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Sarah Palin vs. The Fruit Flies.

October 25, 2008

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.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States.

It appears that her cultural war against intellectualism has come to a head.  In her first policy speech yesterday, one of the topics Sarah Palin touched on was Washington’s penchant for earmarks, and how these “pet projects” take resources away from things that really matter, like researching cures and treatments for special needs children.  As the mother of a special needs baby, it’s an honorable cause for Governor Palin, and I agree that more resources need to be directed into these studies.

However, by explicitly mentioning “fruit fly research” as an example of frivolous government spending, she ended up contradicting her own message.

Fruit fly studies have been an invaluable aid in researching the causes of autism.  According to the University of North Carolina:

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.

Understanding that Gov. Palin was probably trying to make a valid point, it’s embarassing to think that she (or her speechwriters) lacked the intellectual curiosity to even check to see if the “fruit fly research” she condemned was actually meaningful work — especially as the mother of a special needs child.

Stating that your plan is to shift billions of dollars to special needs programs for children, and then condemning the research that specifically aims to help such children is simply inexcusable.

Ya know, Ms. Palin, sometimes science is actually a good thing.  A little intellectualism never hurt anybody.  You should look into it.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2008 5:41 pm

    I posted on this, but you said it so much better than I could. When did intellectual curiosity become a bad thing? Sigh.

    Nice post and blog!

    JABG

  2. northbritain permalink
    October 25, 2008 10:29 pm

    The French fruit fly research she ridiculed concerns the Olive fruit fly Bactrocera oleae, not Drosophila sp.

    Nevertheless since the two species are close, the results of the French research may well lead to advances in understanding Drosophila and may bring similar medical advances.

    To say nothing of the damage she has done to the public perception of fruit fly research in general.

  3. J. Jonah Hexas Texas permalink
    October 26, 2008 5:44 pm

    Northbritain, please. As if Palin knows the difference. They’ve ridiculed scientific study after scientific study in their stump speeches as being horrible wastes of taxpayer money. It is a pattern for her. She mocks what she doesn’t understand and she doesn’t understand hardly anything. Science is just voodoo for her. Pointless, dangerous voodoo that has no place in her world-view.

  4. northbritain permalink
    October 26, 2008 8:26 pm

    JJHT,
    I didn’t say Sarah Palin did know the difference. What’s more I’d be surprised if she did.

    I’m not a Palin fan.

    Totally agree with your assessment:

    ‘She mocks what she doesn’t understand and she doesn’t understand hardly anything.’

    That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have all the facts though. If we attack her from a false premise then we would be just as guilty as her!

    Knowing that the French research concerns
    Bactrocera oleae helps our case, not hers.

  5. gldnbrz permalink
    October 26, 2008 11:15 pm

    I understand that there are inconsistencies in the argument re: the specific species of the fruit flies, but what it boils down to is this:

    I believe that when she and her advisers put this speech together, they wanted to drive home a point about how “trivial” some of these government-sponsored projects were.

    And in order to emphasize “trivial,” they went down a list of scientific studies and found the smallest thing they could find — a fruit fly.

    Probably saw lots of different places where fruit flies were being studied, including North Carolina. But lo and behold — North Carolina’s a borderline swing state this year. Plus she was just there talking about pro-America parts of the country. So she’s not going to mock anything down there.

    Then they saw “Paris, France,” and there’s a key point of emphasis — the new Right, for whatever reason, love to diminish all things “European.” It’s almost Pavlovian how “Europe” automatically equals “Socialist.” Double points that it was happening in France. Triple points that it was Paris.

    And as simplistic as that breakdown sounds — I think that’s the thought process she used in coming up with that example.

    Nothing more than that.

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  1. Sarah Palin doesn’t trust none of that French book learnin’ | The Chancellor's New Clothes

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