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31.5.07

The dumb Yank is a fallacy 

Type in into YouTube and you get a lot of results. As I chatted to Simon Young, a fellow blogger and an old friend, in person yesterday during his visit to Wellington, we mentioned a clip from Australian series CNNNN. In it, Americans answer questions such as ‘Who won the Vietnam War?’ and ‘How many sides does a triangle have?’ and getting them wrong.
   I believe the image is a fallacy, and one of the usual signs of (propagated more today than during the Reagan era, thanks to the internet). The series probably picked the worst moments. A mere 20 years ago, John Hawkesby was hosting It’s in the Bag here in , with my friend Hilary Timmins. He asked one contestant what the 25th letter of the alphabet was. She insisted it was Z, despite constant clues from John, which included, ‘How many letters are there in the alphabet?’
   Who can forget ‘I’ll have an O for awesome’ on the New Zealand version of ?
   For a more recent example, Eating Media Lunch had one of its stars dress up as a street collector for al-Qaeda, and still managed to get regular Kiwis unquestionably giving him money.
   We are lucky to have a small population, so the examples are fewer. But plenty of people all over the planet are dumb, not just Americans.
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Comments:
I think Americans get picked on when really it's their Presidents we should be taking issue with. Some of them sure make some dumb choices!  
There are dumb people everywhere, although in America, there are more dumb people with money than anywhere else (large population + wealthy nation). To put it succinctly-

A sucker born every minute = The land of opportunity.  
Dawn, you are right that it is often a mistake to equate politicians with their constituents. Daniel, good point: I would have to agree with your analysis.  
I went to Grover Cleveland High School in Reseda, California; Reseda is a suburb of Los Angeles. After I had moved to Tucson I happened to be listening to the radio and the news program was doing a story on Presidents Day. They happened to interview a Cleveland High student that didn’t know that Grover Cleveland was a former President let alone the 22nd and 24th President. They really drummed these facts into our heads when I was a student. The student they interviewed thought that the school was named after that “city in Canada”, well now and I thought that I was an under achiever.  
Zak, there is a decline in standards that I can trace back to the 1960s, and in that case, the US is not alone, either.  
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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