our infatuation with pop culture

16 08 2006

In the news this week, a recent poll showed Americans know more about pop culture than world affairs.  This is not surprising.  Here’s an excerpt of the study :

When knowledge of classic literature was compared to popular animated series, 60% of poll respondents were able to identify Homer as the father of Bart Simpson, while only 21% could name one of Homer’s epic Greek poems. Knowledge of government did not fare much better with 73% of those polled able to name all three of The Three Stooges, while only 42% could name the three branches of government. 

Americans’ knowledge of fictional super heroes and boy wizards eclipsed our collective knowledge of astronomy and world leaders. Krypton was identified correctly by 60% of the respondents as Superman’s planet of origin, while only 37% were able to name Mercury as the closest planet to the sun. Our British counterparts might be surprised to learn that more Americans (57%) were able to correctly identify Harry Potter as the name of J.K. Rowling’s fictional boy wizard who lives in England than were able to successfully name Tony Blair as the current Prime Minister of England – only 50%.

I was surprised by the percentage knowing the three branches of government, as well about not knowing Mercury is closest to the sun. 

In a similar poll from 1998, 90% of American high school students knew the star of the movie “Titanic” but only 74% knew the Vice President of the United States.  I wonder how true this is with adults…

I realize that not a high percentage of Americans even bother to vote, but I wonder how many people who do vote don’t even study the issues or know who most of the candidates are…  This reminds me of a quote :

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.

You may not want to think about that too much…  🙂  Since we do vote on our government and state leaders, we have to hope that the majority of voters are knowledgeable of the issues and candidates and that they want what’s good for our country. 

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One response

17 08 2006
Ronalfy

I found it rather intriguing that most people didn’t know the three branches of Government also. Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. Wow. I must be a nerd or something.

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