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US Adults Score Poorly On Worldwide Test

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the but-our-cheese-consumption-is-tough-to-beat dept.

United States 745

New submitter Norwell Bob sends this excerpt from an Associated Press report: "It's long been known that America's school kids haven't measured well compared with international peers. Now, there's a new twist: Adults don't either. In math, reading and problem-solving using technology – all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength – American adults scored below the international average on a global test, according to results (PDF) released Tuesday."

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Not surprised (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077517)

This is a group of people who collectively voted 90% for Obama or Romney last election.

Nice bi-partisan play (5, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 10 months ago | (#45077533)

But the re-election of BHO pretty clearly underscores any negative remark you want to make about the U.S. electorate.

Charles Darwin Wrote (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077557)

When two distinct races are crossed, it is notorious that the tendency in the offspring to revert to one or both parent forms is strong, and endures for many generations.

The Earl of Powis formerly imported some thoroughly domesticated humped cattle from India, and crossed them with English breeds, which belong to a distinct species; and his agent remarked to me, without any question having been asked, how oddly wild the cross-bred animals were.

These latter facts remind us of the statements, so frequently made by travellers in all parts of the world, on the degraded state and savage disposition of crossed races of man. That many excellent and kind-hearted mulattos have existed no one will dispute; and a more mild and gentle set of men could hardly be found than the inhabitants of the island of Chilce, who consist of Indians commingled with Spaniards in various proportions. On the other hand, many years ago, long before I had thought of the present subject, I was struck with the fact that, in South America, men of complicated descent between Negroes, Indians, and Spaniards, seldom had, whatever the cause might be, a good expression.1 Livingstone,- and a more unimpeachable authority cannot be quoted,- after speaking of a half-caste man on the Zambesi, described by the Portuguese as a rare monster of inhumanity, remarks, "It is unaccountable why half-castes, such as he, are so much more cruel than the Portuguese, but such is undoubtedly the case." An inhabitant remarked to Livingstone, "God made white men, and God made black men, but the Devil made half-castes."2 When two races, both low in the scale, are crossed the progeny seems to be eminently bad. Thus the noble-hearted Humboldt, who felt no prejudice against the inferior races, speaks in strong terms of the bad and savage disposition of Zambos, or half-castes between Indians and Negroes; and this conclusion has been arrived at by various observers.3 From these facts we may perhaps infer that the degraded state of so many half-castes is in part due to reversion to a primitive and savage condition, induced by the act of crossing, even if mainly due to the unfavourable moral conditions under which they are generally reared.

[End Quotation]

American blacks have a good percentage of white blood. That is consistent with Darwin's work above because American blacks are particularly violent and savage and tribal. Anyone that doubts that is welcome to wander the nearest inner-city ghetto but I hope you have life insurance and all your affairs in order before you try it.

Re:Charles Darwin Wrote (-1, Offtopic)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 10 months ago | (#45077659)

Funny, because White supremacists generally have 2%-4% Neanderthal DNA, vs. 0%-2% for Asians and 0% for Black Africans.

From your post, I'm guessing you reverted to the Neanderthal type.

I'll agree that he's a fucktard, but... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077711)

Don't assault Neanderthals. Their being "stupid brutes" is a terrible misconception.

Re:Charles Darwin Wrote (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077729)

Is it possible that 2%-4% Neanderthal dna, when combined with modern traits, wouldn't be an advantage?

Re:Charles Darwin Wrote (4, Informative)

cheater512 (783349) | about 10 months ago | (#45077881)

Neanderthals had larger brains than us. Your argument isn't terribly effective.

Re:Not surprised (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077537)

Or that 67.3168% that push false equivalencies.

Re:Not surprised (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077539)

Yep voted both Retard W Bush and Obummer to two terms.

Re:Not surprised (0)

mellon (7048) | about 10 months ago | (#45077841)

The mods who rated this funny apparently didn't understand the soul-sucking horror of having only these two to choose from.

Re:Not surprised (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077935)

You must live in one of the two states that didn't have the Libertarian candidate for president on the ballot. I clearly remember having more than two choices. I would have left the ballot blank if my only choices were D or R.

Re:Not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077937)

I had five or six to choose from plus the write in. Maybe move to a different state that third parties thing is relevant.

Maybe there is hope (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077521)

I was starting to suspect that most people were horribly incapable, but I guess its better elsewhere.

Re:Maybe there is hope (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077737)

but I guess its better elsewhere.

It's.

Well done.

Re:Maybe there is hope (0)

AlphaWoIf_HK (3042365) | about 10 months ago | (#45077979)

I was starting to suspect that most people were horribly incapable

They are. What, do you think that doing well on poorly-designed tests demonstrates that you are intelligent? If so, I suggest that you think again.

It's a good thing... (5, Funny)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 10 months ago | (#45077527)

...that the Secretary of Education is furloughed right now, or he'd have some explaining to do!

Re:It's a good thing... (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 10 months ago | (#45077647)

You must be an American, since you apparently hold the current Secretary of Education responsible for the quality of American public school education decades before he took office (or in some cases, before he graduated high school).

Re:It's a good thing... (3, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 10 months ago | (#45077851)

That's how the political machine works everywhere in the world, I'm afraid. At least, everywhere that the people think they have a say in matters....

In an ideal world, the question wouldn't be about figuring out who's culpable; it'd be about figuring out how to fix it. Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world... people look to whoever is supposed to be able to fix it, and they blame them for not having fixed it already.

Re:It's a good thing... (4, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 10 months ago | (#45077891)

Joke (noun) -- a thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter, esp. a story with a funny punchline.

Re:It's a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077669)

I only got the job in 2009---Arne Duncan, explaining how he never ever taught anyone anyway.

Re:It's a good thing... (-1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#45077751)

or he'd have some explaining to do!

I think we can guess this one: "We need more money."

That aside, I was reading a paper [sciencedirect.com] this morning about how the fluoridation chemicals that most cities put into their water supply, aside from causing cancer, causes lead to leach out of plumbing. America has half of the world's fluoridated population [washingtonsblog.com] . Coincidence, perhaps.

JIT Education (1, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45077549)

People generally forget what they've learned unless they use the knowledge within a few months or so. Americans are work-aholics relatively speaking and thus will bury their head in their here-and-now work such that distant knowledge fades quickly as the immediate situation takes over.

A Just-In-Time education system may be a better approach than trying to hammer in concepts while young hoping they are hammered in deep enough to stay in. That's perhaps not a rational use of time. The 4-year university approach is obsolete, or at least needs big-time augmentation.

Re:JIT Education (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077773)

People generally forget what they've learned unless they use the knowledge within a few months or so.

You mean, Americans forget what they've learnt unless they use the knowledge within a few months or so. We are talking about the general level of education here, in math, reading, and problem-solving skills.

Americans are work-aholics relatively speaking and thus will bury their head in their here-and-now work such that distant knowledge fades quickly as the immediate situation takes over.

If the here-and-now work does not involve math, reading, or problem-solving skills, it would appear that the work that Americans do could reasonably delegated to monkeys. Or, one step up, unlearnt workers in developing countries. Of course, that's exactly where the jobs go because Americans demand far too much pay for their low-skilled work. Nobody wants to pay the premium for "made in U.S.A." and so the U.S. has assembled the largest trade deficit of any country in history.

A Just-In-Time education system may be a better approach than trying to hammer in concepts while young hoping they are hammered in deep enough to stay in. That's perhaps not a rational use of time. The 4-year university approach is obsolete, or at least needs big-time augmentation.

If you want to compete with an uneducated working class, you'll have to adapt your standards of living. That you haven't done so, shows in the trade deficit. In contrast to Americans, developing countries understand that improving their living standards requires education. A university education is still actually one of the few American products that sells reasonably well abroad (well, not all coursework that ventures to call itself "education", obviously). Of course, once the "just-in-time education" proponents have driven the American education to third-world level and below, this rather expensive product line will be eradicated from the trade balance as well.

Re:JIT Education (2)

AlphaWoIf_HK (3042365) | about 10 months ago | (#45077987)

You mean, Americans forget what they've learnt unless they use the knowledge within a few months or so.

I don't know if that's what he meant, but if I were in his place, that's not what I would have meant to say. Honestly, nonsensical standardized tests show little.

Re:JIT Education (5, Insightful)

quintus_horatius (1119995) | about 10 months ago | (#45077793)

You're conflating skills training with education.

They both teach you how to get the most out of a set of tools, but formal education concentrates on the tool that is your brain -- how to think, how to organize information, how to accommodate new ideas and facts. How to use your brain.

JIT training is commonly known as on-the-job-training, and is not a new idea. But it works best when the student is already educated.

Re:JIT Education (5, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 10 months ago | (#45077949)

One of the aspect of this test, as far as I understood, is reading comprehension. If that fails, everything else fails, because any other training -- programming included -- requires reading.
There is a surprisingly high share of adults who can not comprehend a text they read (a skill, ironically, often practized in math classes).

Re:JIT Education (4, Interesting)

MacTO (1161105) | about 10 months ago | (#45077801)

After spending a decade as an educator, I can confidently state that very few people can apply concepts that they have just learned. However, many people will be able to apply those concepts when they revisit them. That seems to be true even if they forgot what they originally learned.

That experience leads me to believe that JIT education simply would not work in practice, even though it sounds great. The demand for a traditional education, even for jobs that didn't require an education in the past, leads me to believe that employers know that JIT education (i.e. on the job training) is a risky investment at best and that they may even see it as ineffective.

Re:JIT Education (2)

psithurism (1642461) | about 10 months ago | (#45077813)

Americans are work-aholics relatively speaking

Bwahahaha, I guess you are modded insightful because it is the new funny? I actually lol-ed a little at your comment. Compared to many areas in Europe, yes, but compared to many of the better scoring nations, and especially the #1 scorer, Japan, which is well known for work-a-haulism (among other -ahaulisms), Americans definitely are not work-ahaulics.

A Just-In-Time education system may be a better approach... 4-year university approach is obsolete

It may be, but the nations that beat the US haven't thrown out the traditional approaches to education. Again, Japan, which I would think would be the poster child of "how not to teach" does exactly what you would like to correct by hammering in concepts really hard when the kids are young. So, I like your ideas but it does not really explain why Americans are falling behind here.

Re:JIT Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077821)

Sure, the JIT teaching machine worked fine for McCoy when he visited Sigma Draconis VI, didn't it.

Protip: JIT education is called training and Corporate America doesn't do any, instead preferring to employ employees with prior employee experience in the exact same job. Where these employees are supposed to have gained any experience is anyone's guess. Sigma Draconis VI, maybe?

Re:JIT Education (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#45077915)

Americans are work-aholics relatively speaking and thus will

Stop. Please, just stop. You don't call slaves "workaholics". We aren't the smiling factory workers depicted in your imaginary propaganda world, happily clocking in unlimited overtime because we're filled with patriotic pride. We do it because we have no labor party. There are no unions. The top 1% in this country control over 40% of the wealth, and the top 10% control over 80%. We are a nation of slaves. We work, and we work, and then we drop dead. And until recently, we didn't even have health care. Arguably, we still don't -- Obamacare is such a poor substitute for true national health care I almost makes me cry. You have to pay for it; Which means it's squeezing the already failing middle class by forcing them to sign up for it. It exempts the poor, and the rich... well, they don't need it. So in the final analysis, our health care system, while a vast improvement over the previous one which suffered a total existance failure, is still just contributing to an already serious problem. It's the untold story you won't hear on Fox, or CNN, or NBC. You'll have to go somewhere like Al Jezerra or the BBC to pick up any trace of it.

You people who aren't from here act like it's all sunshine and daisies. That we ride around in tanks slurping down ginormous sodas and cheeseburgers, living it up. Everything about our culture is toxic. It will kill you, slowly. Living here is like smoking cigarettes -- it kills you one breath at a time. We're dealing with a nation of people who don't sleep enough, who are forced out of bed before the sun is up to go to work, and don't get back until it's back down again. Many of us work the weekends too, just to pay the bills. We're saddled with piles of debt, high taxes, and everything needs a credit check, even if you want to pay in cash. Our banks didn't just kill our economy -- they trigger a global, worldwide, recession. You think you felt the hurt? We were ground zero.

A Just-In-Time education system may be a better approach than trying to hammer in concepts while young hoping they are hammered in deep enough to stay in.

Your solution to severe and pervasive societal-level problems is to play buzzword bingo? Are you fucking kidding me? We don't need a "just in time" education system. We need any education system. Check out the high school graduation rates in all of our major cities -- they're falling like a rock. No Child Left Behind has become an unmitigated clusterfuck that punishes our best schools by defunding them. No, that's literally how it works, that isn't a typo. The law is written so that schools are funded based on the improvement in test scores from the previous year. Not from having high test scores and a great graduation rate -- those are signs of imminent school shutdown! We fund the worst schools because they're the easiest to bring test scores up, and we cut the best ones, because you can't improve anymore once you're in that top percentile.

The 4-year university approach is obsolete, or at least needs big-time augmentation.

It doesn't need augmentation; It was working just fine before. It needs to have all the profiteering assholes nailed to a cross and put out in the courtyards and left to be eaten by goddamned vultures to serve a warning to any rich bastard that would try to profit from the institutions that prepare our young adults for specialized work. These assholes singlehandedly killed any potential for an entire generation to escape poverty. These kids are sucking down $100,000 student loan debts. If current trends continue, they'll be in their 40s before they even make enough money to pay back the interest alone on that... let alone start getting at the principle.

No sir, no sir you are dead wrong about everything that's wrong with this country. The conservatives in this country have hated public education from day one -- that was an invention of the short-lived labor rights movement from the 1900s until the 1940s. That movement is gone, and there's nobody left to defend our education system from the rich vultures who want to price it into oblivion. Knowledge is power, and right now, America's rich are making a play to put all of it out of the reach of the poor. And if they succeed, there will be no more middle class. There will be no more land of opportunity. There will just be a country with the largest military force on the planet, with the most money... and it will be financed entirely by slave labor.

And you sir, you're part of the problem. You wanna help? Stop bantering buzzwords about. Call the damn UN, call your representative... and get some international aid over here. Large segments of this country are rapidly disintegrating, and several of our major cities look like bombed out hell holes out of Africa where warlords drive around with AK-47s... or they've been quite literally eaten by mother nature and there's hundreds of thousands now on the streets, falling on each other like wild animals.

Stop listening to our fucking popular press -- they're lying. We know they're lying. They lie more than the Russians did back before their country karked it and broke into tiny little pieces. We have an electronic iron curtain. Don't believe their lies. The situation is far, far worse than you know.

"Wealth inequity" is not just a wikipedia journal entry. It's real, and almost all of our sickness as a society comes down to that. The high crime rates, the weekly mass shootings, the fact that infant mortality is rising and life expectancy has started dropping for the first time ever in the country's history. We got a Recession that just won't die. These things are real; And our math scores are shit because poor people's math skills are shit. As it turns out, your cognitive abilities are heavily influenced by your environment and stress levels. Take down this memo: This country has produced all the anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication that is presently on the market. This is NOT a coincidence.

Decline of the American Empire? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077567)

Isn't this just one of many signs of the decline of the American Empire? The American oligarchs used to look after their people back in the days when they built their empire but nowadays, the privileged grandchildren of the original oligarchs have forgotten where their wealth and power came from. And so on down the slippery slope...

Re:Decline of the American Empire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077819)

100% correct.

Re:Decline of the American Empire? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077845)

But it goes deeper than just the Oligarchs. The fat middle class also misunderstands how it became so well developed and comfortable.

Computer literacy + social skills (4, Interesting)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 10 months ago | (#45077571)

Most jobs don't involve a lot of math or english these days.

More whether or not you can socially function and whether you know the basics of using a computer.

Plumbing, paving roads, being a cashier, managing people, checking meter readings, working an assembly line don't involve much math or English.

Perhaps society only needs a few people per hundred that are great at math? People don't need math skills to drive a semi-truck or make the donuts or take an order or stock a warehouse .... Similar to how most companies only need a few elite coders?

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about 10 months ago | (#45077637)

Most jobs don't involve a lot of math or english these days. More whether or not you can socially function and whether you know the basics of using a computer. Plumbing, paving roads, being a cashier, managing people, checking meter readings, working an assembly line don't involve much math or English. Perhaps society only needs a few people per hundred that are great at math? People don't need math skills to drive a semi-truck or make the donuts or take an order or stock a warehouse .... Similar to how most companies only need a few elite coders?

Historically education (especially higher education) was not for the purpose of job training. That was handled by other means such as apprenticeships. Education was for the purpose of personal enrichment and quality of life.

A nation of people who can effectively work their corporate jobs but believe everything the TV tells them will create a fascist dictatorship. In the USA it will probably be a "soft tyranny" of the "we know what's best for you, or else" type, not the "strong man with an iron fist" dictatorships we've seen in the past.

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077921)

Historically education (especially higher education) was not for the purpose of job training. That was handled by other means such as apprenticeships. Education was for the purpose of personal enrichment and quality of life.

A nation of people who can effectively work their corporate jobs but believe everything the TV tells them will create a fascist dictatorship. In the USA it will probably be a "soft tyranny" of the "we know what's best for you, or else" type, not the "strong man with an iron fist" dictatorships we've seen in the past.

Well, there is a market in the U.S.A. for importing people with a better education for the "we know what's best for you, or else" deal. In the 70s, one imported politicians like Kissinger. These times, one imports politicians like Schwarzenegger. In 50 years, the leading political parties will probably be constituted of squirrels and opossums, and the average American nut case will tremble in fear.

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077989)

What do you mean probaby? It already is. Just look at the fat slovenly masses shambling around in a SSRI-induced coma. Look at the past 30 years of "leadership" and the corruption, outright lying and blathering idiots peddling "news."

America died a long time ago, this is the necrosis setting in before the corpse dissolves into blobs of goo (blobs that il resemble the urrent lard assed population of morons that make up the vast majority of the nation. Once you have lived somewhere with clean public transportation that runs on time and social institutions that aren't staffed by obese mouth breathers with a room temperature IQ going to America is like visiting a zoo. You will stare in amazement at all the monkeys diddling themselves and playing in their own feces, all the while thankful you're only there on business. And don't even get me started on parts of Europe, holy mother of god the caliphate will be running that place in 10 years.

The West is lost. YOU ARE ALL DOOMED! DOOMED I SAY!

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 10 months ago | (#45077653)

Perhaps society only needs a few people per hundred that are great at math?

In fact, the richest and most powerful Americans would probably like there to be not so many people who understand math: Those who understand math can understand how badly they're being screwed by the richest and most powerful Americans!

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (2, Insightful)

KalvinB (205500) | about 10 months ago | (#45077767)

The rich didn't vote for ObamaCare to take money out of the pockets of poor people to put in their own.

The foolish voted for ObamaCare thinking the Government should rob Peter to pay for Paul's medical care. They didn't realize they were Peter.

When the rich get to keep their money, so does everyone else. When the rich have to take more money out of their pocket so does everyone else. The difference is that the rich won't miss the money but the poor will. That's why the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer.

Raising property taxes to pay for failing education system because you're a renter just makes it harder for you to move up to being a home owner. Meanwhile, the rich can afford the hike and will happily rent the home to you and raise the price to account for the rise in taxes.

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45077943)

When the rich get to keep their money, so does everyone else.

Do you think it's poor math skills that cause Americans to be so easily hoodwinked about economics?

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077961)

The rich didn't vote for ObamaCare to take money out of the pockets of poor people to put in their own.

The foolish voted for ObamaCare thinking the Government should rob Peter to pay for Paul's medical care. They didn't realize they were Peter.

When the rich get to keep their money, so does everyone else. When the rich have to take more money out of their pocket so does everyone else. The difference is that the rich won't miss the money but the poor will. That's why the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer.

Raising property taxes to pay for failing education system because you're a renter just makes it harder for you to move up to being a home owner. Meanwhile, the rich can afford the hike and will happily rent the home to you and raise the price to account for the rise in taxes.

"Blah, blah, blah, Taxation is theft. Helping people is hurting them. Trickle down, bigger pie . . blah, blah, blah . . . "

Why are you still here? Go Galt already and deprive us of your brilliance. That'll teach us a lesson! We're too stupid to understand your intellect, anyway. Your private island is calling you. You've got one, right? Go, while you've still got a chance!

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077995)

The rich didn't vote for ObamaCare to take money out of the pockets of poor people to put in their own.

By definition, a poor person's pockets are empty. And poor people don't magically have no health problems. They should just die, right?

The foolish voted for ObamaCare thinking the Government should rob Peter to pay for Paul's medical care. They didn't realize they were Peter.

Reality check: some Peters actually prefer if their offspring is not killed by Paul's offspring in a holdup since someone has to pay for Paul's medical bills. That's an important part of quality of life. In a reasonably working society with reasonable social security, you can take a walk in the park and all quarters of a city whenever you like. Yes, there is a price tag for that. Solidarity of those who are better off.

When the rich get to keep their money, so does everyone else.

Money that is kept is not helping anybody do anything.

When the rich have to take more money out of their pocket so does everyone else. The difference is that the rich won't miss the money but the poor will.

Whereas a poor person won't need to see a doctor for things like a broken leg. Apes survive, and so will Americans. At least guns are easy to come by, so the redistribution of money to the needy is easily accomplished at a moderate cost in fatalities.

That's why the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer.

Good thing that America so far has had so little of a class gap that is now going to widen because of everybody having healthcare.

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#45077791)

Those who understand math can understand how badly they're being screwed

I'll let Carlin get this one:

They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin' years ago. They don't want that. You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And now they're coming for your Social Security money. They want your fuckin' retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later 'cause they own this fuckin' place. It's a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club. ...The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. ...And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That's what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that's being jammed up their assholes every day, because the owners of this country know the truth. It's called the American Dream, 'cause you have to be asleep to believe it.

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077655)

It would have helped if many of those people whose homes were foreclosed during the housing crisis had basic math skills. . .

More importantly, math is an exercise in logic. A population filled with people who can't effectively utilize logic can turn pretty ugly when the government is representative/democratic. Just because Joe the Plumber has the skills necessary to be a plumber doesn't mean that his inability to construct a logical argument won't be detrimental to society. A person is more than their job and their value to society ought to be measured by something greater.

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (2, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45077753)

It would have helped if many of those people whose homes were foreclosed during the housing crisis had basic math skills. . .

Does the same apply to people who were paid millions to play with CDO's, CDS's, and all those other wonderful financial instruments that were part of the housing bubble? Or do you not need math skills if you know that you're going to be bailed out no matter how badly you screwed up?

math is an exercise in logic. A population filled with people who can't effectively utilize logic

Speaking of logic, it doesn't follow that people who are bad at the logic used in math, are necessarily bad at other types of logic. Such assumptions can lead to a false sense of superiority though.

Re:Computer literacy + social skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077869)

The housing bubble was purposefully bailed out multiple times to delay dissent so that an indentured middle class would be less likely to resist control in the form of NSA and other government propaganda and school born brainwashing.

In the end. The goal is to deflect attention away from the power elite inwards to the slightly wealthy vs the ignorant and poor and disenfranchised. Because the revolution won't start at the bottom. Goerge Washington was not extremely wealthy. It will start somewhere below the top. From people who know what they are intending to do with some measure of certainty.

We have successfully fucked ourselves out of a successful liberation from our oppressors by playing into the bullshit in the form of these loans and banks.

Color me shocked! (5, Insightful)

Zynder (2773551) | about 10 months ago | (#45077601)

Ha! You mean to tell me that all those kids who 10-20 years ago were getting a shit education grew up to be adults that don't know shit? Say it isn't so! Next thing you'll tell me is that correlation isn't causation and there is some bigger root cause we just haven't figured out yet.

Re:Color me shocked! (4, Informative)

causality (777677) | about 10 months ago | (#45077649)

Ha! You mean to tell me that all those kids who 10-20 years ago were getting a shit education grew up to be adults that don't know shit? Say it isn't so! Next thing you'll tell me is that correlation isn't causation and there is some bigger root cause we just haven't figured out yet.

There's a cause alright, and it's quite deliberate [cantrip.org] .

The useless skills have atrophied (3, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | about 10 months ago | (#45077605)

In math, reading and problem-solving using technology [...]

And why would a common man need those skills in modern USA? Cash registers do all the math for a worker; there is nothing to read and no particular reason to bother, with TV in every room; and the only problem that needs to be solved is how to pay all the bills.

Those skills are indeed essential - but only if you are innovating, inventing, doing new stuff. However how many US workers can proudly say that they do such things? The US economy is known to be a "service economy" - and those jobs are static, frozen in time, requiring no R&D.

But if you work for a startup in a significant role, chances are good that you are smart and inventive. You may even read books now and then.

Re:The useless skills have atrophied (1)

Fned (43219) | about 10 months ago | (#45077667)

... the only problem that needs to be solved is how to pay all the bills.

I can't imagine how math and reading skills might help there.

Re:The useless skills have atrophied (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | about 10 months ago | (#45077789)

Yeah, Basic Math/Algebra I type math. You don't need Calc or Trig to balance your income vs. spending.

But it's sure as hell more fun! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077853)

If your spending isn't measured as a function of sine, you're doing something wrong.

Re:The useless skills have atrophied (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077703)

This is mostly because innovators are stifled in America. Therefore people quickly learn to just do their 9-5 work and pray that they don't lose their jobs etc.

It is a rare opportunity that McDonalds would allow someone to use their own minds to run a cash register. It will never happen. People will just let the machines do the work while they fulfill the need for a human face.

Soon, probably we'll start seeing machines innovating. They already do lead innovation to some degree in deeply computational fields. Where the people just have to understand what they are inputing. They don't have to be good at computing it.

Wow, Who'da thunk that? (4, Interesting)

BBF_BBF (812493) | about 10 months ago | (#45077607)

Hmm... kids in the school system are below par, so why would anybody think that adults educated in the same system would suddenly become geniuses?

Oh yeah, the Americans*, the same group that scored below average. ;-)

* Yeah, yeah, all you Central Americans, South Americans, Mexicans, Canadians, etc., etc. you know that I mean USAians when using the term "Americans".

Re:Wow, Who'da thunk that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077953)

* Yeah, yeah, all you Central Americans, South Americans, Mexicans, Canadians, etc., etc. you know that I mean USAians when using the term "Americans".

well no shit, they don't matter why would u be speaking of them?

Distribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077609)

Does anyone have histograms of the data? I'd like more than a simple mean. Seeing how its skewed, and how wide the distributions are the size of the tails would be very interesting. Is Japan on top because they have less people doing badly, or some people doing great? Things like that could be answered trivially with a set of histograms.

Re:Distribution (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45077763)

I'd love to see that too, but people with poor math skills don't understand histograms.

Re:Distribution (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | about 10 months ago | (#45077797)

Haven't' you taken a statistics class? You present the information in the way that supports your point. You don't give it in additional ways!

Anyone actually take this assessment?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077613)

I'd like to actually take the assessment. However, from the site, it appears that only interested parties, such as governments, need apply..

In 6 months we'll find out ... (0)

stevez67 (2374822) | about 10 months ago | (#45077617)

... the research was flawed and the data either incomplete or the analysis skewed. One study does not measure much of anything except a snapshot of one instance in time on one test. But that's social pseudo-science for you.

This is NOT a worldwide test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077671)

It is a test of OECD countries, i.e. the richest 24 countries on the planet.

Does it matter? (4, Interesting)

BitterOak (537666) | about 10 months ago | (#45077673)

Oddly enough, success in today's economy (or any other day's for that matter) doesn't depend very strongly on how well you perform on a multiple choice test. The U.S. has been scoring poorly relative to other countries for decades now, and continues to be the world leader in innovation and productivity. It is no coincidence that Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, etc., etc. are all American companies, or that the Internet was created in America, not to mention the personal computer, integrated circuits and transistors. Or GPS, or air travel, or (going back a bit) the light bulb and audio recording. Most of the things that make the world the way it is today come from America. And yet we keep scoring worse than the Finns on multiple choice international math tests. I don't think I'll lose any sleep over it.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077713)

I think that's only true because there's so much "entrepreneurship worship" and executive/MBA cheerleading. If you just look cool and act like you know what you're talking about, people will call you a visionary leader and give you whatever your piddly little startup needs. Problem is that it's all hot air -- the people who actually do useful stuff never see the light of day.

All sizzle, no steak.

Re:Does it matter? (2)

quintus_horatius (1119995) | about 10 months ago | (#45077715)

The U.S. has been scoring poorly relative to other countries for decades now, and continues to be the world leader in innovation and productivity

Imagine what we, as a nation, could achieve if we were well educated.

Re:Does it matter? (4, Interesting)

BitterOak (537666) | about 10 months ago | (#45077799)

The U.S. has been scoring poorly relative to other countries for decades now, and continues to be the world leader in innovation and productivity

Imagine what we, as a nation, could achieve if we were well educated.

Probably about the same as other better educated countries. Americans are not genetically superior beings, nor is our country specially blessed by any deity. One of the reasons we don't score as well as some other countries is because we don't spend as much time in school. Very few other countries have two month summer vacations, for instance. And, at least for me, summer vacation was the time I was most creative and had the most active imagination. I believe those qualities are essential for innovation. (Remember, Thomas Edison had only three weeks of formal schooling.) Chinese students, on the other hand, spend almost every waking moment in school or doing school work. And although they score very well on international tests, employers frequently complain they don't think outside the box, or innovate as well as their American counterparts.

Re:Does it matter? (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 10 months ago | (#45077833)

The US' average education has been going downhill steadily in the last two decades or so. Post-high-school education is becoming damn near unaffordable to all but the wealthy, and even basic "participate in the world" type skills are getting worse.

Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, etc., etc. are all American companies

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had upper-class parents. Zuckerberg was able to afford going to Harvard, Brin was born in Russia and Page was the son to a famous computer scientist. All you're showing right now is that the upper echelons of American society are going to be fine, and 1st generation immigrants are doing well too.

the Internet was created in America, not to mention the personal computer, integrated circuits and transistors. Or GPS, or air travel, or (going back a bit) the light bulb and audio recording.

All of which happened at least 40 years ago.

Most of the things that make the world the way it is today come from America.

Not really. Most of what makes the world what it is today came from somewhere else. Paper, rockets, computing and sewers came from somewhere else. We've had a brief supremacy spell after WW2 until about the early nineties. After that, it's been steadily downhill. We're still ahead of everyone else, but this is exactly like a racer thinking he's going to win a race after losing a wheel: he might still be ahead now, but that's not going to last very long.

And I see this type of short-sighted - actually, less than short-sighted; it is nothing but a snapshot analysis - far too often from Americans. Gloating that their GDP is still tops, that their per capita income is still tops, that they still dominate certain industries... without realizing that the gap is shrinking fast, and that the fundamentals are all wrong.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077977)

the Internet was created in America, not to mention the personal computer, integrated circuits and transistors. Or GPS, or air travel, or (going back a bit) the light bulb and audio recording.

All of which happened at least 40 years ago.

Most of the things that make the world the way it is today come from America.

Not really. Most of what makes the world what it is today came from somewhere else. Paper, rockets, computing and sewers came from somewhere else.

Were you one of the people that scored badly on the test? Because you just shrugged off four decades as being too old to be relevant, then proceeded to provide examples that are over four hundred decades old as being relevant to the counter position.

How is this "a new twist"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077677)

Can someone explain to me how having a shit education system pouring out youngsters that are about as sharp as a bowling ball wouldn't result in said youngsters turning out to be moronic adults?

Americans (2)

elloz (3382559) | about 10 months ago | (#45077683)

Most Americans still believe that foreigners perpetrated 9/11, that the 2000 election wasn't rigged before the Supreme Court decided it, and that a lone gunman killed Kennedy. The mindset is basic capitalistic utopian anti-intellectualism. Most everybody wants to get rich QUICK and flash the bling around. (In suburbia the "bling" takes the form of a big SUV and a big house.) Americans obsess over fantasy football and Black Friday and who the latest hot pórn starlet is but they don't realize that a revolution is happening in America -- in which globalist hijackers have taken over the government and plan to fly it into the ground.

Re:Americans (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077787)

Foreigners did perpetrate 9/11, the 2000 election was a terrible fucking mess and there remains questions to be answered about actions in Florida but it was hardly rigged, and a lone gunman DID kill Kennedy. What's your view on the moon landing?

That said, I'll agree with the characterization of the basic mindset as capitalistic utopian anti-intellectualism [provided by Jesus]. I'd disagree with a SUV being "bling" in suburbia. Like minivans [which I tend to prefer], they're damn useful when you have little ones, a bunch of other shit and grocery stores that aren't a couple blocks down but instead are several miles away with no public transportation.

Perhaps I live a sheltered life, despite the great many cultures and people I mix with on a daily basis, but I've never heard any discussion of the latest hot porn starlet. Who is she?

I do share your concern about globalists trying to hurt America; the "race to the bottom" in wages and lack of benefits to compete with the third world for example. As if the third world didn't exist for the entire history of the United States and it's somehow "new" that we have to compete. I don't buy the usual refrain that "it's a smaller world now", fuck that.

As for what Americans obsess about, a great many more worry about keeping their job, maintaining their health insurance, keeping a roof over their heads and the future of their child(ren) like whether they will be able to go to college than worry about fantasy football or care about Black Friday. What's your experience here?

Re:Americans (1)

elloz (3382559) | about 10 months ago | (#45077909)

You're a perfect example of what's wrong with America. You apparently don't seek out contrary views, do you accept the popular myths as facts, even when they are logically inconsistent and proven false.

Re:Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077957)

What's your view on the moon landing?

That's no moon.

Adults? (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 10 months ago | (#45077701)

Where did they find adults in modern day America? Ooops got to run before someone cuts me off in the line at Walmart....

Interesting... (3, Funny)

sidevans (66118) | about 10 months ago | (#45077723)

(Through the eyes of your average American)
America - Totally Normal, just slightly lacking on education...
Japan - Weird People, Known for Sushi, Nuclear incidents and Cosplay girls
Finland - Freaks, Known for Insane Death Metal Bands and Rally drivers
Canada - Canadians, Known for not being America
Netherlands - Druggies, Known for being full of pot smokers
Australia - Weird People, Known for all being criminals and bush rangers
Sweden - More Weird People, Known for tall blonde women, word's ending in "ooorgan" and "ski", and families who shower together
Norway - Must be Weird, Known for very little... I think it snows there
Flanders-Belgium - Freaks, make chocolate and not get fat
Czech Republic - Fucking Freaks, Known for street porn and getting mugged when travelling
Slovak Republic - Nutters, just look at Slovakia on a map, it's worse than cz..
Korea - Freaks, Known for having a north and south, wait Korea? do they have electricity there yet?

BTW, I am from Australia - clearly, the more crazy and fucked up your nation is, the smarter it's population is.

Re:Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077927)

More like this:

(Through the eyes of your average American)
America - Totally Normal
Japan - Anime. Ninendo
Finland - ?
Canada - Canadians, Known for not being America
Netherlands - ?
Australia - Upside down
Sweden - ?
Norway - ?
Flanders-Belgium - ?
Czech Republic - ?
Slovak Republic - Aren't they terrorists?
Korea - Next place to nuke

so what's the solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077743)

Personally I think the US government will use this as an excuse to increase the size of government and centralization to manage everything. But ironically, those in the higher ranks of government appear to be the least intelligent ones around as they and they alone are responsible for our enormous debt.

Lots of factors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077759)

Possible reasons:
- Dumb kids turn into dumb adults.
- The educational experience is so different between areas of the country that it's possible to be reasonably smart and held back by a crappy school experience.
- Other countries have a much greater emphasis on education than we do. "Tiger parents" are the norm in China/India.
- Too many distrations applies for both children and adults. I'm sure the percentage of people under 35 able to sit and read an entire novel is much lower with Facebook and other time sinks (like Slashdot :-) ) available.
- Education still relies on stuffing facts into people's heads. This is actually done in Asian cultures too, but somehow they come out better than we do.

I read a separate article on this earlier in the day, and haven't had a chance to do the follow up reading yet, but one thing I wonder is where they get their test subjects from. DO they just pull some yokel off the unemployment line and say, "Here, take this test." ?

That said, there is a surprising lack of reasoning ability in many adults. Even "IT Professionals" I work with have barely any clue how to methodically troubleshoot systems and figure out what went wrong sometimes.

An immediate solution (1)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about 10 months ago | (#45077777)

Here's an immediate way to improve the math, reading, and problem-solving skills of the average adult in America: more H-1B visas!

Re:An immediate solution (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45077907)

Short term yes, long term no. Americans will realize that doing well academically is a waste of time, since TPTB will just bring in more cheap labor. Americans may not score the highest on these tests, but they're bright enough to figure that out.

Maybe that should be another test category: you know you're getting screwed when ...
Definitely a practical skill.

Ralph Wiggum (2)

fox171171 (1425329) | about 10 months ago | (#45077785)

Me fail English? That's unpossible. - Ralph Wiggum

Re:Ralph Wiggum (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45077883)

It doesn't matter if you're taking the test in Japan.

US ~= Rest of world (0)

gwstuff (2067112) | about 10 months ago | (#45077795)

As expected, the US average is close to the average for the rest of the world. It's because American society has representation from all around the world, unlike Finland or Sweden which have a very narrow spectrum of ethnic histories.

Before you interpret that statement as (perversely) trying to correlate basic aptitude with ancestry... read on...

I wish people would stop evaluating each other as if they were commodities on a 'human stock exchange.' Taking tests should be a guideline for matching people to problems and to jobs, not to quantify their worth. There exists a test for every person out there that that person would excel at and be better off than everybody else. There are people who are conditioned to be deeply analytical, and those who are conditioned to passionately address audiences and captivate them. Just because you are in one group and lack in skills that characterize people in another does not mean you are worth less - as these tests try to portray.

Because America is an amalgam of societies from around the world, we have the benefit of a large and diverse set of these groups - the Nobel-winning physicists, the carefree musicians, the shrewd small business owners, you name it... It is *very* hard to construct a test that an average sample of Americans would ace - because of the certainty of finding people who suck at the test in that sample. But on the flip side - it is also very hard to construct a test that such a sample would faire miserably at - because of the certainty of finding a handful of people who are among the best in the world.

Re:US ~= Rest of world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077901)

It is *very* hard to construct a test that an average sample of Americans would ace - because of the certainty of finding people who suck at the test in that sample.

I don't know how you do tests in America, but here the idea of most tests is that the majority of the test-takers (even Americans) won't ace it. If everyone aces the test, that means it wasn't planned well enough (as it usually means you gained much less useful data than you could've). Ideally, the test results should fit in a normal curve (that is, very few people score terribly badly, very few incredibly well, relative to their peers).
But yeah, it was quite insensitive of the researchers to publish the results, they should've told everyone that they aced the test and are a genius in everything.

States not countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077811)

I bet many US adults could tell you a lot about 50 states though instead of 50 countries.

that's only part of the economy... (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 10 months ago | (#45077815)

a good supply of media-addled, uncritical, disposable human garbage is also economically beneficial.

Reading, math and problem solving... US Style (0)

istartedi (132515) | about 10 months ago | (#45077817)

Read my lips. There are 30 rounds in this magazine. Problem solved.

Re:Reading, math and problem solving... US Style (2)

mjwx (966435) | about 10 months ago | (#45077919)

Read my lips. There are 30 rounds in this magazine. Problem solved.

You must be American, there are 29 rounds in the magazine, 1 in the chamber.

Odd for the country of Intel, Apple and Google (2)

sien (35268) | about 10 months ago | (#45077827)

The curious thing about this is that the US leads the world in high technology companies in many areas.

Perhaps average adult scores don't matter that much. The distributions might be more important. Perhaps in the US there are enough really smart people to create Unix, C, SQL and many other things.

Also, for the record, I'm a non-American who has lived in the US and Europe. It's fascinating that to an outsider the US doesn't appear to have a surplus of intelligence and yet dominates in IT and many other scientific fields.

Does this study control for blacks and Hispanics? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077829)

Those two groups are almost guaranteed to drag down any American statistic.

How about that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077857)

It's long been known that America's school kids haven't measured well compared with international peers. Now, there's a new twist: Adults don't either.

So it's proven then. Kids WILL eventually grow up to be adults.

Funny thing about that is . . . (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 10 months ago | (#45077867)

Americans have way more than their share of academic achievements, inventions, business creations, and so on.

We would not even be discussing this on slashdot, if it were not for several US inventions.

And what wasn't done by an American, was probably done by some other westerner.

The rest of the world can get all snotty about irrelevant standardized tests, or whatever. But when it comes right down to it, Americans more than hold their own, against any other group.

USA is only about 5% of the world's population. But when it comes to the really big inventions, I don't think the rest of the world even comes close.

Ordinal vs. Cardinal (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45077873)

The headlines for these tests are always expressed in ordinal instead of cardinal terms. !st, 2nd 3rd, etc., as though it was a horse race. But what do the actual scores mean? The US is 8%, 12% and 6% below Japan in reading, math and problem solving skills. But what do the numbers mean? How do they translate into practical skills. What can a mean Japanese do mathematically that a mean American can't?

Bottom Line MBA thinking (5, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 10 months ago | (#45077887)

I see this as one of the many negative emergent properties of MBA bottom line thinking. You get thinking that thinks that if you keep training an employee in general ways you will end up with your employee leaving and all your training then was to the benefit of another company. Whereas if your employees are under-qualified they will be terrorized into working as hard as they can every day for slave wages.

Another effect of this short term thinking can be seen in most universities. If you invest in a top notch football coach and lavish training and whatnot on the team then you will have near instant wins that you can take to the board of directors. But if you invest in STEM and buy the physics department a pile of cool stuff then maybe, just maybe you will have one of your people win a Nobel prize 30 years from now. Some universities have realized that having really smart students and encouraging them to do cool things can result in near instant wins (Stanford, MIT) but few universities are willing to play the long game (Harvard and Yale seem to be which is funny as they churn out the short term mentality MBAs).

So if you go to a university and want to cure cancer you might have an intellectually interesting time but I am willing to bet that the waterboy for the football team is having more fun. Then on top of that you have the post school job market situation. Again the waterboy will have better job prospects in sales with his BA in sociology than a PhD in Physics ever will. But the MBA or even BA in Business will blow everyone out of the water. Even the PhD who wants the bucks is well advised to jump into something like HFT.

In the past we used terms like rocket scientist and had idols like Einstein and Feynman. But now the best we can do are a few pop culture TV scientists. There is no moon program, there is no nuclear program, there are no blackbird cool skunkworks capturing the public imagination. But there are sports stars, there are hedge-funds, and their are actors and that is about it.

Being a nerd has never been the coolest thing in the world but right now it might be at its lowest ebb.

But back to bashing MBAs. I have been to many companies when I was doing consulting. Fewer and fewer companies are allowing their employees much room for original thought. I have met truck drivers who weren't allowed to change a brake light. I have met IT people who ran a local office yet weren't allowed to deal with the tsunami of malware infecting all the machines because that was not their job. These are systems that were rigidly designed in some central office for maximum "efficiency" that are obviously total BS. You won't get a job in that central office by being an awesome IT person; but if you get an EMBA then you are suddenly VP material.

If you watch the show Undercover Boss the theme is almost always the same. The top boss is surrounded by MBAs who have completely insulated him from the rest of the company. So by going out into the trenches he discovers that the primary effect of the Managerial Accounting that is thrown at him is that the halfwits at the very bottom of the company know that it is being badly run. Yet the reports he gets indicate that things are running at nearly 100% efficiency.

So in this culture of only thinking about next weeks metrics how could someone ever think that embarking on a life long learning endevour would result in progress. Instead a culture of us vs them is created resulting in people reveling in their non-sophistication. If anything self-betterment would be a betrayal of your tribe.

Why couldn't we ... (2)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#45077905)

... have the NSA get hold of the test answers for us in advance?

Confirming What We All Already Knew (1)

SerenelyHotPest (2970223) | about 10 months ago | (#45077913)

I am going to generalize, so please forgive the level of detail I am muting to make my points.

As much as Americans hold school/academic achievement itself in disdain (for what are often good reasons but increasingly have to do with the mindsets of parents and kids as opposed to legitimate problems), I think that pales in comparison to the depth of animus Americans hold towards math. Kids have always hated literature and biology, but the contempt piled upon math in the US extends across generational or class barriers. Those who don't hate math but aren't working with it on a daily basis certainly can't do it. If you don't believe me, compare the effect of quoting Milton against that of making calculus jokes at a party of non-STEM Americans. I don't just mean math at the college level, however: I have regular encounters with people who cannot do arithmetic they ostensibly learned in elementary school. As bad as I feel for them individually, I'm more frightened by the prospect of what they'd do if a massive economic boom in some new domain demanded Americans acquire technical skills. My guess is if that happened tomorrow, most of those jobs would have to be filled by foreigners.

This report--especially where the attainment of adults is concerned--is a good opportunity for the American populace to humble itself, but I count that unlikely to happen; one of the overarching social problems in America seems to be a disproportionate number of people incapable of recognizing the extent to which they contribute to problems that seriously hamper them or their progeny. I can find egotists anywhere in the world, but the American brand of egotism has some exceptional--and, in cases like this, dangerous--traits. For my own part, I don't know what to do about education, but an end to the educational apathy seems like a place to start. Eventually, the centers of power in this country may come to recognize that the American educational problem will eventually destroy their own power, but it would probably be better if the conversation began before that point--it remains to be seen what could be done by then and if the powerful want to produce adept citizens and innovators as opposed to effective workers.

The kids grew up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077941)

This is not the first time American scored below average. If one go back long enough, those kids that scored low are turning / turned into adults about now. What's worse, America does not seem to be running out of supplies on the dumb front! And with dumb only comes dumber.

Look at all the places that imported / are actively importing the North American life style -- which is roughly all the world -- they are all going the same direction, down. If the score comparison is getting better, it does not mean that American got better, it's simply a reflection of the trend to the bottom. When things go up, "sky is the limit", but when things go down, they hit the floor.

Now for the fun part. (1)

hey! (33014) | about 10 months ago | (#45077947)

Let's disaggregate the data by US State, so we can find out which of them are dragging us down. Any wagers?

Re: Now for the fun part. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45077975)

The ones with the highest percentages of blacks and hispanics.

Success! Greenspan's "privileged elite" supressed (1)

darthlurker (663459) | about 10 months ago | (#45077985)

What do you expect would happen when you move to lower STEM wages.

Invisible hand my ass [computerworld.com] .

US not good at education? (1)

The_Star_Child (2660919) | about 10 months ago | (#45077999)

Unpossible!
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