Sunday, January 19, 2020

yes: I can find Iran on an unlabeled map

According to this article, only 28% of registered US voters can find Iran on an unlabeled map of that region of the world. Too bad the surveyors didn't consult me; I could have helped to bump that percentage up ever so slightly. Admittedly, my knowledge of Middle Eastern geography is generally terrible, but I can point out the locations of the major players.

Demographically speaking, men did better than women on the survey: 38% of men versus 20% of women being able to pinpoint Iran correctly. People in the age brackets of 55-and-up and 18-29 did the best, at 29%. Republicans did slightly better than Democrats (28% to 27%), but Independents did the best (31%). People with college degrees did significantly better than people without them (38% to 24%).

But however you break down the data, it's obvious that Americans remain poor at geography—something that's been true for ages. Taken as a whole, we're a provincial, navel-gazing folk with little interest in what happens outside our borders, and it may even be safe to say that Americans who do take an interest in foreign affairs still have little notion of world geography. I've always been horrible at geography; I learn about places by visiting them, which is why I'm good at Western European geography and a big zero when it comes to Eastern Europe, Central and South America, most of the African continent, and parts of Asia. Don't even talk to me about oceanic islands.

But I can find Iran on an unlabeled map.

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