What's The Most Ignorant Country In The World?


Tom Hale


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

409 What's The Most Ignorant Country In The World?
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No matter how well versed you may be with the latest goings-on in the world, it’s all too easy to slip behind occasionally. However, according to a survey by Ipsos MORI, some corners of the world could be more guilty of this than others.

The British social research institute asked over 1,500 individuals from 33 different countries a series of questions that looked at different social and political issues in their country, such as “What do you think the average annual wage for a full-time worker is?” and “How old do you think the average person is?”


The results from their “Perils of Perception 2015” survey reveal that many of the world’s assumptions and presumptions across the globe are often way off.

For example, almost every country they looked at underestimates how much of an issue obesity is, with only China, Japan, and India overestimating the amount of overweight or obese people. Another often misunderstood issue was immigration: The average guess across the countries is that 23 percent of the population are immigrants, when in reality it’s 10 percent.

Here are the 20 countries that scored the lowest:

1) Mexico


2) India

3) Brazil

4) Peru

5) New Zealand


6) Colombia

7) Belgium

8) South Africa

9) Argentina


10) Italy   

11) Russia

12) Chile

13) Great Britain


14) Israel

15) Australia

16) Japan

17) Canada


18) Germany

19) Netherlands

20) Spain

It’s important to remember that the issues behind this questionnaire are multifaceted and relate to all kinds of socio-economic factors, cultural sensibilities, and issues with data gathering itself. Bobby Duffy, managing director of Ipsos MORI, explained some of the forces that might have shaped the survey's results:


“Across all 33 countries in the study, each population gets a lot wrong. We are often most incorrect on factors that are widely discussed in the media or highlighted as challenges facing societies... We know from previous studies that this is partly because we over-estimate what we worry about.”

He continued: “There are multiple reasons for these errors – from our struggle with simple maths and proportions, to media coverage of issues, to social psychology explanations of our mental shortcuts or biases. It is also clear from our 'Index of Ignorance' that the countries who tend to do worst have relatively low Internet penetrations: given this is an online survey, this is therefore likely to reflect that this more middle-class and connected population generalize from their own experience rather than consider the much greater variety of circumstances in the full populations of their country.”


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