The Sciences

The Fruit Fly

The IntersectionBy Sheril KirshenbaumOct 29, 2008 12:14 PM

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Yes, we've heard all about it. I've been receiving a good deal of email and indeed, would have blogged Drosophila melanogaster earlier, but it's difficult to post while traveling. As Christopher Hitchens explained, curiously it's true:

last Friday, when, at a speech in Pittsburgh, Gov. Sarah Palin denounced wasteful expenditure on fruit-fly research, adding for good xenophobic and anti-elitist measure that some of this research took place "in Paris, France" and winding up with a folksy "I kid you not."

But rather than wax poetic on everything wrong with this, I give the floor--err, screen--to our esteemed colleague Lawrence Krauss:

Maybe Palin also should have been told that a University of North Carolina fruit fly study last year demonstrated that a protein called neurexin is required for nerve-cell connections to form and function correctly. That discovery may lead to advances in understanding, among other things, autism, one of the childhood disorders that has been stressed by the McCain-Palin campaign. It is easy to attack what you don't understand. But politicians would be wiser to attempt to better appreciate how science affects the issues central to our political priorities before rushing to use scientific research and education as a scapegoat in their campaigns.

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