How well do you retain information from grade school that you rarely use? mneptok recently pointed out statistics revealing that 70% of Americans could not find New Jersey on a map of the United States, which I found astounding. That got Amy and I to talking, and we decided to give ourselves a challenge. Printed out a blank map of the U.S. and gave ourselves an un-timed test to see how many state names we could fill in.
Taking the test was a fun, but jarring experience. After the gimme states are done, you start rummaging back to these distant memories of elementary school, chewing on a pencil, looking for associations between what are essentially arbitrary shapes and their names – no programming logic will help you here – pure memory power.
I expected to get about 40/50 states right, but only got 29. Was able to fill in names for almost all of them, but put a surprising number of them in the wrong slots. Amy blew me away with a sterling 48/50 correct. And as it turned out, I have to count myself as among the 70% of Americans who cannot find New Jersey on a map. Pathetic? Or just the natural result of not being able to retrieve information I haven’t used for years? (Note that I have a terrible head for geography in general — maps tend to overwhelm me, and I get lost in places I’ve lived for years, which probably has something to do with my score).
If you take the test (takes about 15 minutes), post your results here – I’d be curious to see how other people do. No advance study allowed.