October 25, 2008

More Palin--and her attack on science

Sarah Palin wants more funding for disabled children, but not funding for science. She said:
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.

One scientist is not amused.
I am appalled.

This idiot woman, this blind, shortsighted ignoramus, this pretentious clod, mocks basic 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.

20 comments:

steves said...

A horrible attempt at populist BS. She needs to do some fact checking before she spouts off. Groan.

A belief in the biblical interpretation of the end of the world somehow makes me a dark age ignoramus? You lost me there, buddy. This guy needs to step back and calm down before he posts.

Streak said...

Obviously, not everyone respects the eschatology, but I think most people like this scientist, don't object to such beliefs, but to people like Bush or Palin actually enacting policy based on those beliefs.

But Steve, do you think this is just a fact check issue? That she could dismiss fruit fly research? I am not a scientist, but even I know that fruit flies are very helpful for scientific research. What is more, how does she think that disability or any other health research occurs? Perusing the Bible?

steves said...

I understand that this guy was probably pretty mad, but insulting a large group that may be supportive is not a great idea. I am just guessing here, but the anti-science wing of any religion is probably not the majority.

I don't know if it was a fact check issue. The comment sounded like some populist BS to get everyone riled up. Most people probably know little of fruit fly research, so at first glance, it may seem silly to many. I think if she is going to be critical of research, then she should pick somehting that actually has little value. From what this scientist is saying, fruit fly research has a great deal of value, so for her to critisize it is stupid. Even in the best light, it shows that she is lazy.

Streak said...

You raise an interesting point, Steve, but why does it seem that the anti-science segment of the religious right actually dominates their connection to public policy? Anti-evolution, and anti-scientific research?

I agree with you that it constitutes a small part of the total group, but I think clearly they have dominated public policy debates, and actually threatened the teaching of evolution in many parts of America. Since this blogger is an evolutionary biologist who writes about this subject, that might explain his frustration.

Jack said...

How do we know this "scientist" is really that? Sounds more like a philosopher to me. And he's very arrogant and condecending.

Streak said...

Yep, those who believe in scientific fact are condescending to those who don't. Sheesh.

Perhaps Palin (and her coterie of anti-intellectual fans should request that their next flu vaccine be made without evolutionary thought, and their next medical procedure to be fruit-fly research free.

Sigh

leighton said...

Jack, PZ Myers is a well-respected researcher in the field of zebrafish embryology at the Morris campus of the University of Minnesota. He also is not a strong believer in tactical diplomacy.

Jack said...

Don't evolutionists believe that the earth was once a molten ball? And then the outside cooled into dirt and rocks, and then a living thing or living things evolved? What was the first living thing, and how did it evolve from coolded rocks?

steves said...

I agree with you that it constitutes a small part of the total group, but I think clearly they have dominated public policy debates, and actually threatened the teaching of evolution in many parts of America.

How widespread is it? I think it gets a lot of press, but I'd say that evolution is still taught in the vast majority of educational settings.

why does it seem that the anti-science segment of the religious right actually dominates their connection to public policy? Anti-evolution, and anti-scientific research?

I don't know. This is unfortunate, especially for those of us that are Christian, but still support science, reason, and logical thought.

Streak said...

Steve, I would concede that the tide is switching back, but here in the "heartland" it is amazing how much evolution is under attack. Wasn't that long ago that Kansas outlawed (however so briefly) the teaching of evolution. What is more, I would point you to the high preponderance of Republican candidates who don't "believe" in evolution. I would actually like to see some more numbers. How many Republican House members believe in evolution? I would guess that after Newt and Delay, that number is much higher than we would like to believe.

Jack, I sense that you are not really interested in a dialogue about science. I could be wrong, and if you are, I am sure we would be willing to discuss this, but none of us are interested in battling with a religious fundamentalist who believes in a literal creation. You are welcome to your beliefs, mind you, but not sure what point there is in hashing it out (again). If I misread you, then perhaps you can explain.

steves said...

Steve, I would concede that the tide is switching back, but here in the "heartland" it is amazing how much evolution is under attack. Wasn't that long ago that Kansas outlawed (however so briefly) the teaching of evolution.

Good point. I do recall Kansas doing that. In MI, we don't see all that many serious attacks on science. They happen, but mostly from fringe candidates.

I would actually like to see some more numbers. How many Republican House members believe in evolution?

I would like to seem some numbers too. I wonder how many Republicans would be afraid to answer.

Jack said...

"literal creation"? As opposed to what, a symbolic creation? Does science deal with symbolism?

And does modern science really deal with science? The meaning of the word seems to evolve, often conveniently, to suit the scientist's aims. There seems to be a great deal of evolutionary theory that is speculation rather than proven fact.

Streak said...

And does modern science really deal with science? The meaning of the word seems to evolve, often conveniently, to suit the scientist's aims. There seems to be a great deal of evolutionary theory that is speculation rather than proven fact.

Some evidence would be nice. Otherwise, I repeat my earlier suggestion that you demonstrate that you are really interested in a dialogue. Otherwise, we have been through this about 40 times on this blog alone.

What is your goal here?

Streak said...

Yeah, Steve, in Michigan, you live in relative rational country, it sounds like. :) A different animal in other parts of the country.

I would like to seem some numbers too. I wonder how many Republicans would be afraid to answer.

Yeah, exactly, and that is really my point. Republicans have been so taken over by the anti-science crowd that they would have to be concerned about answering that question.

Jack said...

My goal? Just to question assumptions that may be less than truthful. To ask for proof for things that are called science.

Streak said...

And what is your expertise here?

Jack said...

What kind do I need? I read. I think.

Streak said...

No, just asking. Some of the people who read here have a very good understanding of evolution. I am trained as a historian, not a scientist. I am just asking if you have some expertise in the area.

Suggesting that evolution is speculative flies in the face of those around me who work with evolutionary biology every day. They aren't philosophers, nor are they simply guessing. They are documenting and replicating evolution in a daily way.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Just another reflection of poor preparation, general ignorance, and playing to the soundbyte. His comments regarding her religious beliefs are really an aside. The point is that she is belittling the kind of science that she benefits from every day. BTW, this article outlines some recent research that, believe it or not, may very well benefit (drum roll) CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES! Research, believe it or not, that was conducted on FRUIT FLIES! If you'll forgive the cut and paste, Streak, here's an excerpt.

Now scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have shown that a protein called neurexin is required for these nerve cell connections to form and function correctly.
The discovery, made in Drosophila fruit flies may lead to advances in understanding autism spectrum disorders, as recently, human neurexins have been identified as a genetic risk factor for autism.


Earmarks are a good topic for discussion and further consideration of their merit or lack thereof. Palin may want to look closer to home if she's going to bash earmarking and pet projects since her own senator Stevens is tops on the earmarks lately.

Later, BB

leighton said...

I would actually like to see some more numbers. How many Republican House members believe in evolution?

I would like to seem some numbers too. I wonder how many Republicans would be afraid to answer.


Democrats in Colorado have been pretty evasive on this issue, too. With some exceptions, politicians' stated positions on evolution seem to have more to do with the makeup of their constituencies than with what they themselves actually think.

Global warming and peak oil seem different to me; energy companies often provide strong financial incentive, usually to Republicans, to oppose the consensus of working scientists. So I wonder how much of the anti-science crowd is actually in line with far right wing religious conservatives, and how many are just building a bigger nest egg. For such politicians, denying evolution as well as global warming provides the veneer of consistency and an opportunity to pander to gullible voters.