Saturday, October 25, 2008

Newsflash to Palin

Copyright (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp
One of the lakes at the resort in East Texas formerly known as Chain O Lakes and now called the Retreat at Artesian Lakes. We went there for Thanksgiving two years ago. It has an amazing restuarant the Hilltop Herb Farm.

Palin gave her first policy talk and during this talk which was about special needs funding, she ridiculed fruit fly research... She said:

“…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.”

This has a clip:

Research on fruit flies may seem esoteric to someone who has absolutely no understanding of science, but, Newsflash: Fruit fly research provided the bedrock foundation of modern genetics. Anyone who paid any attention in biology (that is, if their state's education system wasn't already completely floundering) should know that. Because fruit flies reproduce readily and produce many offspring in short periods of time, you can study the changes that occur when you breed together different strains (red eyes, white eyes, messed up wings, etc - and that allowed scientists to find where the specific genes were and what they were linked to - and that is how modern genetics was born).

Now that the genome of Drosophila has been mapped, fruit fly research is even more valuable - including research on things like autism which is one of "Special needs" that Palin wants to support and fund. She needs to do her research a little better! It does not bode well for science funding should McCain-Palin get elected. Nor for the future of sound science education.

Update: Here's a good article in, Sarah Palin's latest swat at science, about the issue, and what the fruit fly research was on - actually on a tephritid fly that is a pest on olives, which are a major crop in California in particular. The small portion of the money that went to France was because that particular tephritid fly pest originated from the Mediterranean... introduced insect pests cost companies a lot of money, and research on them has a direct benefit to the public.


Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

I'm afraid that my take on Palin's comments is more critical, perhaps even inflammatory:

It's nice to know that we're on the same wavelength where the science is concerned. Peace...Scott

Jo Isaac said...

Fruit fly research is also helping us learn way more about the potential for genetic adaptation to climate change. What's Palin's take on climate change....dare i ask?? I know she's not fond of polar bears!