What’s better than blogging drunk?

Blogging drunk about a new Justin Darr column! Happy, happy day!

This week’s “effort” is called Thanks for shopping at Wal-Mart, home of low prices Keeping America Dumb, Docile, and Democrat. Needless to say, John Kerry and his silly obsession with getting the support of allies before going to war are in for a beating:

In fact, with the exception of a few moral cowards, all of our traditional allies are assisting us in the effort in Iraq.

(8) Oh Canada (8)
(8) Our home and moral coward (8)

Could it be that the areas where John Kerry and Liberals draw their highest levels of support be the same areas with the highest levels of poorly educated adults? Plot these statistics onto a map and voil?! You will find an 80% correlation between Al Gore’s “blue” states and high levels of adult functional illiteracy.

OMDG! Justin Darr is now John Lott Jr.!

We don’t know where Justin got his statistics, (google has not been helpful,) but even if his basic claim is right, it would remain irrelevant. To support his argument (to call it that,) he would (at a minimum) need to show correlation between individual “functional illiteracy” and support for Gore. State-level data tells us nothing about whether or not “functionally illiterate adults” are more likely to vote for Democrats (should we ask Justin if he controlled for other variables when doing his regression analysis?) Justin might also want to remember this:

First, voters generally have higher levels of education and income. For example, college graduates vote more often than high school graduates; high school graduates tend to vote in greater numbers than those with only a grade school education. […] Third, occupationally, white-collar professionals, businessmen, and union members vote more than unskilled workers, blue-collar laborers, or non-union members.

In 2002, only 4% (an all-time low) of voters did not have a high school diploma (52% had at least some college education.)

It may be, of course, that Justin’s training is in epidemiology and that he has determined that functional illiteracy is contagious.

Justin also writes:

This is not a question of intelligence. Obviously, people who vote for Democrats are not a bunch of idiots.

Which explains why he concludes his column with this:

Or on Election Day, you are content being dumb, docile, and Democrat?

Right on!

[Note: We started this post while drunk, passed out, and finished it while suffering from a major league hangover.]


Comments: 11


Could it be that the areas where John Kerry and Liberals draw their highest levels of support be [sic] the same areas with the highest levels of poorly educated adults?

I doubt it. I know Kevin (Political Animal) Drum has written about Texas (not exactly a stronghold of Kerry or liberals) having the lowest percentage in the country of adults who’ve graduated from high school. And I’m pretty confident that Mississippi, for example, is (a) certain to vote for Bush, (b) lacking in liberals, and (c) full of poorly-educated adults. I believe that the Northeast is the region of the U.S. in which Kerry enjoys the greatest support (a sea of blue if you look at an electoral vote map), and I’m pretty confident it has a low proportion of poorly-educated adults.

It’s just goofy to suggest that Dubya enjoys the support of the intelligentsia, while Kerry is the darling of high-school dropouts. (If we required voters to be sophisticated enough to believe in evolution, for example, Bush and a lot of other Republicans would be dead meat.) IMO, the level of discourse on, say, the comment boards of liberal blogs is a tad more sophisticated than at, say, Free Republic. And blog censuses show, for example, that the people who read Talking Points Memo are (a) very liberal and (b) very well-educated. (I realized that blog readers are a tiny subset of voters, of course.)


“Realized” in that last sentence should be “realize.” God, I’m such a stupid, poorly-educated, liberal Kerry-supporting hick.


Who wants to bet that in at least a couple of months Justin’s next column will be complaining about how liberals keep painting Republicans as undereducated and dumb?


California may have a relatively high level of adults who are functionally illiterate, due to the many residents who are not native English speakers.

But anyway, I think that if you look at sites like The Rant and Renew America, you will find a high level of functional stupidity which correlates 100% with support for George Bush.


I reckon the source of his stistics is here. I think the 80% correlation is just made up, based on the lower illiteracy rates claimed for rural areas (though he doesn’t manage to copy that correctly).
A bit of searching finds this report which has literacy lower in the northeast and south and higher in the west and midwest. Looks like a wash on the red/blue states thing.


Ah, leave it to Tim Lambert to furnish some informed commentary on the matter.

The Grace Baptist Literacy Survey, which Lambert reckons to be the source for Justin’s statistics, starts off with these:

20% of American adults are functionally illiterate; another 34% have only marginal skills.

50% of American adults cannot read on an 8th grade level book.

44% of American adults do not read even 1 book a year.

How do you suppose GWB fares on these sorts of things? He plainly has very little interest in reading (the gripping “The Pet Goat” concededly being an exception). He doesn’t read newspapers, doesn’t read books, and doesn’t want his aides to give him anything longer than a couple of pages to read. My guess is that his reading comprehension isn’t great. One wonders if he is dyslexic like his brother Neil (Dubya denies that he is). I would be quite content to have the election decided reality-show style, with Bush and Kerry facing off in a test of reading comprehension to decide the presidency.


I’ve looked this up before. There’s a page out there that ranks educational background by state. I contrasted it with the Blue vs. Red states in the 2000 voting and the Blue states are like 13 of the top 15 and Red states are 17 of the lower 18 or something.


50% of American adults cannot read on an 8th grade level book.

Folks who don’t understand the nature of testing and the stats produced often misread them this way.

By way of example:

All second grade students are tested for reading proficiency with a standardized test. However well or poorly they do as a whole, one thing is certain: by definition, 50% of them are reading at “below second grade level,” and 50% are reading at “above second grade level.” The group itself defines the cutoff point, if you see what I mean.

It most definitely does not mean that those in the bottom 50% “can’t read a second grade level book,” but that’s often how it is misread, and I suspect that this is what’s happening here.

If I had to guess, I’d say that the stat being misread actually says that in the group of all adult Americans, the average reading proficiency is roughly that of a current eighth grade student.


And another thing:

I’m not familiar with any specific tests for reading proficiency in adults, but we test students like crazy, and when states are compared, correlations emerge. Without going into detail, they all pretty much boil down to this:

The states that spend least on education (per pupil) tend to have the poorest performing students. Naturally, this tends to put “poor” states at the bottom of the pile, and yes, that pretty much means “red states.”

Do I have to draw you a picture? Oh, [sigh] very well. Here’s simple red and blue chart of state ranking based on a number of factors– including student reading, writing and math proficiency– which determine which states are “smartest,” and I guarantee that you’ll find these composite results echoed repeatedly in any of the subcategories involved.

And incidentally, the term literacy is so subjective as to make it semantically null, so I don’t use it.


Tom Tomorrow recently posted a letter from what, in my experience, appears to be a typical Bush supporter. Test your lung power – go see if you can read that run-on sentence out loud without taking a breath!


Reminds me of the Dana Carvey joke that he’s (x) years old, but he reads at a (x+3) year-old level.


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