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Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
From: (J.D. Baldwin)
Subject: Re: Is Saving Private Ryan the best World War II movie of all time?
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998 20:57:34 GMT

In article <>,
Dan Ford  <> wrote:
> Here's a trick to brighten up a dull cocktail party. Sidle up to the
> smartest Ivy Leaguer you can find (likely female, gratis the
> reinvention of the Ivy League in the 1970s) and ask: "How many world
> wars were there, anyway?" She may get the answer right in the end
> ("two?"), but it's fun watching the wheels spin.

Here's a depressing factoid for you.

I used to teach (Computer Science) at the Naval Academy.  One day,
while getting ready for work, I heard on the radio that 3/4 of college
freshmen in the USA could not correctly identify:

   - the year Columbus first landed in the New World, to within 50 years

   - the dates of the American Civil War, to within 50 years

I simply did not believe it.  I decided that I would test the
hypothesis by adding "Bonus" questions to a quiz I had ready for my
classes -- made up of supposedly some of the brightest university
sophomores in America.  (I often threw in non-course-material-related
"bonus" questions on quizzes, so this was nothing unusual for me.)

I am sad to report that my results for about 90 students mirrored the
report I had heard on the radio.  This result among active duty
U.S. Navy midshipmen, who you would think would be *more* likely to
get the answer right than the "average" bright college student.
 From the catapult of J.D. Baldwin  |+| "If anyone disagrees with anything I
   _,_    Finger |+| say, I am quite prepared not only to
 _|70|___:::)=}-  for PGP public    |+| retract it, but also to deny under
 \      /         key information.  |+| oath that I ever said it." --T. Lehrer

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