Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sarah Palin Loses the Geneticist Vote

This is already burning up in the science-oriented part of the blogosphere, but I want to mention it here too.

I've talked before about how Sarah Palin is a heartless lawbreaker who would love to shoot every wolf in Alaska. But did you know she's also opposed to basic scientific research?

Well, more specifically, she doesn't know what she's talking about when it comes to research. Otherwise, why would she highlight spending on fruit fly research in Paris as a "pet project earmark"? Did no one in the McCain campaign bother to find out what kind of research they were doing? I hate to tell you this, Ms. Palin... but fruit flies are the favored lab animal for genetics research around the world, both in Paris and here in the good ol' USA. (Except for New Jersey, which is not part of the "real" America.)

I think PZ Meyers, who writes the excellent blog Pharyngula, said it best:

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

Oh, and he also threw in this disturbing but excellent point:

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?

If you're interested in watching, Think Progress has a video clip of Palin delivering the remarks. You can read the original prepared text at the McCain campaign page, but they differ somewhat from what she actually said. (For example, sarcasm is not noted anywhere in the prepared text.)

With the election so near (I've been unable to think of anything else lately), I think it's important to recognize what a McCain victory would do to the scientific community. Government funding for basic research is non-negotiable.

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