Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jerry Coyne says that Sarah Palin’s criticism of fruit flies during her disability speech demonstrates her ignorance and contempt for science. Fruit flies, he says, provide most of what we know about how genes are passed on in humans, as well as significant insights into epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and autism.
Why are the Republican candidates so contemptuous of science? I suppose it’s part of their general attack on “elitism,” which has been surprisingly effective. We white-coated nerds in our labs, fooling around with flies at taxpayer expense, are easy targets.
But America can’t afford cheap shots at science, because a lot of basic research has immense implications for human welfare — even if ignorant politicians can make it sound silly.
… Trying to bond with the American people by taking pride in your ignorance and making science the common enemy — now that’s a bridge to nowhere.
Jerry Coyne is a professor in the University of Chicago’s department of ecology and evolution.
- Why Sarah Palin is wrong about fruit flies — by Mark Henderson, science editor of the [UK] Times