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Newly Discovered Eighth Grade Exam From 1912 Shows How Dumbed Down America Has Become

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Have you ever seen the movie “Idiocracy”?  It is a movie about an “average American” that wakes up 500 years in the future only to discover that he is the most intelligent person by far in the “dumbed down” society that is surrounding him.  Unfortunately, that film is a very accurate metaphor for what has happened to American society today.  We have become so “dumbed down” that we don’t even realize what has happened to us.  But once in a while something comes along that reminds us of how far we have fallen.  In Kentucky, an eighth grade exam from 1912 was recently donated to the Bullitt County History Museum.  When I read this exam over, I was shocked at how difficult it was.  Could most eighth grade students pass such an exam today?  Of course not.  In fact, I don’t even think that I could pass it.  Sadly, this is even more evidence of “the deliberate dumbing down of America” that former Department of Education official Charlotte Iserbyt is constantly warning us about.  The American people are not nearly as mentally sharp as they once were, and with each passing generation it gets even worse.

Holy crap, today thats college level stuff.  To me this is proof that the whole dumbing down of america conspiracy is true!  Absolutely true because if our standards hadnt changed it would still be this way and obviously it is not and it has been so long that todays education experts are also so dumbed down that they too haveno idea that the advice they are giving out is in a sense stupid.  They are part of the conspiracy without even knowing it.  They just follow what they were taught and told.  I have seen Idiocracy and its so stupid that it was annoying but I did manange to finish it and the way things are going these days, I could see it happening someday.  Justin Bieber singing naked to his grandmotheris considered news these days.  See what I mean? -Mort

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    Total 62 comments
    • Fisherman

      Wow this is amazing discoveries! Americans are so freakin dumb and stupid.

      • Equalizer

        One can blame several of the following:
        Political correctness, “Liberalism” which dumps down to the lowest common denominator and “Common Core State Standards initiative”
        All play a role in America’s dumbing down/educational rot.

      • BinaryRecoil

        I was supposed to graduate in the class of 05′ from high school before I dropped out and aced the GED test so horrifically that I wondered if I should have taken it sooner and filed a claim of independence/ability to care for myself in a court.

        While it’s true that not All of that is on 8th grade tests- the mathematics isn’t any tougher than 8th grade (where they try to have you in Pre-Algebra). The History section is COMPLETELY different, they were desperately trying to distance our education from war by that time so they taught us mostly false/ extremely edited history & left that to High school US History Class. The Anatomy was never something I actually paid attention too (until after school when I was actually interested)- but they were trying to teach it as early as 4th grade. English/Grammar isn’t as hard as current 8th grade standards where you have to have proven you have the ability to write a full paper that is up to par with a national standard.
        Civil Government is basically what our History class was about in middle school- however that could be different now as my teacher went out of his way to force us to learn the definitions of the required curriculum on top of Civil Government before 7th grade was out and we did have knowledge of boundaries, requirement to know state capitals/locations as well as weather patterns and territorial unique qualities like mountain ranges and canyons that are well known.

        Anyone who didn’t have this standard (short of the civil government- which they’ve been trying to downplay so they can shift completely away from a Republic and finish off with Democracy to move into a Feudalistic Totalitarian Regime) and graduated before the class of 2005 from High School has the legal authority & right to sue their educational facility for not upholding to national standards while forcefully enslaving them for 13 years of their lives.

        If you DID actually learn this and just forgot, there’s absolutely no excuse for you. I was physically ill to the point of near death throughout the entirety of middle school- only attended 2/5th’s of the time required to be in those 3 years of school & still successfully passed while remembering it.

        • BinaryRecoil

          My apologies, I completely skipped over Science. Which by the end of 7th grade you had to prove you had a working knowledge of the periodic table of elements as well as an understanding that the rDNA that your body is made of is actually 4 different molecular structures arranged in a very unique pattern. Before middle school was over they had taught the foundations of Biology to every student and the foundations of Chemistry- as well as extra curricular courses where I took Technical Education and learned how to build a basic level robot that functioned on a computer program, proper engineering of a bridge, and how to fly in a simulator on top of clearly remembering basic woodshop being a part of tech ed. and the choice (even though they didn’t let me into the classes) of learning Mythology, Latin, Bible Studies, or Algebra- when during middle school I was in band and learned how to proficiently play the Clarinet to the degree of being able to keep perfect harmony on a Class 6 Musical Piece (highest rated musical difficulty). There was also a mandatory to take Art Class- had to take it before you left middle school, to learn different types of Art & History of it, with P.E. being required for every student.

          So what world did you people grow up in, the slackers anonymous club? I went to public school.

      • Anonymous

        But….But…. The children in 1912, didn’t knew anything about, Multiculturalism, alternative Life style e.g. homosexuality, homo-paedophilia, transgender, lesbians,. Tolerance, Dignity with respect without any effort for it. Lastly THEIR RIGHTS! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

      • Anonymous

        This site must be filled with people too old to remember 8th grade. This is not college level. I actually remember 8th grade. We were tested with more difficult exams than that. Ok, the focus was more general, but that makes sense since 100 years later there is simply more general knowledge! In high school mid-terms and finals were at least an hour long exam for each class.

        Some of those 1912 questions are trivia and success was the result of purely memorization. A different set of questions would have stumped those same students who aced this exam. Plus, who gives a rip who “discovered” Florida or who first filled out the paperwork to proclaim that an idea originated with them. Who discovered the Pacific Ocean? It is hard to think of a more ludicrous idea: that we can pin down humankind’s noticing of the Pacific to a specific person!

        When it comes to regurgitating spoon fed “facts” as proof of intelligence a story comes to mind:
        ONE OF Einstein’s colleagues asked him for his telephone number one day. Einstein reached for a telephone directory and looked it up. “You don’t remember your own number?” the man asked, startled.

        Oh yeah, and that exam was not newly discovered, in fact, it was BIN in August.
        “No,” Einstein answered. “Why should I memorize something I can so easily get from a book?”

      • Anonymous

        Only on BIN would a hundred year old 8th grade exam be “evidence” of how dumb everyone is today.

      • Anonymous

        Memorizing trivia = Intelligence

      • RMS

        It’s not Americans are so dumb and stupid….Americans are the most innovative people on Earth, but it is those in charge. They are the ones who are “dumbing down America” with their no tolerance policies and politically correct ways of thinking.

    • irluk

      Totally agree, they are part of the problem and they don’t even know it!

      • CindySessoms

        I actually saw an 8th grade test from the 1800s, and it was actually harder than this one.

        That’s okay – we have this site that makes us smarter (and it’s FREE):

    • Anonymous

      It all started in the 60′s with the rise of liberalism and the progressive socialist movement.

      50 + years of progress a little hope and change and we have the America of today. A true basket case. A country where taking it up the a$$ is the norm.

      • Will Langley

        First, if you’re going to cast stones, then at least be an adult and show your name without hiding behind “anonymous”. Secondly, don’t even think about blaming liberals….it’s the CONSERVATIVES that are destroying education in the US. After all, it’s the conservative states/conservative party that is allowing schools to distribute text books illustrating that Jesus frolicked with dinosaurs two thousand years ago.

        • Confederate

          Sorry but the people writing the text books are liberal dumb-o-crats!

      • Confederate

        Actually it started long before that!

    • Warren

      When the number of children a woman gives birth to is inversely proportional to the IQs of those children’s parents, this is what you get.

      • Freeamerican

        Truth, though there’s also all the women who had a kid without a husband (and dumb guys who have sex without protection) then put them in daycare. That’s another problem. Anyone making even one kid right now is selfish, and nuts.

        • Thane36425

          Nuts maybe, given the downward spiral humanity is on. The only selfish ones are the ones having broods the welfare system or international aid raises, in other words those depending on someone else to pay for their kids. If not for that, few people would have more than 2 or three kids.

      • Homeschooler

        Wow, think about what you say before you say it. I’m offended not for myself (I don’t have any kids) or for my parents (they only have four) but for three families I know: The first has eight kids and the dad has a high rank in the US Army. The second has 10 kids and their dad owns a successful business. The third has 15 kids and their dad is a literal rocket scientist.
        I don’t think you would like to get out from behind your computer screen and say that to any of those 39 people’s faces.

    • CGAnnon

      We learned all of this in 8th grade…. I also went to a private school.

    • Anonymous

      these days the kids cant even read the test, let alone answer it. I bet no one in any major high school could pass that test….I bet ya 1/3 of 50% of the combined interest on $100.00 held for 7 years at 2.75% interest minus your age plus 10…..divided by the number of correct answers

    • Marcia

      My seventh-grader got all but five of the questions right. And 37/40 of the spelling words right. Public school. Not particularly advanced for her age. She says this covers a lot of what they work on at school (the questions she missed were almost all in the history section).

      It is somewhat ridiculous for grown-ups to be judging “dumbed down america” if they themselves are dumb. If you can’t answer these questions, then that’s your problem, not today’s eighth-graders. sorry to be blunt but it’s time you faced facts: it doesn’t show how dumb america is, only how dumb you are.

      • Anonymous

        Listen, if you can’t just agree that America is doomed and all us Americans are idiots thanks to Obama, just leave.

      • Anonymous

        It’s sad that people who are past their prime have to belittle the younger generations in order to continue feeling relevant. Times change, trivial knowledge is easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

        If today’s kids wasted time memorizing trivia there would be no time to prepare for college.

        If those of you from the past want reverence, try passing along the wisdom you have gained with experience instead of launching a barrage of insults.

    • DuncanIdaho

      None of the friends I surrounded myself with in 8th grade would have much problem with this test, and we were all public school kids. These are all pretty basic questions, and if this is college level material for you, then you probably didn’t make the best out of your education.

    • Mirabolin

      How do you tell an American is lying? He / she praises teachers unions and insults other peoples genetics.

      Citing concerns over the country’s education performance compared to other nations, and the long-term impact of the shortcomings on the future economic viability of the country, the Obama Administration has pushed for comprehensive reforms during the president’s time in office.

      According to the AP,

      “This is an absolute wake-up call for America,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The results are extraordinarily challenging to us and we have to deal with the brutal truth. We have to get much more serious about investing in education.”

    • TombRaider

      This is all part of the long range plan to destroy America from within, there was no other way to defeat it. The next part of the global reconstruction is to deal with the over population. There are over 7,000,000,000 people on the planet and this is about 50% more than it can sustain so 3,500,000,000 must go…..

    • AndreyE

      Those are questions for current 5th grade in Russia. What 8th grade? In 8th grade we would solve complex algebra. :lol:

    • AndreyE

      I also noted political questions.
      As a matter of fact you people never vote for the president, that means it’s no elected by people!
      You vote for ppl who vote for president :lol:
      And what’s the difference with soviet russia? We would have political questions also.
      It’s all the same.
      Government was never owned by people. :cry:

    • k9luv

      Even the teachers can get it wrong…under Physiology, # 1. I think they mean secrete. I could not find secrate in the dictionary.
      Describe the battle of Quebec? Geez…I don’t remember a lot of stuff!

    • Anonymous

      I blame feminism, which seeks to reduce everyone to the level of giggling school-girls.

    • chefjim

      Isn’t it ironic that the year of this test was a year before the beginning of the end for this country. It was the year that Wilson signed the Federal Reserve act. Anyone know what that is? Most don’t know and what’s worse is most don’t even care. It gave the federal reserve the right and to issue Federal Reserve Notes or dollars. The problem is is that it is a PRIVATELY OWNED BANK and not part of the gov’t of the US. They lend money to the US AT INTEREST thereby creating the source of inflation. This has been carefully thought out by the elite bankers throughout the ages. Just as this is a little known fact with huge importance, there are other facts, just as impacting that very little is known about. Do some research on the Morgans and the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds.

    • Pix

      It’s true pretty much everywhere. The psychotic in charge don’t want people to know much. They want obedient robots with just enough of an education to hold down a mundane bs job for as little as can be gotten away with, not fully empowered independent educated human beings.

      The best gift anyone can give another, is to instill how easy it is to teach yourself. People tend to do very well when self educating, because it’s a subject they are interested in, rather than being forced on them.

    • Simon Says

      I find the test rather easy.

    • cashisking

      As I get older and speak with my peers, we have come to that conclusion that youth is truly wasted on the young. All the smartest people I ever worked with were 30-40 years older.
      My tolerance for ignorance is at its lowest right now.
      I sit here in the desert writing these experiences as to how did I get to this point and what is the point.
      I wish the future scholars well and the rest can go to… forget it.

    • Anonymous

      question # 8 under Civil Government is at this point in history irrelevant

      It is no longer enforced.

    • Mirabolin

      I’ve got a theory about America. It is that there is an entire department of the FBI or similar whose sole purpose is to scour the internet for any mention of state schools and praise them to the skies. You might think it’s just teachers trolling or students whose teacher is their personal hero but no other unions do this stuff as obsessively as those who do it about state schools do and it makes sense that the state would want every moron out there to associate themselves with (fake) teachers a-students.

      • Anonymous

        Is it really that hard to believe there are real people out there that would disagree with the premise of this article?

        The article proclaims essentially:
        This exam is proof of the superiority of people 100 years ago to modern Americans. (Except of course, the author and any other BIN readers that have not been ousted as liberal commie obot trolls…SARCASM)

        I think anyone in middle school, or a middle school teacher, or a middle school parent could possibly be compelled to counter this weak argument.

        I have not read one comment that says: My eighth grader is an idiot.

        Most comments that support the authors ideas have no real evidence and only their personal opinion that kids today are dumb.

        In my opinion, this site is full of curmudgeonly old folks who can’t deal with the times.

    • patriot156

      Anyone who said their kid can answer this test and pass is a damned liar. The Gov type questions we had the math no! unless you took algebra, but never heard of some of those words like kalsomining and such.
      The history questions and Gov we had similar question, but never to that kind of detail. Civil Gov forget it since Democracy is whats being sold to Americans we never saw the Word Republic in any test I remember. Only when we did the pledge of allegiance was the word Republic ever used.
      Pshycology question we never touched as a kid 8th grade let alone and only barely touched on the parts of the brain in anatomy and physiology in High school. Then some more in College classes when I took som community college cources.
      So ya your a damn liar if you say you were taught this in school for these questions were never hit upon not like this or that advanced untill high school at least. 8th grade spelling would of been like height weight eighth mississippi similar etc.. those types of words not synoposis. :twisted:

    • oldfatguy

      What DOES the liver “secrate”?

    • StraightDopes

      well, mort, congrats on humiliating most BIN readers, including myself.


      • Volcano

        I agree StraightDopes: I can barely answer them with Computer and Calculator.. :sad:

    • Mother mary

      Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Carnagies, just to name a few, are the reason that this dumbing down has occurred. They want obedient workers. Follow the money.

    • Anonymous

      All common knowledge and easy to figure Math problems. Similar to what we all learned in the Chicago school system in the 1960′s.

    • imbrbing

      Hey, this test is racist

    • TruthandFreedom

      The test was easy…. I answered all but 4 correct!! Then again I taught these subjects to my sons. Two of them just took the test as well.. One missed 7, the other missed 11 total questions.

      • Archer5013


    • crabby

      is that’s 1912 bf…??

      ( 1912 before fed.. )

    • CST

      I teach at an inner-city school. Hate to tell you this, guys, but my 8th Graders have to be able to do all this before they can leave Middle School. Just because you aren’t smarter than an 8th Grader, don’t assume that they are dumber than you.

      We have kids that are dirt poor. Kids that are Special Ed. Kids of every race, creed, and color. 80% of them answered questions similar to these. What’s more? Most of these questions are at a 6th or 7th Grade level. They answer it before they even get to 8th Grade.

      My kids understand their rights and the Constitution better than most adults, today. Don’t just believe everything you read on the internet.

      • lindallsmith4

        My thoughts exactly! I’ve taught students in alternative settings (thrown out of their inner-city schools), and special education for children with mild to profound disabilities. This exam may in fact be a more reasonable expectation than what is required of our students through common core based curriculum. It might also be noted that I teach in a state that ranks near the bottom based on test scores.

    • johnnynight86

      Knowledge = Independence and Freedom

      Ignorance = Slavery and Tyranny

    • Thane36425

      Most kids these days couldn’t pronounce a lot of those words let alone know what they meant. Even the ones they recognize like “rights,” they wouldn’t understand what they really meant, not like the kids in 1912 still did.

    • stonecold68

      It is a worry.And it`s also no big surprise.I am in Australia with 16 yr and 10 yr old boys,the “dumbing down” is also glaringly obvious for us generation X as parents here in Aust.It is laughable,sad and extremely frustrating to realise that it`s government education departments learning protocols that have led students down their garden path of learning through irrelevent subjects,irrelevent curriculum,no teacher directed method for problem solving etc etc.It`s as if someone-some elitist group up there decided long ago that there is no need or room in modern western society for bright smart pioneering individuals with a thirst for knowledge.
      And what can we do about it?

    • JMellor13

      I tutor children for a living. There is no way this is “college stuff” today. Gradeschoolers still learn a lot of what is presented here. Math has suffered a little due to the rise of calculators (not “liberalism,” that just sounds silly), and grammar has taken a big hit, but science, civil government, and history still cover this stuff and more. Perhaps people can’t discuss Peter Stuyvesant off the tops of their heads because they have more important things to remember, and because qualified educators have decided that, given the limited time in a school year (and the 90 years of history that have developed since this test was written), it is more important to cover Woodrow Wilson, two World Wars, the Great Depression, Korea & Vietnam, the Cold War, and the Civil Rights Movement than to cover the Director of New Netherland these days. Judging by the character of the author’s writing, he is no position to criticize anyone’s education.

    • Scorpius1981

      It isnt just our country, it is the WHOLE WORLD that is being dumbed down. I do believe the idea to make the world stupid started in this country though. Most of the most “booksmart” people I know have no common sense, and the average person is an idiot.

      I am sick of hearing about it being the fault of the Liberals or the Conservatives. Congrats, you TOO have bought into the stupid wave for believing there is a difference between the two. These days, I see no difference other than the title they hide behind. Their actions are ALWAYS the same.

      Besides GM workers, the middle class has generally been, in the past, made up of the educated few, the poor were uneducated.

      The real point of dumbing us down is to make us easier to control, to slowly get rid of the middle class. This is something both Democrats and Republicans seem to be doing.

      Even those who go to college don’t always reach middle class. I know many people (myself included) who have a huge college loan to pay off, but still nothing to show for. Often you have to start out in a float pool, temporary staff member, and a temp jobs cannot be counted on when you have a child to worry about.

      We are all taught that you go to college, you get a good job. Now days, all it does is put you in debt.

      Basically, the goal of whoever implemented this mass “dumbing down” wants us stupid AND broke, in debt and uneducated. Easier to heard us cattle that way.

      • Archer5013

        THANK You, Scorpius 1981.

        … for pointing out that there’s really no (tangible) difference between the Libs & Cons, Dems and Repubs, etc. As Ralph Nader described (it seems) SO long ago: it’s a “one-party dragon with two heads”.

        This all is clearly (when we take a few steps back, to have an unbiased view) a historical process using “divide & conquer”, “us-Vs-them” *diversion* tactics to keep the mainstream politics & media controllers covered up, hidden away, including the “controlled opposition”.

        I don’t expect too many people to take notice, though. They’re kept “occupied” with their faces stuck onto their (corporate-controlled, mainstream media) TeeVee programming appliances.

        ~ Best Wishes.

        “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” ~ Samuel Adams

    • Archer5013

      Here’s another (NOT newly “discovered”) source, a published book and its author’s long history which describes this tendency/movement as being – intentional – go figure.

      I encountered this book and its story in 1998 – one of the first and most controversial topics I dove into when I first used the Internet (1998) – along with “health” (corporate fraud – historically) controversy – having discovered (highly functional) holistic health & consciousness practices since the mid 1970s (meditation, acupuncture and macrobiotics were the first three, in that order) – and part of WHY I dropped out of (grossly programmed & very highly manipulated) mainstream “society”.

      “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” by Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt

      … how a 1700s Prussian education system was installed in modern America …

      Home page here –

      The full book can be downloaded for free in .pdf file format from the following website page (right click and “save as”)

      I found the book to be kind of (analytically) thick reading, but that was a long time ago. Iserbyt later released an abridged version that is probably easier reading.

      “Charlotte Iserbyt – Bio

      Charlotte Iserbyt is the consummate whistle-blower. Iserbyt served as Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education, during the first Reagan Administration, where she first blew the whistle on a major technology initiative which would control curriculum in America’s classrooms. Iserbyt is [was?] a former school board director in Camden, Maine and was co-founder and research analyst of Guardians of Education for Maine (GEM) from 1978 to 2000. She has also served in the American Red Cross on Guam and Japan during the Korean War, and in the United States Foreign Service in Belgium and in the Republic of South Africa. Iserbyt is a speaker and writer, best known for her 1985 booklet “Back to Basics Reform or OBE: Skinnerian International Curriculum” and her 1989 pamphlet, “Soviets in the Classroom”.

      What is so mind boggling is that all of this is being financed by the American people themselves through their own taxes. In other words, the American people are underwriting the destruction of their own freedom and way of life by lavishly financing through federal grants the very social scientists who are undermining our national sovereignty and preparing our children to become the dumbed-down vassals of the new world order. It reminds one of how the Nazis charged their victims train fare to their own doom.”

    • stibbs22

      Who could of envisioned the answer to CIVIL GOVERNMENT question 10 would be steal it in 2008?

    • lindallsmith4

      I am certified to teach all subjects through 8th grade, as well as special education P-12. I didn’t see anything on the 1912 exam that an average 8th grader couldn’t do. With regard to grammar and math, the expectation is far higher now than in 1912.

    • Arcturus

      In Canada, this is an entrance exam for Kindergarten.

    • Confederate

      This is nothing new, as a recovering Civil War reenactor & student of history I have many school books & papers from the 1850s to 1940s & yes the dumbing down of America has been going on & was kicked into full swing by the Dumb-o-crat darling FDR! Once government started to control education in the United State they realized that smart people were too hard to control. The dumbing down of America walks hand in hand with the pussifacation of America as well!

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