11 Percent Of Americans Think HTML Is an STD

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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11 Percent Of Americans Think HTML Is an STD


A new study has found that one in ten Americans think that HTML is something you can catch by having unprotected sex.

We live in a fast-paced, high-tech world, and according to 61 percent of respondents in a recent Vouchercloud survey, it's important to have a good understanding of technology in order to keep up with it all. Of course, not everyone is out on the bleeding edge of technology, but 11 percent of people think HTML is a sexually-transmitted disease? Seriously? I can understand not knowing what it means, or even precisely what it is - I would expect that most people don't - but how do you go from "I don't know" to "Hey, baby, I must've picked that up from a toilet seat down at the pub?"

That's not all. 77 percent didn't know that SEO stands for "search engine optimization," which is fair enough, but more than a quarter - 27 percent - think that a gigabyte is an insect commonly found in South America, and 23 percent think MP3 is a Star Wars droid. 18 percent of respondents said Blu-ray is a marine animal, and software? To 15 percent of Americans, it's comfortable clothing.

It's obviously not the most scientific study ever undertaken and some allowances have to be made for people like me, who intentionally give the worst possible answers to casual surveys like this just to throw off the numbers. And hey, lots of folks have absolutely zero interest in anything even remotely technological, and so can't be expected to know things like what a motherboard is. (Pro tip: It's not the deck of a cruise ship.) But then I think back to a previous survey revealing that 25 percent of Americans don't know that the Earth revolves around the Sun [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/132279-About-25-of-Americans-Dont-Know-the-Earth-Revolves-Around-the-Sun], and a part of me thinks we're lucky that this one wasn't any worse.

Stay in school, kids.

Source: LA Times [http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-1-10-americans-html-std-study-finds-20140304,0,1188415.story#ixzz2v3GTys3k]


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Falterfire

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Jul 9, 2012
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Before I read anything into this, I'd like to see how the study was worded. Because if I was asked "Is there a Star Wars Droid named MP3?" I would possibly answer 'yes' just because for all I know it is. Likewise, for all I know the Blue Ray is indeed a kind of aquatic animal.

With 'ha-ha people are stupid' studies like this, it's really really important to see specifically how the study is conducted and how the questions are worded.

Side note - Looking at the linked article, it appears they were multiple choice questions from an online survey. Which leads of course to the question of 'how many people just half-assed it.' Because I know that if there's one thing I take seriously, it's random online surveys.
 

ohnoitsabear

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Falterfire said:
Before I read anything into this, I'd like to see how the study was worded. Because if I was asked "Is there a Star Wars Droid named MP3?" I would possibly answer 'yes' just because for all I know it is. Likewise, for all I know the Blue Ray is indeed a kind of aquatic animal.

With 'ha-ha people are stupid' studies like this, it's really really important to see specifically how the study is conducted and how the questions are worded.

Side note - Looking at the linked article, it appears they were multiple choice questions from an online survey. Which leads of course to the question of 'how many people just half-assed it.' Because I know that if there's one thing I take seriously, it's random online surveys.
I was about to come in here and say this. And just by it's very nature of being a multiple choice thing it means that people that don't know what something is are just going to put down whatever. Honestly, the only way this survey could be remotely meaningful is if all of the questions were free response, but those don't give nearly as shocking headlines.
 

Pyrian

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ohnoitsabear said:
Honestly, the only way this survey could be remotely meaningful is if all of the questions were free response, but those don't give nearly as shocking headlines.
I've worked on surveys with free response portions. You get rather a lot of technically unique responses, and a surprising amount of truly unique responses. The problem is categorization; the data is useless if every answer is different.
 

Mylinkay Asdara

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Nov 28, 2010
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Alright, what's with the recent trend of X% of Americans are Morons articles lately?

I'm starting to feel picked upon. I know my countrymen and women are not always the best and brightest we so loudly claim to be, but this is still starting to feel a little bit like harassment, Escapist. Just saying.

We have skits on the late night and comedy shows to tell us this already, your assistance is not required.
 

Scy Anide

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Dec 7, 2013
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LA Times said:
The study involved 2,392 men and women 18 years of age or older.
For the record, 2392 people is approximately 0.000762% of the population of the United States (as of 2012), assuming I haven't misplaced my decimal. Also, I may have missed it but I didn't notice anywhere in the LA Times article where the people polled were located or what their professions were. When anyone writes an article about a poll, it's generally a good idea to note that the answers are only from the people polled and are not representative of any larger population. If you have any intention of being objective, fair, or reasonable, that's kind of the minimum effort and anything less than that is more akin to a tabloid. In addition, a rampant problem in any human study like this is the number people polled which, in a lot of cases, renders the study utterly insignificant.

That said, I wouldn't know that "SEO" stands for search engine optimization, especially if I was just stopped on the street with no context, but I don't work in IT; I work in Biophysics. I would guess that most people don't know what "nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy" is, but doesn't make them stupid, it just means they don't work in the field that I do.

So, now that the serious part is out of the way...how did anyone not know what a gigabyte was? Or were they just trolling the polling? In fact, a fair amount of the answers listed in the link sound like something a troll would cook up.
 

Clive Howlitzer

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Jan 27, 2011
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You mean 11% of an extremely small group that was polled? Why do people take these things seriously again? Also, it has been proven again and again that a pollster can get exactly the answer he wants by just wording the question a certain way. That doesn't apply so much to this poll but just another reason why polls are stupid.
 

mrpollio

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I wouldn't want HTML 5. Thats like Hepatitis B and Herpes Simplex 2 combined!
 

crepesack

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To everyone who thinks several thousand is a small sample size:

We approve potentially lethal drugs with assays based on less than a fraction of that sample size.

As a biologist, 2000+ is a huge sample size.

I'd be more concerned over the poll itself not how many they polled.
 

Dragonlayer

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Dec 5, 2013
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"Next week on the Escapist, a new survey finds that 22 percent of 77 percent of 3 percent of Americans are annoyed about surveys that depict 78 percent of 65 percent of 31 percent of Americans as ignorant. 2 percent of 100 percent of -B percent of this post is mathematically sound."
 

geldonyetich

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Sure, you can totally catch HTML by having unprotected sex. Granted, most people prefer to pay their webmasters in money.
 

Baresark

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The sample size was plenty sufficient, so I don't know what people are getting at with this. Studies like this are annoying actually, because it makes American's look stupid. I'm willing to bet you would get similar answers in any developed nation in the world... and I dare you to poll someone from a developing nation and then sit here and talk about how stupid they are. Also, LA Times as a source... such good journalism comes from that paper. Just like it does from most of the other big papers in America.
 

felixader

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Feb 24, 2008
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I am sorry, but this is stupid. I mean the outcome of the survey if the sun rotates the earth is awfull but this on is stupid.

My Mother is a highly educated woman, still i doubt she would know what HTML5 is, because it simpl is nothing she needs to know in any way.
 

Caiphus

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Mar 31, 2010
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crepesack said:
To everyone who thinks several thousand is a small sample size:

We approve potentially lethal drugs with assays based on less than a fraction of that sample size.

As a biologist, 2000+ is a huge sample size.

I'd be more concerned over the poll itself not how many they polled.
Yes, this. A sample size of 2000 is actually pretty bloody large.

Anyway, yeah. I'm sure none of my grandparents know what HTML or MP3 represent. There's a good chance that they're clueless as to Blu-ray and software too. As a finance student, SEO also stands for Seasoned Equity Offering. It's fun to laugh at Americans, I do it all the time, but these results aren't hugely surprising or offensive.
 

IamLEAM1983

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Aug 22, 2011
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"HTML. It's serious. Get tested now." *insert Ad Council end title card*
"XML. It might happen to you."
"JavaScript. Don't drink coffee and write papers at the same time, it creates a host of problems."
"GNutella. Firearms are not to be smeared in hazelnut spread. This has been a public service announcement."

So on and so forth. This is fun!
 

Malconvoker

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Nov 1, 2011
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I just did a quick little math thing and a sample size of 2000 is about 4% of my city's population. I live in a rather small city in Southern California, so population is a bit condensed but the city has an area of like 6 square miles. It really is a drop in the bucket.
 

CrazyBlaze

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Jul 12, 2011
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Caiphus said:
crepesack said:
To everyone who thinks several thousand is a small sample size:

We approve potentially lethal drugs with assays based on less than a fraction of that sample size.

As a biologist, 2000+ is a huge sample size.

I'd be more concerned over the poll itself not how many they polled.
Yes, this. A sample size of 2000 is actually pretty bloody large.

Anyway, yeah. I'm sure none of my grandparents know what HTML or MP3 represent. There's a good chance that they're clueless as to Blu-ray and software too. As a finance student, SEO also stands for Seasoned Equity Offering. It's fun to laugh at Americans, I do it all the time, but these results aren't hugely surprising or offensive.
7


The big issue here is the claim that a 2000 sample, well still large does not represent the entire U.S. of A. The article just says that to make people click on it. It really should include the word polled to make it clearer. What would also be nice is where the sample is coming from. Is it coming from 50+? Or 40+? How about mostly in the age group of 18-25? What is the basic background of these people? Do they work in Businesses? Retail? Construction? This is important information that seems to be missing that could help give more concrete answers. Also its a coupon website. I mean I do not trust how accurate that information is. Also there is a marine animal called the Neoraja caerulea, a.k.a the Blue Ray. Also I would have said SEO stood for Sony Entrainment Online.