Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thanks, Canada

Books, nay whole careers, are built around ranting about the idea that Americans are just plain dumb. For one example, there's Just How Stupid Are We? Not picking on this one, just a handy example.

Well, thank God for Canada.

Half of Canadians don't know how their prime minister is selected, only a quarter knew the Queen is their Head of State, and so on and so on. Read a version of the survey here, an online survey of 1,070 Canadians from Dec. 9 to Dec. 12. I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to feel better about the U.S., worse about Canada, or just glad this gives me something to blog about on a slow day.

I suspect this can be found across any number of western democracies, as people shift their attention from news to entertainment, as they skim headlines online rather than read stories in more depth from dead-tree print, as they catch a bit of cable news and call themselves informed, as schools leave No Child Left Untested and as a result spend more time on math (that's on the test) and not civics (which isn't).

Newspapers suffer, and political knowledge declines? Coincidence? Methinks not, but all we can do now is hope online can make up some kind of difference, because TV simply isn't up to the task.

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