Hanging at the bar after volunteering two Saturdays ago, I found myself supremely bored. The volunteer group – for all their virtue – can tend to be vanilla. Searching for some sort of entertainment, I decided to pose an experiment in the form of a question which I thought at least a few people would answer correctly (silly me).
Pursuant to the coming solar eclipse (which has been in the news), the following is what I asked of my compatriots: “Line up the celestial bodies in a solar eclipse and lunar eclipse.” By me, this is a snap. In a solar eclipse, the moon comes between the sun and the Earth. Hence…sun – moon – Earth. In a lunar eclipse, the Earth comes between the sun and moon. Hence…sun – Earth – moon.
Now these people almost all have white collar jobs demanding a college education. This is not an ignorant and uneducated group. Guess how many people knew the answer. If you guessed zero, you got it right.
Undaunted, I continued with another basic astronomy quiz: “At what degree of latitude, would you find just one complete day of darkness and one complete day of light each year?” Again, not that complicated. If you know the Earth is titled on a 23 degree axis – and understand that a circle contains 360 degrees – you know the answer is 67 degrees latitude either south or north. Guess how many people got this question right? Yup! Zero again! I couldn’t believe it. I know this shit from high school. And with just a modicum of deductive reasoning, I assumed most people could figure it out! Yeah, right.
On Monday at the Catholic Worker, I finally found one person who at least answered the first question correctly. He’s an instructor at St. Johns University who after some deep thought, managed to align the celestial bodies correctly in the two eclipses. Can you imagine? It took a theology professor to finally pass the test!
I wonder if I’d posed these two questions of volunteers in a different country, would they have been able to answer the question correctly? Is everybody stupid? Or just Americans? One thing I’m pretty sure of: Americans are stupid. I read review forums written by guys who spend hundreds of dollars an hour on escorts. Presumably, most earn that money at white collar jobs. And what I see is a bunch of guys who don’t know the difference among “there,” “they’re,” and “their.” One man spelled spells “whereabouts” “wearabouts!”
But all hope is not lost. A few days ago, I was talking to a friend who happens to be an escort – and out of nowhere quoted Shakespeare: “To be or not to be! That is the question.” And she continued “Tis nobler to…” I was impressed! An escort knows Shakespeare?!?! I then asked if she understood the meaning of the expression “carpe diem?” Not only did she get that right…but then hit me with another latin phrase which I couldn’t translate! Wow! The next time I see her I’m gonna have to ask her the eclipse question. And if she gets it right, I’ll ask for her hand in marriage! Not really. She’s into drugs. I’ve had druggy girlfriends before. I don’t want any more.
I’m rambling. The conclusion. People are stupid. That’s today’s point.