Nasa / Space optimize

How ignorant are we, really?


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?

About

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.

239 comments
bill.porritt
bill.porritt

I cannot believe the utter lack of even a simple grasp of the English language demonstrated here. For a group that touts itself as some sort of elite class intellectually, this crowd certainly did not pay as much attention in English class as it did in Physics. One would think that techies would, at the vey least, utilize spell/grammar check. I got a headache reading some of these ramblings. Get it together people or you will never be taken seriously by anyone other than your little clique of geeks. They already believe you.

bill.porritt
bill.porritt

Before I begin my rant I will qualify my comments by saying I have only read some of the posts here. I do, however, feel I get the point. As an American who most on this list would classify as a redneck, I feel obliged to reply. I am, in my humble opinion, the worst nightmare of the "enlightened" crowd. I am a traditionalist/conservative/veteran with a 178 IQ. What this means is I believe there are characteristics about humans that separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom that cannot be explained scientifically, America was founded on principles which the current populace cannot comprehend, and I know that the entire population of enlightened scientific geniuses who overrun intellectual debate would all be working for the "common good" if it weren't for the bravery of Americans who don't buy into your enlightenment. The failings of our educational system have one root cause. At some point it became unacceptable to fail. This meant the entire system was dumbed down to allow the idiot to pass which left those intelligent enough to pass muster wondering why. As a veteran I have seen Europe and their (your) vision of eutopia and you can keep it. While you may believe that we can all get along, America knows better. We tried that in the 60's and it didn't work. There are inherent differences between people that cannot be overcome by feel good platitudes. If it helps you sleep at night thinking you can, so be it. Just know that the reason you sleep well at night is because there is a soldier out there, whether he/she be American, British, Australian, Canadian, ad infinitum, keeping the enemy at bay so you can rest. I could expand on all points made here and will do so as needed. Sweet dreams.

nandovilar
nandovilar

we are really ignorant?? because to many technology,( laps,cels,internet )mantain the humanity busy????instead using the brain and the ability of the observance in the nature, in the space,stars,planets,we dont create anymore,we lose interest on ARTS,etc)in one word we are LAZY???? HUMANS TO THINK,we don??t know how to use the 100% of our brains,BUT??????for the power ??the $ is convinient to mantain humans ignorants????lazy to think????we??re slaves of the consumation??????HAPPY NEW YEAR??????( anyway)

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Perhaps out technology makes us less aware and lazier. I don't think people are "dumber" than before but perhaps just plain lazy. As one poster pointed out, his daughter writes things down in order to learn them, some people need to say it or tell someone else in order for it to sink in. With computer use for finding 'instant knowledge' I think people read more but comprehend less. Perhaps it is just too broad a scope of information for people to absorb everything they learn on line, because there is just TOO much to be learned online, as opposed to specific lessons teaching in a graduated system. I think people have become lazy too, no need to actually remember if it can be bookmarked, no need to actually learn it if it can be printed. People rely on information being easy to look up, but maybe they have lost ablity to remember, understand and comprehend.

bkaplanr
bkaplanr

While I'd do miserably at public speaking, I was always good at geography... I could certainly identi- fy the US on a world map. Am really concerned about a lot of (younger)genera-tion, however; for that matter, I don't have a high opinion of the intelligence of most of *my* genera- tion - at least, of those who don't read, or who read only trivia. Don't think much of the public schools, either - and I'm a secular person. I really think par- ents would be better off home-schooling; it short-cir- cuits the state's overwhelming tendency to rob the young of their ability to think for themselves, their creativity and overall ability to learn. School at- tendance is compulsory for a *reason*. But parents who believe that people co-existed with dinosaurs (!) are even worse for children than compulsory attendance.

james4212
james4212

It's not that we are ignorant. It's that we are more moronic. Take a look at what the American people elected, TWICE !

venividivici2003
venividivici2003

I din't get the chance to vote,though atleast i'm not that stupid and most other people are really ignorant. Really. Especially the people in the modelling industry.

yooper
yooper

The sad,sad truth is, with each subsequent generation, the overall intelligence and sense of being has diminished drastically. The lowest common denominator of society is, to be a mindless consumer and believe whatever Hollywood or the lastest conspiracy theory's tell us to believe. Overall, education isn't promoted as much as it should. Children coming up today do not know what it means to be a globle citizen of planet Earth. It really saddens me to see so many people glam on to pop society and worry more about what Britney Spears is up to vs the world they live in.

deepsand
deepsand

What's the next number in the sequence? Do show your intermediate work in support of your answer.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Don't let the door hitcha. Get it together? Who are you really? Dennis Hopper?

santeewelding
santeewelding

The instances you tender: these are answers to a question not asked. You swing at the unseen. I apologize if "Chairman, CEO, CFO, Partner" mislead you. When I signed on, "God" was not an option.

santeewelding
santeewelding

You may have a problem so large you can't see outside it. Strike "may."

deepsand
deepsand

"[i]America was founded on principles which the current populace cannot comprehend, and I know that the entire population of enlightened scientific geniuses who overrun intellectual debate would all be working for the "common good" if it weren't for the bravery of Americans who don't buy into your enlightenment.[/i]" Go for it.

bill.porritt
bill.porritt

If you choose to speak to the question of human superiority, answer this question: Why do I shed a tear over the death of a bird in my back yard while my pets don't care? Conscience, soul, sentience, still scientifically unexplained. Hmmmmmmmm.

feg2
feg2

Those people questioned were most likely thinking of the most commonly spoken language - which is English. That is an easy mistake to make and shouldn't necessarily be counted against the respondents. If you google "most widely spoken native language" you will find this site: http://www2.ignatius.edu/faculty/turner/languages.htm that describes different methods of calculating that statistic. Make sure you look all the way to the bottom. Then you can look at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language for this quote: "English today is probably the third largest language by number of native speakers, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. However, when combining native and non-native speakers it is probably the most commonly spoken language in the world, though possibly second to a combination of the Chinese Languages, depending on whether or not distinctions in the latter are classified as "languages" or "dialects"."

bill.porritt
bill.porritt

Which candidate do you believe would have done better and (this is the best part) how? If public speaking aptitude is your sole gauge of leadership I recommend "Cult of Personality" by Living Color as required listening. If not, wanna buy a bridge? One time deal, today only.

webwalker_z
webwalker_z

Well said!!!! I've been saying that for years.

jdclyde
jdclyde

The welfare and entitlement mentality the Democratic party has made it this way. The dumb are more easily controlled with a handout if they don't feel they are capable of doing anything on their own.

deepsand
deepsand

Both the original sequence and that given in the 1st hint are themselves the sum of 2 sequences.

deepsand
deepsand

The original sequence: 7, 498, 31, X An alternate sequence: 7, 499, 30, X The 4th element is identical in both.

The Listed 'G MAN'
The Listed 'G MAN'

You can see... Elements Given by deepsand: x1 = -7 x2 = 498 x3 = 31 Now, in linear recurrence sequences, the general formula to obtain an element based on its previous element is xn+1 = r?xn + d. Having 3 numbers, we can establish 2 simultaneous equations as follows: r?-7 + d = 498 [1] r?498 + d = 31 [2] By subtracting equation [2] from equation [1] we eliminate the variable d and consequently can solve for the remaining variable r: r?-505 = 467 [3] dividing by -505 gives: r = -0,924752475247525 [4] Inserting back the found value for r into equation [1] we can solve also for d now: -0,924752475247525?-7 + d = 498 [5] doing the multiplication gives: 6,47326732673267 + d = 498 [6] subtracting 6,47326732673267 gives: d = 491,526732673267 [7] Checking r and d for the first 3 numbers of the sequence now: -0,924752475247525?-7 + 491,526732673267 = 498 [8] -0,924752475247525?498 + 491,526732673267 = 30,9999999999999 [9] Finding more Elements Now that we have r and d, we can easily compute the next elements. Just multiply by r (that is -0,924752475247525 as per your input) first, then add d (491,526732673267 for your input) to get more elements: Term Number Multiply by -0,924752475247525 Add 491,526732673267 Term x1 = -7 6,47326732673267 498 = x2 x2 = 498 -460,526732673267 30,9999999999999 = x3 x3 = 30,9999999999999 -28,6673267326732 462,859405940594 = x4 x4 = 462,859405940594 -428,030381335163 63,496351338104 = x5 x5 = 63,496351338104 -58,7184080690982 432,808324604169 = x6 x6 = 432,808324604169 -400,24056948544 91,2861631878278 = x7 x7 = 91,2861631878278 -84,4171053637932 407,109627309474 = x8 x8 = 407,109627309474 -376,475635551533 115,051097121734 = x9 x9 = 115,051097121734 -106,393786843267 385,132945830001 = x10 Closed Form When we know r, d, and the first number of the sequence (let's call it a, which is -7 as per your input), then we can apply the formula's closed form to get the nth element directly. This formula is given here: xn = a + d ? rn-1 - d (with n=1,2,3,...) [10] r-1 r-1 Note, that this formula implies that your sequence's first element is denoted x1 (and not x0). Also note, that r=1 is not in the equation's domain. However, if r=1, then we have an simple arithmetic sequence only and do not really need above formula. So, to find the 10th element directly (that is, n=10), we would have to apply the formula like this: x10 = -7 + 491,526732673267 ? (‑0,924752475247525)10-1 - 491,526732673267 [11] -0,924752475247525-1 -0,924752475247525-1 Let's evaluate the formula: x10 = ( -7 - 255,371399176955 )?(‑0,924752475247525)9 + 255,371399176955 [12] x10 = -262,371399176955 ? -0,494571996262173 + 255,371399176955 [13] x10 = 129,761546653046 + 255,371399176955 [14] x10 = 385,132945830001 [15] Should this answer differ from the one we obtained in above table, then this answer here is likely to be more accurate, since repeated operations especially with fractions have the tendency to carry on the error. The general closed form formula for any n is: xn = a + d ? rn-1 - d [16] r-1 r-1 xn = ‑7 + 491,526732673267 ? (‑0,924752475247525)n‑1 ‑ 491,526732673267 [17] -0,924752475247525‑1 -0,924752475247525‑1 xn = ( -7 - 255,371399176955 )?(‑0,924752475247525)n-1 + 255,371399176955 [18] xn = -262,371399176955?(‑0,924752475247525)n-1 + 255,371399176955 (n=1,2,3,...) [19]

Absolutely
Absolutely

You post your most interesting questions to people who tick you off.

Tybolito
Tybolito

Dennis is a lot nicer - especially when he's not drunk or high...

bill.porritt
bill.porritt

I also played baseball in college so ..... And don't try the "Strike 3" thing unless you're sure. I'd hate to embarass you.

bill.porritt
bill.porritt

Are you disputing my point or making a personal comment? I expect better rebuttal from a member of management. What exactly do you manage? You wouldn't survive one of our meetings with this level of commentary.

deepsand
deepsand

or other animals so uncaring, as you would here portray?

Absolutely
Absolutely

[i]The welfare and entitlement mentality the Democratic party has made it this way. The dumb are more easily controlled with a handout if they don't feel they are capable of doing anything on their own.[/i] The Democrat Party enables entitlement mentalities for individuals while the Republican Party enables entitlement mentalities for corporations and their stockholders. How do you figure that one is better than the other?

deepsand
deepsand

The sequence presented is 7, 498, 31, X. Additionally, note that all values are [b]integers[/b].

deepsand
deepsand

Can you do no better? Will you not try?

deepsand
deepsand

Go for it. BTW, I'm considering posting an irregular series of Discussions (Questions?) featuring "Brain Teasers." Outside of the 2 of us, how much interest do you think such might hold for other TR members?

Absolutely
Absolutely

post a message, I'll give it a go.

Absolutely
Absolutely

So far, I do not consider the likelihood high. All I've noticed so far is that, as you already said, the previous sequence you posted was simpler; how much so I do not yet know because I do not have a solution to this one to compare to the previous one.

deepsand
deepsand

Would that not serve to well make the point that one's IQ is a measure of [i]potential[/i], not the [i]realization[/i] of that potential? Or, that he may not be the only one here with an IQ worthy of note? Recall zealot144, who was unable to answer a similar but simpler problem.

deepsand
deepsand

ROTFLMAO, figuratively speaking, that is. With my continuing pneumonia, and persistent low back pain, if I got down on the floor I'd probably be unable to get up on my own.

deepsand
deepsand

Do not presume to expect that we here gathered are easily embarrassed.

deepsand
deepsand

Very nice, but, what has this to do with the numerous assumptions implicit in your position?

Tig2
Tig2

Santee tends to use few words to make his points. Bill, you presented a thoughtful commentary as regards the failure of the educational system. However, you followed it on with a generalized attack that has no merit. For many here, English is not their first language but may be their second or even their fifth. Others use speech to text tools that may render incorrectly. I taught High School English. I make a concentrated effort to spell and phrase correctly- but I am not representative of the entire board. New participants to discussions are always welcome. Generalizations are not. And attacks on fellow peers isn't encouraged either.

bill.porritt
bill.porritt

I came to IT by accident. I served in the military, have a 9mm scar in my leg, 2 confirmed sniper kills and 1 twisted road that brought me where I am today. A defense contractor noticed my acumen for IT and moved me, peace broke out with Russia (sorry, the Soviets) and we downsized, I got a menial IT job that eventually got outsourced and then decided to join the enemy. I now manage an outsourced IT group of international companies. What about you buttercup? Sleep your way to the top or embellish your profile?

deepsand
deepsand

Do you have something else that you'd rather be doing? Winter's on its way; get the fireplace going, pick up the keyboard, and hibernate here.

jdclyde
jdclyde

If you REALLY want to cover all bases without omitting anything, we are going to be here for a long time. So, you can validate or disprove my initial statement, or you can continue to snivel just because you can and are only looking to be argumentative. When you make a valid point, I will respond the best I am able. Yes, I do feel Democratic party has done more to create a welfare state with no personal responsibly, than the Republican party has. Yes, I do feel that both parties have sold out to GLOBAL corporations, and is why they seek to desolve our borders and hand over more and more control to the UN.

Inkling
Inkling

People, such as myself, whom hold to traditional conservative values often find it too easy to slip back into the conservative versus liberal rhetoric, overlooking the transgressions of the modern incarnation of Republicans. Does that qualify as personal bias, or absent-mindedness? I know I don't do it out of malice and I am inclined to give JD the benefit of the doubt.

deepsand
deepsand

I find that those employers who could least afford it were also the most generous. Which brings to mind a TV commercial of several years past for an admittedly cheap wine. The tag was an attractive blond asking the not so attractive, but very wealthy, man why, with all his wealth, he drank such a cheap wine; to which he replied "How do you think I got to be so rich?"

Absolutely
Absolutely

[i]What has the Democratic party done for you in the last 20 years?[/i] 2. Balanced the budget Your turn.

Absolutely
Absolutely

Well, it might be more accurate to say I [u]took[/u] jobs from them, but nevertheless, I have held more than one job formerly held by somebody who was "poor", by my estimate. Lousy minimum wage laws redistribute income paid for unskilled labor from the poor to the children of the middle class. But don't blame me, I didn't vote for it. [i]We got in the whole off-shoring crap because of the excessive taxes being charged to a business.[/i] If the cause is so straightforward, then the remedy should be equally straightforward: reduce those taxes. What we have seen, instead, is [u]both parties[/u] bending the rules in ways that can easily be shown to disproportionately benefit the largest existing corporations. Was Bill Clinton's signing of NAFTA a good idea, or not? What about the copy-cat bills his Republican successor has signed? Is one party more responsible than the other for increasing numbers of H1B documents?

Absolutely
Absolutely

You omitted the Republicans' complicity in the creation of the welfare state. Bias seems the most plausible motive for that omission. Other hypotheses I discarded as absurd are that you are ignorant of Republicans' handouts, or just absent-minded. If you singled out the Democrats for some reason other than personal bias, I'm interested to know what it is.

deepsand
deepsand

They see the DOE as being, not an allie, but a foe. And, kindly be honest enough to acknowledge that it was GWB who blessed us with the intractable morass known as "No Child Left Behind."

deepsand
deepsand

The Republican Party shares equal blame with the Democrats for the creation of what you call the "peasant" class.

deepsand
deepsand

BTW, I chose the word "gave" so as to specifically echo your usage of such.

Inkling
Inkling

Things just need to happen step-by-step. The first step is putting someone in the White House that actually places value on the Constitution and believes in smaller government. Once we can put that kind of candidate in the White House, it won't be possible for the MSM to bury the message. People will start looking for this kind of candidate to put in Congress. That said, just because it [b]can[/b] be done, doesn't mean it will be. Not any time soon anyway. Sadly, I think the quickest route to this would be for Hillary to win. Four years of her draining the middle class dry with entitlement programs will open a lot of eyes, I think.

jdclyde
jdclyde

The teachers union is walking lockstep with the DOE, and the wagons have circled a long time ago. They are not interested in educating better, but milling out mindless masses that will do as the father party wishes. Dems and the DOE are locked at the WASTE. (yeah, I know, bad pun....)

jdclyde
jdclyde

I made a statement that AB did not refute, instead he attacked about something he ASSUMED. I had not made any mention of the Republican party, but he ASSUMED he could bash me with that anyways. He jumped a little to soon this time.

jdclyde
jdclyde

The political parties and government it's self shouldn't be giving ME ANYTHING. If more people would live their own lives without their hand stuck out all the time for a handout, this would be a great country again. I do not expect the party to steal someones money for me and give it to me. I earn my own. What has the Democratic party done for you in the last 20 years?

deepsand
deepsand

Anything of value, that is.

deepsand
deepsand

And, as noted on many previous occasions, that is why I support no party, but only individual candidates, despite those who claim that only by supporting the "better" party can one achieve the desired ends.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

As every Company that I have ever worked for has claimed that they need more money and are broke. They wine and carry on about spending 2 cents for disposables or staff wages. Of course the same people who cry poor think nothing of giving themselves a $2,000,000 bonus either. I suppose Poor is Relative. Col

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I though we'd already done that? Actually, the one thing the Department of Education attempted and has never been able to finish is create education standards, such that no matter where you go to school--rural Mississippi, upstate New York, San Diego, San Antonio, or Seattle--you graduate with a common body of knowledge. Unfortunately, this process became as politicized as every other government process. Americans are such stupid people.

Inkling
Inkling

The current incarnations of both of our political parties leave much to be desired. That's why I'm a Ron Paul supporter. We need to shrink our federal government and put the power back where it belongs: with the states and the citizens. First though, we have to do away with the Department of Education so we have citizens that know what to do with that power.

jdclyde
jdclyde

being anti-business is not one of them. We got in the whole off-shoring crap because of the excessive taxes being charged to a business. They learned the government would not be able to leach as much if they moved part of operations off-shore. Once it was seen the general population was more interested in cheap goods than things being "made in America", more and more left. The problem is if we export all of our jobs, who is left to buy the goods? Helping a corporation is good for everyone. Corporations hire people and pay higher wages. When is the last time a poor person gave you a job?