Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cultural Illiteracy

In the last article, I wrote about numerical illiteracy which is called innumeracy. In continuing this series on illiteracy, we’ll focus on something called cultural illiteracy. As an aside, I want to make clear that I’m not using the term illiteracy in a negative sense. No person is completely literate in all fields of human knowledge. This series is meant for us, myself included, to understand those areas of our lives that can be changed to help us live a fuller life.

This next topic, cultural illiteracy, does not refer to being misinformed about other cultures but rather being misinformed about one's own culture. The concept of cultural illiteracy was first brought to our attention by English professor, E.D. Hirsch in his book Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. For Americans, culturally literacy includes a vast multitude of information from the mundane such as understanding street signs to the more remarkable works of Shakespeare.

To be literate as an American means being able to interact with these aspects of our culture and speak accurately about it. Cultural literacy doesn’t mean you are an expert on Shakespeare. It does mean you have a somewhat familiar understanding of who he was, what he did and some of his more famous quotes.

Many people think that cultural literacy means being fluent with literary classics that have historically been part of a liberal education. Not so, says Dr. Hirsch, because literacy can even embrace a wide range of trivia including current slang words and phrases. In our high tech culture this means we understand such words such as Twitter, blog, and smart phone -- alongside knowing who Julius Caesar was. Cultural literacy is not only knowing what a word means but also being able to use it correctly in conversation with others.

Not being aware of current events is one of the hallmarks of cultural illiteracy. If you have ever watched Jay Leno’s Jay Walk, you know that an astonishing number of people cannot recognize a picture of the Vice President of the United States. Some younger Americans are notorious for avoiding newspapers, weekly news magazines and books such as novels and biographies. It’s the avoidance of resources about the world around us that pushes us towards cultural illiteracy.

Dr. Hirsch believes that culturally literacy is the bedrock of a democratic society. A democracy depends on its citizens to make choices about how they want their country run and who is to run it. This means it is important for people in a democracy to effectively communicate with one another. As you know, communication is impossible without a shared body of knowledge. You have probably been frustrated by trying to talk with someone who had no background to understand what you were trying to say. The question arises, "How can we talk to one another without a shared background of basic information?" Because America has such a strong component of cultural illiteracy, we no longer talk to each other -- we yell, we call names, we instruct, but we don't listen.

The more people who are culturally illiterate, the more fragmented our society becomes. Maybe one of the reasons our country is so politically polarized is that so many people don’t know much, if anything, about our founding fathers. What were some of the issues Jefferson and Madison talked about? Why was John Adams so important in the production of our Constitution? If all our political information comes from talking heads whose only purpose is to promote a specific agenda (or as they say, to "entertain"), then we wind up basing our political decisions on someone else's biased opinions rather than facts.

Cultural literacy is about more than being able to read and write. It involves learning and having a fund of knowledge that is imbedded within out culture. For example to be a culturally literate person one might need to know about important documents such who wrote Letter from a Birmingham Jail. What is important about the date 1776? What does the figure of speech "nose to the grindstone" mean? What is DNA? Who was John Brown?

By this time you might object that the search for cultural literacy is nothing more than mere rote learning of historical trivia and meaningless facts. This is something educators are trying to move away from, you say. Aren’t educators trying to use new teaching methods based on experiential learning and critical thinking? You would be correct to bring this up. However, I don’t think it has to be a forced choice.

Having new learning tools doesn’t automatically eliminate any old ones that are still of value. When Einstein introduced relativity to science, Newtonian science was and is still legitimate. When science then moved to using even newer tools such as quantum mechanics, it did not throw out the tools from Newton and Einstein.

Likewise, we should continue using experiential learning and critical thinking in the educational process. This does not mean we then need to become culturally ignorant. But doesn’t this mean there will be too much material for people to learn? Information has exploded so quickly, people have barely enough time to keep up. Wouldn’t teaching cultural literacy just take valuable time away from our other ongoing, personal educational goals (our personal education is never finished)? Why is cultural literacy so important?

Past president of the American Federation of Teachers,
Ed McElroy, says that if our society "made sure that all students, regardless of race, income, or neighborhood, were exposed to a rich, challenging, sequenced curriculum in important subjects, schools could make a much bigger difference than they already do."

In other words, we need to teach more than learning how to read (a "mechanical process", Dr. Hirsch calls it). Reading needs to be within a context that is "content-rich." A significant portion of people in our culture lives without a fund of basic knowledge. This keeps them from functioning more effectively because they do not understand what is often being said. For example, let’s say you are a sports fan and you hear someone tell you that the local team has risen phoenix-like from last place to taking the conference championship. Does this sentence have anything to do with the city of Phoenix, Arizona? Was the person talking about the graduating players going on to play for the University of Phoenix? Was a subtle reference being made about NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander? A basic understanding of Greek mythology would have immediately made sense of this comment. The phoenix was a mythical bird that died every thousand years by being burned to death and then reborn from the ashes. The reference to "phoenix-like" now obviously means the local team rose like the phoenix from the ashes of defeat to a new life of a winning championship.

Or take another example. A friend of yours says that a mutual friend is a woman who "doth protest too much." Why would a person use such strange language? Whatever does this mean? If one knew this was a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the meaning would become apparent. First of all, the word "protest" meant something different in Shakespeare’s day than it does ours. When we use the word today we are talking about denying or objecting to something. In Shakespeare’s day to protest meant to make a vow or make a solemn declaration. This expression in the play meant that when the Player Queen made vows or declarations, they were so over the top that she lost all credibility to her listeners.

Although many people may have heard the words
"phoenix" or "protest," understanding the meanings of these words requires that fund of basic knowledge we've been referring to, a "common point of reference." Only when we understand the meaning of the words that are used within our culture can we understand one another.

For some people, reading is difficult for a number of reasons. For others the skill is just unfamiliar and we know that most of us would rather not do unfamiliar things that make us uncomfortable. Yet, as we all know, the more we do something unfamiliar, the more familiar it becomes. We become more culturally literate by not only reading more but also by reading about things we don’t know much about. As we become more knowledgeable, reading will seem less like a chore and more like something that brings us pleasure.

If you are wondering how culturally literate you are, you can check this out at a website that allows you to test your cultural literacy. Testing your cultural literacy has nothing to do with your intelligence or education. It is a way of finding out the gaps in your cultural awareness. It is only when we become aware of our deficiencies can we begin to take action to improve ouselves. This website can open up new avenues of ideas and information for you to find out about. You can find out your cultural strengths and weaknesses privately at a website called
The Literacy Company.

If you are interested in helping children become more culturally literate, you can look at Dr. Hirsch’s
Core Knowledge Series of books that he began as a project in 1997. It includes books for all children between Kindergarten and Sixth Grade. Each book includes the knowledge that a child at a specific grade level needs to know as she or he begins their journey towards cultural literacy. My guess is that reading these books with your child will also help you fill in your own gaps. If you are a parent who home schools your children you will find these books an invaluable reference.

For adults who want to improve themselves in this area, Dr. Hirsch has written, with two colleagues,
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. Each chapter in this dictionary is devoted to a specific topic such as "Idioms," "Technology," "Mythology and Folklore." Amusingly, Micky Mouse is an entry in the Mythology and Folklore chapter. This book can be used by all adults for increasing awareness of the culture in which they live and living that cultural richness on a daily basis.

To become culturally literate can mean more than being familiar with the now but also with our past. So much of who we are as a people and how we think can be easily traced to civilizations from thousands of years ago. Finding the connections between these ancient peoples and our world of today can be fascinating and mind-expanding. Most of us know that a thumbs up for a movie is meant to tell us that we would probably like that movie. However, in ancient Rome a thumbs up meant a gladiator was now condemned to death. Much of our language and thought patterns germinated in Greek and Roman culture. Finding these origins helps us to find our roots. Here are some books you can think about if you would like to expand your awareness of who you are and where you came from.

The next article in our illiteracy series will take a look at scientific illiteracy. This is important not only from a curiosity standpoint. We live in the age of science. In the long history of humanity, it was only "yesterday" that science began to change our ability to more fully understand our world. It also gave us the means to have more control over our world. It is a tool for satisfying our curiosity, tackling difficult problems, and letting us experience the awe and wonder of this strange and mysterious universe in which we live.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Innumeracy is "the mathematical counterpart of illiteracy," says computer scientist Douglas Hofstadter. It describes "a person’s inability to make sense of the numbers that run their lives." Although Dr. Hofstadter coined the term, mathematician John Allen Paulos made the word part of the common vocabulary with his book, Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences. Since its publication in 1989, it has been translated into thirteen languages.

Dr. Paulos is not saying that everyone needs to be a mathematician, but rather one must be able to understand the consequences in everyday life of how our society uses numbers. The consequences of innumeracy are not as visible or obvious as the consequences of illiteracy. Nonetheless, they can be just as profound when they contribute to "confused personal decisions, muddled governmental policies, and an increased susceptibility to pseudoscience." He wonders if this is why people would buy a home having a $2,000 monthly mortgage when they only make $4,000 a month? Or why a person might borrow money at thirty percent interest in order to buy a large screen plasma television?

The difference between illiteracy and innumeracy is that the former affects mostly uneducated people whereas the latter affects people who are both intelligent and well-educated Many people who are extremely competent in many fields of knowledge and can understand complicated issues may tremble when confronted with numbers or probability.

For example, some people won’t travel to other countries because they are afraid they might be killed by a terrorist attack. Yet, they continue to travel locally in their car. The odds? Your chances of dying overseas by a terrorist attack is about 1.6 chances out of a million, yet you have a 1 chance in 5,300 of dying in the family car.

Journalist, Chip Scanlan, tells about his innumeracy and what negative effects it had in his professional career as a writer. "In high school and college, I was a terrible math student. I flunked geometry, was totally bewildered by algebra. Trigonometry I ran from. I had trouble balancing a checkbook. As a reporter, I was painfully aware of my innumeracy every time a percentage appeared in my story. Budget stories made me cringe. Without math skills I was not as effective a journalist, and my readers weren't as well-served as they could have been. It wasn't just the mistakes I made or the agonies I went through trying to figure things out. As a reporter I regurgitated statistics without understanding them because I didn't feel capable of interpreting them. I'm sure I missed stories and screwed up others because of my weak math skills." He goes on to say his dilemma is not uncommon in the journalism business.

Sometimes, people can make numerical claims that are publicly embarrassing. Years ago when the speed limit debate was taking place in America, a Washington lobbyist, Clarence Ditlow, made a public, numerical goof. He published an article explaining why he believed raising the speed limit above 55 miles per hour would be dangerous.

His heart was in the right place because he was trying to educate people against driving too fast by explaining how far a car can travel in one second. He made the following calculation: "A vehicle traveling 55 mph covers 807 feet in one second, almost three football fields. At 70 mph, a vehicle covers 220 feet more or 1027 feet in one second." Anyone who has driven a car knows they are not going the length of three football fields each second. If you care to do the calculations, you will find that at seventy miles an hour you only travel 103 feet each second.

Innumeracy has many faces for many people. One such face is seen when people say that "there is no such thing as a coincidence" — a belief that philosopher Sigmund Freud held dearly to his heart. By underestimating the likelihood of coincidences, people believe that something strange or mystical must be afoot when a coincidence happens. For example, most people would consider it a coincidence that if in a room of only twenty-three people any two people would have the same birthday. "Common sense math" appears to support this notion. Most people would calculate it this way. Since we would need 367 (counting a leap year) people in a room to be absolutely certain of two people sharing the same birthday, then it seems "obvious" that there is only a 6% change of this happening with only 23 people in a room (23 divided by 367).

Innumeracy can also raise its head in financial matters. Assume your friend invested $1000 in the stock market and the next day her investment went up 60%. Yay! The next day the price dropped 40%. Your friend might shrug and say "Great, I’m still 20% ahead in my investment." "Wrong," you would say. You would tell her that she actually lost $40 of her original investment. Here’s how you would explain it to her. Her 60% gain the first day would leave her with $1600. The next day when this $1600 went down by 40% she was left with only $960. If this doesn’t make sense you can easily check it with a simple calculator.

Statistics is one of the fastest ways for innumeracy to come bubbling to the top in any conversation (if no mathematicians are present). Although developed in the eighteenth century mainly for the purpose of developing a theory of gambling games, statistics today are the mainstay of pollsters. Commonly, innumerate people decry the results of polls because they don’t understand how it is done. The statistics that comprise polling can be baffling because it seems impossible that enough people could be polled to account for a country’s entire population. How can asking a small group of people what they think of an issue be used to say that a certain percentage of all Americans believe something specific about that issue?

Additionally, we know that people are not honest all the time so how do we know that people being asked personal questions by pollsters are going to be honest? Mathematicians have come up with a clever solution to the problem of lying that could be used by pollsters to account for any lying from the people they question. Dr. Paulos gives an example in his book of how someone could estimate the number of people in this country who might engage in a potentially embarrassing sex act (use your imagination here). Suppose you randomly asked 1000 people whether or not they engaged in this unusual sex act. Just asking the question is useless because there obvious reasons why a person would avoid being honest about their sexual behavior.

However, let’s say that each person is asked to flip a coin of their choosing. Before the question is asked they are told to flip the coin and privately look at the result of the coin flip. If the coin lands on heads, they are supposed to answer "yes" to the question being asked even if they have to lie. If the coin shows tails, they are to answer truthfully. Now the person being polled knows that nobody will ever be able to know if he or she answered the question honestly or not.

Next, each person flips their coin and looks at it in secret prior to being asked the sex act question. Some say "yes ," others say "no." When we have finished asking the thousand people let’s say we find that 620 of them answered yes. So, how do we interpret the results? Simple. We know that 500 people answered yes because odds of getting heads is 50%. We throw out these answers. Now we know that of the 500 people left who answered truthfully, 120 people, or twenty-four percent, answered "yes"honestly about their sexual behavior.

One of the ways that statistics teachers teach numeracy in an introductory statistic course is to have their students solve the well-known Birthday Problem mentioned above. With simple math tools of probability, it can easily be shown that there is a 50% chance that a room of 23 people will have the same birthday. Gamblers have used this fact as a "bar bet" for years by betting someone with odds in their favor. The gambler would rig the odds so that even though they lost half the time, they would win more money when they won the bet than they would lose when they lost the bet. There are many variations of this non-obvious observation. Dr. Paulos notices that "at least two people living in Philadelphia must have the same number of hairs on their heads." Figure that one out.

There is an interesting stock market scam that is based on innumeracy but isn't legal so you may not run into it. It goes something like this. Let’s say you received an unsolicited email from a person claiming to be a financial advisor and he was predicting the direction a particular stock would take in the following week. The week goes by and the prediction comes true. Your next email explains his company can do this because of their just-developed proprietary computer model. This email also makes another prediction of the same stock. Surprisingly, they are also correct on this prediction. This happens six weeks in a row and by now you are becoming interesting in how they can do this and seeing mega-dollar signs in your eyes. You are hooked because now the "advisor" tells you that for a reasonable sum of money you can buy into their program and become wealthy in a matter of months. Most people would jump at the chance.

Here’s the problem. What you would not know is that this person sent out the same first letter to 32,000 people. Half of these letters told people the stock would rise, the other half are told the stock would drop. This means that 16,000 people would have gotten an email with the correct prediction. Which ever way the stock actual goes, these 16,000 people who got the correct prediction would get a second letter with a new prediction. The "advisor" would use the same principle: 8,000 people would be told the stock would go up while the other half that it would go down. This pattern continues until 500 people have been given six correct "predictions" in a row for the stock.

These are the "marks" for the scamer. They are all now sent the "if you pay a fee you will have untold wealth" letter. They are told that they only have to pay $500 in order to win big next week. They each figure they can easily get their $500 back in just a week. Since you don’t know 499 other people just got the same letter you send in your money and start planning for retirement. Since everyone sends in the money, the stock "advisor" is now $25,000 richer in just six weeks. Of course, nobody ever hears from this miraculous advisor again.

Belief in predictive dreaming and precognition is also enhanced through innumeracy. How many people have you heard say something like this? "I dreamed my brother, who lived in another country, died one night and when I awoke I received a phone call saying he had had a heart attack in the night and died." This experience can feel spooky to both the dreamer and people who hear the story.

Simple math can easily explain this precognition. I won’t bore you with the calculations but the numbers show that of all the people in the world who remember their dreams (we usually have more dreams than we can remember) about 3.6 percent of all the people will have a predictive dream on any given night. Although that number seems small it is significant because there are so many people in the world. We can expect that millions of people would have at least one precognitive dream every year while hundreds of thousands would do so each night.

When innumeracy and human emotions are combined (which invariably they are) we find that most people make many decisions that are wrong -- especially when it involves risk. It has been shown many times that people will avoid risks when seeking gains, but choose risks to avoid losses. This principle was co-discovered by Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist and Nobel prize winner in economics.

Let’s say you had the choice of winning $30,000 or making a bet that has an 80% chance of of winning $40,000 or a 20% of winning nothing. Most people would take the thirty grand even though the average gain from the second choice would be $32,000.

If the scenario were changed so that you it was certain you would lose $30,000 or given a second choice where there was an 80% of losing $40,000 or a 20% chance of losing nothing. In this case, most people would take the second choice even though it would be wiser to take the 80% change of losing $40,000.

Numbers are a part of who we are because we live in a world saturated by numbers. Technology, which is all about numbers, is advancing exponentially as is information from our technology. Thanks to the ubiquity of computers and the Internet, we are bombarded hourly with information and we have to decide whether to accept new information or reject it. Fortunately, we don’t have to make all the choices by ourselves.

We can make wise choices by using numerate people who understand numbers and know how to do legitimate research. One such example is the team of Barbara and David Mikkelson. They are excellent researchers and are experts at sniffing out rumors, urban legends and new myths. Their website, Snopes, often uses mathematics to find out the truth of dubious claims wending their way through cyberspace.

Numeracy is also required of all scientists since mathematics is the language of science. We need to listen to scientists for getting through the daily barrage of fluff, lies, and half truths poring forth from media outlets and their so-called experts. Even well-meaning and smart people can be propagators of nonsense by being innumerate. Scientists, mathematicians and engineers can help us get clarity on many issues. For example, Peter Aczel, is an audio engineer who has debunked nonsense in the world of high-end audio. His online magazine, The Audio Critic, is the place to head if you plan to spend any significant amount of money on new or even used high-end audio equipment. His back issues begin in 1991 (even though he began his magazine long before then) and well worth the read. His no-nonsense intelligence and sharp wit that does not suffer fools gladly will keep you entertained for hours.

Religion and innumeracy are common bed fellows. America is the most religious country in the world, yet for all its popularity, religion can promote certain myths as absolute truth. For instance, some religious people believe in a literal Flood as described in the book of Genesis. Fortunately, most religious people understand this story as a metaphor with much deeper meaning than can be had from a merely literal rendition.

Why is it difficult to accept this story literally? That is because the story is loaded with numbers — numbers that some people don’t take seriously or avoid even if they take the story seriously. The writer of this Genesis story says that ". . . all the hills that were under the whole heaven were covered . . ." Taken literally, this means the entire surface of the earth was covered by at least 20,000 feet of water which would make the water about four miles deep (the deepest part of our planet’s oceans in the Mariana Trench which is over 6.8 miles deep). That was a deep flood. Even worse, the Flood Story tells us that it rained steadily for 40 days and nights for a total of 960 hours. Doing the math tells us that the rainfall was at least 15 feet per hour! This is enough of a downpour to sink an aircraft carrier, let alone a small wooden ark with thousands of animals on board.

Mathematician John Allen Paulos wrote his book on innumeracy because, in his words, "I'm distressed by a society which depends so completely on mathematics and science and yet seems so indifferent to the innumeracy and scientific illiteracy of so many of its citizens."


Best, J. (2001). Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling numbers from the media, policians, and activists. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Paulos, J. (2001). Innumeracy: Mathematical illiteracy and its consequences. New York: Hill and Wang.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Webster's New Third International Dictionary defines "illiteracy" as "The inability to read or write, or the actual or perceived state of being uneducated or insufficiently educated."

When we think of illiteracy we immediately think of people in third world countries or the few dirt-poor areas of highly educated countries. Since the United States puts so much emphasis on education we don’t see illiteracy as a major problem in this country. We are leaders in research and educational opportunities. Our scientists have received over 130 Nobel prizes in the last hundred years. Americans have also received a number of Nobels for literature and economics.

Britain has some of the most prestigious universities in the world with Oxford and Cambridge. California has ten world-class campuses in its system — more than most countries have universities. This is not to mention the multitude of California State University campuses. Add to all this the multiple universities almost every state in America offers in addition to private universities in many states and you can begin to see why American is a leader in education and research. The University of California has produced 65 Nobel laureates with the Berkeley campus, alone, having twenty-five faculty who have won the prize.

So what does illiteracy have to do with America? Unbeknownst to many, we have forty-two million adults in our country who simply can’t read. That is a lot of people! Surveys have found that another fifty million people read no better than a 5th grade reading level. Is this just a passing problem? Not really. Twenty-five percent of all teenagers drop out of high school. Even sadder is that of those who do graduate, another twenty-five percent are at the same educational level as someone who stopped their education at the eighth grade. These numbers are huge. To illustrate the size of the problem, there were fewer people who voted in the 1980 presidential election than there are illiterate people in America. How few? Sixteen million fewer voters than those who cannot read or write.

Most of us don’t know about nor do we want to think about the appalling amount of illiteracy in this country. How can a society that is becoming more dependent on increased technology hope to find enough workers with these rates of illiteracy. One of the assumptions of our founding fathers was that a democratic society would be based on generally high levels of literacy.

In 1955 Rudolf Flesch stunned this country with his book, Why Johnny Can’t Read. Time magazine called his book "the outstanding educational event of that year." Since then, experts have found out that American illiteracy is still growing at an unacceptable rate. We are told that every year 2,250,000 more adults are added to the rolls of functionally illiterate people in this country.

I am going to do a series of blog articles on illiteracy, but not the kind that has been identified above. There are other kinds of illiteracy that involve people who can read and write just fine. There are several types of illiteracy that apply to educated people. For the next several weeks, I’m going to write an article on each one of these.

One type is called" innumeracy." It is a word devised by a cognitive scientist, Douglas Hofstadter, who used to write a column for Scientific American. In the early 80's he used this word to describe the inability of anyone who could not understand the basic numbers that are used in our society. Then, in the late 80's, a mathematician, John Allen Paulos, wrote a book entitled Innumeracy. Is not knowing how to use numbers really a big deal? According to the experts the answer is "yes," because struggling with numbers has a high social cost such as wasted money, bad social policies, and unnecessary risks.

Somewhat related to this is another kind of illiteracy called scientific illiteracy. Mark Twain spotted this problem a century ago when he said, "The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, it’s that they know so many things that just aren’t so." We live in an age of science yet surveys have shown that many people have not shed the baggage of superstition. We are a people who have a very long list of things we believe in that "just aren’t so": lucky numbers; healing through pyramids, mind power, crystals, homeopathy, etc.; extrasensory perception; subliminal learning; biorhythms; astrology (55% of American teenagers believe in astrology; 75% of people in Great Britain believe it is scientific); UFOs. Much of scientific illiteracy occurs because people don’t understand what science is, what it is supposed to do, and how it is done.

Cultural illiteracy was a problem E.D. Hirsch identified about twenty years ago. Dr. Hirsch taught us that reading was not enough. We must also understand what we read and this can only be done if we have a basic fund of knowledge that we bring to our reading. Cultural literacy is only obtained when a society shares a basic knowledge of geography, history, literature, politics, and democratic principles. When Jay Leno finds random people on the street who cannot give him the name of the current Vice President of the United States, then something is wrong. Recently, we had the sad experience of someone who aspired to this office who had appalling gaps in her understanding of the world. She even relished in the idea of calling herself a "rogue." Perhaps she might have been more reluctant to do so if she knew the definition of the word. The dictionary says it means (1) a dishonest, knavish person; scoundrel. (2) a scamp. (3) a tramp or vagabond. (4) in biology it refers to an usually inferior organism.

Have you ever heard of religious illiteracy? It has come to light that many religious people are not well-versed in their specific religion. For Christians to whom the Bible is the foundation of their faith, a recent survey discovered that only thirty-three percent of Evangelicals actually read the Bible; only twelve percent do so daily. Professor Stephen Prothero is chair of the religion department at Boston University. He has found that "Americans are both deeply religious and profoundly ignorant about their religion." He gives examples:
  • Protestants who can’t name the four Gospels
  • Catholics who can’t name the seven sacraments
  • Jews who can’t name the five books of Moses
His research has shown him that faith in American is "entirely devoid of content." His conclusion is that America is "one of the most religious countries on earth and also a nation of religious illiterates."

Although I may throw in a few more examples of different types illiteracy, the final blog will be on financial illiteracy and will be authored by a guest. He is Jason Kelly, whom I greatly admire as a person of substance and highly knowledgeable when it comes to understanding the market and other financial concerns. He is the best-selling author of five books on investing and personal finance. I think you will really enjoy his article on this blog. Prior to his blog article, you can check him out at