Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge

On many occasions, I have made apparent my predilection for viewing some of the worst crap televised. Ever. I land on it like a fly on fresh feces (and not just monkey feces), so this past weekend was no exception when a friend turned me on to America’s Most Smartest Model, one of the plethora of reality TV shows that litter the airwaves, or cable lines as the case may be. This one is broadcast on VH1. Apparently, it’s a hit among the science-geeks of my friend’s Boston biotech crowd.

The models, seven men and seven women, are not only judged for their Derek Zoolanderish qualities, but are also tested for their knowledge in science and math. The episode we watched on Saturday entailed a fetal pig dissection in which the models had to cleanly dissect and correctly identify specific organs. This exercise elicted a squeal of outrage from one model: “That’s not how I like my pork!” Last night tested their knowledge of geometry. And of course, they have “walk-offs” on the runway.

To be fair, there are three or four of these lovely people who might – note that I wrote might – actually have more than three synapses firing at any given moment, but the rest of them? I am reminded of what one of my thesis committee members (and a second mentor) said regarding the students who took a very watered down biochemistry lecture for a certain coterie of health professionals: “They may look like us, but they don’t think like us.” In this case, they don’t look like us either.

I confess I do feel a bit guilty snorting away at these hapless pretty and handsome dimbulbs. It really isn’t right to laugh at the afflicted. But I think that’s the point. Plus it makes me feel ever so much better for all the “compliments” I received back in my youth: “At least you’ve got brains.” Oh, for the life of the plain geek-girl. Do I sound bitter? Why, yes, I do. In fact, I am. Well sort of. At my age, it doesn’t much matter.

Anyway, “America’s Most Smartest Model” is a hoot as derisive, mean-spirited “laughing at them, not with them” entertainment. An added treat for derisive hooting is the presence of the egregious Ben Stein, he of “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” What a wanker (1).

Footnote added

(1) Ben Stein’s wankerism is discussed elsewhere in Science Blogs: Ben Stein loses all intellectual credibility (via denialism) and Ben Stein can’t get anything right (via Thoughts from Kansas).


  1. #1 Warren
    November 12, 2007

    Hmm, so VH1 and Ben Stein have entered an unhealthy Eloiance.

  2. #2 mgordon
    November 13, 2007

    Pretty much all of programming on VH1 and MTV these days makes me feel far more intelligent than I actually am. It’s unfair to single out these nitwits.

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