Ukraine

Those Ignorant of Where Ukraine Is Are More Likely To Support Intervention

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Credit: Major Nelson/Foter

Political scientists recently polled Americans on their knowledge of where Ukraine is located and their policy recommendations related to the ongoing crisis there. The results show that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the more ignorant an American is about the location of the former Soviet country, the more likely he or she is to support U.S. intervention.

According to the polling, done by political scientists Kyle Dropp of Dartmouth College, Joshua D. Kertzer of Harvard, and Thomas Zeitzoff of Princeton, the median respondent was about 1,800 miles off when trying to click on Ukraine on a high-resolution map. According to the map of the results (shown below), some Americans think that South Africa, Australia, China, France, Greenland, and Brazil are Ukraine. Shockingly, some respondents seem to think that Ukraine is inside the U.S.

The Monkey Cage

Perhaps more shocking than the astonishing ignorance of geography demonstrated by those polled is the relationship between this ignorance and support for intervention.

From a post written on the polling at The Washington Post's Monkey Cage:

Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants' general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force, the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing to U.S. interests, and the more they thought that using force would advance U.S. national security interests; all of these effects are statistically significant at a 95 percent  confidence level. Our results are clear, but also somewhat disconcerting: The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene militarily.

The post also mentions that two-thirds of Americans claim to be following the situation in Ukraine at least "somewhat closely."

According to Reason's polling, 58 percent of Americans want to stay out of the current mess in Ukraine altogether and only 8 percent support sending in troops.

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  1. What? No one tagged Mexico as Ukraine? Color me shocked.

  2. Shockingly, some respondents seem to think that Ukraine is inside the U.S.

    “Ukraine *in Spain* falls mainly on the plain.”

  3. In their defense, if you think Ukraine is located in the middle of Nebraska then US intervention sort of makes sense.

  4. In their defense, if you think Ukraine is located in the middle of Nebraska then US intervention sort of makes sense.

  5. In their defense, if you think Ukraine is located in the middle of Nebraska then US intervention sort of makes sense.

  6. In their defense, if you think Ukraine is located in the middle of Nebraska then US intervention sort of makes sense.

    1. So we’re not in favor of giving Nebraska to Russia? If we did, would the Cornhuskers still be in the Big Ten?

      1. Probably not in the Big Ten; they would have to move to the SECCCP.

    2. I was going to say something like this, but only once.

  7. Freaking Squirrels!

  8. We need more government schools, I don’t think we’ve reached peak stupid yet.

  9. Maybe that should be one of the new SNL fox n friends skit corrections. The Ukraine is not in Nebraska.

  10. If you had polled me, I would have loved to plop Ukraine down in Kansas and demand war too. Pollsters must realize that in addition to dumb people there are smart asses out there too.

    1. Have been trying for 5 minutes to basically make the same point. Not sure why Reason hates Androids. Christ. Many of those dots are not even on land. I have to wonder how serious some people were being with their answers.

      1. I chalked the ‘not on land’ dots to people thinking Ukraine was some small island nation.

        1. Might have something to do with why so many people are oblivious to wrong aspect ratios with their widescreen TV’s.

          1. Or they just want to make themselves thinner by comparison.

    2. Yeah, I would troll any online poll that I participated in out of general principal.

    3. If it weren’t for the disturbingly large number of people who think New Mexico is not part of the U.S., I might be inclined to agree with you.

      1. There’s a new Mexico?!

        1. There’s even a New England, which those damn Europeans won’t take back.

          1. Win bar bets on NY’s having been part of the Dominion of New England.

      2. who think New Mexico is not part of the U.S.

        But it has the name “Mexico” right in it!

  11. “Shockingly, some respondents seem to think that Ukraine is inside the U.S.”

    And the Ukrainian Village neighborhood in Chicago is what, chopped beets?

    1. I was going to say the same about Parma, OH. Just about every corner has either a Ukrainian Orthodox church or a Ukrainian-rite Catholic church.

    2. That’s all broke hipsters.

      He’s the real joint.

      http://www.stjosephukr.com/

      1. Poor St joe…

        “God impregnated my wife and all I got was this stupid sainthood!!”

        Seems the appropriate Saint for the Ukraine.

  12. We must invade Moscow, Ohio!

  13. The masses’ weak geography skills comes up a lot in the news, but I fail to see how it matters that much. You can oppose or support an intervention based on principles or practical factors regardless of where the country is located.

    I understand that sometimes geography matters quite a bit (territorial lines, shipping routes, etc.) but I don’t think someone confusing Iraq for Iran on a map invalidates their position on the Iraq war or Iran’s nuclear situation.

    1. Troll?

      1. No.

    2. “I don’t think someone confusing Iraq for Iran on a map invalidates their position on the Iraq war or Iran’s nuclear situation.”

      Maybe not. But if, on the other hand, you think Iraq and Iran are in South America, it’s probably a sign that you should just shut up about the issue.

    3. “Principled” support for US intervention in Ukraine can only be borne of ignorance.

  14. Perhaps more shocking than the astonishing ignorance of geography demonstrated by those polled is the relationship between this ignorance and support for intervention.

    Shocking? I thought this was a feature, not a bug, of contemporary American Democracy.

  15. Yevgen Lasman
    7:27 AM MDT
    As an educated Ukrainian I should note that if you’ll ask ~2200 people in Ukraine where USA is, they also won’t give vast [amount] of right answers; and many would count Canada and Mexico as a part of USA.

    Not just an American issue.

    1. The dumbth knows no bounds!

    2. Hell, I’ve asked people in California to identify Kansas and Missouri on a map and they can’t do it. This poll doesn’t really surprise me.

  16. “perhaps unsurprisingly,”

    No qualifier required.

  17. It always amazes me how many people are profoundly ignorant about geography. How can you not be interested? I’m disappointed in myself for not being able to identify all of the countries in Africa.

    1. And someone should be embarrassed to admit they can’t name all 57 states!

      1. 56 states. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I recognize Missourah.

        1. So in your book William Munny *wasn’t* from Missouri? Where was he from then?

      2. I don’t think I could name even half of Heinz’s 57 varieties.

        1. Or most of Carvel’ 28 flavors & 60 varieties. Or Howard Johnson’s I-forgot-how-many (27?), or Baskin-Robbins’s.

        2. Or most of Carvel’ 28 flavors & 60 varieties. Or Howard Johnson’s I-forgot-how-many (27?), or Baskin-Robbins’s.

        3. Or most of Carvel’ 28 flavors & 60 varieties. Or Howard Johnson’s I-forgot-how-many (27?), or Baskin-Robbins’s.

    2. Not your fault that some of the names of those countries change from time to time.

  18. Obviously they’re not filtering out the conscious jokers clicking on places like CONUS and Alaska – that just isn’t believable.

    The median being off an average ~1800 miles, sadly, is believable; but Americans usually get the right continent…right?

  19. At some point, doesn’t the kind of indoctrination and socialization processes people go through in college these days make the results of these surveys kind of meaningless?

    After reading this piece, if I were a lefty journalist, I’d push for a survey asking people how they feel about socialism. If the more educated people are, the less aversion they feel to socialism, what should we draw from that?

    I don’t think it would tell us that socialism is inherently more reasonable than capitalism. It would probably just tell us that being less averse to socialism is considered fashionable among relatively educated people these days.

    Anyway, the smartness of any given course of action isn’t determined by a popularity contest–not even when taking a poll supports my preferred course of action.

  20. Our results are clear, but also somewhat disconcerting: The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene militarily.

    Actually, I find that concerting. Stupid people are stupid.

    If people who knew the situation very well wanted the US to intervene militarily, that would be disconcerting because it would mean (a) they were more likely to be right and (b) it would be more likely to actually happen.

  21. Don’t people play Risk any more? Of course on that board, Ukraine is pretty much Russia?but then, that’s what Russia historically was.

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