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Thread: IO and the Capacity of the Audience to Grasp the Message

  1. #1
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    DeRidder LA

    Angry IO and the Capacity of the Audience to Grasp the Message

    The critical node in any information operation is the ability of the target audience to correctly interpret the intended message.

    In understanding the geostrategic equation, Americans are increasingly handicapped:

    Thirty-three percent of respondents couldn't pinpoint Louisiana on a map.

    Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.

    Two-thirds didn't know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.

    Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.

    Forty-seven percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.

    Seventy-five percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.

    Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.

    Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world.

    Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico.

    Source: The Associated Press
    The source of those stats is at

    Other stats at National Geographic include:
    Only 37% of young Americans can find Iraq on a map—though U.S. troops have been there since 2003.
    6 in 10 young Americans don't speak a foreign language fluently.
    20% of young Americans think Sudan is in Asia. (It's the largest country in Africa.)
    48% of young Americans believe the majority population in India is Muslim. (It's Hindu—by a landslide.)
    Half of young Americans can't find New York on a map.
    As a FAO I grew used to indifference among even fellow military officers over African and even Middle Eastern affairs. But nearly 5 years into GWOT makes the above stats especially disturbing. You cannot "win" an information war when your own population cannot understand the message.


  2. #2
    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Default K-12 education

    Essentially, you canot expect a population to have much of a grasp of the wider world, much less an interest in foreign languages, when the teaching of history has esentially been erased from the curriculum on a national scale for several generations.

    Yes, there are fine AP and IB programs scattered about in better H.S. districts but the fact is that the overwhelming majority of teachers of history ( world or American) in the public schools never majored in the subject. By that I mean roughly 70 % or so lack a major or minor. Whatever their state licensing boards might say about their transcripts with scatttershot hours at 200 level social science classes, these people are too uninformed and unqualified to teach that subject ( and to hear the students, we might add " uninteresting" as well).

    (Incidentally, though this goes beyond the scope of Tom's complaint, the figures for science teachers are almost as bad and, from what I have been told, are projected to get much worse)

    Foreign language study, where it has not been cut, primarily emphasizes Spanish followed distantly by French and is inappropriately placed at the upper secondary level despite ample, unambiguous, research demonstrating that FL instruction should begin at an early age.

    Yes, low salaries are part of the problem in that you get what you pay for -particularly in math/science area - but our systemic priorities are not in order either.


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