In case you weren’t worried enough about our future…

I share this video from Texas Tech that Bryan Caskey shared with me.

The only thing I can say in defense of these appallingly ignorant young people is that a similar man-on-the-street canvass of their elders would likely produce similar results. I don’t know that; I just suspect it.

8 thoughts on “In case you weren’t worried enough about our future…

  1. Norm Ivey

    While it’s inexcusable for college students to not know the answers to those questions, the video doesn’t tell the entire story. How many people did she ask that did answer correctly, but whose responses were edited out of the piece? I hope this young woman is not a journalism major. At the very least, she should have provided some statistical data.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      No, this is not a professional report, just a collection of clips sans context. But I fear she didn’t have to do many interviews to get these…

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    Jay Leno used to do this all the time. [sigh]
    It’s not hard to find ignoramuses. Why don’t you do a video, Brad? Try folks at the Cap City Club–that ought to yield greater knowledge–but if it doesn’t, I’m not sure I want to know…

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Brad ambushing people at the Capital City Club with a camera and microphone, then asking them general knowledge questions? That would be great viewing. Where can I buy a ticket to watch?

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’ve told this story before, but some of you may not remember it…

      Back when we were doing the “Power Failure” series at The State, I assigned a reporter to go out and ask people on the street who their legislators were. My point was to illustrate what a bad idea it was for most power to reside in the Legislature, when people didn’t even know their own lawmakers’ names, much less being able to hold the 168 OTHER lawmakers accountable. (Yes, this was a series with an editorial point, using newsroom resources. I had persuaded senior management to let me operate completely outside of the usual rules separating — it was at a time of great paradigm-busting at the paper. I can’t think of anything before or after like it. Afterward, I could no longer supervise the political reporters, but had to move to editorial ASAP. The reporters were doing the legwork and writing stories for the series under my direction, and I was writing essentially opinion pieces based on their reporting.)

      The reporter got VERY frustrated because he kept going out and trying, and could not find a single person who could answer the question.

      Then one day, I saw a woman driving downtown with a bumper sticker on her car that said, “Do you know who YOUR legislators are?” I figured SHE would know the answer. I got her license number and managed to wheedle her identity out of DMV (actually, I probably didn’t do the wheedling myself, but got another reporter to do it). We called her, and she was happy to participate. So we had ONE knowledgeable voter. We ran her picture posing next to her bumper sticker…

  3. Bryan Caskey

    My favorite answer to the Civil War question is “We did. America.” I would have awarded partial credit for that answer.

    I think a good tip, for when you’re asked who the victor in a war was, just go ahead and guess “America” even if you don’t know. Most of the time you’ll be right.

    It’s like in trivial pursuit, whenever my mother-in-law gets a question about baseball (She’s a smart lady, but baseball is a topic she knows zero about.) she always guesses “Babe Ruth” because she knows it’s a good probability that she could be right.

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