My ranking on the Pew “News IQ” test.

I like to think of myself as fairly well-informed on current events, something my old high school history teacher Mr. Nuss would scoff at I’m sure, but I didn’t realize I was this well informed:

Click to embiggen!

According to the Pew “News IQ” Test I score in the 97 percentile along with approximately 3% of the public where as the national average is a pitiful 50%. The site lets you break things down further by gender, educational level, age group, question by question, and demographic by question. It frightens me to think that with just a year and a half of college under my belt I still scored better than people with a college degree (63%). There’s only 12 questions on the test and most of them were pretty softball questions. For that matter, the only reason I did as well as I did was because it was a multiple choice test. If you asked me outright who is chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board I’d probably stammer for a couple of moments while trying to recall his name, but when I see it amongst a list of other possibilities it makes picking it out easy as hell. Only 28% of people knew the correct answer to the question: Since the start of military action in Iraq, about how many U.S. military personnel have been killed? That’s something I’d have guessed everyone knew—they don’t—more people knew the answer to Which of the following recently declared its independence from Serbia (46%) which was the question I figured most folks would get wrong.

The thing is, I’m hardly a news junkie. I get most of mine from a little morning news before work, a little NPR while in the car, and just reading various blogs around the web. I don’t sit around with the TV tuned to CNN all day or with NPR on the radio at work. I have to take most of my news in small chunks so as not to get horribly depressed. Well, I do watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on a semi-regular basis (once or twice a week) as he makes it a bit more palatable by pointing out the absurdities, but otherwise I don’t generally tune in to news programs. This explains why I’m so often saying to people: How do you not know that? It’s all over the frickin’ news!

Found via ***Dave who apparently missed one question himself.

17 thoughts on “My ranking on the Pew “News IQ” test.

  1. 12* for 12.

    As a Canadian, who is not inundated with American news and politics on a daily bases, I’d have to say that it’s embarrassing Americans can only answer half of those correctly.

    If this test had included international current events (Canada’s recent Order of Canada brouhaha, Korea’s recent trucker’s strike and Dokdo fiasco, the bombings in Spain, etc.), I’m sure the score would be much lower.

    * I did have to look up the name of the current Chairman of the Federal Board. I knew that the previous Chairman had been Alan Greenspan, but I blanked on the current.

  2. Honestly, I got 6 of 12.  I missed the ones about: military personnel deaths, McCain represents Arizona, Senate Majority Leader, Dow Jones average, Democratic National Committee Chair and Serbia. 

    I could explain it away by saying I was close on a few (3000 instead of 4000 dead and 10000 instead of 12000 on the Dow) and I don’t tend to keep up with the news, except very small snippits of NPR occasionally, and of course SEB,  but in the end, I got them wrong and that is a bit sad.

    I honestly think people don’t keep up enough with national news now-a-days and plus simple things that may get reported daily get glossed over because we hear it on a daily basis (the stock market averages and at times the death toll in Iraq).  Not saying these aren’t important things, but I’m sure plenty of people hear it but don’t bother committing it to memory.

  3. Add another 12/12 to the list. I thought the saddest statistic to come from the whole thing was the fact that the Oprah question was the one which most people got right (84%).

    That’s just depressing.

  4. Truth be told I’m not sure any of those questions are of a huge importance to know. What I mean by that is that if you were to ask me to make a list of things I’d consider vital for the average American to know I can’t say that any of those questions would be on said list.

    That said I knew those answers off top of my head just from the little bit of news exposure I have. I’m shocked not because these questions are important things to know, but because so many people don’t know them just from living life day to day.

  5. I only got the number questions wrong…

    Picked 3,000 for Iraq instead of 4,000.

    And picked 10,000 for the DOW instead of 12,000.

    I should get partial credit for those because I was as close as you can get and still be wrong!

  6. Les, while I agree they are not ‘big issue’ questions, I would hope that the average would be more than 6 out of 12 for most US citizens.  These are every day things that I feel people should be vaguely aware of. 

    I got 7- but the the ones I got wrong were, US deaths, majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Dow Jones, Fed reserve and DNC.  How many Americans can name the leaders of the UK’s 3 main parties (my 12 yr old can, much to the delight of his teacher, lots of adults can’t)

    The depressing thing is ask which 3rd rate soap actor is shagging who, and every one knows.  Sadie once told me off when I asked why don’t we have some sort of comptency test for voting, but I’ve never received a satisfactory answer.

  7. Whoo hoo! 83rd Percentile (10/12)…That means I’m a B student! I got the Dow Jones one and the military deaths ones wrongs.

    As for things every American should know, how about basic geography, science, nutrition and math for a start?

    Maybe we should make up a basic knowledge test based on those subjects? Politics might not be a bad one to include too, but opinion tends to get muddied with fact in most people’s minds, so that and religion should probably be resevered for the advanced classes. Although, asking people what the basic tenets of their religion are might be kinda funny.

  8. Yup, I missed the one on Iraqi war deaths—I was still operating from 3000 vs 4000 (though the real answer is “far too many”).

  9. I got 11 out of 12 which makes me above average.  That is great because I am average in some things such as male endowment but less than average in areas of much greater importance than news knowledge which includes American income and most likely life span due to bad lifestyle choices.  wink

  10. 9 for 12 – buggered the Dow Jones (10 instead of 12), the current Fed Chair, and the deaths in Iraq (thought it was higher).

    What I find scary is how many people in the 18-29 bracket are doing really poorly.

  11. I got them all right also.  It’s depressing to know that of the people that took the test (not half the US population!) only about half got them all right.  What’s even more depressing is that the people who took the test are probably a self-selected group who care about the answers.

    How about the people out there who don’t participate in life?  I suspect that the actual percentage of ignorant people is much higher!

    I sent the test to Mr Science Goddess—lets’s see how he does!


  12. Surely that would be Mr Science God.

    Science Goddess is married to Charles Darwin? Oh wait, maybe I mean Albert Einstein? Stephen Hawking? Richard Dawkins (oh wait, he’s the Atheist Pope, I get them confused sometimes). OK, I AM confused now.

  13. Hey, if Emma née Wedgewood can be Mrs. Charles Darwin, then surely there can also be a Mr. Science Goddess, nee?

  14. Mr Science Goddess also got them all right, so I guess we’re even. I didn’t change my name when I got married, which annoyed him.  I told him I didn’t want to be addressed as “Mr Him”, which, of course, he didn’t understand.  But it really pisses him if he’s called “Mr Science Goddess”.  Point made.


  15. I didn’t change my name when I got married, either.  Matter of fact, we didn’t ever get married.  Our kids have their mom’s last name, which was the law in Austria at the time.  But they have my last name as their middle name, which was only allowed because Wallace happens to be a surname as well as a family name.  Oh the silliness of law, custom, and human frailty!

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