A Shockingly High Number of Americans Have No Idea Where North Korea Is (Confirming Desperate Need for Geography Lesson)
With tensions mounting between the U.S. and North Korea, staying informed is now more important than ever. And while reading about how Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un compare to one another is undoubtedly entertaining, knowing about the country itself is key.
Not sure whether you’d be able to pinpoint North Korea on a map? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, one survey proves that plenty of Americans could use a geography lesson refresher course.
1. The research
In April 2017, The New York Times tasked the Morning Consult, a technology and media company specializing in market research and online surveys, to conduct a little experiment. The idea was simple: Ask participants to identify North Korea on a map. The results, however, ended up revealing a much bigger issue at hand.
Next: Do you know how many Americans are unable to locate the country on a map?
2. Only 36% of Americans could locate North Korea on a map
Between April 27 and 29, 2017, 1,746 adults were asked to locate North Korea on a map. Of those surveyed, only 36% got it right. And those who failed the pop quiz? Well, their guesses included the likes of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, along with Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, to name a few.
Next: Your own ability to locate North Korea may be telling of your political views.
3. Republican men outsmarted democratic men on the geography test
Interestingly enough, the results showed a relation between an individual’s ability to locate North Korea and their personal politics. Republican men — who “were more likely to be in favor of almost all the diplomatic solutions posed by the researchers” — were more successful in identifying the country than democratic men. Independents were the most successful.
As for the female participants? Unfortunately, they weren’t as successful as their male counterparts. However, there was no major difference in regards to which political party they supported.
Next: Knowledge is power.
4. People with graduate degrees were more successful in locating North Korea
Not surprisingly, education played a huge role. Individuals with postgraduate degrees were highly likely to locate North Korea. But there was one group that did even better — people who knew someone of Korean ancestry.
Following highly-educated people were folks 65 years and older; 48% of whom were able to locate North Korea on a map. Furthermore, people who visited another country also did better than those who had not.
Next: The survey also revealed what people thought about different strategies.
5. Those who could locate North Korea were against sending ground troops
Based on the results of the survey, those who were able to locate North Korea were also in favor of “diplomatic and nonmilitary strategies,” more so than those who failed to find it. More specifically, they were against direct military engagement, such as sending in ground troops.
While these opposing views are significant, there was one overarching difference. According to The New York Times, “The largest difference between the groups was the simplest: Those who could find North Korea were much more likely to disagree with the proposition that the United States should do nothing about North Korea.”
Next: It seems as though we really do need some help in the geography department.
6. Americans have struggled with geography in the past
Americans clearly need to up their geography game, because this isn’t the first time that a large number of folks have been totally clueless about other countries in the world. Countries that are of great relevance to American politics, at that.
In 2014, Kyle Dropp, who headed up the 2017 North Korea survey, conducted a survey of the same style. This time, the goal was to test people’s knowledge about Ukraine. And the findings seem pretty consistent across the board. According to The Washington Post, “The farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene with military force.”
So, what does this mean for Americans, as it relates to our present situation with North Korea?
Next: Here’s how honed geography skills could change our way of thinking.
7. The more we know about other cultures, the more humanized they become
Simply put, the more humanized a place becomes in our minds, the more likely we are to really think about our relations with them. How should we be treating them? What kind of consequences would our actions have on a massive group of people living on the other side of the world?
Being well-informed and geographically-knowledgeable are imperative factors in shaping our thoughts, viewpoints, and perspectives on important political issues. Because, in reality, “Geographic knowledge itself may contribute to an increased appreciation of the complexity of geopolitical events,” The New York Times says.
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