Thursday, November 13, 2014

Americans Are Particularly Ignorant

Okay, so in trying to prep the soccer podcast, and with me not knowing how does audio, I've eventually determined that the simplest way for me to upload an audio file is to just host it here.

Apparently that isn't as simple as I thought it would be. There's no button for that up in the functions above the text box, and all the tutorials I've seen for how to put one on Blogger are at least a couple years old. And they may not be valid anymore, given that Blogger has altered its operation protocol since then and there are a lot of messages on the help forum asking why their previously-working audio files are no longer working. So it may in fact no longer be a service Blogger offers anymore, and I need to figure out what the hell to do about that.

So if anyone's reading this and knows what they're doing. I am such a weenie on this and this post title likely applies to me too. But, to business.

That having been said, one of the anguishes from the post-election analysis of the overall Republican gains- spurred by the lowest voter turnout since 1942, a pathetic 36.4% (compare to 61.6% that voted in 2008)- has been that the few people that did vote took a look at everything being put on various agendas, took the absolute most damaging stuff possible and said 'I want me some of that'. By choice. As a thing to actively sign up for. This would be done on the basis of not having any clue what is actually accurate about the country's affairs.

According to a survey by the British research form MORI conducted in August, that isn't exactly idle accusation. They polled 14 developed nations: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland, South Korea, Japan and Australia. They quizzed people from each of those nations about nine statistics as relevant to their country: the teenage pregnancy rate, the percentage of Muslims, the percentage of Christians, the percentage of their population made up of immigrants, the percentage that is age 65 or older, the voter turnout in the most recent general election, the unemployment rate, the life expectancy for a child born that year in their country, and the national murder rate. Questions to which the answer is not up for debate. There is a number, it is correct, and all the other numbers are not correct.

Pretty much everybody figured things were scarier- or 'scarier'- than they actually were. So, that's lesson #1. That established, the best thing you could say is that the United States did not do the worst. That is because they did the second-worst, behind Italy. Among other things- which you can see in the slideshow provided in the link above- Americans that were given the survey on average estimated the unemployment rate to be 32% (at the time, it was actually 6%). That was only the fourth-worst guess on that question. The Americans did do the worst in guessing the teenage pregnancy rate, figuring that 24% of teenagers give birth each year. (Correct answer: 3%.) The one place the US actually did particularly well was guessing the voter turnout in what at that point was the most recent election, 2012. We guessed 57% on average; it was 58% (58.2% specifically). But given that this was the second-lowest actual turnout of the group, that's cold comfort.

Which brings us to lesson #2: pay attention to what's actually going on or it is going to cost you dearly on Election Day.

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