If Americans Can Find North Korea on a Map, They’re More Likely to Prefer Diplomacy


A recent survey found that the vast majority of Americans can't find North Korea on a map. That part, given the current state of our education system, may not be surprising.



What may be more surprising is that among those Americans who do know where North Korea is, they're far more likely to prefer diplomacy to military action.




Check out the map above again, showing the guesses made by 1,746 American adults; each dot represents a guess.

Only just more than a third of respondents answered correctly - 36%. 

Instead, these are the countries that were identified as North Korea:

  • AFGHANISTAN
  • AUSTRALIA
  • BANGLADESH
  • CAMBODIA
  • CHINA
  • INDIA
  • Indian Ocean
  • INDONESIA
  • IRAN
  • JAPAN
  • KAZAKHSTAN
  • KYRGYZSTAN
  • LAOS
  • MALAYSIA
  • MONGOLIA
  • MYANMAR
  • NEPAL
  • NEW GUINEA
  • North Korea
  • OMAN
  • Pacific Ocean
  • PAPUA
  • PAKISTAN
  • PHILIPPINES
  • RUSSIA
  • SOUTH KOREA
  • THAILAND
  • TURKMENISTAN
  • VIETNAM

That's quite a list - including two oceans!

Even more interesting, though, is how Americans answers to which policies the United States should pursue regarding North Korea changed, dependent on their geographic knowledge.

After North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Sunday, the White House called for “all nations” to put in stronger sanctions.

An experiment led by Kyle Dropp of Morning Consult from April 27-29 shows that respondents who could correctly identify North Korea tended to view diplomatic and nonmilitary strategies more favorably than those who could not. These strategies included imposing further economic sanctions, increasing pressure on China to influence North Korea and conducting cyberattacks against military targets in North Korea.

They also viewed direct military engagement – in particular, sending ground troops – much less favorably than those who failed to locate North Korea.

The largest difference between the groups was the simplest: Those who could find North Korea were much more likely to disagree with the proposition that the United States should do nothing about North Korea.



This finding is consistent with – though not identical to – a similar experiment Mr. Dropp, Joshua D. Kertzer and Thomas Zeitzoff conducted in 2014. They asked Americans to identify Ukraine on a map and asked them whether they supported military intervention. The farther a respondent’s guess was from Ukraine, the researchers found, the more likely he or she was to favor military intervention.


As you can see from the chart above, education played the largest role in whether or not participants knew where North Korea was.

In general, though, it's clear that American geography skills leave much to be desired. As a 2006 Roper survey noted, six in 10 young adults could not locate Iraq on a map of the Middle East; about 75 percent could not identify Iran or Israel; and only half could identify New York state.

And as Harm de Blij wrote in “Why Geography Matters,” geography is “a superb antidote to isolationism and provincialism,” and argued that “the American public is the geographically most illiterate society of consequence on the planet, at a time when United States power can affect countries and peoples around the world.”

Others feel similarly - that without geographic literacy, Americans are ill-equipped to think about foreign policy in any meaningful way. “The paucity of geographical knowledge means there is no check on misleading public representations about international matters,” said Alec Murphy, a professor of geography at the University of Oregon.

“People don’t invest in policy information, but that’s rational,” said Elizabeth Saunders, a political science professor at George Washington University who studies foreign policy and international relations. Instead of exhaustively researching foreign policy options for a host of nations, Americans are “rationally ignorant,” effectively outsourcing their foreign policy views to elites and the news media.

Here at Organic and Healthy, we're hoping to help change that.






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If Americans Can Find North Korea on a Map, They’re More Likely to Prefer Diplomacy  If Americans Can Find North Korea on a Map, They’re More Likely to Prefer Diplomacy Reviewed by matt on 19:57:00 Rating: 5
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