Friday, September 13, 2013

Oh Look, Another One of Those Lists

Every once in a while, I find an article about all the gosh-dang things kids these days just don't know. This little gem  claims people born after 1980 can't name the capital of France and don't know what a kilt is. This is backed up by a study from Kent State University, but the article doesn't bother with a link you can access without a university login.
I enjoyed this one because you can tell how much research the writer actually put into this. Here's my favorite part.
Inundated with technology and saturated with second-by-second media, today’s young people find history to be so yesterday. In 1980, the name of the man who iconically cried, “The British are coming!” was ranked as the 23rd most-known fact. Now it’s sunk to 53rd place.
P.S. It’s Paul Revere.
Other American history factoids that fell by the wayside include knowledge of the woman who sewed the first American flag (Betsy Ross). This question fell from 58th to 79th place. And Lieutenant Colonel George Custer lost the Battle of Little Bighorn. His ranking dwindled from 84th to 171st.  
Nobody actually knows who sewed the first American flag. We say Betsy Ross because she was Washington's seamstress, good a guess as any. And Paul Revere never said "The British are coming!" American History 101: In 1775, we were British. Only a third of colonists supported the revolution. If Revere had been that stupid, they would've told him, "What are you hollering about, Paul? We're already here. Now shut up and go to sleep!"
He said the Regulars, or English soldiers, were coming.
Oh, and apparently Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity. Uh huh. Just like Isaac Newton invented gravity. And Mark Zuckerberg created computers. I hope it's just this article. Surely Kent State has a history department somewhere.
Let's see, should I defend my generation now? Explanation #1: The exact same test was given in 1980 and 2012. These questions are the ones answered correctly less often. So other questions are being answered more often. We've learned something. But you can twist data how ever you want if it's your article. 
Explanation #2: We know our American history factoids.
 As someone who actually bothered to take U.S. History in eighth grade, I'm qualified to say this:


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