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September 22, 2004

Comments

Phil Hunt

There was a recent survey in Britain where 11% of people thought Hitler never existed.

Abiola Lapite

As bad as that figure is, I find the following claims from the link you provide even more disturbing:

"almost a third of the population thinks the Cold War was not real ... 9 per cent said Winston Churchill was fictional. A further 33 per cent believed Mussolini was not a real historical figure ... More than 60 thought the Battle of Helms Deep in the Lord of the Rings trilogy actually took place ... Nearly one in five believe Harold Wilson, not Winston Churchill, was Prime Minister during the Second World War."

The scary thing is that every last one of those who believe these things is entitled to exactly the same single vote as those citizens who have a clue. It's a miracle that democracy works at all.

mac in japan

None of this is a great shock considering that one third Europeans can not find the Pacific Ocean on a world map that is not labeled, and 10% of Americans can't find America. I saw a news report about this with my kids on Japanese TV last night. And I'm proud to report that my 8-year-old daughter does indeed know that the earth goes around the sun, and why the phases of the moon appear as they do. But then, she is naturally bright and curious about the world. Most people are not.

But their ignorance of basic astronomy is not because they are poor students -- just the opposite, they have learned badly thought-out lessons by rote, Hidehiko Agata, an assistant professor at the observatory told AFP Tuesday.

This explanation doesn't make much sense. I don't think Japanese school lessons are "badly thought out", at least not in a relative sense compared to schools in other countries. The kids they surveyed probably just hadn't studied much astronomy yet, and/or aren't interested in such things.

dof


East? Surely you mean spinwards?

João da Costa

Abiola:

"The scary thing is that every last one of those who believe these things is entitled to exactly the same single vote as those citizens who have a clue. It's a miracle that democracy works at all."

Democracy is a state of equilibrium between many human tendencies. This is why it works!

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