. . . between 13 and 16, which yields the result that “you don’t even have a bubble.” No, not a housing bubble, higher education bubble, or any of the other fashionable speculative bubbles of the moment. What the heck am I talking about? I’m talking about my score on the 20-question “How Thick Is Your Bubble?” quiz. (Try it: it only takes about 60 seconds.)
Still puzzled? The quiz is connected with the appearance of Charles Murray’s new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, which will be published next Tuesday. The book lays out Murray’s thesis that much of America’s upper middle class and upper class—a “cognitive elite”—exist in a bubble from the rest of the middle and working class. A long excerpt appeared over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal:
For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway. . . Americans love to see themselves this way. But there’s a problem: It’s not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s. . .
Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America’s core cultural institutions.
As with his past books, Coming Apart is an exercise rich in social science data but accompanied with original analysis and clear prose. I’m hoping to have an exclusive Power Line video interview/conversation with Charles about the book some time in the next couple of weeks, if we can get our schedules coordinated. Stay tuned to this blog!
And yes, my Bubble Score means I’m a lousy representative of the cognitive elite.
JOHN adds: Steve, I took the test too and finished near the middle. But you aren’t saying you got a perfect score, are you? Because that would mean that you have watched Oprah, saw the latest Transformers movie, and can tell one NASCAR driver from another. Say it ain’t so!
STEVE responds: It ain’t so! I missed at least four of the questions, and in any case a number of my yes answers are more than 30 years old (like riding a Greyhound bus–twice in 1979). Ditto my factory floor work; plus–my dad owned the factory, so that probably doesn’t count. If the questions had been qualified by a shorter time horizon I’d surely have scored in solid bubble territory. I grew up in what Charles calls a “Super-ZIP” (San Marino, California), and I live in a Super-ZIP now (McLean, VA).
But I have watched one full episode of Oprah: the episode in the 2000 campaign when George W. Bush was on. Wanted to see how he did (quite well, is my recollection). Not even 10 seconds any other time. So that really doesn’t count either.