Geographic Illiteracy


Over a decade ago, National Geographic organised a global survey to measure the developed world’s geographic literacy.[1]

On average, fewer than 25 percent of young people worldwide could locate Israel on the map. Only about 20 percent could identify international news hotspots like Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.

Geographically Illiterate: Someone who sucks at geography. – Urban Dictionary

More recent research shows no improvement. When the Russian Federation invaded the Ukraine in 2014, the Washington Post conducted a survey which showed that only 16% of Americans was able to locate the Black Sea nation on a map.[2]

More importantly, it was found that this lack of geographic knowledge is related to preferences and decision-making: namely, the farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene with military force.

Whatever your views on this political squabble, the following conclusion is inevitable: whether people are in possession of a certain geographic fact determines their opinion in a certain way.

As for geography, knowledge of the location of places and the physical and cultural characteristics of those places are a requirement to function more effectively in an increasingly interdependent world.

On top of that, knowledge of the geography of past times and how geography has played an important role in the evolution of a society, their ideas, and its environment are not only prerequisites for historical knowledge, but also necessary for making sound decisions in the present.[3]

“If geography is prose, maps are iconography.” – Lennart Meri

These findings only underline the importance of teaching Geography. However, as always with formal education, it does not tell the whole story: besides teaching Geography as a core subject on the national curriculum, National Geographic researchers found that geographic knowledge also increases through travel and language proficiency.

In the highest-scoring countries of the National Geographic Survey (Sweden, Germany and Italy) at least 70 percent of the young adults had travelled internationally in the last three years, and the majority spoke more than one language (at the time, no less than 92 percent of young people in Sweden).

In the U.S. and Mexico only about 20 percent of young people had travelled abroad during the same period and the majority spoke only one language.

“All I ever wanted was a world without maps.” – Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

‘Our daily lives are interwoven with geography. Each of us lives in a unique place and in constant interaction with our surroundings. Geographic knowledge and skills are essential for us to understand the activities and patterns of our lives and the lives of others. We move from place to place, aided by transportation and navigation systems. We communicate using global networks of computers and satellites. We strive to live in healthy physical and social environments. We work to avoid the negative consequences of exposure to natural and technological hazards. We search for interesting destinations and vacations. We observe and learn about our own culture and other cultures around the world. We want to lead satisfying lives and contribute to the welfare of our communities. Geographic knowledge and understanding is fundamental to reaching our goals, and in attaining a higher quality of life.’
Why Geography Is Important (2005), Grosvenor Centre of Education


[1] The National Geographic–Roper 2002 Global Geographic Literacy Survey polled more than 3,000 18- to 24-year-olds in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Sweden and the United States.
According to Robert Pastor, professor of International Relations at American University, in Washington, D.C., “The survey demonstrates the geographic illiteracy of the United States.”
About 11 percent of young citizens of the U.S. couldn’t even locate the U.S. on a map. The Pacific Ocean’s location was a mystery to 29 percent; Japan, to 58 percent; France, to 65 percent; and the United Kingdom, to 69 percent. Less than 15 percent could locate neither Israel nor Iraq.
“War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” – Ambrose Bierce

[2] From March 28 to 31, 2014, The Washington Post asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans what action they wanted the U.S. to take in Ukraine, but with a twist: in addition to measuring standard demographic characteristics and general foreign policy attitudes, they also asked the survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. The newspaper wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views. The survey also found that 5 out of 2,066 Americans thought the Ukraine was located in the U.S. corn belt.

[3] The importance of geographic knowledge is of paramount importance, not only for a better understanding of historical and present geopolitical issues, but also as a scientific measuring device to help humans to make better decisions about the environment. Consider the intellectual poverty of young people who are ignorant of:

  • The basic physical systems that affect everyday life (e.g. earth-sun relationships, water cycles, wind and ocean currents).
  • Relationships between the physical environment and society.
  • How the processes of human and physical systems have arranged and sometimes changed the surface of the Earth – and still do.
  • The fact that the Earth is the homeland of humankind and knowledge of that planet provides insight for wise management decisions about how the planet’s resources should be used.

26/viii mmxv


Whenever the Torah is dropped on the floor, tradition holds that every person in the room must fast for 40 days in atonement.

One in four Canadian children between 7 and 12 are obese.

Approximately half the inhabitants of Indonesia live on the island of Java.

Jeremy Clarkson’s parents ran a business selling tea cosies before they invented the stuffed Paddington Bear.

The hemline index is supposed to predict how the market will fare. Coined in 1926 by U.S. economist George Taylor, the idea has been spookily accurate. When skirts get shorter, the market goes up.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

To Tell The Truth


Frasier: Dad, we are talking about perjury! When is that ever acceptable?

Martin: Oh, you want an example? Fine! Let’s say, uh, what if there was a comet hurtling towards the earth—

Frasier: Oh, for God’s sake!

Martin: And you were the only person who could save the earth, but the only way to do it is by lying under oath. Would you do it then?

Frasier: Who am I lying to, the comet?

Martin: Oh, just answer the question!

Frasier: All right, I suppose in certain extreme cases—

Martin: So, then you’d lie?

Frasier: To save mankind from a talking comet, yes!

Martin: But you won’t lie for Niles.

Frasier: Oh, for God’s sake, you make me sound like some sort of insensitive lout who’s not aware that his brother’s out there in pain!

[Frasier takes a sip from the glass]

Martin: Isn’t that Niles’s water?

Frasier: I’m just checking to see it’s not too cold!

[…]

Frasier: You know, I can’t believe you’re being so casual about this! Do you realize you’re asking me to do something completely unethical?!

Martin: Oh, for God’s sake, nobody’s even going to know!

Frasier: Yes, but that’s the point! Ethics are what we do when no one else is looking! For heaven’s sake, I learned that from you! Are you saying you wouldn’t have any trouble with this?

[…]

Martin: Let me tell you something. One time when I was on the force, I saw a guy shoot somebody. When we caught him, I started to read him his rights, but he slipped out of his cuffs and he swung at me so I didn’t get a chance to finish. Two months later, I’m on the stand, and his lawyer asks me if I’d read his rights in full. Now, if I say no this guy walks, and this guy has been in and out of jail all his life, he could have read ME his rights! So I say, “yes, I did. I read them in full.” I lied under oath. Now you might think that I did an unethical thing but there’s not a doubt in my mind that I did the right thing.

 – Rob Hanning: Frasier (1993-2004)

Political Correctness


‘How many more architects and engineers must hit the wall at four hundred miles an hour before we admit to ourselves that jihadist violence is not merely a matter of education, poverty, or politics? The truth, astonishingly enough, is this: in the year 2006, a person can have sufficient intellectual and material resources to build a nuclear bomb and still believe that he will get seventy two virgins in Paradise. Western secularists, liberals, and moderates have been very slow to understand this. The cause of their confusion is simple: they don’t know what it is like to really believe in God.

Let us briefly consider where our discordant religious certainties are leading us on a global scale. The earth is now home to about 1.4 billion Muslims, many of whom believe that one day you and I will either convert to Islam, live in subjugation to a Muslim caliphate, or be put to death for our unbelief. Islam is now the fastest growing religion in Europe. The birth rate among European Muslims is three times that of their non-Muslim neighbors. If current trends continue, France will be a majority Muslim country in twenty five years—and that is if immigration were to stop tomorrow. Throughout Europe, Muslim communities often show little inclination to acquire the secular and civil values of their host countries, and yet they exploit these values to the utmost, demanding tolerance for their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the religious hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques. Forced marriages, honor killings, punitive gang rapes, and a homicidal loathing of homosexuals are now features of an otherwise secular Europe, courtesy of Islam.* Women are thought to “dishonor” their families by refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, seeking a divorce, committing adultery, even by being raped or suffering some other form of sexual assault. Women in these situations are often murdered by their fathers, husbands, or brothers, sometimes with the collaboration of other women. Honor killing is, perhaps, best viewed as a cultural (rather than strictly religious) phenomenon, and it is not unique to the Muslim world. The practice, however, finds considerable support under Islam, given that the religion explicitly views women as the property of men and considers adultery a capital offense. Throughout the Muslim world, a woman who reports being raped runs the risk of being murdered as an “adulteress”: she has, after all, admitted to having sex outside of marriage.

Political correctness and the fear of racism have made many Europeans reluctant to oppose the terrifying religious commitments of the extremists in their midst. With a few exceptions, the only public figures who have had the courage to speak honestly about the threat that Islam now poses to European society seem to be fascists. This does not bode well for the future of civilization.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 26-27

One Hundred Quintillion Years


Not taking into account the first 10,000,000,000 years, the following events make up a very brief overview of the next 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 years:

  • [+14,400,000,000] Sun = Black Dwarf: Its temperature and luminosity will plummet, making it invisible to human eyes (not that they exist any more).
  • [+20,000,000,000] The Big Rip: One potential end of the universe. All matter will be torn apart by the expansion of the universe. All distances will become infinite – not good.
  • [+100,000,000,000] Local Group Merge: All local galaxies will start to merge. This process will take nearly one trillion years.
  • [+150,000,000,000] Cosmic Microwave Background: The afterglow of radiation from the Big Bang will cool from -27OC to near absolute zero, making it undetectable to current technology.
  • [+1,000,000,000,000] Earliest End Of Star Formation: Galaxies will have lost the gas clouds needed for star-formation. – Earliest estimate.
  • [+100,000,000,000,000] Latest End Of Star Formation: Lowest estimate for the end of stellar birth. The beginning of the ‘Degenerate Era’ of universe-wide star death.
  • [+110,000,000,000,000] Star’s Fuel Exhausted: All stars will have died. The only objects left are remnants: white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes.
  • [+100,000,000,000,000,000,000] Earth Dies: If not consumed by a swollen Sun at 5.4 billion years, the Earth’s orbit will have finally decayed and it will plunge into the Sun.

See other: Events of the Far Future

On Diaries


“It’s the good girls who keep diaries; the bad girls never have the time.”

– Talullah Bankhead


If claims that the actress slept with ’40 per cent of the British aristocracy’ during her eight-year stay in 1920s London are overblown, her reckless exhibitionism is well attested. When crew complained of her lack of underwear on the set of Lifeboat in 1944, Hitchcock’s laconic reply was: ‘I don’t know whether that’s a concern for wardrobe or hairdressing.’

20/viii mmxv


The Soviet Mother Heroine medal was awarded to all mothers bearing and raising 10 or more children. It was awarded upon the first birthday of the last child, provided that nine other children (natural or adopted) were alive. It was awarded 454,142 times. Once to a man who raised 12 adopted sons.

The French word for ‘memory’ is souvenir.

For the first two centuries of its existence, Christianity included people who believed in one god, in two, in 12, in 30, and in 144.

Harry Houdini’s real name was actually Erik Weisz.

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz, the 63 letter German word meaning ‘a law on the delegation of supervising the labelling of beef’, is to be removed from the dictionary because it was not used often enough. Up until now, it was the longest word in the language. The 36 letter word Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung, meaning ‘motor-vehicle liability insurance’ will probably take over first place.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts