AK Teens Rate Credibility of Famous Figures
A group of Anchorage high school juniors in an advanced placement class were asked to do the following in class:
Analyze the following list of famous figures. Rank them from 1 on down based on their credibility. Remember to weigh honesty, wisdom, and credibility equally.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sandra Day O’Connor
Lady Ga Ga
George W. Bush
After each student had compiled his or her personal list ranking, they were asked to come together as a class, and present one list that they could all more-or-less agree upon, ranking the dozen figures.
It was an interesting assignment, without easy answers in many cases. No one on the list, whether you agree with their politics, or respect their work, is without some kind of controversy. In other words, they are all deeply flawed people (aka human). But the kids did an admirable job trying to take this list of complex people and get them listed in order.
Here is what they came up with, starting with the least credible, and working up to the most credible. You can share your own ranking in the comments.
12) Anthony Weiner
Apparently the tech-savvy, social media generation is unimpressed with Carlos Danger, his Twitter antics, and his subsequent dealings with the press. Despite his former congressional career, and his current mayoral bid in a city 4000 miles away, Señor Danger was well-known, and ranked at the bottom of the pile – dead last for credibility.
11) Martha Stewart
As one of the only member of the list who has actually gone to prison, Martha Stewart’s record of “service” may have played into her low ranking. Easter cupcakes and cool centerpieces don’t make up for financial shenanigans.
10) Lady Ga Ga
Also coming in close to the bottom of the pack was pop star Lady Gaga, who recently performed at the MTV Video Music Awards, performing “Applause,” during which she underwent several wardrobe changes ending up in a seashell bra and G-string. Rumor has it the kids were less than impressed, and that the performance may have damaged the Lady’s “credibility” in the group.
9) Margaret Thatcher
The only non-American on the list was the second-lowest ranking political figure. The Iron Lady, who ended her term as Britain’s Prime Minister six years before our respondents were born ranked low. This came despite the admiration Thatcher has recently gotten from our ex-half-governor. Speaking of whom…
8) Sarah Palin
These kids remember Palin’s short time as governor, and lived through her national media tour which some referred to as the election cycle, her abdication of the governor’s office, her book tour, her Fox News stint, and all the rest of it. Even though Palin pulled in at a less-than-impressive ranking, she still did better than I thought she would.
7) Sandra Day O’Connor
I wasn’t quite sure about this one. My guess is that she was one of the lesser known figures to the participants. Still, O’Connor, the first female justice on the United States Supreme Court ranked in the bottom half. My high school class would have rated her significantly higher.
6) George W. Bush
Alaska went for Bush twice, so it was almost inevitable that Dubya would rank in the top half of the pack. Still, #43 didn’t rank as highly as I expected him to.
5) Hillary Clinton
Interestingly, the former First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State is the only woman who ranked in the top 50%. Recent polling in Alaska shows that in a head-to-head matchup for the Presidency, if it were held today between Clinton and Palin, Clinton would win handily. And this is in a state that hasn’t gone blue for the President since LBJ. Her credibility over Palin seems to follow that trend.
4) Bill Gates
The Microsoft bazillionaire came in at an impressive 4th place. His philanthropical work in recent years may have added to his appeal. It would have been interesting to see how Steve Jobs would have stacked up.
3) Barack Obama
Despite the vitriol in some Alaskan circles, the President made a strong showing, coming up with the bronze. Obama also won the mock election held at the school in both 2008 over McCain and 2012 over Romney. I can’t wait for this generation to be able to vote in the actual election.
2) Thomas Jefferson
The third President came in second place. The brilliant an innovative founding father was impressive in the credibility department despite the irony that he, the author of the Declaration of Independence, was a slave owner.
1) Martin Luther King, Jr.
The slain civil rights leader was an easy pick for the class – and particularly poignant during the week of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
I didn’t agree with all the rankings, and I found it interesting that the kids seemed to be the hardest on those they were the most familiar with, and the women in the group. But all in all, they could have done a lot worse.
The lesson to learn from the high school kids in Anchorage if you’re looking for credibility in their eyes?
Strive for equality, have a dream, be brilliant, and don’t dance around in your underwear or send unsolicited pictures of your junk to people you don’t know.
Sage advice from the next generation of voters.