Ray

Like, Duh! A new category for humor-red neck valley girl jokes.

Noe Cepeda

true.

so funny

Yes, 1/5 Americans cannot locate U.S on the map because they wanna help south Africa and Asian countrys.

Ryan Parks

"Because some people in American, umm, don't have maps..." I love it.

mgroves

How would Freakonomics answer that question?

Adam

Do you really expect much from these contestants, though? During the introduction to each one, a personal bio flashes on the screen and includes name, age, and hobbies. Under hobbies were entries such as "texting", "talking to friends", and, I kid you not, "laughing".

I'd be surprised if one fifth of the contestants could locate the US on a map.

Keith

Considering that the video in question has been around the Internet about 5 times now (Digg, Fark, etc...) , some analysis about it would have been better than a simple sentence.

Julia

Is this why we have "beauty" contests? I don't understand the point of such humiliation.

MoneyDummy

Freakonomics would probably point out that a fifth of Americans are infants and toddlers, and then talk about how "studies" are incredibly subject to definition.

mmm

Keith:
I'll do some analysis.

First, she was obviously prepped to mention South Africa and Iraq because those were issues she could score points on. However, the question did not lend itself to discussion of South Africa and Iraq. Therefore, the contestant was left struggling to make an difficult connection. The benefit for us was anecdotal evidence that certain Americans are dumb as rocks AND we get a really good laugh at her expense.

Second, no matter how much I want to believe most people are that stupid, I doubt the statistic cited in the question.

Third, the question does not lend itself well to mere opinion, but only guesses. Therefore, there were a real easy responses such as most Americans don't care about geography because they never leave the country for anywhere. [now insert how sad it is that we make decisions that affect countries like Iraq and South Africa without even understanding our place in the world]

Read more...

Michael

And the difference between her response and what we've occasionally heard from George W. is ... ? Seems to fit the current norm of role models in this culture.

Fred

Second, no matter how much I want to believe most people are that stupid, I doubt the statistic cited in the question.

I once knew someone who didn't know how to fill out a check. Not even the date part. He did know how to sign it, but even that was more of a printing his name, not an actual signature. He was a high school graduate. Not a GED, not a drop-out, a graduate. The phrase, "Last year, I couldn't even spell graduate. Now I are one," came to mind.

I know several people who don't know how to read a simple road map. They can't pick out major cities (though labeled), major interstates (though labeled), or any other basic functions of a road map. God forbid you need directions from them.

It wouldn't surprise me one bit if 1/5 of Americans can't find the United States on a map if it's a world map, which is what I'm sure they were using. In fact, I'd guess that there's a surprising number, though less than 1/5, who couldn't even find it on a map of North America. And I bet there's even some people who can't find it on a map of the United States.

Really, we are that dumb. Geography just isn't as important in today's school as it used to be. Heck, it's not even important in college. Where's the geography portion of the SAT?

It's all reading and math nowadays. If you can read and do math, then what else is there? Right?

Sadly, wrong.

What percentage of people know we're fighting a war in Iraq, but couldn't find the country on a world map, a map of the Middle East, or a map of the country itself? I'm putting my money on a larger-than-expected number. Ever watch Jay Leno ask people who the President or Vice-President is? Unfortunately, that's real America.

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adrienne

I wonder if she'll ever get anyone's order right at Hooter's. Pardon me, THE Hooter's but not the one in THE Iraq.

Rita: Lovely Meter Maid

Inside Beauty Contestant's head, at time of being asked question: (must answer question and must also....somehow...work in South Africa....somehow!....I must do this!....and....also....get in something about....Iraq!....Iraq, too!....question is about...maps....hmmmmmmm.....maps have to do with.....countries!.....and....stuff, so....there's.....a.....definate....connection!)

Theo

Other discussion about this at Language Log. :)

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004861.html#more

One of the things they comment on is that it is definitely difficult to come up with a good comprehensive answer to out of the blue questions when you're in the spotlight being filmed. While I can see their point, believe me it's not quite *that* hard. Extemporaneous speaking should be an olympic event!

Zack

Don't get me wrong, I think it's funny too, but what the heck does this have to do with anything Freakonomics is about?

I get the Freakonomics RSS feed, and I feel very mis-led by the mini-lead provided in my feed.

Granted, we're talking about wasting about 90 seconds of my life here, so it's not a major crime, but still, I don't think this belongs on the Freakonomics blog.

BC

The answer to the question is because they don't have to, they can use Google Earth...just like they don't have to lerne to spel, because they have spell checker, and don't have to learn long division because they have a calculator, and on and on....life's just too easy these days!

ZBicyclist

She just got lost -- as others have pointed out, she was desperately trying to fit Iraq and South Africa into her answer somehow, someway.

And it's not really an easy question. Fred (#13) came closest to what I'd say.

Levitt's right -- it's easy to get lost during an important interview when you are asked a question you aren't prepared for.

Anne

Theo, thanks for posting that link. My office blocks YouTube, so I didn't have any clue what this post was about without the transcription.

Sara

Fred: Where do you meet all these people you describe? I don't know anyone like that at all. Maybe I'm just too stuck in my ivory tower world, but I just can't imagine how someone who reads the Freakonomics blog "knows" people like the ones you describe. I mean, sure, the homeless guy who hangs out outside my condo maybe can't locate the US on a map, but I wouldn't say I know him. What are the professions of these people who can't write out checks or read road maps? I'm really curious about this.