What They Think of Us: International Perceptions of the United States Since 9/11

It is an odd business to have opinions about whole nations. Even if it makes sense at
all, the epistemological problem remains: how to know what country X ostensibly
feels about country Y? The Pew Global Attitudes Project conducts surveys regularly
in many countries. Anecdotes (I have my own) are good for something – texture and
vividness, though not conclusiveness. If you’re Thomas Friedman, there are always
cabdrivers to chat up. And there are also the recorded opinions of the media’s
‘opinion-makers,’ which have the virtue of being collectable at a distance, but whose
representativeness and capacity to make opinions is variable and hard to ascertain.
But curious onlookers don’t know exactly how to evaluate any of these sources.

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