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So 11 percent of Americans think HTML is an STD? Really?

Seems that some people may not be au fait with techspeak -- 77 percent, for example, may not know what SEO is. Isn't that a good thing?

Knowledge is a disease. Knowledge Highway/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

As many a despot will tell you, when you're taking over the world, you have a tendency to believe everyone appreciates it.

The truth may well be, however, that many think they just can't do anything about it. So they let you get on with it, knowing that, sooner or later, there'll be a party to celebrate the rotting of your hubris.

On reading the statistic that apparently more than 1 in 10 Americans believe that HTML is a sexually transmitted disease, I feel sure that a collective guffaw will roar around the mouths of our future rulers, the royals of Silicon Valley.

"Those stupid people," they will huff. "They probably don't have a clue what SEO is either."

In this, the huffers would be right. The same piece of research, conducted by couponers Vouchercloud.net, seems to have discovered that 77 percent of Americans don't register SEO at all. (Mind you, they were only given three possible answers to each question.)

The LA Times offered me other results too. Twenty-seven percent are said to believe a gigabyte to be an insect from South America. Quite naturally, 18 percent also thought Blu-ray was from the animal world. For it's clearly some sort of marine life. (And if it isn't, it should be.)

I can tell you're begging for more.

Twelve percent apparently thought USB was an acronym for a country. Which is odd, because I could have sworn it was the University of South Brooklyn.

Your favorite might turn out to be the 42 percent of respondents who supposedly thought a motherboard was the deck of a cruise ship. Which, in a way, it is.

Personally, I find these results both astonishing and refreshing. If only 11 percent of Americans think you can catch HTML from a night with a tattooed Fresno bartender, that may mean 89 percent know what it is.

More importantly, the instant lack of recognition of many tech terms might also offer that Americans have other -- perhaps even better -- things to think about.

I know that to survive (and finally become the machines of society) our children are all supposed to be code-trained before they are potty-trained.

But perhaps there's something oddly human about not spouting the terminology of machines, as if it were a substitute for language and meaning.

Sixty-one percent of the 2,392 adults who braved this research acknowledged that our times require a strong knowledge of technology.

It's one thing to know what something does. It's not always fascinating, though, to know how it works or what jargon the people who built it use. Is there anything duller than listening to gearheads talk about cars? Or proctologists talk about anything to do with their work?

There's always the possibility, however, that some people don't like to say "STD" out loud and have substituted it with "HTML."

"I'm going to the clinic to get my HTML looked at" does sound a lot more palatable, doesn't it?

Editors' note, March 17: It belatedly has come to our attention that the Vouchercloud.net study may or may not have been all that it seemed. The watchdog site iMediaEthics dug into the matter most deeply, while the New Republic describes a "possibly real, possibly fake study" and says that the PR firm that disseminated the findings stands by them.

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