"For it to be true that the average American spoke only .7 languages, then even assuming no American spoke more than one language a full 30% of the country is mute.
1.26% number comes from this 12 year old Gallup poll, http://www.gallup.com/poll/1825/about-one-four-americans-can-hold-conversation-second-language.aspx, asterisk is due to the data being stale and the actual number probably being significantly higher. But at least I have some data, unlike whoever submitted the original chart.”
An unbelievable amount of people have commented on this chart sharing similar concerns about the data presented. I’m assuming the chart was made as a joke, the punchline of which is that Americans are stupid, and not as data intended to mislead. Usually, an “Americans are stupid” joke would not interest me enough to post, mostly because I don’t think stupidity is the characteristic that best defines our limitations as a country and because we certainly do not have a monopoly on stupid. However, I found the irony in this chart amusing because it was flagrantly fabricating and misusing a language (data) to make a point that would only upset those who would incorrectly read how that data was being used — their misreading a language underlining the point, but coming from their strict adherence to an accurate reading of the language. And then the righteous anger in defense of America comes and it all just falls into place. There’s no winning because it was rigged from the start. It’s almost a Ben Greenman chart. Not quite because I’m not sure how intentional this all was, but I really enjoyed thinking it through.