Only 36 percent of 1,746 American adults were correctly able to pinpoint the location of North Korea in a recent survey conducted by Morning Consult.
Carried out at the request of The New York Times, the survey provided a frightening portrait of just how ignorant many Americans still remain of basic geographic knowledge.
I wrote “still” because even “[b]ack in 2006, six in 10 young adults couldn’t find Iraq on a map of the Middle East, with 75 percent of them failing to identify Iran and Israel,” according to Forbes magazine.
If knowledge is power, then many of our peers have about as much power as a depleted AAA battery, and that’s not a good thing.
National Graphic: Young Americans Geographically Illiterate, Survey Suggests
The Washington Post: Half of Americans can’t identify Syria on a map (young Republicans do slightly better)
New York Post: Most Americans can’t find these US territories on a map
What’s rather astonishing about the survey is that it showed that Republicans — particularly Republican men — were more likely than others to successfully locate North Korea.
Broken down by gender, 45 percent of men were correct compared to just 27 percent of women. On a party basis, Republicans (37 percent) were more likely to find North Korea on the map than Democrats (31 percent).
Yet the survey also demonstrated that those with a bachelor’s degree or post-graduate degree were significantly more apt than their less-educated brethren to find North Korea.
Viewed together, these stunning revelations dispel a myriad of liberal myths about both “dumb men” and “know-nothing Republicans.” They also dispel the myth about Republicans itching for war.
As noted by the Times, “respondents who could correctly identify North Korea tended to view diplomatic and nonmilitary strategies more favorably,” and “direct military engagement — in particular, sending ground troops — much less favorably than those who failed to locate North Korea.”
Granted, dealing with North Korea diplomatically isn’t necessarily the right approach. Given North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un’s recent hash of abrasive behavior, taking him out for good — by perhaps assassinating him, for instance — might be a better option. But this of course is not the point.
The points are, in fact, two-fold: one, Republicans are far smarter than liberals realize; and two, the American people en masse are far less educated than many people believe.
The first point is good, but the second one is bad — very bad. As argued by Alec Murphy, a professor of geography at the University of Oregon, a lack of geographic knowledge leaves the American people susceptible to misinformation from our political leaders.