Is anything more agreeable than reading the latest samples, surveys and polls on the abysmal ignorance of American youth?

The last one I read showed a vast number cannot spot the Pacific Ocean on a map of the world, and another large batch cannot spot the United States.

One of the hardest tests, this one conducted as man-on-the-street interviews on television, asks people to name the Seven Dwarfs, which an astounding number of people are able to do. I know Sneezy and that's about it. But then the same people are asked to name the Democratic candidates and a few of them can think of Hart, a few more can think of Jackson, but most of them can't think of a single one.

This shows (what I have long suspected) that Walt Disney drained the brains of a continent, and it is obvious that anybody who knows all Seven Dwarfs is an idiot.

But wait -- some fellow, probably a bright youth tired of being painted as an imbecile in a wide variety of polls and books, came up with a survey suggesting newspaper editors are dumb as hell. Only the most brazen newspapers published it (The Post did). Great numbers of editors -- it is too embarrassing to give the percentage -- thought humans existed at the same time as dinosaurs.

I did some research on my own. I asked an editor close to me about dinosaurs and he said they were wiped out the Ice Age. Men, he said, moved south at that time and survived, but dinosaurs did not, and thus became extinct.

"You grew up with the Flintstones," I said tactfully, "but in fact some tens of millions of years separate man from dinosaur. They were all extinct eons before we came along."

"That used to be thought true," he said, with the low cunning of editors who will fight to the death to prove they were right all along, "but later research has pushed back the beginnings of humans on Earth, so that now we and dinosaurs overlap, in remote times. I have a big file on dinosaurs, by the way, in case you'd like to read up."

In other words, these unbelievable surveys you read, showing that endless numbers of people are unaware that the sun radiates heat, are true.

Alarmed for the honor of the newspaper, I next asked the most august editor imaginable the same question. I was pretty sure that no editor had in fact read the Post story about dinosaurs and editors, so I presented the question as something I was unsure about:

"Oh, by the way," I began, "I can't quite remember {for ordinary writers are not beyond a bit of cunning, also} about dinosaurs. Were any of them alive when humans first appeared, you know, before the Ice Age?"

"No," he said, and being an experienced editor he did not add, "of course not, you cretin."

"No," he said. "They had died off."

Wow. Not only was he correct, but also he did not volunteer any more than the correct answer to the question. Rightly is he held in awe. Not many people can refrain from heaping it on when they know something you don't. But the ultimate level of editor answers staff questions as if answering a tot's question about sex:

Factually. Briefly. And not a word more than will suffice. When I was once an editor I learned that much -- never titillate a writer by hinting at enchanting mysteries on the horizon.

"Never overdo the data," as more than one good scientist has said.

All of which brings us to the most joyful example yet, reported by Clarence Petersen in the Chicago Tribune, who at first did not believe it but checked it out, and by God, yes:

David Bourland, science teacher at Libbey High School in Toledo, told his class that when the nation switched to the metric system everyone would have to send his clocks to the state capital to be converted. Calendars, too. Because in the future the day would be divided into 10 daylight hours of 100 minutes each, and the same number at night. Unfortunately (he went on, as the flower of America sat there gazing at him) we would lose the months of July and August under the metric system, so people born then would lose their birthdays.

In another lecture he noted that humans could not detect color until the invention of color television, but since then we can see things in color. The young absorbed this interesting bit of physics silently. They had no reason to question it.

Oh. In fairness to the kids, Bourland said that while no student questioned or attacked his statement about the clocks and calendars, many did question their parents.

He knew this because a number of parents phoned the school, to ask when metric time would begin.

Dummies. But I, on the other hand, saw this metric business in the air. Knew it would come sooner or later. And I bought a clock, paying a little too much for it, because the guy guaranteed me it was the latest model and would work just great even under the new metric system. All I do when Metric Day comes is stop the pendulum for 10 minutes and start it up again.