Friday, September 28, 2007

Take the test!
The other day I was reading one of my favorite Web sites,, and I came across a post about a short film at

A filmmaker in Austin, Texas, asked 36 people at random the following four questions:

• Who is the vice president of the United States?

• In what year did the 9/11 attacks occur?

• What is the First Amendment?

• Who is the Secretary of Defense?

Out of the 36 people asked, only four people got all four questions correct. That’s right, just four people.

Take a look at the film yourself. Log onto

Finding this video coincided with the release of a study by Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s National Civil Literacy Board. That group gave 14,000 college students at 50 colleges and universities a test of 60 questions concerning history and government.

According to the report, “The results were disappointing. The average senior score was a failing 53.2%; the average freshman score was 51.7%. After nearly four years of college, the gain in knowledge was trivial. Not one college could claim its seniors averaged even 70%.”

Harvard was the best with 69.56. UMass Amherst received a 46.66 grade. St. Thomas University won the lowest score with 32.5.

Here are several of the questions:
• Jamestown, Virginia, was first settled by Europeans during which period?
a) 1301–1400
b) 1401–1500
c) 1501–1600
d) 1601–1700
e) 1701–1800

•The Puritans:
a) opposed all wars on moral grounds.
b) stressed the sinfulness of all humanity.
c) believed in complete religious freedom.
d) colonized Utah under the leadership of Brigham Young.
e) were Catholic missionaries escaping religious persecution.

• The Constitution of the United States established what form of government?
a) Direct democracy
b) Populism
c) Indirect democracy
d) Oligarchy
e) Aristocracy

• Which battle brought the American Revolution to an end?
a) Saratoga
b) Gettysburg
c) The Alamo
d) Yorktown
e) New Orleans

• Which of the following are the unalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence?
a) Life, liberty, and property
b) Honor, liberty, and peace
c) Liberty, health, and community
d) Life, respect, and equal protection
e) Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

• Which of the following are in correct chronological order?
a) The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation
b) Fort Sumter, Gettysburg, Appomattox
c) Cuban Missile Crisis, Sputnik, Bay of Pigs
d) Mexican-American War, Louisiana Purchase, Spanish-American War
e) Prohibition, Boston Tea Party, Reconstruction

• In 1933 Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed a series of government programs that became known as:
a) The Great Society.
b) The Square Deal.
c) The New Deal.
d) The New Frontier.
e) supply-side economics.

•The end of legal racial segregation in United States schools was most directly the result of:
a) the Civil War.
b) the Declaration of Independence.
c) the affirmative action policies of the 1980s.
d) Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
e) Miranda v. the State of Arizona.

• The Manhattan Project developed:
a) urban enterprise zones.
b) equipment to decipher enemy codes.
c) fighter planes.
d) the Apollo lunar module.
e) the atomic bomb.

Is there any wonder why this country is in the shape it is in? Too many of us clearly don’t pay attention to what is going on now that actually affects our lives. And there is also a chunk of our population who is clearly ignorant of our nation’s history.

You can’t understand why we live the way we live unless you know how we got there. That’s the value of history.
Perhaps people would score better with the following questions:

• Who is not a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars?”
a) Marie Osmond
b) Dan Buendo
c) Wayne Newton

• What is the name of Britney Spears’ former bodyguard who is testifying against her?
a) Joey Bagodonuts
b) Biggie X
c) Tony Barretto

• Lindsey Lohan has been in rehab how many times?
a) Once
b) Twice
c) More times than there are grains of sand on Cape Cod

• Bonus question: The name of my dog (mentioned frequently in this column) is:
a) George
b) Spike
c) Lucky the Wonder Bichon

Hey, I love pop culture, but with a presidential election coming up, a continuing war, global warming, a failing dollar, and more jobs shipped overseas, don’t you think people should spend some time paying attention to real issues? Just a little, please?

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

1 comment:

Mark Martin said...

Yes REAL issues, as seen on what REALLY happened dot com! No more bleating, people!