Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No one likes a know-it-alll anyway.....

So I tend to think of myself as well informed. I seem to know a lot more about stuff than most people I talk to. That in itself is quite gratifying but doesn't necessarily prove anything. So I happened to pick up NewsWeek or some other newsy-type magazine yesterday and was flipping through gleaning what knowledge I deemed worthy when I ran across a quick on-the-street-survey.

Now, let me premise what I am about to say with this: former surveys I've encountered of the what-does-the-man-on-the-street-know-about-whatever have all made Americans look pretty dumb. You know, stuff like when was the war of 1812? Uh, I dunno, in the 1700s? That kind of stuff. And we all know that people who watch The Daily Show with John Stewart or the Colbert Report are not well informed, they just think they are. Ditto with Rush Limbaugh, Al Franken and others. They talk about the news, but do not necessarily inform (not true, though, of us who listen to "Fresh Air" with Terry Grosse on NPR at lunchtime - very informative stuff).

Anyway, so we all agree on the stipulated premises. Ok, good. Now, just for your information, I watch John Stewart and Steven Colbert, but I get my news from CNN, NPR, Fox News and others. I try to get a variety of sources and compare in my brain the way the story is told on each channel. In other words, I try to stay informed in the real sense of the word.

So, I'm perusing this survey and I'm already in trouble with question 1:
Who is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve? Like 76% of respondents, I remember Alan Greenspan. But he's not there anymore, folks. It's Ben Bernanke. How could I have forgotten that name?
Question 2: Ok, I honestly don't remember the rest of the survey. But it had hard questions in it and what little I do remember involves my brain going, "huh?" and "What was his name again" and silly ol things like that.

So, I guess I'm not so informed. Not really a know-it-all. But what is sooooooo disturbing about that is I am kind of a news-hound. I actually try to learn stuff by listening to the news (so I can recite it later at the slightest opening and bore someone to tears with it....). I try to stay informed, up-to-date and increase my knowledge banks with all kinds of important information. Unfortunately, it looks like when it comes to a lot of the detail-ey things, I'm just not "tuning in." Or is it that news-spewers are so busy giving their opinion of the story, things like who the dang Federal Reserve Chairman is gets glossed over?

Yeah, I think that might be it.

1 comment:

VeeFlower said...

This entry reminded me of a Saturday Night Live skit in which contestants on a game show were asked "common knowledge" questions. The motto for the show was, "It's not what you know, it's what you THINK you know!" So if a contestant answered, "Mayflower" when asked the name of one of Columbus's ships, they were right!
Once I watched a Baba Wawa special on the wretched ignorance of "high schoolers on the street." Several were asked what the Holocaust was. Some of the answers were: "A rock group,"
"Um, wasn't that in the bible where everyone is supposed to die?"
"I think that is a holiday celebrated by the Jewish."
It's sad, and yet you have to laugh. I didn't know what's his name, Alan Greenspan's successor, either.