The Miss USA competition claims to judge women based on more than just how they look in swimsuits. But the video below is a rather shocking illustration that the competitors are scientifically illiterate. I'll issue the same challenge as my fellow blogger Hemant over at Friendly Atheist: Can you watch the whole thing, or will you turn it off in disgust before it's done?
The young women were asked, "Should evolution be taught in schools?"
I did a quick count. Something like thirty six contestants said or implied "Teach both sides." About a half dozen said that evolution shouldn't be taught at all. Only three (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Mexico) said "yes" without waffling. But even those three gave weak answers.
But not one gave the right answer. The right answer to this question is, "Yes, evolution should be taught because it's solid, proven science and is the foundation of all biological sciences. If we don't teach evolution, our students will be second-class citizens in the modern scientific world."
This leaves us with two choices. It could be that the Miss USA contest has selected a group of scientifically illiterate (and sometimes inarticulate) women. That's certainly the impression these women give. If this is the best that the United States of American can dig up, it's a pretty sad state of affairs.
But it could be that these women just knew they were talking to a country where Christian fundamentalism has taken control of education. Maybe they knew what they had to say to win the contest. Maybe they realize that saying, "Yes, evolution should be taught because it's true" would end all chances to win the competition.
But that's hardly better. If they're scientifically literate but don't have the courage to stand up for their convictions, it's still not much of a testament to quality of the contestants.