Big fun: Miss USA pageant contestants to be asked about evolution!

June 11, 2011 • 9:57 am

According to Fox News, contestants in the upcoming Miss USA contest are going to be asked whether they think evolution should be taught in the public schools.  (They’re also going to be asked if they’d pose for nude photographs, but that’s a no-brainer.)  It will be hugely entertaining to see the ladies squirm as they try to either avoid answering the question altogether, give some noncommittal answer, or say that evolution and creation should both be taught.

Their answers will be videotaped and posted on the Miss USA website, and you’d better believe that I’ll put up a post about them.

“The girls are scared to death. They witnessed with Carrie Prejean how a firestorm can create a road kill [you may remember that runner-up Carrie Prejean dissed gay marriage when asked about it two years ago], and nobody wants to be part of a situation like that again,” said Keith Lewis, who was embroiled in the Prejean saga in 2009, and is now the executive state pageant director for California, New York and New Hampshire. “The girls are concerned that there is a right or wrong answer. [JAC: WHAT?] Polarizing questions often create a situation where you suffer … if you agree, and if you do not. The girls need to answer in a way that brings them to a common ground.”

. . .So are questions regarding evolution and nudity relevant to a beauty pageant, or just controversy bait?

“The pageant officials are intimidating contestants into answering questions a certain way that are deemed ‘politically correct’ while discriminating against their own belief and opinions,” says publicist Angie Meyer, who has worked with the Miss USA organization. “The Miss USA organization is choosing topics that are not only controversial, but intimidating.”

I’m just not clear what the “politically correct” answer is here!  Perhaps readers would like to suggest judicious answers for the contestants?

I’m aware that these pageants are supposed to create “role models” for women, though how that’s accomplished by parading them around in skimpy attire is beyond me.  Far better, I think, to see whether they can give straight and thoughtful answers to questions about serious issues (I’m talking about evolution, not nude photographs).

And I’ll be glad to provide a free copy of WEIT to any contestant who wants to bone up.

79 thoughts on “Big fun: Miss USA pageant contestants to be asked about evolution!

  1. Oh goodie…

    I love how these handlers answer these questions, as if the scientific history of our world was somehow a matter of political correctness. “Discriminating against their own beliefs and opinions?” By asking them a reasonable question? Give me a break… it science, where opinion only matters as much as the evidence to support said opinion.

    Aside from all of that, what is the point of Miss USA anyway? Or, for that matter, any of these contests? I have never been able to figure that one out.

    1. A couple of decades ago, I taught a student who was very into modelling and pageants. I thought it quite silly until she won Miss Pennsylvania (in the Miss America pageant system). Big scholarship, big wardrobe, and use of a new car for a year. More importantly, instant opportunity, which she seized and retains, to be a community leader. I’m not defending beauty pageants, but the ambitions of the women who participate are not solely fanciful.

  2. Not sure what I think of this. Arent beauty contests supposed to be just that.. A chance to judge the body and form of the entrants, as if they are mindless cattle at the state fair? You know, the way it was back when Sarah Palin entered?

  3. “I’m just not clear what the ‘politically correct’ answer is here!”

    All truths are merely social constructs. What is true for one person may not be true for another. A better question, therefore, is “how does evolution make you feel?” Support your answer either with a short poem or an interpretive dance.

    1. …so the contestant who most successfully unasks the question, or otherwise turns it around on the questioner, might not win the round, but will demonstrate that she is further along the path to enlightenment.

      1. …but now that I reflect on it, to answer with interpretive dance might be just what the judges are looking for.

  4. ‘I believe god created the world’ accompanied by a blank stare is the only sensible answer in an american context. If they want to win that is.

    1. Yes. I thought there was one possible answer missing from this list:

      “avoid answering the question altogether, give some noncommittal answer, or say that evolution and creation should both be taught.”

      That answer would be: “No. Goddidit.” That is a very real possibility.

  5. It’s a sad statement on the American socio-political climate when we know that the “politically correct” answer differs from state to state. I believe that it would be fine to answer that “evolution should be taught” in the Northeast, California, etc., but woe betide the young woman who makes such a statement in Tennessee, Kansas, Texas, etc.

    As for whether it matters what contestants in a beuaty pageant say, Ms. Prejean’s example is apt: It only matters if the answer is perceived to be “wrong” and the media over-publicize it and/or the reaction. Will Miss USA’s answer matter in the long run? No.

    I stopped paying attention to or caring about such events after my Dad moved out of my family home. My mother, siblings, and I have a much higher opinion of women and their abilities than to participate in such gratuitous objectification.

  6. Seems to me that for these folk any question is a so-called “gotcha” question, a-la-Palin. I would really like to see contestants “give straight and thoughtful answers to questions about serious issues”, but the mere fact that they enter such “contests” presupposes a degree of ignorance that’s been displayed more than once.

  7. May I try? My invitation to the pageant has gone missing, but I’ll do my best to answer, anyway:

    In the class . . . the class where they teach about genes and stuff and the little fishies. . . I think. . . I think, well, you have your Bible and your zoology and stuff . . . you should teach what parents and teachers and stuff . . . and the tests. Thank you.

    1. I dunno. Your answer is far too academic and learned to appeal to the judges. You didn’t even thank God once or burst into tears either.

    2. Damn, Marta, you nailed it!

      (PS: Info on entering the pageant at site JAC linked to. You may have to fudge your birth certificate…)

  8. May I suggest a few replies, expanding on the same phrase:

    “Of course it should, there’s really no question anymore.”

    “Is this a serious question? Of course it should.”

    “The evidence is all on its side, of course it should.”

    “Of course it should, unless we want our children to graduate with ignorance.”

    “Of course it should – some will complain that ‘it’s just a theory’, but they miss the point. If that’s their complaint, then they’ll also have to complain about gravitational theory and electromagnetic theory’.

    “Of course it should – I entered high school with some understanding of evolution and learned more in my biology classes. And by the way, nobody’s dick fell off as a result.”

  9. “The pageant officials are intimidating contestants into answering questions a certain way that are deemed ‘politically correct’ while discriminating against their own belief and opinions,” says publicist Angie Meyer, who has worked with the Miss USA organization.

    This is a ridiculous statement. The true test of whether or not someone deserves to be called “Miss America” (or “Mr. America,” for that matter) should be that they are willing to do the exact opposite of this: that is, answer openly and honestly despite their answer not being politically correct.

    I suppose the PC answer is to “teach the controversy,” but anyone who says anything other than something like “Asking if evolution should be taught is like asking if gravity should be taught” doesn’t deserve a vote.

  10. Asking whether or not ID should be taught in schools strikes me as somewhat more difficult than this one, since most religious Americans (my anecdotal experience) think that “teach the controversy” is the most fair, unbiased answer.

    This one should be easy to provide a PC answer to, but it’ll be much more interesting to see if any of the contestants are willing to take a stand for actual science.

  11. “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to accept evolution because, uh, some . . . people out there in our nation don’t have ‘Why Evolution is True’ and, uh, I believe that our, uh, evolution education like such as in natural selection and, uh, the genetic drift, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our biology teachers over HERE in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Carolina and should help Texas and the bible belt, so we will be able to build up our future, for our children”*
    (*written in beauty queen language)

    1. This would, IMO, be an astounding answer were a contestant actually to give it. That would be pretty good for them thar pageant-types.

      1. I’d give them a tie—except Sigmund’s plug for my book has forced me to vote for Marta so that I won’t look biased!

  12. It’s awful that women who are willing to trot around in skimpy swimsuits so that America can gape at their barely concealed breasts are now being asked to risk their integrity by answering a question about science should be taught in schools.

  13. “No, evolution should not be taught in our public schools because, as famed historian David Barton informs us, the debate about evolution extends as far back as our Founding Fathers, at which time they discussed its merits and decided that it was a theory not worth pursuing. It would be truly un-American to go against the wishes of our founders by teaching evolution in publicly funded institutions.”

    (You can also Palinize it by adding in some “Our Founding Fathers already talked about evolution, and they, ol’ Ben Franklin and Tom Jefferson, they said ‘We know god made us, we’re not gonna use this theory,’ because, you know, Ben and Tom already talked about it with the other guys, and they decided it wasn’t the right way to go, that going that way wouldn’t be the right thing to do, so doing it now isn’t what they wanted.”)

    1. I believe the actual quote from the Founding Fathers was “we ain’t gonna take lamestream science ‘theory’ for how God made America and right-thinking people to git that oil for us to, you know, drill baby drill. Besides, I can see Darwin’s house from here.”

  14. How about:

    I think we should only teach the facts, solid theories that are supported by the evidence.

    There. A completely noncommiting answer.

    1. Or “Science, and only science, should be taught in science classes.”

      Sure would be nice if any of them had the wit to know that, and the backbone to say it.

  15. The Provost or some university official knocks on the eminent professor’s office door and walks in… “the Miss USA website?! …research on evolution you say?!”

  16. I was going to ask, being a mere forriggner, whether the girls would be asked this question before or after the pageant. Reading the comments here, I form the impression of an assumption that their answers would affect their marks. If that is the case, then they are right to worry about whether there is a right or wrong answer. Initially, I had supposed that the interview (and the nude photos) was just an extra bit of icing, as it were.

    1. Of course, it might be the case that the idea is to find out whether the contestants have seriously considered important issues in an intelligent and free-thinking way and have the courage of their convictions. But I might be wrong.

  17. C’mon, people, you know the boilerplate. Teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.

  18. “I believe… that the American evolution should be taught in public schools… as it’s important to know… how Washington and Revere threw off the yoke of imperialistic British rule.”


  19. But Lewis says contestants’ answers, and audience reaction, could impact whether or not they are selected as a semi-finalist in the high profile competition because for the first time in the pageant’s 59-year history, the viewing public plays a role in deciding one of the semifinalists by voting for their favorites online.

    Ooh, Jerry didn’t mention that. So who’s your viewing public? Seems like it ought to be similar to viewers of a Republican candidates’ debate. And you see how those folks squirm. I’m beginning to think that the decision here was pretty clever.

  20. “If this is a question designed to find out my my opinion on creation as a kind of religious test for beauty queenhood, then I totally refudiate that. My view on this issue is that teachers must obey the law; to do otherwise would be un-American.”

  21. I think the producers are picking provocative questions. Provocative to the general viewer and pageant contestant. If the home viewers include a large religiously conservative demographic (in ‘Murka? Pish.) then it’s going to grab a lot of attention. Attention = publicity. Remember that even if evolution is not controversial among people who understand science, it controversial to many Americans.

    Btw, isn’t this the slightly more sleazy version of Miss America that is owned by Trump? That would explain a lot. The man’s a publicity whore.

  22. Olive: Do you eat ice cream?
    Miss California: Yes. My favorite is Chocolate Cherry Garcia… except technically I think it’s a frozen yogurt.

  23. “Being myself, personally, a scientalist kind of person, like, we should use the example of Poedingers dog and both teach, and not teach the Darwin religion in schools, just so long as it didn’t interfere with cheerleading practice”

    1. I actually had my Joho neighbour refer to atheism as the Darwin religion when I told him I was an atheist (he was trying to proselytise at the time).
      Since then he doesn’t talk to me.
      I wonder who he thinks atheists prayed to before Darwin.

    1. It is an interesting answer that you give on the ABC website, but it would be a bit long for a Miss USA answer, don’t you think?

      Or, maybe she can just quote a tinyurl of it 😉

  24. Suggested answer:

    I wouldn’t want my children to be taught religion by a public school teacher. There might be some differences in doctrine or practice between our beliefs and the school mandated curriculum. If I wanted that I would send them to a religious school.

    As for evolution, I am not a scientist and I wouldn’t want to try to dictate the science curriculum until I was knowledgeable enough to do so.

    Now as for engineering, that’s something that should be taught right out of the Bible.

  25. “(I’m talking about evolution, not nude photographs).”

    Of course, the fact that nude photographs are so popular is itself deeply rooted in evolution.

  26. “As a persion of faith, I certainly believe that God created the Universe and everything in it, but exactly how He did it is a question for our scientists and religious leaders to explore…I understand that there is a lot of discussion among scientists about whether evolution is true, so it’s only fair that we should teach the controversy {dog whistle] and let all sides be heard. That’s, y’know democracy and the American Way, and I’m sure that we can come up with an answer that reconciles our faith and science”

  27. “Well, I um…like, think the monkey theory is, um…just silly(giggle). I mean if we were like, made in the image of monkeys…well,then kids would think Jesus hated them because, um, monkeys can’t like drive cars (giggle). Human sapiens drive cars, not monkeys. …so noooo, I don’t…uhhhh, no monkeys for me thank you.”

  28. “…oh, and monkeys posing nude? Ewwwwwwww, I don’t THINK so! That’s sick. Jesus loves everyone, even monkeys, but it’s wrong for monkeys to be naked before marriage.”

  29. My fan vote will go to whoever simply answers “Yes” followed by look that implies “, dumbass.”

  30. “Teach the controversy” is politically blaghblaghblerr.

    “Dem ebuls darwiniumses done kill mah baabey” would probably also go across as plplplplwhatever.

    1. “Teaching the controversy” would be a great answer if that’s what was actually taught. Here’s the controversy: people tend to develop myths based on their current understandings of the Universe and become very attached to those myths even when our underlying understandings change. When science finally shows the myth’s foundations to be wrong, we tend to choose our myths over the scientific realities that have been discovered. Myth-holders will nitpick and search for any perceived flaw that can be used to dismiss science.

      That’s the controversy. But “teach the controversy” is instead used to really mean “give equal time to the myths,” and that would be garbage.

      By the way, even Plato, one of the greatest minds in history, still made the mistake of choosing myth over reality. His student Heracleides showed him that the Earth spins around its axis and orbits the Sun but Plato dismissed it because he believed God’s perfection was better demonstrated by concentric celestial spheres spinning around a spherical Earth. In a sense, creationists are doing the same thing today when presented with the Theory of Evolution except that they have to dismiss far more evidence than Plato would have ever been comfortable ignoring.


        Plato? He turned his back on the search for truth in his later years. He claimed truthfulness to be a threat to the ideal state. It could lead to horrible things like change. (As everything originated from perfection, change could only be degeneration.)

        1. I haven’t read as much Plato as I’d like, but from my understanding his argument was that laypeople need myths to give them purpose, not that truth should be kept away from leaders and philosophers such as himself. His example was an invented myth designed to make members of a class-based society happy to labor in their respective classes. He was an elitist snob and far from perfect, that one.

          We still owe him for teaching the ancient forerunner to the scientific method, for teaching that logic and reason can be used to better understand the world. It’s no coincidence that his academy’s students launched the Greek Classical age and one of the fastest advancements in human understanding in history.

        2. truthfulness to be a threat to the ideal state. It could lead to horrible things like change. (As everything originated from perfection, change could only be degeneration

          that’s the political right in a nutshell

          (well, plus some boloney about “trickle-down”…)

  31. Beauty Pageant?

    Don’t care.


    I think I need to go listen to Rebbeca Watson some more. I need some deadpan coal-black sarcasm to flush Beauty Pageant mummery out of my system.

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