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Miss USA Pageant Winner One of Two Contestants to Back Evolution [Video]

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I admit, the only time I even notice beauty pageants is when one of the contestants flubs a response and video of the embarrassing moment makes the YouTube rounds.


This time, though, I’m taking notice because of a cogent answer, one that could be seen as a victory for science. Tanya Somanader of Think Progress recounts in her excellent blog post an answer given by 21-year-old Alyssa Campanella, a self-described science geek who won the Miss USA competition last night.


Responding to the question of whether evolution should be taught in schools, Campanella affirmed her position on evolution and its rightful place in the classroom. She and Miss Massachusetts, Alida D’Angona, were the only two of the 51 contestants to back Darwin.


Meanwhile, the other contestants revealed a sad misunderstanding of the basics of evolutionary science–and of science in general.


So kudos to this year’s Miss USA winner for sticking up for science and to the pageant organizers for the daring question. Read the entire Think Progress blog post here.



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  1. 1. Grant Wood 7:53 pm 06/20/2011

    Sigh. It saddens me that we live in a world where a 21 year-old who "believes" in, y’know, evolution and, y’know, stuff can be hailed as a brainiac by Scientific American.

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  2. 2. Mike Barry 8:18 pm 06/20/2011

    Grant, that’s what most 21 year olds sound like (and probably a higher percentage in the Beauty Pageant Entrants category). What I can’t believe is that 49 out of 51 presumably educated contestants did not believe in evolution!

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  3. 3. sciencegoddess 9:55 pm 06/20/2011

    I expect she shouldn’t "like" believing in the big bang theory, as it is not a question of preference. Although I’d prefer she like it than not.

    In this short clip, despite her support of evolution, Ms. CA still exhibits a misunderstanding of what science is about (preference). I am hopeful that she just had a case of nerves and misspoke. We may learn she understands science more than was captured in this small clip. I will need to look up what she is studying at this point.

    The truth of pageants is, if the contestant sounds articulate and remains poised, judges are impressed despite the content of the answer.

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  4. 4. mihondo2010 11:14 pm 06/20/2011

    I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the responses were crafted to be what they thought the judges wanted to hear.

    But the responses are in line with the general misunderstand of the general public. "Theory" has been re-defined by anti-science crowd to be the same as a "guess".

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  5. 5. cblsttrotwd 8:41 am 06/21/2011

    I didn’t watch the entire video of contestants, but Connecticut also (simply) supported the teaching of evolution.

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  6. 6. Aberu 5:50 pm 06/22/2011

    As an organization that is representing science, you probably should refrain from making claims that are not supported by the evidence.

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  7. 7. loisedw 8:15 pm 06/22/2011

    Evolution is not something to be "believed in" or "not believed in." It is a scientific theory that is supported by an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence. One must either reject scientific observations entirely or accept the evidence for what it supports. If you reject the scientific evidence for evolution, why don’t you reject the scientific evidence for gravity or for the cell theory? You can’t pick and choose what theories to accept or reject.

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  8. 8. Bill Crofut 8:44 pm 06/22/2011

    The fact that only two of the candidates backed evolution puts those who rejected it in impressive company:

    "Darwin himself considered that the idea of evolution is unsatisfactory unless its mechanism can be explained. I agree, but since no one has explained to my satisfaction how evolution could happen I do not feel impelled to say that it has happened. I prefer to say that on this matter our information is inadequate."

    [Prof. W. R. Thompson, F.R.S. 1956. Introduction. In: Charles Darwin. Origin of Species. Everyman Library No. 811. London: J. M. Dent and Sons. Reprinted with permission. Evolution Protest Movement. 1967. NEW CHALLENGING `INTRODUCTION' TO THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES. Selsey, Sussex: Selsey Press Ltd., p. 12]

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  9. 9. dmolineaux 7:30 am 06/23/2011

    Media dumbing-down strategies are clearly working very well. But what of the school systems? It obviously bodes ill for the planet that in its most powerful country, the pretty girl next door is being kept so goldurn ignorant.

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  10. 10. DanaB. 10:01 pm 06/25/2011

    I find it odd that while this article claims that only two of the contestants backed Darwin’s theory even though, Many of them stated that they should make evolution part of the school curriculum. This is to give the children the ability to broaden their range of education, so they will be able to make their own decision about whether they choose to believe in it or not. And while there were a few pageant contestants who were grossly misinformed about the theory of evolution they should not be representative of the majority as so we can simply mock them as a group of brainless Barbie dolls.

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