Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dumb & Dumber

The study's called "Our Fading Heritage," and it ain't about monuments in need of paint. Here's the subtitle of the study: Americans Fail a Basic Test on Their History and Institutions. Now have you got the general picture? And I'm sure this comes as a big surprise to you, right? We're talking about gross American ignorance here, folks. The article on it is here.

The current study is a follow-up to a couple that looked at just college students. This one randomly selected and tested over 2,500 just ordinary Joes and Janes and their knowledge of history, economics, and government. You know, those kind of basic things that you have to know to be a responsible citizen, an informed voter, and reasonably equipped to deal with the regular run of civic affairs.

Wanna know how bad this was? The report card is here, but I'll spell out salient highlights: less than one percent (.8) got an A (over 90)--that's 21 people out of 2,508!!--Get me a chair; I've got to sit down now, and bring a fan!--and 71.4 percent, almost three out of four got an F (under 60). (Thank God I'm already sitting down.) The average score was 49. And are you ready for this? Elected officials did even worse; their average score was 44. And you wonder what's wrong with this country?*

Here's what the Chairman of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's National Civic Literacy Board, Josiah Bunting had to say:
"There is an epidemic of economic, political, and historical ignorance in our country. It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI's civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned. How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don't understand the American experience? Colleges can, and should, play an important role in curing this national epidemic of ignorance."
Disturbing, you say? Concerned, you say, when elected officials are even dumber than the dummkopfs on the street? Here's something that you never read about in these dismal reports, but I'm willing to wager the testers have had the thought. The fact is, you eventually reach critical mass on this stuff. When the great mass of the people are too stupid to realize how stupid they are, much less care. And, brothers and sisters, we're already beyond that point. Way beyond, I fear.

I was going to give you some sample questions, but I know you're just dying to take this thing yourself, so here it is. I'll tell you what I got, if you tell me what you got.

*At the risk of belaboring the obvious question: how do you think the Alaskan Bimbo would have done on this test? We'll never know.
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