Wednesday 16 April 2014

Waging war on ignorance

Here on The Blob I take a little time contemplating the PageView statistics with a certain amount of bemusement.  I can understand why most of my readers come from Ireland and why those are followed closely by the USA and then by Britain, I have friends&relations in all those countries and the dominant language in each is English.  When you equilibrate the PVs according to the population in each of those countries, Ireland is punching way above its weight with nearly 100x more interest in The Blob than any other country.  But why should there be so much interest from Russia and Ukraine?  I know I have made a bit of a running joke about both my loyal readers (поздоровлення читач один, поздравления читатель два) in those countries.  And I've made an attempt, only a bit facetiously nerdish, to promote links between Ukraine and Ireland. It should be clear from that analysis that I know, not only where Ukraine is, but the names of several of the country's constituent oblasts. According to a recent report from the Washington Post that level of knowledge and interest would put me in the 99th percentile if I was living in the USA.

We've long known that young Americans can be plug-ignorant about where things are located - many unsure if France is a country or a city and fully half unable reliably to point to New York or Mississippi on an outline map of the 48 contiguous states. But with Ukraine so much in the news you'd think more of them would have absorbed some infographics from Fox or CNN so they have a sound idea of where that troubled country is.  Less that 1 in 6 can click within the national border of Ukraine on an electronic map of the world.  Many punters in the WP quiz are so wildly off target (map/picture) that they might have throwing darts blindfold at the map. The metaphor is particularly apposite because on the standard Mercator projection of the World, Ukraine is the bulls-eye. One attempt appears to be confusing Ukraine with Utah.

It's okay, in the immortal phrase of Bill Bryson, to be thick as pig dribble so long as you stay at home in Middletown, USA.  It gets more worrying when the WP cross-referenced their respondents' knowledge of where Ukraine is located with their attitudes about the correct response of the US government to the recent troubles. Those who knew least about the Ukraine were keenest for their own government to invade the place!

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