Pete Winn
November 21, 2008

More than twice as many Americans – 56 percent — know that Paula Abdul is a judge on “American Idol” as know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (21 percent) — a phrase President-elect Barack Obama used in his election-night victory speech.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

The average American is nearly illiterate when it comes to basic principles of American history, government and economics, according to a new report from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute – and politicians are even worse.

More than 2,000 people were administered a 33-question test this Spring on American history and our political and economic institutions. Of them, 71 percent — college and non-college educated alike – got a failing mark, ISI’s Josiah Bunting III said, presenting the study at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Thursday.

“It can truly be said that we are suffering from an epidemic of civic ignorance,” Bunting said. “The extent of failure is pervasive, cutting across every segment of the American population.

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