Patterico's Pontifications


Survey: Many Americans Are Idiots

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:48 pm

Every so often we see a survey like this:

A sobering new survey of the public’s knowledge about its own government shows that fully one third of Americans are unable to name even one of the government’s three branches, and just over half believe that the president must follow Supreme Court rulings.

Those findings were contained in survey results released yesterday by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which set out to analyze the public’s understanding of the U.S. judiciary and its relationship with the executive and legislative branches, and ended up with a broad indictment of Americans’ knowledge of basic civics.

I’m shocked each and every time.


17 Responses to “Survey: Many Americans Are Idiots”

  1. Yes, and Democrats are counting on them to show up at the polls every time there’s an election !

    Desert Rat (ee9fe2)

  2. I don’t know where to put this so please feel free to delete it as off-topic. I found this article fascinating, especially:

    When he was in the White House, Bush Sr used to wonder, “What would dad do?” — a reference to Prescott Bush, who was senator for Connecticut.

    Koch doubted that George W did the same. “I don’t know,” she said, pausing for thought. “He should.” Any advice her father gives her brother is limited to personnel, not politics, she added.

    Could this explain why Bush kept Tenet, Mineta, and so many other Clinton holdovers around? It sounds like Jeb is a better judge of people than the two Georges.

    DRJ (ccb97e)

  3. I think it would be interesting to see if there was an age breakdown.

    I guarantee that most of the ignorant are those that have gone through the public school system in the last 25 years.

    When I first went back to college, about 8 years ago, and took a US history course, it was amazing to sit next to newly minted highschool grads who couldn’t even place the Civil War within the right decade of the 1800’s. Or who said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” and place it in the correct context.

    They were taught “social studies” in high school…not history.


    Darleen (03346c)

  4. This survey must have been heavily weighted with current members of the MSM.

    Mike Myers (f8ce82)

  5. This survey is consistent with this civic literacy report:

    Undergraduates know little about America’s history, government, foreign affairs, and economy. Table 1 illustrates college seniors’ low level of knowledge after three years of undergraduate education. They scored on average a disappointing 53.2 percent overall.

    DRJ (ccb97e)

  6. So, lemme just guess…the three branches of the government are:

    1.) The New York Times

    2.) The Washington Post

    3.) The Los Angeles Times

    Sean M. (db71f3)

  7. Was this leaked from the National Intelligence Estimate?

    Dan Collins (8312b6)

  8. If we could just impose an intelligence test before allowing people to vote, we’d never have to worry: no Democrats would ever be elected!

    Dana (71415b)

  9. If we could just impose an intelligence test before allowing people to vote, we’d never have to worry: no Democrats would ever be elected!

    yeah, right. Because EVERY republican balances their vote by weighing all issues. A republican voter would NEVER be a single issue voter. p’shawww!!!!

    DKSuddeth (a18213)

  10. Well, then I guess that proves the current curricula guidelines and educational philosophies are not effective. So we can get rid of the liberal driven bushwa taught in schools and return to the more effective curriculum of the past.

    paul from fl (464e99)

  11. Makes you think twice about supporting a “get out the vote campaign.”

    Black Jack (63943a)

  12. Especially with voters like this.

    It is really sad that so few people can form rational questions and go about finding answers in such a way as to come anywhere close to the truth. Too many people gravitating into “echo chambers” where they only hear more of what they’ve heard somewhere and unquestioningly convinced themselves of.

    Dubya (c16726)

  13. When asked a few years ago, 10% of Britons could not name the Prime Minister. It wouldn’t amaze me that 10% of Americans could not name the President. A number seem to think it’s “Shrub.”

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  14. years ago i told a friend “to borrow a line from lincoln, the lord must have loved stupid people because he made so many of them.”
    friend replied “lincoln said that??”

    assistant devil's advocate (cb2eec)

  15. Patterico, how could you be so shocked. If it weren’t for these idiots we would be out of work.

    MOG (c949f7)

  16. Our public schools hard at work.

    Andy (6feefb)

  17. I have to disagree with Darleen that it’s recent (last 25 years) products of the school system. The older you get, the more of those civics lessons you forget, especially when you’re not interested in civics or politics in the first place. Fortunately, most of those people aren’t interested in voting either.

    As for half not knowing whether the President has to obey Supreme Court rulings, maybe some of them DO remember their history, in particular the national bank issue, with Andrew Jackson’s famous quote “Mr. Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.” If the President is a bull-headed ex-general so popular that Congress dare not impeach, then adhering to Supreme Court rulings is optional, not mandatory.

    Larry (cc1609)

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