Test Your Knowledge/Ignorance, Revisited

Dec 22, 2013

A few days ago, I wrote a post about a fascinating quiz testing our knowledge of the world. Did you take the quiz? How did you do? (If you haven’t taken the quiz and would like to, I strongly suggest you click here and take it before you read the rest of this post.)

As I suggested then, the most amazing thing about the quiz is how people scored on it. In the U.S., the average score was 2.77 out of a possible 10! That’s amazing, when you consider that score is lower than the 3.33 that would be the average if everyone simply guessed on every question. Moreover, not one person got more than eight correct, less than 1% scored higher than six correct, and 4.5% (i.e., almost 1 in 20) failed to answer a single question correctly. And we Americans shouldn’t feel so bad – Europeans’ scores weren’t much different.

Hans Rosling, a scientist and the founder of the Gapminder Foundation, suggests that the poor scores – about issues and trends of great worldwide importance – are the result of a “toxic combination of arrogance and ignorance” displayed by the affluent of the western world. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about our metaknowledge – that is, our ability to know what it is that we don’t know. This is a variation on that theme.

Enjoy the holidays!

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