Common knowledge is not so common

By Russell Zazueta

Not everyone is up on their common knowledge, and it took a little probing to discover that Elans couldn’t answer all the common questions.

Out of 10 East Los Angeles College students, one was able to answer the correct year that World War II started, and all 10 students were clueless on the start of the American Civil War.

 What are the seven continents on Earth? How many planets are in our solar system? On what date did 9/11 occur?

These were a few of the questions passed around to ELAC students to challenge their latent knowledge in science, history and observation.

  An 18-year-old student was put to the test to name the advent year of World War II and took a guess with 1977.

The same student also gave 1940 as the start of the American Civil War.

The actual start of World War II was September 1, 1939, and the American Civil War started April 12, 1861.

World War II and the American Civil War are pertinent events in U.S. history that are recognized as monumental events with a significant effect on modern day Americans.

Another 18-year-old student said, “I’m not a history major, I have no idea,” after giving up on the year the American Civil War started.

When asked who the incumbent U.S. vice president was, she blanked and said, “I don’t keep up with politics.”

 Many other students also chose not to answer with wild guesses for a self-conscious fear of giving a wrong answer.

In no way were these questions asked to bully their I.Q., but, rather, to understand the extent of their common knowledge.

The terrorist attacks that razed the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, was an enormity tagged by a hot date that everybody recognized as 9/11.

While most ELAC students knew when 9/11 happened, a few students (even with the date being in the title 9/11) were unaware of the date it occurred.

A 22-year-old student joked around that it happened on September 11, 2009. But her wavering memory was proof of her uncertainty and knew no more than the question itself.

Many Americans died and were negatively affected by 9/11. All people around the country recognize this tragedy as a bad time for all Americans, and will never forget the date it happened.

ELAC students were also asked to recite the seven continents on Earth.

 “North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and . . . maybe Greenland?” answered another 18-year-old student as he counted each continent with a new finger.

A couple ELAC students guessed Russia as a continent, with their logic being that Russia’s sheer size was enough to be a continent.

Australia trended as the most forgotten continent of all seven, and was also the most traded continent for a wrong answer.

In 2006, astronomers determined Pluto to be a dwarf planet and reduced our solar system from nine to eight planets.

After being asked the number of planets orbiting the solar system, the same student that incorrectly guessed the dates to World War II and the American Civil War, said, “Does Earth count in this question?”

This student then concluded that only five planets existed.

A 20-year-old student thought there were 12 planets, but that’s because there has been much debate in astronomy news about a few pluto-sized worlds – near Pluto – that astronomers want to see become planets.

It’s a possibility that he misunderstood what he read or heard, but ultimately curious on the subject of astronomy.

What were the two former Los Angeles NFL teams that moved away after 1994? For most ELAC students, it was a total surprise that Los Angeles even had the Raiders and the Rams as NFL teams.

ELAC students who didn’t know the former L.A. teams reasoned that professional football wasn’t their choice of sport, and other students said that they were generally not interested in sports at all, so they did not know.

 Some students guessed the San Francisco 49ers as one of the former Los Angeles teams. Their logic being, that if a Los Angeles team were to move away, it would stay in California.

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