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Newsweek Polls Americans on Their Knowledge of Being American; 38 Percent Failed

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 05:51

NEW YORK, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Newsweek magazine today published staggering survey results highlighting how ignorant America really is. By administering the standard U.S. citizenship test to 1000 American adults, the magazine reveals that 38 percent could not qualify to be a citizen of their own country. Of those tested, 29 percent couldn't name the current vice-president, 73 percent couldn't correctly say why American fought the Cold War, 44 percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights, and 6 percent couldn't circle Independence Day on a calendar.

The U.S. citizenship test is composed of 100 questions across 5 categories: American government, systems of government, rights and responsibilities, American history, and integrated civics.

80 percent didn't know who the president was during World War I, and 67 percent weren't aware that the USA has a capitalist economic system.

A further interesting fact, men performed better on the test than women, with 67 percent passing versus 58 percent of women. And while conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats held their own, much of the political center has tuned out of the conversation about what it means to be an American, undermining the foundations of the country's future.

Conducted by pollster Douglas Schoen, the test generally shows that when it came to the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens - such as freedom of speech or serving on a jury, geography, landmarks, and holidays, Americans performed significantly better than on government, history, and knowledge of the Constitution.

The statistics form part of Newsweek's "Ignorance Package" that also includes an essay by writer and historian, Niall Ferguson and an analysis of the political persuasion of the results by Douglas Schoen. The full results and analysis of the poll are available in this week's issue of Newsweek magazine, and on


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