American News Quiz

It's time to warm up the old keyboard before getting into some end-of-year posts.

If you haven't seen my second YouTube fun video, go here.  In this one I used old radio and TV ads and public service announcements and applied them to mostly newer images.  Just my bizarre sense of humour.

Today I filled out a quiz on current affairs conducted by the Pew organization.  It was designed for Americans, but I follow American news regularly, so I decided to give it a whirl.  It had 12 questions, and I got all 12 right.  Some of them were ridiculously easy.  See screen shot of my results below.  Click on image for sharper pic.
 Apparently less than 1% of 1001 Americans got 12 right, and about 1% got 11 right. 

But I am puzzled by the distribution in the above chart.  How can 4% get all 12 questions wrong?  As I recall the quiz (I'm too lazy to go back and check) there were 4 options for each question.  Even if you guessed at random, should you not get 3 out of 12 right (on average)?  What are the odds that someone could guess all 12 questions wrong?  Again, I'm too lazy to go back to basic probability theory and work it out.  Maybe one of the Ph.D. candidates in the family can help? (I know you do this type of thing on a daily basis.)

At first I thought the 4% must be Fox News viewers.  But then I glanced through the analysis and noted that Republithugs, the Fox demographic, got an average of 5.5 questions right while the Dummycrats only got 5.0 right.  

There were three easy questions dealing with the results of the mid-term elections last month.  Apparently this poll was done November 11-14, and the Nov. 2 election results were widely publicized around the world, not just in America.  How can any American not know what happened in their recent election?  Un-be-friggin-believable!  And how can anyone not know the current unemployment rate, which is in the news every day, especially when there is only one answer that makes sense?  And still people can get 0 out of 12?

Apparently Americans are poorly educated not only in math and sciences, where they rank in the bottom third of developed nations, but in their own current events as well. 

To take the quiz, go here and click on "Take the Quiz".

In the quiz only 15% of Americans picked the Prime Minister of Great Britain out of a list of 4 names, the same percentage who picked the CEO of British Petroleum (thinking he was PM).  Of course this isn't news to Canadians who are  bemused every four years by the number of American presidential candidates who don't even know who the current Prime Minister of Canada is, despite the fact that most of the presidential candidates are incumbent congressmen, senators, or state governors.

Rick Mercer used to have fun with this theme in his series "Talking to Americans", as in this one (poor quality video, audio is funny). 

For a more serious informative clip with much better quality, I like this one from Tom Brokaw, which I think was a prelude to the 2010 winter games.  Good video quality here.  I think he was subtly making the case to Americans that if they attended the games they wouldn't have to reserve an igloo.

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