web analytics
October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Monitor »

The Ignorant American


Media-Monitor-logo

Two days after the 9/11 attacks, CNN and Time magazine released a joint poll asking whether the U.S. should declare war. Sixty-two percent of respondents said yes. Asked whom war should be declared against, 61 percent said they didn’t know.
That, in a nutshell, is why most polls are an exercise in frivolity – a depressing if sometimes perversely entertaining reflection of Americans’ constantly shifting, poorly informed, half-baked and often contradictory collective mindset.
Three years ago the historian Rick Shenkman released a slim but information-packed and thought-provoking volume titled Just How Stupid Are We? in which he lamented a generation of Americans “far less equipped than their grandparents were to grapple with the challenges facing the nation.”
Among the dozens of examples cited by Shenkman, he noted that “Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Fewer than half of Americans could tell you her name during her entire tenure.”
He also pointed out that just “35 percent know that Congress can override a presidential veto” while 49 percent think the president can suspend the Constitution.”
The idea that we are living in a confederacy of dunces is nothing new; Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken were just two of many men of letters who almost from the nation’s founding never tired of excoriating the ignorance of their countrymen. Imagine what they’d think upon making the acquaintance of the current crop of Americans.
In his 2002 book MobocracyHow the Media’s Obsession with Polling Twists the News, Alters Elections and Undermines Democracy, Matthew Robinson highlighted the following:
            ● Twenty-nine percent of the American public believes the Constitution guarantees everyone a job; 42 percent believe it guarantees health care; 75 percent believe it guarantees a high school education.
● Nearly half – 45 percent – of all Americans believe the Marxist axiom “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” is in the Constitution.
● A January 2000 Gallup Poll found that 66 percent of Americans could name the host of TV’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Regis Philbin), but just 6 percent knew the name of the speaker of the House of Representatives (Dennis Hastert).
● Political scientists Michael X. Delli Carpini and Scott Keeter attempted to get a handle on the public’s political knowledge by studying thousands of questions asked in polls beginning back in the 1930s. Among their findings: more people had heard of John Lennon than Karl Marx; more Americans could identify actor Bill Cosby than could name either of their U.S. senators; and more people knew who said “What’s Up, Doc,” than “Give me liberty or give me death.”
● A 1986 survey found that almost 24 percent of the American public did not know who George H.W. Bush was or that he was then serving his second term as vice president of the United States.
● The Vanishing Voter Project, a program of Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, conducted a running survey of randomly selected registered voters during the 2000 presidential campaign. Respondents were asked six questions on the policy positions of Republican George W. Bush and six on the positions of Democrat Al Gore. Of the twelve questions – which covered a broad range of topics including defense spending, campaign financing, offshore drilling and affirmative action – only one was answered correctly by a majority of Americans. The rest of them weren’t even a close call.
The mindlessness works both ways: pollsters can be just as frivolous as the people they’re paid to question. A Time/CNN poll in 2002 asked, “Just as your best guess, do you think Osama bin Laden is alive or dead?” Meanwhile, TV Guide actually did a poll to learn whether Americans would prefer Barbara Walters or Dianne Sawyer to interview bin Laden (assuming he was alive, of course).

The distinction for the all-time mindless poll question was no doubt earned by the ABC News/Washington Post polling unit, which in July 1985 asked people whether they thought President Reagan would suffer a recurrence of cancer before leaving office three and a half years later. (For the record, 54 percent were certain he wouldn’t, 33 percent said he would, and an intelligent sliver, 12 percent, said they had no idea.)

 

 

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Ignorant American”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at a government meeting.
Proposed Conversion Bill, Change in Local Rabbinate Power Nixed by Netanyahu
Latest Indepth Stories
Map of Syria-Turkish border area, pinpointing Kurdish border town of Kobani, just taken by ISIS terror forces Oct 7, 2014.

Turkey and Iran the 2 regional powers surrounding the ISIS conflict gain from a partial ISIS victory

The Rosenstrasse area of Berlin, where Jewish husbands of non-Jewish German wives were held.

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

NY rally against Met Opera's 'Death of Klinghoffer' opera. Sept. 22, 2014.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Guess who's behind the door?

Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!

Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.

A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.

Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent

Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.

While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

If Hamas is ISIS, the world asks, why didn’t Israel destroy it given justification and opportunity?

That key is the disarming of Hamas and the demilitarization of Gaza – as the U.S., EU, and others agreed to in principle at the end of Operation Protective Edge.

We have no doubt there are those who deeply desire to present themselves as being of a gender that is not consistent with their anatomy, and we take no joy in the pain and embarrassment they suffer.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Assemblyman Hikind talks with a group of Israeli solders.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

William Safire

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/the-ignorant-american-2/2011/06/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: