Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Just 2 of 51 Miss USA contestants support teaching of evolution in schools (but the winner's one of them)

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Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella
  (© Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com)
Beauty pageants aren't really something we cover here at New Humanist (I'm sure many of you have views on the sheer awfulness of everything they represent, which you can discuss in the comments), but I thought I'd share a little news from the Miss USA contest, which took place in Las Vegas (where else?) at the weekend.

Aficionados will have to forgive me if I get the format wrong here, but from what I can establish, in addition to the bits where a panel of older men and women sit in judgement of a selection of younger women based on their bodies and their looks (in swimsuits and gowns), there is also a bit where the women are judged based on their answers to a series of questions in an interview. Indeed, some of you may remember the contest attracting controversy in 2009, when the runner-up Carrie Prejean answered a question on the legalisation of gay marriage by stating that "marriage should be between a man and a woman".

It would seem that the organisers like to include a question that will provoke a spot of controversy (thereby generating articles and blogposts like this, you see), as this year each of the 51 contestants was asked whether evolution should be taught in American schools. The result? Only two of them offered unqualified support, with most of them opting for a "teach the controversy" approach.

However, there is some good news for science fans, as the winner (and thus Miss USA 2011), Alyssa Campanella of California, is a self-confessed "science geek" who, along with Alida D’Angona of Massachusetts, fully supports the teaching of evolution in schools.

So Miss USA is pretty and rational. Perhaps this beauty pageant malarkey isn't so wrong after all.*

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