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Sarah Palin is Ignorant, Surprise

In a 'serious' policy address Sarah Palin demonstrated a serious lack of scientific literacy. Richard Wolfe, MSNBC political analyst said her statement about fruit flies "is the most mindless, ignorant, uninformed, comment that we have seen from Governor Palin so far and there's been a lot of competition for that prize."

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Countdown w/Keith Olbermann



If the moron had paid any attention at all in 10th grade biology, she'd remember Drosophila melanogaster and its easily evaluated phenotypes. Biologists have only been using d. melanogaster for about 100 freaking years - how was Ms. Palin to know?

As a lab researcher who works on various species of Drosophila, I am absolutely appalled.


yep! at least that "waste" will be helping to cure the disease in your intestine from where your shit is coming...

Next thing you know, somebody's going to be awarded some public funds to study the bacteria that lives in our shit. The waste... the waste...

Doesn't this come back to the fundamentalist disdain for science? What could a fruit fly possibly have to do with the children of Adam and his rib called woman?

I do wonder about her speechwriter, though. Do you think the writer is sick of writing for a sportscaster with executive experience?

Holy smokes! I think she's talking about my brother-in-law's research up in Raleigh-Durham. This is a trip. As if I needed another reason to vote against her- now she's attacking my family directly, not to mention people with autism everywhere.

I would like to see the McCain/Palin supporters here defend this one.

But she's soooo hot!

And, well, you know, the media has been sooo unfair to her!

I think I've captured the essence of their defense.

And did you notice that cutesy lapel pin she's wearing, the one in the shape of a polar bear? You know, those same polar bears whose habitat she's hell-bent on destroying.

The writing on the wall spells HYPOCRITE.

She is allowed to hate science; but for equal measure; she then has to turn off the televisions camera; miss her flight; ditch the blackberry; and unplug her microphone.

TODAY TEXT ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND ASK THEM IF THEY HAVE VOTED! If they haven't gather them up and take them to early voting TODAY! Then ask them to do the same thing. Text it forward!

I don't get this. What's wrong with voting on November 4? Are early votes counted twice or something?

Lots of reasons this is good. A) you probably won't have to wait as long as on Election Day; B) if you vote early, other people won't have to wait for you on Election Day; C) if you vote early, you can volunteer of Election Day; D) if you vote early, the campaign can devote its resources to getting other voters to the polls; E) you're more likely to find a ballot at the poll if you vote early (in New Mexico, some polling places have actually run out of ballots on Election Day); F) you might be sick, or the weather might be bad, or your car might break down, on Election Day; G) in some states, absentee and early ballots are counted first; H) why put it off if you can do it now?

Anyone else?

She would be a brilliant choice for vice president of the Taliban. Can I do a write-in vote?

I don't think that this is a problem with scientific literacy. McCain himself bashed tiny earmarks for studying mammals in various states.

He has a dogmatic, idiotic crusade against all earmarks, no matter how worthwhile. The national institutes which fund scientific research will fund these projects through bureaucratic means all the time. It's the main thing they do. But if a knowlesdgable, responsible member of Congress decides to get some grant money earmarked into the NSF funding bill, suddenly it's wasteful and corrupt.

The worst thing of all is that McCain now has the wasteful earmark queen of America bashing legitimate earmarks in speeches. She actually has the gall to mention the boondoggle bridge that she supported and then turn around and bash science research that costs a tiny fraction of what she fought for in Alaska.

I also study fruit flies. The insane part about her criticism is just how stunningly wrong it is. She might as well claim that 1+1=3, or that there are 49 states, or that the VP makes laws... Oh, wait.

Every candidate makes a few gaffes now and then. But with Sarah Palin, it's not an occasional gaffe. Palin has a lack of intellectual curiosity and is clearly not anywhere near the intellectual level of McCain or Obama or Biden or Hillary Clinton. McCain confused Sunni and Shia and has made many other gaffes, but most people still feel that he his reasonably intelligent

Apparently, Syngas, you are impressed with Ms Palin and feel that she is as intelligent as Obama is, right? Really? Or did you link to Obama's 57 state gaffe for some other reason? I notice that you have linked to this gaffe again and again and again.

Have you ever watched this interview with Charlie Rose?

Can you imagine Sarah Palin answering questions from Charlie Rose? Do you suppose that she could answer these questions with as much depth and intelligence and thoughtfulness as Obama did? And this interview was conducted way back in 2007. Palin apologists claim that the only reason she doesn't perform well is because she is simply not accustomed to giving interviews. Back in 2007 Obama was on the Meet the Press. Palin lacks the intelligence to handle appearing on Meet the Press and you can bet your bottom dollar that she will never ever appear on Meet the Press. She's such a coward that she will only give softball interviews and if the interviewer is a difficult one, she needs Daddy McCain by her side to hold her widdle hand.

And I've been disgusted that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama agreed to be interviewed by O'Reilly. In retrospect, though, it demonstrates that they have the intellectual strength to deal with a difficult interview from a strong partisan.

There is no comparison. Yeah, Obama claimed to visit:

"50... states.

I think one left to go. One left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit but my staff would not justify it."

If you won't connect the dots, you're disingenuous. If you can't, Snopes can help you.

Snopes didn't help. I do want one of those lapel pins though. Thanks ;)

Actually, in this we agree. It rather eloquently encapsulates the right's most persuasive arguments.


If Ms. Palin talked only about what she knew, she would not need much time.

thank goodness she didn't mention the worms (C. elegans) being funded by earmarks...i mean worm researchers just gotten many of the most recent and biologically relevant Nobel Prizes.

i hope she attacks the worm soon...i'm betting tequila had something to do with her huge family since she's pro-contraception. lol

Palin's complete disregard for knowledge regardless of its shape or form completely disgusts me. How you can be so certain and confident while being blatantly ignorant of the issues at hand? She seriously has not gained experience interacting with the different perspectives and ideas that exist within this country from coast to coast.

I used to work with drosophila, so I'm guessing that she's just like most people who are scared of science and has never heard about how some species are used for specific studies. She could have at least had an adviser explain to her the science behind it in layman's terms, but since the Republicans have abandoned science in general I guess that a science adviser would have been a stretch.

The fact that conservatives are still backing Palin (such as Pat Buchanan) is even more appalling. I'm not asking for a brainiac, but just open-minded.

Gov, Palin is just the best advocate for autism. She knows that Autism victims would hate to see a cure come from an earmark. They are real patriotic Americans.

I can only imagine what a stupid lurching failure of an administration these two would make. Lets hope we can keep it imaginary.

I can only guess how much the next ten days are going to want to make me vomit.

I understand they are deploying unaccompanied white girls to every black neighborhood in America in hopes of an incident occurring

"She might as well claim that 1+1=3, or that there are 49 states, or that the VP makes laws... Oh, wait."

"...or 57 states!"

Zing! You walked right into that one, lwPHD.

But Syngas, you should know that when Obama said that there were 57 states, he wasn't referring to the U.S. He was referring to the 57 countries of Islam!!!

You should read your conservapedia more.

Holy cow! Who invented this thing? It's difficult not to vacillate: satire/blowhards/satire/blowhard....

Walked right into it? It is one thing to unintentionally say something embarrassing and wrong, as Obama did. (And reviewing the context, it appeared he was going to say 50, then backtracked realizing that he had missed one in the lower 48 AND Alaska and HI, which would be 47). So, sure, he is capable of stupid gaffes. But I guarantee you, if you had asked him the day before the day of and 3 minutes prior to his "gaffe" a direct question about how many states are in the U.S., he'd answer 50 without pause.

If you were to ask Palin about fruit fly research and its significance in the same context, you'd either get a blank stare or willful mocking of it. See, that's the difference between an honest and unintentional (yet still stupid) gaffe and willful ignorance. No, I walked into nothing. The two incidents are like comparing apples and transcendentalism.

LwPhD "But I guarantee you, if you had asked him the day before the day of and 3 minutes prior to his "gaffe" a direct question about how many states are in the U.S., he'd answer 50 without pause."

I think there's little that goes without saying more than that. Read the rest of my comment. I'm clearly teasing Syngas more than I'm teasing you. Yes, you did walk into it by dinging Palin for saying 49 states (she's really not that dumb--let's at least refuse to believe that any functional adult needs to be tested on the # of states) when there's a symmetrical right-wing talking point out there about Obama.

I apologize for the over-the-top response. I realized you were largely jesting, but I couldn't resist responding to the equivalence arguments that are often swallowed hook, line and sinker by progressives. I do agree that there is a rhetorical symmetry. And I do credit you with recognizing that such symmetry is sophistic in nature. But damn it, I don't like to be hemmed-in by sophistry, the likes of which Syngas gleefully promotes. Again, sorry I dumped on you for it.

I don't remember linking to this one before JoAnn. I'm not all that pleased with Palin, but don't think the long list of Ivy League grads currently running the show in DC are any better. Nearly all of them seem to be so wrapped up in sharing how great they are that serving the people is below them. That includes McCain.

I thought you were interested in science. Isn't one of your concerns colony collapse disorder?

Sarah Palin's dismissal of scientific inquiry reminds me of when Dennis Miller made fun of global warming inanely saying something like - so we're going up a degree or two - when I get into my hotel room and change the temperature one or two degrees I can't tell the difference.

Even though we joke about Palin, this kind of ignorance is frightening. Don't you think science and technology are areas the next president is going to need to be aware of to make the U.S. competitive in the world marketplace and to keep our environment healthy? Has she shown any interest, awareness or judgement in any subjects other than God and family?

And to think she's not as self-absorbed as the next better-educated politician seems strange. I don't think anyone who runs for office (especially when you are completely unqualified) has an ego problem.

Sure I'm interested in science. That doesn't mean anything science related shouldn't be held to the same scrutiny as any other spending bill. I don't know if the fruit fly study she was referring to was the same one Olby claimed she was (he's been known to distort things on occasion). It's probable there was more than one fruit fly study, and one of them was a complete waste of money.

If I demanded money to study fruit flies, would you give it to me? Why? Why not? Don't you care about science?

Wow - nice stretch.

She was making fun of the fact they were studying fruit flies - not a particular study. I kid you not.

Then why did she specify where the study was done?

Probably because, in the conservative world, nothing could be worse than something being French - unless it's fruit flies in France.

Hey, but if this is really how you interpret it - hey, good for you. I just assumed you were being disingenuous.

I stand corrected - there is a specific study and I'm a bozo for not looking into it further.

Don't beat yourself up. Olbermann fools a lot of people. Kudos on your researching skills - you are overqualified to work for MSDNC ;)

Would I give you the money? Quite possibly, if you were a competent researcher, asking for less than $1M to study a problem with relevance a industry worth >$300M per year. If you were planning to conduct the research in one of the premier institutes for biology in the world, the Pasteur Institute in France, even more likely.

She picked on an applied science project with real world economic concerns and mocked it as pork. Again, 1+1=3 and 49 states. Willfully ignorant and unconcerned about it. And perhaps worst is that she also commits political malpractice. At the very least, she should have chosen a basic research project that was harder to tie to human welfare. But she and her handlers are either too lazy, too stupid, or too contemptuous of Americans to think it would matter.

I see...fruit fly studies are only worth $1 million, and Kansas City is strictly off limits. Damn.

When logic, rhetoric, eloquence and simple reality conspire against you, aim for misdirection and deception. Just a formality: the parent post makes two claims that are simply non sequiturs to any comments in this thread. As such, they don't require rebuttal, though the "points" you make, such as they are will be reubutted below, en passant.

Let's recap shall we? Palin:

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.

Let's look at the actual research:

A conservative fiscal watchdog group recently gave Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, the “French Kiss Off Award” for sending $211,000 to France to study an agricultural pest. The mock honor came from Washington, D.C.-based Citizens Against Government Waste, which publishes an annual compendium of what the group considers pork barrel legislation. Rep. Thompson vigorously defended the earmark, which went to fight the grapevine-devastating Pierce’s Disease, olive pests and Sudden Oak Death, among other purposes.


“The Olive Fruit Fly has infested thousands of California olive groves and is the single largest threat to the U.S. olive and olive oil industries,” he said. “I secured $748,000 for olive fruit fly research and irradiation in the (fiscal year 2008) appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA will use some of that funding for their research facility in France. This USDA research facility is located in France because Mediterranean countries like France have dealt with the Olive Fruit Fly for decades, while California has only been exposed since the late 1990s. This is not uncommon; the USDA has several international research facilities throughout the world, including Australia, China and Argentina.”

Now, back to your "argument".

It's probable there was more than one fruit fly study, and one of them was a complete waste of money.

As it turns out, there is ample evidence to suggest precisely the reverse. There is a particular study that was funded for the purposes of fending off an invasive pest of significant economic impact to US-grown food crops. I guess we could ignore that and take the economic hit. Or perhaps we should just import more and push that trade deficit just a smidgen higher for fun. Protecting America's agricultural production isn't for America's public good? Please explain. In any event, the onus is still upon you to backup your assertions with evidence. Go ahead, list a study funded by an earmark that did research on fruitflies in France that is a complete waste of time. Or you can simply concede or continue your non sequitur followups.

(Yeah, I realize the troll must be getting full at this all-you-can-eat buffet, but maybe he'll surprise.)

Hmmm...So now we know UNC and autism had nothing to do with this. Are you really upset Keith's sophistry fooled you? Is that why you've got your panties in a bunch? You can't possibly be mad at Keith for making a fool of you, so you get mad at me. I understand.

What does Keith Olbermann have to do with anything? I didn't even click through Olbermann video because I already know more about the material than he does. The moment I read Palin's remarks and researched the circumstances of the earmark involved, I knew that not only was she patently full of shit, but she picked a dangerously inconvenient example to boot. I don't give a rat's ass about how the liberal wing of the mainstream media spins this issue. I can make my mind up on my own. Consequently, your mocking is misdirected. Frankly, I can't stand Olbermann's reporting style, and consequently don't watch him. Especially his "Special Comments".

But you are dodging the issue again. Palin is talking nonsense and picked a topic to mock that was, on almost any front, just plain asinine in addition to being wrong. (The UNC study would be a good example of how mocking fly research in general undermines the premise of her entire speech. Perhaps this is KO's point, but I don't know and don't care, as I don't feel the need to validate an obvious conclusion with a non-specialist.)

In general, mocking fruitfly biology (Drosophila or otherwise) as more frivolous than any other research is just plain stupid, because they serve as both indispensable models as well as economically important pests. Take your pick. The beauty of this is it doesn't matter. Whether it be olive fruitflies or Drosophila, the conclusion is the same. Palin made a willful error in evaluating science. Do you contest that? Or are you merely having fun in your delusion that you are righteously tweaking "gullible hippie liberals"?

You also appear to enjoy a game involving non sequiturs. Now that I noticed that, I feel kinda bad not playing along with you. Here's my entry:

Have you checked out lately? Check the state presidential polls, especially. They are full of interesting loess trendlines.

I don't know if the fruit fly study she was talking about was a waste of money or time. It's not available as far as I can see. I hope it wasn't, but the USDA has it's own budget using an earmark to fund an agricultural study outside of the USDA could be redundant and/or of little use given what the USDA may already know about the pest.

While I doubt your claim to not watch Olbermann, I personally know people who watch him every chance they get (at least one of them is a regular here), and believe every word that comes out of his mouth.

I do this for them.

he has been on Charile Rose , so for your interest.



sarah and janet napolitano

Thank you K. Palin came across quite well by talking about only that which she wanted to speak about and basically ignoring the questions, similar to her behavior in the vice-presidential debate. I notice that even then she used the words "there" and "also" quite often.

oops that went wrong. sarah palin has been on charlie rose. in fact her performance is credited for her selection by McCain's team. it is worth looking at, see links above

She quickly switches the subject from education to alaskan energy issues. She mentions the "east coast" somewhat critically. Interesting to compare the two governers and their answers.

"god will provide," rhetoric that's the pre-cursor to "drill baby drill" for our national security, and btw, did ya know Palin stopped the bridge to Ketchikan?

A blank slate then as well.

It was interesting to read the comments from Oct. 2007-Oct. 2008.

Check out this video clip. Obama=bad for special needs.(vid) Fruit flies=just silly.(above)

hmm, one more try

anyway, we all "know" that all taxes are bad.

Migawd - her speechifying is getting worse and worse - she's all over the board. What did Tina Fey call it - getting lost in the cornfield?

I'd feel sorry for her if it wasn't happening while she was trying to get in all these political zingers and lies.

Ironic cartoon at the Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3 blog: ""

I stand corrected - there is a specific study and I'm a bozo for not looking into it further.

Is someone going to post a link to the study being discussed if it is not the study in NC?

I saw the study mentioned in a congressional ad.

Although the reference was somewhat vague, Gov. Palin was almost certainly referring to a $748,000 earmark obtained by California Rep. Mike Thompson for olive fruit fly research. This earmark was one of many that was criticized earlier this year by the fiscal watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste in their annual "Congressional Pig Book" report.

It turns out that this fruit fly research has the potential to positively impact not only the economic well-being of a significant number of Californians but also the overall health of everyday Americans.

Palin's criticism of the use of federal funding for scientific research that actually does have to do with the public good is certainly troubling. But it rings especially hollow given that this year she submitted to Congress an earmark request list including $2,000,000 to research the productivity of the Bering Sea Crab and $3,200,000 to study the genetics of Harbor Seals and Stellar Sea Lions. These are both undoubtedly worthy research projects, but they are precisely the same kind of project that Palin scoffed at in her speech

Thanks for the link. The quotation of Darwin's is quite appropriate for the article on Palin and fruit flies:

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

It is obvious by Sarah Palin's comment, "Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France", that she was clearly playing to Freedom Fries crowd.

Be that as it may, you might want to know, Syngas, that after I heard that there Elisabeth Hasselbeck's stump speech, I was like so totally moved and stuff, and also too that I plan to vote for McCain if only for the opportunity to have Sarah Palin represent these United States.

Aha! So you ARE voting twice! Gotcha!


I have lived in Asia for more than 2 years, and haven't had cable for 6 years before that. I would be lying if I claimed to have never watched Olbie, otherwise, how could I know I don't like him? But what little of him I've seen online is usually sufficient for me to get annoyed and to close the browser window I was watching him in. Suffice it to say, I've never seen an episode of Countdown from start to finish. Nor have I watched an episode of Seinfeld or Friends or Lost or anything. So it isn't really personal. I read more than I watch.

But in any event, the messenger isn't important, the message is. Even Michelle Malkin can be correct once in a blue moon (see Ashley Todd), if you can stomach her long enough to evaluate the arguments. I just don't find that a useful way to spend my time. Too much sifting through crap, especially with Malkin. So, your criticisms of Olbermann are ultimately wastes of time, no matter how sympathetic I am to not liking the man. The question is, like him or not, is he right on a particular issue?

Since you seem to have put a large amount weight on the fact that there was a UNC component of Olbermann's argument (I didn't watch, so I'm taking your word for it), let me suggest you read this blog post. That link (provided by JoAnn) nicely summarizes what I think are the pertinent issues, and makes the case for both the France and UNC research projects in the grander scheme of Palin's laughable "policy" speech.

Yeah, yeah,

What about that experiment where they transferred the mind of a fruit fly into the body of a vice-presidential candidate?

How useless was that?


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