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Poll Of Graduates Reveals Degrees Of Ignorance Truman, Luther And Plato Baffle Many College Seniors

Sun., June 2, 1996

What graduating college seniors don’t know could fill a book. In fact, several.

A poll of 500 college seniors, commissioned by “The American,” a new Sunday newspaper for Americans abroad, found that:

84 percent did not know Harry Truman was president when the Korean War began.

75 percent did not know Italy and Japan were Germany’s two principal allies in World War II.

71 percent could not name Martin Luther as the founder of Protestantism.

79 percent did not know that Plato was the author of “The Republic.”

47 percent could not calculate the perimeter of a room 65 feet wide and 35 feet long.

The poll was conducted in late April by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut. Twenty questions were posed to the graduating seniors selected at random from randomly chosen colleges and universities. The sampling error was plus or minus 4.5 percent.


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