Stranger Fruit

A little quiz for the afternoon

According to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute “Americans fail a basic test on their history and institutions” with an average score of 49% (college educators apparently score 55%, and office-holders 44%).

I scored 88% (29 out of 33)… I put that down to not being a product of the American school system :)

Some of the questions are a little right-leaning but have at it nonetheless.

Comments

  1. #1 student_b
    November 23, 2008

    You answered 30 out of 33 correctly — 90.91 %

    On the first try, without cheating, and being a dirty communistic European hippie. :p

  2. #2 OmegaMom
    November 23, 2008

    I’m like student_b, 30 out of 33 correctly.

  3. #3 alias Ernest Major
    November 23, 2008

    Yet another 30/33, from England.

  4. #4 6EQUJ5
    November 23, 2008

    You answered 31 out of 33 correctly — 93.94 %

    Average score for this quiz during November. 77.6%

    I’m the product of public schools of the 1953-1966 era. We had civics in school, and 8 hour school days.

  5. #5 chezjake
    November 23, 2008

    31 out of 33, 93.94%. I’ll attribute that to a liberal arts education.

  6. #6 Markk
    November 23, 2008

    31 of 33 and I would argue the two. The basis for the questions is bad. I am a product of 1960′s public school and 1970/80′s public university. There were definitely some “free market” and “private markets always work better” assumptions built into the questions.

  7. #7 Pierce R. Butler
    November 23, 2008

    32/33 – and yes, there is a bias toward what I call marketism.

    This statistic is mildly puzzling:

    Liberals score 49%; conservatives score 48%. Republicans score 52%; Democrats score 45%.

  8. #8 Stacy L. Mason
    November 23, 2008

    30 of 33

    I got the economic questions ‘wrong’. I’m not gonna lose sleep over it, can’t pick the right answer if it isn’t there.

  9. #9 Zeno
    November 23, 2008

    33 of 33

    Yes, I am just that smart. ;-)

  10. #10 PEM
    November 23, 2008

    33 of 33, though I didn’t find it easy. I guess I should just forget any political aspirations :).

  11. #11 Dr William Dyer
    November 23, 2008

    I got a 31 ot of 33. One I missed because I simply did not read the question correctly(#33). The other I got incorrect was # 27, the one on free market vs planned economies. I felt question let alone the offered answers were really poorly done.

  12. #12 Abel Pharmboy
    November 23, 2008

    Professor Lynch, you either have extremely smart readers or others are fearful of admitting they got less than 30 of 33.

    For the record, I only got 25/33 but PharmGirl got 28/33 (I definitely married “up.”).

    Perhaps I should’ve grown up in Ireland instead of New Jersey.

  13. #13 D. C. Sessions
    November 23, 2008

    32/33; I admit that it’s been a while since I read the Federalist Papers. Another case of a Boomer with a public-school education.

    (I can’t give any credit to the University; Arizona State is close to the bottom of the barrel.)

  14. #14 John Lynch
    November 23, 2008

    (I can’t give any credit to the University; Arizona State is close to the bottom of the barrel.)

    Ahem. You do know where I teach, don’t you?

  15. #15 Noadi
    November 23, 2008

    29/33 I am a product of the public school system here in the US though Maine does generally rank near the top in the country for schools.

  16. #16 Gridman
    November 23, 2008

    30/33 or 90.91% here also.

    Tucson public school system AND Arizona State University. :-)

    (And I’ve got a bone to pick about the wording of the “right” answer on one of then. As worded, it’s wrong unless they add the word “average” to it. As written, it’s patently false.)

  17. #17 D. C. Sessions
    November 23, 2008

    Ahem. You do know where I teach, don’t you?

    Life is hard and we all have to make compromises. You may teach there; I’m stuck with a degree from ASU.

  18. #18 John Lynch
    November 23, 2008

    @ D.C.

    Wow, what a shame someone forced you to go to ASU. Must have been terrible for you to have to turn down Harvard and all.

    /sarcasm.

    Take some responsibility for your education, will you? Just because you appear to have achieved nothing while at ASU, doesn’t mean that others dont go on to achieve good things with an ASU education.

  19. #19 D. C. Sessions
    November 23, 2008

    Rather OT, but it’s your blog:

    Wow, what a shame someone forced you to go to ASU. Must have been terrible for you to have to turn down Harvard and all.

    Getting accepted to good schools is easy; having the money to attend anywhere out of town is something else.

    Take some responsibility for your education, will you?

    I am. After almost 60 years here, I’m leaving to live somewhere I can study the subjects that interest me. Priorities, again: the Phoenix area may suck educationally, but it’s not a bad place to make a living that’s allowed me to send my children to good schools.

    Just because you appear to have achieved nothing while at ASU, doesn’t mean that others dont go on to achieve good things with an ASU education.

    Having worked in the Phoenix area for more than thirty years, I’ve gotten to know a lot of other ASU grads (besides the two parents and two brothers.) Without exception, none of them would send their children there unless they had no realistic alternative. (Always assuming that they are interested in something besides football and partying, of course.)

    As for accomplishing things, attendance at ASU isn’t an insuperable obstacle. With determination, it’s possible to learn in spite of the handicap. The key thing to find out when interviewing ASU grads is whether they managed to do so.

  20. #20 LM Wanderer
    November 23, 2008

    You answered 31 out of 33 correctly — 93.94 %

    Average score for this quiz during November: 77.5%
    Average score: 77.5%

    I would argue that there were no right answers to choose from for the two I missed.

    I am the product of a US Public school during the late 1950s and 1960s plus a 4 year college degree.

    LM Wanderer

  21. #21 John Lynch
    November 23, 2008

    http://honors.asu.edu … you should meet some of our graduates, the ones that turn down going to “good schools” on National Merit Scholarships and instead came to ASU.

  22. #22 RSG
    November 23, 2008

    I scored 100%, partly by knowing how to take a test. Most of the questions were straightforward, but the ‘public good’ and a few others required some thought. Many quizzes don’t necessarily offer the ‘right’ answer, you have to choose the one most nearly correct. The economic questions were based on classic economic theory, not necessarily reality. One needs to know the facts of Marxism whether or not one agrees with it, just as one needs to know the theories of capitalism, whether or not one agrees that it’s the best economic system.

  23. #23 RSG
    November 23, 2008

    I also have to acknowledge that my alma mater is located in that bastion of liberalism, Lubbock, Texas. I won’t get into any debates about the relative academic status of ASU.

  24. #24 D. C. Sessions
    November 23, 2008

    http://honors.asu.edu … you should meet some of our graduates, the ones that turn down going to “good schools” on National Merit Scholarships and instead came to ASU.

    Special treatment for less than 5% of the University’s students does not do much for the other 95% who foot the bill.

  25. #25 Thomas M.
    November 23, 2008

    28 out of 33; I’m a product of the public school system in the ’90s to early 2000s. Apparently I managed to learn something there given that I’ve never taken a college level gov. course.

  26. #26 Allen MacNeill
    November 23, 2008

    I got 32 out of 33. However, I disagree with the supposed correct answer for #33. According to the website, the correct answer is “tax per person equals government spending per person” (when taxes equal government spending). However, this assumes that the government has no other source of revenue besides taxes. This is clearly not the case, as the U.S. government functioned quite well without an income tax or other major tax on the general citizenry for almost a century after its founding. Other sources of government revenue include licensing fees, sales of public land, and tariffs (there are many others).

    The answer I chose was “printing money no longer causes inflation”, which is quite literally true so long as the currency provided by the government is a “fiat” currency (i.e. it is not convertible to a commodity, such as gold or real estate). When governments issue fiat currency, they can easily issue more of it than they take in from taxes, which is one of the chief causes (although not the only cause) of monetary inflation.

  27. #27 Allen MacNeill
    November 23, 2008

    P.S. I’m an evolutionary biologist (by training) and a libertarian (by choice).

  28. #28 John Lynch
    November 23, 2008

    Special treatment for less than 5% of the University’s students does not do much for the other 95% who foot the bill.

    You mean other than raise the stature of ASU (and its degrees) by going on to good graduate schools and winning nationally competitive scholarships such as the Rhodes and Marshall? Or maybe you mean other than raising the level of discourse in classroom discussions?

    Since I’m guessing you know nothing about what is happening in ASU, in the classrooms and in the research laboratories, at the moment, I’d advise you perhaps stay quiet.

    Clearly you have a chip on your shoulder over your experiences close to 40 years ago. Bad mouth your alma mater if you like. Things change. You’ll get used to it eventually.

    Enjoy leaving the Valley to “live somewhere I can study the subjects that interest me” – apparently you don’t believe Arizona has anything to offer you now.

    And that’s my last word on the issue.

  29. #29 Davidp
    November 23, 2008

    30 of 33 from Australia – I’ve only spent 5 weeks in the US in my life.

  30. #30 Angel
    November 23, 2008

    Hey, I got 28 and I did K-12 in Tennessee. And was bored with anything not science. Something must have made it though.

  31. #31 D. C. Sessions
    November 23, 2008

    However, I disagree with the supposed correct answer for #33. According to the website, the correct answer is “tax per person equals government spending per person”

    It’s a trick question. It’s mathematically equivalent to “If A=B, then … A/C=B/C” It doesn’t matter what A, B, and C are; it’s true. The others, at best, might be true but (D) is almost a tautology.

  32. #32 JRQ
    November 23, 2008

    Meh — 28/33. Actually, surprised I didn’t do worse; I have always been sort of weak on civics. I did pick up on the right-wing bias right away, though, and guessed like a republican a few times.

    Public school, K-12, 1980-93, small-town MN. B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (Psychology)

  33. #33 DLC
    November 24, 2008

    I scored around 90%.
    I didn’t like the way some of the questions were phrased, but gave what I believed the questioner wanted as the right answer.

  34. #34 RBH
    November 24, 2008

    33/33, but I guessed on one that was badly worded.

  35. #35 SWT
    November 24, 2008

    31/33 … from a product of the US public school system (graduated mid 1970′s) with a BS from one of our fine land grant universities and an MS+PhD from another state university.

  36. #36 HP
    November 24, 2008

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem with question 33 is that any correct answer other than the mathematical answer makes deficit spending look bad. And it’s conservative, free-market dogma that “deficits don’t matter.” Never mind the economics; it’s so just because. Note that one of the answers deliberately confused debt with deficit.

    So the question is worded to make spending deficits look trivial. It’s a dog-whistle to discredit Bill Clinton’s economic record.

    For the record, 32/33.

  37. #37 Jim Lippard
    November 24, 2008

    I got 33/33 (BA, ASU, MA, UA).

    HP: One of the *wrong* answers used the word debt instead of deficit in order to make it an incorrect answer. The question was “If taxes equal government spending, then:” and one of the incorrect answers was “government debt is zero.” That answer would be correct if it referred to the deficit rather than the debt. I don’t see how you reach the conclusion you do about the other wrong answers, especially considering that Clinton is the only president in recent memory to generate surpluses instead of deficits.

  38. #38 Jim Lippard
    November 24, 2008

    Gridman (#16): I think “average” is implied in the answer you’re referring to.

    Seems to me the only clearly “market-biased” question was question 27, perhaps arguably 25, 30, or 31.

    1-24 and 32 are all pretty straightforward factual questions; 25, 26, 28, 29, and 33 are questions about definitions of terms; 30 and 31 and are about likely consequences (or intentions) of public policy. 27 is a Hayekian economics question; 30 is a Keynesian economic question.

  39. #39 DingoDave
    November 25, 2008

    27 out of 33 (82%) from another Australian. What is going on in your schools over there in America? : )

  40. #40 chris y
    November 25, 2008

    31/33 from another Englishman. One of the ones I got wrong was sheer carelessness. It’s really not that hard: the only one I didn’t know was the Gettysburg Address, which I’d always understood was 1, Main Street, Gettysburg. I thought the (by US standards) left and right bias was fairly balanced, but with a bit more caer they wouldn’t have had to do that balancing act.

  41. #41 Wes
    November 26, 2008

    I got 30/33.

    But I’d say that quiz was more than just a little right leaning. Many of the questions turned on several right wing talking points (prayer in schools, anti-evolution, abortion, laissez-faire capitalism, etc…) and there was not much focus on anything beyond that (except trivial crap, like the fact that Martin Luther King was seeking solidarity for African Americans–big “No Duh” there). And what the hell did the question about the ethical realism question about Socrates, Aristotle and Aquinas have to do with American Civics??? And the point of “Our Fading Heritage” seems to be to attack colleges, apparently for not producing students who give the appropriate right wing answers to questions chosen for their relevance to right wing agendas.

    Oh, and in regards to ASU: I don’t give a shit what DC Sessions says. I plan to apply to the Biology and Society program there. It sounds like they’re putting together something interesting there.

  42. #42 Mike McCants
    November 26, 2008

    33/33, but I was educated in the late 50′s in a school where both students and teachers cared about learning.

  43. #43 Timothy Chase
    November 27, 2008

    29 out of 33… I guess I am in good company.

  44. #44 Timothy Chase
    November 27, 2008

    Oh yes, the 29/33 was with a public education. Iowa, which ranked the highest for literacy in the nation for quite a few years. It was also with a masters degree. Master of Arts, Liberal Arts — St. John’s College, The Great Books program. But I have been out of school for about a decade.

  45. #45 Timothy Chase
    November 27, 2008

    My wife Moira just took the test. Masters degree, same school. But she skipped high school. Home taught during those years. Also told by a literature professor that she was more qualified to teach the course on 19th century literature than the professor was.

    29/33.

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