Tim Chitwood: Do you know how stupid we are? Me neither

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 13, 2013 

According to some study that just came out last week, Americans are dumb as a box of rocks.

This news might make the average American wonder: How did researchers reach that conclusion? Did they drive around noticing some Americans can't even read a crosswalk sign, or that some think you're supposed to slow down at a green light and speed up at a red? Did they just watch American TV, or did they overhear Americans at a sandwich shop cellphone ordering for coworkers? ("So what kind of sandwich do you want? Turkey? OK. What kind of bread? Rye? They don't have that. OK, wheat. What kind of cheese? What kinds do they have? I don't know. OK, hold on. I'll ask.")

As a newspaper reader who's probably smarter than the average American, you probably already know how this data was compiled and analyzed. …

Oh, you don't? Then don't look at me. I didn't read it, either.

Hold on, I'll Google it -- after I text a friend ("U R N idiot! LOL!") and post a picture of my lunch on Facebook. ("Thanks to Bipsy Boogle (tag) for bringing me a sandwich!") Plus I'll accidentally delete my work by forgetting to save it before closing the computer program.

The study was conducted by the OECD, which sounds like a psychological disorder but stands for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. And that shows what this group knows: It can't even spell "organization" or "cooperation."

The study is the OECD Skills Outlook 2013 (skills.oecd.org). It says only Spain and Italy are worse at math than the United States, which ranks below France, Ireland, Poland, England, Korea, Canada and Australia before the median average score overall. Above average are Germany, Estonia, Austria, the Czech Republic and yada yada yada Finland and Japan.

So Americans who wonder how this research was conducted should note that it involves math, so they wouldn't understand it.

Americans do better in literacy, ranking above Germany, Austria, Poland, Ireland, France, Spain and Italy. But we still aren't as literate as Danes, Koreans, Brits, Canadians, Slovaks and … blah blah blah … Fins and Japanese rank first, again.

Somehow this gauges our problem-solving skills in today's technology-rich workplace, but I don't see why. Heck, I'll be lucky if I got the rankings right.

I would double-check those, but it's lunchtime.

Tim Chitwood, tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8508.

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