Sunday, July 3, 2011

ISI Full Civic Literacy Exam

In my new column in Northside San Francisco (which is out on the stands now, and I'll post a link to the online version in a week or so), I note some of those notorious survey results that show that Americans are less knowledgeable about the world than they should be. Real survey results, such as that more Americans can name two members of Snow White's Seven Dwarfs than can name two members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Or that a majority of Americans don't believe in evolution. Or that a quarter of Americans don't know what country we fought to gain our independence.

One could go on, but demonstrating the lack of informed opinion in this country is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel; it's just too easy. And all the water leaks out from the bullet holes.

So I was pleased when a friend send me a link to an online survey from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's 33-question Full Civic Literacy Exam. It notes: "The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%."

Take the test, then come back here and tell us in the comments section below what your score was. (Be honest; you can post anonymously.)

For the record, I got 93.94%. Now, that and $3.00 will get me a cup of coffee, and I don't even drink coffee, so it's pretty useless. But it should be noted that I'm an editor, writer, and publisher, not a college educator, so you can now think your own thoughts about the decline of American civilization.

UPDATE July 3, 2011, 9:35 a.m.: I should note that after I took the test and posted this to Facebook and my blog, I looked further into ISI, which is connected to the conservative Collegiate Network, which used to be known as the Institute for Educational Affairs (a nonprofit that helps conservative college newspapers, including one I edited back in the 1980s at the University of Wisconsin-Madison). The test isn't necessarily conservative, though there are a few economics questions that likely wouldn't please left-wingers. Just FYI, in the interests of full disclosure. (And though no, I wouldn't fit any real definition of a conservative today, I do think that overall this is a good test. It's not tricky, and most people really should know all of the information it tests.)

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