What is the most obscure state according to Wonkblog and Google? And per capita?

by on April 8, 2016 at 12:25 am in Current Affairs, Data Source, Political Science, Uncategorized, Web/Tech | Permalink

From Christopher Ingraham:

The top five most-searched states are, in order, California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania. And to answer Tyler Cowen’s original question, the bottom five states, in descending order, are Idaho, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, and, at the absolute bottom of the 50-state barrel: Wyoming.

And searches relative to population?:

You can see that the biggest overperformer is, oddly enough, Alabama — it’s the 24th most populous state, but the 15th most frequently-searched state. It’s hard to say what’s driving the discrepancy, but Google’s data offer some clues. For instance, Google’s nifty Correlate tool shows that many Alabama-related searches have to do with sports scores and events — perhaps tied to the popularity of college sports at the University of Alabama. Or, there may be something unique about the state the causes its residents to use the state’s name in Google searches more often — searching for rules and regulations on things like drivers’ licenses and the like.

Other big overperformers include Hawaii and Alaska, Colorado and Connecticut.

On the other side of the ledger, the state that appears to generate the lowest amount of search interest relative to its size is Indiana.

…Louisiana, West Virginia, New Mexico and Idaho also are considerably under-searched compared to their population.

Separately, I received this email from a loyal MR reader:

I am following your most-obscure-state series with some fascination. However, I think the approach is a bit off, because in many cases small states are less obscure than larger ones. Rhode Island is not obscure precisely because most know of it as the smallest state. And even small states produce outlier individuals that elevate their states’ prominence. Rather, I think you should look at obscurity on a per-capita basis — that is, what state is disproportionately obscure compared to its population, economic footprint, &c.
I would suggest Indiana. Our 16th-most-populous state, Indiana is nonetheless relatively obscure for its size.
  • Indiana is overshadowed by many of its larger neighbors; northwestern Indiana is part of Chicagoland; southeast Indiana is tied to the Cincinnati and Louisville areas.
  • The best-known historical political figures identified with Indiana are Benjamin Harrison and Dan Quayle — neither well-known.
  • Indiana has far fewer Fortune 500 companies based there than any neighbor except Kentucky (and only one more than Kentucky). Indiana’s big firms tend to be major industrial companies like Eli Lilly and Cummins, important but not consumer-facing and thus contributing to obscurity.
  • Indiana is a major producer of many products, agricultural commodities and mineral resources, but it is the top producer of few, and so doesn’t gain prominence for them (in the way that people associate dairy with Wisconsin or cars with Michigan).
  • Indiana has only one large city, and it’s the 34th-largest U.S. metro area with about 2 million people. States of similar size tend either have much larger metro areas or they have multiple Indianapolis-sized metros.
  • Indiana is not especially diverse — 85% white, and few prominent foreign ethnic minorities concentrated there.
  • In education, Indiana’s best known big school is Notre Dame, which due to its Catholic heritage is not especially associated in the public mind with the state. Purdue is a strong school but ranked 61 by US News — lower than you might expect for a flagship in a state Indiana’s size.
  • Indiana is a place where a lot of notable people are from but where few stay. Think John Roberts, Allan Bloom, Sydney Pollack, Steve McQueen, Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Samuelson. (Indiana’s proximity to Chicago contributes to its obscurity by sucking away some of its greatest talents.)

Sports and culture are probably the only arena in which Indiana escape obscurity In sports, this is due to the Hoosier basketball tradition, Larry Bird, Bob Knight, John Wooden, and the Indy 500.

Culturally, Indiana has produced several highlights. In music, the Jackson 5 are indelibly associated with Indiana. The novels of Booth Tarkington stand out. Cole Porter was born and raised there. The Gaither gospel singers are from and based in Indiana. Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, a minor classic, is set there. Ben-Hur author Lew Wallace was a lifelong Indianan. Indiana has produced some strong comics — Red Skelton, David Letterman, Jim Gaffigan — although they are not popularly associated with Indiana. Jim Davis of Garfield is from there. Films and TV shows set there? HoosiersBreaking Away, Rudy, Parks and Recreation.
…Despite these strong points, the relatively large size of Indiana weighs against them and leaves Indiana the most obscure state on a per-capita basis.
Thanks — I continue to enjoy this series and am looking forward to your posts on Rhode Island and Delaware.
TC again: Here is my earlier post My favorite things Indiana.  But I think we have a winner in the per capita sweepstakes.

1 Ray Lopez April 8, 2016 at 12:27 am

+1. Notice my choice of Vermont is in the top five most obscure. I’m a legal resident of South Dakota. Very surprised Wyoming is #1…many rich live there, and you’d think it would be more famous because of that.

2 Jan April 8, 2016 at 7:07 am

I’d think it would have been more searched due to the Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, skiing, as well as the rich resident thing.

3 Heorogar April 8, 2016 at 7:31 am

This is additional input for my decision process to move (from Nassau County, NY) to SD, WY, or ID, in that order. I prefer NH to VT, except liberal, MA tax refugees are ruining it.

NM is a great state. Good (high desert) climate and great outdoors and sight-seeing opportunities: skiing, ghost towns, mountains, extinct volcanoes, lava fields, etc. Have been there many times as my in-laws (RIP) retired and relocated to Albuquerque. Santa Fe and Taos are grand places. We visited there often when the children were young.

4 mkt42 April 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm

If you prefer NH to VT for what appear to be political reasons, then I would think you would prefer AZ to NM. All four states have good scenery, and very different politics.

5 Mike April 8, 2016 at 12:44 am

New Mexico, Idaho and Wyoming are three of my favorite states, even more so now.

6 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 12:46 am

New Mexico is a strikingly underachieving state despite its large percentage of Ph.D.’s paid for by the federal government. As the oldest Hispanic state, New Mexico probably tells us a lot about America’s future.

7 Ray Lopez April 8, 2016 at 12:59 am

Los Alamos is winding down I read…they have stagnated the last 15 years. Breaking Bad was a good series filmed in or around that area. I think what holds back NM are the Indian reservations, not so much the Mexicans, who pass through these states en route to more populous US cities.

8 AIG April 8, 2016 at 2:00 am

You’ve never been to NM I take it. BB was filmed around ABQ, which is about 2 hours south of Los Alamos. Los Alamos looks more like Colorado in climate, not desert.

It’s the people at Los Alamos (or Alamogordo where they do the missile tests)…that are mostly passing through. Most of them stay in the area for a few years to do post docs or research projects, then move on to something else.

The Mexicans, stay. They’ve been there for centuries, so they’re not passing through. But I agree with you that they are not really the problem. The problem is that, well, no one who can help would live in NM.

9 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 2:16 am

There is relatively little illegal immigration into New Mexico from Old Mexico. Mexicans move to where the Anglos are because Anglos create jobs.

10 AIG April 8, 2016 at 2:31 am

They move to where economic activity is. They also don’t move to Vermont, because there’s nothing in Vermont except bears and bear people.

11 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 2:51 am

The voters of Vermont play an active role in discouraging the kind of economic development that attracts Mexicans. Guys like Bernie Sanders got their fill of diversity growing up in NYC; they didn’t move to Vermont to have it turn into Bakersfield.

12 AIG April 8, 2016 at 3:29 am

“The voters of Vermont play an active role in discouraging the kind of economic development that attracts Mexicans”

The voters of Vermont play an active role in discouraging the kind of economic development that attracts…any human.

That’s cool Vermont. Mesicans can come over to Texas to cut my lawn and fix my cars. No problem. You can keep your bear people.

13 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 3:53 am

Vermont attracts humans with modest to moderate-sized trust funds.

14 AIG April 8, 2016 at 4:25 am

“Vermont attracts humans with modest to moderate-sized trust funds”

Let me fix that for you: The University of Vermont attracts humans with modest to moderate-sized trust funds.

The rest of Vermont is inhabited mostly by lumberjacks and other bear-looking people.

15 Jan April 8, 2016 at 7:01 am

Vermont is a great place for a vacation, but not so interesting as a place to live

But bears bears bears, AIG wants to make sure we mention bears and bear people while he relaxes on a Hep C ridden beach in Corpus Christie with his Mexican servants.

16 Nathan W April 8, 2016 at 12:03 pm

People with money and/or connections create jobs, and that tends to be people who have been somewhere longer compared to those who newly arrive.

17 JonFraz April 8, 2016 at 1:41 pm

I assume you haven’t been to Santa Fe or Albuquerque if you think there are no “Anglos” in the state

18 AIG April 8, 2016 at 1:46 am

1/3 of the state is Indian reservations where you’d be lucky to find a paved road. 1/3 of the state is Indian reservations conning money out of other Indians in their casinos. The last third is a giant empty desert used for bombing runs by the US military. There’s literally no reason for any humans to live in that state, so anyone with the slightest ambition, leaves (or never moves there)

19 Edward Measure April 8, 2016 at 3:32 am

Most Americans don’t know that New Mexico is part of the US. We New Mexicans are really happy that AIG, Ray, and Steve live elsewhere. As one of those PhDs formerly paid by the government I have to admit that aside from a great climate, great food, a thriving artistic community, wonderful scenery and wonderful people we have little to offer.

20 AIG April 8, 2016 at 3:40 am

Hey, don’t get me wrong. The place is beautiful, and a few select spots are nice to live in. I like visiting NM. Los Alamos, Santa Fe, even most of ABQ are nice/decent.

But don’t pretend like most of it isn’t third world. Outside of Navajo country in Arizona, I don’t think I’ve seen as much third worldyness in the US as in NM. It’s not your fault, it’s just a desolate and remote place.

21 Edward Measure April 8, 2016 at 4:16 am

New Mexico is arid, sparsely populated, and poorer than most of the US, but it doesn’t much resemble the parts of the third world that I have seen – most of which are tropical and crowded as heck.

22 Psmith April 8, 2016 at 7:58 am

Everybody, AIG is absolutely right and Mr. Measure is totally wrong. None of you should ever come to New Mexico, let alone move there. Terrible, terrible place….

23 Heorogar April 8, 2016 at 9:46 am

Psmith: I imagine you are saying that because you want to keep the place for yourself.

Had traveled to NM numerous times to visit in-laws until the mid-1990’s. If one is active, there is generally something to good to do. The reservations aren’t all bad. One could drive a back road through the Cochiti Indian Res. and hike among the Tent Rocks and collect Apache tears.

It is a poor state. I am not sure how good or bad is the state government fiscal condition.

24 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 12:48 am

A generation ago, Indiana was pretty notorious as a speed trap because people from Illinois and Michigan seldom vacationed there. So it made sense for the state of Indiana to line its pockets from people driving through.

25 Mark Thorson April 8, 2016 at 1:46 am

Like Oregon. Never happened to me, but my best friend from high school and the guy who ran the traffic school last time I had to get rid of a ticket were both nabbed in Oregon. Driving while California plates is a ticketable offense there.

26 anon April 8, 2016 at 12:56 am

Indiana’s flagship school isn’t Purdue. It’s IU, which is ranked at 30 in the US News rankings. It punches above it’s belt in public education, like most of the Big Ten states.

27 anon April 8, 2016 at 12:59 am

Eh punch above its weight. I’m mixing up my idioms.

28 Nathan W April 8, 2016 at 12:14 pm

I went to a conference at Purdue once. Lots of good things, but what really stuck about off-campus time was that drivers have the right of way at 4-way stops. Not only did they take full advantage of it, but it seemed very much to me as though people took special pleasure in hitting the pedal a little harder if pedestrian deigned to think of getting in their way. Maybe things are just different, but it left a pretty bad impression on me.

29 Scott April 8, 2016 at 12:14 pm

IU has more programs that rank highly which gives it the better overall ranking, but for ag science, engineering, and aviation, Purdue is practically Ivy League.

30 JVM April 8, 2016 at 1:11 am

Also interesting to note distortions that state lines themselves cause. For example, upstate (downstate?) Illinois conjures up almost no images in my mind. I know Illinois as the state that Chicago is in, and nothing else. I suppose that perhaps even if Chicago was its own state, Illinois would be as obscure as Indiana.

Similar case in point, the Central Valley of California is an enormous area where over 6 million live. As its own state, it would be the 18th most populous and one of the largest by land area. It is virtually absent from the cultural consciousness of non-Californians. Maybe it’s in some Steinbeck novels?

On the flipside, the Dakotas owe nearly 100% of their notoriety to the fact that there are two of them taking up lots of space on the map.

31 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 2:04 am

George Lucas’s coming of age movie “American Graffiti” is set in Modesto in the Central Valley of California. But Lucas now lives, I believe, in Marin County. That’s pretty common for successful people from the Central Valley: there are much, much nicer places to live within a couple of hundred miles of where you grew up.

32 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 2:07 am

The late Merle Haggard was born in Oildale just outside of Bakersfield. Back in the 1960s, Bakersfield was the second strongest outpost of country music after only Nashville.

But this is interesting: At his death he was living at the other end of the Central Valley just outside of Redding. So I guess he really liked the Central Valley, and just moved to the greener end of it.

33 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 2:10 am

Joan Didion came from an old money Sacramento family and wrote about them a lot.

34 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 2:23 am

Cesar Chavez was associated with Delano in the Central Valley, and he was a big deal for awhile, but seems to be fading from consciousness.

Roughly half the population of the Central Valley of California is Meso-American and few celebrities or high achievers come from Mexican and Central American backgrounds. Eventually, the whole country will have demographics fairly similar to the Central Valley today.

35 Millian April 8, 2016 at 5:15 am

Rural Illinois is famous for that one guy, you know the guy with the funny hat and neckbeard who lost the 1858 Senate election to Mr Douglas.

36 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 6:58 am

Illinois (outside of Chicago) is a relatively high-achieving state, like most of the upper midwest. Indiana is the runt of the litter.

37 Hoosier April 8, 2016 at 8:38 am

Indiana doing much better than Ohio or Michigan at the moment, and it doesn’t have the political corruption and high taxes of Illinois.Politically, if it weren’t for Lincoln- a big exception I agree- then both Illinois until Obama and Michigan don’t have many great political successes either.

38 Dave Anthony April 8, 2016 at 10:05 am

I went to college in Indiana and my parents are originally Hoosiers — a friend from college from small town Illinois would tell stories of people asking if Illinois was “near Chicago”.

I think non-Chicago Illinois ranks pretty high on the obscurity index. I can name a few towns but little about them. Champaign Urbana (friend from there), Peoria (college friends moved to there) and Springfield the capital. Oh and East St. Louis (notoriously dangerous).

39 PD Shaw April 8, 2016 at 10:36 am

Springfield is an international destination though because of Lincoln. I’m not sure describing Lincoln as a successful political leader is adequate, he is a unique international icon. The cemetery in which he is buried is the second most visited in the U.S. (to Arlington), and the State Department has a democracy-promotion program that brings foreign leaders to Springfield to learn about the American system and internal conflict. They could do this program pretty much anywhere, but Lincoln is seen as a martyr to liberty, and apparently the idea of learning in the places where he walked and seeing things he touched is attractive.

40 Pshrnk April 8, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Champaign-Urbana: James Tobin
George Will
Roger Ebert
David Foster Wallace
Allison Krauss
Bonnie Blair
Bob Richards
Robert Holley
Edwin Krebs
Hamilton Smith
Shahid Khan

41 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Neal Stephenson likes to keep lists of all the high achievers like himself who come out of college towns in the northern half of flyover country.

42 Pshrnk April 8, 2016 at 8:25 pm

Stephenson grew up mostly in Ames, IA, but as a child briefly resided in Champaign-Urbana. If we include people who lived in CU just a few years we can add many names as diverse as Larry Ellison, Stephen Wolfram and Ludacris 🙂

43 Pshrnk April 8, 2016 at 8:25 pm

William Gibson was also a brief resident.

44 AIG April 8, 2016 at 1:48 am

These are not interesting states. These are interesting states because they’re losers? I like states that aren’t losers.

– Donald Trump

45 Doug April 8, 2016 at 2:19 am

This about sums up how people from California, Texas, Florida and New York relate to the rest of America:


46 James Mac April 8, 2016 at 3:33 am

The fact that Alabama is alphabetically top of the list of US states may be one reason it scores high. Simple, but it’s seen to work elsewhere (eg on multi-member ballot papers)

47 Cass1an April 8, 2016 at 6:47 am

It can be also a search artefact. “Alabama” rock band is relatively popular and “Indiana” is a British singer who debuted only in 2015.

48 msgkings April 8, 2016 at 11:53 am

Would searches for ‘Indiana Jones’ be a factor as well?

49 Cass1an April 8, 2016 at 1:49 pm

As far as I know those algorithms, only exact fit counts. “Indiana Jones” is longer. “Alabama rock band” also will not count towards Alabama itself.

50 Nick April 8, 2016 at 5:37 pm

Or… Roll Tide

51 kimock April 8, 2016 at 4:41 am

Having been born and raised in Indiana, I concur with the observations. It is notable for being relatively un-notable. “Indiana is a place where a lot of notable people are from but where few stay.”

One important thing: it is “Hoosier”, not “Indianian.”

52 Millian April 8, 2016 at 5:15 am

“Rhode Island is not obscure precisely because most know of it as the smallest state” – I think the question was formulated as obscurity among outsiders to the US – outsiders don’t know about this state trivia. I bet Americans don’t know the smallest EU member state. It’s Malta – it was Luxembourg before 2004, an answer most Europeans would probably still give, so I wouldn’t expect Americans to get it either.

As for Indiana, sports counts for a lot. Who cares about where Fortune 500 corporations are headquartered when even foreigners have heard of the Indy 500? Still, it is on the obscure side of the 50.

Widespread ignorance about any and all American states may raise a state like Illinois or Georgia well above Indiana on a per-capita obscurity measure.

53 Cass1an April 8, 2016 at 6:51 am

Everybody knows Georgia and their capital city – Tbilisi. =)

54 Nathan W April 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

I`m Canadian. I only know about Rhode Island because it’s the smallest state. I doubt that that crosses to Europeans or Asians though.

55 Steve Sailer April 8, 2016 at 5:24 am

Indiana is more Southern in culture than Illinois or Iowa. I’m not sure why that is.

56 PD Shaw April 8, 2016 at 9:07 am

Indiana was largely settled from the upper south, mostly Scots-Irish. This is true of other lower midwestern states, but they only tended to migrate north under the protection of woodlands, where they practiced agricultural burning, self-sufficient home production, and avoided the prairies. The key difference between IL and IN was the extent of prairies was far greater in Illinois.

Plus when Yankee settlement began in earnest before the Civil War, migration followed the canals and emerging railroad system in the far North of the State, so some Yankees settled in Fort Wayne, IN and the Northern 10% of the state, but most moved on to Chicago which was developing into an important transportation hub.

57 PD Shaw April 8, 2016 at 9:09 am

This also explains why Indiana had the most Vice-Presidents of any state, it is either the most Northern Southern state, or the most Southern Northern state.

58 kimock April 8, 2016 at 9:26 am

Steve’s observation is correct, and I (a Scots-Irish native of southern Indiana) can agree. The southern 1/3 of the state is culturally and geographically and arm of Appalachia. So is that of Ohio, but that state has several large cities to counterbalance this. The central and northern plains attracted more people of German and Scandinavian descent.

59 mkt42 April 8, 2016 at 2:52 pm

I remember attending a party where one of the spouses kept insisting that southern Indiana was part of Appalachia, which none of the rest of us believed. Ever since then, I’ve occasionally asked people who live or lived in the area about this, and they agreed with the rest of us that Appalachia does not include southern Indiana.

However these additional witnesses are typically from WV or OH.

Also http://www.unc.edu/~whisnant/appal/maps/Appreg.gif
or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachia

You’re only the second person I’ve met or even read who says that southern Indiana is part of Appalachia, but as a native you presumably know whereof you speak. I wonder if it is an Indiana thing, to emphasize or recognize the connection to Appalachia, whereas Ohioans and West Virginians will not. E.g. I know a native of Cincinnati who emphasizes its German immigrant population in the past (which might be yet another way in which southern OH differs from southern IN?).

60 JonFraz April 8, 2016 at 1:54 pm

To expand on this, one reason is the Great Black Swamp in NW Ohio kept early settlers from simply moving due west through Ohio (and this also delayed the settlement of Michigan as the swamp occupied the whole terrain between present day Sandusky and the northeastmost portion of Indiana). The swamp was not drained and the area made passable until well into the 1800s. So Indiana was settled from the south, via the Ohio River.

61 duderino April 8, 2016 at 5:36 am

Parks and Rec probably made Indiana a little less obscure.

62 Rich Berger April 8, 2016 at 7:32 am

How about The Middle? Better ratings than Parks & Recreation. And a better show.

63 MOFO April 8, 2016 at 9:22 am


64 dbp April 8, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Again, Tyler has missed the most obvious show with The Middle–which is still on the air, unlike Parks & Recreation.

He missed Napoleon Dynamite on the Idaho Movie list and Caddyshack for Nebraska. (I know the latter wasn’t filmed there, but takes place in Nebraska).

65 Steve-O April 8, 2016 at 4:38 pm

I brought this up in another thread, but the scene at the marina screams “not Nebraska.” Did the movie make any reference to the setting whatsoever? Is there anything distinctively Nebraskan about the dialog, a prop, or anything else? It’s fine to say the movie was set somewhere, but to make a list of favorite things ______, it seems like the setting should have something more to do with the movie than be listed as the setting on its IMDB page.

66 duderino April 8, 2016 at 5:11 pm

I get the impression that P&R had a pretty large Netflix following. It’s just one of those shows that works better when you binge.

67 Bob from Ohio April 8, 2016 at 11:58 am

Doubtful. Its ratings were terrible. #96 in its first season and never better than #108 afterwards.

There is often an inverse correlation between critical praise/media attention and popularity.

68 rayward April 8, 2016 at 6:07 am

I sometimes use Indiana as a foil – as in so and so thinks Florida is great, but that’s because he’s from Indiana. But for those of us of a certain age, Indiana provided a window to early rock n roll. Late at night we could listen to WOWO in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, on the radio. Indeed, WOWO became the late-night radio station for music lovers all over the eastern United States (the reason is because it was one of the first to receive a clear-channel license on 1190 kHz, and while other stations received 1190 kHz licenses, they were required to reduce their transmitted power at sunset). “This is WOWO radio in Ft. Wayne, Indiana”. I can still hear that voice. To this day it boggles the mind that we could hear a radio broadcast transmitted from Indiana. Where in the Hell is Indiana?

69 Alan April 8, 2016 at 6:34 am

And you thought Delaware might compete for the title! Jeez.

70 Axa April 8, 2016 at 7:46 am

Never knew Purdue was raked in place 61, but it doesn’t matter. Purdue is known for LARS lab around the world among the geoscience community. I have no relation to Purdue, just recognize the development of applications for LandSAT data, their job.

71 MOFO April 8, 2016 at 9:10 am

That, and a shit-load of astronauts.

72 msgkings April 8, 2016 at 11:56 am

And three Super Bowl winning quarterbacks.

73 bluto April 8, 2016 at 8:46 am

I most associate baking powder with Indiana, because of the Clabber girl baking powder company. The owners also own the speedway which hosts the Indy 500.

74 CM April 8, 2016 at 8:47 am
75 MOFO April 8, 2016 at 9:14 am

I guess i should begrudgingly point out that Johnny cougar Mellencamp is from Indiana as well.

76 John Hall April 8, 2016 at 9:18 am

Don’t forget Michael Jackson and Axel Rose.

77 MOFO April 8, 2016 at 9:23 am

Much like everyone else, i forgot about Axel Rose.

78 Todd K. April 8, 2016 at 9:35 am

Funny…. I knew Woody Boyd is from Indiana but not Chief Justice Roberts.

79 The Engineer April 8, 2016 at 10:52 am

As a buddy of mine likes to say, Indiana is the middle finger of The South thrusting its way north.

Northwest Indiana, known as “The Region” to locals, is culturally part of Chicago, warts and all. It is very corrupt, perhaps worse than Chicago in that regard.

80 Another Hoosier April 8, 2016 at 12:36 pm

I’m from north central Indiana and I distinctly remember, as an incoming freshman at IU in the late 80s, the number of people pridefully noting that they were from “the Region,” which left plenty of people from the rest of state completely mystified as to what they were talking about. “You’ve never heard of the Region?!?!?!” They definitely viewed themselves as honorary Chicagoans.

I’d also like to note that “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is set, in part, in Indiana. Of course, people mostly just remember the Devil’s Tower scenes in Wyoming.

81 BFB April 8, 2016 at 1:04 pm

It was filmed mostly in south Alabama, though:


82 Scott April 8, 2016 at 11:55 am

As a Hoosier, I was just waiting for Indiana to win the obscure state award. I grew up a military brat and have lived all over the world, and Indiana is sadly about as well known domestically as it is internationally. While living in central and eastern Europe, I would just tell people that it is in the middle of the US, near Chicago.

I also think, however, that if Indiana had coastline or mountains, it would be one of the best places to live. The other knock used to be the total lack of diversity in everything from food to architecture to entertainment, but even that has changed dramatically in the last 5 years or so. While NW Indiana is indeed a pit (this is where Gary, IN is, which used to [still does?] hold the record for unsolved murders), Indianapolis is probably one of the most “livable” cities in the nation with inexpensive housing, quality schools (at least in the ‘burbs), low crime, and solid employment prospects.

83 Handle April 8, 2016 at 12:38 pm

The answer made famous in Wayne’s World is, of course, Delaware.

84 athEIst April 8, 2016 at 1:39 pm

the absolute bottom of the 50-state barrel: Wyoming.
A patch of high desert where almost no one lives* and even higher(and beautiful) forest where no one at all lives.

*there will always be 2 senators and a representative.

85 William McGreevey April 8, 2016 at 2:38 pm

The McCoy’s, performers of “Hang on, Sloopy,” which has gone on to be a virtual theme song of the OSU Buckeyes football team, came from Union City, Indiana. Their little village straddles the OHIO – Indiana border.

86 Pshrnk April 8, 2016 at 3:33 pm


87 DK April 10, 2016 at 4:02 am

The only reason Idaho is not at the bottom is because people google “Idaho potatoes”. Other than that, there is little evidence that Idaho even exists.

88 Gabriel April 10, 2016 at 10:13 am

I’m from a foreign country. When I told people I was going to study in Minneapolis most of the them asked “Indianapolis?.” The Indy 500 beats any political figure or economic relevance.

89 Jim April 10, 2016 at 8:11 pm

Among younger people, Indiana is known as the home of hugely successful novelist (and YouTube personality) John Green.

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