Monday, June 25, 2007

Dunce-Cap Nation

We asked Americans about current events, history and cultural literacy. And we got some pretty disheartening results.

By Brian Braiker
Updated: 2:53 p.m. MT June 23, 2007

July 2-9, 2007 issue - For our What You Need to Know Now cover story, we asked our polling firm to test 1,001 adults on a variety of topics, including politics, foreign affairs, business, technology and popular culture. The results were mixed, to be charitible. NEWSWEEK's first What You Need to Know Poll found many gaps in America's knowledge—including a lingering misperception about an Iraqi connection to the September 11 terror attacks, an inability to name key figures in the American government and general cultural confusion.

Even today, more than four years into the war in Iraq, as many as four in 10 Americans (41 percent) still believe Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the terrorist attacks on 9/11, even though no evidence has surfaced to support a connection. A majority of Americans were similarly unable to pick Saudi Arabia in a multiple-choice question about the country where most of the 9/11 hijackers were born. Just 43 percent got it right—and a full 20 percent thought most came from Iraq.

Read the rest ... and weep

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