Monday, November 5, 2007

Hickman's College of Very Little Knowledge

So the other day my class gets into a discussion about who's smarter, their generation, or their parents'. Most of the class felt they're more on the ball than the older folks, so I decided to give them a "general knowledge" questionaire when we had a few minutes to spare. Below is the quiz in its unanswered form first, in case you want to test yourself. Then I present the answers, along with how my classes did on each one. Bear in mind that between my five classes, I had exactly 100 students take the quiz, so even I was able to figure up the percentages. Also keep in mind that the students in my classes run the gamut of ages, but most are between 18-25.

1. Name the continents of the planet Earth.

2. Who is the current U.S. Secretary of Defense?

3. What does the word "opaque" mean?

4. Who was Pol Pot?

5. What is a "clavicle"?

6. What does NAACP stand for?

7. Who was Socrates?

8. Name five European nations.

9. What is Ramadan?

10. In what country would you find the Sphinx?

11. Who wrote "The Odyssey"?

12. Who was the first man to walk on the moon?

13. What does "AIDS" stand for?

14. Name the four members of the Beatles.

15. What does "E Pluribus Unum" mean?

16. Who is Mamoud Ahmadinejad?

17. What is NaCl?

18. How many sides does an octagon have?

19. Where will you find this quote: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"?

20. Who is the current governor of Indiana?

21. Meteorology is the study of...?

22. Name a book by Mark Twain.

23. The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution deals with what?

24. What currency replaced the French franc, the Italian lira, and the German mark?

25. Where does the Pope live?



Simple enough, right? Well, you'd think so. Here are the results:


1. Name the continents of the planet earth.

57% of them were able to answer correctly: Asia, Africa, Australia, Antarctica, North America, South America, and Europe. I guess I was happy that 57% knew that...until I realized that meant 43% did not.
Among the incorrect answers were "the Middle East," "the United States," "Russia," and "Eastern, Western, Northern, and Southern" (confusing them with hemispheres or something?).


2. Who is the current U.S. Secretary of Defense?

0% knew the correct answer: Robert Gates. Even if I accept Donald Rumsfeld (who hasn't been SoD for quite some time) as a correct answer, only 8 percent even knew THAT. Given the number of my students who have a definite opinion on the war in the middle east, one way or the other, you'd think someone might know, wouldn't ya?

Among the incorrect answers were "Dick Cheney," (well, I guess he was SoD some 15 years ago or so) "Colin Powell," "Condoleeza Rice," and "George Bush." (maybe confusing SoD with "commander-in-chief"?)



3. What does the word "opaque" mean?

I accepted anything having to do with not letting light through, or the inability to see through something. Even so, only 25% got it right.
Among the incorrect answers: 40% said it meant "able to see through it" (so they were right...on the Bizarro world).


4. Who was Pol Pot?

I accepted anything even remotely to do with the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia, genocide, communism, you name it. And yet only 9% were even close. It's interesting. If I had mentioned Hitler, most of the class would've had at least a clue. I guess Pol Pot has had better PR men.

Among the wrong answers: "British Prime Minister," "a pothead," and "a cannibalistic African dictator" (with "The Last King of Scotland" out recently, maybe they were confusing him with Idi Amin?).





5. What is a "clavicle"?

Only 48% knew it's your collarbone. I think it was so relatively high because I have quite a few nursing students in my classes.

Among the incorrect answers were "a kind of musical instrument" (I once sprained myself trying to play my clavicle...).



6. What does NAACP stand for?

A whopping 21% were able to answer this correctly or close to it. A number of folks gave me answers like "a group for black people," though they couldn't tell me what the acronym was.

Among the incorrect answers "Something something for Cancer Patients" and my favorite, "The National Association for the Appreciation of Colored People." Awww...I wish I had a group out there appreciating me...


7. Who was Socrates

I accepted "philosopher," of course, and anything close to it. Still, only 33% were anywhere near the mark. Heck, I figured if nothing else, "Soe-crates") from Bill & Ted would've tipped 'em off.

Among the incorrect answers: 21% said Socrates was "a Greek god." Also "a Greek hero" (I loved it when he cut off Medusa's head), "a Roman god," and my favorite "a famous writer from back in the day," which makes him sound like a rapper (he was an OG: Original Greek).



8. Name five European nations.
Well, there are obviously a bunch. Unfortunately, only 27% of my classes could name five of them.

Among the incorrect answers: Sydney, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Afganistan, Japan, China, Rome, Amsterdam, and London.


9. What is Ramadan?

I accepted anything that even had "holiday" in it, so I even accepted the 10% of the folks who answered "a JEWISH holiday" (and pointed out to them the hell they might catch for trying to observe Ramadan in a Jewish household). Only 27% were even close to the right answer.
Among the incorrect answers: "a holy book," and, I kid you not, 12 percent said Ramadan is a hotel chain...


10. In what country would you find the Sphinx?
A massive 62% correctly said Egypt (and then someone pointed out that some folks might have known it because of something that happened in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movi).

Among the incorrect answers were India, and Australia (hell of a distance to move something that big).


11. Who wrote "The Odyssey"?

Only 24% knew it was Homer (and not Simpson, thankfully).





12. Who was the first man to walk on the moon?

A big 66% knew it was Neil Armstrong (or at least said "Armstrong"; maybe they meant Lance).

Among the incorrect answers: "a guy in a space suit," fifteen percent said "Buzz Aldrin," and the most perplexing for me, "A white guy!" (the exclamation point leads me to believe they're either proud of the white race for the accomplishment, or pissed off that, say, an Asian woman didn't get the honor).


13. What does "AIDS" stand for?
A grand total of 15% of them knew it's "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome." A few others were within a word or two.

Among the incorrect answers: one guy only knew "immune," although he spelled it "ammune."



14. Name the four members of the Beatles.

This one broke my heart. Only 15% of folks could name all four. A few could name one or two (usually Paul or Ringo). One guy said "George Harris" and I gave it to him.
Among the incorrect answers: "Rico Star" (Ringo's brother, probably), and simply "Rizzo" (probably the sixth Beatle, after Billy Preston). More disheartening, though, were the number of folks who said "I don't know. I don't listen to them" or even worse, "That was before my time." (Hey, ya tool, almost 100% of everything that ever happened was before your time. You're only concerned with stuff that's occurred since 1987?)


15. What does "E Pluribus Unum" mean?

I accepted that was even VAGUELY close to "one out of many," or, "from many, one." Only 10% were anywhere close.

Among the incorrect answers: "In God We Trust" and "Speak English!"


16. Who is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Well, only 12% knew he's the president of Iran. Again, given the folks in my classes with political opinions, you'd hope a few more might actually be aware of who the guy is (cripes, he's been all over the @#$% news lately!).

Among the incorrect answers: I'm ashamed to say 14% of my students think Mamoud Ahmadinejad is a boxer. Hell, I guess I would like to go a few rounds with him myself. One guy said he's "Gaundi" (misspelling aside, I have to wonder what he means; does he think Mahmoud moonlights as the Indian holy man?). Someone said he's "a prophet" (I didn't know I had any members of Al-Qaeda in my classes). A big 14% thought he was the prime minister of Iraq (oh, hell, all those countries over there are the same anyhow).




17. What is NaCl?

I was happy to see 63% of my students knew this to be table salt. That was until I realized that half my classes have a period chart behind me on the wall...

No incorrect answers here. They either knew it, or didn't answer.


18. How many sides does an octagon have?

This one got the most correct answers at 84%. I assumed they were able to figure out what "octo" means, or they saw the Chuck Norris movie of the same name.

No incorrect answers.


19. Where will you find this quote: "Give me your tired, your poor, you huddled masses yearning to breathe free"?

Well, 18% knew is was from the Statue of Liberty. Sadly, 82% did not.

Among the wrong answers: "an almanac," "in church," "Romeo and Juliet," and strangely "it's dialogue from Braveheart" (right after the big mooning scene, I guess).





20. Who is the current governor of Indiana?

OK, bear in mind that I live and teach in Indiana, so these kids, citizens of the state all, should probably know that. In fact, only 51% did, which means half of them have no clue who governs their state. The correct answer, by the way, is Mitch Daniels.

Among the incorrect answers: Evan Bayh (spelled "Bi" like he's unsure of his sexuality), Dick Lugar, and Al Gore (I'd like to leave my carbon footprint on that kid's ass).



21. Meteorology is the study of...?

Only 60% knew the answer is "weather."

Among the incorrect answers: Uh...how do I put this...33 freakin' percent of 'em thought meteorology is the study of meteors! No, I'm not kidding. I imagine them going home at night, hearing their newscaster say "Next up is our meteorologist," and hunkering down for a report on what kind of space rocks are falling that night.


22. Name a book by Mark Twain.

It's not great, but at least 57% of them were able to name Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Connecticutt Yankee, or some other Twain work.

Among the incorrect answers: Frankenstein (about a monster going down the Mississippi on a raft, no doubt), Civil War, Flowers in the Attic, and Webster's Dictionary (you'd think that'd make it Twain's Dictionary, wouldn't ya?).




23. The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution deals with what?

I accepted the right to bear arms, guns, even the pinkboy who said "militias," but still only 24% were close to correct.

Among the incorrect answers: freedom of speech, "the rights of the people" (thank you, Senor Generico), slavery, "the bill of rights" (!!!), voting, and my favorite, prostitution (those founding fathers knew what they were doing).



24. What currency replaced the French franc, the Italian lira, and the German mark?

So 45% of them knew it was the Euro, which means more than half didn't.

Among the incorrect answers: "U.S. money," "the quarter," and of course, "the peso" (that's someone wayyyyyyy too worried about immigration).


25. Where does the Pope live?

Folks, for this one I would accept "the Vatican," "Vatican City," "Rome," and even "Italy," but still only 40% got it right.
Among the incorrect answers: 15% of them thought the Pope lived in England; 10% of them thought it was France (5% of them can see your underpants). Also named were Russia and Germany. One guy said "in a parsonage" and another said "in Westminster Abbey." My personal favorite? "The Navatican." The Navatican? Yeah, like he's right outside of Reno...



So anyway, there ya go. What does all this mean? I dunno, aside from the fact that it gives me the willies (and a bit of pride, as my similarly-aged son was able to get 18 of 'em right). What do you folks think?

7 comments:

Jim McClain said...

I think my 8th graders will make your college students look like Alex Trebek. We'll see!

Erin Palette said...

Drat, I only scored 92%.

I'm embarrassed that I didn't know the current SoD (even though I knew Rumsfeld had retired, I couldn't name his successor).

I didn't know the Governor of Indiana, either, but that's not really fair to ask a Floridian.

If you assume that I know the correct Governor of my own state, I scored 96%.

NuclearToast said...

I did much better than your students. But then, I had Google opened in another window adjacent to your blog.

I keed. It was really YouTube. What? Did you ask me something?

Snorii said...

I only got 19 out of the 25. Most of my incorrect answers were about people (Pol Pot, US SoD (I knew Rumsfeld left, but had no idea on his successor.), Mamoud Ahmadineiad and the governor of Indiana (I'm not from Indiana, so I feel ok about that one). I also missed AIDS (only could remember two of the words) and E Pluribus Unum.

David said...

I doubt you would have gotten a better score from the parents.

Troy Hickman said...

Probably not. Eventually all we're going to be able to do as a culture is take a crap and calculate our carbon footprints...

Michael said...

Here's why some of them know who Mahmoud was:

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/clips/iran-so-far/169811/?__cid=thefilter