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Americans Enjoy Pretending to Understand the News

Thursday, 27 Jun 2013 | 6:54 AM ET
Troels Graugaard | E+ | Getty Images

Americans are bombarded with information, and nobody wants to look like an idiot. A new study suggests most of us think we know more about what's going on in the news than our friends do. It also suggests that sometimes we fake it.

Welcome to my world.

Boss: "Hey, did you hear what the Fed is doing?"

Me: "Um, yeah. Yessssssssss. Of course I heard......"

Boss: "You're lying."

Me: "(Pause) OK, I have no clue. But I'm all over the Paula Deen and Aaron Hernandez thing."

Boss: "(Eyes rolling) Pathetic."

Paula Deen: I Would Not Have Fired Me
In an emotional interview, her first since she admitted having used racial epithets, Paula Deen tearfully told TODAY's Matt Lauer Wednesday that she is not a racist and that she does not think her firing was the right decision.

According to a survey on 1,000 Americans by Wakefield Research, we sometimes fib about how well-informed we are.

"Americans want to be in-the-know about current events," the report said, adding that to look "in-the-know" we sometimes only pretend to know what we're talking about. The survey for Next Issue Media said more than one in three of us, 37 percent, "have pretended to know about a news story to impress someone else." What's more, people who own tablets (a.k.a. "hipsters") feel even more pressure to look like they're on top of the news, with more than half of them admitting they've lied.

Other findings include this shocker: Americans like to argue. Seventy percent of those surveyed "will find any opportunity to argue with their friends" about current events, especially politics. Younger people feel more compelled than older people to be in a relationship with someone who agrees with their views on controversial topics.

Well, they're younger, they can be choosier.

When is the worst time to bring up a hot-button issue like gun control or gay marriage? Only about 47 percent said "during a job interview." Others chose "dinner with friends" or "on a first date." Really? Those situations are worse than talking about gun control during a job interview? No wonder unemployment is still high.

But here's the biggest surprise of all. Big boys do cry. One in three men in the survey admitted to crying after hearing that a celebrity died. I imagine a few tears were shed over James Gandolfini's passing.

Shed over beers. In a bar. Where they're sitting because they're unemployed after bringing up gun control during a job interview … and pretending to know what the Fed is doing.

—By CNBC's Jane Wells. Follow her on Twitter: @janewells.

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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