Americans Ignorant and Illiterate
Americans don’t read books or know much about the world around them, if two new polls are to be believed.
Two-thirds of US adults admit to being in the dark about political issues outside the United States, and only a third are well-versed in US politics, the results of a poll published Tuesday showed.
Global political knowledge was miniscule, with just three percent of women and 14 percent of men saying they are extremely knowledgeable on world politics.
One reason for the knowledge gap is lack of interest, according to the poll. “Well over half (57 percent) say they do not like learning about political issues in other countries,” and 32 percent expressed a lack of interest for homespun politics, the Harris Poll group said.
Now, it would be more effective to ask people specific questions to measure their knowledge rather than relying on a self-assessment. Still, when people tell me they don’t know and they don’t care, I tend to take their word for it. Especially in light of this:
There it sits on your night stand, that book you’ve meant to read for who knows how long but haven’t yet cracked open. Tonight, as you feel its stare from beneath that teetering pile of magazines, know one thing — you are not alone.
One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.
The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn’t read any, the usual number read was seven.
Taken alone, I would just guess that people were reading things other than books owing to the short attention span created by the Internet and the instant-information age. Indeed, I read fewer books now than I did a decade ago, while reading much more content. But, judging by the other survey, they’re certainly not reading magazines, newspapers, or political blogs.