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US Officials Flunk Test On Civic Knowledge 334

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-are-what-you-elect dept.
A test on civic knowledge given to elected officials proved that they are slightly less knowledgeable than the uninformed people who voted them into office. Elected officials scored a 44 percent while ordinary citizens managed an amazing 49 percent on the 33 questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. "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," said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI. The three branches of government aren't the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria?

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US Officials Flunk Test On Civic Knowledge

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  • I'd care more (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thebrett (1408835)
    If they had the text of this 'civic test' available.
    • Re:I'd care more (Score:5, Informative)

      by ep32g79 (538056) on Friday November 21, 2008 @04:13PM (#25849925)
      Perhaps this is what you are looking for: http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx [americanci...teracy.org]
      • by JMZero (449047)

        I really hope that wasn't the test in question - there's very few questions there that shouldn't be obvious; just from random pop culture you should be able to get more than half. If I had spent any time learning American history (which I probably would have if I was American), I would assume it would have been even easier.

        • Re:I'd care more (Score:4, Informative)

          by ep32g79 (538056) on Friday November 21, 2008 @04:28PM (#25850207)
          It is, and here is the breakdown question by question:
          http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/2008/additional_finding.html [americanci...teracy.org]
          • Re:I'd care more (Score:5, Interesting)

            by tylerni7 (944579) on Friday November 21, 2008 @05:10PM (#25850943) Homepage
            I apologize for writing in all caps, here, but let me just say WHAT THE FUCK.

            Each question has between 4 and 5 options, some questions, like 19, show elected officials at about 10%.
            That means if they picked a random answer, they would be correct twice as often.
            I'll conceed that it wasn't the easiest question there, and I can understand low scores, but.... seriously?
            • Re:I'd care more (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Dave Tucker Online (1310703) on Friday November 21, 2008 @05:39PM (#25851425) Homepage
              Some questions were obviously chosen because there are specific misconceptions regarding that issue. For example, the president has the ability to declare war, doesn't he? After all, our presidents have been sending troops all over the world for decades without congressional approval. But that is wrong. Only congress has that power. "Separation of church and state" being granted by the constitution is another common misconception.

              Wrong answers to questions on central planning vs. free markets, however, are due to a devotion to a philosophy that is just wrong. I'm sure those elected officials were shocked that they got that one incorrect.

              So yes, you would expect that no group could do worse than 25% when given 4 choices, but when the questions are chosen with misconceptions in mind, it becomes far more likely.
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by dgatwood (11270)

                A lot of this stuff is not really civic knowledge, though. For example, while philosophy did play a role contributing to the thought processes that led to the founding of our government, it has little bearing on understanding the way governments actually work....

                Also, #33 appears to have no correct answer. A. is wrong; the deficit is zero, but the debt may still be substantive. B. is wrong because printing money causes inflation if less money is taken out of circulation by being destroyed than is being p

              • Wrong answers to questions on central planning vs. free markets, however, are due to a devotion to a philosophy that is just wrong.

                There was only one question on the whole test that solicited an answer that favored free markets over central planning. There was another question that appeared to favor government action to solve the "free rider" or "tragedy of the commons" problem that is commonly cited as a defect of unregulated free enterprise. And there was another question that was backed up by Keynesi

            • by gregbot9000 (1293772) <mckinleg@csusb.edu> on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:33PM (#25852207) Journal
              You see where the politicians choked is on economics and markets.

              See when asked what a free market was the politicians kept looking for the box that said "where you get things for free from helping a business expand their market"

              Or when asked why free markets secure more prosperity then government central planing they kept looking for "Because you are free to go work for a business in the market after you help it through central planing"

              Or why a levee is a public good they were looking for "cause whats good for my contractor buddy with a no bid contract is good for the public"
        • Re:I'd care more (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Kamokazi (1080091) on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:34PM (#25852217)

          Haha, you think most Americans care about their own history. That's cute. You really have no idea how stupid people can be around here. They're fat, dumb, and happy thinking they know everything and actually knowing nothing.

          Where I live, a rural area of Ohio, people are generally Republican because they are ignorant of the outside world and have knee-jerk emotional reactions to anything that contradicts their personal values or way of life (abortion, gay marrige, oil, Iraq, etc). People in larger urban areas are generally Democratic and have knee-jerk emotional reactions to the BS spewed by the media every day. (global warming, Iraq, etc).

          To be fair, where they live affects their perception of the world. Being in rural areas you stay isolated, so everyone around you generally shares your values, religion, etc. There is usually no noticable pollution (other than the occasional manure smell :-), employment rates are higher because manufacturing companies like to locate in rural areas to keep labor costs down, etc. In cities, you have an overwhelming amount of pollution to people who aren't used to it (ie me), jobless rates are higher because cost of living keeps wages high which causes companies to outsource and automate more. You see more foriegners and foriegn ways, or generally just people and things with values different from your own.

          The bottom line is, the majority of this country is full of morons who don't think things through. Even if they think they do, but are really just going on crap they heard somewhere and never bothered to scrutinize or verify it for themselves.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by torstenvl (769732)

          I hope it's not, too. It has very little to do with civics. What is Sputnik? What's the definition of business profit? A lot of these questions are from Business Economics 101 and have absolutely nothing to do with civics.

      • by Qzukk (229616)

        Taking the test, I have to say that I think they may have gotten confused, what with high school teaching one semester of economics and one semester of government these days. Otherwise, why would I need to define "profit"? :P

        I got 31/33. Missed the questions on Puritans and Stephen Douglas. A few of them have fairly loaded options that made it trivial to guess the right one, I probably guessed at another 3-4.

        • 32/33. Braindumped on the balanced budget question - deficit is zero if taxes and spending are equal, not debt. Rest of it was a cakewalk. Could have answered every one of the history questions by the time I was 12, and the rest by the time I was 14.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by kramulous (977841) *

            Seems to be a pretty strange one to get wrong. Don't Americans have a 'budget night' where the government lays out of the table how taxpayer money will be spent for the next financial period?

        • I have not taken a history course since my last one in high school ten years ago. I have no particular interest in history. I got 31 right. That the voters and officials are doing so badly is a good sign that something has gone wrong with both our education system and our democracy.

        • Re:I'd care more (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@nOspam.infamous.net> on Friday November 21, 2008 @05:22PM (#25851155) Homepage

          I have to say that I think they may have gotten confused, what with high school teaching one semester of economics and one semester of government these days. Otherwise, why would I need to define "profit"?

          Because this "test" is a bit of right-wing propaganda, which seeks to conflate conservative doctrine with actual facts about our government. (Or is there an answer to "Free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government's centralized planning because:" or "International trade and specialization most often lead to which of the following?" hidden somewhere in the Constitution that I've missed?)

          The "Intercollegiate Studies Institute" evolved out of William Bennett's Madison Center for Educational Affairs and Irving Kristol's Institute for Educational Affairs [mediatransparency.org].

          • Sure. All those centrally planned economies that have historically been so prosperous give the lie to the very idea that free markets are the best way to go.

            What, there aren't any? Oops...

            Sorry, but you fail. No one on the American Left who might actually get elected into office favors a centrally planned economy. Since the US does in fact use a free-market economy, it's important that it be properly understood. Nowhere did this test claim to be solely about government.

      • by mariushm (1022195)

        "You answered 15 out of 33 correctly â" 45.45 %"

        and I'm not even American or interested in becoming American, just filled it because I was curious.

        I don't know what to say except that this kind of test should be passed by anyone reading about American history for a couple of days.

      • by Kintanon (65528)

        I got an 84.85%
        I missed the following:
        Question #7 - D. Gettysburg Address
        Question #8 - C. appoint additional Supreme Court justices who shared his views
        Question #13 - E. certain permanent moral and political truths are accessible to human reason
        Question #30 - C. decreasing taxes and increasing spending
        Question #33 - D. tax per person equals government spending per person

        Considering that I have a terrible memory and most of the things on that quiz I haven't thought about in over a decade I find it unacceptab

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          I missed 4 questions.

          Question #4 - B. Would slavery be allowed to expand to new territories?
          Question #11 - A. their arguments helped lead to the adoption of the Bill of Rights
          Question #13 - E. certain permanent moral and political truths are accessible to human reason
          Question #33 - D. tax per person equals government spending per person

          Strangely, I specifically remember selecting the right answer to questions 4 and 11 but I guess I failed at making sure the mark was in the appropriate place so maybe my scor

          • by Kintanon (65528)

            #33 I misread debt for deficit and so chose the wrong answer.
            #30 I missed due to apparent philosophical differences. I don't think increasing GOVERNMENT spending is a good way to stimulate the economy.
            #7 I missed because my historical speech/document memory is incredibly horrible.
            #13 for the same reason as #7. I simply have a difficult time equating people with their statements/speeches unless I've just recently been exposed to them.
            #8 I missed because I had never read anything about it and was under the im

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by sumdumass (711423)

              You should really look into #8 a little. It's really interesting.

              There weren't any justices up for appointment at that time. Roosevelt and congress was going to create positions for more justices and stack them just so if all the regular justices said "unconstitutional", the other ones could override them. This is what eventually led to the expansion of the interstate commerce clause in which the government seems to use to extend it's reach further then any sane reading of the constitution allows.

              As for the

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by janeuner (815461)

        If taxes equal government spending, then:
        A. government debt is zero
        B. printing money no longer causes inflation
        C. government is not helping anybody
        D. tax per person equals government spending per person
        E. tax loopholes and special-interest spending are absent

        Umm, wtf? Where is None of the Above?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by wilder_card (774631)
          No, D is correct. If Tax = Spend, then Tax/person = Spend/person, since the number of people is constant.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by belmolis (702863)
          None of the above is unnecessary since the correct answer is D.
        • by sumdumass (711423)

          You have to read the answer to the question. If taxes were equal to spending, you could divide the the taxes by every citizen and get the same answer as spending for every citizen.

          Lets say there are 10 citizens and $100 total collected in taxes and that government spending equaled the same $100. Now you could have two people paying $5 in taxes with two paying $15 and the rest ten but for the total collected, you would divide the $100 collected by the 10 people to get $10 per person collected. If you look at

      • by elhedran (768858)

        If that is the test, than I as a non-American just got 70%.

  • Would like to see how stupid they (the politicians) are.

    • I scored 90.91% (30/33). One of them I was braindead and should have gotten correct, two I was guessing on. Regardless, that is still an A, and roughly twice what my elected representatives scored in aggregate.

      • by ivan256 (17499)

        Same. Including the braindead question...

        Question #7 - D. Gettysburg Address
        Question #8 - C. appoint additional Supreme Court justices who shared his views
        Question #17 - D. manmade satellite

        Not sure how I got 17 wrong... I thought the right answer, and managed to click the wrong option...

        • by PMuse (320639)

          33) If taxes equal government spending, then:
          A. government debt is zero
          B. printing money no longer causes inflation
          C. government is not helping anybody
          D. [mean] tax per person equals [mean] government spending per person
          E. tax loopholes and special-interest spending are absent

          There, fixed that for you.

      • You answered 32 out of 33 correctly -- 96.97 %

        Braindeaded the alst one. I didn't read A close enough and selected it without reading the rest. I wonder if the /. effect can change online quizzes, since the monthly average is now up to 77% ?

    • You answered 31 out of 33 correctly - 93.94 %

      Hmm...guess that kills my chances of ever being elected to any office.
  • I want to take it myself so I can feel all smu.... err... ensure that I know enough about our great nation here.
    • Re:Where's the test? (Score:5, Informative)

      by krlynch (158571) on Friday November 21, 2008 @04:15PM (#25849975) Homepage

      Google is your friend....

      http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx [americanci...teracy.org]

      • Hopefully their November results will now be biased significant upwards. :-) I can't be too smug though, as I only got an 84.4%. I'm a biologist, not an economist!

        • by ivan256 (17499)

          To be fair, some of the questions are "history", and not "civics".

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CaptainCarrot (84625)
            To be accurate, much of civics is history. Much of it has to do with understanding our political traditions and their historical roots.
      • by Eudial (590661)

        That wasn't too hard. I'm not even American, I really don't care about politics, economics or social sciences and I scored 70%.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vux984 (928602)

        So I took the test and scored 90.91% (30/33)
        And I'm Canadian.

        The 3 I missed...

        I had no idea what Roosevelt threatened to do to the supreme court when they declared parts of the New Deal were unconstitutional. I didn't know what particular rights the first amendment gives. And I missed the one about the Scopes "Monkey Trial", which I'm not sure how I got wrong. I think I misread the correct answer as something to do with teaching evolution in private schools.

        Of course, I got a few right that I made educated

        • So I took the test and scored 90.91% (30/33) And I'm Canadian.

          Me too!

          The 3 I missed.... #7, thought it was much earlier; #10, knew it wasn't A, guessed one of the others; and #33.

          33 is an interesting one. I chose "debt", though I knew it was wrong, but felt it was "more right" than any of the others. Deficit would have been 100% correct, no question. I dispute the correct answer, because it is open to interpretation. I took it to mean "is spending on me exactly what I pay in taxes", which is obviously cor

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mrchaotica (681592) *

          I had no idea what Roosevelt threatened to do to the supreme court when they declared parts of the New Deal were unconstitutional.

          The key to that question would be to think about what he would have been allowed to do: three of the four choices require powers the President doesn't constitutionally possess.

          • by vux984 (928602)

            The key to that question would be to think about what he would have been allowed to do: three of the four choices require powers the President doesn't constitutionally possess.

            That's precisely what stumped me. I didn't think he constitutionally possessed the ability to expand the size of the supreme court at will either.

            For me that left impeaching them... and I operated on the theory, that everyone is a criminal if you looked hard enough. So while I didn't think there were likely any legitimate grounds for

            • by sumdumass (711423)

              He doesn't have the power to create new seats. However, congress was stacked behind him and went along with what he said. That's why the Supreme court backed up on their rulling and expanded the interstate commerce clause which is partially to blame for most of the problems in America today with the over reaching laws and such.

              That is also why the democrat politicians are so worried about stacking the supreme court with ideologs. They know that it can be used to allow their somewhat unconstitutional policie

  • ... of the morons, by the morons, for the morons.
  • Politicians often argue that people shouldn't get involved in elected office because of lack of experience, though lack of knowledge or judgment doesn't seem to be an issue.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      Speaking of that, I would like to know what specific leaders like Obama, Hillary, McCain, Palin, Biden, Pelsoi and Reed had scored. I think it would be interesting to see if the people put their trust in the right places based on knowledge.

  • Misleading (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Luthair (847766) on Friday November 21, 2008 @04:20PM (#25850047)

    To make an accurate judgment, we really need to see the test, questions about economics for example can be largely opinion/philosophy based rather than factual. Though failing to correctly answer opponents in WWII is either blatant stupidity, or willful ignorance, a child raised by wolves could answer that 2 days after being 'rescued'.

    Its also important to consider who might consider themselves elected officials. For example doesn't the US also elect local sheriffs?

  • Key Caveat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by necro81 (917438) on Friday November 21, 2008 @04:26PM (#25850177) Journal

    the key caveat with this news item is that, when you RTFA, you find that they are culling the results from "self-identified elected officials." So, anyone could take the test and, for a laugh, identify themselves as an elected official.

    In other words, it is not the case that the organizers of this test randomly selected a cross section of the populace, got complete demographic information about them (including occupation) then had them take the test.

    See also self-selection [wikipedia.org] and selection bias [wikipedia.org].

  • You answered 29 out of 33 correctly -- 87.88 % I guess that's not bad considering I graduated from college 21 years ago. But still. :-(

    Quiz is here... [americanci...teracy.org]

    • Wuss. I got 100% and I graduated 27 years ago.

      That being said, some of the questions were a bit "questionable", vaguely worded, and/or open to interpretation. Still, a well-educated person should have been able to get at least 75%.

    • by hurfy (735314)

      same here, missed 4

      That includes purposely missing one i read the answer to here before trying :) I tried to guess what i would have guessed ...

      Kinda misread the last one :(

      I don't really care what Socrates, etc believed ....

      Not sure why i missed the one on Puritans, guess the right answer just seemed too obvious, hehe.

      Have to agree that the fail rate is pretty pathetic as half of those are easy to guess if you had any education. If anyone missed the one about the New Deal they should be failed also since t

    • by dprovine (140134)

      Well, don't feel too stupid. The guys at Yahoo misspelled "American" in their title, leaving out the "c".

  • I answered 25 out of 33 correctly; 75.76 %

    Damnit! I'll never be an elected official!

    • I got 31/33. I notice the "monthly average" was 75%, I wonder if it's all from slashdot people taking the test just now :)

      Nerds kick ass at taking tests. It would skew the average.

  • "It's just a God-damned piece of paper" between them and doing anything they want...

  • It's a big no-no to take a sample and then reveal statistics on a sub-population without first making sure that the sub-population size is big enough for its results to be statistically significant. The elected officials should have been polled separately to ensure there are enough of them in the sample.

    2,500 people is more than enough, but I'm guessing that fewer than 1% of randomly-chosen people qualify as "elected officials." Far fewer. Even if the sample had 25 elected officials, I wouldn't give much we

  • not bad considering that my last goverment/civics/poli sci class was 25 years ago.

  • by ratnerstar (609443) on Friday November 21, 2008 @04:50PM (#25850579) Homepage
    I took it and got all 33 answers right. This is not to brag, but to establish some limited credentials for when I say: this test sucks. Hard.

    Okay, yeah, people should know the three branches of government and who has the power to declare war. On the other hand, a lot of questions and answers are very vague or misleading. Some examples:

    Q: If taxes equal government spending, then:

    A: tax per person equals government spending per person

    This question tests your grasp of logic or algebra, not civics. For the record, another option is "government debt is zero." This is incorrect because it's the deficit that's zero, not the debt. It's designed to confuse. A knowledgeable person could get this question wrong merely by being careless.

    Q: Free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than governmentâ(TM)s centralized planning because:

    A: the price system utilizes more local knowledge of means and ends

    This is not the answer I would have given in a non-multiple choice test. I picked it because it was better than the other options.

    Q: Free enterprise or capitalism exists insofar as:

    A: individual citizens create, exchange, and control goods and resources

    This is just phrased poorly. Why not be clear and ask "What is the definition of capitalism?"

    Anyway, of course people should be doing better on this than they are. But it's still a crappy test. And for the record, the "officials" cited aren't exactly Barack Obama and John McCain; they're poll respondents who indicated that they have held elected office at one point. That could include your local dogcatcher, the chairman of your condo association, the head of your PTA, etc.

    So don't be too alarmed.

  • My Guess (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@NosPAM.justconnected.net> on Friday November 21, 2008 @04:57PM (#25850687)

    is that this is related to the attack on 'elitism', which has turned into an attack on the elite. There are a lot of stupid people, and a lot of smart people, but people (typically neo-Republicans) conflate elitism (being a dick in the fashion of 'i'm better than you') to being elite (in general, suceeding at life, often because/with education).

    This selects against people who suceed at life, or people who look like they have suceeded at life. Because 'they can't relate to me' is more important than understanding a number of economic theories, or the culture of an enemy nation.

    My (slightly) partisan guess, but I wouldn't be suprised.

  • Can we count this as proof that we (I mean Americans) like to elect people who are dumber than us? I hear (and frankly occasionally produce) conjecture that the populace of the US votes for idiots because somehow we like the idea that anyone can do it. Can we count this as proof that whatever the reason, the electorate of the US votes for people who are generally dumber than the rest of us? (BTW 93.94%)(31/33) Missed -
    Question #7 - D. Gettysburg Address Question #33 - D. tax per person equals government s
  • ...I bet they did just fine on questions about the Old Testament (especially the parts about stoning homosexuals and burning witches).

  • I'm not even American, and I know little of the details of the US Constitution, Declaration of Independence, US case law, and political systems, yet I got 20 correct out of the 33 (about 60%), so I'm astounded to read that US citizens on average did worse.

    One thing I noticed on the results page though was "Average score for this quiz during November: 77.4%".

    So, while I don't know what the average for US citizens in the figures for this month (and all time) was, it suggests that results reported in the story

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tranvisor (250175)

      Or perhaps that since the results were made public and reported on, smarter people, the people who read the news relatively currently, have actively looked for and taken the quiz. People who like to take little quizzes like this do it because scoring higher probably makes them feel a little better about themselves. Uninformed people probably don't seek out things that will, in all likelyhood, make them feel dumb.

  • Semantics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nick_davison (217681) on Friday November 21, 2008 @05:33PM (#25851343)

    Forty percent of respondents, meanwhile, incorrectly believed that the US president has the power to declare war, while 54 percent correctly answered that that power rests with Congress.

    But police actions, anti terrorism actions and a broadly, ill defined war on a noun like "terror" or "drugs" are all fair game.

    Splitting hairs, they're different to "declaring war." In practice, they're all ways presidents have ensured they can declare quagmires, I mean wars, without actually needing to stop and ask congress.

    It's kind of like asking a child, "Did your brother hit you?"
    Crying, "Yes!"
    Brother, "Ha! I only kicked you. You're wrong!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by atraintocry (1183485)

      You're right...I think that's that's precisely why people should be educated on who exactly can declare war according to the Constitution. So that they can call out the things you listed as the bullshit power grabs that they are.

  • by internic (453511) on Friday November 21, 2008 @05:43PM (#25851483)

    For what it's worth, I took the test [americanci...teracy.org] just now and got 100%, but I find a few things about it questionable: First, there are several questions that I'm not sure really fall under the definition civics. Second, several of the questions are of a theoretical rather than factual nature and I got the distinct impression that the test makers were pushing a specific (libertarian/conservative) ideological agenda. Maybe my impression was incorrect; I haven't had a chance to look up the group yet.

    The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines civics [merriam-webster.com] as, "a social science dealing with the rights and duties of citizens." Most of the questions deal with the structure of our government and the history of that structure, so they can reasonably be said to fall within civics. But consider the following questions:

    13) Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas would concur that:

    25) Free enterprise or capitalism exists insofar as:

    27) Free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government's centralized planning because:

    30) Which of the following fiscal policy combinations would a government most likely follow to stimulate economic activity when the economy is in a severe recession?

    31) International trade and specialization most often lead to which of the following?

    Number 13 is a question of philosophy (or, if you like, history mostly far preceding US history). Questions 25, 27, 30, and 31 are questions of economics. I suppose you could include economics as part of civics, because it's important to governance, but on that rationale you could start including all sorts of things, like statistics. Also, the answers to the questions are largely theoretical in nature. While there may be a consensus view amongst economists, they don't really admit clear empirical answers due to the complexity of disentangling the various influences in macroeconomics. On the topic of how best to stimulate economic activity, there are various different schools of thought that advocate different approaches and have enjoyed popularity at different times.

    The other point was more a vague feeling I got that the questions were pushing an agenda. The survey picks out "religion" as one of the constitutional rights, rather than "freedom of religion". It asks for the attribution of the phrase "wall of separation" between church and state, and highlighting that this is not from the constitution (even though it is from one of the framers) is a favorite past-time of those who advocate a larger role for Christianity in government. Questions 27 and 31 praise free trade criticize centralized economies. And answering one of the questions "correctly" points out that federal disaster aid is not guarantied by the constitution (relevant to disagreements over the aftermath of hurricane Katrina). It's not really pronounced and may be just coincidence, but I'm curious if anyone else got this feeling. I'll have to look up ISI and see if I've guessed correctly. In any case, it occurred to me that you could use the press release to get the general public to take it and use it as a push poll, stating your opinions as the "correct answer" or selecting factual information in such a way as to give the appearance for support of your argument.

    • by internic (453511) on Friday November 21, 2008 @09:35PM (#25854263)

      Okay, I got a chance to look at the ISI website, and it is, indeed, a politically conservative organization as I was able to guess from the content of their quiz. One portion of the site is hawking a book about "American Intellectual Conservatism" [isi.org] . Also looking at the mission statement [isi.org] is instructive.

      It isn't clear to me whether this is an attempt at a sort of "push polling" as I was speculating or whether they're honestly trying to test what they see as the "important" part of civics, which is strongly colored by their world view. It's probably best to assume the latter. However, if they're not testing based on a wide consensus view of what's important in civics but rather based upon their particular ideological slant then they're not exactly testing peoples' knowledge of civics in a fair sense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by prichardson (603676)

      I took the quiz and got that too, especially that question about why free markets result in a better economy than planned economies. Any moron should be able to recognize the giant assumption in that question.

  • Too many of the questions are random historical trivia rather than testing understanding of the knowledge of the structure of the United States Government and Economy.

    Interestingly, other than a couple of questions on the Supreme Court the test is devoid of questions on the Judicial system. Nothing about trial rights, jury service, criminal rights, etc.

    I would have classified many of the questions as History questions, not Civics questions. And even them, some of them are sufficiently obscure and/or incon

  • by MustBeOriginal (1412933) on Friday November 21, 2008 @05:57PM (#25851693)
    What's the best way to become an elected official:
    1. FUD Campaign.
    2. Diebold VOTE-RIGHT(tm) automatic voting machine.
    3. Be married to indiscreet high office holder and then publicly declare you still love him.
    4. Legally change name to "None of the Above"
  • 33) If taxes equal government spending, then:

    A. government debt is zero

    B. printing money no longer causes inflation

    C. government is not helping anybody

    D. tax per person equals government spending per person

    E. tax loopholes and special-interest spending are absent

    The answer page says "D" is the correct answer. I answered "A".

    This is a little perplexing to me, since D would imply that every person pays the same amount of tax, say $5000, and therefore the Gov't would spend $5000 per person.

    However, the poo

    • by vux984 (928602)

      The answer page says "D" is the correct answer. I answered "A".

      Its probably the trickiest question on the whole test, but D is the correct answer.

      This is a little perplexing to me, since D would imply that every person pays the same amount of tax, say $5000, and therefore the Gov't would spend $5000 per person.

      It implies no such thing.

      "per person" is equivalent to "per head" or in latin "per capita"

      Anything measured "per person" or "per capita" represents the total amount divided by the total number of peop

  • by Quila (201335) on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:34PM (#25852219)

    Bush, Obama, William Jefferson (even while under indictment), Stevens, Clinton, etc.

    The populace gave the Democrats in Congress a victory, kicking out lots of Republicans in this whole "change" mantra, yet it's shown that 43% of Obama voters didn't know the Democrats were in charge in the first place. Only 17% knew Obama won his first election by having his opponents removed from the ballot.

    We are, in aggregate, dumb and completely uninformed. We will therefore get commensurate-quality representatives in government.

  • by macraig (621737) <mark...a...craig@@@gmail...com> on Saturday November 22, 2008 @02:34AM (#25855843)

    I'd be more interested in reading TFA if its title correctly spelled the word "American". I find it amusing that alleged professional journalists, who produce an article describing the alleged ignorance of Americans and American politicians, can't even manage to correctly spell the nationality of their subjects IN THE TITLE nor proofread it before it goes to press on an internationally available Web site.

    Where's the credibility? Journalists are part of that same cross-section of (American) idiots.

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly

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