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Earning your keep

Not being one to see a great deal of TV, I’ve noticed a naivety in myself. It reminds me of those kids at school who grew up without a TV - when they did sit down in front of a friend’s TV they would point at the screen and cry, “did you see that?”, when clearly, everyone did. It’s not that they think their friend’s eyesight is bad, but that without a regular feed of TV culture, the content takes on a whole new significance. In fact, in many cases I believe the TV-ignorant viewer is seeing something the others are not.

It is with this naivety that I saw part of “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader” tonight. Not being well trained enough to persevere through the languishing melodrama that accompanied every question, I nonetheless saw enough to make the following observations, which when singled out, might make for a curious reflection.

  1. It is possible, in 2007, to earn more than 2 years typical salary by knowing what word beginning with ‘H’ describes the natural environment of a plant or animal.
  2. It is equally possible to sacrifice more than 3 years typical salary by not knowing which year Australia’s Federation began.
  3. The power of broadcast television allows a reward, equivalent to about 5 years of vocation after about 4 years of specialist training, to be given to someone who can demonstrate recall of primary school level knowledge.
  4. There exists an industry that relies on the ability of people with below average intelligence to demonstrate an exceptionally convincing show of tantalising drama.
  5. By distracting TV audiences with a well orchestrated carrot on a stick, it is possible to fit in enough advertising to make a profit above seven figure expenses.


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