1 in 10 Americans think HTML is a sexually transmitted disease

“If you’re talking tech with Americans, you may want to avoid using any jargon,” Salvador Rodriguez reports for The Los Angeles Times. “A recent study found that many Americans are lost when it comes to tech-related terms, with 11% saying that they thought HTML — a language that is used to create websites — was a sexually transmitted disease.”

“The study was conducted by Vouchercloud.net, a coupons website, as a way to determine how knowledgeable users are when it comes to tech terms,” Rodriguez reports. “Besides HTML, there were some other amusing findings.”

“27% identified ‘gigabyte’ as an insect commonly found in South America. 23% thought an ‘MP3’ was a ‘Star Wars’ robot,” Rodriguez reports. “15% said they believed ‘software’ is comfortable clothing. 12% said ‘USB’ is the acronym for a European country.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re astounded that it’s only 11%.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


    1. Did the survey ask them what an “STD” is? What kind of stupid survey was this…? Was it multiple choice?

      QUESTION: What is HTML?

      A. A type of military vehicle
      B. A language used to create web sites
      C. A sexually transmitted disease.

      If the question was multiple choice, with the number of answer choices something like 3 or 4, ONLY 11% selecting “a sexually transmitted disease” is actually a GOOD thing.

      If the question was open-ended (no specified choices), and 11% answered “HTML is a sexually transmitted disease,” THAT would be worth mentioning.

      1. I’ve run into a number of ‘surveys’, especially those via political entities, that attempt to shove people into making statements, via their answers, that are not objective or even relevant. I always question the folks giving such surveys as to why their multiple choices are so incredibly limited and unrealistic. They claim ignorance. I claim: “Then I’d done with your ignorant survey. Good-bye!”

        1. Survey design is a science, one ignored more often than not by callow practitioners and crass commercial publicity mills. But even experts fall prey to unconscious biases that fail to be recognised for decades. Because of that, survey results can never be more than an approximation of truth as imagined by the surveyor.

          IOW, consider the source: human.

          1. Another phenomenon of, at least phone surveys, is that they don’t randomly call anyone out of the phone book. I get a lot of survey phone calls because I’ve been willing to respond to them in the past. So, not unlike Spam Rat Sucker Lists, I’m on their Survey Sucker List and get called frequently. Easy mark, call this guy.

            I’m being mean. Many surveys are of interest to me. I remember how fun it was to be surveyed on a particularly bad JJ Abrams (Bad Robot) TV pilot. They gave me access to watch it, I told them it sucked. Amusingly, they did the series anyway. I believe it was the second fastest JJ Abrams TV show to bite the dust within half a season.

            – IOW: Surveys can be fun. But they end up surveying the people they know are willing to take the survey, which kills off randomness.

          2. Survey design is a science, one ignored more often than not by callow practitioners and often exploited by crass commercial publicity mills.

            There I fixed it for ya… 😉

      2. Multiple choice questions is an American invention that is exactly and directly what is responsible for the low standards and products of all American educational institutions. It turns education into guess work and diminishes all reading, writing, comprehension and compositional skills.

        Remember when you had to write essays, compositions and (eloquently) express your thoughts , opinions or knowledge unabbreviatedly?

    1. I call BS. I’d like to see the way the survey questions were asked. That only 75% in U.S. and only 66% in European Union answered the question correctly indicates to me that the question or premise was confusing. And note, even though the Europeans answered incorrectly at a higher percentage than Americans, it’s the American’s that are painted as the backward, uneducated dopes in the headline. Leave it to Time mag.

    2. We all make snap judgements — one good example being the inference that those respondents are stupid, uneducated, or indoctrinated.

      Maybe they were annoyed by the survey, and responded with a bit of mischief. Maybe they were using a geocentric coordinate system to simplify their calculations. Maybe they didn’t get the memo from the Pope that Ptolemy is out and Copernicus is in. Rational thinking yields these and other alternative explanations of the survey results.

      On the other hand, snap judgments evolved as a time-saving (and potentially life-saving) neural mechanism that promotes the most probable idea of the lot. Whilst hunting on the savannah, best to utilise that instinctive faculty. Waving grass + no breeze = assume hostility.

      Similarly, the survey result generates instant concern for our kinship group — being undermined by stupid, uneducated, or indoctrinated people.

    1. I dare say most people haven’t given such a question any thought at all.

      A better question might be, of those who consider the age of the earth, what proportion believe it in excess of 6000 years?

      I’d like to see that correlated with other belief studies, which would be fascinating as all get out but prove nothing about reality, only how people think. Which is not much, apparently.

          1. “ROUGH WEEK?” Suck it up, Derek. Flimsy excuses won’t cut it in today’s dog-eat-dog world. Last week I had a bad hair day and I’m still dead.

  1. On of Apple’s (and Steve’s) goals has always been for the “average” customer to be able use their computers without the need-to-know what was going on beneath the UI.
    Perhaps they succeeded too well. 😉

    BTW – WE are not average customers.

  2. Last month, a survey found that 25% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. In a 1999 Gallup poll, 19% thought the same thing. We are indeed a nation of dopes and getting more dopey by the minute.

  3. Why the heck should an average member of the public know what html or seo are, any more than they’d know what Apache is, or C++, or a Cisco router, or a rectifier diode? What a stupid survey!

    Now, 1 in 4 thinking the sun goes around the earth… that’s really disturbing. Kind of makes my gut clench in fear, frankly.

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