Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The average American is wrong

YouGov recently ran a survey where they asked 991 Americans if they thought they were as intelligent as the average American, much less intelligent, slightly less intelligent, slightly more intelligent, or much more intelligent. The results showed that 55% or respondents opined that they were more intelligent. So the average American thinks that they are smarter than the average
American. Interesting...

The sad truth is that many of those that think they are more intelligent are actually incorrect. Let's first consider IQ. The average IQ in the United States is 98. At last testing, mine was 138 (you can thank sleep deprivation for my occasional spelling errors). Being in the 99th percentile, I'd say I would be classified as much more intelligent than the average American. That considered, I still realize that there are those in our grand nation who score much higher still. It seems to me that the average American tends to overestimate their intelligence.

Lets also consider another recent poll. Americans were asked the gauge their degree of acceptance of different scientific issues. There are some results that aren't bad. 82% accept that smoking causes cancer. Sadly, that was the question with the highest degree of acceptance. Only 53% feel that childhood vaccines are effective. Only 33% recognized the evidence for climate change. A far too low 31% were confident in the process of evolution. 27% were sure about the earth being 4.5 billion years old. And a staggeringly low 21% accept the Big Bang theory.

These are all those that are supported by evidence. Things that are actually true. Yet only the minority of the Americans surveyed actually answered those last few questions correctly. Climate change is real. So is evolution and the Big Bang. The evidence is all there to see, yet far too many allow politics or religious belief to convince them to reject these truths. With the majority of Americans posting such dismal results, I feel it lowers the bar of 'average' even further.

The good news is that I feel that this is a problem that can be corrected. If we can get conservatives to stop fighting the teaching of science in our school science classes instead of trying to force in religion, that will go a long way. That won't fix everything though. We also need an investment in and rehabbing of our education system. Improve the education system so that learning and critical thinking are paramount, rather than just test scores. Also, our schools aren't getting the money they need to do the job they need to. An increase in funding would be very welcome indeed.

There is more to be done. But I feel that we really do need to do what we can to assure that being an averagely intelligent American is something much more impressive on the world's stage than our current ranking of 19th.

-Brain Hulk

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