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[23 Dec 12: 13:20]
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Now with everybody and their grandmothers already blogging about the US presidential campaigns and this being a largely scientific blog based in Europe, it was easy to ignore US politics. It was easy despite having lived in Texas for almost four years, still traveling there several times a year and seeing how my friends in science over there suffer under the medieval, backwards and superstitious redneck administration they've had for the past eight years. Everybody over there has been complaining about how the administration has been catering to the ignorance and inanity of their religious extremist backers. Yet, I was content ridiculing US politics in private circles, telling my friends overseas to keep their heads up and just stick these few years out. All this, after all, was none of my business, really. All of this has now changed, as Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, running mate of John McCain, has openly attacked my research in her very first policy speech:



Of course, because of the time shift, there has been plenty of coverage of her lapse, for instance on Keith Olberman's Countdown, Think Progress, ThinkEvolution of course Pharyngula and even on the German ScienceBlog Zoon Politicon. Here's what she said:
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.
Well, Ms. Palin had you not wasted your high school years organizing supersticious rituals for basketball players, you may have actually learned something in biology class: fruit flies ( Drosophila) are actually among the handfull of established, world-wide model systems for biomedical research. Actually, Ms. Palin, its genetic power makes Drosophila research probably one of the best model systems in which to study not only the much cited genetic basis for autism (13 hits in PubMed), but also for many other psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer's (106 hits in PubMed), fragile X syndrome (102 hits), Rett syndrome (4 hits) and yes, also Down syndrome (109 hits). Fruit fly research is also advancing the study of cancer (5108 hits), Parkinson (109 hits) and addiction (31 hits). I won't even start talking about the incredible boon Drosophila has been for all kinds of developmental biology (Nobel Prize 1995) including the development of the nervous system. My own research on operant learning and habit formation may also contribute to understanding all kinds of compulsive disorders and addiction in addition to advancing our basic comprehension of brain function. If you had just spent 5 minutes online, Ms. Palin, you would have gotten more information on fruit fly research than you could've handled. I kid you not.
So all this research has "little or nothing to do with the public good"? Granted, to everybody over five years old it has been obvious from your nomination, Ms. Palin, that you are not exactly rivalling Einstein for intellectual prowess. But did you really have to rub it in? Is being stupid and uneducated really so appealing to the US public that you have to go and embarrass and humiliate yourself so horribly over and over again? Is being "elitist" (i.e., smart, articulated and witty) really so despicable that your speech-writers have to put a major gaffe into the very first policy speech you give? Or is this just what happens when you allow yourself to stray from the script for only about a dozen words? Is it just you or is your entire campaign so full of ignorant imbeciles that any average high school kid would be able to deliver a better first policy speech than you?
Posted on Saturday 25 October 2008 - 12:26:09 comment: 0
Palin   Drosophila   research   science   politics   


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