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February 18, 2008

Richard Florida


« That Sinking Feeling | Main | Who's Your Suburb? »

A popular video on YouTube shows Kellie Pickler, the dizzy platinum blonde from “American Idol,” appearing on the Fox game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” during celebrity week. Selected from a third-grade geography curriculum, the $25,000 question asked: “Budapest is the capital of what European country?” Ms. Pickler threw up both hands and looked at the large blackboard perplexed. “I thought Europe was a country,” she said. Playing it safe, she chose to copy the answer offered by one of the genuine fifth graders: Hungary. “Hungry?” she said, eyes widening in disbelief. “That’s a country? I’ve heard of Turkey. But Hungry? I’ve never heard of it.”

From the New York Times review of Susan Jacoby's new book, The Age of American Unreason.

What would Steven Johnson say?


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When I was a grad student in the US, it amazed me that one university I attended did not have a geography department. Sure, university level geography is about more than the names on a map, but nevertheless...

Yule Heibel

Yikes, indeed, but it is a bit hard to believe that adults are this stupid. I wonder if Ms. Pickler's ignorance wasn't a deliberate ploy to position herself as the next newest and most infamous "dumb blonde" (modeled on Miss North Carolina).

Seriously, if you don't actually have what it takes to win a prize for being the smartest, what better way to ensure your 15 minutes of fame on YouTube than by positioning yourself for a win in the "nitwit" category?

If my theory has validity, then that tells us something about how we're willing to evaluate "eyeballs" and "value" these days, and how ubiquitous technology (YouTube) has shaped that evaluation ...and our preferences. Maybe technology somehow disguises or cloaks narcissism as an object of desire?

Michael Wells

I have to give my favorite Dolly Parton quote. When a TV host asked if she were bothered by the dumb blonde jokes, she said "No. Because I know that I'm not really dumb. And I know that I'm not really Blonde."

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