America’s Rejection Of Evolution Reflected In Miss U.S.A. Pageant


gallup poll evolutionThe first live radio broadcast from a trial was the Scopes trial in 1925. John Scopes, a Tennessee high school biology teacher, was convicted of violating the Butler Act, which prohibited teaching evolution in schools. His trial highlighted the divide between science and fundamentalist (literalist) religion in the United States.

Flash forward to 2011: only one contestant in the 2011 Miss U.S.A. pageant (out of 51) said that she believed in evolution (“I’m a big science geek”) when asked if evolution should be taught in schools. That was Miss California, Alyssa Campanella, and she was crowned the winner on Sunday. Runner-up, Miss Tennessee, Ashley Elizabeth Durham, on evolution: “that’s not my belief” although she said evolution should be taught in schools. Most contestants said that evolution should be taught alongside other points of view, like creationism (or “Biblical stuff”).

It is almost a full century after Scopes and 202 years after Darwin’s birth, yet evolution remains controversial here, and Americans are scientifically illiterate. Read my complete analysis at The Moderate Voice.

Note: The two articles that tipped me to this story have incorrect headlines/information. Think Progress says two contestants “believe in evolution” — that’s not supported by the video clips on YouTube. USA Today (the primary source for Think Progress) is incorrect on several points.

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Arguing With Heffernan: No, Weiner Is Not An “Advanced Twitter Player”


Just because Virginia Heffernan writes that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is “a skilled and even advanced Twitter player” doesn’t make it so.

Weiner on Twitter was like an amateur pianist on an improv tear. He posted sometimes dozens of times a day, trying out the conventions of Twitter as if he were practicing themes and variations. He especially liked the hashtag and @-reply tricks that help a Twitterer cultivate a readership….

In August, 2009, Weiner burst onto Twitter with a candid resolution to let loose, and “to Twitter w/o telling my minders.”

Earlier this month, I analyzed Weiner’s tweets. After those first two tweets in October 2009, Weiner didn’t tweet again for almost a year.  During May, he sent 105 Tweets — that’s about three tweets per day. About 1-in-10 tweets were @ replies — hardly the style of a conversationalist. About 1-in-10 tweets were RTs, hardly the style of someone sharing other’s ideas. Only 81 of his lifetime tweets have contained links. As I wrote last week:

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Obama Campaign Ditches Twitter, Facebook


I’ve said this so often I feel like a broken record, but here goes: there is a big difference between electioneering and governing. Those differences extend to constituent communication, in no small part because of the prohibition against using government (public) resources to get elected (or re-elected).

How else to explain the fact that the Barack Obama campaign (notice I did not say “Barack Obama” — I don’t want to perpetuate the idea that he was personally engaged in these spaces) has posted nothing on its Twitter account or its Facebook account since 5 November 2008, the day after the election?

Instead, the electioneering team (the campaign) has morphed into the about-to-be-governing team. They have an outward-focus on, but that’s a very controlled space, not unlike

Another reason for abandoning these social spaces: they’re great for mobilizing but not so great for deliberation.
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