Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Dumbing Down of the American Electorate.

As someone with a strong desire to improve my writing, I will, on occasion, visit a website which utilizes a tool for measuring the readability of written text. The website, Readability, uses several readability algorithms to provide an average score, which should tell what level of education someone will need to be able to read a particular piece of text easily. The website provides scores based on the Flesch-Kincaid, Gunning-Fog, Coleman-Liau Index, and SMOG Index readability tests.

According to another website, the average American adult reads at the 9th-grade level and experts recommend writing documents, intended for the general public, at that level.

On January 10, 2017, maintaining a tradition followed (off and on) by departing Presidents since George Washington, President Barack Obama delivered his Farewell Address to the American people. George Washington's Farewell Address from 1796 is considered by most, to be the Gold Standard for Presidential Farewell Addresses and naturally, writers have compared Obama's address to Washington's.

To compare the two Presidential Farewell Addresses, I copied both and pasted each one onto the Readability testing algorithm to find out the grade level of each. After testing each, I took a screen shot of the results, which I've posted below. Following today's standard, Obama's text was written at a 9th Grade reading level - par for the average American today. The reading level of Washington's Farewell Address is at a grade level of 18. To understand Washington's address, the reader should have, not only 4 years of college, but an additional 2 years of post graduate study.

As an aside - the reading level of this blog post is 14.7. Maybe that's why I have so few readers.

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