Originally Posted by easy as pie
obviously, this finding tracks pretty well with dc's extremely high number of college graduates and the fact that, unlike other towns with similar demographics (but where engineering or other science degrees would be more useful, or the finance people), a disproportionately large percentage of those degrees would have come out of the humanities. and it seems relatively uncontroversial to suppose that humanities-oriented types would consume more printed information than those who've found their callings in other domains.
anecdotally, i've found that dc does have a very literate population, as least among those folks i've met during my times there. it's just a gang of people who tend to follow a wide number of current events very closely (which requires deeper reading), tend to understand context and prize background detail, tend to have a broader set of interests than what i've found to be average, tend to be more intellectually curious and more intellectually rigorous, etc. and it makes sense - people in the humanities who are extremely comfortable with language and the literal will find a lower bar to entry on any printed matter, unlike, say, an engineer trying to read proust. large numbers of humanities-oriented types will reinforce and perpetuate (and reproduce) a culture in which intensive consumption of printed matter (and i don't mean 'printed on paper', necessarily) is the norm.
dc is a somewhat bunk in many ways (the food! nothing to do at night!) but generally very well read, one finds good conversationalists there.
DC is not an island. You should look at it like you do its peer cities like Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, etc. It has a lot in common with these kinds of places; the main differences might be marginal when you look at nominal numbers like this survey does. I think there may be a disproportionately high number of humanities majors in DC, but I think you may be surprised at how many engineers, software engineers, information technology, and other non-humanities people there are in DC and the area.
If you look at the data, DC ranks 15th in bookstores, 9th in education level, 1 in internet resources, 13th in library support, 4th in newspaper circulation, and 1 in periodical publishers.
And there's plenty to do at night. Maybe the scene and people are not your cup of tea, but there's plenty to do at night. I think NYC, Boston, and DC all are great when it comes to finding people who are good conversationalists, analytical, curious/intellectual, and have a lot of knowledge about various subjects.