‘Huge Science Geek’ Wins Miss USA — One Of Only a Few Contestants Who Appear to Understand the Evolution Issue!

Miss California earned her way into the semifinals in preliminary judging including interviews in which she was one of only two among 51 contestants to unequivocally support teaching evolution.

The newly crowned Miss USA, Alyssa Campanella, 21, of LA, said:

I was taught evolution in high school. I do believe in it. I’m a huge science geek…. I like to believe in the big bang theory and, you know, the evolution of humans throughout time.

Here’s the video (followed by a head-exploding video of some of the answers by other contestants):

I’m guessing she watches the hit comedy, “The Big Bang Theory.” What “huge science geek” doesn’t!

ThinkProgress reports:

All of the contestants were aware of the question ahead of time. Indeed, according to one pageant veteran, the women were “scared to death” of a Prejean-like fiasco and were “concerned that there is a right or wrong answer.” In their apparent struggle, 96 percent of them either “confused the evolution of species with the origin of life (not the same) or said a variation of Miss Michigan’s line that it’s ‘silly’ and ‘ignorant’ not to know ‘both sides’ including, evidently, religious views in public schools.”

Kentucky’s Kia Ben-et Hampton, however, did her state’s Creation Museum proud by firmly rejecting evolution in schools. Believing that “scientists have their different theories,” she said, “I don’t believe it’s a good topic for school subjects. At all.”

No surprise there — see “While cutting education, Kentucky gives $43 million tax break to creationism theme park.”

While Alaska’s Jessica Chuckran, Mississippi’s Keeley Patterson and West Virginia’s Whitney Veach at least thought evolution should be taught as “a theory” alongside religion, Alabama’s Madeline Mitchell simply declared, “I do not believe in evolution, I do not believe it should be taught in schools, and I would not encourage it.”

Please put on your head vise before watching these clips of all the answers:

UPDATE: Salon writes: “As an addendum: It does bear mentioning that even among the women who answered in the affirmative, many seemed to be under the impression that evolution is not already taught in schools. That, in fact, might have been the most head-scratching thing about the video. Oh, well…”


Remember, The National Center for Science Education has said of creationism that “students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level.”

And folks wonder why China and other countries have surpassed us in clean energy, while we remain stuck on dinosaur fuels!

Below are the earlier comments from the Facebook commenting system:

Rob Honeycutt

I, unfortunately, did subject myself to watching the answers to this question earlier today. It’s a very strange collection of women who either have no idea what the question even means, to ones who are just trying to figure out how to give a “correct” answer, to ones who just reject science up front.

I’m glad one woman who was brave enough and smart enough to give an accurate answer advanced to the semi-finals.

Next time maybe they can clarify the question and straight up ask if science should be taught in schools.

June 20 at 8:13pmBenjamin Weinberg

Or perhaps cancel the competition entirely and use the millions to fund public education? Jeeze, these tournaments and competitions are bad for anyone and everyone involved and associated.

June 21 at 2:45pm

Tenney Naumer

They sure don’t make science geeks like they did in my time. (Speaking from my own experience.)

June 20 at 8:17pmRichard Brenne

As for Misses Kentucky, West Virginia and Alaska, I wouldn’t believe in evolution either if it had only led to their level of understanding. Interestingly all three are prime fossil fuel states with no universities of national or international prominence. And the science geek bar appears to have lowered to around the Kardashian level, a little below what Joe might remember from the MIT physics department.

June 20 at 8:43pmJim Kornell

Not sure I so much like the phrase “believe in” in your headline — do I believe in, for example, the inverse-square law for gravity? Seems to undermine the intent.

June 20 at 9:10pmDorvek Prolétariat

“[…] do I believe in, for example, the inverse-square law for gravity?” That would make an excellent question (albeit a little bit too tough?) to decide between the finalists…

June 21 at 11:20am

Arthur Almquist

Simply put, Faith must be involved to “Believe In” anything. If science is involved. Leave the In out, of belief.

June 24 at 3:10pm

Kate Hanley

I’m not sure how USAToday came up with 2/51 contestants unequivocally supporting teaching evolution. If you watch the answers, you’ll find that more than two contestant say, with no caveats, that they support teaching evolution. Connecticut, Utah, and Vermont are three, but I think there were a few more. (I wasn’t taking notes.) Were these answers shortened?


I mean, Utah essentially said, “Yes, I support teaching evolution. But no matter what I say, someone’s going to be offended. Look! Someone’s mad right now!”

June 20 at 9:13pm

Capital Climate

Well, the video ad logo did say “Only Vegas”. Whatever is Miss-stated in Vegas should stay in Vegas.

June 20 at 9:24pmChris Golledge

I’m not sure the vice was strong enough.

June 20 at 10:41pmDan Staley

The contest will be a big nit on the God Channel, of course. It will get ratings, which is far more important than some sciency stuff.

June 21 at 12:10am

James Hwang

Of course these people wouldn’t believe in evolution. People’s egos are sustained by a perception that their life has a purpose and they’re as good as they are because they deserve it. It would ruin that reality if they accepted that their purpose and talent (good looks) are the result of evolution, independent assortment, crossing over, sexual reproduction, and mutations (almost random except for evolution) instead of some almighty god purposely bestowing one with the talent. These people would all be on drugs if they accepted the facts because the truth will set your sanity free.

June 21 at 12:58am


I watched all the answers, and the experience left me completely depressed. Clearly very few, if any, of the contestants understand what science is, let alone evolution.


Science studies the universe as it exists and as it changed over time. Why and how the universe came about before the big bang, and why the universe has natural laws, and any meaning behind why life exists; these are still spiritual questions.

Strangely enough, most of the contestants answered with a eerily similar answer; that people should learn about different (scientific) theories and religion. Then people can pick and choose what they want to believe.

Sorry, but people don’t get to pick and choose how the universe works; we don’t have that power. (Strangely, most of the religious contestants don’t seem to realize that they are espousing that individuals have powers that overrule the omnipotent God they believe in.) Science is the study of the universe the way it is created, not the way some people wish it was created.

Given the same, clearly incorrect answer, that most of the contestants gave to the question, does demonstrate a pervasive level of brainwashing.

June 21 at 1:18amSamuel Silvers

I also do not believe the Evolution should be encouraged. I was in favor of devolution for a long time, but now I just believe in revolution, which is when stuff spins around.

June 21 at 1:22amDeirdre Kincaid

Clearly, pretty airheads are evolving into a separate race (Eloi?)

June 21 at 8:15am

Miles Rind

The video that begins with Miss Kentucky was particularly dismaying. Deirdre, the disturbing thing is that these girls are probably not below average in either intelligence or scholastic achievement. They are more likely “good” students.

June 21 at 9:35am

Samuel Silvers

You know, those scientists with their “theories”, like gravity! How do they come up with this stuff in their ivory towers?

June 21 at 9:51am

Sarah O’Sullivan

I just don’t understand how anyone can not believe in evolution. The only people who don’t are the people who know nothing about it.

June 21 at 11:47am

Samuel Silvers

– Sarah, it’s worse than that: they don’t believe in science; they don’t understand that scientific conclusions are based on evidence and observations rather than BS.

June 21 at 6:29pm

Francis van Staa

Not encouraging evolution; I just HAD to think of the Darwin Awards! 😉

June 23 at 8:54am

Loretta Libby Atkins

Miss USA believes in science only 2 of all the contestants who unequivocally supports evolution education — Yeah, Miss USA a science geek.

June 21 at 1:46amBenjamin Weinberg

Eh… saw her gpa posts? I cant stand the entire competition. Yeah some of them are in good schools, but even the best of them is the worst of society in a general sense. Pouring CFCs into the Eviron to create her self tanners? For shame that this was given even a moments press. Her or her creationist colleagues. Evolution, Creationism, who cares when all are superficial to an extreme. I am dissapointed, majorly so. These people and these competitions should be given as little press as possible. Just because one contestant isn’t a complete fool does not justify a horrendous excuse for a leering spectacle. For shame.

June 21 at 2:54am

Bonita Lahey

It is scary what passes for education anymore

June 21 at 10:03am


I also found Miss Nevada’s answer amusing; she said there are all kinds of things evolving. Then she gave the illuminating example of how Nevada was involving from small communities to larger cities.

Hmmm… Sorry, the scientific theory of evolution doesn’t cover the way the state of Nevada evolves over the next 100 years.

June 21 at 2:24amChad Znoj

You don’t think that people (or any creatures) changing how they are grouped and concentrated is part of or covered by evolution? You don’t think that it’s significant to evolution when some species form packs, and others don’t? Evolution is all about how the aggregation of small changes and adaptations can affect the ability of species to survive. Perhaps you need to be a little more critical of your own thinking before you go criticizing others. Maybe Miss Nevada may not understand it entirely, but maybe you don’t understand it as well as you think you do either.

June 21 at 8:58am


Chad Znoj: Miss Nevada talked about how small towns evolved into larger cities. As far as I know, this type of evolution isn’t covered in the evolutionary theory of how organisms change over time. But I have an open mind, so I will respond with an inquiry:

Are you suggesting that there have been significant evolutionary changes from the people who lived in small towns to the current populations in those towns (now grown into cities)? Do you have any evidence?

June 21 at 12:57pm

Chad Znoj

In the people themselves, no, not an individual level. However, if those small towns, in order to survive (both as communities, and the people in them) adapted to live in larger groups, and assimilated each other’s strengths and traits, then this is certainly a form of evolution. Evolution would dictate that if the members of those small towns did not leave their areas and begin to integrate with other members of the environment around them in order to acquire necessities (and to “breed”!), then eventually, those towns would cease to exist. I mentioned pack animals in my first reply — this is largely the same thing, but to the next level.

June 21 at 2:25pm


Or it could simply be suburban sprawl. I think your hypothesis is rather thin, and lacking any supporting observations. In fact, when it came to supporting data, you whiffed.

Perhaps you should consider this advice from yourself:“Perhaps you need to be a little more critical of your own thinking before you go criticizing others.”

June 21 at 5:40pm

Chad Znoj

It could be — where is *your* evidence? In any case, you’re missing my point, which is not about evolution at all, but that without any evidence of your own, you assume that she must be an idiot, instead of applauding her for making an effort on a very controversial subject.

June 22 at 8:11am

Dorvek Prolétariat

The word “evolutiion” itself begins sounding almost as “evil”: scientists ought to try and come up with a sexier name, like “fitting species pageant”, or “who’s the next top-predator”, or whatever…

And besides its entertainment value, the second video offers a good example of an evolutionary dead end, which could be used in the classroom for most young children’s edification. (So maybe it was all a ploy from a greater “Intelligent Design”, after all?)

June 21 at 3:48amSustainable development and much more

Are the United States anti-science? Or at least a huge part of it?

Please don’t see any offense, I don’t intend to. But many people there seem not to believe in climate change nor in evolution. That’s sounds to me like anti-science.

Not so long ago the United States made us all dream with the Apollo Program and its conquest of the moon. Now, they are failing to act on the biggest challenge of our time…

Best regards from France,Edouard Stenger

June 21 at 5:04amEric Murphy

What an embarrassment to my state both Kia and this creationist museum!

June 21 at 6:45amChad Znoj

I’m actually a pretty big “science geek” myself, and I hate “Bing Bang Theory” (the show). I don’t find it funny at all, I don’t like how it portrays “intelligent” people, and iif you actually pay attention, the main characters are not all that intelligent. They are the personification of things like seeing an IP address of 1045.7.295.104 in any “tech” oriented production — originally based on facts/real-life, but gone through layers of abstraction and ultimately interpreted incorrectly, and executed by people who clearly don’t understand it. It may seem to some that the comment about “Big Bang Theory” is small, but it goes a long way in explaining public perception of intelligent people and critical thinking.

June 21 at 8:39amKadian Smith

Is she from Lincoln RI?

June 21 at 1:34pm

Chad Znoj

Nah, all the cool people are from Johnston.

June 21 at 2:12pm

B. Allan Ross

She’s in a beauty pageant. “Big Bang Theory” are comedic caricatures. Safe, popular, young, techy, “funny” academics. New versions of absent-minded professor. Including a pop culture reference within her answer to a hot-button issue was a good choice. Benign, self-effacing, yet very clearly on the side of sharing knowledge with young people in public schools based on the scientific method and not on popular religious theories. FTW.

June 21 at 6:45pm

Richard Brenne

Good points, especially for a cat. . .

June 21 at 7:29pm

Bru Pearce

O’dear O’dear O’dear — there is almost no hope!

· June 21 at 9:57amVictoria Jones Slinger

What a country, most of them have cotton wool between their ears. And all the members and supports of the Tea Party movement are among these and most of the Republicans suppoorters. Any one who thinks this is too strong can let me know why. I’m always open to disagreement.

June 22 at 9:32am

Matt Wilson

Accept evolution, not believe. A small quibble but an important distinction I believe.

June 21 at 9:57amB. Allan Ross

Oh sure, ram it down our throats hard you commie muslim socialist. Submit! Accept!

Jk. Feeling a bit undercover-perv-GOPhery.

June 21 at 7:39pm

Matthew Svien

Look folks, we don’t care about the swim suits any more. What these bimbos say and think is the only entertainment left in this competition.

June 21 at 11:55am


Since there is a war against science, teachers, and education in gereral in the US I am pleased to see any young person, she is only 21 after all, self-proclaim to be a science geek. She has plenty of time left to more fully explore the subject of evolution or the big-bang.

June 21 at 11:56amAntony Berretti

LOL almost as entertaining as the contestants themselves. Chinese must be rubbing their hands together at this pitiful display of American wisdom on display, heck did I say wisdom!

June 21 at 1:15pmMitchell Szczepanczyk

What I’m fascinating most about this whole episode is why so many contestants gave so many absurd answers. They simply were caught unprepared. How many of these contestants have given more than an inkling of thought about science or evolution? It seems they recited what they heard about science or evolution in schools from the one or two times it came up on the radio or on TV in the hopes of saying something, anything, intelligible and relevant.

June 21 at 2:19pmKim Scarborough

What?! Beauty contestants from West Virginia and Mississippi aren’t knowledgeable about science? Who could have guessed that?

June 21 at 3:21pm

B. Allan Ross

They all had the question in advance! These were their practiced answers! Please excuse the exclamation points! I’m amazed the number is 51! Freaking Borgs. Stepford Christians. Pod people.

June 21 at 6:56pm

Paul Wieder

Mitchell — The irony is that these women are the products of science: the chemistry of hair dye and cosmetics, the physics of high heels and wonderbras, the implants and injections of medical engineering, all clothed in the fabrics of materials science… and all fed through the optics and electromagnetics of the television camera. Everything from the glue that holds on their fake eyelashes to the Vaseline making their teeth shinier to their tanning spray was made in a lab. By scientists who “believe in” evolution.

· June 22 at 10:42am

James Shaieb

Well they wouldn’t be miss USA if they were scientifically literate — that doesn’t represent the majority if this country. Get out while you can!

June 22 at 12:35pm

Brett Harris

For some strange reason, this Beauty Pageant reminds me of devolution!

June 21 at 3:23pmB. Allan Ross

Mental count while watching the pageant’s long version including all their answers: 23 or 24 said that evolution should be taught in schools. They weren’t brilliant about it, but they were clear. That’s not including anyone who said both religion and evolution should be taught, or said in any way that religion should be taught in public schools. More encouraging.

June 21 at 7:33pmArthur Almquist

I prefer the Real Women of “Toronto Slut Walk”. However, Creationism can hardly co-exist, so to speak, with the Miss USA Pageant. Considering this very old adage “Vanity: Satan’s Favorite Sin.”

June 24 at 3:03pmJean Ocelot

I’d like to practice some genetic engineering with this woman.

June 26 at 10:20pmShaun Staller

I HATE me a scientific theory!

June 27 at 11:54am