Fruity French Flies

October 25, 2008

Everything else about the McCain/Palin ticket aside (and that’s a lot to put to the side for the moment), we cannot afford another 4 years (or 4 hours) of anti-science Republican administrations.  Here’s what Palin said in a speech recently on earmarks for basic scientific research:

“Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? […] You’ve heard about some of these pet projects they really don’t make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.”

Wow.  Where to even begin with this one?  Here’s what PZ Myers had to say.  He’s a biology professor at Univ. Minnesota Morris who writes the greatly admired science blog Pharyngula:

“I am appalled.

This idiot woman, this blind, shortsighted ignoramus, this pretentious clod, mocksbasic research and the international research community. You damn well better believe that there is research going on in animal models — what does she expect, that scientists should mutagenize human mothers and chop up baby brains for this work? — and countries like France and Germany and England and Canada and China and India and others are all respected participants in these efforts.

Yes, scientists work on fruit flies. Some of the most powerful tools in genetics and molecular biology are available in fruit flies, and these are animals that are particularly amenable to experimentation. Molecular genetics has revealed that humans share key molecules, the basic developmental toolkit, with all other animals, thanks to our shared evolutionary heritage (something else the wackaloon from Wasilla denies), and that we can use these other organisms to probe the fundamental mechanisms that underlie core processes in the formation of the nervous system — precisely the phenomena Palin claims are so important.

This is where the Republican party has ended up: supporting an ignorant buffoon who believes in the End Times and speaking in tongues while deriding some of the best and most successful strategies for scientific research. In this next election, we’ve got to choose between the 21st century rationalism and Dark Age inanity. It ought to be an easy choice.”

I could not have said it better.  And I could not agree more.  And extra points for using the term “wackaloon.”

Something else to point out here – OF COURSE Palin points out that the research is being done in Paris, France.  France, of course, is the center of all that is un-American, all that is antithetical to our small-town-middle-America-Hank-Williams-Jr-God-a-fearin’-Hockey-Mom-o’-Six-Pack-Jesus-gun-totin’-mooseburger way of life.  Unfortunately, Paris is also one of the locations around the world that the United States Department of Agriculture maintains research facilities.  But the way she puts it makes it sound as if we’re spending good-ol’-US-of-A hockey dollars for Frenchmen to do research on gay, effete, liberal, atheistic fruity flies.

In this day and age do I really need to point out how unbelievably damaging it is and would continue to be to have more anti-science Republicans in office?  As we confront issues such as global warming, alternative energy resources, nuclear proliferation, bioterrorism, pharmaceutical research, stem cell research, multi-billion dollar science experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the exploration of Mars, etc.?

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