The Washington Post

So you’ve been asked a question about science but you want to be the nominee...

In case you needed a visual aid. (Here’s a chart I made earlier.)

I couldn’t help noticing last week an uncanny similarity between the response of Rick Perry to a question on evolution (“It’s a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it.”) and the response of Miss USA contestants to the same question. Before I leaped to castigate him, I wondered: Was his fault not wilful ignorance, but simply that he’d been given the above chart at a formative period of his life and had committed it to memory?

That couldn’t be it, since I just created that chart in MS Paint. But surely there was some reasonable explanation.

Science is doing all kinds of exciting things these days. Maybe someone has even come up with a new technology to allow people to ignore science! Call it NomineeScience — NoSci for short. That would be pretty handy, and could be widely distributed to presidential hopefuls to prevent any cognitive dissonance. It would allow you to go through your day never seeing any information that might challenge your beliefs. (Huntsman and Romney can opt out.)

Where most of us see a headline that reads, “Scientists discover what may be oldest fossilized cyanobacteria,” NoSci subscribers read, “Guess what a tricky surprise God hid in the earth for us!” Where most of us read, “There may be millions of undiscovered species on this planet, perhaps up to 90 percent,” NoSci subscribers see, “Guess the Ark was bigger than we thought.” Where most of us see “Those people rebuilding the Ark at a Creationist theme park in Kentucky receive $43 million in tax incentives,” NoSci subscribers read, “And it’s a great idea!”

You get the picture. I hope that’s what’s happening now. It’s not so far-fetched! The alternative — that the current Miss USA actually has a better grasp on evolution than a first-tier candidate for the presidential nomination — well, that strains even my credulity.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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