Monday, April 7, 2014

don't know much geography

Sad to say, only 16% of Americans in a recent survey could locate Ukraine on a map. What's worse, the most ignorant people also favored the most militant responses. According to 3 academics writing on the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog:
However, the further our respondents thought that Ukraine was from its actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene militarily. Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants’ general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force, the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing to U.S. interests, and the more they thought that using force would advance U.S. national security interests; all of these effects are statistically significant at a 95 percent  confidence level. Our results are clear, but also somewhat disconcerting: The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene militarily.
I know it's not fair to expect large numbers of people to do well on a map quiz. [My favorite: which is closer to El Paso, Los Angeles or Dallas? Correct answer: LA] But public ignorance should be a factor in policy makers' calculations of public opinion.

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