South Africans are some of the most ignorant people in the world

 ·4 Dec 2015
Sad business

The results of a new poll by Ipsos show that South Africans are among the most ignorant people in the world.

The Ipsos Perils of Perception Survey tasked respondents in 33 countries with identifying key issues and features of the population in their country.

People were asked about the proportion of wealth owned by the top 1% of the population, levels of obesity, the size of the non-religious population, and a host of other topics from female employment, average age, and Internet access.

Ranking countries from least to most accurate in their perceptions, South Africans were found to be the 8th most ignorant country out of the group of 33.

Mexico was the most ignorant country listed, followed by India, Brazil, Peru, and New Zealand in the top 5.

South Koreans were the most accurate in their perceptions, ahead of Ireland, Poland, China, and the United States.

The most ignorant countries in the world

# Country
1 Mexico
2 India
3 Brazil
4 Peru
5 New Zealand
6 Colombia
7 Belgium
8 South Africa
9 Argentina
10 Italy

South Africa was particularly way off the mark when it came to the percentage of the population that are believed to be immigrants (not born in the country), where the average guess was 24% over the actual figure.

South Africans overestimated the average age of the people in the country (16% over), the percentage of the population under 14 (14% over) and how many women are employed (12% over).

Some areas where South Africans under-estimated were the percentage of the population that are obese (8% under) and the number of women who are politicians (8% under).

On the whole, all the countries surveyed were pretty innacurate, according to Ipsos.

Developed countries greatly overestimated the proportion of weath the top 1% owned, while all countries thought there were more foreigners living within their borders than there really are.

“There are multiple reasons for these errors – from our struggle with simple maths and proportions, to media coverage of issues, to social psychology explanations of our mental shortcuts or biases,” said Ipsos MORI research MD Bobby Duffy.

The countries that did the worst have low Internet penetration, he noted.

“Given this is an online survey, this is therefore likely to reflect that this more middle-class and connected population generalise from their own experience rather than consider the much greater variety of circumstances in the full populations of their country.”

If you want to test how ignorant you are – you can take the quiz on the Ipsos website.

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