What's Your Global IQ?

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We are hoping to start a conversation about what we are calling Global Literacy—facts and insights about the world (some objective, some subjective) that we think are worth knowing. We are not saying this is all you need to know; just that what you are about to read amounts to a good start. Our perspective is that of an American publication, but our interests are global, and we invite you to write us with your own thoughts and suggestions; we will be returning to the subject in the coming months, and expect this large-scale undertaking to become an annual project.

As you will see, the questions we raise set up short reported essays; they are not just for brainy Trivial Pursuit fans (though those fans will love them). The topics range from terror to Jane Austen, the economy to Picasso, climate change to Muhammad Ali. For the competitive among you, a 130-question Global IQ test awaits, as does the e-mail to write us.

In a new NEWSWEEK Poll, more Americans were able to name the latest winner of "American Idol" (Jordin Sparks) than could identify the Chief Justice of the United States (John Roberts). We are not tut-tutting or wagging our fingers; there is nothing wrong with knowing the former; our view is that people should probably be fluent with both reality TV and the highest court in the land. Makes life more interesting. It is more troubling, though, that nearly half of the Americans we polled did not know that Judaism is older than Christianity and Islam, or that Libya does not border Iraq.

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