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Voice of America

I came to this rather circuitously. First a fellow math teacher tweeted a link to the YouTube video “Should Math be Taught in Our Schools?” It’s tongue-in-cheek—I say this because not everyone is sure it’s a joke—but it is disturbingly similar to the YouTube video it satirizes, reporting Miss USA contestents’ thoughts on whether evolution shoud be taught in our schools, or, more accurately, plays recordings of several contestants whose answer was not “Of course it should. Duh!”

As you might expect, the contestants seeming to argue either that evolution should be dropped from the curriculum, or taught as a co-equal scientific theory to creationism “and let people [students] decide for themselves” came predominantly from conservative “red” states, and the more outspoken the anti-evolutionary sentiments came from the deep South. (I say “seeming to argue” because many of the responses included a fair degree of Sarah Palin-esque garbling, so it’s hard to be sure just what the contestant believes…) One has to wonder whether the anti-evolution contestants would also argue that we should teach fascism alongside democracy, or communism alongside market theory, also to let people decide for themselves, or if it’s only their own biblical beliefs that should be exempt from intellectual challenge.

But that’s not really my point. These answers, although foolish and self-indulgent and eager to promote ignorance, are hardly different from the springs of anti-intellectualism one finds throughout American culture, rising from deep reservoirs of tribalism and faith. The interesting bit lies in poster OnKneesForJesus3’s invitation to learn from “other highly intelligent people” discussing evolution. Really? Other highly intelligent people?

Now, being a Miss USA contestant doesn’t necessarily make one stupid; some beauty queens are quite bright. But these gals are not among them. And I gotta say, if you’ve decided to seek intellectual growth and academic direction from others? And you pass up scientists and scholars? To learn from Miss USA contestants? Who speak in questions? You’re doing it wrong.

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