Sunday, November 2, 2008

Anti-science Brought to you by: The Republicans

Last week Christopher Hitchens published a fantastic article entitled "Sarah Palin's War on Science." This topic surfaced as a result of a pointedly ignorant remark by Sarah Palin (the VP nominee for the Republican party) that, "sometimes these dollars, they 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." Watch it here.

As a scientist, it's hard to stomach this sort of anti-science attitude, particularly because of the ignorance of the statement. The fruit-fly is one of the foundational research models to study human disease, including disorders such as fragile X syndrome, autism, immune function, sexuality, etc.

This is the VP of a candidate who has denounced spending on grizzly DNA research and projectors for planetariums as "unbelievable." Hitchens summarizes it best:
Scientific American pointed out, there is no way to enforce the Endangered Species Act without getting some sort of estimate of numbers, and the best way of tracking and tracing the elusive grizzly is by setting up barbed-wire hair-snagging stations that painlessly take samples from the bears as they lumber by and then running the DNA samples through a laboratory. The cost is almost trivial compared with the importance of understanding this species, and I dare say the project will yield results in the measurement of other animal populations as well, but all McCain could do was be flippant and say that he wondered whether it was a "paternity" or "criminal" issue that the Fish and Wildlife Service was investigating. (Perhaps those really are the only things that he associates in his mind with DNA.)
Again, Palin has been a past advocate of the idea that global warming doesn't exist, and even if it did, humans aren't responsible. Now on the campaign trail she's said that it doesn't matter what caused it, just that we try to fix it ... what a dumbass thing to say.

And that brings me, yet again, to the things that Gov. Palin DOES believe in - and for that, I'll leave you with Hitchens once more:
Videos taken in the Assembly of God church in Wasilla, Alaska, which she used to attend, show her nodding as a preacher says that Alaska will be "one of the refuge states in the Last Days." For the uninitiated, this is a reference to a crackpot belief, widely held among those who brood on the "End Times," that some parts of the world will end at different times from others, and Alaska will be a big draw as the heavens darken on account of its wide open spaces.

High points, also available on YouTube, show her being "anointed" by an African bishop who claims to cast out witches. The term used in the trade for this hysterical superstitious nonsense is "spiritual warfare," in which true Christian soldiers are trained to fight demons. Palin has spoken at "spiritual warfare" events as recently as June. And only last week the chiller from Wasilla spoke of "prayer warriors" in a radio interview with James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who said that he and his lovely wife, Shirley, had convened a prayer meeting to beseech that "God's perfect will be done on Nov. 4."

Haven't we had enough of religious fundamentalism and anti-science (not to mention anti-reason) in the white house? I'm with Christopher on this one: "On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity."

1 comment:

Nikolas said...

Another excellent post.

Things have recently come about to convince me that the anti-intellectualism present in the Republican party is no longer offset by a do-no-harm fiscal policy. Basically, if the Republicans held the stances they now hold, but also cut back on taxation and spending, at least those funds would be out there to be spent at the discretion of the owners on whatever scientific research floats their boats. The problem is, the Republicans *do* tax.

I'm still Libertarian, but as this election continues to play out, Republicans have been leaving an increasingly bad taste in my mouth.