Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fox News Makes You Dumb, But Not Much Dumber Than Everyone Else

Best laugh I got on the Internetz today was this headline:

STUDY: Watching Only Fox News Makes You Less Informed Than Watching No News At All

In other shocking news...President Obama is black!

Must be Bill O'Reilly's #1 fan.
In a nutshell, 1,185 random people in a PublicMind poll were asked five questions about current domestic affairs and five questions about international affairs, as well as where they usually get their news on. Among responents who identified only a single news source, those who said they watch only Fox News correctly answered fewer questions than those who get their news from CNN, MSNBC, or Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," among others.

Those who exclusively listen to National Public Radio news scored highest on both domestic and international questions.

Granola is brain food.

Personal opinion, but listening to NPR all the time seems a high price to pay for being a tad better informed about current events. Not a huge NPR fan, me. They introduced me to Barenaked Ladies in 1992 and haven't done a thing for me since.

<3 nerd rock.
In any event, if you ask me, this story buried the lead. It's easy to laugh at dumbass Fox News fans. No, really, it is. Let's do it together.

Let's do it like Muttley.
However, the plain fact is that while those dumbass Fox News fans averaged a total of 2.12 correct answers out of 10 questions, the top-of-the-heap, my-latte-is-foamier-than-your-latte NPR listeners averaged 3.48 correct answers to the same 10 questions. That's a score of, let's see, 35% or so.

Why, with a mere 60-point curve,
that's a solid A.
So while the last-place hardcore Fox News junkies get a solid F in their knowledge of current events, the first-place NPR devotees get...a solid F in their knowledge of current events.

I got seven out of ten wrong.
You got eight out of ten wrong.
My superiority is palpable.
Am I wrong to think the bigger story here is that a lot of people are dumb and clueless about the world in which they live? I'm not saying I scored a perfect 10, but according to these results, I could have gotten fully half of them wrong and still be an intellectual Godzilla compared to the smartest randomly-selected tools in this particular shed.

No, more than that. An intellectual Sharktopus.
I mean, 35% of the respondents - over 400 people - didn't know the Republicans control the U.S House of Representatives. And that was the best result of any question on the survey. That's not an effect of ideology. That's just idiotic.

Not that the two are mutually exclusive, mind you.
What is kinda sorta biased is the headline itself. Fox News makes you less informed than watching no news at all? Well, yeah, that's a grabber. But how about "Watching 'Meet the Press' Doesn't Make You As Smart As You Think It Does," or "Fox Viewers Ignorant, But CNN Fans Not Much Better," or the even catchier "Most Americans Have Their Heads Up Their Asses When It Comes to Knowledge of Current Events"?

I like to bash Fox News as much as the next person.

The next person. In my dreams.
But this time I can't bash too hard. In the kingdom of the ignorant, the halfwit is king. Yay?

For the record, I scored seven out of ten, mostly because I didn't remember which Republicans won which primaries. To see the complete survey results, including all the questions and how Americans answered them, click here.

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