Friday, February 19, 2010

Soundpolitic Is Smarter than 98% of You!

As I opened my GMail for the third time today, I was hoping I'd find at least one opportunity out of the two-dozen job applications I made in the past 24 hours.  But then, it's always nice to get a little e-mail from Mom.

A little backstory:  I'm pretty terrible to my mother when it comes to my opinions.  Pretty much the converstaions always boil down to me saying "I'm right.  Here's why.  You're wrong.  Here's why.  I'm smart 'cuz I get it.  Your stupid, 'cuz you don't.  People like me solve problems.  People like you are the problem.  Next point..."

These always make me feel really, really good about myself.  Which is a very, very bad thing, by the way.  Usually, I'll feel sorry about it afterward.  But then, I do strongly believe that conservative voters like her are to blame for a lot of this nation's problems.  After all, you can't get conservative politicians into office without conservative votes.

As I always say:  We, the People = You, the Person

Anyway, taking a break from blogging about State Park Closures (see previous two posts) and looking for work, I got an e-mail from Mother Dearest pointing me to a Pew Research Center Quiz administering a test of my "news IQ."  Basically, it checks to see how much we know about what's going on in our country.  The forwarded e-mail goes:
We have been warned: "The greatest threat to democracy is ignorance"...........Thomas Jefferson
Do you follow the news? Try answering these questions and see where you rank in the nation. Very interesting.

Test your knowledge with 12 questions, then be ready to shudder when you see how others did.
So I popped on over to test my knowledge on stuff like "Who's the Senate Majority Leader" and "How many chicks are on the Supreme Court" and "If a train leaves Denver at 4:30 AM travelling at 70 mph and another train makes up a dumb question about it..."

OK, so that last one wasn't on the quiz.  But here's my result:  I am smarter than 98% of my countrymen!

Actually, I'll admit that the first time I took the test, I was only smarter than 92% of you.  But I closed the window just before I decided I wanted the image.  So I went back and took the test again, making sure to answer every question the same way based on the notes I took, and voila!  I just got 4% smarter!

But this is only because I answered the question that asked "Which foreign country currently holds the most U.S. government debt?" with "China."  Both times. The other options were Japan, some other country that was obviously wrong ( 93% of people at best), and Canada.  But the quiz accepts either China or Japan as correct!  Here's why:
On Question 3 — "which foreign country holds the most U.S. government debt?" — both China and Japan are now accepted as correct answers on our interactive quiz. China had been the major holder of U.S. government securities for more than a year, and was the correct answer according to then-available Treasury data when the quiz was administered in a nationally represenative survey. But data released by the U.S. Treasury on Feb. 16, 2010 reveal that China sold a large block of its U.S. holdings in December so that Japan again became the top foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities.  (Emphasis added - SP)
The only reason I did so well is because I pay as close attention to the news as I can.  I try to watch the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams at 6:30, then switch to the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric at 7:00.  This is because we don't cable on my road in the boonies.  And with Mom trying to hold down a house of her own with an unemployed 26-year old living there, she can't really afford satellite.  So I spend as much time as I can at local libraries to check various sources (yes...I do visit Fox's website too; it's the only way I can say for certain that it's not really news, but fictionalized propaganda!) or I'm able to catch the Cable Chatter News here at my father's apartment in the suburbs. 

Anyway, none of the myriad outlets I checked in the past couple days mentioned anything about the Chinese sell-off.  And in hindsight, I rarely ever hear about Japan being the second (or first) largest holder of our debt.  And I fully expect about 98% of people in this country to continue to rail about how China holds, like, all of our debt, man, and if they ever sell a bunch of it off (which they did) then the dollar is just gonna tank (which it hasn't) and it's all that socialist presidents fault!

The reason 98% of you would do worse than me?

You're not paying attention!

The point is this:  I'm not smarter than you.  I'm no smarter than anybody else.  The difference is that I don't waste my smarts on completely inconsequential things like the American Idol or Entertainment Tonight.  That's my duty as a citizen in a democratic republic.  It's yours too.

But just look at the results above:  13% of people either couldn't get any of these questions right or got lucky with one of their guesses.  A full quarter of the test-takers answered than a quarter of the questions correctly.  One in five of those quizzed couldn't get even half the answers right.  Another 15% of people got less than 66% correct, which was a big fat "F" when I was in elementary and high school.

Do the math:  that's three out of four Americans flunking the test!

A couple hypothetical questions before I sign off:

1. Does this teacher still have tenure?
2. Where do you think the Tea Partiers fit into the results?
3. How many people started to take the test and then gave up?
4. Are these people registered to vote?
5. Why does somebody as "smart" of me still not have a job?
6. When am I going to stop asking such stupid questions!?

Unlike the quiz, there's really no right answer to any of the above.  Just like there's really no right answers in life...unless they're from Mom!

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