Effect Measure

A number of people, including here at Science Blogs, have noted, with the contempt it deserves, Governor Palin’s comments about fruit flies the other day. In case you haven’t seen it (where have you been?), here it is again:

I’ll make this a lot shorter just by incorporating by reference and associating myself with remarks made by PZ and BarbinMD at DailyKos, as well as the meta comments by tristero at digby’s place and Steve Novella at Neurologica. But I want to add my own little post script.

Governor Palin either knows or doesn’t know that fruit flies are one of the major animal models in genetic research. It doesn’t really matter which, because either indicates she doesn’t care (one way or the other). Her statement is a clear sign of her contempt for modern science (the Trojan Horse for evolution and godlessness). Considered purely from the standpoint of anyone who believes that modern science is an essential part of life in the 21st century and that nurturing it in ways that will benefit everyone is an objective worthy of the leaders of our federal government — considered purely from that viewpoint — why on earth would we want this person to be Vice President of the United States?


  1. #1 C. Corax
    October 27, 2008

    I hadn’t seen that clip, so thanks for posting it.

    In The Snoring Bird Bernd Heinrich mentions that his studies of animal behavior has twice won him the Golden Fleece Award. He asks why do we spend millions on space research without a peep, but object strenuously to learning more about the creatures with whom we share this earth. He didn’t word it quite that way, but that’s pretty much the spirit of his rhetorical query.

    Of course, in this instance of fruit flies, there’s a more direct and obvious line to human benefit, so perhaps I’ve strayed off topic a bit. But I’ve never understood the objection to funding scientific studies, and I was an English major, fer cryin’ out loud!

  2. #2 daedalus2u
    October 27, 2008

    What is especially telling is that none of her handlers tried to correct her or inform her that fruit fly research was important, or that any research is important. She talked about “prioritizing” but clearly doesn’t know what she is talking about and is unaware of her ignorance. If the only things that can be prioritized are those things that she can understand, the country would be in deep doodoo if she were elected.

    18 billion of earmarks are chump change compared to what has been wasted in Iraq, and for what? To give Iraq to the majority Shiites and improve al Qaeda’s recruitment and fund raising efforts.

  3. #3 Dylan
    October 28, 2008

    On the only level that truly matters, where the multiplicities of “life” are truly open to examination, we are this “other” creature. That is utterly inescapable. You cannot change this.

    It is that simple.

  4. #4 Molly, NYC
    October 28, 2008

    If she’d given this speech 20 years ago:

    This is a matter of how we prioritize the money that we spend. Congress spends a lot of it on their political pet projects. Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? You guys have heard some of the examples of where those dollars go. You’ve heard about some of these pet projects that really don’t make a whole lot of sense, and sometimes these dollars, they go to things that have little or nothing to do with the public good–things like green fluorescent protein, whatever the heck that is, in Nagoya, Japan. I kid you not!

  5. #5 bigdudeisme
    October 28, 2008

    You judgemental people. Don’t you know people that are ignorant will say stuff that sounds real silly to people that are educated about a suject.

    So here you are, educated about the intense value of fruit flies to the scientific community judging a person who has little to no knowlege of science and the value of fruit flies.

    For goodness sakes. Get a life.

    Before I discovered that things have value, I used to think all bugs should die awful deaths. Total pests. Weeds were pretty much useless plants also. Well now I know that there are some valuable insects out there and edible ones too. Additionally there are some smokable weeds. No, scratch that last sentence, there are some good weeds as healing herbs, yea that’s the ticket, 🙂

    I bet Mr. Obama is right now sitting around thinking that Ms. Palin is not a stupid lady for not liking fruit flies. He probably has forgiveness in his heart right now and is thinking that is OK Sarah, there are bigger issues here, bigger than whether you know anything about science, bigger than taxing the hell out of rich people like I plan to do, bigger than giving extra money to people that don’t pay any taxes in the first place, bigger than all the lies that John and I have told yet, issues so big that even I can’t solve them because they are above my pay grade.

    Yep President Obama probably does not care about those fruit flies either, cause he has to deal with bigger problems right now. SO BACK OFF! I will break out a can of RAID and come after your damn fruit flies myself. GET A LIFE!

  6. #6 eddie
    October 28, 2008

    Hey big doodoo. Did you get help in typing that?

    No. Of course you didn’t need it. Most ordinary guys are really quite smart.
    We may not be specialists but understand much more than we need to get by everyday.

    So shame on you for lowering the bar. Anyone who can write out a shopping list can see palin’s dangerously ignorant.

  7. #7 mark
    October 28, 2008

    Some people think that research using fruit flies is important. For starters:

    Examples of Nobel Prizes for research using Drosophila (fruit fly) as model organism:

    1933 Award in Physiology or Medicine: To Thomas Hunt Morgan “for his discoveries concerning the role played by the chromosome in heredity” using Drosophila as a model.

    1995 Award in Physiology or Medicine:
    To Edward B. Lewis, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Eric F. Wieschaus “for their discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development….The 1995 laureates in physiology or medicine are developmental biologists who have discovered important genetic mechanisms which control early embryonic development. They have used the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as their experimental system. This organism is classical in genetics. The principles found in the fruit fly, apply also to higher organisms including man.”

  8. #8 revere
    October 28, 2008

    mark: Probably the same people that think research on fish is important.

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