'HTML' Is A Sexually Transmitted Disease, And Other Things Americans Mistakenly Believe

According to an embarrassing new survey, 23 percent of American adults think “MP3” refers to a Star Wars robot. Another 18 percent believe that “Blu-ray” is a marine mammal, while an inexcusable 11 percent are under the impression that “HTML” is a sexually transmitted disease. The kicker here is that, in the same survey, 61 percent of respondents said that it’s important to have good knowledge of modern technology.

The study was commissioned by the coupon site Vouchercloud, either to measure consumer knowledge of tech jargon or, alternatively, to draw web traffic to Vouchercloud. Some other key findings in the survey:

  • 27 percent thought “gigabyte” referred to a South American insect
  • 12 percent identified “USB” as the acronym for a European country
  • 42 percent thought that a “motherboard” was the deck of a cruise ship
  • 15 percent said that “software” referred to comfortable clothing (ok, seriously?)

While it’s easy to laugh at these results — and, indeed, borderline impossible not to — the fact that one in ten people think HTML is an STI suggests a worrisome lack of public knowledge about what’s still a serious public health issue. Either that, or they noticed how patently silly the survey answers were and wrote the whole thing off as a joke.

With this survey, Vouchercloud has taken up the proud tradition of Public Policy Polling, which also crafts survey questions that seem intended more to elicit laughs and publicity than actually illuminate anything about public opinion. And to that, we say: Keep up the good work! We can use the laughs.