By way of example, Williams cites the following astounding statistics:
But it's not just K-12 students who are ignorant of our history. In a 1990 survey -- and there's been no improvement since -- almost half of college seniors couldn't locate the Civil War within the correct half-century. More recently, 60 percent of American adults couldn't name the president who ordered the dropping of the first atomic bomb, and over 20 percent didn't know where -- or even whether -- the atomic bomb had been used. The same people didn't know who America's enemies were during World War II (Germany, Japan and Italy). In a civics survey, more American teenagers were able to name The Three Stooges (Larry, Moe and Curly) than the three branches of the federal government (executive, legislative and judicial). A third of the people who were asked the origin of the statement "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" responded by saying it's from our Bill of Rights, when it's actually from "The Communist Manifesto."
It's always fun to hear facts like those. First, because there's something intrinsically funny about astonishing stupidity. And secondly, of course, because it gives us an opportunity to feel smug, secure in our own intellectual superiority.
That was my reaction, anyway.