This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, America June 20, 2011

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, America

The Miss USA Pageant was last night. (SPOILERS BELOW Oh, screw it, no one cares.)

Before the competition took place, all 51 delegates were asked a series of questions… including: “Should evolution be taught in schools?

This is just full of fail…:

Watch that thing. All 14:48 of it. I dare you.

What you see are a lot of women who (at least in theory) are supposed to represent our country but who know jack shit about science.

(Come to think of it, they represent our country pretty well…)

What did the eventual winner, Miss California Alyssa Campanella, have to say?

Well, I was taught evolution in my high school growing up, and I do believe in it. I mean, I’m a huge science geek, so I like to believe in, like, the Big Bang Theory and, you know, the evolution of humans, you know, throughout, you know, time.


And that was one of the better answers. (Just FYI, Campanella referred to herself in the actual program as a “history geek“… traitor.)

Mind you, there’s nothing to “believe” when it comes to science. You accept it or you don’t. The evidence is there or it isn’t. There’s evidence for evolution and the Big Bang. There’s no evidence for Creationism and Intelligent Design.

None of the women seem to know that.

A couple other notables:

Brittany Thelemann of Minnesota said it should be taught in school, adding that she learned evolution in her Catholic school growing up and that her priest and Pope John Paul II have said evolution can be reconciled with Catholic beliefs. Sounds decent… but she also mentioned that we should know “all perspectives,” whatever that means.

Chandra Burnham of South Dakota said:

I think evolution is part of basic science and it should be taught, but I also don’t think that teachers or anyone should step on the toes of Biblical values, either.

That’s probably the best answer you’re going to get. It’s not the denunciation of Creationism/ID that I’d like to hear, but it’s the PC way of getting around that.

***Edit***: People want me to include Lauren Carter of Vermont, who said:

I think evolution should be taught in schools because not everybody necessarily has the same religious background so it’s important to have scientific facts about the world. And we do know that evolution exists even on a small scale like people and with bacteria that are becoming resistant to drugs and whatnot, so I just want to learn about it.

Again, it’s an ok answer, but it’s not great. Even if everyone had the same religious background, it doesn’t mean you teach an alternative. And she acknowledges microevolution (which even Creationists accept) without mentioning macroevolution. I’m not expecting her to say all of this, obviously — it’s already a better answer than most of her competitors. I just wasn’t blown away by it. But when pickings are slim…

The rest of the responses make it sound like each candidate was paid off by the Discovery Institute.

Only a couple candidates said, “Yes, evolution should be taught in school” without elaborating or without adding “we should also teach other perspectives.” None of them said it should be taught and that other “competing” theories should not be (because there’s no evidence for them).

This is not a “difficult” or “tough” question, nor is it about “teaching all sides” or “freedom of choice” or “more knowledge is always good!” as many candidates said.

I know this pageant is a joke to begin with — they’re judging candidates on their looks, “talents,” and possibly their ability to form a coherent sentence, not their brains. But would it be so hard to get some intelligent, educated women in the mix?

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  • John Michael Meredith

    My favorite would have to be Alaska. You think she is headed for a succinct answer…then..uh oh..”creationTISM.” Then Idaho made up a knew verb “knowledged.”
    DAMMIT me again.

  • Claudia

    But would it be so hard to get some intelligent, educated women in the mix?

    Speaking as an educated (and I hope at least somewhat intelligent) woman, yes, it would be. You see, women (and men) who enjoy knowledge tend to have first been girls who enjoyed knowledge. These girls will have probably spent a tad bit more time in the library than in the beauty salon. Pageants are a full time job for many girls. Many are coming out of the horrifically sick child-pageant world or at the very least teen-beauty contests. This is a universe that selects exclusively for physical beauty and the ability to giggle cloyingly. It’s no wonder it attracts airheads. Now to be fair high intelligence is not easy to come by and neither is extraordinary beauty, so the combination of both in a beauty contest is highly unlikely. There are stunningly beautiful incredibly smart women, but they become authors, professors, scientists etc. They go where their intellect is valued and their beauty is merely a plus.

    Though I’m guessing that if the interview portion of this tedious little contest where as significant as, say, the swimsuit event, you’d suddenly find these smiling girls a hell of a lot more knowledgable on academic subjects. Being really smart and well-read is simply not very important to a beauty queen, so you don’t see very many smart and well-read ones

  • Karlover

    I accidentally caught five minutes last night just in time to hear the “history geek” back up that claim by saying “I watch The Tudors and Game of Thrones”.

  • TikiCricket

    My teeth hurt by the 2:30 mark. This is horrifying. I’m embarrassed for them.

  • Many are coming out of the horrifically sick child-pageant world or at the very least teen-beauty contests.

    Sister, you ain’t kiddin’.

  • Jonathan Duran

    Sad…so sad…American scientific ignorance will be a major factor in the decline of the nation. Tragic…

  • Adam

    You know, at least she realizes those are loosely based on history. I’m sure half of American thinks it’s some Lord of the Rings fantasy story.

  • Kim

    Claudia is spot on.

  • Steve

    The question in the first place is ass backwards.

    So now we have to justify why evolution is taught? WTF? It’s embarrassing that there is such a controversy at all, but if we have to have a question it needs to be “Should ID be taught in schools?”

  • Peggy

    “I accidentally caught five minutes last night just in time to hear the “history geek” back up that claim by saying “I watch The Tudors and Game of Thrones”.

    Oh, that’s classic… I mean, The Tudors is atleast historical fiction but Game of Thrones? Really?

    I fully agree with Claudia. Women that are beautiful and highly intelligent would most likely NOT spend much time in pageants. I also agree with TikiCricket. SMH…

  • I have an idea, tell me if I’m crazy or not. Let’s teach evolution in school, and let’s teach ID/creationism in school, but when we’re teaching the ID bit, we use that time to explain why ID fails as a hypothesis, and especially as a theory. We can explain what science actually means when it calls something a theory, we can show the importance of evidence, and in the process teach a little critical thinking. ID then gets mentioned, which ought to make it’s proponents happy, right? If they support science, then they won’t mind if it’s used as an example of bad science, right?

    Am I crazy?

  • Robert L.

    History geek? Psh. I’m an alternate history geek.

    Jokes aside, it’s not worth listening to these people talk. They’re undeniably hot, but they’re also often unintelligent. It’s probably because their looks mean they don’t have an incentive to work hard academically, since they can get rich without having to. Of course there are attractive intellectuals and I am part of that number (just kidding), but the sad fact is that it’s often the case that there aren’t enough beautiful AND smart people to go around.

  • BrianE

    You win Hemant, couldn’t even get though 3 minutes…

    Perhaps the world can one day appreciate the irony that these contestants, in their ABSOLUTE FAILURE to answer this ridiculous question decently, demonstrates EXACTLY WHY evolution, and all other science for that matter, needs a whole lot more focus in our schools.

  • Siobhan

    Adam Says:
    June 20th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    You know, at least she realizes those are loosely based on history. I’m sure half of American thinks it’s some Lord of the Rings fantasy story.

    Do you mean that Game of Thrones is loosely based on history? I thought it was set in some other universe or some other planet or something… (I’ve never read or seen it yet, I do have plans to watch it, though).

  • Amanda

    Wow, I just watched this entire clip… some made me just laugh out loud but most made me CRINGE.

  • Jalyth

    Robert L, I deny that they are hot.

  • Raven

    Almost every one of them (even those who claim to agree it should be taught) act like it is some sort of belief system similar to a religion. I kept waiting for the “of course it should be taught, just like geometry and the theory of gravity are taught” answer. Are my fellow Americans really this ignorant, or is it just beauty queens and the religious right?

  • Leena

    I watched the whole thing… oh god… why did I watch it???? OF COURSE it has to be taught in schools!… I don’t know what to say… -_- It’s just… ughhh. I give up on humans…

  • Richard

    While the science geek in me is screaming, the logical side of me is not surprised at all. Even if the majority of the contestants actually understood evolution and/or creationism (something I seriously doubt) I would not expect different answers. Beauty pageants are not about scientific accuracy they are about not taking sides and giving that warm and fuzzy, not to offend anyone answers to tough questions.

  • Nathan, yes, you are crazy. We should teach ID alongside evolution the same as we should teach the history of faery alongside human history, same as we should teach sociology of the Ood alongside human psychology, same as we should teach …. you get my drift. We should not teach fairy tales as possible fact in school. We should teach what we KNOW is true. And we know evolution is true (it is the mechanics of it that are somewhat disputed). Period.

    I do think the Catholic way is better than any of the others in that they do accept all the bits and pieces of evolution as scientific fact — they just add the little caveat that “god did it.” I say, fine, to that because at least the child who has been taught this way has a scientific foundation from which it can build (and also deconstruct the whole ‘hand of god’ bit). The child who is taught “either or” must instead completely deny all of what it’s been taught about creation/ID if that is what his teachers or parents believe. It’s a lot easier to get rid of one small thorn than it is to eradicate a whole forest of thorny trees.

    And for crying out loud, can we please stop paying the tiniest bit of attention to these ridiculous pageants. Perhaps then they’ll go away? Yes?

  • Otto

    I remember watching the Miss America pageant when Hawaii was putzing around with the gay marriage question. (I’m not super proud I was watching it, but we all do dumb things when we’re teenagers.)

    They asked Miss Hawaii about the gay marriage issue, and she squealed, “Well, I just think it’s gross!” Her response was so . . . juvenile, I guess I’d say, that I was horrified and I wasn’t even a legal adult.

    I was REALLY horrified when she was chosen as one of the top ten finalists and proceeded to the talent competition. Her talent was singing, and she sang a song from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame called “God Help the Outcasts.”

    I could not make this shit up. I was yelling at the TV and jumping up and down, which was maybe an overreaction, but I was a teenager.

    My mom: “What is WRONG with you?”

    Me: (tells the whole story at ninety miles an hour. I think I used the phrase, “dumb bitch” while referring to Miss Hawaii.)

    Mom: Oh. Well, okay, then. That’s awful. Get out of the kitchen so I can open the oven. She’s not going to win. Why are you even watching this stupid thing?

  • Hannah C

    I think I liked Miss Vermont’s answer best, but ugh. That was painful to watch.

  • Amyable Atheist

    But would it be so hard to get some intelligent, educated women in the mix?

    Sure, as long as we agree to also pull some intelligent, educated men out of the workforce and parade them around, sacrificing their highest and best societal contributions in favor of our amusement. 😉

  • MConnor1967

    Interesting clip, but the title leaves me cold. “This is why we can’t have nice things…” Seems to confuse a symptom with a cause. Surely the levels of ignorance and anti-rational orientation displayed in the videos are a result of a system, not the cause of our problems. And would the answers be that different from Members of Congress?

    Why can’t we have “nice things?” How about a permanent war economy, massive income inequality, concentrated wealth, low taxes on the rich and corporations, low minimum wage, no real jobs program, crappy infrastructure, schools starved of funds and talent…

    The list goes on, but which are causes and which are symptoms?

  • I got as far as 8:28, but that was because I was reading comments. There’s the influence of the PC crowd throughout: “Teach both sides”

    There is no other side. Evolution is science, religion is brain-rotting superstition.

  • BrentSTL

    I didn’t even have to watch it to know how painful it was going to be.

    And let’s not forget this tidbit: The Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants are both owned by – wait for it – Donald Trump!

    Yet another reason why these “beauty” pageants should be tossed onto the scrap heap of history.

    BTW, there’s been a discussion about kiddie beauty pageants over at Atheist Nexus if anyone’s interested…

  • Raven

    I’m wondering if Ms. Stoykes from Kansas would also give this answer: “I think that 2+2=4 should be introduced or at least exposed to students but I think its up to the student to take it in and decide if they want to apply it to their life or not.”

  • But would it be so hard to get some intelligent, educated women in the mix?

    Uh, yes. That’s not really the sort of thing an intelligent, educated woman is interested in doing.

  • Sarah

    What about Lauren Carter from Vermont? She states that it’s science and we know it exists, without apologizing for it or adding a caveat about presenting both sides. Hers was the best answer, IMHO. She speaks at the 13 minute mark.

  • Annie

    Why can’t I ever pass up a dare??? You owe me 14 minutes and 48 seconds!

    I wish they would have put the contestant’s university majors up when they were speaking… I shudder to think that any of these women are education majors. I was simply floored that ALL of them had no idea that evolution is in every set of state science standards (at least I hope it is… I need to check this), and that it is illegal, thankfully, in most states to teach faith-based explanations like intelligent design in the science classroom.

  • Rep. Joe Wilson should’ve been there to holler “YOU LIE!” at everyone especially those who are stumping for ID/creationism/religion

  • Raven

    Nathan, yes, you are crazy. We should teach ID alongside evolution the same as we should teach the history of faery alongside human history, same as we should teach sociology of the Ood alongside human psychology, same as we should teach …. you get my drift.

    A Dr. Who reference!! Brings out the scifi geek in me 🙂

    Miss Washington: Facts but not those “little” theories :gah!!!! Almost 15 minutes and 50 states worth of stupid; I think my head is going to explode now

  • As with Raven, I was holding out for someone to say something like

    “Of course evolution should be taught because that is where all the scientific evidence points to. As an aside, creationism should not be taught (except perhaps in a history of religion class) because the scientific evidence does not show creationism.”

    I was dismayed at all the “opinion” talk. It is not all just about opinion. Some facts are just facts.

  • Rich Wilson

    Yes @Steve. Most of them answered ‘yes’ with the obvious assumption that it would only be fair to teach the other side. The ‘other’ side being evolution. AL was the only one I saw in a spot check that flat out said ‘no’ to teaching evolution.

    That ‘teach the controversy’ thing has obviously been a huge win for the IDiots.

  • holeydood3

    “Creationtinism” I started laughing out loud.

  • Tom Bourque

    That was almost a 14 minute facepalm.


    “I think evolution should be taught in schools. We have creationi..tism and a lot of other ideas and opinions that are taught to the children. I think everybody should be able to have their opinion taught, however I think it’s the parents and the family who should be able to be there for the children to guide them in what their beliefs are as a family and as individuals.” – Angela Byrd (23) of Hawaii

    Everyone should have their opinion taught!? FACEPALM.

    “I think it’s great to get both sides of the story. I’m, personally, a Christian so I believe the Bible’s version, but you can’t push opinions or beliefs on children, so they need to know every side that’s out there. So, yes, I do believe that should be taught, but so should the other side of the story.” – Brittany York (21) North Carolina

    Tell that to your preacher and your parents, Miss York.

  • Jade

    Evolution as an elective??? What?? This makes my brain hurt. And I agree with Claudia completely on the issue of intelligent women being apart of these pageants. Also love the cartoon.

  • LKL

    Claudia is right. Primping and prepping to enhance one’s sex appeal takes time, and doing it to the level that these women have takes a lot of time. Likewise, studying and thinking to enhance one’s mental base also takes time, and for a woman who’s a scientist or a mathematician or non-beauty-professional, it takes a lot of time. You might have beauty pageant contestants who could be learned if they took the time, and scientists who could be extremely beautiful if they took the time, but if a woman tries to be both every single day, she’s not going to have a hell of a lot of time for anything else. Like, say, kids, or camping, or reading for pleasure, or playing with her dog, or any other ‘free time’ pursuits.

  • AntiTheist

    Imagine a world WITHOUT Evolution and you’ve already answered this question (picture Saudi Arabia, globally).

    Evolution is a fact. It should be called The Law of Evolution. No one on this planet, no group, has ever disproved Evolution. These women are primates that share a common ancestor with other primates.

    Theists inject their insanity into every thing. Belief is stupidity. Knowing is Science. Truth is Evolution.

  • T-Rex

    It only took 1 minute before I started bleeding from my ears. Damn you Hemant! They’re good looking but when they speak I can’t see them through the stupid.

  • Michael

    If we managed a Miss England who was a Lance Corporal with commendations for bravery, surely a beauty queen with a degree can’t be that hard.

  • Tim

    I don’t know about other provinces in Canada (or other Albertan cities/towns for that matter) but our school taught evolution as early as grade 6. Possibly earlier but certainly grade 6 and that was almost thirty years ago. I couldn’t forget that because, as the Pentecostal pastor’s son, I was one of only two or three students who had a note allowing me to miss that class disallowing me from learning about evolution.

  • Michael Ranere

    I honestly think they ask them these questions just so people can have a good laugh at them, at their expense. Sadly, this reinforces the stereotype that pretty = stupid.

    It’s not a tough question at all, the answer is yes. You can’t teach “both sides” because there are many opinions but only one is based on evidence and facts and that would be The Theory of Evolution.

    Oh an Miss Mississippi, you need to look up the definition of a scientific theory. How’s the Theory of Gravity working for you? Go flying off the planet yet? No? Sad.

  • MoosePasteInventor

    It seems like they were all given the same script, or the same outline of a script, and were told to put it in their own words. They all said almost exactly the same thing, even down to choice of words. Most of mentioned some variation of “choose their own beliefs”, “teach both sides of the story”, “important to get both perspectives”, and other such phrases that I’m unwilling to go back and watch in order to remember.

    As an aside, I liked Miss Nevada’s answer, out of pure hilarity. She obviously had no idea what was meant by “evolution”, but she still managed to talk about the evolution of a community. I also liked Miss Connecticut’s answer of “Yes, evolution should be taught in schools” with nothing else, although that could just me being biased in favor of my home state.

    Miss New Mexico’s response was also pretty good (ignoring the grammatical mistakes).

    I think evolution should be taught in schools because evolution is based off of science, and I think science is a huge thing that we need to continue to enrich our schools with.

  • treedweller

    Nathan, yes, you are crazy. We should teach ID alongside evolution the same as we should teach the history of faery alongside human history, same as we should teach sociology of the Ood alongside human psychology, same as we should teach …. you get my drift. We should not teach fairy tales as possible fact in school. We should teach what we KNOW is true. And we know evolution is true (it is the mechanics of it that are somewhat disputed). Period.

    What if Nathan had said it differently:
    Teach scientific theory and use ID as a contemporary example of what it is not?

  • MattTX

    Criticizing Miss America for being stupid is as pointless as criticizing Stephen Hawking for being ugly. That quality is irrelevant to her role as beauty queen.

  • I feel less intelligent for having watched that, like my mind was being sucked dry of all thought. Why would you share that, Hemant? Why?

  • jarppu

    Their answers were so similar – I wonder if they produce these delegates in some factory.

  • Sparks54

    It’s sort of ironic, though. Each of these women is trained in the fine art of making any random male want to mate with them. And gosh-darn if that ain’t evolution!

  • Anne

    I got 10 minutes in until I facepalm’d and gave up. School isn’t about teaching opinions, school is about teaching the way it is.

  • frizzlefrazzle

    Me want know why…..sorry, brain still booting back up after that. I don’t understand how so many of them got off topic. It seemed like a pretty simple question. Another way of saying that question could have been, “should we teach children facts in school?” Of course, I guess we would have then gotten this response:

    Yes, facts should be taught. But also beliefs in anyone’s christian god.

    Maybe I’m mistaken, but evolution is not the equivalent of “how did everything begin?” We don’t know the answer to that. But, we do know things evolve.

  • Jasen777

    Most of them are educated and aren’t of below average intelligence. Perhaps that’s the scary part.

  • Pen

    Not one of them could just say. “evolution is reality, the meaning of ‘theory’ is not the same in science as it is in the vernacular.and in public schools, it is illegal to substitute religion for science”. We truly don’t deserve anything nice…

  • Rich Wilson

    @Tim as of 1984, my bio teacher (a JW) was able to get away with skipping evolution. Province wide standardized tests were being brought back the next year, so I’m assuming that’s no longer the case.

    As it was, my History 12 substitute teacher forgot to teach us anything about the Viet Nam War, which hurt a few peoples’ grades if they didn’t know it otherwise.

    That same teacher (History, not Biology) tried to explain that Animal Farm was about Facism in South Africa. And that ‘Sitzkrieg’ was just another pronunciation of Blitzkrieg.

    I came to appreciate that being wrong isn’t so bad as refusing to accept that you might be wrong.

  • “Mind you, there’s nothing to “believe” when it comes to science. You accept it or you don’t. The evidence is there or it isn’t. There’s evidence for evolution and the Big Bang. There’s no evidence for Creationism and Intelligent Design.”

    And you, Hermant, seem not to know that absolute truth claims are as unsupportable for scientific data as for invisible pink unicorns or Jebus. Science is a whole lot more plausible than anything else humanity has ever come up with, but it can’t “prove” its own basic axioms. There is no strong objective knowledge in the face of scepticism, only very well founded believe. Or can you prove that you are not a brain in the vat, a mind in the matrix or a bodyless soul in Berceleys idealistic universe?

  • Alice

    I want to know exactly how the question was phrased to each of them. Too many of the answers were too similar for it so simply have been “Do you believe evolution should be taught in schools?” and it sounds like they threw in something about teaching the controversy/both sides just to prime the pump, so to speak.

    That could be my unwarranted optimism kicking in, though…

  • It’s hard to take anyone serious when their responses are all “you know, like” and “it’s like that thing, you know.”

  • Jon Peterson

    Thank you, Miss Connecticut.

    No bullshit. No qualification with “well, because, y’know” crap. Just a straight-up answer: Yes.

    Why didn’t she win?

  • audrey elizabeth

    I would like to see 51 handsome males questioned about ANYTHING and see if we would get answers half as inteligent. Enough misoginist talk already!!!!!

  • It hurts. Literary. I have a clenching pain around my chest/heart-region. Why did you make me watch that? Why?! You’re evil, AS EVIL AS CAPS LOCK.

    The thing is though, I thought they would be even more off. Most of them are actually for teaching evolution. They are for it for all the wrong reasons…

    It made me think it possible… yes, I now fear the reason there are so many teen pregnancies in the world today is that people choose to believe the theory of stork reproduction. After all, shouldn’t people be allow to believe what they want?

  • Katie

    My skin is crawling… I’m at 7:23 and, I can’t take this anymore. Kentucky was one of the worst. I need to vomit now.

  • Scout

    Ok, made it…*deep breath*…Miss Nevada’s handlers clearly prepared her for this question; she looked so pleased with herself, “Nevada evolved…” Miss Indiana (my home state) wow…just wow. I was holding out for Miss Vermont, figured she would be sensible and she came through, more or less. Finally, I would have hoped that by the 21st century, we would have EVOLVED past myth and legend; guess not.

  • Ben

    Illinois gave the best answer, so I stopped there on a high note.

    My answer: “Of course. It’s the foundation of all modern biology, and the life sciences makes no sense without it. Furthermore, it is a tragedy that such a question need even be asked given the overwhelming scientific consensus, the patent absurdity of creationism and ID, and this country’s reliance on the separation between church and state.”

  • beckster

    Miss Idaho on evolution –

    “You should be knowledged about it.”

    palm to my face

  • Claudia

    @audrey elizabeth, you know, I’m rather on the feminist side of this blog, but…WTF? Not every insult directed at a group of women is mysoginy. No one is suggesting (and I should hope no one believes) that men are inherently less likely to sound like blithering idiots. These young women are largely very pretty dolls with very little stuffing. I don’t suppose the Mr. Universe guys could do any better, but so what?

    You know what could be construed as sexist? Holding massive televised events where young women are examined and appraised like beautifully sculpted pieces of meat to see which conforms to the strict societal standard of female beauty, with intellectual capacity regarded as purely superfluous.

  • Paivi

    I tried to watch it, but had to give up midway… it was just plain torture. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry – why not give a simple yes or no answer, and not try to act smart with crappy explanations!

  • bloomc

    Why does everybody act as if evolution is not already taught in schools? This has me slightly confused. I’m still a high school student, and the only perspective I’ve ever been taught in schools as far as how humans came to be is evolution. I, along with all of my friends and most teachers, wish that ID was taught in school, but we all accept that it will never be that way unless we pay an absurd amount of money to go to private school. We simply learn it, try our best to understand it, and apply it to our studies. I’m seeing a lot of stereotypes being thrown around. Yah, I’m a Christian, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think evolution is worth teaching to students. I also don’t believe this is a matter of making a student choose what he/she believes. Evolution is a scientific theory that is and always will be a fact of life that we all have to learn at some point. So of course it should be taught, because if it isn’t, than even as a Christian, I would be extremely disappointed to come across a question on the ACT about evolution and not have the slightest idea what it is asking about. Even us “IDiots” and “religious right” enjoy being knowledgeable (well some of us anyways). Whether or not I agree that this is how humans came to exist, I would still be incredibly ignorant to not understand the very “controversy” that is evolution and what exactly evolution is and what it is proposing. Most of my friends that are atheists at least try to know what creationism is, and there is proof of this all over this entire website. (Although, some of you are a little confused about what we believe and teach. :P) So, I should give all of you the same respect and learn your side of the argument, rather than just blatantly disagree with it. That is especially ignorant. Knowledge is power.

  • Beryl

    I wish people would say that they “know” science related things, but nothing is wrong with them saying that they “believe” them or even that they believe in them. Anything that you think that you know, you also believe. “Believe” does sound a bit qualified, but it really doesn’t have any implication of faith. “Believe in” is a bit different, but it’s still fine to “believe in” a scientific theory. If I say “I believe in myself” or “I believe in the theory of evolution” it just means that I have confidence–faith, if you insist–in myself or the theory of evolution. Believing in science is having confidence in the scientific method.

  • joe franke

    “facts not theories should be taught”
    -miss Washington.

    and miss Virginia’s response made me ashamed to be from that state. and she scares me….

  • Bobby

    It’s apparent that most of these women (just like the majority of people in America) have no clue what evolution is really about. I stopped watching at the halfway mark, but out of everyone I saw, I think Kansas had the best answer.

  • I just finished reading The Selfish Gene. The question on my mind currently is “What form of evolution is currently being taught?”.

    It is my understanding that evolution, as understood by the majority of scientists, is known and accepted as being something that is driven by the genes. Unless I am wrong in this understanding (and correct me if I am!) – and I don’t come by this from reading this singular book, mind you.

    Is this what is being taught then, in those cases where evolution is being taught? I only ask this, because, when you hear or read people discussing evolution, hardly anybody of the “lay” persuasion (that is, the average joe who understands something about evolution) ever mentions any of the concepts published in Dawkins’ work. It almost feels as if he never published it, or people never read it, or if they did, they didn’t understand it. That – or it’s conclusions make people reject it (out of fear?)…

    Does anybody here have a suggestion of a book similar in scope to The Selfish Gene which covers current understanding of evolution (while not going too far above the head of a well-read layman, such as myself)? I do plan on reading The Extended Phenotype, but right now it isn’t in my library…

  • firefly4f4

    Miss Connecticut’s answer was the only one that impressed me. Simple and to the point: “I do think it should be taught in school.”

  • Galen

    Forgetting evolution I think people need to be taught what a theory is and is not and how much weight an accepted theory holds. “It’s only a theory”? Come on. I think they have it confused with a hypothesis (that has not been tested).

  • Claudia

    Does anybody here have a suggestion of a book similar in scope to The Selfish Gene which covers current understanding of evolution (while not going too far above the head of a well-read layman, such as myself)?

    While it doesn’t go into modern genetics, “The Greatest Show on Earth” is an excellent book, also by Dawkins, that goes step by step through the core evidence for evolution. Obviously it can’t get into everything, but it covers quite a lot of ground. If you understood the Selfish Gene, this book will not be a problem.

    I should note, as a biochemist, that the gene-driven (as opposed to individual driven) view of evolution is not without controversy within the scientific community. Though it is of course accepted that evolution is reflected in the varying frequency of gene alleles over time, many still argue in favor of the true “action” of selection happening at the level of the individual organism, which is the one that lives or dies, reproduces or not. I’m agnostic on the matter, having not read the literature, though I lean towards the Dawkins model.

  • Justin Miyundees

    I’m so sorry ladies, the correct answer is “yes”. Yes, evolution should be taught in schools.

    “Miss Missourabamasaw should we teach addition?”

    “Um, no because there’s too many people who want to understand the world through divisification of numbers and um, what not, and you should know both sides of, um,… the fact is that subtraction can sometimes be like the opposite and we definitely shouldn’t teach that because, um, you know that leads to Algebra and Al Qaeda and eventually terrorism….”

  • Angie

    One of them actually said the government should decide…What? She also seemed not to realize that it is already taught in school..WOW…Sad

  • Nancy

    I want to shoot myself in the head! (before it explodes)

  • wright1


    This is an atheist blog; we tend to focus on the attacks against teaching evolution by religious believers, among other issues. And those attacks are ongoing, believe me. Peruse the archives if you’re curious.

    I’m glad you’re a theist who doesn’t see evolutionary theory as controversial, but unfortunately those like you are in short supply. Far more visible are the minority who DO find the theory of evolution an “attack” on their beliefs and do what they can to dilute or eliminate its being taught.

  • ACN

    Whether or not I agree that this is how humans came to exist, I would still be incredibly ignorant to not understand the very “controversy” that is evolution and what exactly evolution is and what it is proposing.

    Fixed it for you.

    And once you understand evolution, you’ll agree about how it is humans came to exist 🙂

  • echidna

    Bloomc, I was kind of with you until you said, re creationism:

    (Although, some of you are a little confused about what we believe and teach.)

    You have made the same fundamental mistake that most of the Miss USA candidates made: evolution is not a religious belief.

    Atheists aren’t “confused” about what creationists believe and teach; you are confused if you think that there is a valid, evidence-based version of creationism. I have heard many different versions of creationism from many different people and traditions. My favourite creation story is about how the kangaroo got its pouch.

    I have a great fondness for indigenous creation myths, which I believe should be taught in schools. But they are not any kind of competition to the scientific theories of gravity, geology and evolution. There is no “controversy”, only ignorance.

    By the way, I interpret the Genesis ‘Adam and Eve in the garden’ story is not so much a creation myth, as a “how society became agricultural” myth. The creation of Adam and Eve is really just setting the scene: the story arc is all about the transition from nomadic life to agriculture.

    The first genesis creation story really doesn’t say more than invoke a spirit who created everything. The fact that the details are directly contradicted in the next story tells you that even to the compilers of the Book of Genesis, the details are are not important.

  • Militant Maggie

    Uhhhhhhhh *headdesk*.

    Science belongs in science classrooms. Evolution belongs in science classrooms. I think it’s a good idea for a class on world religions to be required, and only there could ID and creationism and all the hundreds of other creationist stories be told. However, if a religion classroom gets into the wrong hands, it could easily turn into “Christianity=good, all others are heathens” that’s sort of what my college comparative religion class turned out to be. All the other “creationism” stories were presented as folklore and myth, while the biblical version was fact. It was so frustrating.

    People always say that they want other beliefs and options in the classroom. But I think 95% of the people who say that mean “I want students to learn about the bible and only the bible.” Personally, I think that a religions class taught by an atheist or agnostic would probably be the best and broadest class.

    I’m so glad that my freshman biology class (in HS) taught evolution only, even in a fairly small school populated by mostly Christians. I think ID was brought up once, as a student asking if it would be taught. And my teacher basically said that only science was taught in her science classroom. It was amazing.

  • Timothy

    God I hate these things. Makes me claim to be from another country.

  • Miss Connecticut won this round.

    “I do think evolution should be taught in schools.”

    She had the good sense to stop there before she said anything incriminating or dropped yet another platitude about “Kids should be able to choose” or “People should believe what they want.” Sometimes less is more, people.

  • James

    First of all, Hemant, I sat through the whole thing, and damn that was painful. IMHO Vermont was the best:
    “I think evolution should be taught in schools, because not everybody necessarily has the same religious background and it’s important to have scientific facts about the world. And we do know that evolution exists even on a small scale like with people and with bacteria that are becoming resistant to drugs and what not. So, might as well learn about it.”
    Granted she wasn’t perfect, but compared to some of the other women (who didn’t know anything about evolution, or what a theory is, or why evolution and creationism are not simply differing viewpoints of equal validity as evolution is science and creationism is religion) she was brilliant.

  • John

    What, no props for Vermont’s answer? That was pretty good!

  • Dan W

    Ugh, my brain hurts from watching that video. I facepalmed so many times while watching (and I watched the whole thing). So many of those women don’t get it- when it comes to science there is no contoversy! Evolution has huge amounts of evidence that supports it, and creationism is simply unscientific bullshit.

    I have to agree with Claudia’s first comment. Beauty pageants like this one aren’t so concerned with the intelligence of their contestants, so you end up getting a lot of airheads.

  • Michelle

    *applause for Miss Connecticut please* concise, to the point, with no parsing or excusing or herself for it. A few more shout outs as we go, New Mexico (: Utah, was honest then Hello Vermont. What was that, it is science and we don’t all have the same religious beliefs so we should stick with facts! I <3 you. Where was Miss Washington going? Hmmm. Pretty good Miss Illinois, how did I miss you?

  • Michelle

    Oh, and Miss Louisiana was pretty cute about it.

  • Mike

    A lot of people saying “all beliefs and ideas should be taught.” So why don’t they teach Raëlism or any other bizarre belief systems?

    The simple answer is that they have no scientific merit, so why confuse children with all the worlds different beliefs (that are equally dissmissable) when an overwhelming amount of evidence and proof exist for evolution.

  • SeekerLancer

    The generous part of me wants to say they were just being political and trying to please everyone and get votes.

    The rest of me is screaming in pain and terror.

  • Aimee

    I didn’t think it was so bad. Now let’s ask the house of representatives and see how much better their answers are. Did you see the number of republican presidential candidates who deny evolution? Miss America pagents require them to hedge their answers “diplomatically”. I care a lot more about the way lawmakers view science education.
    It would be nice if evolution was accepted in our society to the point that the contestants all gave a simple “yes” answer, but I think the fact that we still have to ask says more about the state of affairs than the answers given.

  • dave

    It’s hard to take anyone serious when their responses are all “you know, like” and “it’s like that thing, you know.”

    Well, that’s just, like… your opinion, man. 😉

  • bloomc

    I’m afraid the wording I use is misinterpreted quite frequently. I was not suggesting that atheism is a religious belief, I was acknowledging that Christianity is a religious belief, and is often misunderstood. Of course, you are correct in saying that Atheism is not a religious belief. Also, I’m not stating that evolution itself is a controversy. I’m stating that there is controversy among, well pretty much, everyone (Some choose to reject the information, some learn it but aren’t sure their feelings towards it, and others accept it as scientific fact.)

    I definitely understand evolution, natural selection, Darwinism, etc. That was the point I was trying to make against my fellow Christians. Too many of us willingly choose to be ignorant to ALL of the theories within the science world. It’s astonishing to me that not everyone chooses to learn and understand all that they can, even if they disagree with it. You can never learn to much, and the more I learn about science the more my eyes are opened to how much more I still have to learn.

    And @wright1
    I apologize if my comments are rude or offensive in any way. That is not my intention in any case. Thank you for understanding. I agree it is not an attack on my beliefs, I certainly don’t think Darwin first proposed this theory to specifically attack Christians, I just admit that it is very perpendicular to what I believe, what I consider proof. Part of the reason why I am always on this website and commenting so frequently is because I have this really bad habit of enjoying any type of discussion, or debate, or conversation that forces one to think in depth and consider the choices one has already made. It challenges the entire thought process, makes people wiser (well, I like to think so anyway). Unfortunately, I am very opinionated and blunt about any topic, and it gets me into trouble a lot. I’m working on it. But anyways, my point is that I do read this blog simply because it is a place I can always go to to have intelligent conversations. The majority of people on here actually used the minds they were blessed with. (religious crack, I know :P) It’s obvious that most of those commenting are very book smart, and that is refreshing, but also, I’ll admit that maybe part of me is on here to show that not all Christians are unintelligent and ignorant, as most of you seem to believe. Some of us love science, too!

  • ACN

    If you understand it so thoroughly, on what grounds do you disagree with it?

  • Drew M.

    Miss New Mexico did us proud.

  • “You think it’s just coincidence that green plants make our air?
    The explanation’s obvious: the leprechauns were there!
    Don’t talk of photosynthesis, one theory you might find.
    Teach leprechauns in science class! Let kids make up their mind!”

    Read full poem here.

  • Paul C.

    I made it to 1:44 before my head hit the desk. If I wasn’t the lucky father of two smart, creative girls I would despair.

  • bloomc,

    I hope you enjoy the discussions and the intellectual stimulation of having conversations with people who view life differently than yourself. Enjoy your time here on Earth for if you are right about the afterlife, then you will spend eternity sequestered with like-minded saved people worshiping and praising the Lord. The conversations might be a little dull.

    Meanwhile, if you are right, the rest of us will be lounging around the lake (of fire) swapping stories and telling off-color jokes while teasing the Harpies.

  • Saltyestelle

    @bloomc, “Why does everybody act as if evolution is not already taught in schools?” Because sometimes it isn’t, or it’s presented as ‘just a theory’, etc. etc. The culture war has gotten fierce and classrooms are a battleground. The popular discourse has devolved into a bizarre world where all opinions are thought to deserve equal respect, regardless of fact or rationality. We can choose to ‘believe’ in science or to believe in religion or astrology or whatever batshit crazy idea appeals to us, because we are rugged, individualist Americans.

  • bloomc

    In a sense, I couldn’t agree more. These days everybody has a sense of entitlement and they think their opinion should be shoved on others. So, consequently, many issues have arose about what should be taught to students. However, as far as I’m concerned, even here deep within the Bible belt, evolution is still the only thing teachers have ever taught at my school. Whenever ID, creationism, etc., is spoken of it’s when a student brings it up. Of course religion is mentioned by the students sometimes and we all have an agreement towards this matter that is typically left silent, but that is really just because the majority of people here believe the same thing and there isn’t much need to oppose evolution out loud. Then again, I’ve gone to school in the same place my entire life, so I’m ignorant to the way in which schools in other areas in the country handle certain issues. It is a shame, though, assuming what you say is true, that evolution isn’t taught to students everywhere. It’s a major part of science, and in the least should be considered a very major part of the political world, since it is so often discussed and argued over. Ignorant people drive me nuts.

    I wasn’t trying to call my self a scholar in the subject. I just simply mean that I understand what evolution teaches. The grounds on which I disagree with it is based upon my religious beliefs. My faith teaches me that we will be presented with information that appears to be much more logical and make more sense than that which we know is true, thus far. It’s strictly a Biblical point of view, something that could never make sense to anyone that doesn’t agree with it. So, I don’t feel the need to explain too much since I know I will never win this argument. I have almost lost my faith before due to searching more in depth in to science, but I know with my own experience that every time I doubt it, I will soon be proven wrong to do so, by myself. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m just stubborn. Everyone could say the same for every other person on this earth that believes something that doesn’t coincide with their own beliefs. My personal grounds for the decisions I make will never make sense to you, just as yours don’t always make sense to me. We should probably just agree to disagree, and then we can all come to a better understanding of one another. I apologize if I sound arrogant.

    @Jeff P
    You are quick with your words. It’s cunning. We don’t agree, but I admire your ability with humor that I don’t possess. It was slightly offensive but it actually made me laugh. I guess I set myself up for what you said.

  • kevin

    Ms. Vermont was only pointing out our secular roots–the separation of church and state.

    Not to mention, she calls it a scientific fact AND gives a piece of evidence supporting it.

    Her answer was the best, bar-none

  • ckitching

    And she acknowledges microevolution (which even Creationists accept) without mentioning macroevolution.

    So, where’s the clearly defined line where ‘microevolution’ becomes ‘macroevolution’? That’s the reason using these terms are a bad idea. They’ve been perverted into creationist terms — a way to accept the easily observable and reproducible research while still denying common descent.

  • Justin

    I made it through the whole 15 minutes (albeit I was screaming “WTF!?” at the screen 75% of the time)and still came away with the same feeling I had before it. Why is this even a question? Since when did evolution have to defend it’s place in science class? I am more pissed off that this question is even being asked than at the these idiots (not misogynistic) for not being able to answer them.

  • Amelia

    I can’t believe I watched that entire video. I nearly cried from all the logic fail. Oh, all perspectives should be taught? Like, say, white supremacy and the Greek creation myth? THOSE perspectives?

  • paulalovescats

    Brains are not what got these women this far. I have brains.

  • paulalovescats

    Can we dress them in revealing clothes?? Huh, can we?

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