Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Irony, thy name is Fox News

In this video from Fox & Friends, Tucker Carlson and the host discuss a study from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute that found that college doesn't do a very good job of imparting civic knowledge. The study also found that going to college makes students more "liberal" on the issues of gay marriage and abortion. Scandalous, I know.



Not only do they misrepresent one of the study's findings (going to college does not decrease your civic knowledge), they ignore the other key finding(s) of the study, which is that greater civic knowledge is a better predictor of belief in American ideals and institutions than attending college (also not an earth-shattering finding):
1. Earning a bachelor’s degree exerts an independent, statistically significant influence on a person’s views on five of the thirty-nine survey propositions, most involving a narrow range of polarizing social and cultural issues. If two people otherwise share the same background characteristics, as well as equal civic knowledge, the one who graduates from college will be more likely than the one who does not to:
  • Favor same same-sex marriage; and
  • Favor abortion on demand.
Similarly, a college graduate will be less likely than a non-college graduate to:
  • Believe anyone can succeed in America with hard work and perseverance;
  • Favor teacher-led prayer in public schools; and
  • Believe the Bible is the Word of God.
2. Gaining civic knowledge influences a person’s views on four times as many propositions as college—twenty in all—that range across all of the six major survey themes. Civic knowledge also appears to produce a more independent frame of mind. For example, if two people otherwise share the same basic characteristics, the one who scores higher on the civic literacy exam will be more likely to agree that a person’s evaluation of a nation improves with his or her understanding of it; but also less likely to agree that legislators should subsidize a college in proportion to its students learning about America. Similarly, having more civic knowledge makes one more likely to agree that prosperity depends on entrepreneurs and free markets; but also less likely to agree that the free market brings about full employment.
3. Gaining civic knowledge—as opposed to merely graduating from college—increases a person’s belief in American ideals and free institutions. If two people otherwise share the same basic characteristics, the one with greater civic knowledge will be more likely to support:
  • America’s ideals: He or she will be less likely to agree that America corrupts otherwise good people.
  • America’s Founding documents: He or she will be less likely to agree that the Founding documents are obsolete.
  • American free enterprise: He or she will be more likely to agree that prosperity depends on entrepreneurs and free markets, and less likely to agree that global capitalism produces few winners and many losers.
  • The Ten Commandments: He or she will be less likely to agree that the Ten Commandments are irrelevant today.

But wait, there's more. Literally 30 seconds after Carlson expresses his outrage/disbelief that many students (18%) weren't able to name any of the freedoms that the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees, and specifically says that the Constitution doesn't allow for the establishment of a national religion (the 2:00 mark in the video), the host says - and I'm not kidding - "If degrees are making students . . . less likely to support school prayer . . . how do you fix this?" (2:32)

Yes, how do you fix what isn't broken?

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