With the public debate over military action against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria following the use of chemical weapons, on August 29 the website usvsth3m posted an interactive online game they called “Where’s Damascus? (Don’t Ask Us).” Using Google Earth, the game calls for players to “click where you think Damascus is” on a map of the whole planet. Players are then told how close they came (in miles), and the percentile in which they fall.
It could be argued that ignorance among the general public about Syria suggests that public disapproval of military strikes is not a compelling reason to forgo them, and that the media is not doing its job reporting on the issues.Jeffrey Mazo
The implication of the article is clear from the title, and from the opening sentence: ‘You’d expect folks in the U.S. Department of Defense to know the location of the place they’re probably about to bomb.” But it’s not just the DoD, or parliamentary staff; the overall figures are pretty discouraging. Although the figures are not broken down by country, the game asks players to click on the map to show where they are playing, the article points out that Texans perform below average (49.3%) and readers of the UK daily newspaper The Independent perform well above average (64.3%). It’s a UK website, and the whole tone of the exercise, and the article, is in keeping with the general “meme” that Americans are dangerously (or hilariously) ignorant. The meme crops up in stories about the confusion of Iraq and Iran among public and politicians, for example.