Be ashamed of yourselves

posted 18 June 2003
Over at Tom Tomorrow's blog, Bob Harris has posted an interesting followup to that statistical horror that made the rounds a few days ago, indicating that those 22% are the last thing we should be worrying about. Of American adults, at least 18 years of age:

56% think in war, the media should support the government over questioning it
45% characterized Watergate as "just politics"
40% believe the media was biased in favor of Bill Clinton
34% think Rock and Roll has had an overall negative impact on America
33% believe a wife should "submit herself graciously" to a husband
30% say the Bible is the "actual word of God" to be taken literally
28% disapprove of labor unions on principle
28% say the government should have the right to control news reports
27% believe divorce is "morally wrong"
26% thought various disasters in 1999 might "foreshadow the wrath of God"
21% say justice was served in the O.J. Simpson case
20% approve of the how the Catholic Church handles pedophilia
20% believe that the killing of civilians in Vietnam was "relatively rare"
12% think the United States should have a British-style royal family
11% think "Titanic" was the best American movie of the 20th century
10% think it's advantageous to be a woman in American society
10% say they are "very likely" to become rich someday
8% could not name a single TV network
8% fear they are "very likely" to be shot or badly hurt by a stranger
7% think Elvis is possibly still alive
6% say Garth Brooks is the best male singer of the 20th century
5% are "very afraid" of thunder and lightning

Or, in other words:

  • 40-55% are in the "dangerously under-informed" category
  • 25-35% are nutcase Christian fundamentalists
  • a good 20% are plain old stupid
  • 12% or less (or, to put it in an inaccurate but amusing way, nearly a third of the Christian fundamentalists) are painfully stupid

Which, as Mr. Harris points out, shouldn't really be that surprising. Think of all the people you know. Then think about the dumbest people you know; say the dumbest 20% of them. What do you suppose their answers to these questions would be? These statistics are embarrassing, but you can't really claim these are specifically American stupidities. Except possibly about the Elvis thing; those people are nuts. Of course he's still alive, stupid...

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