Ignorance is Expen$ive

Postby vbattaile » Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:58 pm

Let's Invade Ukraine! (As Soon As We Can Figure Out Where It Is)

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2 ... t-where-it

A couple of weeks ago, a team of researchers asked Americans to locate Ukraine on a map. You'll be unsurprised to learn that most of them couldn't. But check this out:

Accuracy varies across demographic groups. In general, younger Americans tended to provide more accurate responses than their older counterparts: 27 percent of 18-24 year olds correctly identified Ukraine, compared with 14 percent of 65+ year-olds.


Say what? The idiot youngsters, the ones who are forever being mocked for not being able to locate France on a map, did better than their older, obviously better educated peers? How about that. Keep this in mind the next time you see one of those endless surveys bemoaning what geographic numbskulls the kids today are.

But that wasn't really the point of the survey. This was:

The further our respondents thought that Ukraine was from its actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene militarily. Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants’ general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force, the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing to U.S. interests, and the more they thought that using force would advance U.S. national security interests; all of these effects are statistically significant at a 95 percent confidence level. Our results are clear, but also somewhat disconcerting: The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene militarily.


Yep: folks who thought Ukraine was somewhere near Chad were more convinced that Russia's actions posed a threat to US interests. Chew on that for a while. Let's toss out some possible reasons for this:

Ignorant folks are more likely to be jingoistic supporters of military action.
If you think Ukraine is farther away from Russia than it is, it makes sense to assume that Russia is trying to project military power over a great distance and therefore poses a greater threat than a mere border incursion would.
Low-information respondents are more easily manipulated by rabble-rousers.
Ignorance of geography is a proxy for ignorance of both the capabilities of the US military and the costs and likely success of intervention.
This is just some weird statistical artifact and means nothing.

Or maybe there's something I haven't thought of.

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2 ... t-where-it
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Re: Ignorance is Expen$ive

Postby vbattaile » Thu Apr 10, 2014 12:02 am

Turns out many of the people calling for a military intervention in Ukraine as a response to the illegal Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula have one thing in common: They have no idea where Ukraine is on a map.

No, really. According to polling data from political scientists Kyle Dropp (Darthmouth), Joshua D. Kertzer (Harvard), and Thomas Zeitzoff (Princeton), there's a direct statistical correlation between not knowing where Ukraine was and wanting the United States to intervene with military force. The researchers asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans at the end of March about their demographic characteristics as well as their general foreign policy attitudes. Then they asked to the respondents to pinpoint Ukraine on a map, which is where it gets pretty dicey. The results can be seen above; the dots shift from blue to red as they near the actual location of the conflicted country.

Not great. It's a pretty sad showing in general. Just 16% of Americans correctly identified Ukraine even after weeks of major national news coverage. At least one person thinks it's in Florida, while a whole bunch think it's Greenland. But the researcher also demonstrated something more insidious. From their op-ed:

"... the further our respondents thought that Ukraine was from its actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene militarily. Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants’ general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force, the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing to U.S. interests, and the more they thought that using force would advance U.S. national security interests; all of these effects are statistically significant at a 95 percent confidence level. Our results are clear, but also somewhat disconcerting: The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene militarily."

In other words, belligerence is directly connected to ignorance, as long as you accept the authors' fairly agreeable point that "information, or the absence thereof" is capable of influencing Americans' policy attitudes and views on individual politicians' ability to control the agenda.

The split isn't partisan in the traditional sense, with the polling demonstrating that just 14% of Democrats and 15% of Republicans — but 29% of self-identified independents — could locate the country. Young adults aged 18 to 24 years olds (27%) and college graduates (21%) were among the most likely to find Ukraine, but as the authors depressingly noted, that second number isn't much higher than the 18% of Americans who told Pew that President Obama is a Muslim in 2010.

Money talks. Fortunately, Americans did show restraint when the costs of blood and treasure were made clearer. While 45% supported boycotting the G-8 (which Russia is now no longer a member of), just 13% want boots on the ground. But — and it's hard to overstate this point — ignorance kills. People who have incomplete information on a topic are prone to making rash decisions, especially regarding a stressful issue. And America's short-term history is likewise not encouraging. It's difficult not to see the poll results and be reminded that after three years of combat and 2,400 American fatalities, two-thirds of Americans aged 18-24 couldn't find Iraq on a map.

You could argue that knowing a country's precise geography isn't completely necessary to understanding its role in international affairs. But it might be slightly more important to know just where a country is before you decide to blow it up.

http://www.policymic.com/articles/87091 ... -in-common

Some People Think Ukraine Is in Florida
National Review Online (blog)

“The less Americans know about Ukraine’s location, the more they want U.S to intervene,” write three of the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage bloggers. That’s a fair swipe at the great fraternity of C-minus, the backbone of our nation. But I prefer to applaud Americans’ ingenuity in naming such far-flung places, including a wide swath of the American Heartland, as the coordinates of the troubled nation.

People who picked the Falkland Islands deserve half credit for choosing a place where there was an active conflict within the last 100 years.

Never forget that all the Americans who answered this quiz could easily fit into the vastness of Russia, with room left over for other puny countries:

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/37 ... -cavanaugh
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Re: Ignorance is Expen$ive

Postby vbattaile » Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:08 pm

Americans who don’t know where Ukraine is are more likely to support military intervention – poll

Those Americans who struggle to correctly point out even the continent Ukraine is located on are more likely to support US military intervention to resolve the crisis and the advancement of US national security interests, a new survey has revealed.

A newly published poll, conducted by three Ivy League professors, revealed that only one out of six Americans surveyed could pinpoint where Ukraine actually is on a world map. The survey also showed a worrying correlation in answers - the further the person thought Ukraine is from its actual geographical location, the more likely he or she was to support military intervention in a sovereign state.

In their study, conducted between March 28-31, Kyle Dropp of Dartmouth College, Joshua D. Kertzer of Harvard University, and Thomas Zeitzoff of Princeton asked 2,066 Americans where Ukraine was on a map and how they think Washington should respond to the crisis there.

The survey was conducted to “see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views,” the authors explained in a Washington Post blog.

The results, combined in a heat map representing where respondents thought Ukraine was, show that only 16 percent of Americans correctly identified Ukraine on a map, with the median respondent being about 1,800 miles off. Some people thought Ukraine could be located as far south as Argentina or Australia, or as north as Finland.

In terms of demographics, the 18- to 24-year-old group provided a more accurate geo-location with 27 percent correctly identifying Ukraine, as compared to 14 percent of the 65+ year-olds group.

Gender correlations showed that 20 percent of males were successful at singling out Ukraine, while women had a 13 percent success rate.

US servicemen and their families also struggled to locate Ukraine on a map, with only 16.1 percent answering correctly. Non-military households had a 16 percent success rate. Self-identified independents secured the highest rating, with 29 percent correctly locating the Eastern European country.

When it came to political association, both Democrats (14 percent correct) and Republicans (15 percent correct) struggled to pinpoint the country.

College graduates also failed the geography exam, with only 21 percent answering correctly. Non-college graduates answered correctly 13 percent of the time.

“The proportion of college grads who could correctly identify Ukraine is only slightly higher than the proportion of Americans who told Pew that President Obama was Muslim in August 2010,” the authors pointed out.

The authors also argue that accuracy in determining the location of Ukraine suggests public opinion predisposition on military foreign involvement abroad. In their assessment, respondents were asked a variety of questions about what they thought about the current situation in Ukraine, and how they would want to see Washington react.

http://rt.com/usa/ukraine-location-inte ... -poll-025/
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Re: Ignorance is Expen$ive

Postby vbattaile » Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:09 pm

Americans: Ukraine is in ... Greenland?

A recent survey conducted by three US college professors found that only one in six Americans could find Ukraine on a map of the world. The results are plotted in one shame-inducing graphic.

What's more disturbing is that the farther away from the actual location of Ukraine the survey participants guessed, the more likely they were to support US military intervention.

A few of the 2,066 respondents seem to think Ukraine is somewhere in the central US, which certainly would make an armed response easier. Alaska - Alaska! - is the target of nearly a dozen guesses.

Greenland and northern Canada are peppered with dots. Brazil. South Africa. A spot in the ocean south of New Zealand.

Is it too much to hope that some of the people surveyed were just messing with the pollsters?

Political independents performed best, with 29% picking correctly. Republicans (15%) and Democrats (14%) were equally dismal. At least there's hope for the future. Twenty-seven per cent of Americans between 18 and 24 correctly located Ukraine.

Dartmouth Prof Kyle Dropp, Harvard Prof Joshua D Kertzer and Princeton Prof Thomas Zeitzoff write in the Washington Post that their survey reveals a disturbing truth:

Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants' general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the US to use force, the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing to US interests, and the more they thought that using force would advance US national security interests; all of these effects are statistically significant at a 95% confidence level.

It's worth noting, however, that no matter how woefully misinformed Americans are about Ukraine's actual location, only 13% of the total survey wanted to intervene militarily.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-26943479
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