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How Fake News Works: Millions of Americans Would Flunk Any Basic Civics Class

Posted on November 9th, 2017 at 13:26 by John Sinteur in category: News -- Write a comment

[Quote:]

Gore Vidal once remarked, “Half of the US population reads a newspaper. Half of the US population votes. Let’s hope it is the same half.”

Now, fewer than half of Americans read the newspaper, and an increasingly alarming amount report that they rely on social media for news, but many of them are still participating in the Democratic process. I often see bumper stickers that announce, “I’m Catholic and I vote” or “I’m NRA and I vote.” It seems that a lucrative merchandising opportunity exists for someone who invents the sticker, “I don’t read and I vote.”

The documentation of Americans’ ignorance on fundamental issues of history and governance is by now so thorough that it hardly bears repeating. For example, only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government. These are people commonly referred to as “elitists.”

The problem is not just that Americans don’t know. It is that they don’t know what they don’t know, and they don’t know how to figure it out.

[..]

The most consequential offenders in the dissemination, and success, of fake news are not the Russians or social-media company executives, but the American education system, and the parents who are content with raising children who know little about their country, much less about the rest of the world.

Only nine states require civics as part of the high school curriculum, and many colleges have reduced or eliminated requirements in history and political science. As unimaginable as it seems, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni published a report last year that only seven of the nation’s top 25 liberal arts colleges require their history majors — this is not a joke — to take a course in US history.

  1. I am surprised the percentage able to name the branches of government is so low, luckily in the UK we just have one branch of government, no constitution and negligible legal redress, so it’s much easier.

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