Biochemical Soul Musings on Nature, Science, Evolution, Biology, and Education

24Oct/08Off

Sarah Palin knows nothing of science

Fruit Fly Brain

Fruit Fly Brain (credit Pamela Mitchell)

In one of the single most maddening, ignorant, unfathomably idiotic statements (out of many) I have heard spew through Sarah Palin’s lips, the candidate for the second highest position in the free world uttered a single phrase today that could utterly destroy the progress of medicine and scientific understanding.

In her very first policy speech, Palin talked about autism and disabilities (video below). She urged that

“For many parents of children with disabilities, the most valuable thing of all is information. Early identification of a cognitive or other disorder, especially autism, can make a life-changing difference.”

This is very true. And where does this information and the ability for early identification come from? Scientific research. Unfortunately, she went on to say

“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.”

When I heard this issue forth from my T.V. I literally could not believe what I had just heard. I had to rewind my TiVo just to make sure. I write now filled with more anger at the the current state of this union than I have felt in some time (albeit, anger cut with a good dose of hope).

Why the anger, you say? What’s wrong with her statement, you ask?

This statement of “public policy” exhibits an almost unbelievable level of the ignorance of Palin and those that support her – and on multiple levels.

Drosophila melanogaster

Drosophila melanogaster

#1. The fruit fly (Drosophila) has probably been the single most important organism for the study of genetics for over a century now. Almost everything we know about genetics, development, cell biology, neuroscience, and every other field of biology has strong roots in previous and current work on Drosophila. The fruit fly is one of a small handful of “standard model organisms” used by thousands of scientists across the world to learn how our bodies, organs, genes, and proteins work. Most of what we know about how a single fertilized cell becomes the amazingly complex beings we are comes from studies initially done in Drosophila. Vast amounts of our understanding of the brain (and brain disorders, diseases, and defects) also come from initial studies in fruit flies.

In fact, recent research from my own graduate alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on fruit fly brains has had an impact on the understanding of autism and has boosted autism research:

“[S]cientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have shown that a protein called neurexin is required for..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.”

To decry research in [condescending and amazed tone] “the fruit fly” is a testament to the true idiocy of this woman and to the failure of our public education system. In fact, her own father, Chuck Heath, was a biology teacher – obviously a complete failure of a biology teacher.

#2. The fact that she threw in “in Paris, France” represents yet another tactic to pander to the “patriotic,” French-hating (remember Freedom Fries?) Right. It also represents another misunderstanding of the nature of science in the modern world. You see, science knows no borders. It doesn’t matter where the research happens. The results all end up in the same place – in our collective database of scientific knowledge.

In my own research, both current and past, my work on heart and brain development has been based on, and done in collaboration with, other scientists all over the world. Some of my current research is based on results from a group in Korea. Other projects were based on studies from a consortium of scientists from Canada to China to Australia.

Regardless of where the research is done, it all contributes to the “public good” and it all feeds into the knowledge of our biological existence, into the state of our medical technology, and into our mental and body health.

I’ve been fuming ever since hearing her comments tonight. I am now happy to say that both Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow are currently covering this story quite well on MSNBC. To quote Richard Wolffe on Olbermann's Countdown, this is one of her most “mindless, ignorant, uninformed, comments” yet.  I hope I don't need to spell out for you why having someone like this in the number 2 (or God forbid, number 1) position in the country will harm science and scientific undertanding in this country.

I imagine the science blogosphere will be alight with posts about this, hopefully from some actual Drosophila scientists, and I will update this post with their links as they come along (let me know if you want your blog post listed).

(Note: Please Digg this below, or use whatever bookmark sharing site you prefer - we need as many people to see this issue as possible).

Update: Welcome visitors from AmericaBlog! You may also enjoy this image.

Update 2: For those of you who understand that the details of the earmark (which I don't think Palin even had a clue about) actually deals with a different species of fruit fly (Olive Fruit Fly), see the comments section. Yes I am very well aware of this, but it has no bearing on her comment, apparent ignorance, and flippant dismissal of research because it deals with silly-sounding fruit flies. More: PZ Myers at Pharyngula blasts the claim that she "wasn't disparaging all research into fruit flies, but only one specific earmark for studying agricultural pests."

Other coverage of Palin's scientific ignorance:

Excellent post at Reasoning the Reasons: Does She Not Know? Or Does She Not Care to Know?

Think Progress: Memo To Palin: Fruit Fly Research Has Led To Advances In Understanding Autism

Daily Kos: Sarah Does Science

Blue Herald: Olbermann and Wolffe Discuss Palin's Mindlessness

The great PZ at Pharyngula: Sarah Palin: Ignorant and Anti-Science, Losing the Sense of the Argument

My Point Exactly: Science, schmience, part 2

Google Blog List of Articles on this issue

Comments (46) Trackbacks (6)
  1. I was curious about these fruit flies in Paris, France. This website describes the presumed earmark Palin was referring to. She should really do her homework before she opens her mouth…

    Governor Palin Swats At Fruit Fly Research
    http://www.anevolvingcreation.net/standup/2008/10/republican-vice-presidential-nominee.html

  2. 2004 phd in cell bio from washu in stl.

    from her vid – u.s. money generally doesnt go to paris for drosophila research. it usually comes from cern or the pasteur itself.

    and i will go ad hominem even though you wont, just to make myself feel better.

    she is an idiot.

  3. Thank you for speaking up. I am not a scientist – not even close – but even a moderately aware person should have picked up on the importance of fruit fly research. As the grandmother of a developmentally disabled child, Palin’s ignorance and willful glibness about virtually any target that suits her purposes is both reckless and disheartening. I hope you will continue this discussion; our children are far more important than a political ‘zinger.’

  4. Is Palin suggesting that when it involves research on autism, we should not collaborate with any scientist based in a country that did not support the march to Bagdad?

  5. Taxdollars are also being spent to study the use of hookahs in Syria. Regardless of the validity or necessity of the science it is illegal to use taxdollars for such pursuits.

    If you wish to spend your money researching fruit flys in Paris – go ahead. Please leave my money alone and have the courtesy to ask for a donation for research rather than using force to obtain it.

    • What the hell does hookah research have to do with it? I assume since you are bringing it up you can tell me a little about what the research goal is. Whose grant is it? What specifically is it funding?

      I also assume that since you don’t want your money spent on fruit fly research, you are also happy relinquishing your rights to ever go to a doctor? How do think doctors know what treatments/medicines to prescribe or how to diagnose? All of our medical knowledge is based on basic science first done in fruit flies, mice, worms, etc. It seems that you don’t really have even the vaguest understanding of how science or medicine works.

      Another piece of evidence of your own ignorance is your implication that money is forced from taxpayers. I guess you’ve never heard of the National Institutes of Health. It is HARD to get grant money. Those that do were generally awarded grants because of the necessity and usefulness of their proposed experiments.

    • Well done Irradiatus. I’m a doctor, a surgical cancer doctor, and totally agree with you, Patriot Henry is merely an ignorant, stupid, and clueless person, who does not even deserve an explanation, due the the infinity of his ignorance, sadly and perhaps fortunately, he will need the help of doctors whom as you say base their actions on fundamental basic research, to be honest in an ideal world, he shouldn’t be allowed to have access to that care, due to the grossness of his ignorance.

      • My oh my – what a vicious ad hominum attack for the mere act of daring to suggest that scientists get off the government dole and compete based upon the importance, validity, usefulness, feasibility, and practicality of their efforts rather than rely upon the same bureaucratic teat that feeds welfare mothers, prison corporations, the military industrial complex, and so many other corrupt individuals agencies departments organizations and institutions.

        One should think that if I were so ignorant and you so enlightened that it would be no serious effort to illuminate me with some of your vast reserves of wisdom as doing so would not take a single bit of truth away from you. Instead you propose that ideally I would be deprived of medical care due not to my principled and educated position of opposing scientific welfare but rather due to my “ignorance”.

        • What makes you think scientists don’t compete for funding? Have you ever tried to get a scientific grant? It’s not like they’re handing them out like candy on Halloween! I could probably get more money claiming that I’m inept and need welfare than I can for a valid research project. Scientists DO compete, and it’s no easy feat to get grants – especially not the big, federal ones. It’s insulting to suggest that we don’t get awarded funding for research based on “importance, validity, usefulness, feasibility, and practicality.” We have to show every one of those to get a grant from anywhere, especially from the government.

          So forgive them, if they’re insulting you or calling you ignorant. You clearly know nothing of the scientific field – or you wouldn’t be so quick to judge against whatever few cases of abuse of funding you might have found. We’re not on the same ‘teat’ as welfare mothers, trust me – or I’d be making a hell of a lot more than I do.

          • Thank you Christie, you could have summarized it better, and Irradiatus, perhaps a little vicious, and I apologize for that, and as an MD I do believe in the duty of care regardless of economic, social, racial of any other factors, and to what you said, I still disagree, and as Christie said, my scientist colleagues “are not on the same ‘teat’ as welfare mothers”. As physicians, a lot of what we do remains to be non-evidence based, but a lot is changing and becoming evidence-based due to the amazing and laborious work of dedicate scientists, who get very little economical rewards, and if it weren’t for their passion to science, little progress would be made. I will not argue with you any further, as I disagree with your ignorant views, and actually feel sorry for you. Good luck, and I really do hope u don’t need our help when u physiology succumbs, or maybe that would actually allow you to open up a little bit more. Let’s all hope that an ignorant and frightening leader such as Palin does not get into power tomorrow. After all, McCain has been through our hands many times, and all of what is know about melanoma, and melanoma research actually just happened due to us feeding on money from the government that we do not deserve… Bravo!

          • “What makes you think scientists don’t compete for funding? Have you ever tried to get a scientific grant? ”

            I’ve never applied for a government payment. However, I have a brother who works for the military-industrial complex, I’ve long studied the corruption of education and science and medicine and law and other fields by the federal government, and I’m well acquainted with the ways of the government as well as human nature. Grants are given based upon politics – the arbitrary and often capricious whim of a committee or other group of people who all too often have conflicts of interest.

            “We have to show every one of those to get a grant from anywhere, especially from the government. ”

            The vast majority of government spending demonstrates consistently that there is little to no room for importance, validity, usefulness, feasibility, and practicality in any of it’s expenditures. That’s the exact opposite of the inherent nature of government to be wasteful and inefficient and counterproductive.

            “So forgive them, if they’re insulting you or calling you ignorant. You clearly know nothing of the scientific field – or you wouldn’t be so quick to judge against whatever few cases of abuse of funding you might have found.”

            I base my statements upon the law and the principles of life, liberty, and property for which it stands as well as my study of the effects of government upon science and the rest of our society. While unconstitutional science has become an accepted institution in our country it doesn’t make it legal, right, necessary, wise, prudent, or a good idea.

            “We’re not on the same ‘teat’ as welfare mothers, trust me – or I’d be making a hell of a lot more than I do.”

            Welfare mothers don’t make very much. Welfare recipients never do – they get enough to get by and enough to kill their desire to produce and innovate but they never get ahead.

          • Patriot Henry,

            You have now made it oh so clear that you really don’t have the first clue as to how research grants are obtained and what’s entailed in their review and awarding.

            Oh, you

            have a brother who works for the military-industrial complex, I’ve long studied the corruption of education and science and medicine and law and other fields by the federal government.

            Yeah, it sounds like you have a truly encyclopedic knowledge of the nature of scientific enterprise.

            Not even worth further reply…

  6. Hi,

    Nice to see an intelligent person who lives in NC. My brother moved there a short time ago and has gone “ignorant redneck” on us. I didn’t know about the fruit fly thing but now I do! Best of luck to you, your book and your research.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      Actually, the Chapel Hill/Durham/Raleigh/Research Triangle Park area has (I’ve read) one of the highest PhD per capitas in the country. Lots of Universities and lots of scientific research.

      I would say that large swaths of the country don’t know about fruit fly research, due to a lack of education on the subject. It’s not their fault.

      However, one would think if you’ve drafted a policy and an accompanying speech on said policy, you would probably do a little bit of research on the science behind autism if promoting autism research is a primary aspect of your policy.

  7. “What the hell does hookah research have to do with it? I assume since you are bringing it up you can tell me a little about what the research goal is. Whose grant is it? What specifically is it funding?”

    See: http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=33087

    It is illegal research being conducted to the tune of approximately 1 million bucks.

    “I also assume that since you don’t want your money spent on fruit fly research, you are also happy relinquishing your rights to ever go to a doctor?”

    Rights can not be relinquished.

    “How do think doctors know what treatments/medicines to prescribe or how to diagnose? All of our medical knowledge is based on basic science first done in fruit flies, mice, worms, etc. It seems that you don’t really have even the vaguest understanding of how science or medicine works.”

    I’ve made no statements discussing my knowledge of science. Nor have you inquired as to my knowledge of science. Nor did I dispute the role of fruit flies in science. I was discussing the legality of the research. I was not discussing whether it was scientifically valid.

    “Another piece of evidence of your own ignorance is your implication that money is forced from taxpayers.”

    Where does the NIH get it’s grant money from?

    “I guess you’ve never heard of the National Institutes of Health.”

    Do you really believe that my complaining about the illegal science institutions is a sound reason to presume I do not know of the NIH?

    “It is HARD to get grant money. Those that do were generally awarded grants because of the necessity and usefulness of their proposed experiments.”

    Your perception of the degree of difficulty of receiving a grant or the validity of the research does not pertain to the source of the funding for the grants.

    • Where’s your evidence that this research is illegal?

      The Drosophila money isn’t for France. It’s for the USDA, which has its own site in France (as well as in Australia, China and Argentina). The purpose of this specific study isn’t to benefit France – it’s to benefit our agriculture on the west coast.

      The purpose of the hookah study is not to benefit just those hookah smokers – it’s to benefit the US which has an increasing population of hookah usage. It just so happens that the research is much easier to do in the Middle East because they’ve been using hookah’s for centuries.

      • “Where’s your evidence that this research is illegal?”

        The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America:

        The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

        “The Drosophila money isn’t for France. It’s for the USDA, which has its own site in France (as well as in Australia, China and Argentina). The purpose of this specific study isn’t to benefit France – it’s to benefit our agriculture on the west coast.”

        Benefits and agriculture are not the responsibility of the federal government – not in America, not in France, not in China, not in Argentina. Also it is not “our” agriculture that benefits but rather the privately owned big agribusiness corporations that benefit. Fascism for fruit companies is wrong. Study the past actions of US Fruit (now Chiquita) for a fascinating example of the dangers of fruit fascism.

        “The purpose of the hookah study is not to benefit just those hookah smokers – it’s to benefit the US which has an increasing population of hookah usage. It just so happens that the research is much easier to do in the Middle East because they’ve been using hookah’s for centuries.”

        You accused me of being ignorant of the role of fruit flies in science merely because I objected to the illegal subsidization of such research. There was no reason for you to presume that. However, based upon your unquestioning defense of illegal science it does seem you know nothing of constitutional law. There’s no shame in that – I knew precious little until I undertook a serious self education effort to learn about “the law”. I recommend starting with Frederick Bastiats “The Law” readily available online and in print.

        • ahh – you’re one of the “every government institution is illegal crowd”

          yeah – good luck with that.

          • “ahh – you’re one of the “every government institution is illegal crowd””

            No but I do fulfill my civic duty of reviewing all government entities and actions for adhering to the constitution and all applicable laws.

            Science is a tremendously important field of scholarly research. It has been tremendously set back by the misdirection, waste, and corruption stemming from the government, the corporations, the military, and the academics all of whom have their own groups interests foremost at heart – and not the science. Nothing good can come of this illegal, unnatural, unnecessary, counter productive, innovation killing, extremely wasteful system.

  8. Hi, Irradiatus:

    Remember James Danforth “Dan” Quayle?

    “Mars is essentially in the same orbit…
    Mars is somewhat the same distance from
    the Sun, which is very important.
    We have seen pictures where there are
    canals, we believe, and water.
    If there is water, that means there is oxygen.
    If oxygen, that means we can breathe.”

    Just in case: he was the 44th Vice President of the USA, under George H. W. Bush. As Arsenio Hall pointed out, this made a lot of US citizens pray fervently for President Bush to stay healthy.

    Is there a pattern here?

    Cheers, Tristan

  9. 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.

    • Yes the specific earmark that I’m sure her speechwriters wanted her to mention involves the Olive Fruit Fly.

      If she had talked about the specific earmark and why it does not constitute worthwhile science, that would be one thing.

      Instead she flippantly tossed out “fruit fly research in Paris France. I kid you not.” as if it’s silly because it has do do with fruit flies and sounds funny – and is being done in France.

      Side note – many people now have the misconception that we are paying France do do this research, while in reality this is money for the USDA which has a site in France (the benefits of this research are intended for agriculture on the West coast). Why in France? Because they have alot of experience with this species of fly.

      Either way, it’s clear that she personally didn’t know what the hell she was talking about.

  10. Thanks for updating us with this interesting news about ongoing research. As an American living in Paris, I, too, had the impression Palin threw in “Paris, France” to tie into the “elitist” theme she and McCain keep flashing about, not because of any knowledge about actual research being conducted here. It really is cringe-inducing when she makes her ignorance so apparent. The French pity us; Palin is a laughingstock here. Of course, like most of the thinking world, the French are hopeful of an Obama-Biden victory. They think we Americans have suffered enough under Bush-Cheney and shouldn’t be saddled with an even worse Republican presidency. America – and the world – simply can’t afford McCain and Palin in office.

  11. Could you please provide evidence where comprehensive research on Bactrocera oleae is being conducted for any purpose other than controlling a pest problem for Olive farmers?

    Do geneticists routinely use Bactrocera oleae in medical research? Or am I right in assuming that all of you anti-palin “scientists’ just jumped on the bandwagon assuming that she meant Drosophila.

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    It seems that a California congressman, with 220 arces of olive trees in his district, sent almost a million dollars to France to study the little pests in an earmark–outside of the usual ample USDA funding. Do I think the 1 mil could have been better spent on maybe a NIH grant to study Autism? Yeah. Does that make me “anti-science”? No.

    For “scientists”, some people are certainly lacking in reason. Hey, I hear Sarah Palin farts! That means she causes global warming! Evil Witch. Let’s write a blog on that too!

    • LOL

      You are completely missing the point.

      As has been commented above and here, Palin was not going through a proposal and making any even vaguely coherent arguments as to why this particular research was being done or why other research might be better. I’ve already mentioned and linked to the research in the actual earmark that her speechwriters fed her.

      No she condescendingly just throws out “fruit flies in Paris, France. I kid you not.” as if its unworthy scientific pork because its done on silly little fruit flies. And you can be guaranteed she couldn’t have told you a single scientific detail of the actual proposal anyway.

      She obviously implied that research on flies is dumb and a waste, demonstrating a clear ignorance of the importance of research in similar lowly organisms on her own topic of choice (and one of her supposedly most important platform issues).

      And finally, there was no bandwagon when I wrote this post. I was one of the first (though I have now found a few other that wrote on this topic at nearly the same time). I watched her speech myself and her implied meaning was utterly clear.

    • Also…it didn’t become known to anyone in the political or scientific communities what she was actually talking about until people started doing some digging to figure out exactly what the hell she was talking about. This alone demonstrates our argument that her remark was simply disparaging of silly-sounding research to pander to the large swaths of the country that will also agree that it sounds silly.

      Oh, those stupid wasteful scientists. What will they ask money for next? Worms?!

      (see C. elegans)

      • Oh Please! Cut the histrionics. No politician delivers a term paper over every remark in a political speech. I did see her on youtube. It took me 30 seconds and a google search to find out that Palin was NOT referring to Drosophila. The earmark in question was made famous by Citizens against Public Waste. (Obviously, from all the Drosophila stuff in your blog entry, you didn’t bother! Neither did PZ Myers, because as far as I can tell, unlike Drosophila, Olive Fruit Flies have never been widely used by scientists for “genetic’ studies) Plain and simple–the study was for pest eradication, and had no more overreaching scientific significance than any other simular study. The nation is trillions of dollars in debt. We must make decisions on how public money is spent. That was the reason for the remark. There is absolutely no evidence that Palin is “anti-science.” You are making a subjective statement, lacking all evidence, based on your own hatred of the woman.

        Also note, you didn’t answer my questions. Fine by me, because as far as I’m concerned, you already have.

        • Again, you’re just ignoring our point.

          Your question:

          Could you please provide evidence where comprehensive research on Bactrocera oleae is being conducted for any purpose other than controlling a pest problem for Olive farmers?

          My point and everyone else’s: This is an irrelevant question. I don’t know that there is any other purpose of using this species. And it doesn’t matter.

          Palin didn’t argue anything about this species. She said “fruit flies” and “I kid you not”, clearly implying that it’s stupid research because it’s in silly little flies. (Why would we think she’s just kidding? Oh, because it just sounds so stupid. Research in flies??)

          Of course, every scientific expenditure should be vetted and we will most certainly have to place priorities in research funding. No one is arguing that every conceivable experiment should be done. You’re just ignoring our argument while setting up straw men of your own.

          But that is NOT what this argument is about.

          And yes – you can google it in 30 seconds NOW. But you couldn’t when she made her speech and when I wrote this post. The information as to what she was specifically referring to wasn’t clear at all. I’m sure the info was out there, but obviously we couldn’t yet know what she was referring to.

          And yes – there is evidence that she is anti-science. Creationism is anti science, by defintion. Have you seen this (the quote – not the picture).

          I hate her because she is anti-science. And because she has shown nothing but blithering idiocy this entire campaign.

  12. Sorry Sport, but the first hit I found on google for “fruit flies’ And “Paris France” was to the CAPW website. It’s been around for quite a while.

    As for “creationism”, I happen to be a skeptic and a non-believer who thinks ID is bad science. Professing Christians (a majority of Americans), however, believe in a creator. Since Obama, Biden, McCain and Palin are all professing christians, why are you picking on her? Your only source for Palin being a “new earth” wacko is the statement of Paul Mungher, the author of “progressive Alaska” blog, who has made quite a name for himself over these rather thin accusations. I have never seen a credible source make them. Have you? If so, please let the New York Times know. I’m sure that they’d love to run a story on it.

    And as far as Palin teaching creationism in public schools–she was governor of Alaska for two years, any documented move in that direction? All I’ve read is a quote from a debate where she said “teach both” and then later revised the statement to mean that students should have the right to express their opinions on the matter in class. There was no attempt to add any ID content to the cirriculum.

    I stand by my evidence based opinions. I certainly see your “points” I just don’t think they’re worth all that much. I have researched Palin’s record, and public statements, and think that your “opinion” that Palin has “shown nothing but blithering idiocy this entire campaign” is overwrought to say the least, and certainly not accurate. You are simply reacting to her viscerally, because of your own politics. Fine. But pretty pathetic from one who claims to honor science.

    • Palin is far right Christian and has proven it on many occasions. Just watch any of the videos from her in the church (witchcraft, anyone?). Add to that her vehement stances on religion, gays, her own proclamation that the Iraq war is a mission from God, etc. There is a long list of such examples.

      The evidence quite clearly shows her obvious view of creationism. The one quote is just a little icing on the cake.

      Add to that her generally derisive dismissal of global warming science, lack of care for the environment and endangered species, and obvious hatred for the educated “elite”.

      All the evidence together paints a clear picture of Palin as an anti-intellectual, anti-science demagogue (read: blithering idiot).

      Obama on the other hand has a clear response and plans for his science policies.

  13. Concerning the two candidates science policies, just look at the differences between their answers on Genetic Research to see the clear superiority of Obama’s understanding and pro-science agenda.

  14. This will be my last post. If I want to engage Democrat Underground, I’ll go there.

    1) Witchcraft? Joe biden puts a host in his mouth and says it’s the body of christ. And why don’t we ask Jeremiah Wright–Obama’s pastor of 20 years, where he thinks HIV/AIDS comes from? If you’re asking me if churches can be rather silly, you’ll get a yes. But let’s be fair about it. Unfortunately, the “faith-based” do run for office–indeed, there are only two professing atheists in the US congress as far as I know. I don’t care what church it happens to be, as long as I don’t see it seeping into government. And with Palin, I frankly have not. She has been an extremely popular governor, with a moderate record, who has a history of working with both republicans and democrats.

    2) She did not say that Iraq was a mission from God. She was building on a quote from Abraham Lincoln, and prayed that the US would fufill God’s mission. She stated that she would never presume to know god’s will. Quite a difference–and corrected with Charlie Gibson for the record.

    3) Is there a difference in being derisive of global warming science, and being skeptical? Is there consensus in the scientific community? No, I didn’t think so. I have heard her mention the importance of a “clean” environment on many occasions though.

    4) Supporting drilling in Anwar does not make one an environmental criminal–despite what some extremists might say. It can easily be done without endangering wildlife. Palin has an excellent record of protecting Alaska’s environment. It is in the best interest of the state for her to do so.

    5) Palin does not support gay marriage. Neither do Obama or Biden. She also made it possible for same sex couples in Alaska to receive benifits. I have no idea what her church teaches on homosexuality, but I have seen no evidence that it has had any effect on her public policy actions. On the contrary.

    If you want to support Obama because you like his science policy–great! By all means, do so. You can do that without trying to demean and dehumanize an acomplished woman in an intellectually dishonest way. It doesn’t reflect well on you as a person. And frankly, I have not seen anything here that is not extremely partisan in nature, and widely (and easily) debunked.

    • Just a quick note – there *is* a consensus in the scientific community that there is global warming. The temperatures are going up – that’s fact, not debatable. Whether you want to debate it’s *our* fault, well… Have you read the International Panel on Climate Change? Not to mention that heads of government from the G8 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States), plus the heads of government of the 5 leading emerging economies (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) have taken, in response to the PICC report, the stance that “that climate change is happening and that anthropogenic warming is influencing many physical and biological systems.” And, with the July 2007 release of the revised statement by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, no remaining scientific body of national or international standing is known to reject the basic findings of human influence on recent climate.

      AND supporting drilling alone might not make her an environmental criminal, but that’s hardly the only strike. How about opposing protections for salmon from mining contamination, suing the US government to stop listing polar bear as endangered, supporting wolf hunting so that other hunters have more moose to shoot, encouraging timber, mining, drilling, & fishing in Alaska and against listing beluga whales in Cook Inlet as endangered?

      If *you* want to support Palin/McCain because you’re a die-hard republican, that’s fine, but at least know the facts.

  15. Hold back the crocodile tears, jen. Sarah Palin has debased herself by lying more frequently than any other top-tier politician from a democratic country in our time. She’s a hyper-partisan liar who falsely demonized Obama as a terrorist friend, remember?

    You show off your ignorance by the claim there was no consensus on the reality of global warming, and your attempt to equalize the candidates’ positions on LGBT rights doesn’t hold up. Palin would happily reanimate a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, out-bigoting her running mate. Obama opposes the California same-sex marriage ban and backs a repeal of the federal “Defense of Marriage” Act. Palin *supported* a bill to block benefits for same-sex partners of state employees in Alaska. She only reversed her position and vetoed the bill after the State Attorney General said it was unconstitutional. Obama/Biden contend that same-sex couples should receive all the rights and benefits conferred by traditional marriage; they just don’t want to call it “marriage”. A rose by any other name…

  16. Poor Jen, you exasperate me. I d rather spend time doing experiments on olive fruit flies than spending lives and money on unjustified war that sarah’s government and McCain voted for. That’s the point. If Sarah want to make some cuts (I don’t talk about her wardrobe…), make it first by saving human lives in a very easy way and then you will start to save money and then many different kind of researches (ethically correct) will be financed, that is what give the independence and wealth of a country.

  17. You are not presenting either a fair or accurate depiction of Palin’s stand on the issures. I can not find evidence that she does not support a clean environment for Alaska. I do find, however, that she does not take an extremist view on the envioronment. There’s a big difference.

    PALIN in the debate on Global Warming: As governor of the nation’s only Arctic state, Alaska feels & sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that it’s real. I’m not one to attribute every activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet. But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don’t want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts? We have got to clean up this planet. We have got to encourage other nations also to come along with us with the impacts of climate change, what we can do about that.

    Sarah Palin on Polar Bears (NYT Jan 5 2008)
    To help ensure that polar bears are around for centuries to come, Alaska (about a fifth of the world’s 25,000 polar bears roam in and around the state) has conducted research and worked closely with the federal government to protect them. We have a ban on most hunting — only Alaska Native subsistence families can hunt polar bears — and measures to protect denning areas and prevent harassment of the bears. We are also participating in international efforts aimed at preserving polar bear populations worldwide.

    This month, the secretary of the interior is expected to rule on whether polar bears should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. I strongly believe that adding them to the list is the wrong move at this time. My decision is based on a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts.

    The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, has argued that global warming and the reduction of polar ice severely threatens the bears’ habitat and their existence. In fact, there is insufficient evidence that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct within the foreseeable future — the trigger for protection under the Endangered Species Act. And there is no evidence that polar bears are being mismanaged through existing international agreements and the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

    The state takes very seriously its job of protecting polar bears and their habitat and is well aware of the problems caused by climate change. But we know our efforts will take more than protecting what we have — we must also learn what we don’t know. That’s why state biologists are studying the health of polar bear populations and their habitat.

    As a result of these efforts, polar bears are more numerous now than they were 40 years ago. The polar bear population in the southern Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s North Slope has been relatively stable for 20 years, according to a federal analysis.

    Palin on wolves: (Press release, State of Alaska, Sept 26, 2007)

    Contrary to what Representative Miller said in Washington yesterday, there is no “aerial hunting” of wolves in Alaska, the Governor said. “Our science-driven and abundance-based predator management program involves volunteers who are permitted to use aircraft to kill some predators in specified areas of the state where we are trying to increase opportunities for Alaskans to put healthy food on their families’ dinner tables. It is not hunting and we have never claimed that it is.”

    Governor Palin said she will contact several other members of Congress to encourage them not to support Congressman Miller’s effort.

    “It appears to me that the Congressman has been inadvertently drawn into service as a fundraiser for national animal rights organizations that commonly spread inaccurate information about Alaska’s game management programs, and with which we are in court on these issues right now,” said Palin.

    Palin on Salmon and Mining:

    In response to a candidate questionnaire two years ago, Palin told The Anchorage Daily News, “As part of a Bristol Bay fishing family, I would not support any development that would endanger the most sensitive and productive fishery in the world.”

    I can find no source that states that Palin supports the construction of Pebble Mine.

    Wiki on Ballot Measaure 4:

    Palin expressed her personal opinion as a private citizen against State Ballot Measure Four, known as Alaska’s Clean Water Act, a week prior to a statewide election held August 26, 2008. Conflict among commercial fishing and environmental interests versus mining interests in Alaska’s Bristol Bay prompted the ballot petition. Measure Four was defeated at the polls by 57% of Alaskan voters.[61] Anglo-American Mining Company is seeking to develop a gold and copper mine within close proximity to Bristol Bay that could pollute the Bay’s headwaters. The initiative was to prevent waste materials from large-scale mining operations from seeping into salmon watersheds.[62] Such developement could threaten the spawning grounds for the largest remaining wild salmon run. Experts say the mine could yield more than $300 billion in metals and hundreds of jobs. The commercial fishing from salmon at Bristol supplies $300 million per year to the Alaskan economy in its present environmental state and a feature of the state’s heritage.[63] Opponents pointed to existing state and federal environmental laws that already achieve the same health and wildlife protections requested under Measure Four. They also claim that the Measure as written was open to interpretation which could drive stricter environmental standards that shut down all new, large metallurgic mines in Alaska. Despite this potential redundancy, there are claims that the enforcement of mining industry environmental regulations in Alaska and nationwide are imperfect and pollution outside acceptable limits periodically occurs at existing sites to varying degrees. Also, the downside risk of an environmental accident at the proposed Anglo-American site could permanently decrease fishing activity at Bristol. [64]

    • Bull. Nice talking points.

      ABC News:

      “Listing the polar bear as a threatened species [under the Endangered Species Act] will have a significant adverse impact on Alaska because. . . [it] will deter activities such as commercial fisheries, oil and gas exploration and development, transportation, and tourism,” Palin’s administration argued in its complaint against the Interior Department, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Aug. 4.

      In defending her position, Palin has discounted the findings of nine recent U.S. Geological Survey studies which concluded that the polar bear’s habitat is threatened by global warming, and the animals could be extinct before this century ends.

      Three of Palin’s own state scientists reviewed the USGS studies and found them sound, according to internal documents released to an Alaska professor earlier this year under the state’s open records law. But she has argued, in a New York Times editorial and elsewhere, that “there is insufficient evidence that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct in the foreseeable future.”

      Palin’s position, she wrote, is based on “a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts.”

      “Essentially, she lied,” said University of Alaska professor Rick Steiner, who wrangled with the Palin administration for months to obtain the documents. “She came out and said, ‘our scientists agree the polar bears are fine and should not be listed’” when that wasn’t the case, said Steiner, a conservation specialist who studies climate change. The McCain-Palin campaign did not make the governor available for comment.

    • Palin on wolf hunting – Salon.com

      In early 2007, Palin’s administration approved an initiative to pay a $150 bounty to hunters who killed a wolf from an airplane in certain areas, hacked off the left foreleg, and brought in the appendage. Ruling that the Palin administration didn’t have the authority to offer payments, a state judge quickly put a halt to them but not to the shooting of wolves from aircraft.

      Detractors consider the airborne shootings a savage business, conducted under the euphemism “predator control.” The airplanes appear in the winter, so the wolves show up like targets in a video game, sprinting across the white canvas below. Critics believe the practice violates the ethics of hunting, while supporters say the process is not hunting at all, but a deliberate cull.

      Palin has argued that she is worried about Alaska’s hunters, locked in perennial competition with the canine carnivores for the state’s prodigious ungulate population. A hunter herself, Palin has battled critics of aerial wolf hunting with the support of the Alaska Outdoor Council, a powerhouse advocacy and lobbying organization for hunting, fishing and recreation groups. In addition to so-called urban hunters, who shoot moose mostly for fun, Alaska is home to a significant number of subsistence hunters, including some of the Native population.

      You are just full of it. Go away, please, as you said you would, or I shall have to start moderating (you’re pages long copy/paste is tempting already – and two can play at the copy/paste game).

    • It’s hard to support a ‘clean alaska’ when you want to open its largest protected area to drilling, roads, and pipelines, support more agricultural, mining, fishing and logging, and fight to keep its rarest animals off the endangered species list. I understand this might not matter to everyone – some people care more about their taxes than their environment or a whole slew of other issues. But that doesn’t mean she had good environmental policy – it’s just not something she cares about strongly.

      FYI, There is only ‘no aerial hunting for bounty’ because the courts later deemed it illegal, so although she had put it in place, it was then banned.

      And you forgot that once the polar bears WERE listed as endangered, she sued to reverse it, not just disagreed with the choice. She directly fought to change their status.

      And sure, she would do anything for the fishies – except support that ballot measure that would have provided added protections for salmon from potential contamination from mining. Her last-minute opposition is credited with the defeat of the petition. (New York Times, pp. A1 & A10, “An Outsider Who Charms” Aug 29, 2008)

  18. Ummmm have you seen that this very webpage has an advert for McCain / Palin? I know this wasn’t approved by the blog post’s author, but still that’s a little strange.

    • Yeah – I have no control over that. Sometimes it’s Obama, sometimes it’s McCain. Sometimes it’s Creationist propaganda, sometimes it’s Evolution/Science product websites.

      The ads are through Google Adsense. I don’t even get near enough $ to cover my hosting costs, but the few dollars are better than none.

  19. “You have now made it oh so clear that you really don’t have the first clue as to how research grants are obtained and what’s entailed in their review and awarding.”

    Research grants are obtained by threatening the American taxpayer with fines, prison, or other penalties if they fail to pay up. They are “awarded” via the bureaucracy – sometimes by an agency or department including a great many in the DOD, sometimes by Congress, probably sometimes by the President although I haven’t read of that. Sometimes all it takes is getting the ear of the right Congresscritter and getting them to cut you a slice of that tasty pork everyone complains about but so many get fat off of.

    “Yeah, it sounds like you have a truly encyclopedic knowledge of the nature of scientific enterprise.”

    We haven’t been discussing the nature of scientific enterprise. You keep trying to limit the issue to “science” while completely ignoring the critical issue and field I brought up (and that even Sarah Palin seemed to have been obliquely referencing) – the law and the government usurpation and abuse of science.

    “Not even worth further reply…”

    You haven’t yet addressed any of my points regarding the illegal nature of using taxdollars on science. You’ve likewise ignored my point that the scientific necessity and validity of the research has no relevance to it’s legality. Strawmen, ad hominum attacks, evasion, and avoidance of the issues I have raised has been the whole of the response I have gotten from this “scientific” community. Government sponsored science is illegal in this nation. It corrupts the government, it corrupts the science, it creates waste and inefficiency, and it kills ingenuity and creativity while rewarding those with connections and those without a measurable degree of competence.

    Another “scientific” study from a few years ago was funded by the Air Force. It was regarding telekinesis which (surprise surprise) didn’t actually seem to have a very high chance of panning out for military purposes. That study cost $25,000. That is what I earn in a year and what I pay in taxes over many years. A year of my labor will pay for one piece of paper that will state the obvious so that some incompetent academic who knows some corrupt Air Force bureaucrat will make out like a bandit (literally). Will you address this point? Will you consider the incredibly huge burden placed upon other people who must work longer hours, get a second job, go without health care or other necessities in order to pay for fraudulent science, junk science, misdirected science that creates the weapons of mass destruction, and real science? I’d love to be able to give a very generous donation to a great number of real science projects – but I am struggling to get by financially. If I didn’t have the incredible tax burden I do I’d be able to give a small donation and pick those that I believe are the most worthwhile. Instead I have to pay more than I can afford for junk science plus the interest on that amount as our government has to borrow from China, Russia, etc in order to actually pay for the current expenditures.

    A compounding junk science debt – what a fabulous legacy the last several generations of American government scientists have burdened the people of today and our future generations as well.

  20. Thank you, I could not agree more.

  21. I’m tired of hearing about Sarah Palin. People are giving too much attention to her. Your time is too valuable to waste on that…like I just did for about 7 seconds.
    Bye!