Good News, Kids! American Adults Are Idiots Too.

Every year someone does a survey of high school students and produces an alarming headline. Eighty percent of kids can’t find France on a map! Two-thirds of seniors don’t know what the First Amendment says!

My immediate reaction is: yeah, but I bet adults are idiots too. It’s just that no one studies them.

But they do! I just learned serendipitously that the OECD periodically conducts an international test of adult literacy and numeracy. It’s called PIAAC, and this is the first I’ve heard of it. I have a feeling I’m going to have some fun with this once I figure out how their data tool works, but for now I’m going to toss out the basic data for you to mull over. Here it is:

I’m only going to comment on one thing right now: the US scores dead last on “problem solving in technology-rich environments,” and yet the US is easily the world leader in creating technology-rich environments. Something doesn’t add up.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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