It's Official: Americans R Stoopid

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

As Americans, we tend to be pretty full of ourselves, and this is especially true of our young people.  But do we really have reason for such pride?  According to a shocking new report from the Educational Testing Service, Americans between the ages of 20 and 34 are way behind young adults in other industrialized nations when it comes to literacy, mathematics and technological proficiency.  Even though more Americans than ever are going to college, we continue to fall farther and farther behind intellectually.  So what does this say about us?  Sadly, the truth is that Americans are stupid.  Our education system is an abysmal failure, and our young people spend most of their free time staring at the television, their computers or their mobile devices.  And until we are honest with ourselves about this, our intellectual decline is going to get even worse.

According to this new report from the Educational Testing Service, at this point American Millennials that have a four year college degree are essentially on the same intellectual level as young adults in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands that only have a high school degree

Americans born after 1980 are lagging their peers in countries ranging from Australia to Estonia, according to a new report from researchers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The study looked at scores for literacy and numeracy from a test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which tested the abilities of people in 22 countries.



The results are sobering, with dire implications for America. It hints that students may be falling behind not only in their early educational years but at the college level. Even though more Americans between the ages of 20 to 34 are achieving higher levels of education, they’re still falling behind their cohorts in other countries.



In Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees, the report said.

How in the world is that possible?

I can tell you how that is possible – our colleges are a joke.  But more on that in a moment.

Out of 22 countries, the report from the Educational Testing Service found that Americans were dead last in tech proficiency.  We were also dead last in numeracy and only two countries performed worse than us when it came to literacy proficiency

Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.

It is in this type of environment that Coca-Cola can be marketed to Americans as “a healthy snack“.

As I mentioned above, our system of education is one of the biggest culprits.  From the first grade all the way through post-graduate education, the quality of education that our young people are receiving is absolutely pathetic.  In a previous article, I highlighted some statistics from USA Today about the declining state of college education in America…

-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”


-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”


-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”


-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”


-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”

I have sat in many of these kinds of college courses.  It doesn’t take much brain power to pass the multiple choice tests that most college professors give these days.  The truth is that if you fail out of college you really, really have to try hard.

In another previous article I shared some examples of real courses that have been taught at U.S. universities in recent years…

-“What If Harry Potter Is Real?

-“Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame

-“Philosophy And Star Trek

-“Learning From YouTube

-“How To Watch Television

-“Oh, Look, a Chicken!

This is a national crisis.  Parents should be screaming bloody murder about the quality of the education that their children are receiving.  But because very few of them actually know what is going on, they just continue to write out huge tuition checks all the time believing that their kids are being prepared for the real world.

To show how “dumbed down” we have become, I want to share with you a copy of an eighth grade exam from 1912 that was donated to the Bullitt County History Museum in Kentucky.

Would eighth grade students be able to pass such an exam today?

Would college students?

As you look over this exam from 1912, ask yourself how you would do on it…


In addition, I find it very interesting that the reading level of the State of the Union addresses delivered by our presidents has steadily declined since the inception of this nation.

And it should be no surprise that Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses have been some of the dumbest of all.

But could it be possible that I am being too harsh?

After all, scientists are now discovering that our diminishing intellectual capabilities are actually the consequence of natural processes.

For example, a Stanford University biology professor named Gerald R. Crabtree has published two papers in which he detailed his conclusion that humans have been getting dumber for thousands of years

Are humans becoming smarter or more stupid? Comparing our modern lives and technology with that of any preceding generation, one might think we are becoming increasingly smarter. But, in two papers published in Trends in Genetics, Gerald R. Crabtree of Stanford University claims that we are losing mental capacity and have been doing so for 2,000–6,000 years! The reason, Crabtree concludes, is due to genetic mutations—which are the backbone of neo-Darwinian evolution.

Why is this happening?

Professor Crabtree believes that this loss of intellectual capability is due to the accumulation of errors in our genes

Based on data produced by the 1000 Genomes Project Consortium and two recent papers in Nature, Crabtree estimates in the first article that, in the past 3,000 years (approximately 120 generations), about 5,000 new mutations have occurred in the genes governing our intellectual ability. He claims most of these mutations will have no effect, while about 2–5 percent are deleterious and “a vanishingly small fraction will increase fitness.” Crabtree bases his conclusion that humankind is losing mental capacity on the ratio between the deleterious and the beneficial mutations.

Our DNA is mutating, and it has been for thousands of years.  And no, those mutations are not helping us.  Each one of us has tens of thousands of errors in our DNA that we have inherited, and we will add even more errors which we will pass on to future generations.

Given enough time, many scientists believe that humanity would eventually degenerate into a bunch of gibbering idiots incapable of rational thought.

Or could it be possible that a large segment of the population has already arrived at that state?

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swass's picture

Whatchyoutalkinabout Willis?

Timmay's picture

Credit distorts everything.....

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

It's official, water is wet...

Oldwood's picture

Its a survival technique. Like our constant state of delusion. Cognizant existence is dangerous to our sanity.

Terminus C's picture

I am not sure we are getting less intelligent as a species... we are getting lazier and the dumb ones have a much better chance of survival these days as compared to the past.  Our education systems are on a distinct, and intentional decline (don't want the sheep to wise up too much).


max2205's picture

But we have guns.... ya'll 

stupiddd,  just wait till pot is legal...?oh wait


Stackers's picture

You know it's bad when you're dumber than the Irish......

OldPhart's picture

Fuck you, I'm Irish!  But in heritage, US kid otherwise.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Me too and I'm celebrating my birthday as well. So I'll have another beer, kill a few more brain cells and try to remember when I was proud to be an American.


Reaper's picture

Pride goeth before the fall. How stupid must you be to buy into the superiority myth given to you by your masters? They are your superiors. You are their inferiors.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Naure: Darwinian. Survival of the fittest.

Socialist Countries: Anti-Darwinian. Survival of the least fit.

Divine Wind's picture



H1B Visas anyone?

And people wonder why so many tech companies are importing talent.


Muh Raf's picture

The US political leadership is not renowned for leading from the front, especially in matters such as mass murder etc. It is refreshing to see that when it comes to ignorance they are the first over the top of the trenches, yes indeedy.

And in other news senator McCain got lost in his attempt at the Paris-Dakar rally in spite of having SatNav. His handlers are now trying to arrange a flight back from the capital of Bangladesh.

NidStyles's picture

Professor Crabtree is a moron.


There's no way to measure historical intelligence. It's given that ingenuity can be perceived as intelligence, but you can not assume accurately that it directly correlates to what we as humans today understand as intelligence.


This is another BS article that appears to be forcing the Hebrew myth of Man degenerating.

If anything there are fewer great men and men of intelligence on a percentage basis of population, but those intelligent ones will be even more intelligent than their forebears due to greater exposure to a variety of information and a greater standard of living.


I find it really hard to take any of these people seriously anymore. Even my Ph.D.'s above me are hard to trust or take seriously.


winchester's picture
winchester (not verified) NidStyles Mar 18, 2015 4:30 AM


be told  to be an idiot and refuse to admit it never fixed any problem, it only encloses you in your stupidity. accept it and try to learn, change behavior is a good starting point.


fist you have to put down that beer and get you ass up from the couch, turn of your fucking tv and take a pen and paper.


Dugald's picture

Why are you complaining, just look how many of you have degrees, that you  are a dumb ass is beside the point, you have a degree... the world and McDonald's await

Fun Facts's picture

ZWO protocol #11:

Control the education system to spread deception and destroy intellect.

Common Core.

Cadavre's picture

A gallop study - it appears to be conspicuously generous the US Educational System. Ask a 8th grader who the "coat hanger" was named after, Mr Coat, or Mister Hanger, and they'd be scrambling to the smoking area, err potty room, to query-tap their 4G iBling machines.

Holy Schamoses . . this test was one year before the the Genocide Exchangem the Federal Reserve, the IRS, Income Tax, Direct election of Senators and Wilson's reversal on a campaign promise not to get America involved in WWI (America was behind the German position in both WWI and WWII) cause a bunch of WZOG hillbillies honeypotted the big cheese, little peepee dude at the UK home office.

I do take issue with the aritmetic test cause question #8 is a formula based resolution (ya gotta calculate the Hypotenuse - geometry) rather than just a simple arithmetic challenge using the printed operators. If the question were to ask how tall the building was based on the number of degrees marked at 30 feet from the base of the building, it would require a trig or log table.  

Today a math test asks how many numbers are there from one to ten. Or, what button do you press on an iPhone to call the operator. Or how many miles in one mile. Really hard shit.

Today, the correct answer to question 2 in the Civil Government section would be National Fasciologarchy, State Fascioligarchy, County Fascoligarhy and Local Fascioligarchy.

Today, the diagram for "The Lord Loveth a Generous Giver" would be a CSPAN Diebold Selected White Show wearing his shorts backwards for the Wall Street Russian Mafioso that comp his nooners with preschoolers bills in the K-Street Kiddie Brothels

Japan scores best - so I was wondering how that translated to income, and it shows Luxembourg  as the top earnings stat (is Luxembourg even a country - it's more like a modern version of a city state - like Israel). Well the US, in this generously garnished edit at Wiki says US middle class make bunches more than the Japanese = the skew is that US folk are paid in counterfeited sovereigns, the USD and Japanese are cradle to grave recipients of health care and other services that they employ their public servants to safe guard.

A modern version of that test would ask one question, "How many breastesses does Kim Kardashian have, one, two or three)?", Or, "Does Walmart sell video games (yes or no)?".

Don't think today's US college graduate could beat 50 percent on the 1912 test.


Lame stream is attempting a makeover - hafl stepped in this NYT kitty box liner titled "CIA Cash Ended Up in the Coffers of AL KADA" - the "journalist, a Mr. Rosenberg" made sure to do his best and re-pleated the article with adverbs like "inadvertent", and a shallow scope back to `o7. I still be wondering what happened to that lost container load of 11 Billion USDs when the Dubby signed off on the Iraqi Genocide.

Parrotile's picture

I do take issue with the aritmetic test cause question #8 is a formula based resolution (ya gotta calculate the Hypotenuse - geometry) rather than just a simple arithmetic challenge using the printed operators. If the question were to ask how tall the building was based on the number of degrees marked at 30 feet from the base of the building, it would require a trig or log table.

Not really. You should remember that the sides ratios of 30,60,90 deg, and 45,45,90 deg triangles have a interesting yet very simple relationship. For your 30 deg. angle, the height will be distance to the base of the building / sq. root  of three.

(A-level maths, as taught in the very early 1970's . . . . . . .)

Cadavre's picture

For your 30 deg. angle, the height will be distance to the base of the building / sq. root  of three.


Is that not a "formula"? Were the question to ask: What is the square root of (30 * 30) + (40 * 40), or, as in a fortran cloned modern programming language, SQRT(30^2 + 40^2), it would be an "arithmetic" question . The question, as stated, requires the person being tested knows the "identity" or "formula" to calc the hypotenuse? (shit - i think i forgot the formula for calc-ing the length of the hypotenuse).

At my elementary school we had to learn how to calculate a square root for big numbers - most tedious - most tedious indeed. More like trial and error than a computation.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture



You misspelled the name of a good Irish beer.

MontgomeryScott's picture

I don't understand what you are saying.

Do you mean to say that there actually IS a 'good' 'Irish beer'? Isn't this like combining the words 'military' and 'intelligence' in a single sentence?

Well, if you meant 'whiskey', lad, I could almost understand (but not quite).

The High Altitude Auroral Research Project (based in Gakona, Alaska) could use some fine Irish lasses with whiskey to 'boost the morale' of the nerdpacking dweebs stationed there. If they bring masking tape (to repair the broken spectacles of their CHO-SIN men), this is a bonus. NO REDHEADS, though.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Modern colleges/universities are a massive racket, for the most part, only being able to charge the tutition they do due to the federal & state college loan programs, which benefits professors, administrators, university regents & presidents (who now make many hundreds of thousands, and in some cases, millions of dollars per year, with free living accommodations, insurance, food & other essentials).

If the now 1 trillion USD plus student loan program went bye-bye, and it should, as it is nothing more than taxpayer insured pork, tuition rates would fall by 50% to 90% at most colleges/universities.

They've created another market that's massively distorted, indebting college students in a much more deep manner than if these programs didn't exist, creating a new, massive class of debt serfs for life.

Another taxpayer backed, debt serfdom program, where defaulted loans will be socialized, profits will be privatized and shared amongst cronies (mostly unionized ones), where the end product is a more expensive, lower quality product than it would otherwise be due to lack of the need for competitiveness & innovation, and students, their parents & taxpayers are grist for this mill.

Further, 1/3rd of all students entering college don't graduate within 6 years, 1/4th don't graduate at all (i.e. drop out), and 30% entering have to take remedial math and/or reading courses before taking college courses b/c they are not proficient at even a modest level in these basic subject areas despite graduating from high school (many with good grades, by the way).

I hope the coming online edu programs such as MIT's free courses - the same exact material studied & tested as on campus - open to all (where a 16 year old from Mongolia scored a perfect exam score in electrical engineering) disrupts the conventional university system completely.

Canoe Driver's picture

The failure of the U.S. system of education is being caused by the commodification and democratization of education, i.e., the idea that everyone should go to college, as well as the notion that it is really just job training. If only smart people went to college, obviously the performance of the system would increase, but the profitability of so-called not-for-profit universities would dramatically decline. In other words, the future is being sacrificed for the sake of current income. And parents could not care any less, because to most of them, what they are paying for is branding. Schools have become brands. The right brands lead to the right jobs. This is the real intellectual failure of the U.S. system. The reality is that in a proper university, the students bring as much to the institution as they receive, if not more.

McMolotov's picture

"The university is well-structured, well-tooled, to turn out people with all the sharp edges worn off, the well-rounded person. The university is well-equipped to produce that sort of person, and this means that the best among the people who enter must for four years wander aimlessly much of the time questioning why they are on campus at all, doubting whether there is any point in what they are doing, and looking toward a very bleak existence afterward in a game in which all of the rules have been made up, which one cannot really amend."

—Mario Savio

Big Brother's picture

If the now 1 trillion USD plus student loan program went bye-bye, and it should, as it is nothing more than taxpayer insured pork, tuition rates would fall by 50% to 90% at most colleges/universities.

Now to the funding flip-side.  Assume in the future, the dollar is no longer accepted as a form of credit, and you need gold to purchase a college education.  Assuming no deflation, you'd either need to come up with 33 oz of AU over four years that your parents saved for you; or you'd need to borrow from a private party (bank, loan shark, college-itself, scholarship entity) the same amount.  If there was real money involved, the admissions would be different; only the rich and extremely intelligent would get in.  There inevitably would be a huge deflation in admittance. So I conclude by a contra-positive, your same findings inevitable, that there would an in-kind decrease in tution commesurate with the decrease in admittance (not enough gold exists).

Based on my understanding of history and linear regression, I believe the aforementioned scenario is the long-term norm.  It will be interesting to observe the transition.

OldPhart's picture

Mentioned previously, Happy Birthday.


I struggle to remember what it was like when Proud to Be American really meant something.

(Probably why I tell stories of younger days.)

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

You know, I have to admit that was sarc. That is something to really be sad about.

I have questioned all my heros since my childhood. Abraham Lincoln was the last one to go when I finally peeled away the covers. That was the hardest.

I still have a deep admiration of Audie Murphy of whom I was thinking about today. Maybe someone here can destroy him for me.


TruthInSunshine's picture

Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that the U.S. is or has ever been an even fairly democratic nation in law, economic justice or societal justice.

It may have been more or less so by purely relative standards of any given period, but the bankers have always called the shots from a very compelling degree to a nearly ludicrous degree (and the ludicrous degree era really did begin in 1910 on a small island off the Georgia coast).

Even your fallen idol, Lincoln, purportedly tried to wage war against the bankers when they insisted on loan shark, usurious interest rates to fund weapons purchases for the Union Army, and was ultimately powerless to stop them.

It really goes back to Waterloo & good old Rothschild. That was when the current model of formerly sovereign nations (and their legislative, regulatory,
judicial & military institutions) being captured by private banking/financial entities was born, and it's the model that we're stuck with today, with a heavy dose of petrocurrency thrown in for good measure (which the banksters also so happen to control - look at the fall of non-fractional reserve central bankless petro states of late).

Hobo Sapien's picture

Happy Birthday, Miffed ;-)

Destroy Everything You Touch:

got nuthin against Audie Murphy, links please. hehe

jerry_theking_lawler's picture

Happy Birthday Miffed!! Hope you had a wonderful and blessed day!!


On the American front....I am still proud to call myself American. I associate this 'word' with folks like you ZHers here along with other like minded free willed people.  I do like its association with the criminal and corrupted UNITED STATES OF AMERICA corporation and its agents.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

But we're smarter than the Polish.

What consolation!

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Isn't that equivalent to a trophy for participation?

Of course, Russia wasn't included because they didn't want the smart kid to blow the grading curve.  ;-)

mkkby's picture

America's decline is easily explained.  It is a divided country.  There is the "old" America of the 50s.  Then there is the "new" America, mostly composed of mexicans and africans.  So naturally scholastic performance is trending toward the banana republic and the congo.

I'm starting to believe the dumbed down schools make sense.  How do you get a room full of baby gorillas to stop swinging from the light fixtures and pay attention?  Mostly you don't.  But it has to be severely dumbed down or they have no chance to keep up.


SilverSavant's picture

Kirk you ignoarant slut, look at it again, we are behind the Polish, 285 to 284.

Muh Raf's picture

In all fairness SilSav I believe Kirk meant polish as in amurikans are smarter than boot polish, although I'm inclined to agree with you, most of them are not as smart as inanimate objects and dirt would give them a good run for their money in an IQ competition.

Boondocker's picture

May your wife always know where you are

MontgomeryScott's picture

Unfortunately, the farther down the scale people are, the harder it is for them to understand that they SHOULDN'T breed. The baser instincts are strong, in these ones.

Fucking, McDonald's Chicken McNuggets and Fries, fucking, watching television, welfare, fucking, diet McDonald's soda with aspartame for the weight gains, fucking, downloading porn using iPhones, fucking, getting laid, fucking, masturbating, popping zits, fucking, sleeping in, making trips to Walmart and paying with EBT, VOTING, fucking (anything that moves), ...

I went to a junior high school where some kid had carved an epiteth in a wooden beam supporting the building. It was spelled, 'FUK YOU'. They can DO it (but they can't spell it).

Blankenstein's picture

Don't forget that the government encourages this crap by paying these people to breed.  

toxic8's picture

Just waiting for the day that Gatorade is a-sprayin merrily on the white house lawn...

BooMushroom's picture

Life procreates. But nature, red in tooth and claw, used to help promote intelligence and skill. Now, everyone lives and most procreate.

swass's picture

I believe it is also that people are growing up so reliant on machines to do what used to require careful thought and calculation, that their brains are not developing the way they once were before all of the modern technological conveniences. It often makes me wonder if all of this technology were to one day die, perhaps due to natural or man-made phenomena, would we even have enough smart engineers to figure out how to reconstruct society?

Harbanger's picture

College students take ADHD drugs for better grades

Nice.  They're dum as shit even with performance enhancing drugs.

We should be ashamed as adults that we allowed this to happen.

But we have no shame and Johnny might feel bad.  This is all a consequence of our liberal nanny state culture. enjoy it, now you own it.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

4 things the Top 10 have in common:

1.  They all have only a Public school system.  No 2 tier system that allows the elite to escape and trash the other (public) system.

2. No significant spending on the MIC. Money goes to education,  not WMDs.

3. No home schooling, unless it's extra tutoring 

4. No uncontrolled immigration (to create 'churn')

SofaPapa's picture

None of this is permanent.  I've seen a small core of smart kids in schools even today.  When there is a population correction (looks like it's starting now, and going to accelerate), assuming our species survives, a more long-term average intelligence will re-establish (higher than current).  There hasn't been an environmental "weed-out" in a long long time now.

Abbie Normal's picture

A recent Forbes article ranks the speed of 4G networks in 29 countries that have widespread implementation of this service.  Somewhat surprisingly, the USA is ranked third slowest, ahead of only Mexico and Saudi Arabia.  Maybe that's why our students did so poorly, because their mobile data was so slow.