Cognitive Daily

Geography quiz answers!

The America versus the World Casual Fridays study was our most popular test yet: The 500 survey slots filled in less than 24 hours. I promised to provide the quiz answers, and you’ll find them below.

Some of our readers have asked why we don’t allow everyone to respond, and the reason is simple: we have to pay for the survey software, and it costs us 5 cents per response. If one of our studies was linked by a major site such as Digg or Slashdot, that could amount to hundreds of dollars. If anyone knows of a survey site that doesn’t have this requirement, please let us know!

That said, I have figured out a way that readers can continue to play, albeit in a pared-down way. I picked four of the most difficult questions: two states and two countries, and instead of giving the answers, I’ve turned them into polls. You can make your guess, then see how others have responded. If the results here match the survey results, eventually the correct responses will be clear, but you won’t see them until you’ve made your guess. Make sure you answer the polls before you look at the rest of the answers, though — the answers will give you some hints.

We’ll offer a full analysis of the original study results on Friday.














West Virginia



Rhode Island





  1. #1 John
    January 22, 2007

    There is a mistake. What you are calling Alabama is actually Mississippi.

  2. #2 Dave Munger
    January 22, 2007

    Oops! Yes, sorry!

    I fixed it now; just a typo in the answers, which won’t affect our data analysis.

  3. #3 coturnix
    January 22, 2007

    I did quite well on both, but did world a bit better (only one wrong) than the USA (a couple wrong). I need to travel around the US more….

  4. #4 Dave Munger
    January 22, 2007

    Okay, it’s looking like the collective wisdom of the group still isn’t revealing the answer to number 2, so I’ll reveal it here: Indonesia.

    One commenter on the other thread felt this question was a bit unfair, since the island of Borneo is divided between Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, and the capital is actually on the island of Java (south of Borneo).

  5. #5 Maria
    January 22, 2007

    I still think that comparing knowledge of the US States to knowledge of world countries is slightly US-centric.

  6. #6 Dave Munger
    January 22, 2007

    I still think that comparing knowledge of the US States to knowledge of world countries is slightly US-centric.

    Yes, I agree. But being from the U.S., I still want to know!

    That said, it might have been better to test U.S. cities versus world cities. We could have even controlled for population.

  7. #7 Mara
    January 22, 2007

    my problem was that the US map sometimes was not clear enough, and since I could no see the state limits, I didn’t which state it was.

  8. #8 Pi Guy
    January 22, 2007

    Is knowing the name of a state/country on a map deemed some measure of a person’s intelligence? I don’t think so.

    Every time I hear “59% of America’s 8th graders couldn’t find Chicago on a map!” I wonder what is supposed to be the big point. I don’t know where you all shop but, except for the blank ones that I had to fill out in school, every map that I’ve ever used actually has the names of all states and countries on them already. I’ve always felt that that was what made them useful.

    It’s not clear to me that the ability to name the states has any value other than entertainment.

  9. #9 Kelly
    January 22, 2007

    You know. I live in the US, but I *always* mess up when it comes to Colorado and Wyoming.

    Really, states east of the Mississippi are so much easier to remember. Those square states bother me.

    And this reminded me of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

  10. #10 mamagaea
    January 22, 2007

    I wouldn’t have gotten any of the country ones, though I did get the 2 sample ones. But I got all the state ones except for Nebraska. 🙂

  11. #11 Dave Munger
    January 23, 2007

    I noticed an interesting trend in the polls above, and I may try to analyze the survey for this as well: it seems to me that responses were less accurate early on, then got more accurate with time, as if those who thought longer about whether to try were better at geography.

  12. #12 Ran
    February 13, 2007

    Ask where is Portugal!
    I am curious to see the American answers to that!!

  13. #13 Ran
    February 13, 2007

    And by the way, ask them about the History!
    They just know U.S. history, U.K., colonies, and something about XX century like the war in Vietnam! And maybe not even that! hehehe!

  14. #14 Ran
    February 14, 2007

    Hey there! It’s me again!
    Look what I just found today:

    It destroys completely the conclusion of this test.
    That’s life!

  15. #15 poopypants
    February 1, 2008

    i missed all of them
    i guess that i am really stupid

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