Are you smarter than a 5th grader or Kellie Pickler?

First of all, I really do like Kellie Pickler. She seems like a lovely person and kind. She certainly sings much better than I do and has made more money than I have–way more. I hate feeling mean, (kind of), but she was mentioned in a recent New York Times article as an example of American fondness for being dumb. Dumb might be too harsh. How about ill-informed? Not intellectual?

On the show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” Kellie Pickler didn’t know the answer to the question, “Where is Budapest?” She’s cute as a button, but she hadn’t heard of this city before and made the situation worse by saying she thought Europe was a country. (see YouTube video)

Susan Jacoby, the author of the book, “The Age of American Unreason” writes about situations such as Kellie Pickler’s geography blunders as a problem in the United States. According to her findings, Jacoby thinks there is a general hostility to knowledge. There is a funny, but very sad anecdote she presents about two men she overhears talking about Pearl Harbor and the Vietnam War. You didn’t know there was a connection? There isn’t. The two men were a bit confused. One of them hadn’t heard of Pearl Harbor. The other said the Vietnam War started after the Vietnamese dropped a bomb in a harbor. That’s interesting. Overhearing the conversation inspired Jacoby to write the book. I’m inspired to read it since I’m a befuddled wondering how people could be satisfied living in the world and have no interest in what is past the borders of where they live.

The 5th grader did know where Budapest is. There is hope. Hopefully, he’ll remember when he hits high school and after he graduates.