Tuesday, August 15, 2006


You know, I like trivia. I like trivia a lot. My head is amazingly full of truly useless and unimportant information, and some of it bubbles to the surface at odd moments. (For example, recently at a party, someone was trying to recall who recorded the song "War" -- you know, "War...HUH...What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!" -- and I knew that it was Edwin Starr.)

But I also understand the difference between trivia and important facts, and I try to make a point of learning the latter, even at the expense of the former. That seems perfectly rational to me.

And then I run into something like this (at tip to Bob Harris):
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.
Perhaps the only shocking part of that is that 25% could not name even two of the dwarfs, but still.... Some of the other findings are equally disturbing. On the other hand, they do explain a lot of the attitudes and opinions held by the masses. If you can't be bothered to learn about the world around you, don't be surprised if the world isn't quite what you want.

Oh, and the ironic bit about learning of this from the aforementioned Bob Harris is that Harris was a frequent participant (and sometimes winner) on Jeopardy!, a TV game show featuring trivia. I believe Mr. Harris understands the distinction between the trivial and the important. Apparently he has also written a book about (among other things) his appearances on Jeopardy!. Sounds like fun reading.

Oh, and for the record, I can name all seven of the dwarfs and just named eight of the nine current Supreme Court justices off the top of my head (I forgot Justice Souter).

1 comment:

sueinsacca said...

You are WAY ahead of most of us! I can name the dwarves all right, plus Santa's reindeer, but justices? Oh dear. This is so embarrassing. I didn't even know there were nine. I can name several, but I think some of those might be past justices.

On the other hand, I do have a grasp of what the supreme court is supposed to be good for -- what role they're supposed to play in our government -- and can recognize when that role is being compromised or exploited for political gain. So I guess I'm not hopeless.