I am an admitted “news junkie” and have been for most of my life. I watch local, national and CNN news broadcasts, read USAToday (free from my hotel each weekday morning, thank you), pick up news magazines like Newsweek, Time, U.S. News & World Report and The Economist (though usually only when I am flying, the rest of the time I read them online), and have RSS feeds and e-mail alerts delivered to my computer throughout the day.
This interest in what is happening in our country and the world, I tell myself these days, is because a writer, whether of fictional stories or non-fictional articles, must know of the world he or she lives in, in order to be precise, accurate and informed. The sadder truth is I have always suffered this “affliction”, even in my youth (which probably says something revealing about me as a person, and I’m not quite sure it’s all positive). What 7 year old boy enjoys sitting down in front of the TV at night and watching national news? <cough, cough as I slowly raise my hand> When I was that 7 year old child I revered Walter Cronkite, even though once in my ignorant youth I laughed at his supposed mispronunciation of “Australia” until my mother gently informed me that, yes, there was a country named “Austria.” I adored him even more, then, for telling me something I did not know. And I learned not to make disparaging remarks until I was aware of the facts.
Plus, he reminded me of my maternal grandfather, whom I also adored and who also told me many things I did not know. In fact, it may well have been my grandfather who first shared with me Sir Francis Bacon’s oft-quoted belief that “Knowledge is power” and thus sparked that endless thirst within me. Wherever it came from, it is still there, thankfully.
Which brings me to the point of today’s post.
The Pew Research Center does polling on a number of subjects. One is to determine how well-informed people are. Every so often, they send their pollsters out into our population to administer a simple test of knowledge about current events and report on the results. Their most recent project yielded this sorry testimony to our national knowledge; only 50 percent of those polled correctly answered every question about current events. 50 percent!
I was fortunate enough to be included in that 50 percent, but admittedly I did hazard an educated guess on question number 4 because the subject has been so depressing to me that I had stopped taking notice of the numbers.
Ah, but how would you have done in this survey? That’s the real question. Why don’t you take the test and find out?
Let me know how you do!
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