But do they even know what evolution is?

May 31, 2012 | By | 5 Replies More

15 Miss USA contestants demonstrate that they don’t know enough to know that they don’t know enough. In other words, these beautiful contestants are beautifully demonstrating the Dunning-Kruger cognitive effect:

The proper answer from each of these contestants should have been “I can’t answer that question, because I don’t understand the scientific theory of evolution. Maybe I should go read a few good books, on evolution. Then I’ll let you know whether I am competent to answer that question.” To answer like this, though, is not the American way. When you are prepared with make-up and the cameras come on, you tend to wing it in such a way to please the majority of your audience. This is what beauty contestants and politicians have in common.


Category: cognitive biases, Education, Evolution, ignorance, Psychology Cognition

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. Jim Razinha says:

    …and….world peace!

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    To paraphrase Haley Joel Osment in the role of Cole Sear:

    “Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re ignorant.”

  3. So entertaining and cringe-inducing! This would be a good starting point for a discussion in science class about what is meant by scientific theory, education standards, scientific facts vs. beliefs. Never have the advocates of dumbing-it-down had more attractive spokesmodels!

  4. Zach Allen says:

    That almost made me throw up. It’s really sad that people think that the bible is a good alternative to evolution. Also as the above post stated I think Americans need a crash course in what a scientific theory actually is. In other words these idiots are assuming that the extremely well tested and most important human discovery thus far in our existence is as reliable as a conspiracy theory.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Zach: In this modern tribal society that is, somehow, still infused with superstitions, it takes courage to be knowledgeable. Yep, many people are ignorant, but they are capable of getting things right, if they could only get over certain emotional hurdles (not offending their friends, family and churches). The big question is what to do about this. I don’t think it does any good to get in their faces and call them stupid (or even “ignorant”). This isn’t about the facts, it’s about a hesitancy to deal with the facts. I would offer to you my “Mending Fences” series (5 parts) starting here: http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/07/11/mending-fences-with-believers-and-moving-on-part-i/

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