Have you ever watched the Tonight Show when Jay Leno goes out into the streets with his “Jaywalking” routine, asking people he meets very simple questions? If you have, are you shocked that so many people appear to be so uneducated about things that many of us learned by the fifth grade?

No, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria is not a Latin rock group. And no, Columbus didn’t discover Ohio. And no Joan of Arc was not Noah’s wife.

Now there have been those who insisted that these people and their answers were staged, even though Leno says that’s not the case at all.

Well folks, believe Jay Leno.

In a recent survey, it was shown that half of Americans between the ages of 18 to 24 can’t find New York on a map of the United States. And 60 percent can’t find Iraq.

Now the survey wasn’t just about geography. There were other simple questions in Leno-style that baffled a large portion or even a majority of those surveyed.

So what does this tell us?

It tells us that many in our country cannot engage in intelligent dialogue about events, programs, projects and issues that affect us now and can affect us many years on down the road. To put it simply, we are dumbed down.

If we go to war and half of the public doesn’t know where our troops are going in terms of finding it on a map, then that epitomizes a combination of ignorance and apathy that can be manipulated one way or another by powerful people with personal agendas.

It’s really scary to think that half of our country (relative to this survey) can’t find the largest city in our country on a map. Before one can even began to be enlightened with even basic knowledge and to be even somewhat philosophical on major issues, he or she needs at least to have some bearings on where he is located and where others are located.

One must wonder if our people know more about rap music, body piercings, tattoos and television reality shows than they do about those things which define us as a democracy and a world power.

Jay Leno’s “jaywalking” is pretty much limited to the Los Angeles area, and we would like to think that if he took his camera crew into the very heart of America he would get much better results. But, the aforementioned scientific survey, conducted for the National Geographic Society, would indicate he would find his humor all over the country. We get a laugh from the responses, but on a much deeper level, it’s truly a sad commentary.

We hear a lot about the supposed need to only be speaking English in our country. Perhaps we do not recognize that ignorance of basic studies in any language is a far greater problem than the fashion in which it is uttered.

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