Sunday, July 01, 2007

Either the Republic's editors are idiots, or they think that we are...

...if this goes over well, perhaps I'll start a regular 'picking nits' series of posts...ok, probably not. :)

As part of its 'Viewpoints' section in the Sunday edition, the Republic ran a piece with twenty questions to determine how much American know about their "country, its laws, government structure and history."

Like most such quizzes, it's mostly intended for entertainment, not educational value, so my criticism isn't reserved for the "no-brainerness" of most of the questions.

One of the answers, however, cause me to raise my eyebrows - it either illustrates the Rep's editors' math illiteracy, or their expectation that their readers are math illiterate.

To wit (my commentary separated by [brackets]) -
4. How many U.S. senators are there? [That's a pretty straightforward question; no problem there.]

A: 50 (one from each state). [In a multiple choice format, this answer is a seemingly valid possiblity; it's wrong, but it makes a kind of sense to people who don't know the answer and will try to guess at it.]

B: 100 (two from each state). [In a m/c-format quiz, the correct answer should be included; no problem here.]

C: 300 (four from each state). [OK, now this is a problem. The fact that it's wrong is OK, but "four from each state"? Are the editors saying that there are 75 states? That would be fine, but it's kind of inconsistent with the first two answers, which have 50 states. Or perhaps they think we can't multiply 50 by 4?

Or perhaps *they* can't multiply 50 by 4.]

Of course, they could just think that 'dumbing down' the paper is a legitimate response to the Rep's plummeting circulation numbers.

...By the way, when I took the test -

20 out of 20 correct, and I only had to guess on the 'Flag Day' question (#7). Knew the rest cold. :)


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