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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syntaxterror's picture

But we invented Twitter!

chindit13's picture

At the student level, consider Massachusetts as a country, and it comes in 2nd place in the world (behind only Singapore) in terms of science scores.  Mass also has 6.5mm souls, to Sing's 5.5mm, so the comparison is fair.

Now what states are holding the US back? 

As for the overall cause of America's intelligence gap, I suspect many factors are at play.  The "winners" seem to be among the more homogenous populations, and amongst the less religious.  Is that significant?  Who knows?  Certainly the winners do not seem to go out of their way disparaging science in favor of the fantasy of creationism.  Also, there has been a demographic shift in the last few decades where the educated and intelligent are having fewer children, while the less educated, and perhaps less intelligent, have higher fertility rates.  Perhaps the entire concept is flawed, too, or even irrelevant, because the high IQ nations (Hong Kong, Singapore, China, even Mongolia) aren't exactly setting the world afire in terms of discovery and invention.  Or maybe the "inventing" nations just have a a very wide range of IQs and a higher standard deviation?

The good news is the US still tops Equitorial Guinea, where it is estimated the average IQ is 59.  Ouch!  Moron was once defined as a person with an IQ below 75, imbecile below 60, and idiot below 50.  Talk about opportunity!  Only in Equatorial Guinea could a moron be tops in his class.

FWM's picture

Thank you Javitz (and company, including Mary Jo's chauffeur) for the 1965 Immigration Act.

Diogenes's picture

Why are you  dragging the Italians into this (old joke courtesy Archy Bunker. I still think it's funny)

JR's picture

The anti-religious bias gets it wrong concerning intelligence.

@The "winners" seem to be among the more homogenous populations, and amongst the less religious. – chindit13

Homeschoolers is just one example. Homeschoolers have an unbroken record of beating the national average on the ACT Exam for the past 10 years. And “parents choosing homeschooling are mostly Christian (94%), and white (77%).” –May 3, 2012  Educ 300: Education Reform, Past and Present

Once Again Homeschoolers Score High on the ACT Exam | | Feb 17, 2011

Recently released statistics show the 2006 average ACT composite score for homeschooled students was 22.4, compared to the national average composite of 21.1!

Now homeschoolers have an unbroken record for the last 10 years—since 1996, when testing officials started tracking them—of scoring higher on the ACT than the national average.

For example, the 2005 average ACT composite score for homeschooled students was 22.5, compared to the national average of 20.9.

The 8,075 homeschool graduates who took the ACT in 2005 comprised about 1 percent of all those who took the college entrance exam.

The 1996 ACT results showed that in English, homeschoolers scored 22.5, compared to the national average of 20.3. In math, homeschoolers scored 19.2, compared to the national average of 20.2. In reading, homeschoolers outshone their public school counterparts 24.1 to 21.3. In science, homeschoolers scored 21.9, compared to 21.1.

According to the 1998 ACT High School Profile Report, 2,610 graduating homeschoolers took the ACT and scored an average of 22.8 out of a possible 36 points. This score is slightly higher than the 1997 report released on the results of 1,926 homeschool graduates, which found that homeschoolers maintained an average of 22.5. This is higher than the national average, which was 21.0 in both 1997 and 1998....

Peter K's picture

Obviously the data takes the belief in "Zero Group Difference" as a given.

Toxx's picture

People who post comments on this website are pretty smart though.

Geruda's picture

That was bitter sarcasm, right?

All Out Of Bubblegum's picture

Yo country's so stupid it gets stabbed in a driveby. Yo country's so stupid it sells the house to pay the mortgage. Yo country's so stupid it takes an hour to cook minute rice. Yo country's so stupid it loses money being a whore.

Disenchanted's picture

"Ignorance[of the masses] is strength[for the adepts]."

Ar-Pharazôn's picture

about the stampede i have to say one thing....


animals act better even when eating, they respect the hierarchy

MickV's picture

This story is propaganda for the purpose of telling America that it is OUR fault that working population is so low. There are jobs but we are not smart enough to do them, thus we must bring in immigrants to do them. It goes along with the meme that "Americans are just not skilled enough to do the many jobs available".

What were the controls? There have to be controls for the study to be valid. Were "adults" just picked at random? How were they chosen? Were they chosen off the street in Detroit, or in Jackson, Miss, or were they chosen from Chapel Hill, N.C or even Manhattan, NY?

If this is reported by the AP it is surely Propaganda.

I'm sure that others here have read between the lines of this supposed study. In every website associated w/ PIAAC there is NOT ONE MENTION about the methodology of choosing participants, but it is clear that "government and government education" programs are using the results to shape policy.

There is even a .gov website (shut down due to shut down):

NOT ONE MENTION OF CONTROLS OR METHODOLOGY OF CHOOSING PARTICIPANTS MEANS IT"S ALL BULLSHIT. More nonsense from the educated idiots who probably never had a real job in their life, so that other educated idiots in government can use it to point to as an "authority" reference to make policy, and bludgeon we the people.

guasilas's picture

At which stage exactly were they expected to turn from hopeless students into intelligent adults?

Sid James's picture

"My mom is always telling me it takes a long time to get to the top, but a short time to get to the bottom." Miley Cyrus

lolman's picture

why is no one mentioning that blacks with their average IQ of 85 are going to bring down the average by force?

The Abstraction of Justice's picture

Q. More generally, why is that retards with IQ < 100 are bringing down the average IQ?

A. Because your schools are churning out PC retards.

lolman's picture

Of course, let's just close our eyes and ignore the fact that the countries with the best indexes have very few blacks if any


Repeat with me: 50 000 years of evolution had no effect whatsoever in the human brain, humans from different continental origins have the exact same intellectual capabilities, Africa is poor because evil white men put a spell over them, it has nothing to do with the fact that they breed much faster than what the environment can sustain because of very poor future-planning abilities

The Abstraction of Justice's picture

My guess is that without the welfare and mass immigration policies of the West, which are almost now flooded with third world immigrants, then Blacks and Hispanics would have evolved by sexual selection to be of the same IQ as the rest of humanity. As it is, we have all been dumbed down, and few are at the potential they would otherwise be. The blame lies with white, but not European, ethics. The kind who call their kin Anglosaxon Bankers, without a single genetic root in England.

Againstthelie's picture

Charlotte Iserbyt: The intentional dumbing down of America.

Not much better here in Germany. Only 10-15 years behind. There is no western country not under control of the global "elite".

And the really bad news: the public doesn't even care anymore...

Randoom Thought's picture

The real lesson from this that people will have to learn is that governments are not somethng that can be trusted and that people need to take responsibility for thmselves. Find the truth "within".

Randoom Thought's picture

We can thank the banks for gifting themselves the money in the largest fraud and theft that I am aware of. It is what opened my eyes ... and probably the eyes of many others. Until then I believed that governments were generally good, banks were places to store one's wealth and that Osama Bin Laden might be a boogie man and that there really might be evil terrorists out there ... and not just poor and happy people who had their world cave in around them as a result of naked western corruption and aggression.

Thank you Hank Paulson, Lloyd Blankfein, Ben Bernanke, Jamie Dimon, Dick Fuld and the rest ... you opened my eyes.

847328_3527's picture

"No child left behind."

It's all part of that philosphy. Dumbing down teaching to the dumbest student in the cass.

farmboy's picture

The average American Academic thinks that Turkey is someting you eat for Christmas.

notadouche's picture

We would be stupid if we fell for Global Propoganda like this.   Then again, what does this say about all of those other countries that look to the US to lead on many world initiatives.  Blind leading the blind I suppose.  

You know what, maybe this is right because we are so fucking stupid we borrow money to give aid to most of these fucking countries.  It take it back.  We must be the most stupid country that has ever walked the face of the earth.

Took Red Pill's picture

Now that's exceptionalism!

ifishivote's picture

My buddies 2 kids take Art and Chorus 5 days a week. Enough said. They are in 8th grade.

yrbmegr's picture

My son is in chorus and debate.  If he's below average, and you ask him about it, he will make you think it is you that is below average.

TrustbutVerify's picture

Hence, the need for millions of moderate and low skill jobs instead of the pipe dream promises of high skilled positions.  Bought any American made anything lately? 

yrbmegr's picture

Nothing a good tax cut can't fix.

d edwards's picture

Americans dumber than we thought? Well, they elected 0bozo TWICE! case closed.

Downtoolong's picture

Anyone who is smart enough to read and understand a report like this one (vs searching franticaly for the latest Miley Cyrus news) already knew the findings.

Therefore, that makes it a dumb-fucking-waste-of-time-and-money kinda research study too.


DadzMad's picture

Read John Taylor Gatto (or listen to his you-tube videos).  Explains everything.  Public eduction is meant to keep us dumb, bored, and complacent; we make perfect consumers that way.  How the hell would they control a truly educted America?

homonohumanus's picture

fixed that for you :

Read John Taylor Gatto (or listen to his you-tube videos).  Explains everything.  Public eduction is meant to keep us dumb, bored, and complacent; we make perfect consumers that way.  How the hell would they control a truly educted people?

PatientZero's picture

We have, in fact, lost 14 points of IQ over the past 100 years. Keep in mind that 14 points of IQ might mean the difference between brilliant or borderline retard.

RaceToTheBottom's picture

While this point is pointed less at ZH'ers:

Imagine what reading these blogs would be like if the % not using computers learned how to use a computer?

alpharack's picture

Bullshit, call it human idiocy. Based on my observations, problem solving incompetence is human idiocy at work. It's not specific to USA, even those who are skilled in math are not able to use their math for practical puposes so what's their math skills worth then?

DadzMad's picture

And laziness.  Why bother learning anything when the new season of Dancing with the Stars is on and I have a fresh bag of cheezy poofs.  I'm scared by the number of adults I don't see at our public library.  When I was a kid my dad used to take me, and he would come out with two or three novels and non-fiction books and finish them before they were due.  He was an ironworker, not a schooled man.  There is just something wrong with going through life putting in the least amount of effort possible.

homonohumanus's picture

Here is the orginal study:


The results are dreaful for my country: France.

We should go down the sink pretty soon... /vomit.

Quantum Nucleonics's picture

This shouldn't be a surprise considering the education system is run as an entitlement program for teachers and a partisan pressure group. The kids are an afterthought. Plus most parents are looking for a place to dump the their kids so they can go do what they want.

If you are a concerned parent, private or home schooling are your only options.