Civic Literacy Report Quiz

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Via Random Michelle, I took the Civic Literacy Report Quiz this morning.

I received a 96.97% on the quiz, because I couldn't remember the topic of the Lincoln/Douglas debate in 1858.

You want to know what's appalling? The average score for Americans on this quiz is 49%. College educators scored 55%.

I don't even have a bachelor's degree, and I scored better than college professors? How sad and pathetic is that?

19 comments:

Random Michelle K said...

Interestingly, I discovered that my grandmother is not a high school graduate (the Great Depression hit when she was in high school). Which makes her 58% not so bad.

Plus she "knew" a lot of the correct answers, just answered incorrectly. (She thought Sputnik was the name of the Soviet dog).

Janiece Murphy said...

I think your Grandmom did just fine, given her age and the fact that she changed her answers.

Jim Wright said...

Hmmm, I think question/answer 33, If taxes equal government spending, then [tax per person equals government spending per person] is a vague and incomplete.

Not every person may pay taxes. A better answer would be [tax per taxpayer equals government spending per taxpayer], however this is a complete fantasy situation anyway :)

I scored 93%, missed 33 and 29 (which I also don't necessarily agree with).

Thanks, that was fun.

Steve Buchheit said...

90.91%, also missed the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the international trade question, and the tax=spending question (which I confused debt with deficit in my head, so had to choose between two "right" answers). Ah well.

John the Scientist said...

#29 is just plain wrong, because none of the answers contains the definition of "public good" as it is understood by economists, and #33 is stupidly worded, as it makes it seem as if each person is getting back what they spent. The answer should be that you have a balanced budget, and if there were no pre-existing debt, there would be no government debt incurred.

Jeri said...

90.91% - and I expected to do much worse as I snoozed through most of my history classes in high school and college. I guess being widely read has its rewards. :P

I actually knew the Lincoln Douglas debate answer - don't know how - but struggled with the last few questions, as they were all fairly vaguely worded and somewhat subjective.

And Michelle - go Grandmom!

hugh57-sffan said...

Like Jim, I suppose, I missed #33. I answered "The national debt is zero" mistakenly conflating debt with deficit. That was my only miss, so I also had 96.97%

Janiece Murphy said...

Welcome, Hugh.

I think that question was poorly worded.

Random Michelle K said...

Am I the only person who knew the Lincoln Douglas debate question?

I remember that because it emphasizes (to me) how Lincoln's attitude towards slavery, and what stance he was willing to take-changed.

Jim Wright said...

No, I knew the Lincoln/Douglas question. That was a major issue in the election, admission of new slave/free states on the frontier and how it would affect the balance of power. And Lincoln's position and election led directly to succession of the slave states, formation of the Confederacy, and the Civil War.

John the Scientist said...

Yeah, I thought that question was fair, as back them Lincoln did not debate the morality of slavery, only the advisability of its spread.

That's a key point in understanding why the Union decided to ignore the Klan when the war was over, and why it took another 100 years for the Civil Rights Act to be passed.

Ewan said...

Oddly enough, I also missed only the debate Q. I do agree that the 'public good' definition used leaves a lot to be desired, but the rest all seemed OK.

49%? Wow. I'm not a citizen, nor have I ever taken a US (or any other!) civics class...

Janiece Murphy said...

Welcome, Ewan, and congratulations on your recent addition.

Welcome to the world, Keiran!

Anne C. said...

Well, I feel like a dunce at 79%. I haven't taken a civics or American history course since high school, so I guess it wasn't too bad. I think those whose job it was to uphold the constitution (ahem, you know who you are) had an inside angle. (For example, I *did not* know the president could add to the Supreme Court!)

Eric said...

Don't feel like a dunce, Anne. Alarm bells began going off when I read the question referring to Aquinas and the way the economics questions were phrased; so I wasn't a bit surprised to read at Wikipedia:

Although ISI does not have any official partisan or religious affiliation, the Institute tends towards paleoconservative and traditionalist positions. The influence of several important twentieth-century Roman Catholic thinkers is also apparent at ISI. In fact, the very reason given for the existence of ISI is that education in the modern university is insufficiently liberal (in the traditional sense) to meet the needs of a classical education. Further, the organization fights what it perceives as political correctness and liberal (in the modern sense) bias among campus professors.

The First Amendment questions frankly should have raised red flags as well, and the Roe question seems a bit less topical in context.

I mean, come on: a question about Thomas Aquinas may be relevant to a broad education or a broad liberal arts education (oh, and by the way, this is one I got right), but it's hardly an American Civics question.

For that matter, how the hell is a question about Sputnik a bleedin' American Civics question. That's not to say that questions about Sputnik (or the Cuban Missile Crisis) aren't, like the Aquinas question, signs that one is knowledgeable, but any reasonable civics exam might replace any of those questions with a question about the incorporation doctrine--unless, of course, you're such a staunch paleocon that you'd rather pretend the last century of Constitutional jurisprudence basically didn't happen.

I think there are quite a few questions that could be quibbled with, and probably from both sides of the political spectrum.

I scored around 84%--I knew I was in trouble when I started reading the econ questions, which read like they come from a quiz written for a 1950s high school propaganda film about the values of the free enterprise system. Whether or not a question like #27 "Free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government’s centralized planning because..." is based on a true premise (and it might be), it's an ideologically loaded question (as are the answers you're forced to choose from).

Color me unimpressed.

(Oh: and yes, I got the Lincoln-Douglas question right. Ooh. Aaah. So special. Hrmph.)

Eric said...

P.S.

Oh, and you should visit the Wikipedia entry if for no other reason than to dig ISI's "best" and "worst" books list, which predictably slags Kinsey's methodologically-flawed-but-groundbreaking Sexual Behavior in the Human Male while elevating work by C.S. Lewis, an adequate fantasist (sometimes) but a sub-moronic critical thinker. Niiiiice.

kimby said...

Wait, I scored lower that Michelle's Grandmother! 53% Not too bad considering I don't live there....And I got the Lincoln-Douglas debate correct. (it came up in conversation during Religion and Culture class last week...other wise I would have gotten that one wrong too!

Anne C. said...

Thanks for your comments, Eric. I did find the wording on some of the questions to be simplistic and suspected a bias, but I'm not well versed enough to know if Aquinas, et al. was or wasn't an integral part of the establishment of our government.

Regardless, it was an interesting quiz with wide ranging questions. Bravo to those who did well.

Random Michelle K said...

Re. Aquinas and the philosophers, weren't they an influence upon many of the founding fathers? Which is why I thought that question was there.

And Sputnik was important because it launched the space race that lead to the US putting men on the moon. (See also: October Skies by Homer Hickam)

Anne, regarding the SC, it was determined that Roosevelt couldn't stack the court, but it was a large bit of contention for awhile.

So not to knock you, but I think that the Sputnik question wasn't off base at all. Although the philosophers might be debatable, since the question wasn't phrased in a way that directly related to the USA.

And I hated the econ questions, but that's because I dislike econ, finance and accounting (those are my brother's fields.)