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July 14, 2011 1:23 AM   Subscribe

Maybe evolution shouldn't be taught in schools, but what does Miss USA think about math?
posted by Blazecock Pileon (48 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
A little disappointing they left out California's delegate, the most enthusiastic advocate for evolution in the original video who ended up winning the competition in the end. (Vermont was great, though.)
posted by Rhaomi at 2:04 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to know what Joichi Ito thinks about blusher.
posted by joannemullen at 2:10 AM on July 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


If this fruit hung any lower, you'd have to bend over to pick it.
posted by pracowity at 2:20 AM on July 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Hahaha, I get it. It's both a parody of Miss USA contestants hesitating or refusing to promote evolution and a parody of Miss USA contestants as the stereotypically ignorant pretty women who fear math with the exception of Miss Vermont who isn't afraid of math because she wears glasses.

Not that I don't appreciate the sentiment of calling out evolution denial on the basis of "theory" as being a total load or even calling out beauty pageants as being without substance, but really. Not only do they put the math-defender in glasses (Because glasses signify intelligence to be feared and not just a vast swath of the population) but in plaid? Seriously?

What scares me is that I could see this as right-wing anti-math propaganda with minimal tweaking.
posted by Saydur at 2:22 AM on July 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


What scares me is that I could see this as right-wing anti-math propaganda with minimal tweaking.

What scares me is that we live in a world where the words "right-wing anti-math propaganda" have some kind of meaning.
posted by acb at 2:26 AM on July 14, 2011 [22 favorites]


we live in a world where the words "right-wing anti-math propaganda" have some kind of meaning.

It's how the Republicans have handled the debt-ceiling issue from day one.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:37 AM on July 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm rather impressed (and very depressed) by how far through that I got before I realised it was a piss take.

If they'd lost Miss Vermont and filmed that on a big stage with them all wearing bikinis, I'm not sure I'd have come to a conclusion...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 2:57 AM on July 14, 2011


The problem is that mathS (bite me mofoS), is actually qualitatively different from an empirically falsifiable hypothesis like evolution or Newtonian physics. So any creationist confronted with this could respond "but evolution is just a THEORY", as they so frequently and tiresomely do. I know it's meant to be a LOLcreationist crowd pleaser, but any piece of satire that fails to challenge in any way the belief scheme of its target seems kinda flimsy to me.
posted by howfar at 3:01 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The problem is that mathS, is actually qualitatively different from an empirically falsifiable hypothesis like evolution or Newtonian physics.

Exactly right. If you are going to play the "Do you think *insert noun here* should be taught in school game?" you have to at least use synonymous terms. If you ask the question more precisely: "Do you think evolution should be taught in schools as a proven fact?" some of these answers would maybe not seem so ridiculous.

Evolution is a theory. It can not be proven. It can be disproven. As Richard Dawkins commented "If someone digs the fossil of a fully-formed modern rabbit out of pre-Cambrian rock, the theory is wrong." That is its real strength - that the theory can be easily and unambiguously disproven - and the real challenge to creationists: produce the evidence. If their version of events are true, such evidence should exist IN ABUNDANCE.
posted by three blind mice at 3:28 AM on July 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm rather impressed (and very depressed) by how far through that I got before I realised it was a piss take.

I was waiting for that moment watching the real evolution question videos, and it never came, that's a lot more depressing.

Meanwhile in Austria, in case you haven't seen this already in the news:
An Austrian atheist has won the right to be shown on his driving-licence photo wearing a pasta strainer as "religious headgear".

Niko Alm first applied for the licence three years ago after reading that headgear was allowed in official pictures only for confessional reasons.

Mr Alm said the sieve was a requirement of his religion, pastafarianism.

(...) The idea came into Mr Alm's noodle three years ago as a way of making a serious, if ironic, point.

A self-confessed atheist, Mr Alm says he belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a light-hearted, US-based faith whose members call themselves pastafarians.

The group's website states that "the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma".

In response to pressure for American schools to teach the theory known as intelligent design, which some Christians favour as an alternative to natural selection, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote to the Kansas School Board asking for the pastafarian version of intelligent design to be taught to schoolchildren.

Straining credulity
In the same spirit, Mr Alm's pastafarian-style application for a driving licence was a response to the Austrian recognition of confessional headgear in official photographs.

(...) The next step, Mr Alm told the Austrian news agency APA, is to apply to the Austrian authorities for pastafarianism to become an officially recognised faith.
Pastafarians rejoice at the news.
posted by bitteschoen at 3:38 AM on July 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Is every person involved in the production of this video more intelligent than every contestant from this year's Miss USA pageant?
posted by solmyjuice at 3:43 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Commence cross pond flame war.

The problem is that mathS (bite me mofoS)...

You guys are on the wrong site.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:56 AM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Commence cross pond flame war.

Shouldn't you be eating a pastor with some bolognese sauce?
posted by unigolyn at 4:07 AM on July 14, 2011


Yea for Miss Vermont!
(Yes I'm a Vermontist, but still...nice outfit. Not sure if that was the swimsuit or not.)
posted by MtDewd at 4:13 AM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Evolution is a theory. It can not be proven. It can be disproven.

This is a bad direction for the argument.

Nothing outside of math can be proven in the strict sense of the word, so let's not use the language of proving things about the natural world.

Evolution is established scientific fact, much like the heliocentric solar system and a round earth are established scientific facts.

No, there is no 100% guarantee that we are not actually living on a flat earth on the back of a turtle, being mind controlled by warlocks to hallucinate all the evidence we have used to arrive at "the earth revolves around the sun, and rotates on its axis".

Should geography classes teach flat earth, hollow earth, and brain-in-a-vat hypotheses as viable alternatives?
posted by unigolyn at 4:14 AM on July 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Should geography classes teach flat earth, hollow earth, and brain-in-a-vat hypotheses as viable alternatives?

Of course not, that is the flawed creationist logic. But you don't point out a logical flaw by pretending the premises are something they are not. Claiming a false equivalence with mathematics is foolish, and so is insisting that our theory is good because it is FACT. It's a good theory because it's falsifiable and yet unfalsified, despite a large body of evidence having been gathered that had the potential to do so.

The point of defending evolution is not to protect the theory's factual content, it is the defence of rationalism over dogma. To the vast majority of children and adults, the knowledge that we evolved is fairly useless, while the ability to evaluate competing theories by applying the scientific method is priceless.
posted by howfar at 4:28 AM on July 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


panaceanot: "Math? No. Maths (Mathematics)? Yes. Commence cross pond flame war."

Not until you guys learn how to say 'aluminum'.
posted by bwg at 4:38 AM on July 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Not until you guys learn how to say 'aluminum'.

It's a madhouse! A madhouse!
posted by howfar at 4:41 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"right-wing anti-math propaganda"

Reaganomics.
posted by DU at 4:56 AM on July 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


From the evolution thread:

Alyssa Campanella says yes. She also defended medical marijuana during the pageant. And she won.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:16 PM on June 21 [109 favorites +] [!]


Why be so butt-hurt when we're winning?
posted by benito.strauss at 5:00 AM on July 14, 2011


> Claiming a false equivalence with mathematics is foolish, and so is insisting that our theory is good because it is FACT. It's a good theory because it's falsifiable and yet unfalsified, despite a large body of evidence having been gathered that had the potential to do so.

Thanks howfar. That's what I would have said if I were smarter. Maybe I should put on a flannel shirt next time.

There is no small irony in that the women in this video are making a false equivalence with mathematics as a way to mock other women deemed as less intelligent and worldly.
posted by three blind mice at 5:22 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe I should put on a flannel shirt next time.

I'm wearing two monocles and a pair of pince-nez as I type.
posted by howfar at 5:37 AM on July 14, 2011


Not until you guys learn how to say 'aluminum'.

Awww....! But we were waiting for you guys to learn to spell it!
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 5:59 AM on July 14, 2011


Meterfilta: You guys are on the wrong site.
posted by ~ at 5:59 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


sodium lights the horizon: "Not until you guys learn how to say 'aluminum'.

Awww....! But we were waiting for you guys to learn to spell it!
"

Hehe ... I'm torn on this one. I understand the impulse to follow convention with the spelling of other elements ending in -ium, yet in the case of aluminum it feels like one syllable too many. Most of the basic -ium elements (and some of the ones with short half-lives) have three or four syllables. Of course if I'd grown up spelling it 'aluminium' it would probably seem perfectly fine.

But then, Miss USA would likely agree to drop that extra 'i'. Heh.
posted by bwg at 6:08 AM on July 14, 2011


While I agree with howfar and three blind mice's perspectives, I must say that I still found it pretty funny.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 6:57 AM on July 14, 2011


If their version of events are true, such evidence should exist IN ABUNDANCE.

Except, their evidence is "Well duh, we have FAITH, and that's all the evidence we need". Not being up on the latest in creationist "science," are they still trying to say that dinosaurs and men lived on the earth at the same time? And I believe I heard somebody say at one point that fossils have been "put there by god to test our faith" - you can't argue with such a person, because they don't HAVE to have scientific proof. All they have to have is faith.
posted by antifuse at 7:23 AM on July 14, 2011


Not being up on the latest in creationist "science," are they still trying to say that dinosaurs and men lived on the earth at the same time?

As someone living within 20 miles of the Creation Museum, yes. Very much yes. And having been there and read every damn plaque, you are absolutely right.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:40 AM on July 14, 2011


Reading the comments here I'm not quite sure everyone gets that this is a parody. I clued in right away. Those who didn't might want to check their own stereotypes.
Or if this post is just an excuse to have the old creationism/religion argument again, then carry on.
posted by rocket88 at 7:59 AM on July 14, 2011


Reading the comments here I'm not quite sure everyone gets that this is a parody.

I don't think anybody missed that it's a parody. I think some people are arguing that using something other than math as a comparison would have made it a better parody though.
posted by antifuse at 8:16 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


And here I thought that the equivalence being drawn between math and evolution was that they're both subjects commonly taught in schools, the teaching of which no reasonable human being who understands much of anything about anything objects to. The distinction that you people are making is an important one and one that really ought to be more broadly understood (and applied), but it's not one that really needs to be made for this particular joke video on the internet to function. It would have worked just as well if the parodically-debated subject had been English, which is equally non-comparable to evolution as an academic discipline, instead of math.

For what it's worth, I was also put off at first by what I perceived as a rather tired brand of misogyny at work in the video. And then I watched the original video with the actual contestants, and it suddenly seemed like fair game.
posted by wreckingball at 8:18 AM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


If this fruit hung any lower, you'd have to bend over to pick it.

They did somehow manage to skip the "math is hard" joke. I'm not sure whether to be disappointed or impressed.
posted by straight at 9:49 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


sodium lights the horizon: I'm rather impressed (and very depressed) by how far through that I got before I realised it was a piss take.

You mean the fact that they weren't all size 0-2s with C-D cups and impossibly perfect model looks didn't clue you in?
posted by IAmBroom at 9:56 AM on July 14, 2011


If you watch the original evolution video, you see an interesting mixture: some of them are just cringeworthy levels of stupid, some haven't given the issue much thought but are ready with a boilerplate answer designed to offend as few people as possible, and some obviously want to roll their eyes and say "yes, of course!", but stumble through an answer that hopefully doesn't smack too much of lolchristian (check out miss Utah at the 13:00 mark).

The parody video is just, HAHA PRETTY WOMEN R DUMB
posted by the bricabrac man at 10:37 AM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I feel the powerful urge to point out that this really isn't mocking beauty pageants or "pretty women" in general. It's using that as a vehicle to mock a viewpoint. A stupid viewpoint. A stupid viewpoint held by many ugly people, male people, non-beauty pageant contestant people.

It's also subtly pointing out that people subject to public scrutiny may have to deftly avoid the mines in the minefield of public opinion. Because, as I suggested above, many people who contribute to the collective "public opinion" are either stupid or espouse stupid ideas and beliefs. The quickness of wit is what's really being measured with these kinds of beauty pageant questions.

I should let you know that I do not use the word "stupid" casually. It's one of the most vile appellations I know. I don't admire "intelligence" much either, it's highly overrated.
posted by Xoebe at 11:11 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Keeping in mind that the pageant contestants' answers to these questions aren't necessarily the "correct" answers or even their own personal opinions. They're the answers designed and phrased to help them win a beauty contest. It's similar to a political candidate answering debate questions.
posted by rocket88 at 11:41 AM on July 14, 2011


The parody video is just, HAHA PRETTY WOMEN R DUMB

It's probably saying a bit more than that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:49 AM on July 14, 2011


When you slam together math and anti-math, you get a Markov chain reaction and a burst of imaginary numbers.
posted by storybored at 11:56 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Keeping in mind that the pageant contestants' answers to these questions aren't necessarily the "correct" answers or even their own personal opinions. They're the answers designed and phrased to help them win a beauty contest. It's similar to a political candidate answering debate questions.

I'm comfortable judging politicians based on how they answer debate questions.

If you've chosen a path that forces you to say stupid crap you don't actually believe, I find that much more blameworthy than simply being stupid.
posted by straight at 12:00 PM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is it that pretty woman are almost always the dumbest. why?
posted by salcha00 at 12:17 PM on July 14, 2011


Why is it that pretty woman are almost always the dumbest. why?

selection bias
posted by andoatnp at 12:21 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The parody video is just, HAHA PRETTY WOMEN R DUMB
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:37 PM on July 14


Christ almighty, did you miss the point.
posted by Decani at 1:34 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's actually serious debate on MeFi over what a Miss USA winner thinks about *anything*?
posted by CountSpatula at 2:58 PM on July 14, 2011


Many more of the real contestants favor evolution being taught than I would've expected.
Though for me, the major surprise was realizing that I KNOW one of the girls, and though we obviously haven't talked recently (I don't live in the US anymore), the girl I see in the video spoke and acted in a way so different than the way I remember her that I would be willing to give the majority of these girls the benefit of the doubt that whatever they say or do in these competitions is mostly what they think the audience wants to hear.

So, contrary to what I expected at first giggling at the parody, I left this post with more respect for Miss USA contestants than I had before.

Thanks for the post!
posted by nzydarkxj at 7:26 PM on July 14, 2011


"Pastafarians rejoice at the news."
I want more food religions....I want to see the Chunkymonkians in a disalogue with the
Newyorksupercrunchfudgists
posted by eggtooth at 8:36 PM on July 14, 2011


with the exception of Miss Vermont who isn't afraid of math because she wears glasses.

Umm...I don't think that was the allusion they were making...
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:04 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Claiming a false equivalence with mathematics is foolish, and so is insisting that our theory is good because it is FACT.

Many rightly deny that scientific and mathematical claims are strictly similar, but I think that this makes too fine a point. You and I may appreciate the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning, between mathematical proofs and scientific theories--but most people don't, and I really don't think that these distinctions are germane to most popular debates about evolution and intelligent design. As far as I'm concerned, math and evolution really are on a par here, because (1) both are extremely well confirmed, and (2) both command consensus among experts (that is, among mathematicians and biologists). That's all you need to justify the place of evolution in high school curricula.
posted by Maxa at 8:46 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll observe that the most arduous proof in mathematics, the classification of finite simple groups, spans around 15,000 pages of extremely sophisticated mathematical arguments. In other words, arguments occasionally read like "the variation on the signalizer method used to accomplish blah blah blah in [73, p. 337--561] shows that blah blah blah". In fact, there might not even be anyone alive who's read both that line and [73, p. 337--561], much less the whole thing.

Is the CFSGs proven? Yes kinda, maybe the current proof's correctness isn't observable by any human, maybe nobody discusses more 'experimental' evidence, given that proof exists, but we accept the proof while desperately hoping that more brilliant young people join the effort to simplify it. Yet still, we mathematicians are only human, you know, mistakes happen. Would you put money on the CFSG or evolution?
posted by jeffburdges at 2:14 AM on July 26, 2011


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