Do You Live in a Bubble?

PBS NewsHour quiz "Do You Live in a Bubble?"

My colleague Becky Johnson pointed me to this PBS NewsHour quiz  ”Do You Live in a Bubble?

It posted back in March 2012 but this is the first I’ve seen it, perhaps demonstrating that I either live in a bubble or that my bubble doesn’t include the NewsHour. Regardless, the premise is interesting:

White America is coming apart at the seams.

That’s the thesis Charles Murray, a libertarian political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, puts forth in his new book, “Coming Apart.” In a piece soon to appear on the NewsHour, Murray argues that the super wealthy, super educated and super snobby live in so-called super-ZIPs: cloistered together, with little to no exposure to American culture at large.

Those people, he says, live in a social and cultural bubble. And so he includes this 25-question quiz, covering beer to politics to Avon to “The Big Bang Theory,” to help readers determine how thick their own bubble may be.

Whatever one’s view of Murray’s scholarship, and mine is mixed, I found the quiz interesting and quite accurate. Here’s Murray’s breakdown:

The higher your score, the thinner your bubble. The lower, the more insulated you might be from mainstream American culture.

48-99: A lifelong resident of a working-class neighborhood with average television and movie going habits. Typical: 77.

42-100: A first-generation middle-class person with working-class parents and average television and movie going habits. Typical: 66.

11-80: A first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents. Typical: 33.

0-43: A second-generation (or more) upper-middle-class person who has made a point of getting out a lot. Typical: 9.

0-20: A second-generation (or more) upper-middle-class person with the television and movie going habits of the upper middle class. Typical: 2.

I scored a 67, which is typical of “A first-generation middle-class person with working-class parents and average television and movie going habits” but also overlaps with “A first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents.” I’m in fact a first-generation upper-middle-class person with working class parents who became middle class with somewhat elite television and movie going habits.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, Quick Takes
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    Murray may (or not for all I know) have been able to construct a quiz that can place you in a socio-economic niche. How that supports his bubble theory is less than obvious. His political motivations, on the other hand seem very obvious, “It’s not us FOX news conservatives in the bubble. It’s you limousine liberals who never eat at the Applebee’s salad bar. You’re out of touch with real Muricans.” Suspicion of Murray’s motives and methodology would seem to be confirmed both by his employment at AEI and his co-authorship of The Bell Curve.

  2. Scott says:

    I scored a 46. Realistically, if I hadn’t spent 20 years in the AF, I would have scored a lot lower. I’m a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) generation upper middle class.

    Not sure what this all shows though. It doesn’t test mobility (i.e relocating), urban vs rural, etc. Underlying assumption is that the bubble is upper class and that the predominant American Culture is white working class. I think there is just too much diversity (demographically and geographically) for that to be true.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    OK, as “A lifelong resident of a working-class neighborhood” I scored a 34. 5 things got me into a “thick bubble”.

    #1 I don’t hang out with evangelicals (I am surrounded by them, even like some of them, but I don’t hang out with them)

    #2 I don’t know any one who smokes any more.

    #3 I don’t watch TV (I do watch shows on DVD, but most of them (all?) I did not have in ’09-10)

    #4 I hate bad movies.

    #5: My parents were middle class. (taught me it is a great big wonderful world out there, go see it, live it.)

    Really, I have lived below the poverty level, lived in some of the worst “hoods” in St Louis, now live in the deep boonie woods. I don’t just hurt at the end of the day, I hurt at the beginning of the day. Whatever else I am, I am not a A first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents. Typical: 33.

    So I call, “Bullsh!t”. This test is what an upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents thinks measures the bubble.

  4. Rob in CT says:

    Everybody has *some* sort of bubble effect going on.

    For instance, if you’re affluent, there are pretty good odds that you’re pretty insulated from poverty (or even lower-middle-class concerns).

    I try to read outside my bubble. But in terms of my day-to-day life? Nearly 100% of the people I know and interact with have college degrees and are affluent, or at least solidly middle class.

    Part of the challenge is just knowing you’re in a bubble, and having a sense for what that might mean.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: one more thing I scored low on, of the restaurants he asks whether I eat at? I hate Denny’s, Applebees and Awful Waffle I eat at on a semi regular basis, and the rest? There isn’t one of them within a 60 mile radius of me. Why didn’t he add “the local diner” or “local BBQ”? Probably because he is unaware of the existence of such things.

  6. rodney dill says:

    I scored 58. Still not sure what to take away from that.

  7. Mikey says:

    @Scott:

    Underlying assumption is that the bubble is upper class and that the predominant American Culture is white working class.

    That’s pretty much his whole schtick. He might as well have called this quiz “How Much Confirmation Bias Can I Squeeze Into 25 Questions.”

    I mean, I’m familiar with both Branson, Missouri, and Richard Branson. Why can’t I choose both?

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Part of the challenge is just knowing you’re in a bubble, and having a sense for what that might mean.

    yep.

  9. Rob in CT says:

    While I think the quiz questions were absurd at times (the underlying assumptions were pretty clear!), I am not surprised at my score: 19.

    I’m the son of an upperclass Brit married to a working-class Italian American who made good. I’ve never wanted for anything, I’m fairly well-educated, I’m nerdy, I like good beer, I think the vast majority of mainstream entertainment is crap… yeah, yeah. Snobby liberal elitist, I know. So like I said, not surprised.

  10. Rob in CT says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The restaurant one was one of the more absurd questions. I laughed out loud. Applebees salad bar! Hah.

    You know how folks sometimes point out that some of the RW grifters are “a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like?”

    Well, parts of this quiz read to me like “an insulated person’s idea of what a True American From the Heartland looks like.”

    edit: hah, I see you beat me to it. I missed that last bit of your post:

    This test is what an upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents thinks measures the bubble.

    I really get the same vibe.

  11. Andy says:

    I did this a few months ago and believe I scored in the mid-upper 40’s. The questions I remember most are those where I could have answered either way – Jimmy Johnson and Branson are the two obvious ones. I think my score accurate reflects my background – I’m upper-middle class, parents were middle class, products of the depression era.

  12. Dave Schuler says:

    49

    I’m an upper middle income person from an upper middle income family (sixth generation or more American) who

    a) had a mother who spent her chldhood as a vaudeville performer (later a teacher) and a dad who was a lawyer
    b) spent his childhood in a working (or non-working) class neighborhood
    c) attended high school in a school that was very diverse from the standpoint of family income
    d) had an extremely varied work experience

    I don’t remember a question on that quiz about having a close friend of a different race. That may be their bubble.

  13. Scott says:

    @Mikey: Exactly. I’ve lived all over the world and have interacted with peoples and cultures of the most diverse kind. I also have been in some of the worst slums around. I’ve been out of a bubble for a long time.

  14. C. Clavin says:

    52
    I think my TV habits make my “bubble” thicker…at least according to this methodology.
    If it means I don’t have to watch American Idol or Judge Judy or Dancing with the stars…I’m OK with it.

    On the other hand…I’ll betchya I’m the only one on this website that has been to a KKK cross burning, and been in a packed auditorium in which I was the singular white person. Both in the same year.
    I don’t think Mr. Murray’s quiz is much use at ferreting out that sort of thing.

  15. Scott says:

    But let’s go with the basic premise. That Americans from different demographics don’t interact with each other. Isn’t this really a result of increasing income inequality? Isn’t it being exacerbated by the assault on the public school system where people are self segregating by income, religious, and racial grounds? Deliberate assault on the common infrastructure provided by community governments? Privitization? etc.

  16. Ben says:

    38. But does the fact that I like good beer and hate the Budweiser pisswasser really mean that I live in a bubble?

    I’ve been poor, lived in poor neighborhoods, lived in rich neighborhoods, lived in a small town, lived in a big city, had manual labor jobs, had computer jobs, been friends with ultra liberals and arch conservatives, and still I apparently live in a “thick bubble”? Just because I hate shitty beer and Applebees and don’t watch much reality tv or sitcoms?

  17. Rafer Janders says:

    I scored 65 points, which is typical of “A first-generation middle-class person with working-class parents and average television and movie going habits” but also overlaps with “A first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents.”

    In actual fact, I’m a second-generation (or more) upper-middle-class New York living hipster elitist professional with multiple Ivy League degrees and upper middle class parents and the television and movie going habits of the upper class. This quiz is far too blunt an instrument.

  18. Dave Schuler says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    lived in some of the worst “hoods” in St Louis

    Yeah, me too. Recently, I had a business appointment on the South Side of Chicago. I looked around at the neighborhod. It was notably nicer than the one I grew up in, a working class neighborhood on the way down.

  19. rodney dill says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Rob in CT: I grew up in the midwest, rural, fairly isolated… (think Lake Wobegon), that is a “bubble” of its own sort. I’ve progressively moved to more metropolitan areas and professional jobs.

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    1. Have you ever lived for at least a year in an American neighborhood in which the majority of your fifty nearest neighbors did not have college degrees? — yes, and it was a very wealthy town. Many of the men had college degrees, but many of the women didn’t (they mostly were still housewives then). Most Americans don’t have a college degree.

    2. Have you ever lived for at least a year in an American community under 50,000 population that is not part of a metropolitan area and is not where you went to college? — yes, and again, it was a very wealthy resort community.

    5. Have you walked on a factory floor? — yes, as part of a private equity job where we were analyzing the company for possible purchase.

    6. Have you ever held a job that caused something to hurt at the end of the day? — yes, bartender, waiter, scuba instructor in resort areas.

    7. Have you ever had a close friend who was an evangelical Christian? — besides the people in my neighborhood who are, yes, also some I became friends with at Harvard and at finance jobs in New York.

    8. Do you now have a close friend with whom you have strong and wide-ranging political disagreements? — yes, many of whom I met at Harvard and working on Wall Street.

    9. Have you ever had a close friend who could seldom get better than Cs in high school even if he or she tried hard? — um, yes, in high school. Who hasn’t?

    10. During the last month have you voluntarily hung out with people who were smoking cigarettes? — yes, and these people were largely Greek, French and Italian millionaires in New York.

    I could go on, but you see my point. These questions are far too blunt and assume a bubble where none exists….

  21. Rafer Janders says:

    Underlying assumption is that the bubble is upper class and that the predominant American Culture is white working class.

    Great point. Under Murray’s system, I — who have lived all over the world, have friends from numerous racial, ethnic, religious, political, and income strata, read widely, have a lot of varied interests, etc. — am considered to be in the bubble, whereas my hometown friends who’ve never strayed more than 20 miles from where they grew up, have friends who are just like them, and will always have the same job aren’t.

  22. mantis says:

    67, but that quiz is useless.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    I’m a 66, but I agree with Mantis: dumb quiz. Has nothing to do with a “bubble” it’s just measuring wealth. And in my case it’s ludicrous since I’ve been both poor and wealthy, so I’m given “credit” for my childhood through early 30’s, despite now living a completely different life.

  24. rodney dill says:

    @michael reynolds: It is somewhat worthless as it doesn’t really define this particular “bubble” all that well. It is a little more than just measuring wealth, but also the participant’s view of wealth. Subsequent generation, that have wealth, will probably have a more sheltered view of wealth than the original wealth earning generation.

    I’m not sure this is all that much earth-shattering new.

  25. @gVOR08:

    It’s you limousine liberals who never eat at the Applebee’s salad bar.

    Applebee’s doesn’t have a salad bar. You’re thinking of Ruby Tuesday’s.

  26. rudderpedals says:

    Test appears designed backwards to ensure “Real Americans” residing in the heartland of America, where men are men and sheep are scared, whisk right through the answers and get their participation award sort of like the TPers just did.

    On diff note, this delay isn’t going to slow down your getting email at work is it?

  27. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I think you need to adjust your snark detector. Given by what gVOR08 has posted in the past….

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: @grumpy realist: Thank you, Grumpy. Yes, I was referencing David Brooks’ famous faux pas about an Applebees salad bar. (I eat there with some regularity. They have a moderately diet friendly menu. I also occasionally eat at Ruby Tuesdays and hit the salad bar.)

  29. grumpy realist says:

    I came out with 20 on that silly test and could have pushed it much lower if I had wanted. I also know quite a few salt-of-the-earth New England farmer types that would have had similar scores, simply because they hate American love-in-a-canoe beer, hate TV, and have much better things to do with their money than eat crap over-processed food at a chain restaurant. (I would have gone for the local diner myself instead–food is usually much better.)

    Murray leaves out the biggest bubble of them all: Americans being totally ignorant of the world around them. I speak seven languages and have worked in several countries as a local hire slumming together with the native riffraff. (You should hear what meek little Japanese ladies have to say off stage and with a few beers in them. Much more fun than being an ex-pat.) I think that more than makes up for not eating at Applebee’s.

  30. john personna says:

    29, and I fear it would be worse if work-friends had not been evangelical

    There is some interesting data here, but I’m not sure Murray is slicing it in the most interesting way.

    I’ll refer to a Comming Apart discussion at Marginal Revolution.

  31. Ron Beasley says:

    This is as simplistic and worthless as everything else Charles Murray has ever done.

  32. john personna says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Ah, but you can never know what it’s like to speak one language and eat at Applebee’s

    Which is sadly Murray’s inverted bubble.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I’ll betchya I’m the only one on this website that has been to a KKK cross burning, and been in a packed auditorium in which I was the singular white person.

    Never really thought about it, but I am probably the only person here who had a cross burnt in his apartment’s front yard (1988). My 2 upstairs neighbors were both single black women, one with child. Unfortunately I did not get it down before the child saw it. And yes, they were both gone in less than 2 weeks.

  34. @gVOR08:

    So does not recognizing David Brooks related memes put me inside or outside the bubble? 😉

  35. john personna says:

    To diverge on food a moment, I eat like a discount Anthony Bourdain. I can find pretty much all the “peoples'” food he does within 50 miles of me, in so-cal. A completely awesome pho dac biet was $6.25 a person on Monday.

    I ate at an Applebee’s once, and they made something simple like eggs or chicken into terrible.

    If I’m snobbish it’s because I think people should go spend less and find something good.

  36. @john personna:

    What makes Anthony Bourdain a snob is that he’s an iconoclast: he dislikes popular things purely because they’re popular.

  37. Rafer Janders says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    This is as simplistic and worthless as everything else Charles Murray has ever done.

    That’s a filthy lie! You take that back, sir!

    He’s done many more simplistic and worthless things!

  38. Franklin says:

    45. It seems more like a random number generator than anything useful. I’ve got young kids, don’t let them watch much TV, and don’t have time to watch any myself. I don’t go to Applebee’s because it frankly sucks. I have friends from maybe 10 different countries, if that puts me in a bubble I guess I don’t understand the concept.

  39. Rafer Janders says:

    Also, too, really nothing in that quiz about race, ethnic identity, being gay or lesbian, immigrant status, etc.

  40. Mikey says:

    @john personna:

    To diverge on food a moment, I eat like a discount Anthony Bourdain. I can find pretty much all the “peoples’” food he does within 50 miles of me, in so-cal. A completely awesome pho dac biet was $6.25 a person on Monday.

    Northern Virginia is great for that, too. We can get fantastic bowls of pho’ with all the meats (including the good ones like tripe and tendon) for under $7.

    I think the people Murray would classify as “not in the bubble” don’t have the options we have. My Grandpa lives in a tiny town in rural Michigan and I don’t think many people within 50 miles of him could tell you what pho’ is to save their own lives.

  41. al-Ameda says:

    That’s the thesis Charles Murray, a libertarian political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, puts forth in his new book, “Coming Apart.” In a piece soon to appear on the NewsHour, Murray argues that the super wealthy, super educated and super snobby live in so-called super-ZIPs: cloistered together, with little to no exposure to American culture at large.

    Well, I’ve got to ask Chuck, why does apparently believe that people who don’t believe in science, who are hostile to education, who are enamored of gun ownership and church attendance, and who generally live in communities that are primarily comprised of people like themselves (therefore isolated from many other aspects of American culture) – are somehow better than educated people who have good jobs and live in nice communities?

    Murray is not original in this at all, he just has a distinct partisan agenda here. Other sociologists have pointed out that Americans now, more than ever, live in communities where people share their values and world outlook. This is not limited to so-called snobby super wealthy people (that is, “liberals,” right?)

  42. Todd says:

    I scored 73, but I think it has more to do with my being a military brat, and then active duty … so literally my whole life. I wouldn’t really consider my family, or my father’s to be “working class” as opposed to “middle class” … more that there’s really almost no way to be “in a bubble” in a military neighborhood.

  43. john personna says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I think Bourdain hates on the middle band of mass culture, which might relate to this discussion.

    He’ll eat with peasants or with 5 star chefs, but not Rachel Ray.

  44. Rob in CT says:

    @Scott:

    Regarding different demographics not interacting… was this really different in the past? Or is this yet another “days of yore” tale that isn’t actually grounded in reality?

    If it is a real new trend (or old becoming new again), I’d agree that income inequality should be looked at as a possible driver.

  45. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08: I think this is about class isolation rather than “a bubble,” but agree with some other commenters that there are flaws in this.

    @OzarkHillbilly: Murray grew up in Iowa farm country, so presumably he’s aware of diners. But, yes, not eating at Applebee’s is not so much a sign of isolation from the working people as it is availability of better alternatives.

    @Rafer Janders: Great point about the gender divide on college degrees. I naturally read the question at the household, not individual level, and it’s been a long time since I’ve lived in a community where the majority of households didn’t have a college graduate.

  46. @john personna:

    He’ll eat with peasants or with 5 star chefs, but not Rachel Ray.

    He’s the sort of person Jarvis cocker was singing about in “Common People”.

  47. Woody says:

    Scored a 45, thought the “quiz” was abysmal.

    Murray’s own postscript tells the lie:

    If you grew up in a working-class neighborhood, you are going to have a high score even if you are now an investment banker living on Park Avenue. Your present life may be completely encased in the bubble, but you brought a lot of experience into the bubble that will always be part of your understanding of America.

    What tripe. This assumes that “working-class” has not changed in the thirty-plus years since one left the neighborhood.

  48. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    Great point about the gender divide on college degrees. I naturally read the question at the household, not individual level, and it’s been a long time since I’ve lived in a community where the majority of households didn’t have a college graduate.

    The question said “neighbors”, so I read it as individual people. Both houses next to us, for example, the dad had a college degree, the wives had both quit college to marry before they’d gotten their degree, two kids of course didn’t have any. So I’m not awarding the point to Murray when in each household only one out of four people had a college degree.

    And, of course, the quiz is further skewed by the fact that some questions cover the present day, while some ask about your lifetime’s experience. So the question about college degrees really measures the gender distribution of college degrees in my neighborhood when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, which further reflects the gender divide in college completion in the 50s and 60s when those women were of college age. It doesn’t tell us anything about the present day. If, for example, it had asked about my present living situation, then my immediate neighbors are both childless professional couples both with college (and some graduate) degrees.

  49. James Joyner says:

    @Woody: Heh. Reading Murray’s bio makes it pretty obvious that he’s self-justifying. He went off to Harvard and has been an elite for half a century but, by gum, he grew up in a farm town so he’s a regular Joe.

  50. Pinky says:

    I scored a 25. I don’t live in an upper- or lower-class bubble; I just live in a bubble. I don’t drink, smoke, watch lousy movies, or go to chain restaurants. Or maybe I live in ten different bubbles – which is probably becoming more common, thanks to the internet. I have a wide variety of hobbies, interests, and social connections. If you want to talk about the Latin Mass or which season of Code Geass was best, I’m there, but don’t ask me which fried appetizer at Chili’s is my favorite.

    We’re losing a common culture for three reasons that I can think of. One is the striation that Murray’s survey addresses. Another is the narrowcasting of the internet. A third is the disappearance of the notion of cultural assimilation for immigrants. They all have benefits and costs.

  51. john personna says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Absolutely not. Peasants world-wide eat better than Applebee’s.

  52. Scott says:

    @Rob in CT: Your right. There is a view of America that may or may not have actually existed. What is not captured is the assumption that neighborhoods, families, people are static.

    WWII took a lot of folks from around the country, jumbled them up, allowed a great many to go to college, and enter into great migrations across the country. I suspect that economic mobility is now lower than in the past even while the culture is increasing homogenized.

    This is a great subject but I think most agreed that the quiz is hokum.

  53. I proudly claim my score of 30: Apparently, I’m not a real American if I hate crappy food, movies, and television shows.

    I hadn’t been to any of the available restaurants and for the media question the only movie or show I had watched was “The Big Bang Theory”.

    The funny thing is that I actually watched more live television (as opposed to DVDs, internet, etc.) in 2009-2010 than any time recently. I was watching “V”, “24”, “Fringe” at the time. (I wasn’t actually watching “The Big Bang Theory” at the time but started watching it in syndication and have the series’ Blu-Rays through season 5, so I included it on the question, same story for “Castle” which wasn’t an available choice.)

    I have a question, why does it have a question asking if you have a close friend that’s an evangelical, but no question asking if you have a close friend that’s an avowed atheist?

    I also answered “all five” to the military rank insignia question despite not knowing the Master Sergeant rank for the USAF (I knew it was a non-com with the USAF, so that was enough in my book). The question is also flawed because the eagle insignia can mean Captain in the USN but Colonel in every other branch, ditto for the double bars meaning meaning Lieutenant in the USN but Captain in the other branch.

  54. john personna says:

    @Pinky:

    A third is the disappearance of the notion of cultural assimilation for immigrants.

    If the whole world speaks at least some type of English for reasons of education and commerce while keeping varied cultures, I don’t see a problem with that happening within our borders as well. It becomes a reflection of the world.

    A world, frankly, well suited to us educated native English speakers.

  55. @Timothy Watson:

    I have a question, why does it have a question asking if you have a close friend that’s an evangelical, but no question asking if you have a close friend that’s an avowed atheist?

    Also, why is all Christianity compacted to that one particular flavor? Rural Pennsylvania is extremely religious, but has a very low percentage of evangelicals relative to the rest of the country. Not only is he restricting “real America” to just the white working class, but he’s limiting it to specifically the Southern white working class.

  56. john personna says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    It’s really weird to me that Rick Warren and his megachurch are out in a fairly affluent and well-educated California suburb. And that when Presidential candidates wanted to prove their acceptability to that crowd, they came “here.”

    Of course, California and broadcast fundamentalism have a long history.

  57. CSK says:

    I scored six. Am I from another planet?

  58. Franklin says:

    @Todd: I take it you got the military decorations correct, then?

  59. Rafer Janders says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Thinking about my evangelical friends, I realize most of them are either (i) Korean-Americans who work in Wall Street finance, or (ii) illegal immigrant ethnic Mayan Guatemalans or Mexicans who work as cooks or waiters in restaurants in Brooklyn. Am I in or out of the bubble for knowing them?

    The truth is that America has become unutterably more complicated than it was when Murray was young, and he has not been able to keep up with the changes.

  60. Rafer Janders says:

    @CSK:

    I scored six. Am I from another planet?

    You should drop everything and see a doctor. And I mean fast.

  61. CSK says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I may be beyond help.

  62. bill says:

    @Stormy Dragon: he’s a prop on tv and considered a traitor to the culinary profession. chicks like him though.
    oh, i got a 50- whatever it means. i know both jimmie johnsons and am aware of both bransons too (never been to “misery” though)

    @CSK: you need to get out more!

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I have a question, why does it have a question asking if you have a close friend that’s an evangelical, but no question asking if you have a close friend that’s an avowed atheist?

    i was friends with an avowed devil worshiper when i was a teen- wonder whatever happened to him?

  63. PD Shaw says:

    I got a 40 when I took this quiz at the Glittering Eye last year.

    My observation at that time was that the Generation X commentors were clustered between 40 (me) and 46 (andy). Boomers like Schuler and Reynolds had higher scores. No millenials.

    My sense is the quiz is picking up something, but it has generational significance. The older you are the more likely you’ve had a variety of experiences, including military. I’ve worked on an assembly line floor, but I doubt my kids would ever.

  64. Dave Schuler says:

    @PD Shaw:

    I agree with you, PD. I think this quiz is actually measuring age.

  65. PD Shaw says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The term “evangelical” is problematic because most people will admit that they don’t know what it means, and those who say they do don’t agree on a definition. I would argue that in a typical small Southern town, the evangelicals go to the Methodist church and the fundamentalists attend Southern Baptists.

  66. john personna says:

    @PD Shaw:

    What distinguishes “evangelical” from “fundamentalist?”

    The problem is that, over the last few decades, fewer and fewer people call themselves “fundamentalists.” I think that probably began when the media started using the label to describe terrorists. Who wants to be associated in people’s minds with Ayatollah Khomenei? (Some of you may be too young to remember, but, as I recall, he was the first non-Christian that I ever heard labeled “fundamentalist.”)

    These days, people who used to identify themselves as fundamentalists and who still exhibit that ethos call themselves “conservative evangelicals.” Of course, there are people who call themselves conservative evangelicals who are not fundamentalists. So it gets complicated.

    I think that when we say “evangelical” in the political sense we are talking about t hose conservatives who are really re-branded fundamentalists.

    A belief in a young earth is a quick check and tell.

  67. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    The truth is that America has become unutterably more complicated than it was when Murray was young, and he has not been able to keep up with the changes.

    I’m not sure I agree with that. When my old man was growing up ( 20s and 30s) things were very complicated but seemed simple. All the people in your neighborhood spoke the same 2 or 3 languages, worked at the same steel mill, went to the same Catholic church, and every one was dirt poor. But get on a bus and head uptown and WHOOAA!!! WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY SPEAKING??? and THEY ALL GOT DARK SWARTHY SKIN AND BLACK HAIR!

    In other words, the worlds were far more insular back then. It is much harder to deny the existence of the ‘other’ when you work with him/her every day.

  68. grewgills says:

    I got a 73, largely because I have moved a lot, often enough living in smallish towns in the tropics.

  69. grumpy realist says:

    @john personna: The problem in that circumstance is that it’s really easy to hide stuff from English speakers/readers. As the Economist once wrote in an editorial about language “being a speaker of the lingua franca means short-term benefit and long -term grief.” E.g., the Chinese have a very easy way to hide stuff from the rest of the world: they simply write it in Hanji.

    Also, you get an entirely different view of a culture/country if you try to learn it through the percentage of the native population that speaks English as opposed to learning the native language. Boy do I know that….

  70. grewgills says:

    I answered as my very religious cousin who has only ever lived in a small rural town in Alabama, his friends are all from that small town and go to one of the two evangelical churches, he has never left that town for more than a week or two at a time, lives on the same farm his parents did and gets pretty much all of his political information from fox news. He got a 77, so apparently he doesn’t live in a bubble.

  71. al-Ameda says:

    I scored 37.

    I’m from a large working class Catholic family and I’m the only one who attended and graduated college. I worked every summer to finance college, and have lived in mixed class neighborhoods all my life.

    I probably would have scored a 38 if I’d bought a 6-pack of Coors sometime in the last 20 years.

  72. dazedandconfused says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    This is as simplistic and worthless as everything else Charles Murray has ever done.

    Generally I agree with that, but I’d make a partial exception for Coming Apart. He did a “Bill Cosby” job on white upper-class twits in that one. Unseemly, for a Heritage guy.

  73. @PD Shaw:

    When I hear “evangelical Christian”, I take it to mean sects with a major focus on converting others to their beliefs.

  74. @john personna:

    I think that when we say “evangelical” in the political sense we are talking about t hose conservatives who are really re-branded fundamentalists.

    A “conservative fundamentalist” is an oxymoron. Protestant fundamentalism is built around the idea that to be a proper Christian, you must live apart from the secular world. The stereotypical example would be the Amish. Fundamentalists are not going to involve themselves in politics. Using politics to transform society to be more Christian has always been an evangelical concern, not a fundamentalist one.

  75. Pinky says:

    @john personna:

    A belief in a young earth is a quick check and tell.

    Not in my experience.

  76. PD Shaw says:

    @john personna:

    Evangelical Christianity originated with the First and Second Great Awakenings as a response to the perceived excesses of complex doctrines and ritual in the various Protestant movements. In the nineteenth century Christian evangelicals were at the center of most social movements, including anti-slavery, public education, care for the mentally ill, and temperance.

    Christian fundamentalism originated in the early 20th century with the publication of a book, “The Fundamentals” that decried the drift in Christianity, the spiritual void of the modern world, and insisted on Biblical literalism as a requisite to being a true Christian. Effectively, fundamentalism drew a line between evangelicals who believe the Bible contains allegory or metaphors, and fundamentalists that believe that to deny Jonah was swallowed by a large fish is to deny G*d’s power and the inerrancy of scripture.

    While not knowing what’s in their hearts necessarily, I would assume that these are Christian evangelicals or have been members of Christian Evangelical churches: Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush (but not his father).

  77. john personna says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Yes, English is an open language, and English-derived cultures are open as well.

    If you believe open wins in the long run, you are good.

    (The “MOOC Genius from Ulan Bator” is now at MIT, not in Shanghai.)

  78. john personna says:

    @Pinky:

    Me: A belief in a young earth is a quick check and tell.

    Thee: Not in my experience.

    Would you admit that a central fault line formed between deep time and evolution, on one side, and short time and creation on the other?

    Among the Evangelicals that I know, they have the bundle. They went anti-science at evolution, and were not willing to trust again .. well on anything, but up to and including global warming. Indeed many have a Biblical answer to global warming.

    (I know a really bright guy (otherwise) who thinks humans and dinosaurs co-inhabited the earth. If stopped believing that, he’d have to leave his father’s church, and would be rejected by his wife and her family. It is a bundle.)

  79. john personna says:

    @PD Shaw:

    I certainly don’t know the long history of these movements, but I think (as I’ve mentioned in previous threads) I buy the Kevin Phillips analysis.

    Mass communications and megachurches popularized a certain sort of evangelical fundamentalist.

    They are evangelical in the literal sense that they’ve propagated, and they are fundimentalist as identified by these literalist anti-intellectual values.

  80. Kari Q says:

    Like others, I came out with a pretty heavy bubble. I am locked in my own culture, unaware of those around me who feel differently, live differently, and think differently. This is mostly because I have lived most of my life in cities, and still live in one. When I take a walk in the local park, I frequently hear four different languages being spoken – none of them the language that my grandparents spoke as children and which with I have a vague, passing familiarity. Clearly, I am completely surrounded by people who are exactly like me in every way.

  81. Kari Q says:

    @Pinky:

    A third is the disappearance of the notion of cultural assimilation for immigrants.

    Both studies and my own personal experience say that this is just not so. For example there’s this study that says that children of Spanish speaking immigrants actually learn English faster than children of previous waves of immigration. Given mass communications with television and radio in English available everywhere, this is hardly a surprise. When my grandfather, a child of German speaking immigrants, was a child they had no radio and television was decades away. It wasn’t till he went to school that he began interacting with English speakers – and some of the schools in that area taught in German, so it could have been even later.

    Personally, I live in a neighborhood that is mostly American born, but there is a large immigrant population nearby, and a park and school directly between the two neighborhoods and used by both. I walk there regularly during school hours with my dog, so I get to know the children. The kindergarteners and first graders speak mostly Spanish (or their own native language from a few other countries). By the time they reach 4th grade, they are all speaking English and are completely indistinguishable from those whose parents were born in the country.

    One of the benefits of living in this neighborhood is that I have learned how to say “little Lassie dog” in three languages. Chinese continues to escape me.

  82. grumpy realist says:

    @PD Shaw: Whee. We’ve got people who have regressed back to, well, I don’t know what. Even in the Middle Ages everyone agreed there was more than one interpretation of supposed “facts” in the Bible. Interpreting statements as metaphors was extremely common.

  83. grumpy realist says:

    @john personna: I remind you that the original lingua franca happened to be Latin….then French.

    Which makes for some interesting historical leftovers. We still get trademark reports from Russia bilingually in Russian and French because that’s still the “other common language” as far as they’re concerned. And if you want to know why French is the other language on the little green tickets used for international custom declarations, that’s why as well.

    Me, I want us to go back to using Latin as the common language. Disadvantages everyone equally, plus knowing it gives you a great leg up on all the Romance languages. Knowing English doesn’t help you much with any other language, given that it’s a bastard child of Old French and Anglo-Saxon (which is in it’s turn a mash-up of Saxon and whatever the Danes spoke when they were raiding.) .

  84. john personna says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Actually English enjoys a unique span. It is a people’s language for hundreds of millions. It is a language of science. It is a languages of navigation. It is a language of education. It is a language of business.

    Has any language actually had that [global] breadth?

  85. MarkedMan says:

    Don’t know what my score would have been as it crashed my iPad Safari browser somewhere around question 20. But I think it would have been quite high. In any case, my big takeaway? That this really, really reinforces the stereotype of Charles Murray as having that autism-like inability to see that american blacks, muslims, hispanics, or immigrants are even people. His idea of living in a bubble? You don’t know what it’s like for “real americans”.

  86. Just Me says:

    I got a 54.

    I am an oddity-I had solid professional parents and had no clue what living in poverty was like.

    My poverty has mostly come in adulthood (I have a college degree but due to having a child with a disability don’t use it) and my husband works in a big box store and does carpentry work on the side. I suspect my husband would get a higher score. My kids would get sky high scores.

    I have never lived in a city or town where the majority of my neighbors were college graduates not even as a child.

    I think there is something to living in a bubble-but I am not sure this singe best way to measure it.

  87. DrDaveT says:

    I think people arguing over “what is an Evangelical Christian” missed the point. Murray gave his working definition in the question, and I used that definition for purposes of answering the question. It’s not the correct definition — it excludes many people (like my parents) who consider themselves Evangelical Christians, but are not literalists, young-earthers, evolution deniers, charismatics, faith healers, snake handlers, members of a mega-church, etc.

  88. john personna says:

    It is kind of bizarre to some of us that evolution pops up as a Republican candidates’ debate question

    Admittedly their final candidate had a good answer.

  89. Socrates says:

    Charles Murray has an agenda. The end.

  90. Matt says:

    I scored a 71 and I don’t eat at any of the places listed as they are outside my budgetary capability.

    I lived in a small town of under 6000 for most of my life.

    I have a problem with the Jimmie Johnson question because I knew of both the driver and the coach.

    While I own a TV it’s only been turned on a couple times in the last few months.

  91. grumpy realist says:

    @john personna: Given the lower complete population of the Earth, the exact same thing could be said about Latin. And it had a longer run (400 BC — 1650)

  92. john personna says:

    @grumpy realist:

    No, China [and India] had people, even then.

  93. john personna says:

    And don’t tell me Rome had pop music and Die Hard movies to spread its reach …