There’s a cliche about Americans and how few of them own passports. This apparently results, as the likes of Jay Leno and Rick Mercer have comically pointed out, in some amusing errors in world geography. I encountered this retraction in a recent article about Michelle Kwan’s fitness for the Olympics which seems to highlight these shortcomings:
In Thursday’s Sports section, an article about Michelle Kwan being out because of an injury said that Todd Eldredge finished 10th in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, Canada. Albertville is in France. The article also said that Nancy Kerrigan won a silver medal in the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, France. Lillehammer is in Norway.
I’m glad they straightened that out.
I got to wondering how much truth there was to this cliche. Phil Gyford appears to have done the heavy lifting for me. He concludes that roughly 20% of Americans own a passport. He also cites another study (PDF) which indicates that 33% of Americans own a passport, while 41% of Canadians do.
This certainly seems worthy of mention on Regret the Error, the world’s most famous retraction blog.