Monday, February 04, 2008

Mythical Winnie

By Cernig

There's some excitement over on the rightwing of Blogtopia (s!) today about a survey that says almost a quarter of Brit's think Winston Churchill didn't exist.
(Agence France Presse) Britons are losing their grip on reality, according to a poll out Monday which showed that nearly a quarter think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority reckon Sherlock Holmes was real.
The survey found that 47 percent thought the 12th century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth.

And 23 percent thought World War II prime minister Churchill was made up. The same percentage thought Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale did not actually exist.
But then you get to the source of this data. "UKTV Gold surveyed 3,000 people." Aha. Funny, but no-one mentions this bit.

A B-list channel for old reruns of sitcoms and soaps runs a survey, no methodology described (was it a phone-in poll?), then it gets reported as serious news by a French news service and Americans jump all over it.

Is it just me, or have y'all been waiting for an opportunity to get some pay-back on us Brits for our arrogant notion that we know more history and political geography than anyone else simply because the old British Empire was responsible for so much of both? Fair enough, we probably deserve some jumping-on. But this is thin justification.

I'd add that I don't know a single Brit this dumb. But then again, I don't know anyone who watches UKGold either.

Update The UKTV Gold website reveals that, out of those questioned, it was the under-20s who fared poorly.
The research showed that the nation's under 20s are lacking the most when it comes to basic historical knowledge. Over one fifth (21%) thought Winston Churchill, arguably Britain's most famous Prime Minister, was a work of fiction, and over a quarter (27%) thought pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale was a mythical figure.
Did they ask 10 year olds or something? Only 2% of adult Brits being dumb enough to think Churchill was fictional sounds about right. [I shouldn't do math when I've a sinus headache from hell. BJ in comments puts me right - C]

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