Americans are so stupid compared to dogs. At least they have an excuse.

Money Monday: Why are we so stupid?

Today's Money Monday: Why are we so stupid?

Last Thursday, I summed up a bunch of financial research and claimed “we’re emerging from tough economic times with more brains than we had going in.”

Upon reflection and more research, I was wrong. We’re so stupid. We’re dumber than a bag of hammers…

1. Bernie who?

A poll of college-educated stock market investors reveals that 27 percent “are not able to identify Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC as the perpetrator of a stock market fraud.”

Only last week, USA Today reported, “Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff may have scammed more victims than previously estimated — and stolen more from them, too.” Madoff’s scam blew up in 2008 and made international headlines as he admitted to ripping off more than 50,000 investors for more than $50 billion.

But according to a poll released Thursday by a website called, “Roughly one-third of respondents between the ages of 30-44 could not identify the Madoff fraud” and, “nearly a third of those between 45-60 failed to identify Madoff.”

2. Senior moments

Less than half of 12th-graders are “academically prepared for college coursework,” says new research from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. “Thirty–nine percent of 12th-grade students have the mathematics skills and 38 percent the reading skills needed for entry-level college courses.”

Declared the NEAP’s Governing Board chairman David Driscoll: “The results are in — and unfortunately they are lackluster.”

3. Lowered expetcations

Every year, the temporary staffing firm Accountemps asks bosses: How many typos on a resume will it take before you throw it in the trash?

In 2006, a single mistake was all it took for 47 percent of hiring managers. In 2009, it fell to 40 percent. Last Thursday, Accountemps released the 2013 results: “Only 17 percent said a single snafu would land a resume in the ‘no’ pile now.” And 9 percent said it would take “four or more.”

4. No, it’s not an area code

Type “529” into Google or Bing or Yahoo!, and you’ll get a slew of websites that tout the benefits of 529 plans for saving on college costs. So it surprised financial services company Edward Jones when it polled Americans and learned, “early three-quarters (70 percent) of Americans do not know that a 529 plan is a college savings tool.”

“Despite the fact that the average cost of an in-state public college totaled $22,828 in the 2013-2014 academic year, we have seen a downward trend in 529 plan awareness over the past three years,” says Greg Dosmann, principal with Edward Jones. “It seems counter-intuitive that the costs of higher education continue to rise while awareness for a vehicle than can make this cost more manageable continues to decline.”

“Counter-intuitive” is one way to put it. Stupid is another.

5. That bites

This is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, an annual holiday that’s apparently not helping: “the number of dog bite claims nationwide increased 5.5 percent in 2013,” reports the Insurance Information Institute (which goes by the initials “III,” which I originally thought was Roman for “3.”)

All those dog bites came at a price: “The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $27,862,” the III reports. “Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2013, costing more than $483 million.”

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