The intelligent are not immune

Jeopardy, hosted by Alec Trebek, is one of the longest running game shows in America. (Image via jeopardy.com

Weekdays at 7:00 p.m. are dedicated to one purpose in households nationwide: watching Jeopardy. As a kid, the people on Jeopardy were my heroes. They were people that earned money because of their intelligence. As somebody who loved to learn random factoids and pieces of trivia, the possibilities of Jeopardy seemed endless.

As a college student, Jeopardy still provides me the same optimism that it did years ago, except now with a newfound appreciation. In the current political climate, its nice to see that something like Jeopardy has remained unchanged. There are still people in the world who see knowledge as power, and strive to compete with others in a way that only serves to benefit everyone involved.

Jeopardy has served as assurance with that knowledge is the way to bypass ignorance. In a world that seems increasingly plagued by ignorance, it appears intellectuals are becoming all the more necessary. Perhaps the only way to remain immune from the poisons of bigotry, false stereotypes and the like is to encourage a love of knowledge and learning.

On March 9, the rosy ideas I had about intelligence leading to immunity from ignorance were shattered, all because of a “Final Jeopardy!” question.

At the end of the show, Alex Trebek read the “Final Jeopardy!” clue from the category, “NATIONS OF THE WORLD” the clue read: “A 2011 report said the citizenry of this country included a total of 32 women.”

As per Jeopardy custom, the contestants’ responses were revealed in reverse order, so that the person with the highest score is the last to show their answer.

The woman in third place ventured Tuvalu as her guess, which, although incorrect, was not a terrible idea. She clearly tried to think of the smallest island she knew, and hoped that by some miracle only 32 women resided there. This answer shows the use of knowledge to form an educated guess.

The woman in second place ventured The Vatican as her guess, which ended up being the correct answer. Of course, there is no disputing that it must take intelligence to get the answer correct, so we’ll move on.

The final woman to reveal her answer was the person previously in first place—expected to be the most intelligent simply based on performance throughout the night. Her response was revealed to be the following: “What is Saudi Arabia?”

This response does not constitute intelligence. This response can best be explained by ignorance. One might say she had no idea what to guess and simply panicked and wrote Saudi Arabia. Looking at the amount she wagered proves the contrary.

Ms. Rachel Moyer wagered $15,001 of her $16,200 on her response of Saudi Arabia. This means she was reasonably confident in her ability to have used her knowledge to successfully answer the question.

It is heartbreaking to see that the intelligent are not immune to false news, alternative facts and misleading information. It is unfortunate that people we can assume to be the cream of the crop have a difficult time distinguishing between falsehoods presented by the media and the realities of the world.

The news portrays Saudi Arabia in such a way that when the word woman comes up and an astonishingly low number appears, an intelligent person’s brain makes a connection between the country and an impossibly low population of women. Intuitively, the news berates Saudi Arabia for the limited rights given to women and the squandering of potential; this should mean there has to be a substantial population of women if they’re making it to the news for their lack of rights, not the other way around.

It’s an appalling time to be alive—this type of misguided perception seemed to be an issue of intelligence, when clearly nobody is immune any longer. This can only serve as a reminder that we all need to take it upon ourselves to be educated, and remain above such falsehoods and misguided stereotypes.


Gulrukh Haroon is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at gulrukh.haroon@uconn.edu.