Geographic Ignorance? Not here!

This is from the February 14, New York Times:

A popular video on YouTube shows Kellie Pickler, the adorable platinum blonde from “American Idol,” appearing on the Fox game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” during celebrity week. Selected from a third-grade geography curriculum, the $25,000 question asked: “Budapest is the capital of what European country?”

Ms. Pickler threw up both hands and looked at the large blackboard perplexed. “I thought Europe was a country,” she said. Playing it safe, she chose to copy the answer offered by one of the genuine fifth graders: Hungary. “Hungry?” she said, eyes widening in disbelief. “That’s a country? I’ve heard of Turkey. But Hungry? I’ve never heard of it.”


Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters.

She pointed to a 2006 National Geographic poll that found nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds don’t think it is necessary or important to know where countries in the news are located. So more than three years into the Iraq war, only 23 percent of those with some college could locate Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel on a map.

If Ms. Pickler would like to play the game, I would be glad to put up a photo of her house for a contest. Unfortunately, I still the the regulars would get it right and she would get it wrong.

Contest #11

New rules apply! All comments will be moderated for the duration of the contest and made public at its completion. All correct answers will be given credit starting with contest #11. Make sure to be as specific as possible when making your guess.

A running tally of those who guess correctly will now be kept.

Let the games begin!

Picture 1.png

Contest #10 Answer

I’ll call this one a group effort since everyone seems to know what it is, but no one will come out and say it. It is Guantanamo Bay, the hunk of Cuba which the US still controls.

image by

Contest #9 Answer

Dr. Bayer strikes again. The answer to contest #9 is the Ranu Raraku crater on Easter Island. The stone in this cinder cone is softer than what is found on the rest of the island and it was this stone which made most of the maoi on Easter Island.

Personally, I think he is exaggerating when he said “Oh, but that makes it a giveaway.”

Maoi and quarry - Easter Island

Contest #9

Picture 3.png (by Everything Everywhere)

Hint: The name for the larger area of this place is well known. However, to make it more difficult, I am looking for the specific name of the this spot within the better known area.

Contest #8 Answer

Andy McAllister, who I have ever reason to believe steals candy from children, correctly guessed that the image was of Mount Merapi in Central Java, Indonesia. Merapi is a very active volcano looming over the large cities of Yogyakarta and Solo in Indonesia. I was rather stunned that anyone was able to get it that fast.

Mount Merapi - Yogyakarta, Indonesia (by Everything Everywhere)

Announcement: New Format

Starting with Contest #11, I’m going to introduce a new format. People are just too good at guessing and the contests go by before some people can even have a chance.

What I’m going to do is have each contest run for 72 hours. All comments will be moderated, so guess aren’t made public.

At the end of the contest, all the moderated comments will be made public and everyone who guesses correctly will be given credit.

I will also start keeping stats of people who guess correctly and keep a running scoreboard of winners. Eventually, I’d like to have prizes of some sort, but we’ll need more people playing to get to that point.

Contest #7 Answer

Curses!! I can’t believe the company which sold the photo gave it away that easy! Andy McAllister picks up the win the assist from Dr. Bayer. The answer is Timbuktu, Mali. One of the most important trading cities in Africa and one of the places most responsible for the spread of Islam in North Africa.

Timbuktu ( (by Aluka Digital Library)
Image from