Sarah Palin and fruit flies

I guess no-one should be surprised by the latest anti-science diatribe by Sarah Palin.

This time she’s picking on the humble fruit fly.

She was giving a speech on promoting the funding of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):

“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.”

Now given that Sarah Palin has a Down’s Syndrome son, you may have thought have fighting for disability funding would have been a home run for her. You may also have expected her to champion scientific research into disabilities.

So for her to question the earmarked money for scientific research was a bit surprising:

“Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? […] 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.”

Fruit fly research.

The fruit fly research that she is talking about must be the Olive fruit fly research. The Olive fruit fly is an invasive pest that threatening California’s multi-million dollar olive crop. In trying to save a chunk of California’s economy in these difficult times, the $211509 French grant probably is a worthwhile investment.

Besides, if you know anything about science, you’ll know that vital findings have resulted from the most tangential experiments. Who knows what benefits might come out this study?

Certainly not Sarah Palin.

If she was only aware of what research of the humble fruit fly has already given to science I bet she wouldn’t have mocked this research in her speech.

For example, progress in birth defects research. That work brought a Nobel Prize.

Progress in autism research. The very condition that Sarah Palin started her talk about. She has a nephew suffering from autism. Fruit fly research may bring vital clues to improve his life.

Diabetes research.

Cancer research. Indeed, fruit fly research has led to critical advances in the treatment of colon cancer and possibly all cancers.

Alzheimer’s research. And scientists have just cured fruit flies from Huntington’s disease, a massive leap to the treatment of humans.

And work on increasing the life-span of fruit flies may have benefits in slowing ageing in humans.

And what makes the fruit fly so ubitiquous in medical research?

Chiang Ann-shyn – director of the Institute of Biotechnology and director of the Brain Research Center at National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu City, Taiwan – explains in this article:

‘One reason fruit flies were used was the similarities between their genes and human genes, Chiang explained. Although a fruit fly carries only around 135,000 genes, which might seem few in comparison to a human being’s 4 billion genes, a large number of genes that suffer from human genetic disorders can be found in the fruit fly. “Flies are cheap to breed, and their genes can be manipulated quickly,” he declared. Moreover, better understanding of genes would allow scientists to search faster for novel therapeutic drugs for healing diseases like Alzheimer’s, he added.’

I think its clear by now that Sarah Palin has no understanding of science.

Her Young Earth creationist views.
Her disregard for climate change.
Her appalling environmental record.
Her attempt to ban books from the local library in Wasilla.

And now this.

Go back to what she said at the start: “For many parents of children with disabilities, the most valuable thing of all is information.”

What Sarah Palin is promoting with her fruit fly ‘I kid you not’ nonsense is dis-information.

Its just as well it looks like the Republicans look like they are losing the election.

Having Sarah Palin as Vice President with an elderly, poor health John McCain as President just doesn’t bear thinking about.

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4 Responses to Sarah Palin and fruit flies

  1. sospokesaroj says:

    Did not realize it was olive fruit flies…I thought it was Drosophila melanogaster…which would be equally ludicrous. Nonetheless it’s a silly argument she is making…I kind of ranted about it on my blog as well. 🙂

  2. Other than the word “Fruit Fly”, how does the study of how to eradicate them requested for the benefit of agriculture, have anything what-so-ever to do with the study of the genetics of fruit flys for the benefit of human health issues?

    If the grant Palin cited continues, it will kill a certain kind of fruit fly that’s killing off the olive industry. This has nothing to do with the type of fruit fly being studied for genetics other than the remote possibility that the resulting methods of eradication of the olive fruit fly may actualy kill off the kind of fruit fly used in genetic research … and to my thinking that would be bad for the genetic research project.

    If you fund a road project, don’t you want to make sure it’s not a road being built under water? Not all projects are the same just because they share certain words.

  3. northbritain says:

    Bride of Rove,
    Re-read my article. Particularly this bit:

    ‘Besides, if you know anything about science, you’ll know that vital findings have resulted from the most tangential experiments. Who knows what benefits might come out this study?

    Certainly not Sarah Palin.’

    There is plenty of research based on the Olive Fruit Fly that is extendable to the Drosophila species.

    Here is just one example I found on a quick internet search.

    Advances in this research could help us understand Drosophila better, which could help us eradicate all those diseases I mentioned in the article.

    And as I said in the article, there could be tangential findings too.

    That’s why its important.

  4. Bride of Rove!

    Your defense of Palin reveals you either didn’t understand the other’s points or don’t care. It would almost as irrational for me to assume you are married to Carl Rove as it was for Palin to ridicule “fruit fly” research. Please note that her effort to make fun of wasteful research did not differentiate between different fruit fly studies or outcomes. She was clearly speaking to an audience that also didn’t know and from their responses, didn’t care.

    Since you know something about science, how come you missed or ignored the demagoguery?

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