Thursday, August 23, 2007

Unfair Attacks about Dumb Americans

Americans Ignorant and Illiterate

That's the headline for this piece published at something called Quoting another study (more on that later), the author notes
Global political knowledge was miniscule, with just three percent of women
and 14 percent of men saying they are extremely knowledgeable on world politics.

There is a huge difference between what people really know and what they say they know. To be fair, people tend to overestimate their public affairs knowledge, so you might be inclined to buy into the idea that most Americans are morons when it comes to world affairs. I'm not buying it. Hell, I'm a PhDweeb, a news junkie, and I would not call myself "extremely knowledgeable" about world politics.

Later the short piece jumps to reading of books, which may or may not be associated with what you know about world affairs, politics, or anything else other than whether Snape was truly bad and whether Harry dies or not.

The original story comes from something called, essentially writing about a Harris Poll. Okay, now we're backtracking to the original source. More to the point, this is an interactive poll conducted online, not via the traditional random sample procedure. That doesn't mean it's crap, it just means you have to look at it a little more closely and make judgments based on methodology.

The reason for this lack of knowledge? Lack of interest. No surprise there. Indeed, I would be keenly worried about any person who is disinterested in a topic but considers themselves "extremely knowledgeable." That's one scary person.

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