Thursday, 4 June 2009

Kristof's Misplaced Travel Advice

I had to read Nicholas Kristof's New York Times column on tips for 'evading bandits' abroad several times before deciding whether is was genuine or spoof. The latter theory was supported by advice like the following:

4. At night, set a chair against your hotel door so that it will tip over and crash if someone slips in at 4 a.m.

12. If you are held up by bandits with large guns, shake hands respectfully with each of your persecutors. It’s very important to be polite to people who might kill you.

14. If terrorists finger you, break out singing “O Canada”!

Overall, however, I decided it was a genuine article, although if its purpose was really to encourage American students to visit far-flung places it surely fails. A mention of the fact that the vast majority of people in any country are kind, helpful and welcoming might have been in order to balance the story. Indeed either Kristof has spectacularly bad luck when travelling or he has exaggerated a few stories to suit his column.

Ironically, though, the article has come out at the same time as the Economist's Global Peace Index, which this year ranks the United States at number 85 out of 144 countries surveyed. This places the country below perennial coup candidates Equatorial Guinea and Madagascar, as well as numerous other states that might be considered 'dangerous'.

Now just imagine the reaction if Kristof's advice had been directed at visitors to the US...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Joe in Uganda,

Just to introduce myself, my name's Ellie and I'm writing on behalf of the Global Peace Index (GPI).

First of all we would like to sincerely thank you for previously including the GPI in your blog in the past.

As you'll be aware, the GPI is a ground-breaking piece of research in the study of peace, which not only ranks nations by their peacefulness but also seeks to identify the drivers of peace. Now in its fourth year, the Index is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a global think tank dedicated to the research and education of the relationship between economic development, business and peace. It is collated and calculated by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

We're getting in touch to alert you to the fact that the next Global Peace Index will be launched on June 8th 2010. We'll be providing you with further information closer to the time - unless you tell us that you'd rather not hear from us again - but thought you might appreciate the heads-up in the meantime.

You might want to join us on Facebook too:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Global-Peace-Index/92288319748?ref=ts

and follow us on Twitter

http://twitter.com/GlobPeaceIndex

If you've got any thought or questions about the Index, our methodology, or our organisation, please get in touch. We hope you find our research interesting and informative, and look forward to sharing this year's findings with you in a few weeks' time.

Best Wishes,

Ellie Kirby - updates@visionofhumanity.org