David R. Henderson  

Life in the Bubble

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The Bubble Quiz... De-fund College Libraries...

I've been busy all week teaching an intense course. Thus the hiatus in my blogging.

I took the Charles Murray quiz that Arnold suggested and I scored, depending on the definition of a close friend, either 12 or 13 points out of 20.

I agree with the tenor of Arnold's criticisms. I have never worked on a factory floor, but, I suspect, given that under 20% of the labor force is in manufacturing and that number has been that way for a few decades, that under 50% of the population has ever worked on a factory floor. I did work my tail off in a nickel mine in northern Canada for a tad over 3 months in 1969, which was the answer that allowed me to say that my body hurt from working on a job.

I didn't recognize the athlete they showed but I did narrow it down to one of three: I watch ESPN Sports Highlights at least 3 or times a week.

On the Greyhound bus, I nailed it, having traveled almost 10,000 miles in the U.S. and Canada by Greyhound. In the longer version that one of Arnold's commenters referred to, I nailed it also, having hitchhiked at least 3,000 miles. Also, I attend about 3 Rotary or Kiwanis Clubs a year to give speeches. I highly recommend that activity. In fact, I'm doing so next Thursday. One reason I recommend it, though, does basically support Charles Murray's point: in graduate school at UCLA, my friend Jack High, who thought I was getting carried away with my rational voter idea, told me that I should attend a Rotary Club and see just how slim the average member's knowledge of politics and economics is.


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CATEGORIES: Revealed Preference



COMMENTS (11 to date)
Miguel Madeira writes:

My impression is that, ironically, the quizz itself is an expression of "bubble mentality", because it only makes sense if the person who is answering is from an academic or upper class (if a blue collar worker from a small town answers "yes" to almost all the questions, this don't mean that he does not live in a bubble, but could simply mean that he lives in HIS bubble).

David R. Henderson writes:

@Miguel Madeira,
Good point. “Choose your bubble."

Tom writes:

The certificate said I scored 8 out of 20. However, the results section below said I scored between 9 and 12 and "even if you're part of the new upper class [I'm not], you've had a lot of exposure to the rest of America [thank God for that (sarcasm)]".

I don't see how this test is meaningful. I guess if I had a pickup truck, drank cheap beer, smoked cigarettes, worked on the factory floor, was in the union, watched NASCAR, bad movies, and bad TV shows, had dumb friends, lived in low class neighborhoods, grew up in a low or working class family, and rode the bus, I would be Mr. Mainstream America and score a 20. It seems to be a quite condescending quiz.

What I took from the video is that he was lamenting the fact that more and more people are in a bubble and not part of mainstream America. Well, if being part of mainstream America means I have to watch Oprah from beginning to end, then put me in that bubble.

Randy writes:

Impressed by the 3000 miles. Got you beat though. It was a long time ago. Not much good at sleeping by the side of the road anymore...

Scored 15... but I had to hedge for age a bit. Didn't know the driver, but I wrote a paper on NASCAR vehicle dimensions when I was in high school. Haven't seen that movie, but I've seen all the Terminator movies several times. Don't drink anymore, but there was a time... etc.

And I agree with Miguel - the quiz describes a different bubble, not a mainstream. I've been to 50 states, 4 provinces, and somewhere around 20 countries in Europe and Asia. Its a big world, with all kinds of people.

Steve Sailer writes:

This link is a very crude version of the quiz that's actually in Murray's book, which is scored on a 0 to 100 scale. The real version is quite subtle and surprisingly accurate. For example, I scored like "a first generation upper-middle class person with middle class parents," which is right on the money.

Greg writes:

this quiz is stupid. i scored 16 and i am British, i've only been to america a few times. in fact ANY uni student will probably score at least 10 on this.

i come from a very poor immigrant family (i am an immigrant myself in fact). however i managed to get into a really good grammar school (if you are a yank you need to look up what grammar school means in UK) because i studied hard for my 11+ and then got into a really good uni because i studied hard and got good A-Level. now i am at a really good uni doing an MSc because i got a good bachelor. my mum had to work very very very hard to help me achieve these things: she put me through school and uni and UK government gave us very little in terms of subsidies except for providing a good school for me (i have since decided that it would have been a better school if it were semi-private or fully private). i also worked in a factory and aboard a large ship and as a silver service waiter (which in my experience was harder than the army) and i also served in the territorial army (because i really wanted to).

after i finish my masters i will probably have a good job and i plan to do a Phd at some point just because i want to.

i really do not see why we should at all pity the lower classes. i've seen them and i talked to them and i lived amongst them. they have no ambition or idea of the future. they mess around in school and then go and become taxi drivers. it is entirely their fault!!! british education system bends over backwards to help them: almost at every stage there are opportunities to sit an entrance exam to get into a grammar school. although it is very hard to get into an elite uni it is not at all hard to get into an average uni. ANYONE who want to study hard can get good education.

then finding a good job is not easy, but if you keep at it and with a bit of luck you get what you want. although you have to be prepared for failure but that is good since you can really learn something from your failures.

no, i think that there are NO excuses for being poor. i remember the country i emigrated from and i have to say that 99% in that country would give their right leg to be poor in UK because if the amazing opportunity to build wealth.

and rotary club: its full of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-intellect men, why would i want to go there???

Bob Murphy writes:

I somehow only got a 10 on this, but that stunned me. I thought I was going to get about a 15 when I was going through it.

Anyway David this part of your post made me chuckle:

Also, I attend about 3 Rotary or Kiwanis Clubs a year to give speeches....in graduate school at UCLA, my friend Jack High, who thought I was getting carried away with my rational voter idea, told me that I should attend a Rotary Club and see just how slim the average member's knowledge of politics and economics is.

I don't think that's in the spirit of the question on the test.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Bob Murphy,
Exactly. And I made that point.

Brian writes:

You should take the same test but the more detail version in Murrays book (Page 103).


I scored a 45 out of 100 which puts me naer the first generation upper-middle class average. What I find interesting from the below categories is there is no second generation middle class. That seems to be lot more common than second generation upper-middle and is what I happen to be.

A lifelong resident of a working-class neighborhood with average televi-sion and moviegoing habits.Range: 48–99. Typical: 77.• A first- generation middle-class person with working-class parents and average television and moviegoing habits.Range: 42–100. Typical: 66.• A first- generation upper-middle- class person with middle-class par- ents.Range: 11–80. Typical: 33.• A second- generation (or more) upper-middle-class person who has made a point of getting out a lot.Range: 0–43. Typical: 9.• A second- generation (or more) upper-middle-class person with the tele- vision and moviegoing habits of the upper middle class.Range: 0–20.Typical: 2.

Silas Barta writes:

For all of you that were deeply wondering, I scored a 23 on the full version. (And I assumed the first question wasn't counting your stay in a college dorm as a time when your nearest 50 neighbors lacked a college degree.)

Seth writes:

Notice the test is meant to gauge the thickness of your bubble, not whether you are an elitist or common man. You can have a thick bubble and still be a common man and vice versa, I believe.

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