Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bart, Homer, Greeks, and U.S./us

Here's a Reuters filler from today's L.A. Times, "We Know Bart, but Homer's Greek to Us." I'll have to try out these questions on my suffering captive classes! See how you'd do, if somehow you could cover up the answers. (I can't get this published--this marks my try.)

NEW YORK — Three-quarters of Americans can correctly identify two of Snow White's seven dwarfs while only a quarter can name two Supreme Court justices, according to a poll on pop culture.

Asked what planet Superman was from, 60% named the fictional planet Krypton, while only 37% knew that Mercury is the planet closest to the sun.

According to the poll by Zogby International, commissioned by the makers of a new game show, 57% of Americans could identify J.K. Rowling's fictional boy wizard as Harry Potter, but only 50% could name the British prime minister, Tony Blair.

Just over 60% of respondents were able to name Bart as Homer's son on the television show "The Simpsons," compared to 20.5% who were able to name one of the ancient Greek poet Homer's epic poems, "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey."

Respondents were far more familiar with the Three Stooges — Larry, Moe and Curly — than the three branches of the U.S. government — judicial, executive and legislative. Seventy-four percent identified the slapstick act; 42% the branches.

Twenty-three percent of those surveyed knew Taylor Hicks was the most recent winner of the television talent show "American Idol," but slightly less than half that number were able to name the Supreme Court justice confirmed in January 2006, Samuel A. Alito Jr.

The pollsters spoke to 1,213 people across the United States. The results had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.