Thanks to Joe Aravosis at Americablog for this.
In a speech last Friday, Sarah Palin, mocked fruit fly research as an example of stupid and unnecessary federal pork. She said:
"This is a matter of how we prioritize the money that we spend. We've got a three trillion dollar budget, and Congress spends some 18 billion dollars a year on earmarks for political pet projects. That's more than the shortfall to fully fund the IDEA. 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."
[When Palin was mayor of Wasilla, she hired lobbyists in Washington to help her obtain $27 million in earmarks for her town. Federal money, i.e., earmarks, for her little bitty town are OK, but fruit fly research is bad, bad, bad.]
Back to her statement. Aravosis quotes Richard Wolfe, writing in Newsweek:
"This is the most mindless, ignorant, uniformed comment that we have seen from Governor Palin so far, and there's been a lot of competition for that prize."
Why would Wolfe say something like that. Aravosis explains with a quote from the science blog, Biochemicalsoul.com:
"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 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 genetis risk 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..."
'Nuff said. Palin is an idiot!