James Truslow Adams vs. Andrew Carnegie

Yesterday, I brought the canonical picture of Andrew Carnegie to happy hour at a bar over in Pitt's territory to perform an experiment, based on the frequent misattribution of his face to James Truslow Adam's name. I wanted to get a rough idea of how recognizeable Andy's face is to people outside of the CMU bubble, in order to quell my complete disbelief that people mistake him for JTA.

I passed the picture around the bar and asked people if they knew who that was, and if they did, to tell me who they think he was.

Almost everyone I asked claimed some amount of familiarity. Of those, only about half of them thought they could name him. Only about half of the people who could name him confidently said 'Andrew fucking Carnegie', and all but one of those turned out to be CMU-affiliated (I did not ask the lone non-CMU winner what his deal was).

Among the wrong answers were 'Howard Taft', 'Winston Churchill', 'some president', 'definitely a robber baron', 'the Monopoly guy'. For comparison, I pulled up a picture of Rockefeller as another famous robber baron to see if anyone could recognize him, and got blank looks all around.

Other faces occasionally applied to James Truslow Adams include Ansel Adams * and Paul David Hewson, better known as Bono of U2*. There is one image on the internet that looks like it has promise as a positive identification, but I've been unable to verify it to my satisfaction.

My conclusion is that all fat old famous dead white guys from the turn of the century pretty much look alike as far as the masses are concerned, and that Andy is the poster boy for robber barons.

31 October 2014 11:06

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