we had a good-ish run

SOTU Proves Obama Thinks Americans Are Simple (In The Bad Way)

The average American will be able to sound out 2-7 of these words, unassisted.Official science has finally proven that Kenyan interloper Barack Obama has an incredibly low opinion of the average State of the Union-viewing American. An outfit which has adopted the patently fictional idea of “Smart Politics” as its name fed President Obama’s speech into a sad word-eating robot, which digested and then spit out this unbearable analysis: Barack Obama and/or his speechwriters crafted his speech at about an 8th-grade reading level, lower than any speech from the last 12 presidents including George W. Bush, even. And as a blood-curdling new survey shows, he would be correct in his assumption that 113% of Americans are stupid.

Eric Ostermeier at the University of Minnesota brings us this depressing analysis of our President’s estimation of America’s intellectual capacity:

With three addresses under his belt, President Obama has the lowest average Flesch-Kincaid score for State of the Union addresses of any modern president. Obama’s average grade-level score of 8.4 is more than two grades lower than the 10.7 grade average for the other 67 addresses written by his 12 predecessors.

Truth be told, we should be happy Obama did not just deliver his speech in pop-up book form, given that apparently we are all pretty dumbbbb. A lovely portrait-study of American in decline brings us the exciting news that the youth can no longer focus enough to understand what science, technology, or math even are, let alone begin to study them:

Sixty percent of respondents ages 16 to 25 to the Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, which seeks to gauge innovation aptitude among young adults, named at least one factor that prevented them from pursuing further education or work in science, technology, engineering and math fields (known as STEM). Thirty-four percent said they “don’t know much about these fields,” while a third said “these fields are too challenging.” Twenty-eight percent said they weren’t “well-prepared in school to seek out a career or further … [their] education in these fields.”

[...]

Last week, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness advocated a focus on STEM fields in schools. The paper stressed the need to “start by transforming our education system from preschool through K-12.”

That sounds totally doable, right? [Smart Politics/HuffPo]

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157 comments

  1. Barb

    "speechwriters crafted his speech at about an 8th-grade reading level"

    No wonder Palin hasn't Tweeted a response yet. Let's give her a few weeks to digest it.

    1. Swampgas_Man

      Given that upteen percent (math is hard) of the Sheeple STILL think he's a Kenyan, he's obviously aiming too damn high.

      1. GOPCrusher

        They showed a video on Olbermann last night where a woman at a Santorum event was bitching about the fact that Obama is a Muslim and why isn't anyone doing more to get him out of the White House. She sounded serious pissed.
        There are some very scary individuals walking loose in this society.

        1. Barb

          I saw that last night and it was pathetic. If you saw Colbert, he spoofed it last night and it was CLASSIC!

    1. Chichikovovich

      Just taking a break from grading problem sets. And to judge by the answers I'm getting for question 4, it seems that, yes, math is hard.

  2. SmutBoffin

    STEM education requires money and a desire to inculcate kids with critical thinking skills. The Tea-bows in Congress and local govt's across the country aren't fond of either.

    1. prommie

      You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think. A deeply ant-intellectual culture will never produce large numbers of kids eager to learn math.

  3. SorosBot

    Considering that nearly half of all voting Americans went for George W. Bush twice, yes Americans are that stupid.

  4. Texan_Bulldog

    About time you guys woke up. Must have been a heckuva party at Wonkette HQs!

    And, yeah, Americans are pretty damn stupid…and fat. USA!! USA!!!

  5. MOG2410

    Working with a national literacy group in the mid-80's to improve our customer information materials, we were advised that the grade score level for the D.C area was 8th grade (not sure if it was the same metric). Hard to imagine it's gotten any better, they should have aimed lower – that pop-up book would be huge with some groups, as long as it has lots of flags and Founding Father pictures.

  6. Chichikovovich

    his speechwriters crafted his speech at about an 8th-grade reading level,

    Our Hopey are learning how to communicate with the American people.

  7. edgydrifter

    Next year's SOTU will probably be:
    "America good. You love America. Me love America. We good.
    America Number One!!"

  8. memzilla

    "…speechwriters crafted his speech at about an 8th-grade reading level…"

    And John Boehner was still screwing up his face in puzzlement and hatred.

    Srsly, though…. newspapers have always been written no higher than the 8th-grade level. A tip of the Hatlo Hat to the Preznit for knowing his audience.

    1. Geminisunmars

      Its what they kill you with if you is criminnal?

      Its a low cal athlete drink?

      Maybe participants in the electoral college?

  9. EatsBabyDingos

    Well, Teacher Barbie taught us that "Math is hard!" And Grifter Barbie taught us that thinking hurts. And Stay-Puft Ken taught us that history is not lobbying, but pays 100 times as much. And Santorum Ken taught us nothing, because he is a baggie full of farts.

  10. Callyson

    Barack Obama and/or his speechwriters crafted his speech at about an 8th-grade reading level
    Well, he *was* talking to the 112th Congress, after all…

  11. GOPCrusher

    Considering that the wingnuts have been accusing him of being over educated and talking down to them for the last three years, maybe the President decided to have the writers make him a speech that "real Americans" can understand.

  12. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    Let's face it, if Obama had given a more complex speech, the Republicans would accuse him of being educated, and therefore a Kenyan and not a product of the US educational system.

  13. freakishlywrong

    Look at one of our major political party's candidates. Look how they're polling. Eighth grade was a fucking compliment.

  14. DrOzarkZ.Hellbender

    Oh, dear. I thought it was pretty good, simple and direct, with a pretty strong metaphor at the end…then again, I think Jed Bartlett would be a pretty good president…

    Damn. I am one of the poltroons that I should, by rights as an Educated Elitist, be looking down upon.

    1. flamingpdog

      Or the smart lawyers and politicians.

      "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos." – man of the people Nebraska Republican Senator Roman Hruska, in defense of Supreme Court justice nominee Harold Carswell.

  15. Dashboard Buddha

    Given that there seems to be a grass roots movement to make people stupider, (I'm looking at you, Tennessee) I'm surprised the speech wasn't written at an even lower level.

    1. SorosBot

      And of course there's the creationism "Intelligent Design" movement to teach blatant lies to kids in biology class; the want the kids to be stupid on science and history.

      1. Dashboard Buddha

        Well fuck…why don't we just make pi 3-ish? There was an "article" on the Onion lately talking about Intelligent Falling. I bet being a writer for the Onion is getting harder and harder each year.

  16. prommie

    In the study about the STEM fields, did they offer as a reason for not going into these fields the option "I hate math?" Like, maybe its cultural, and nothing to do with schools and education policy? Maybe there is a reason kids want to become SWAT team officers and CSI investigators and professional wrestlers, rather than engineers, and maybe it has to do with American anti-intellectual culture?

    1. finallyhappy

      Real CSI investigators need lots of science- not just big boobs, big hair and hooker shoes or macho man gun ability. I hate those shows- christ, those so called investigators muck up every crime scene and then magically get DNA results back in 3 hours. TV is frequently incredibly stupid

  17. DrOzarkZ.Hellbender

    “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly flat and dishwattery [sic] remarks of the man who has to be pointed out as the President of the United States. … Is Mr. Lincoln less refined than a savage? … It was a perversion of history so flagrant that the most extended charity cannot view it as otherwise than willful.”

    The Chicago Times

    “The ceremony was rendered ludicrous by some of the sallies of that poor President Lincoln. Anything more dull and commonplace it would not be easy to produce."

    The Times of London

    So, not every speech gets good reviews, is what I'm saying.

        1. Extemporanus

          "And that is why, on this eve, Nat Turner is our Worst…Three-Fifths of a Person…in the Wooorrrllldd!"

  18. johnnyzhivago

    I'm waiting for the vowel-consonant analysis, the preposition to article report and the all important "percentage of letters of the alphabet used" before I make up my mind…. Also – did he use a "Z" in the speech at all? Every previous president managed to get at least one "Z" in the speech. What makes Obama so foreign, so other-ish that he breaks this tradition?

    1. JackDempsey1

      You must have stepped out when Barack promised the middle class a Zagnut in every pot. Rewind the tivo.

  19. prommie

    Vis-a-vis the president's 8th grade speeches, for God's sake, has "political correctness" so strangled our discourse that noone has the courage to "call a spade a spade?" The President is Near. Oh, he is amazingly articulate, of course, but he is a Near, so of course his speech is at a lower level. Sheesh.

  20. LiveToServeYa

    After examining the Flesch-Kincaid formula, I believe W got a higher rating only because he could never construct a sentence without repeating, extemporizing and adding additional syllables to words. Brevity is the poet's art.

  21. James Michael Curley

    Give the guy a break. He had deliver the entire speech with Biden and Boner behind him. Not once did he glance around nervously and ask; "Are they still there?"

  22. Extemporanus

    Can you fucking blame him?!

    Obama could bust out the finger puppets and 27% of Americans still wouldn't have a goddamn idea what the hell he was talking about.

    Of course, nor would they care…

  23. SayItWithWookies

    "President Obama is hornswaggling us with his uppity Harvard Law professor speeches and metaphors and flowery language!"

    "Um — actually, his speech last night was written at an eighth-grade level."

    "President Obama is illiterate!"

  24. johnnyzhivago

    Once again – 2/3 of America was probably tuned to STORAGE WARS at the time of the speech, and someone is seriously wondering why the President leaves "big words" out of his speech?

  25. flamingpdog

    Pfft, we don't need no "further education or work in science, technology, engineering and math fields". Everybody knows businessman is the most honorable profession.

  26. Texan_Bulldog

    A little OT but I noticed the ad for the "Bad Kitty for President" book. My 7-year-old son LOVES these books, which are basically about a bad-tempered, evil cat who then atones for his capers in alphabetical format (you'd have to read one). I noticed in "Bad Kitty's Christmas", that the author mentions so & so's 'partner'. I remember thinking "Wow, that's neat." So anyway, a book recommendation for those of you with young ones. Okay, back to your regularly scheduled programming (aka snark).

  27. eldswede

    It doesn't take a college professor to do a Flesh-Kincaid analysis. Anybody with an older copy of Microsoft Word can run one. Just copy/paste the text into MS Word. It used to be built in, but seems to have disappeared in the newest version.
    All it does is count long sentences and multi-syllable words. No magic here.
    Clarity in public speaking is good. And it helps to draw a contrast with that snotty and pretentious Gingrich.
    oldswede

    1. James Michael Curley

      Find it as an option in the bar at the bottom of the page. Right Click and select it.

    2. Chet Kincaid

      There are several websites where you can just paste in text and get some bullshit estimate of a grade level, I've had to use them. It all seems rather pseudo-scientific to me.

      1. ShaveTheWhales

        I'd be more inclined to call it semantic engineering. The formula resembles the kind of semi-empirical thing that shows up in, say, turbulent flow, where there is lots of data to show that the formula is predictive, but nobody really understands exactly why.

        I assume (charitably), that the coefficients in the F-K formula are derived by something like regression analysis on a large number of reading comprehension tests. Clearly, it's an approximation — there are plenty of short words ("condign", "quirt") that are relatively unfamiliar, and long ones ("pseudo-scientific") that are known to many via repetition.

        The thing that people tend to get wrong is that the F-K formula is a measure of how easy it is to understand, not of the complexity or significance of the content. It is entirely possible to discuss very complicated topics using quite simple words; it just takes more work on the part of the presenter. And there may be some loss of connotation (a self-contained example, there).

        But really, if your intent is to actually communicate some content to the broadest possible audience, rather than to sound impressive to yourself, keeping it as simple as possible is the way to go.

        1. Chet Kincaid

          Also, writing for broadcast or speeches, if done well, is a different animal than writing for a reader. You have to take into account what the speaker can convey comprehensibly, what does or does not "roll off the tongue", and what the ear (not the eye) can follow.

    3. eldswede

      I just remembered my favorite, the Gunning Fog Index. Similar to Flesh-Kincaid.
      This would be perfect for Gingrich followers.
      oldswede

  28. weej_bain

    Does Bill O'Really know about this ebb tide of 'Murican science? So many youth will never enjoy seeing the light by being hit over the head by Maxwell's silver hammer.

  29. elviouslyqueer

    The obvious explanation is that Zer0 has a comprehensive reading level of about an 8th grader and since he has to read it off a teleprompter, the speech must be written for him on an 8th grade level. If not, he would badly mangle his speech even with the teleprompter.

    Oh honestly. I didn't think racist moronic buffoons with the intellectual capacity of rancid dog shit would bother commenting on a blog called "Smart Politics." Seriously, fuck these people.

  30. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    Admit it, this is the speech we all wanted to hear last night:

    President Obama: Shit. I know shit's bad right now, with all that starving bullshit, and the dust storms, and we are running out of french fries and burrito coverings. But I got a solution.
    South Carolina Representative # 1: That's what you said last time, dipshit!
    South Carolina Representative # 2: Yeah, I got a solution, you're a dick! South Carolina, what's up!
    President Obama: Now I understand everyone's shit's emotional right now. But I've got a 3 point plan that's going to fix EVERYTHING.
    Congressman #1: Break it down, Obama!
    President Obama: Number 1: We've got this guy Not Sure. Number 2: He's got a higher IQ than ANY MAN ALIVE. and Number 3: He's going to fix EVERYTHING.

  31. Designer_Rants

    EXCERPT: About two dozen tea party activists held a news conference, then met with lawmakers individually to present their list of priorities and “demands” for the 2011 legislative session that opened Tuesday. http://bit.ly/xsVkRA

    They must have rubbed their 2 collective brain-cells together until a spark flew out and burned a series of grunts onto a piece of paper, which the media generously called "demands". The effort likely caused most of them to shit themselves and drool out a lispy "Don't Tread on Duh".

  32. Slim_Pickins

    SOTUS was aimed at eighth graders so the Republicans would have a fighting chance to understand the speech, or would except for their mutual attention deficit problem.

  33. prommie

    I don't think Murricans are particularly stupid, as the stupidity levels of the various nations go (look at fucking Canada, have you ever heard a hockey player speak? Of course not, they can't) but we do we have a considerable streak of proud, defiant ignorance, with ignorance being held as a virtue, even, by much of the population (the only book I need is the good book.)

    1. GOPCrusher

      And you could see that he was struggling not to say "Allahu Akbar!" at the end when he said "God bless the United States of America".

  34. Steverino247

    An Army buddy once complained that he was told to write a manual at the third grade level. I asked what was the problem?

    "Surveying is a fifth grade concept."

  35. Guppy

    "Last week, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness advocated a focus on STEM fields in schools."

    For far too long, we have been a nation of English majors! No more!

  36. Eve8Apples

    He should have hired Larry the Cable Guy and Snooki as speechwriters so the average American voter would not have to look up those 8th grade words.

  37. Wonderthing

    Well, I could while away the hours conversing with the flowers and consulting with the rain. And my thoughts wouldn't hurt me and the garden hose won't squirt me, cause I went and bought a brain.

  38. Millennial Malaise

    Not to brag, but I've been at a college-aged reading level since the fifth grade. The debilitating stupidity of my fellow Americans (from Mrs. Hanson's math class to this very day) has been a great burden.

    But I'm sure Barack can relate to the astonished looks of people when you drop some 10 cent word on them like "assuaged" or god forbid, pronounce "supposedly" correctly and they act like you're speaking Mandarin or worse gulp….French! Ew! "Why you talking like you white?!" etc.

  39. eldswede

    There is a program similar to the Flesh-Kincaid called the Gunning Fog Index. It uses mostly the same metric and rates grade-level, but it's stated purpose is to show how many people will NOT understand the text. A high Gunning Fog Index means that the writing is not clear, not lucid.
    Bad writing can have many big words and run-on sentences, score high on the Flesh-Kincaid, and be totally incomprehensible.
    Our President understands this. As a Harvard-trained lawyer, he can certainly produce text that would make your eyes cross. Check out the Harvard Law Journal, where he was editor-in-chief. But his intent is to communicate, not be awesomely intellectual. If you want pretentious b.s., Gingrich is your man.
    oldswede

  40. Dashboard Buddha

    Ah hell…we don't need no calculations no how. The babble spels everthing out in cubits.

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