What Do You Know?

A friend sent me this link to a quiz developed by Pew research. Twelve questions, virtually all of which should be easily answered by anyone who regularly follows national news.

The results, which are pretty appalling, may give us a clue to the ascendance of Donald Trump, not to mention the pathetic state of American politics today. After all, if you have no context within which to judge whether candidates’ positions are reasonable, or based upon an understanding of the issues involved, your vote is likely to fall into that category titled “uninformed.”

Here is the invitation to take the quiz. I particularly agree with the last line:

This is a terrific test. And it shows results in a number of ways. It surely indicates that the majority of Americans don’t know what’s going on.

It’s astonishing that so many people got less than half right. The results say that 80% of the (voting) public doesn’t have a clue, and that’s pretty scary.

There are no tricks here — just a simple test to see if you are current on your information.
This is quite a good quiz and the results are somewhat shocking.

Test your knowledge with the challenge of 13 questions, then be ready to shudder when you see how others did:

If you get less than half correct, please cancel your voter registration.

My sense is that visitors to this blog are considerably more aware of what’s going on than the average American. Take the quiz and let me know if my intuition is correct.

54 thoughts on “What Do You Know?

  1. I only got one wrong! I couldn’t remember the number of the GOP in the senate. I should have gone with my first guess. Makes me feel better about my knowledge. happy weekend everyone.

  2. 12/12. Fascinating to see the breakout of results. So few people in any age group know the number of women on the Supreme Court!

  3. 11/12 – Missed #2 for Martin Luther King Jr.

    Took less than a minute to take this test.

  4. Thanks. I sent this to a friend who regularly consumes forwarded emails as well as some friends and family. Fortunately I can brag about my score, but it’s important that others see how well the general public does on this thing.

  5. Ok I admit I missed two. Number of GOP in Senate I knew they had majority in senate but guessed on the exact number. Also missed number of women on Supreme
    Court I should have slowed down and give it some more thought. My bad.

  6. 12/12, I heard a survey recently where a majority of people asked said Judge Judy was on the Supreme Court. Says it all doesn’t it….

  7. I got all but it certainly is appalling how many didn’t. Of real interest if it were possible would be historical trends. Is mass media keeping us less informed? Is this the source of the current threat to democracy?

    Also, this was a pretty simple test. What would a difficult one show? One where almost nobody would get a perfect score instead of 10% a perfect score?

    It’s discouraging that with the stakes so high here and now our response is so uninformed.

    Do we deserve democracy or do we need Big Brother to take care of us because we’re no longer able to care for ourselves due to our general preference towards ignorance?

    I keep hoping that we can rise to the occasion.

  8. “You answered 12 of 12 questions correctly.”
    I did OK Prof
    Thanks for the test
    Hope you are feeling better soon

  9. I missed the pipeline. But was wrongly marked on the senate….chose four, two was recorded. So I got one wrong.

  10. 11/12 I’m guessing that people who don’t take the quiz would score lower than people who take it.

  11. Oops; I missed three. Didn’t know where Pope Francis is from, proper breakdown of Senate majority and that health care coverage is required info to file taxes. Ignored all news regarding the Pope (I’m anti-Catholic) till he began moving into the 21st Century, plead ignorance to Senate majority issue. In my defense; I haven’t had to file taxes since 1994. Obviously I need to pay more attention to details. Interesting list of questions; not at all what I expected.

  12. I got the Senate breakdown wrong. My cold must have me feeling overly pessimistic. ;p

  13. I took the test which was interesting. Got a perfect score. If I read the results in the bar graph correctly, 50% of the people got 9 or more answers correct, which is about what I would expect. I would be interested in how this point in time compares with other points in time. When I was in high school, in North Dakota, (and had to walk through the snow to school uphill both ways) we were required to take a semester of civics and a semester of economics. That was not required when my children attended high school here in Minnesota, but I still remember things I learned in those classes and some of the spirited, but civil, discussions that were a part of the class.

    The invitation’s comment that if you can’t get half right is interesting, but then I remember the infamous literacy tests that were given to black people in the south before the 1964 voting rights bill was passed. I am afraid the nature of the beast is that qualifying voters is a dangerous thing to do.

  14. I was able to get all correct, but not surprised that the majority did so poorly. It confirmed what I have found in the real world. Sad.

  15. I was able to answer all correctly, but was not surprised that the majority did so poorly. It confirmed my experience in the “real” world. Even people I would expect to be up on things are often ignorant of the basics. Sad.

  16. I got them all right. I’m not bragging–I’m a retured news junkie. As a woman, I am disturbed at the demigraphic results showed women having a lower percentage than men in all categories. As a senior, I am disturbed that the 50+ group had a higher percentage than the 18-29 year-olds ion 8 of the 12 questions, and on those 4, the younger group did not out perform by much. Are younger people just not interested? Is it a result of our educational system?

  17. 12/12. Though I confess I was making a reasoned guess on the breakdown of the Senate membership because I was not sure about the GOP majority size.

  18. 12/12. Some of the questions didn’t require memorization, just good reasoning if you have basic background knowledge. Thanks for the link!

  19. Almost too easy from my point of view, but I’ve been a bit of a wonk for a long time. I agree with Jan about the women’s scores. That depresses me somewhat.

  20. I saw all the bragging about 12 out of 12 and I’ll be damm if I didn’t do the same thing. As an 86 year old man I wasn’t sure about the health insurance ? because I’m on that great Medicare Program and have not paid attention to the topic. Forgetting the quiz Sheila, how are you doing iRVIN

  21. 12 out of 12 – check out the bar graph at the end: 50th percentile is 8 correct, 90th percentile is 11 right. Half right (6 correct) would be 28th percentile, pretty lame.

    The highest % correct was MLK (95%), which is heartening, I guess. The lowest % correct, surprisingly, was the number of female justices (3) at about 30%, which is barely above random guessing!

  22. 12/12. Not particularly easy, but I’m thinking if you watched just 30 minutes of network evening news (and were attentive) over time you should be able to get most if not all correct.

  23. I answered all 12 correctly and didn’t find any of them particularly difficult, but confess to being a news junkie. I think it would have been interesting if at the end people were asked how they get their news: Fox, Other Cable, Network, Newspaper, Online.

  24. 11/12 but several of the questions are mere trivia and superficial. Sad trivia to get wrong but not indicative of a person’s “IQ” or voting knowledge.

    What is this squiggly line that is close to two others and whose exact location is irrelevant to any issues involved with it…

    How many seats are held by one corrupt party over the other corrupt party (both of which are really working towards the same endgame)… Like somehow knowing the exact numbers held by each is necessary to know they all need replacing.

    Or who the irrelevant woman in the middle of the test was (seriously, she is irrelevant in terms of political IQ).

    Or irrelevant political celebrity identification (yes, being able to pick them out of a line up is irrelevant compared to track record and stances).

    This test was almost all trivial things and didn’t ask about anything major or relevant to the upcoming election.

  25. I frankly think most of the questions are inconsequential when it comes to knowledge about our current political situation. Any of these could be easily looked up on the way to understand the concepts and dynamics of current day life in the U.S. That said, I find the results interesting.

  26. I find myself wondering what a more granular analysis would show, by income level, by race, by religious affiliation, by party affiliation, and amongst likely voters. That only 50% got 9 or more correct is disheartening.

  27. Irvin; thank you! I will stop being embarrassed about having the largest failure rate. I am old and I did have that head injury two years ago;-)

  28. Dunning Kruger would say that this explains the level of political polarity in the country today. The less that people know about any topic the more certain they become.

    If we all of a sudden found an educational miracle and cured the ignorance then we’d return to times where people could distinguish between fact and opinion.

  29. Thanks for the test, Sheila! I scored 12/12, but I watch news shows, read your blog, and read Vox.com as well.

    Hope you are feeling/doing better!

  30. 11/12 Missed the exact division in the Senate. I don’t concern myself with trivial details. The Republicans have a slight majority. (shrug)

    Kudos to Joanne for reporting her score. We all know that she is much more well informed than the test indicates.

  31. My % was 100. I am not bragging. The lack of civic knowledge, and the blatant lack of political intelligence in general of the America public are the reasons why we have, in addition to Mr. Trump, also Mrs. Clinton running for the presidency of our country. Mrs. Kennedy would, of course, not agree with the above, but she is more than capable of being wrong,

  32. KR, given the lies that the GOP has issued about Mrs Clinton for the last 30 years wouldn’t you have thought that they would have found a qualified opponent to run against her?

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