Radio & TV talk show hosts like to go out and interview the “man in the street,” asking them questions on various subjects. The general rule is that if the subjects do not watch or listen to the show, they cannot answer the questions, and overall show an appalling ignorance. For example, Sean Hannity likes to ask questions on current events, and most of the folks approached by his people can’t name the current vice president–but every one of them knows who Britney Spears is.
Now Jay Leno has done the same thing with one of his “Jaywalking” segments. Here he asks basic questions on American history. Just one thing: the YouTube page hosting this video has a date of June 8, 2010, but everyone in the video knows that the Fourth of July is the next holiday coming up (no one talks about Flag Day or Father’s Day), so I believe it was recorded and uploaded last week.
The results of Jay’s questions? Well, see for yourself:
I have complained elsewhere about how few Americans have even a working knowledge of history. Part of it has to do with our educational system; these days, a lot of history teachers go by the first name of “Coach.” Another factor is our reduced attention spans, which makes many folks think that those events which happened before they were born are not very important. For me, the most shocking response may have come from the lady who said she was a college professor. One of her answers was 1922 for the date of independence; did she get the United States confused with Turkey? It also says something that the only person who got all the questions right was a fellow who’s older than me.
No wonder we keep on electing bad politicians! Maybe literacy tests for voters weren’t as bad an idea as we thought.
Update, August 18, 2011: The above link no longer works. Click on the links below to watch the video: