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How dumb are Americans, exactly? New Newsweek measures

A new study shows that nearly 30% of Americans don't know who the Vice-President is. What else don't we know, and why don't we know it?<br />

Newsmongering Brit Tina Brown has just barely gotten her clutches on American institution Newsweek, and already she's taken to insulting the natives.


Brown's reborn newsweekly has given the U.S. citizenship test to 1,000 Americans, and the results are either hilarious or depressing, depending on your opinion of the average American citizen.


The highlights have been much-reported:


»29% of us don't know who the Vice President is!


»44% don't know what the Bill of Rights is!


»73% don't know why we fought the Cold War! (OK, this one is slightly understandable? Speaking as someone born in 1987, the Cold War has always seemed sort of like a 'we did all that why?' sort of thing.)


But the real killer is this key graph:



But poll after poll shows that voters have no clue what the budget actually looks like. A 2010 World Public Opinion survey found that Americans want to tackle deficits by cutting foreign aid from what they believe is the current level (27 percent of the budget) to a more prudent 13 percent. The real number is under 1 percent. A Jan. 25 CNN poll, meanwhile, discovered that even though 71 percent of voters want smaller government, vast majorities oppose cuts to Medicare (81 percent), Social Security (78 percent), and Medicaid (70 percent). Instead, they prefer to slash waste—a category that, in their fantasy world, seems to include 50 percent of spending, according to a 2009 Gallup poll.



Luckily, studies have shown that Americans of disparate views fundamentally agree on policy decisions once they're confronted with actual facts. Good thing nobody in politics has a vested interest in exaggerating differences to prop up meaningless distractions!

 
 
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