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Surprise: Americans poorly informed on social issues

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A British research group, Ipsos MORI, has released a new study of fourteen countries and their citizens’ perceptions of various social issues. Many people, it seems, seriously misjudge things like the rate of unemployment, the percentage of immigrants or Muslims or Christians in their population, or the number of pregnant teens. It was surprising — or perhaps not, given our media — to see the US population is the second worst informed of the fourteen nations surveyed. Only Italians harbored more misperceptions. Swedes were the best informed.

Other social issues included were average life expectancy, number of people who vote, murder rates, and number of people older than 65. And while you may not really care how misinformed your fellow citizens are, consider how it might, or just did, affect the way they vote.

Before reading about the study and its findings, try taking the quiz for yourself. (Remember, the study was conducted before this week’s election.) Unfortunately I’d already read some of the report before I saw the quiz, so I’d already seen some of the answers. There are only nine questions, so it’s a quick exercise.

How well did you score? Would you have guessed Americans are the second most ill-informed of the fourteen populations surveyed? Are you an exception … or part of the problem?

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