Researchers at a private university released an unsettling study today that revealed that a large percentage of Americans do not have the ability to do something basic that most people assumed they could do. The study went on to prove that Americans also lack a surprising amount of knowledge in a certain area.

“It’s a disturbing find,” said a professor who was one of many social scientists involved in the study. “We asked them a question that educated Americans consider common knowledge so that when we released this report, educated Americans could shake their heads sadly.”

This new thing that Americans can’t do very well has invoked comparisons to failings of Americans in the past: The inability of 83 percent to locate Iraq on a map or the fact that 61 percent didn’t know who Franklin Roosevelt was. Likewise, in this case, a percentage of Americans well over 50 could not answer a question or perform a task vaguely related to current events or civic knowledge.

The results were especially pronounced among minorities and those with lower incomes.  “Hispanics and African Americans—especially those living with incomes under an arbitrary dollar amount that sounds very low—were even less likely to perform adequately than their wealthier peers. It dramatically illustrates the educational disparities that exist in our nation,” the professor said.

Differences within America are not all that this study sought to point out. It also showed that compared to the rest of the world, America is lagging. “Americans ranked below 30th on this task when compared to their counterparts in other countries,” noted a think-tank researcher who was not actually affiliated with the study, but whose own views are reinforced by the results of the study. “To give you a point of reference, they performed worse than citizens in a third world country—possibly Balkan—whose name has connotations of underdevelopment.”

“The issue was better in my day, back when the government actually cared about the people,” concluded a random elderly American.

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