It's Official: American Adults Are Dumber Than Average

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

The study is called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies and it tested 166,000 people aged 16 to 65 in more than 20 countries.  It found that in math, reading and problem solving, American adults scored below the international average.

I can’t say this is surprising, after all, the public allowed the big banks that destroyed the economy to gift themselves trillions in the aftermath of the financial crisis with barely a peep in response. You don’t have to be a problem solving genius to figure that one out. Finally, there is some proof behind our long-held suspicions.

From the Associated Press via the New York Post:

WASHINGTON — It’s long been known that America’s school kids haven’t measured well compared with international peers. Now, there’s a new twist: Adults don’t either.


In math, reading and problem-solving using technology – all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength – American adults scored below the international average on a global test, according to results released Tuesday.


Adults in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland and multiple other countries scored significantly higher than the United States in all three areas on the test. Beyond basic reading and math, respondents were tested on activities such as calculating mileage reimbursement due to a salesman, sorting email and comparing food expiration dates on grocery store tags.


Not only did Americans score poorly compared to many international competitors, the findings reinforced just how large the gap is between the nation’s high- and low-skilled workers and how hard it is to move ahead when your parents haven’t.

Yes, it’s called feudalism.

The study, called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, found that it was easier on average to overcome this and other barriers to literacy overseas than in the United States.


Researchers tested about 166,000 people ages 16 to 65 in more than 20 countries and subnational regions. The test was developed and released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is made up of mostly industrialized member countries. The Education Department’s Center for Education Statistics participated.


Americans scored toward the bottom in the category of problem solving in a technology rich environment. The top five scores in the areas were from Japan, Finland, Australia, Sweden and Norway, while the US score was on par with England, Estonia, Ireland and Poland. In nearly all countries, at least 10 percent of adults lacked the most basic of computer skills such as using a mouse.

The above is somewhat surprising given the amount of time Americans spend glued to their iPhones for Facebook updates about what their cousin ate for breakfast. I can tell you one category in which Americans surely beat all global competitors. The art of mercilessly stampeding into one another like animals at Wal-Mart on Black Friday to purchase plasma televisions. That that world.

Full article here.

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Ident 7777 economy's picture

Programming on TeeVee starting in the fifties maybe?

LetThemEatRand's picture

It is with routine that I axe myself, rightly, why this articles are need be so offensive, you know, to me.  I am insulted at you.

NeedtoSecede's picture

Time to declare "War" on dumbness! It has worked so well with all those other things we have declared "war" on, I am sure it will work here too. /sarc

What would we call the .gov three-letter agency in charge of the "War on Dumb"?

Ident 7777 economy's picture

Dept of _________


Let's seem we've got so far DOE, DOC, DOJ, DOD, USDA ...

Jena's picture

You din't put em in alphabet order.

Jena's picture

Oh d'oh.

That means the agency to deal with it would have to be the D.O.A. 

"Department of Asininity" because even though I didn't think that was an actual form of the word, it is but mostly because it has enough syllables that anyone who has to say it will sound ridiculous and foolish.  If they have a sibilant "S" they will hiss and lisp. 

But mostly I like it because of what the initials stand for:  Dead on Arrival.

adr's picture

Fuck, the TV is telling me to buy real estate in Belize.

I don't think stupid is enough to explain life in America.

IridiumRebel's picture

Every time I see dumb shit in this country, I look at real estate abroad. 

wisehiney's picture

Rebels don't run. They stay and fight.


IridiumRebel's picture

That's why I just look......

wisehiney's picture

Find us some good help while you are looking. Some of them thar Swedish chicks could help.

Uber Vandal's picture

As I said before, Idiocracy will be looked back as brilliant, much like Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World.



adr's picture

You don't have to wait for history to look back on it. Just walk down the street and see Idiocracy in the present.

wisehiney's picture

There are many ways for an enterprising young person to profit from these govt idiots and sheep. The govt will never be able to hire people smart enough to keep this shit wagon going. That is where a young entrepeneur has opportunity. Find an essential service, work a few years to master the craft, call your own shots. Initiative required. Skill and confidence come with time.

Jack Burton's picture

I can confirm the stupidity of Americans. I let myself get talked into giving a weekly night class in a foreign language. There is a cultural center here that is trying to promote the Scandinavian languages, as many people are of Swedish and Norwegian heritage. I told the managers that I could easily teach the Swedish class, but that I did not want to do it, because in my experience, Americans are too stupid to learn even basic beginning foreign languages. They insisted, as they could find no qualified Swedish teachers. So, like a fucking fool, I let them talk me into it. I prepared my lesson plans, and worked hard to make them idiot proof, and made them to give very easy and small amounts of the basic grammar and a small and simple vocabulary list. My goals were very modest. Last night was the first class, three hours long. I handed out prepared study guides, I did everything up so a 5 year old could follow the program. Well, I almost caused a riot. These people fucking flipped out when I handed them a list of words to learn. But wait, I began a simple hour lecture on how Swedish nouns work, how to decline them and the different kinds of nouns. Simple stuff, again, they went fucking crazy! They actually got mad, they didn't know they were going to be lectured on grammar!  This all sounded like work! They came to have fun and be taught Swedish. I finally got mad, I told them that if they could not learn the simple grammar rules of Swedish nouns, presented in the most simple manner, then they were hopeless, they might as well all go home.

Bad experience. Americans, these fuckers are stupid. They get mad if they are expected to memorize, study and listen and take notes. And most of these fuckers had college degrees! I demanded that they pay me the full salary, even if all the students drop out. Because I worked many, many hours preparing lesson plans for dummies, lessons that a chimp could follow and learn. But not these Americans! No wonder nobody in this nation can speak a foreign language.

I am really pissed off at wasting so much work on this class. I want my pay, if they are too stupid to learn, that ain't my fault.


adr's picture

You should have passed out iPads loaded with reruns of the Muppets.

Jena's picture

Dubbed in Swedish.

LetThemEatRand's picture

They mad 'cause the Swedes got all the gold, yo.  In Venice, Switzerland and stuff.  Locked up in pole vaults.  Word.

Ident 7777 economy's picture

I see where you went wrong ... ever taught a small creature like a bird to do something using the 'clicker' (reward associated with sound) method?


An Introduction to Clicker Training





So, start small, and work up ...





McMolotov's picture

We'll just import Indians who can speak Swedish. Who's stupid now?

geewhiz's picture

They are not dumb, its the subject matter. Thanks to all the intelligent ZH'er comments I just looked up twerking and did a fascinating 5 minute course in it. That twerking girl instructer got over 16 million hits and she can twerk me anytime. And besides what is a noun anyways?

Geruda's picture

We've probably seen nothing yet.  Wait until the current crop of smart phone addicted citizens have plugged all the holes left by the departure of the last of the classically educated segment of the population.  Katy bar the door, it ain't gonna be pretty.


The human experiment is going to be declared an evolutionary failure.  Probably sooner than anyone expects.  Then again, if enough of the species survives the outcome might be completely different next time around.   If somehow the human race everywhere else in the world had been exterminated, native Americans would still be living in a relative paradise today.   True, there wouldn't be any NASCAR, Football, or footprints on the moon, but they'd still have an unlimited number of centuries to mosey their way to a higher level.

Intoxicologist's picture

You should have built your curriculum around Sven and Ole jokes. 


Clowns on Acid's picture

Jack - Ya shoulda worn your Lapland reindeer skin outfit with your Sami bow and arrow. These people want feckin' entertainment at class if they are missing their their favorite TV show. 

IridiumRebel's picture

 "US score was on par with England, Estonia, Ireland and Poland. In nearly all countries, at least 10 percent of adults lacked the most basic of computer skills such as using a mouse."


I feel a Pollock joke coming on.....

adr's picture

To be fair, my 92 year old grandmother can't use a mouse. 

But she can play Beethoven on a piano and sew almost any garment from her own designed patterns.

I'm pretty sure the mouse made people stupider.

LetThemEatRand's picture

The mouses made me smarter.

Jena's picture

Shoot, my two cats and dog know what to do with mouses.

Ident 7777 economy's picture

"Mice", honey, the plural for 'mouses' is "mice" ...

cynicalskeptic's picture

I miss the DOS C prompt.   You had to THINK and know basic commands to get a computer to do something.  Now.......

Acet's picture

Real hardcore computer users do it with punchcards.

Parrotile's picture

The glory days of "The Hollerith Machine"  160 bytes per card, maximum read rate of 300 cards per minute (= 48K per minute)

Then along came paper tape - - 300 8 bit characters per second = 2,400 bits per second, or about 2k, so at 120k per minute, just over twice as fast as your stack of cards.

Remember audio cassettes - about 330 bits per sec (cheaper but far slower than "professional" paper tape readers), but the favoured storage solution for Tandy, Commodore, Sinclair, even the BBC B

and fast forward to now: USB3 - and 10 GB per sec.

Parrotile's picture

All the "original" useful stuff was command line based - DBase, Supercalc, Wordstar. It worked, and worked well, but users were expected to LEARN how to use it (horror of horrors!).

I've still got the original manuals and floppies for SmartWare - a popular "Integrated System" in its day - which could comfortably provide a full suite of Office standard applications running on 32k of RAM and a 286 CPU (IBM PS2 Model 60). Still got the Linnet V22 modem we used to provide a "dial in" service for our customers - "secure" BBS system with Patient data on it too!

Arkadaba's picture

I've taught some basic command line stuff to my younger nieces and nephews just so they have some idea of what is going on behind the curtain. Funny thing is that they think it is super cool and seem to grasp the concepts right away. I think it is something that should be taught early on as part of basic computer literacy.

Frankie Carbone's picture

People are like deers in the headlights without their computers and mouses.

FrankDrakman's picture

Don't like to be picky, but the plural of 'deers' is 'deerses'.

Frankie Carbone's picture

Boy do I feel stupid. You'd think that at age 47 I'd have learned how to properly conjugate my adjectives!

Hang Em High's picture

"I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly."................Montaigne

ebworthen's picture

Sample Questions:

"You have 100 Euro's and a chance to invest in Facebook or Gold, which do you choose?"

"Your Wife catches you with your Mistress, you tell her A.  "I was buying lingerie for our 20th wedding anniversary and this Harlot seduced me" or B.  "The President said this Woman was a terrorist and if I slept with her I could gain vital information against Al Queda."

It all depends upon the questions, the answers, and the scoring/statistical metrics.

Also, did they poll American's in D.C. or Wyoming?

edotabin's picture

"One bucket holds 5 gallons and the other holds 3 gallons. How many buckets do you have?"

Money Squid's picture

Bucket? what are you talking about

Bucket - Definition: Bay area slang for an undermaintenanced vehicle. Also known as a hooptie. In gangster circles, buckets can also be rented by means of barter with crack cocaine or crystal methamphetamine. In this instance it is known as a "rent-a-bucket". Rent-a-buckets are primarily used in drive-by shootings and is usually a stolen vehicle. In the case of a stolen vehicle, the first part of this definition is is not strictly followed.

ebworthen's picture

Eight one-gallon buckets of organic soy milk from Whole Foods?

Money Squid's picture

C - honey I have a iron clad prenup so shut up and make me a sammich

Diogenes's picture

So the rankings go something like this:

Swedes, Finns, Australians, Japanese, Canadians, Norwegians


Americans, English, Irish, Estonians, Poles


Box of rocks, sack of hammers

Anusocracy's picture

...Americans, English, Irish, Estonians, Poles, Smart Phones, Toasters and Small Appliances, Anything at Absolute Zero, Frenchmen, Fed Chairmyn.

JR's picture

Studies comparing math, reading and problem solving skills of American adults with international averages must first consider America’s Mexican-born population and its influence on test scores.

“The Mexican population in the U.S. has grown 20 times its size since 1960,” according to Migration Information, “when about 576,000 Mexican immigrants resided in the country, or less than 6 percent of all immigrants living in the United States in that year.”  In 2011, America’s Mexican-born population was 11,672,600 or 54.9% of America’s 21,245,300 immigrant population from Latin America, those Mexican-born growing to 28.9% of the 40,377,800 immigrants living in America.

Says M.I., “As a group, Mexican-born adults were less likely to be university graduates compared to all immigrant adults.

“In 2011, only 5 percent of Mexican-born adults ages 25 and older had a bachelor's degree or higher, which is substantially lower than the 27 percent share of immigrant adults and the 29 percent share of all US-born adults.

“In addition, 59 percent of Mexican-born adults had no high school or GED diploma, compared to 31 percent of immigrants overall and 11 percent of native-born adults. The share of the Mexican born who reported their highest educational attainment as a high school diploma, some college credits, or an associate's degree (35 percent) was lower than that of the native born (61 percent) and the foreign born overall (41 percent).”

Source: US Census Bureau's 1960-2000 decennial censuses, 2010 and 2011 American Community Surveys (ACS).

NOTE: Latino Voices reports the current U.S. Hispanic population is “53 million strong,” saying “Hispanics represent great potential both politically and economically.” -- The Huffington Post  |  Posted: 09/18/2013

RebelDevil's picture

It's sad, but true. Poverty breeds more poverty typically. Mexican immigrants find themselves working instead of learning.
Same goes for a lot of negros, same goes for all of the impoverished.

Americans became dumb, because most Americans are very apathetic and submissive! 
Most truly smart people have zeal!