With all this new technology, why are humans still so ignorant?

There are some times when I am just floored by how ignorant humans, specifically Americans, are these days, even when answers are right at their fingertips. America is the developed world’s second most ignorant country, in fact. First, I’d just like to compile a long list of ridiculous facts demonstrating the stupidity of some Americans.

  1. Only 71% of Americans can locate the Pacific Ocean on a map
  2. 22% of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just 1 in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms
  3. A 2007 National Constitutional Center poll found that two-thirds of Americans couldn’t name all three branches of the U.S. federal government, nor a single Supreme Court justice.
  4. When respondents of another poll were asked whether they could recall any of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, a majority could name only free speech. More than a third were unable to list any First Amendment rights.
  5. 14% of voters in one poll believe in Bigfoot
  6. 13% of voters think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ
  7. Polls over the last few years have variously shown that about 30 percent of us couldn’t name the vice president,
  8. about 35 percent couldn’t assign the proper century to the American Revolution
  9. 25% of Americans were unable to identify the country from which America gained its independence. Although 19% stated that they were unsure, Gallup findings indicated that others stated answers varying from France to China. Older folks scored much better than young people on this question, as a third of those 18-29 were unable to come up with the correct answer. [source]
  10. Despite being a constant fixture in school curricula, another 30% of Americans didn’t know what the Holocaust was. [source]
  11. 20% of americans believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth

I think you get the picture. The statistics are definitely crazy and slightly entertaining, while kind of disturbing. Please keep in mind that these statistics may not be current or taken from reliable sources. That being said, the general trend when googling “american ignorance” is that we are an overwhelmingly stupid population.

I know it’s fiction, but I think M.T Anderson’s novel Feed is a really great depiction of how the ability to easily acquire knowledge does not mean the human race will become any more knowledgeable. With Google, you can find the answer for any question you might have, but having the information served to you on a silver platter will make it harder to retain what you’ve learned. If you have to go digging to find something out, you have to WORK for that knowledge, and chances are you are going to come across something along the way that will stick with you.

This article supports my theory: “Why are we so deluded? The error can be traced to our mistaking unprecedented access to information with the actual consumption of it… only a small percentage of people take advantage of the great new resources at hand. In 2005, the Pew Research Center surveyed the news habits of some 3,000 Americans age 18 and older. The researchers found that 59% on a regular basis get at least some news from local TV, 47% from national TV news shows, and just 23% from the Internet.”

We are in a wash of news and information. Some is good, some is bad or anecdotal, and it can be hard to distinguish one kind from another. In addition, the previous link suggests that fewer people today read the paper, watch the news, or visit news websites. The voter turnout is declining, especially in young people, because a lack of information causes a sense of apathy and diminishes the importance of nationwide elections. It’s so easy to be informed in this day in age, but people take it for granted and don’t understand how much they truly do not understand about the world.

3 thoughts on “With all this new technology, why are humans still so ignorant?

  1. Celine Elizabeth Gosselin Post author

    Exactly. It really makes me wonder whether technology is helping or hindering our intelligence. I would be interested to see a study done comparing brain scans of children exposed to technology pretty much 24/7 and children who only get to watch the occasional movie and the daily news. If there is a positive correlation between technology and intelligence or lack therof, parents would then be responsible for how much technology to expose their children to.

  2. mcm5844

    You brought up the fact that older generations scored higher when asked about the American Revolution. I believe that older generations would likely score higher on many of these questions, specifically ones government and history related. This leads me to believe on the contrary new technology in not beneficial to our learning, as posed by your title, but harmful. This article explains some cons to how technology is affecting young minds. To me this creates reason to look further into ignorance, and find a source, that very well may be the increase in technology.

    http://www.edudemic.com/the-4-negative-side-effects-of-technology/

  3. Alex Rosencrance

    I would definitely agree with the ideas that you presented. Being a student who has taken a semi-active interest in the news and especially in the 2016 election, I can not tell you how many times I have heard people saying they would vote for Trump or Clinton because they are “better”. But if you ask these people any sort of basic question on the policies of the candidates, they will almost always be unable to give you an answer. It is sad to see that our generation seems to not care at all about the people who will be running our nation, or what is going on outside of their twitter feeds.

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