Saturday 2 October 2010

Howlers from 'The Weakest Link'

Yesterday: -
Q. "Which Jewish place of worship is derived from the Hebrew word for 'assembly'?
Answer offered: "Mosque".

Q."Which African city is overlooked by Table Mountain?"
A: "California"

Q."Which country in the British Commonwealth has the highest population?"
A: "Russia"

and a golden oldie:-
Q." Which Royal House succeeded the Tudors?"
A: "Buckingham Palace"

I know people say that when you're actually on a TV programme it's much harder, but these are classic clangers which would shame any schoolkid - or at least I'd like to think so.
I have been four times on a BBC radio quiz (on music), recorded in a theatre before a live audience of 200 or so, broadcast not only nationally, but also worldwide on the BBC World Service, and I was never so over-dazzled by the experience that I gave inane answers.
I sometimes think there really are just so many genuinely ignorant people around that it makes me want to despair. Of course most of us believe in democracy and the right of everybody to vote (and, incidentally, I support the enfranchisement of all prisoners, whatever their crime, sadly not practiced the U.K.), but to think that there are so many uninformed people whose votes count as much as one's own is scary. Many of them don't even know the name of our Prime Minister or, say, which political party Mrs Thatcher led. (Oh dear, complaining about other people's voting sounds dreadfully reactionary but I'm really taking a swipe at a certain widespread woeful ignorance rather than the fact that people are entitled vote, which of course is surely an inviolable right.)

By the way, the first example above is not untypical of the confusion many seem to express between Islam and Judaism. I find they always tend to mistake the latter for the former, rarely the other way around. I've no doubt that when members of either faith hear such responses they are tearing their hair out, and with just cause.


  1. It's happened to me, Ray. I couple years ago I had to get up after a formal dinner and give recognition to my team in front of about 100 of my peers. I totally lost my mind. I looked at the microphone and got whoosie, and I could not for the life of me remember any of my own team member's names. I was thoroughly embarrassed.

    I've once gave a speech before 10,000+ without a problem, but speaking before small groups kills me. Perhaps a similar thing was happening to the contestants.

  2. Yes, I suppose that suffering from nerves can sometimes look like plain ignorance. It's easy to be smug when it doesn't happen to one but when I see someone whom I know struggling against his/her nervousness I really do squirm with sympathy.

  3. Those who have power throughout the world like people to be uniformed/stupid. They cultivate it, but I really can't be angry at them alone. Most people(in the west) willingly bath in ignorance; they wear it as a badge of honor. That's the really sad part.

  4. Kyle, yes, you are so very right on your 'badge of honour' comment. Although it's bad enough deliberately (and proudly) hanging on to 'ignorance' as part of one's identity, it's even more unforgivable to purposely keep others uninformed - witness 'faith' schools in the West (and East) and the Taliban's refusing to let girls and women be educated at all. Just appalling!