Yesterday, Sarah Palin gave a speech on the McCain/Palin plans for special needs children. And in it she demonstrated her ignorance more clearly that in anything she had said before. Which, considering the other things she has said, is quite an achievement. Get a load of this:
This is a matter of how we prioritize the money that we spend. […] And where does a lot of that earmark money end up? It goes to projects having little or nothing to do with the public good -- things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.
Research into fruit flies. In France. France I tell you! The horror. (The “I kid you not” was not part of the official transcript, but she said it. I kid you not.)
Palin's proud ignorance shines through loud and clear. The actual research she was mocking was into the olive fruit fly – a major pest that threatens California’s olive farmers. (I guess she doesn't care about Joe the farmer. How elitist.) But fruit fly research is much more than this. The fruit fly is a standard organism that is used to study numerous genetic traits, precisely because it shares so many genetic similarities with humans. Including possibly genetic causes of some of the very “special needs” traits of children Palin was supposed to be supporting in her speech. Just a ten second Google of fruit fly research would reveal 1,390,000 articles explaining the many benefits of research using fruit flies. Avenues of research and benefits achieved already that are too numerous for me to list, although a molecular biologist writing in the Daily Kos yesterday managed to list quite a few.
Of course, such research only makes sense if you accept that evolution happened - that humans and fruit flies have a common ancestor. Palin doesn’t believe this, because it conflicts with what she read in her bible, and so she sees no value to it. And right there you have, eloquently expressed, the reason that creationist nonsense should not be taught as science, and why creationist idiots (some redundancy there) like Palin should not get anywhere near having any real power. And I kid you not.
October 27 - Edited to add:
Bora has much more on this, including links to this response from UNC researchers: In defense of fruit flies and basic medical research, as well as videos from some actual fruit fly research scientists, and these additional links:
Mike the Mad Biologist
Napa Valley Register
Island Of Doubt
The Tree of Life
Greta Christina's Blog
Life v. 3.0
Flags and Lollipops - Network Edition
I'm smarter than Palin