Americanly Yours

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Are You Smarter Than A Politician?

November 24, 2008 By: americanlyyours Category: Uncategorized

I came across this piece of news yesterday.  The Intercollegiate Studies Institute put together a quiz and tested the American public and elected officials.  The quiz covers basic American history, economics, and civics.  The American public scored an appalling 49% on the 33 question quiz.  That seemed really bad, until I learned that the average score of an elected official was a 44% (5 points lower than the National average)!  The conclusion here is simple:  Americans are dumb, but our government is even dumber.

I got all 33 questions correct.  What about you?

If you havent taken the quiz yet, don’t read on.  If you have, then check out these examples of the stupidity of our elected officials (taken from the quiz’s website).  I think the first one is the most shocking!

In each of the following areas, for example, officeholders do more poorly than non-officeholders:

  • Seventy-nine percent of those who have been elected to government office do not know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the U.S.
  • Thirty percent do not know that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence.
  • Twenty-seven percent cannot name even one right or freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
  • Forty-three percent do not know what the Electoral College does. One in five thinks it either “trains those aspiring for higher political office” or “was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates.”
  • Fifty-four percent do not know the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. Thirty-nine percent think that power belongs to the president, and 10% think it belongs to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • Only 32% can properly define the free enterprise system, and only 41% can identify business profit as “revenue minus expenses.”

Americany Yours,

Phred Barnet

5 Comments to “Are You Smarter Than A Politician?”

  1. i got 31/33. this is a great link – thanks for finding it.

  2. Am I dismayed at the results? Yes and no.

    As commentators have pointed out it reads like a high school exam and many of the questions don’t turn on understanding the principles, but on giving the text book answer. As an historian and lawyer, I know that understanding of history is not shown by memorizing facts but in understanding trends and forces. It is the major flaw in the way history is taught through high school – more an exercise in memorizing trivia, than in true understanding. I would argue any true test of historical knowledge should be an essay exam. So, if people don’t know all the facts, it really doesn’t show much to me. For instance, if people know that the Douglas/Lincoln debate put Lincoln on the political map and was a debate about issues surrounding the slavery question, does it really matter if you don’t know the exact question of slavery was being debated?

    Many of the economic questions were not factual, but rather matters about which reasonable persons could disagree. Again, this is like a high school exam looking to get back what was taught in class.

    Certainly also, some poorly worded questions, and an easily recognizable libertarian lean throughout. For me, if people got questions wrong because they don’t understand the difference between powers the federal government exercises constitutionally and those which are textually in the Constitution, that doesn’t bother me so much. In fact, I’d be more concerned if people thought that the federal government could not do anything not specifically authorized by the Constitution. Perhaps, there should be a question about what the federal government can do pursuant to the spending power? Or pursuant to the power to regulate commerce?

    I got all the answers right, but I am not dismayed if others got some, or even, quite a few of the answers wrong. If there are elected officials who understand current policy issues, use good judgment, but didn’t get a high score on this, I’m okay with the results. If my mayor can think of innovative ways to provide more city services or is adept at inspiring citizens to get involve, why should it matter if he/she can’t recall that FDR tried to pack the Supreme Court?

    On the other hand, it certainly shows something about the lack of general knowledge for so many people to get really low scores on this exam.

  3. If the politicians who took this quiz are anything like me, they probably got bored after two or three questions (because internet quizzes are stupid) and Christmas Treed* the whole thing.

    *anyone who doesn’t know what this is clearly has never Christmas Treed anything, and is one of those annoying, self-righteous, overachieving douche bags.

  4. O_o

    I don’t even understand the questions…

    That’s a real political test ! ! !


  5. I’m not so bad for a Frenchie… I did 18 out of 33 correctly — 54.55 % ! ! !

    I’m sooooo ready for my green card…



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