Posted by: Ann Corcoran | April 9, 2012

Are you living in the bubble?

That is what Libertarian and author Charles Murray suggests you find out.

Murray spoke at the Heritage Foundation last week and here (hat tip: Judy) is what Heritage reports at The Foundry (emphasis mine):

Charles Murray likes making the upper middle-class a bit uncomfortable. That was exactly the goal of his latest book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” Included in it is a popular quiz, “How Thick Is Your Bubble?” The 25 questions offer a test for how well you related to middle-class Americans.

Murray, a libertarian political scientist and W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, spoke at Heritage this week about the book and the troubling trend he’s identified: a growing division among the upper middle-class and others.


Murray said white Americans began coming apart in the 1950s, when college-educated individuals separated themselves. This became particularly noticeable in centers of cultural and political influence like Hollywood and Washington. Today, Murray said, many Americans living there no longer understand what life is like in small-town America.

The book challenges Americans to get out of this bubble. That’s why he included the quiz, which we’ve reposted on Scribe. Those who have a high score aren’t living in a bubble. Those at the opposite end should probably take a road trip to reconnect with middle-class America.

For links to the podcast, please visit The Foundry.

Are you in the bubble?   Take this quiz and find out!



  1. I got a score of 25. “A first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents. Typical: 33.”

    • Do you think what you described is an accurate description of yourself?

  2. […] article by Barry Rubin at Pajamas media should be the companion piece to my post this morning about “the bubble” (have you taken the test?).  Entitled “Why is the Political […]

  3. The quiz eventually got more ridiculous as one went along. It made a number of assumptions. 

    The first  few questions seemed to be fine (where you lived, white-collar vs. blue-collar workers) and set the stage. However these questions didn’t consider if one didn’t live in a neighborhood, but in somewhere such as an apartment complex or rowhome. The third question started a bad pattern it asked if one lived in “a metropolitan area” that “is not where you went to college.” This is ambigious because the phrase “metropolitian area” is not defined. The Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines metropolitian as “designating or of a population area consisting of a central city and smaller surrounding communities.” The quiz doesn’t use this definition which limits its effectiveness. 

    The fourth, firth and sixth questions (are you impoverished, walking on a factory floor, hurt at a job) seem to be too limited. The fourth question says poverty applies to a family. It argues that for poverty “graduate school doesn’t count. Living unemployed with your family after college doesn’t count.” How is that not impoverished? What if your family is poor as well? This is not considered. Also, even if your family is “middle-class” then you could still be poor. As a result you could be “middle-class” in theory but poor economically. The firth question which asks: “Have you ever walked on a factory floor?” does not ask specifics. It never defines a “factory floor.” A factory could be considered anything, so this could be wide-reaching. For the sixth question it is also limiting. It states that for the purposes of the question, getting hurt on the job must be physical, not “headaches…carpal tunnel syndrome [or] sore feet from having to stand up for long periods of time doesn’t count.” I seem to not understand how carpal tunnel is not physical if it affects your body. Also, why are headaches or sore feet not included? They are physical as they affect the motion of your body and its ability to do work. 

    And those are some of the problems I have with the quiz. 

    • Mr. Hermann, I suggest you contact the author. I am sure he would be very interested to hear from you with your critique.

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