Explaining American Ignorance About World Affairs

Via Andrew Exum, the front covers of the newest issue of Time Magazine for the United States, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific:

Notice anything?

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Jeez, Doug, “South Pacific,” isn’t an actual place. It was a musical back in the 50’s. You totally got pwned dude. South Paciific, right. Next you’ll be telling me that there really is an Africa, like in the old Tarzan books.

  2. PJ says:

    Here’s another one…


  3. Better explanation:


    APA study shows that the more people know about complex social issues, the less they believe anything can be done about them. They tend to resolve this tension by deliberately avoiding learning anything about complex social issues.

  4. Herb says:

    Nice try, but this only explains the ignorance of readers of TIME Magazine. The other big error is “judging a book by the cover.” Seems to me that despite the cover, all editions contain the “Revolution Redux” story, right?

  5. John Peabody says:

    Well, the cover of TIME used to be a major indicator of the state of the US. But, the cover is designed to spur checkout aisle sales. Perhaps the ratio of subscription:single purchase sales makes the cover slightly less important in the overseas markets. I quit subscribing to TIME (breaking a generational line that started in 1941) when I first saw an exclamation point in a photo caption. The “People” people had obviously taken over the “TIME” side of Mr. Luce’s shop.

  6. In fact, that´s more complicated because outside the United States Time Magazine is usually read by people that have English as a second language. It´s a public that´s not representative of their countries as a whole.

    But, outside the US people also share the opinion that the magazine lost it´s relevance.

  7. bains says:

    As others have insinuated, are you, Doug, really using Time (or any other weekly Glossy) as a gauge of informed US opinion.

    Dont you know the really smart crowd dials in Colbert and Stewart for all the really important news?

  8. Mr. Prosser says:

    You’re way behind, Doug. The only people who read Time any more are sitting in a dentist’s office.

  9. MM says:

    @John Peabody: I remember from high school reading a line in Edward Albee’s Zoo Story where one of the characters says “TIME’s not for blockheads.” The teacher’s remark was a forlorn, “back then it wasn’t.”