This is one of my favorite articles by Lee Roy LeRoi in the Baliadvertiser magazine.

From the article:

Most of you reading this will not understand it. The US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics said in November that “prose literacy” among national university graduates fell to 31 percent in 2003, from 40 percent in 1992. Among those with post-graduate degrees, prose proficiency fell to 41 percent from 51 percent over the same time span. And that’s in the country with supposedly the best university system in the world. (Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 29, 2005)

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It is distressing to contemplate that written words have such a low efficiency rate. Even assuming that a writer has put down what he means to say – and the low “prose literacy” rate in reading puts that in doubt – there is no guarantee he has communicated his thoughts to a reader. “Letters to the Editor” sections often carry examples where someone clearly mistook a commentator’s or reporter’s meaning. Perhaps a satirical tone was missed. Perhaps a quick read gave the reader only an impression of what the author was saying. Maybe the reader doesn’t “do” nuance, preferring or needing instead the prose equivalent of a two-by-four smack between the eyes.

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Many people right now are congratulating themselves on being in the third with reading proficiency. But how do they know? Consider this: most incompetent people don’t know they are incompetent, according to studies conducted in the 1990s by Dr. David A. Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell University in New York. The problem, Dr. Dunning believed, is that “the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence,” (according to a Jan. 18, 2000 article in the New York Times).

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In tests designed to compare ability versus self-evaluation, people scoring in the lowest percentiles consistently over-rated their performance. Specifically, test subjects scoring in the 10th percentile on the grammar test ranked themselves in the 67th percentile in their ability to “identify grammatically correct standard English.” On the test of logical reasoning, subjects scoring in the 12th percentile ranked their reasoning skill in the 68th percentile.

Put those dismall statistics against the most common search engine terms, (Paris Hilton, etc) and Google Trends of suddenly popular searches, and what you get is that most people are stupid and have banal interests.

Which makes me feel better when I see that my blog doesn’t attract a lot of visitors.

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