Thursday, November 13, 2014

Skews of the World

Thanks to Jason Kottke at, I just heard about the Ipsos/Mori quiz, which asks you to choose from among three answers to a range of demographic-oriented questions about your country.

Take the quiz here, if you want to, before reading further.

People in all the countries are woefully under-informed, but the U.S. was second worst on the index of stupidity (after Italy, huh). Believe it or not, most of us gave these answers:

  • the teen birth rate is 8 times higher than it is (24 vs. 3 percent in reality... jeepers, how could anyone think a quarter of teenage girls have babies every year?)
  • the number of immigrants is 2.5 times higher than it is (32 vs. 13 percent)
  • the number of Muslims is 15 times higher than it is and the number of Christians is about 50 percent lower than it is (15 vs. 1 percent for Muslims, 56 vs. 78 percent for Christians... hence the "War on Christmas" and all the other perceived assaults on victimized Christianity)
  • the unemployment rate is more than 5 times higher than it is (32 vs. 6 percent)
  • and, finally, 70 percent of us think the murder rate is going up, even though it's been going down since 1992.
As Kottke put it, "Then again, what do Americans hear about constantly on the news? Unemployment, Muslims and immigration, murder, and teen pregnancy. It's little wonder the guesses on those are so high."

I would add one caveat about the incorrect unemployment guess: people may be thinking of friends who are underemployed, or who have dropped out of the workforce and are not counted in the official 6 percent number at all. When those are included, according to Forbes, the percentage is over 12 percent. And in some communities, say, I don't know... maybe among black men in some parts of the country... 32 percent isn't far off the actual unemployment rate.

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