This clip of poor Miss Teen South Carolina (That is one of the most cheesy Web sites I have ever seen by the way) is being used as a metaphor for what some declare to be rampant stupidity in the United States. But I am not convinced that this painful public incoherence by a teenage beauty queen is really an appropriate example of general stupidity. It is more a poignant example of a person inexperienced in public speaking trying to answer a question under pressure. I am a terrible public speaker myself, so I can empathize with her plight.
However, the question she is trying to answer, "why can't 1 out of 5 Americans find the United States on a world map?" does give one pause. With Google maps, MapQuest, and Garmin UPS devices, being able to read a map and find you're your location should be easy, but maybe that is the tech geek in me coming out.
Watching Jay Leno's Jaywalking episodes one could certainly come to the conclusion that we are a doomed society - he finds some of the least aware people on the planet walking down the street. I believe that his "contestants" would be hard pressed to actually find the world on a world map.
But those people don't generally hang out at TechRepublic - at least I have always assumed so. Judging by the talkback discussions I have seen, TechRepublic members tend to have better than average knowledge on just about everything. But maybe TechRepublic is an anomaly. Perhaps the rest of the country, the rest of the world is steadily slipping toward the lowest common denominator? What do you think?
Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.