.  These kinds of polls and “man on the street” interviews, showing shocking ignorance of even basic facts about the world (“Can you name the Vice President?”  “What is the capital of France?”  “Where is the Panama Canal located?”), are at once saddening and the source of some Schadenfreude.  One of the more popular shows on TV popular game shows on TV deliberately plays on the ignorance of Americans about such matters.  But more seriously, one of the books that I’m reading at the moment suggests that this ignorance is the result of disinterest – and that this disinterest is a very dangerous sign of national decline.  We cannot hope to engage the world around us without at least trying to understand it first.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. I heard that females on average don’t know there are 50 states. Can you take a cursory poll on this?I missed one of the Great Lakes today. Can you guess which one? No I’m not going to tell you how many there are . . .

  2. NASCAR, Toby Keith, Georeg W remains in office, Scrubs, Paris Hilton, American Idol…Americans are ignorant. It would be fairly ignorant not to notice. We, as a country, are regressing. Americans aren’t interested in knowing anything about the world around them other than the one english guy to be the snotty judge on their favorite talent show.Given 20 years on the current path, no American will have ever left the country.Except to go to Iraq.

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