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US Officials Flunk Test On Civic Knowledge

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the you-are-what-you-elect dept.

Politics 334

A test on civic knowledge given to elected officials proved that they are slightly less knowledgeable than the uninformed people who voted them into office. Elected officials scored a 44 percent while ordinary citizens managed an amazing 49 percent on the 33 questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. "It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI's civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned," said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI. The three branches of government aren't the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria?

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First (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25849897)

First post!

Obama voters fail basic knowledge test too (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850153)

http://www.howobamagotelected.com/ [howobamagotelected.com]

I'd care more (2, Insightful)

thebrett (1408835) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849905)

If they had the text of this 'civic test' available.

Re:I'd care more (5, Informative)

ep32g79 (538056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849925)

Perhaps this is what you are looking for: http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx [americanci...teracy.org]

Re:I'd care more (0)

bonkeydcow (1186443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850077)

Um question 1, there are no "inalienable rights" in the constitution, only "unalienable rights" so the test is flawed!!!

Re:I'd care more (4, Insightful)

KevinKnSC (744603) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850333)

If you're going to give them a hard time about that, you probably shouldn't confuse the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. :)

Re:I'd care more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850541)

PWND

Re:I'd care more (1)

bonkeydcow (1186443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850555)

Yeah i was just in a hurry to get my post up, I didn't confuse them really. I scored an 88% on their test so...

Re:I'd care more (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851279)

Riiight. Nice save attempt, but no one believes it. Sorry!

Re:I'd care more (1)

JMZero (449047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850125)

I really hope that wasn't the test in question - there's very few questions there that shouldn't be obvious; just from random pop culture you should be able to get more than half. If I had spent any time learning American history (which I probably would have if I was American), I would assume it would have been even easier.

Re:I'd care more (4, Informative)

ep32g79 (538056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850207)

It is, and here is the breakdown question by question:
http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/2008/additional_finding.html [americanci...teracy.org]

Re:I'd care more (5, Interesting)

tylerni7 (944579) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850943)

I apologize for writing in all caps, here, but let me just say WHAT THE FUCK.

Each question has between 4 and 5 options, some questions, like 19, show elected officials at about 10%.
That means if they picked a random answer, they would be correct twice as often.
I'll conceed that it wasn't the easiest question there, and I can understand low scores, but.... seriously?

Re:I'd care more (5, Insightful)

Dave Tucker Online (1310703) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851425)

Some questions were obviously chosen because there are specific misconceptions regarding that issue. For example, the president has the ability to declare war, doesn't he? After all, our presidents have been sending troops all over the world for decades without congressional approval. But that is wrong. Only congress has that power. "Separation of church and state" being granted by the constitution is another common misconception.

Wrong answers to questions on central planning vs. free markets, however, are due to a devotion to a philosophy that is just wrong. I'm sure those elected officials were shocked that they got that one incorrect.

So yes, you would expect that no group could do worse than 25% when given 4 choices, but when the questions are chosen with misconceptions in mind, it becomes far more likely.

Re:I'd care more (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850219)

Taking the test, I have to say that I think they may have gotten confused, what with high school teaching one semester of economics and one semester of government these days. Otherwise, why would I need to define "profit"? :P

I got 31/33. Missed the questions on Puritans and Stephen Douglas. A few of them have fairly loaded options that made it trivial to guess the right one, I probably guessed at another 3-4.

Re:I'd care more (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850433)

32/33. Braindumped on the balanced budget question - deficit is zero if taxes and spending are equal, not debt. Rest of it was a cakewalk. Could have answered every one of the history questions by the time I was 12, and the rest by the time I was 14.

Re:I'd care more (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850591)

I have not taken a history course since my last one in high school ten years ago. I have no particular interest in history. I got 31 right. That the voters and officials are doing so badly is a good sign that something has gone wrong with both our education system and our democracy.

Re:I'd care more (4, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851155)

I have to say that I think they may have gotten confused, what with high school teaching one semester of economics and one semester of government these days. Otherwise, why would I need to define "profit"?

Because this "test" is a bit of right-wing propaganda, which seeks to conflate conservative doctrine with actual facts about our government. (Or is there an answer to "Free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government's centralized planning because:" or "International trade and specialization most often lead to which of the following?" hidden somewhere in the Constitution that I've missed?)

The "Intercollegiate Studies Institute" evolved out of William Bennett's Madison Center for Educational Affairs and Irving Kristol's Institute for Educational Affairs [mediatransparency.org] .

Re:I'd care more (1)

iJusten (1198359) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850311)

I't hard to believe the averages are so low. I got ~82%, and all I know of America I learned from television. And Internet, I suppose.

Re:I'd care more (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850501)

Ugh, I only got 69%, there was one set of answers I got wrong because I misread them, but the fact is if I didn't have a definite answer then there's still something wrong.

I don't know how I really compare, though. I'm a high school dropout who missed nearly 2/3rds of her elementary attendance (and they allowed me to because I was in an 'emotionally disabled' class) and I started in a community college a year ago.

Re:I'd care more (1)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850757)

"You answered 15 out of 33 correctly â" 45.45 %"

and I'm not even American or interested in becoming American, just filled it because I was curious.

I don't know what to say except that this kind of test should be passed by anyone reading about American history for a couple of days.

Re:I'd care more (1)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850865)

I got an 84.85%
I missed the following:
Question #7 - D. Gettysburg Address
Question #8 - C. appoint additional Supreme Court justices who shared his views
Question #13 - E. certain permanent moral and political truths are accessible to human reason
Question #30 - C. decreasing taxes and increasing spending
Question #33 - D. tax per person equals government spending per person

Considering that I have a terrible memory and most of the things on that quiz I haven't thought about in over a decade I find it unacceptable for anyone to score lower.

Re:I'd care more (2, Informative)

janeuner (815461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851307)

If taxes equal government spending, then:
A. government debt is zero
B. printing money no longer causes inflation
C. government is not helping anybody
D. tax per person equals government spending per person
E. tax loopholes and special-interest spending are absent

Umm, wtf? Where is None of the Above?

Any link to the test? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849921)

Would like to see how stupid they (the politicians) are.

Re:Any link to the test? (1)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850103)

I scored 90.91% (30/33). One of them I was braindead and should have gotten correct, two I was guessing on. Regardless, that is still an A, and roughly twice what my elected representatives scored in aggregate.

Re:Any link to the test? (1)

Bai jie (653604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850363)

81%, maybe we should consider running for elected office. It frightens me that our current elected officials could score so low.

Re:Any link to the test? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850515)

Same. Including the braindead question...

Question #7 - D. Gettysburg Address
Question #8 - C. appoint additional Supreme Court justices who shared his views
Question #17 - D. manmade satellite

Not sure how I got 17 wrong... I thought the right answer, and managed to click the wrong option...

Re:Any link to the test? (1)

robinsonne (952701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850401)

You answered 31 out of 33 correctly - 93.94 %

Hmm...guess that kills my chances of ever being elected to any office.

Where's the test? (1)

DanOrc451 (1302609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849923)

I want to take it myself so I can feel all smu.... err... ensure that I know enough about our great nation here.

Re:Where's the test? (4, Informative)

krlynch (158571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849975)

Google is your friend....

http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx [americanci...teracy.org]

Re:Where's the test? (1)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850205)

Hopefully their November results will now be biased significant upwards. :-) I can't be too smug though, as I only got an 84.4%. I'm a biologist, not an economist!

Re:Where's the test? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850323)

To be fair, some of the questions are "history", and not "civics".

Re:Where's the test? (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850281)

That wasn't too hard. I'm not even American, I really don't care about politics, economics or social sciences and I scored 70%.

Re:Where's the test? (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850413)

So I took the test and scored 90.91% (30/33)
And I'm Canadian.

The 3 I missed...

I had no idea what Roosevelt threatened to do to the supreme court when they declared parts of the New Deal were unconstitutional. I didn't know what particular rights the first amendment gives. And I missed the one about the Scopes "Monkey Trial", which I'm not sure how I got wrong. I think I misread the correct answer as something to do with teaching evolution in private schools.

Of course, I got a few right that I made educated guesses on too, so it works out I guess. I had no trouble with the ones that were more 'general knowledge' but struggled with the real "Americana". Like the source of the phrase 'wall of separation' between church and state... I didn't actually know the answer was Thomas Jefferson's letters, but made it as an educated guess from the choices.

Overall, though I'm shocked that any elected official would score less than 80% on it... never mind less than 50%.

Re:Where's the test? (1)

myvirtualid (851756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850973)

So I took the test and scored 90.91% (30/33) And I'm Canadian.

Me too!

The 3 I missed.... #7, thought it was much earlier; #10, knew it wasn't A, guessed one of the others; and #33.

33 is an interesting one. I chose "debt", though I knew it was wrong, but felt it was "more right" than any of the others. Deficit would have been 100% correct, no question. I dispute the correct answer, because it is open to interpretation. I took it to mean "is spending on me exactly what I pay in taxes", which is obviously correct only for a very few. If they'd stuck in "average", that would have been fine, and while I agree you could argue it was implied, well, when words are implied the result is almost always ambiguity.

Just look at the 2nd amendment and the all the ruckus arising from its ambiguous phrasing!

Re:Where's the test? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850661)

Some of the questions initially appear esoteric, but then I realized the way the questions are designed, it's not so much a test of if you know the actual historical event, but if you can, based on your civic knowledge, reason out the correct answer.

It's not really a fair test for the general public. If questions on the same topics were asked in a more straightforward manner, you would get higher scores. I don't think many people could get 100% on it without at least a college education.

(for the record, I got 87.88)

Three what? (1)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849927)

The three branches of government aren't the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria?

EO*: "I've never heard of them. I don't even like blondes. What? Ohhhh... branches"


*:elected official

Sheesh (1)

PhetusPolice (934823) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849931)

Maybe testing officials should be mandatory, and yield consequences..

Re:Sheesh (1)

haystor (102186) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850185)

Start with drug testing them.

US Officials Flunk Test On Civic Knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25849947)

The three branches of government aren't the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria?

No, they are the 3 wise men, silly!

Constitutional Correction (2, Insightful)

DrSlinky (710703) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849969)

... of the morons, by the morons, for the morons.

So that's what explains it... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25849983)

George Bush getting elected twice.

Re:So that's what explains it... (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850073)

George Bush getting elected twice.

No, but it does explain why he got the PATRIOT act and PATRIOT II acts passed by congress.

Experience (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#25849997)

Politicians often argue that people shouldn't get involved in elected office because of lack of experience, though lack of knowledge or judgment doesn't seem to be an issue.

Re:Experience (1)

butterflysrage (1066514) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850149)

or morals... course that is a given in politics...

Re:Experience (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850537)

Only in capitalism, and socialism, and like, anythingism.

the three branches of government: (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850009)

sedimentary
metamorphic
igneous

no, wait...

prokaryotes
eukaryotes
viruses

got it ;-)

Re:the three branches of government: (1)

wagr (1070120) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850117)

I had to laugh; among my friends we use these terms to describe the three branches of our government:
sedentary
metaphoric
ignatius

heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850019)

I'm surprised anyone is surprised...

Test administration was poor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850021)

In the article, it says "some 2,500 people who were randomly selected to take the test, including 'self-identified elected officials'".

I was elected to office of treasurer for my local Elks Lodge. Does that make me a US official?

Re:Test administration was poor. (2, Interesting)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850637)

Nevertheless it's still a depressing example of the state of America. I can understand how you'd miss a few. I managed to get 90%... but I can't imagine missing half of them. Self-identified or not, you'd still expect them to do at least a little *better*, not worse.

Where's the test? (-1, Redundant)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850043)

As said by other posters, where's the test so we can take it? Looks like it's here [americanci...teracy.org] .

Misleading (3, Insightful)

Luthair (847766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850047)

To make an accurate judgment, we really need to see the test, questions about economics for example can be largely opinion/philosophy based rather than factual. Though failing to correctly answer opponents in WWII is either blatant stupidity, or willful ignorance, a child raised by wolves could answer that 2 days after being 'rescued'.

Its also important to consider who might consider themselves elected officials. For example doesn't the US also elect local sheriffs?

Re:Misleading (1)

Tokah (859694) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850371)

Call me crazy, but I'd prefer my county sheriff be able to list the three branches of government. Anyone in a position of public sector authority should have a firm grasp on our nation's history and how it's government is structured.

Re:Misleading (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850379)

Other people have posted the link. It's really a biased test that is about 1/3 real civics (i.e. questions about how the government works). The rest is history, philosophy, economics, etc (with a conservative slant in economics - at least a blatantly obvious one).

Re:Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850557)

http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx

So what you're saying is... (1)

SandwhichMaster (1044184) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850053)

the Vice President isn't in charge of the senate?

Re:So what you're saying is... (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851039)

No, he is responsible for protecting the space-time continuum. Read the Constitution!

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25851179)

(Score:4, Futurama reference)

License (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850059)

Maybe it's time for licensing exams for anyone who wants run for office. Your doctor is licensed, your teachers are licensed, and even your hairdresser has to have a license (at least in Massachusetts).

I'd flunk it too (1)

bmecoli (963615) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850069)

I don't know anything about cars...

More pointless mandated tests! (1)

santiagoanders (1357681) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850139)

Most college graduates have to take the GRE to get into grad school (though some have specialized tests for their field). I propose that our to-be-elected officials take a similarly pointless test of knowledge and the results be made public. I will not vote for someone who can't do elementary math if they are planning on spending millions of tax dollars.

Key Caveat (4, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850177)

the key caveat with this news item is that, when you RTFA, you find that they are culling the results from "self-identified elected officials." So, anyone could take the test and, for a laugh, identify themselves as an elected official.

In other words, it is not the case that the organizers of this test randomly selected a cross section of the populace, got complete demographic information about them (including occupation) then had them take the test.

See also self-selection [wikipedia.org] and selection bias [wikipedia.org] .

Why would the dumb ones select themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850855)

So from that POV self selection should be selecting those who THINK they have the answers.

That they are wrong shows how bad things are.

Not civic knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850179)

It's not a test on civic knowledge, since that would be a test composed of questions about how the government works. This is also a history, philosophical test w/ biased questions (e.g. why is free market better than government central planning presumes a conclusion).

So I'm sure that everyone's going to realize this and not start debating based on the misleading summary.... oh wait. NM. Carry on.

In case anyone wants to see the actual test:
http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx [americanci...teracy.org]

Sidenote: I had a feeling based upon the questions that the group [wikipedia.org] has some kind of agenda (they claim that modern education isn't liberal, as in liberal arts, enough). Not to say that people shouldn't know these answers - but claiming that this is somehow reflective of civic knowledge is completely misleading.

I feel stupid. (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850189)

You answered 29 out of 33 correctly -- 87.88 % I guess that's not bad considering I graduated from college 21 years ago. But still. :-(

Quiz is here... [americanci...teracy.org]

Re: I feel stupid. (1)

rev_g33k_101 (886348) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850495)

You answered 27 out of 33 correctly 81.82 %
Average score for this quiz during November: 77.3% Average score: 77.3%

you did a little better then me :D
but I have some arguments about some of the questions.

mostly Question #33-- could have been A or D
and
Question #6-- could have been B or D

Re: I feel stupid. (1)

Sneftel (15416) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850947)

Question 33: You're thinking of deficit, not debt.
Question 6: Read the damn amendment.

Re: I feel stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850991)

Question #6-- could have been B or D

No it couldn't. Bill of Rights is only the first 10. Equal protection is 14.

Re: I feel stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25851089)

Question 33: If taxes equal government spending, then government debt will not get worse. If there was pre-existing debt, then it will clearly not be zero. Could not have been A.

Question 6: The Bill of Rights is only the first 10 amendments. Some of those prohibitions against discrimination came later. Could not have been B.

Re: I feel stupid. (1)

rev_g33k_101 (886348) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851381)

Question 33: If taxes equal government spending, then government debt will not get worse. If there was pre-existing debt, then it will clearly not be zero. Could not have been A.

Question 6: The Bill of Rights is only the first 10 amendments. Some of those prohibitions against discrimination came later. Could not have been B.

I see your point on 33
6 was my bad.

I retract my previous statements.

Re: I feel stupid. (1)

janeuner (815461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851413)

"tax per person equals government spending per person"

I read that as a flat-tax and apportioned expendatures - neither of which have occurred anytime in US History.

Re: I feel stupid. (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851395)

Wuss. I got 100% and I graduated 27 years ago.

That being said, some of the questions were a bit "questionable", vaguely worded, and/or open to interpretation. Still, a well-educated person should have been able to get at least 75%.

Re: I feel stupid. (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851405)

same here, missed 4

That includes purposely missing one i read the answer to here before trying :) I tried to guess what i would have guessed ...

Kinda misread the last one :(

I don't really care what Socrates, etc believed ....

Not sure why i missed the one on Puritans, guess the right answer just seemed too obvious, hehe.

Have to agree that the fail rate is pretty pathetic as half of those are easy to guess if you had any education. If anyone missed the one about the New Deal they should be failed also since the answer is like 5 questions down in question 8...i love tests like that.

If only we could give this to candidates...

People scare me

Trick question? (1)

pwolf (1016201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850199)

"Sixty-nine percent of respondents correctly identified Germany and Japan. Among the incorrect answers were Britain, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico and Spain." Technically weren't we enemies with Russia until Hitler turned on them? They did support Germany and helped them invade Poland. They even signed a pact/treaty to own invaded territories. It might not have been "official" but that's what we have been taught after all. Granted all that was before we (The United States) entered the war, but we were very much involved in it way before Pearl Harbor.

Re:Trick question? (1)

pwolf (1016201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850449)

Doh, it would help if i knew how to read... and looked at the test...

Given the choices "Germany and Japan" or "Russia and China" then there is only one clear answer.

Re:Trick question? (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850753)

No, what happened is that Russia saw Germany coming. They were concerned about it and were in talks with the west to sign some sort of pact. We took too long and Russia signed a pact with Germany. It wasn't about helping Germany as much as it was prevent Germany from attacking them. The Germans attacked them anyway and we ended up helping Russia significantly through the Lend-Lease program. Anyone that can't remember that we were allies and that Germany was split in two and half of Europe ended up Russian as a result is crazy.

Have people just never watched a World War II movie or what? How could you possibly not know that Germany and Japan were the two countries we were fighting? All of those people should just be banned from voting. They've obviously forgotten the most significant event in our nation's history since the civil war and as such don't deserve to vote.

Re:Trick question? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851283)

Have people just never watched a World War II movie or what? How could you possibly not know that Germany and Japan were the two countries we were fighting?

Apparently you didn't watch the movies too carefully either, since there were more than 2 countries that the US was fighting.

Re:Trick question? (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851109)

Russia never actively supported Germany, they just acted in self-interest on Poland and signed a non-aggression pact. While Allied relationships with Russia were frosty, they were not considered an enemy during the war. The closest we came to being enemies during WW2 was in competition for land and scientists as the war drew to a close.

Oh, and as long as everyone else is posting scores, 96.97%. I missed #4, having guessed wrong between the two answers I considered possible given my flaky memory of elementary school Civil War history.

Re:Trick question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25851185)

Good point, but the question offered "China & Russia", and we were definitely not enemies with China.

Ouch! (1)

DoomHaven (70347) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850233)

I'm not even an American (though I did live there for almost 6 years) and I got 27 out of 33 correct, which is 81.23%!

Here is what I missed:
Question #4 - B. Would slavery be allowed to expand to new territories?
Question #7 - D. Gettysburg Address
Question #12 - B. the Supreme Court struck down most legal restrictions on it in Roe v. Wade
Question #13 - E. certain permanent moral and political truths are accessible to human reason
Question #14 - B. stressed the sinfulness of all humanity
Question #33 - D. tax per person equals government spending per person

Re:Ouch! (0, Flamebait)

reginaldo (1412879) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850321)

From the results, it's fairly obvious that the test was taken entirely by Texans.

FLAMEBAIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850435)

flamebait

Biden is a perfect example (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850247)

"Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article 1 of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that." - Joe Biden

Article 1 establishes the legislative branch not the executive branch.

Not that great (1)

Viking Coder (102287) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850381)

I answered 25 out of 33 correctly; 75.76 %

Damnit! I'll never be an elected official!

Why would they care? (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850415)

"It's just a God-damned piece of paper" between them and doing anything they want...

Small Sample Size (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850505)

It's a big no-no to take a sample and then reveal statistics on a sub-population without first making sure that the sub-population size is big enough for its results to be statistically significant. The elected officials should have been polled separately to ensure there are enough of them in the sample.

2,500 people is more than enough, but I'm guessing that fewer than 1% of randomly-chosen people qualify as "elected officials." Far fewer. Even if the sample had 25 elected officials, I wouldn't give much weight to the results.

33 out of 33 right for me... (1)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850565)

not bad considering that my last goverment/civics/poli sci class was 25 years ago.

Here's a Dirty Little Secret (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850569)

So elected officials don't know as much about the law as common people? The dirty little secret is they don't actually read the bills they vote on -- they instead rely on others to summarize the bills for them and use various bills as bargaining chips to vote for or against another congressmans bill. Plus there are always those last-minute ammendments that others attach to the bills that have nothing to do with the title of the bill, but that's another story.

It's not a great test (4, Informative)

ratnerstar (609443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850579)

I took it and got all 33 answers right. This is not to brag, but to establish some limited credentials for when I say: this test sucks. Hard.

Okay, yeah, people should know the three branches of government and who has the power to declare war. On the other hand, a lot of questions and answers are very vague or misleading. Some examples:

Q: If taxes equal government spending, then:

A: tax per person equals government spending per person

This question tests your grasp of logic or algebra, not civics. For the record, another option is "government debt is zero." This is incorrect because it's the deficit that's zero, not the debt. It's designed to confuse. A knowledgeable person could get this question wrong merely by being careless.

Q: Free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than governmentâ(TM)s centralized planning because:

A: the price system utilizes more local knowledge of means and ends

This is not the answer I would have given in a non-multiple choice test. I picked it because it was better than the other options.

Q: Free enterprise or capitalism exists insofar as:

A: individual citizens create, exchange, and control goods and resources

This is just phrased poorly. Why not be clear and ask "What is the definition of capitalism?"

Anyway, of course people should be doing better on this than they are. But it's still a crappy test. And for the record, the "officials" cited aren't exactly Barack Obama and John McCain; they're poll respondents who indicated that they have held elected office at one point. That could include your local dogcatcher, the chairman of your condo association, the head of your PTA, etc.

So don't be too alarmed.

Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850597)

As a Spanish-speaking guy, this is interesting: you (north) American learn the Columbus' first trip ship names like this?

My Guess (2, Interesting)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850687)

is that this is related to the attack on 'elitism', which has turned into an attack on the elite. There are a lot of stupid people, and a lot of smart people, but people (typically neo-Republicans) conflate elitism (being a dick in the fashion of 'i'm better than you') to being elite (in general, suceeding at life, often because/with education).

This selects against people who suceed at life, or people who look like they have suceeded at life. Because 'they can't relate to me' is more important than understanding a number of economic theories, or the culture of an enemy nation.

My (slightly) partisan guess, but I wouldn't be suprised.

You answered 20 out of 33 correctly â" 60.61 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25850859)

FYI, I am Portuguese, i only studied until the end of high school (no college education), and i don't know much about USA branches of government or history.

Pretty scary that your elected officials know less than me, but the good news is that i am available to work for you if a good paycheck is offered.

Proof (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850913)

Can we count this as proof that we (I mean Americans) like to elect people who are dumber than us? I hear (and frankly occasionally produce) conjecture that the populace of the US votes for idiots because somehow we like the idea that anyone can do it. Can we count this as proof that whatever the reason, the electorate of the US votes for people who are generally dumber than the rest of us? (BTW 93.94%)(31/33) Missed -
Question #7 - D. Gettysburg Address Question #33 - D. tax per person equals government spending per person

On the other hand... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#25850977)

...I bet they did just fine on questions about the Old Testament (especially the parts about stoning homosexuals and burning witches).

Which stats they decide to highlight (1)

dat cwazy wabbit (1147827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851033)

Why do they point out gaps that are in the noise range such as liberal vs. conservative, non-church-goers vs. church-goers, but say nothing about significant ones such as male vs. female and Republican vs. Independent vs. Democrat? http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/2008/major_findings_finding1.html [americanci...teracy.org]

Need manditory civics classes in school. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25851079)

A constant comment after an election here is that the municipal candidates get questions about social issues and economic development (two areas it doesn't really have jurisdiction or money to dabble in) while the provincial candidates are getting yelled at about snow removal and garbage.

It's hard to know what you're supposed to do when you're from the 'government' and you're just supposed to fix it.

If I meet one more former high school classmate who doesn't know what a city councillor is, I'm going to raise their taxes again out of spite. Not like I'm going to get in trouble, THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT I AM OR WHAT I DO.

Results from a Brit... (1)

Firefalcon (7323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851255)

I'm not even American, and I know little of the details of the US Constitution, Declaration of Independence, US case law, and political systems, yet I got 20 correct out of the 33 (about 60%), so I'm astounded to read that US citizens on average did worse.

One thing I noticed on the results page though was "Average score for this quiz during November: 77.4%".

So, while I don't know what the average for US citizens in the figures for this month (and all time) was, it suggests that results reported in the story were most likely not a representative sample...

Post Yours (1)

Liath (950770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851297)

30/33 - 91.1%

Semantics (4, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 5 years ago | (#25851343)

Forty percent of respondents, meanwhile, incorrectly believed that the US president has the power to declare war, while 54 percent correctly answered that that power rests with Congress.

But police actions, anti terrorism actions and a broadly, ill defined war on a noun like "terror" or "drugs" are all fair game.

Splitting hairs, they're different to "declaring war." In practice, they're all ways presidents have ensured they can declare quagmires, I mean wars, without actually needing to stop and ask congress.

It's kind of like asking a child, "Did your brother hit you?"
Crying, "Yes!"
Brother, "Ha! I only kicked you. You're wrong!"

Not a civics quiz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25851347)

This isn't a civics poll. This is a history poll with a strong political bias. I'm from Canada and I can answer the majority of these questions from my Grade 12 World History class.

17) Sputnik was the name given to the first:
Historically important, politically important, not a civics question.

21) Name two countries that were our enemies during World War II.
History.

23) In October 1962 the United States and the Soviet Union came close to war over the issue of Soviet:
History.

25) Free enterprise or capitalism exists insofar as:
This is economics. o.O

26) Business profit is:
What the fuck is this?

27) Free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than governmentâ(TM)s centralized planning because:
Wow, that's not a bias economics question.

I was expecting questions more along the lines of, "What is local government?", "What is the difference between a weak mayor and a strong mayor?", "What does the federal government have powers over?", "Who controls property tax?", etc.

Not random history questions that are important if you are studying civics. I'd be happy if people know that the city hauls your garbage and the province does your healthcare.

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