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exactly where is the enemy?(42 posts)

exactly where is the enemy?MJ
Nov 21, 2002 4:46 AM

Global goofs: U.S. youth can't find Iraq
Wednesday, November 20, 2002 Posted: 7:55 PM EST (0055 GMT)


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Among 18- to 24-year-old Americans given maps:

87 percent cannot find Iraq

83 percent cannot find Afghanistan

76 percent cannot find Saudi Arabia

70 percent cannot find New Jersey

49 percent cannot find New York

11 percent cannot find the United States

• Global Geographic Literacy Survey
• Take the quiz

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Young Americans may soon have to fight a war in Iraq, but most of them can't even find that country on a map, the National Geographic Society said Wednesday.

The society survey found that only about one in seven -- 13 percent -- of Americans between the age of 18 and 24, the prime age for military warriors, could find Iraq. The score was the same for Iran, an Iraqi neighbor.

Although the majority, 58 percent, of the young Americans surveyed knew that the Taliban and al Qaeda were based in Afghanistan, only 17 percent could find that country on a world map.

A U.S.-led force attacked the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan in October 2001, and President Bush has said he is prepared to use force to rid Iraq of any chemical, nuclear or biological weapons programs.

The survey asked 56 geographic and current events questions of young people in nine countries and scored the results with traditional grades.

The surveyed Americans got a "D," with an average of 23 correct answers. Mexico ranked last with an average score of 21, just three points from a failing grade.

Topping the scoring was Sweden, with an average of 40, followed by Germany and Italy, each with 38. None of the countries got an "A," which required average scores of 42 correct answers or better on the 56 questions.

"Someone once said that war is God's way of teaching geography, but today, apparently war or even the threat of war cannot adequately teach geography," said John Fahey, president of the National Geographic Society.

"More American young people can tell you where an island that the 'Survivor' TV series came from is located than can identify Afghanistan or Iraq. Ironically a TV show seems more real or at least more meaningful interesting or relevant then reality."

National Geographic is convening an international panel of policy makers and business and media leaders to find ways to improve geographic education and to encourage interest in world affairs, the society said.

Other findings from the survey
• Thirty-four percent of the young Americans knew that the island used on last season's "Survivor" show was located in the South Pacific, but only 30 percent could locate the state of New Jersey on a map. The "Survivor" show's location was the Marquesas Islands in the eastern South Pacific.

• When asked to find 10 specific states on a map of the United States, only California and Texas could be located by a large majority of those surveyed. Both states were correctly located by 89 percent of the participants. Only 51 percent could find New York, the nation's third most populous state.

• On a world map, Americans could find on average only seven of 16 countries in the quiz. Only 89 percent of the Americans surveyed could find their own country on the map.

• In the world map test, Swedes could find an average of 13 of the 16 countries. Germans and Italians were next, with an average of 12 each.

• Only 71 percent of the surveyed Americans could locate on the map the Pacific Ocean, the world's largest body of water. Worldwide, three in 10 of those survey
It's more challenging than it may seem,TJeanloz
Nov 21, 2002 5:41 AM
On the face of it, this seems to point to the terrible state of education among the youth of the world, particularly the U.S. However, in thinking about it last night when they showed this on the news, it occurred to me that it is relatively challenging to name countries effectively by their shape and specific location. I'm relatively certain that I could be stumped 9 times - given just a blank map and told to point exactly to a country. Sub-saharan Africa would probably give me some trouble. The former Soviet Republics would also be a challenge; I'm relatively certain I couldn't tell the difference between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and I've been to both. Frankly, I think the questions were probably skewed to make the test challenging. You have to be relatively familiar with mid-west geography to not mix up, say, Indiana and Illinois. Or Arkansas and Iowa. Or Mississippi and Alabama. On the states, I'm sure I could get it right; on the countries, I'm betting it could be a real challenge.
Embarrassingly bad journalism,TJeanloz
Nov 21, 2002 6:09 AM
In my previous post, I hinted that the numbers, and article, seemed biased towards pointing out American shortcomings. National Geographic has posted some of the results, and here's a different spin:

25% of the U.K. sample could identify Israel, a land mass that they once controlled, on a map.
Compared to 21% of the U.S. sample.
Compared to 19% of the Canadian sample.

48% of the U.K. sample could not identify the Pacific Ocean on a map.
41% of the otherwise brilliant Swedes could not identify the Pacific Ocean.
40% of the French sample could not identify the Pacific Ocean.
29% of the American sample could not identify the Pacific Ocean.

49% of the U.K. sample couldn't identify Mexico on a map.
45% of the Japanese sample couldn't either.
Nor 29% of the French and German samples.

Geography is certainly not the strong suit of American pupils- but this survey has done more to prove that pretty much everybody is bad at geography than it has proved that Americans are bad at geography.
Nov 21, 2002 6:43 AM
I thought the Guardian article on this, while noting the US shortcomings, acknowledged the UK shortcomings - though they didn't list a full sampling of questions...,3604,844102,00.html

"British and Canadian interviewees did almost as badly as those in the US on population, nuclear weapons, and locating nations or oceans."
nuclear weapons?mohair_chair
Nov 21, 2002 7:41 AM
"Fewer than 25% of young adults in France, Canada, Italy, Britain or the US could name four countries which officially acknowledge possession of nuclear weapons."

I don't recall being taught that in school, so less than 25% should hardly be a surprise to anyone.
They could always read a paper or watch the news? nmEager Beagle
Nov 21, 2002 7:48 AM
Yeah, rightmohair_chair
Nov 21, 2002 8:11 AM
I don't recall hearing or reading about who has nuclear weapons all that often on TV or in papers and magazines. It doesn't matter anyway, because it's a stupid question. Unlike geography, few people have any need to know this information, which is why it isn't taught.

Furthermore, the question asks which countries have weapons. Going back to other discussions this week, which of the countries that make up Great Britain have nukes? England, Scotland, or Wales?
So whyEager Beagle
Nov 21, 2002 8:18 AM
does anyone need to know geography exactly? You don't often get invited to fly your own planes to destinations these days?

If you don't recall reading this, either you have a short memory, or you skip the foreign pages/papers.

There has been plenty re India/pakistan and Iraq/terrorism of late on the subject of WMD etc.
are you serious?MJ
Nov 21, 2002 8:31 AM
people don't need to know who has WMD? where have you been for the past year?

it's not important that India and Pakistan now have nuke capability? what about North Korea?

policy/political decisions are based on exactly that sort of information - if you're not interested then you shouldn't be allowed to vote - just keepwatching those reruns of Friends, reading People magazine and keep your head firmly in the sand

does Wales have nukes? again - you can't be serious can you?

I'll tell you what - how about you take some sort of remedial education course at your local community college and hold your tongue/keyboard until you have a basic level of knowledge - it may help address the bewilderment you may feel when the grown ups are talking...

I seriously hope you are trolling
are you a complete idiot?mohair_chair
Nov 21, 2002 8:58 AM
You know, why don't you calm down and shut the hell up for a change. Your over the top knee-jerk reactions are so pathetic. I've been reading them for years now and they never improve.

I don't know how you extract all that from my post (or how you can totally misinterpret most of my posts) and I don't know why you always have to turn it in a personal attack on me. Stuff it. As to your point (whatever it is), I know more about nuclear weapons than you will EVER know. I know who has them and who doesn't. I know the physics behind them and how to make them. Someday when you grow up, ask your dad about them.

I'll bet I know more about most things than you will EVER know. And you can bet that I will be correcting your idiotic posts with great pleasure from now until the end of time.
Nov 21, 2002 9:03 AM
hahahahhehhehehhohoh - that's the funnist thing I have read in ages...

Give us some more of your "Sore Loser" intellectual input please....
Nov 21, 2002 9:10 AM
but still not a very clever one - oh where is RRP when you need him?

a better put down would have been - "I've forgotten more about nukes than you'll ever know." (caps mean you're shouting and it's not polite)

nice effort - I thought you were seriously that stupid - now I'll just assume you're kidding when you post under this handle - but please do correct me whenever you can as it's certain to be source of great hilarity
Um, your post was stupid.53T
Nov 21, 2002 4:34 PM
But that doesn't make you a bad person.
I'm not going to confirm or deny any knowlege I may or may not have regarding the construction or operation of nucular weapons.

However, I do know that the US, UK, France (God help us), Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel, Texas and Canada all have, at a minimum, tactical T-nuclear weapon systems operational. N. Korea, China, R.O.C, and Australia are on my watch list. When I called Mexico, they said they could get a few, if I knew someone who wanted to buy some.

Israel theoretically doesn't have the bomb...TJeanloz
Nov 22, 2002 7:00 AM
Israel has not tested a nuclear bomb, and claims not to have any nuclear weapons in their arsenal. Everybody assumes however, that they're smart enough and resourceful enough to build a bomb whenever they feel like it in the future- but politically, they have avoided actually doing so.

The only confirmed nuclear powers are the US, Russia, France, UK, China, India and Pakistan.
But they haveEager Beagle
Nov 22, 2002 7:11 AM
refused to sign the non-proliferation treaty, along with India, Pakistan and Cuba.

I wonder why....
Playing politics,TJeanloz
Nov 22, 2002 7:19 AM
The US hasn't signed the Kyoto agreements, but that doesn't necessarily mean we don't want a cleaner environment- we just don't like the terms of the agreement.

I assume the situation is the same for Israel- they don't want to have to build a bomb, but they aren't going to sign away their right to.
You could be rightEager Beagle
Nov 22, 2002 7:28 AM
But I'd bet they have already, just not tested it. At least a tactical battlefield device, if not WMD.

Testing is more and more a thing of the past as computers have got more and more powerful - you just don't need it so much.
Israeli testmohair_chair
Nov 22, 2002 7:41 AM
Sep 22 1979, a low-yield nuclear device exploded above the Indian Ocean off the Cape of Good Hope. It was a joint test between Israel and South Africa. South Africa was a supplier of uranium to Israel for their Dimona reactor.
Maybe, maybe not,TJeanloz
Nov 22, 2002 7:57 AM
Israel has never confirmed that this event was a nuclear test, though some of the involved South Africans have said that it was.

All adding to the assumption that Israel has, or could easily have, nuclear weapons, but theoretically does not. They are not an acknowledged nuclear power.
Geography not the most important subjectCaptain Morgan
Nov 21, 2002 6:12 AM
With the decline of reading and arithmetic scores in the U.S., I think the schools have been focusing their attention on these areas. Identifying Iraq on a map will not improve SAT scores.

The same goes with the United Kingdom thread earlier. Who cares if kids know what England is but not the United Kingdom? I don't see any teams named "United Kingdom" in the Olympics or World Cup.

IMHO, there are bigger fish to fry than this.
Yeah butSintesi
Nov 21, 2002 6:53 AM
If it were my kid scoring that badly on a geography test I'd be a pissed parent. Granted it isn't the most important subject for a broad segment of society but I wouldn't want my kid to be ignorant of the world's topagraphy. When half can't find New York City, the major city in the US, we're talking utter incompetence. These kids are illiterate. It bothers me that the most powerful (and therefore most responsible) nation on earth keeps cranking out these shallow, no-nothing kids en masse. These kids are being thrust into a world that is getting smaller all the time and we can't have a majority of our democratic population incapable of understanding the world around them.

Another point to be looked at: Our bifurcated society in which suburban white schools are well funded and maintain high standards and the urban, non-white, inner-city schools crumbling and unable to get the majority of their students to pass basic core comptetencies. The US's average is skewed by this low bottom end. It's a disgrace.
Guess what...TJeanloz
Nov 21, 2002 7:01 AM
"These kids?" It was a survey of adults, age 18-24.
who didn't get a good high school education when they were kids - nmMJ
Nov 21, 2002 7:10 AM
Fair enough (nm)TJeanloz
Nov 21, 2002 7:17 AM
Even worse. nmSintesi
Nov 21, 2002 7:14 AM
Great Wireless this morningEager Beagle
Nov 21, 2002 7:47 AM
On the BBC's Today programme on radio 4, they interviewd a ludicrus NY travel agent who said that it was all rubbish and there was no way ANYONE in the US doesn't know where/what the UK is.

So...the go for a walk in Central Park with a microphone and ask people. Needless to say, the results were hilarious. The best one I think was that Jamacia is in England.

Hardly surpsising I thought - why does anyone in CP need to know where the UK is?

And for the record - I would consider anyone trying to show how poor the average UK student's geography is a waster of time and money. Our education system is generally accepted as risible - it falls into the Fish in a Barrel category.
Nov 21, 2002 8:16 AM
You would think a New Yorker would at least know that Jamaica is in Queens.
No no noEager Beagle
Nov 21, 2002 8:20 AM
The Queen of Jamacia is the Queen of England. Not New England, but old England. Like Brooklyn in is part of the new Royal Family in England, HRHs the Beckhams...
Queen?Captain Morgan
Nov 21, 2002 8:37 AM
Who ever heard of a queen? I certainly did not vote for her.
Oh didn't you - Oh OK - mebbe she doesn't exist then. nmEager Beagle
Nov 21, 2002 8:41 AM
Supreme executive powerCaptain Morgan
Nov 21, 2002 1:19 PM
derives from a mandate from the masses!
Sometimes. nmEager Beagle
Nov 21, 2002 1:23 PM
if by "mass" you mean "God" you are correct - nmMJ
Nov 22, 2002 12:56 AM
Help! Help! I'm being repressed! :-)) nmrwbadley
Nov 21, 2002 11:38 AM
I got a different messagetrekkie1
Nov 21, 2002 8:11 AM
*Young Americans may soon have to fight a war in Iraq, but most of them can't even find that country on a map, the National Geographic Society said Wednesday.

I took this to mean that it would be immoral to send young people to fight a war in a place they know little or nothing about. If so, I think that's stupid. You don't need to know where a place is to be air lifted in and do your job. Besides, my bet is that once a soldier is told about going to whereever, that soldier will darn well know where that is before getting there. So, this message, if that is what is implied, is just another weak attempt to undermine the administration.

It is worth noting, if there is any finger to be pointed, that the individuals were largely educated (or not) during the Clinton years.

Bottom line, nearly all fundamental education could be improved. I'd focus on basic skills before worrying much about middle east geography, though.
There is a finger to be pointed...Stampertje
Nov 21, 2002 9:23 AM
...but not (just) at Clinton. I feel that, on the whole, governements have been ignoring education at best, and trying to force change for change's sake at worst. In the Netherlands for sure, and from what I understand in the US and the UK as well. Now, a good teacher can do a lot with even poor material but after a while the good teachers disappear and the lack of status and income for teachers means that more and more poorly educated teachers face the classrooms. This is a trend that, over here, has set in maybe 20 or 30 years ago. It hasn't improved since, either.

The decisions Clinton did (or did not) make on education did not affect the children in school during his presidency. They affect the children in school now, just as Bush's education policy won't really take effect until a new class goes through school. But I haven't seen any sign that either has acknowledged the root of the problem, or even the severity of the problem. Unfortunately, I'm about as clueless on the solution as everyone else (although I do have some specific ideas about the Dutch situation).
Mathematical shortcomings, tooStampertje
Nov 21, 2002 9:14 AM
• Only 71 percent of the surveyed Americans could locate on the map the Pacific Ocean, the world's largest body of water. Worldwide, three in 10 of those surveyed could not correctly locate the Pacific Ocean.

That doesn't sound like the reporters realize that this means that Americans are exactly average in this respect...
well saidMJ
Nov 21, 2002 9:19 AM
it's funny what you can do with biased commentary
well saidJon Billheimer
Nov 21, 2002 10:10 AM
My reading was the same. The Americans were 7th, but the real point is that ALL of us a pretty poorly informed.
FWIW...Jon Billheimer
Nov 21, 2002 11:35 AM
I just had to take the quiz! And I got 18 out of 20. My two incorrect answers were, frankly, an embarrassment. My conclusion? Modern educational systems are doing a lousy job in certain respects; and people are simply not paying attention to the six o'clock news. The questions asked, in my opinion, are VERY basic.

BTW, my primary and high school educations were in small, parochial schools in Indiana in the '50s. I remember in the sixth grade, one of our major tests in history/geography class was to draw a map of the United States freehand, draw in every single state, mountain range and river system, and identify all the state capitols. To my memory, every kid in the class passed.

My own children, being products of modern, EXPENSIVE, public school systems in an upscale suburb of a Western Canadian city are woefully uneducated in history, geography, and literature, political science, and philosophy. Their math skills and general scientific knowledge are, by comparison, pretty good.
Where's the quiz Jon? nmSintesi
Nov 21, 2002 11:39 AM
Where's the quiz Jon? nmJon Billheimer
Nov 21, 2002 12:25 PM