Let me be blunt: No one who cares about science education can vote for Sarah Palin.

It's bad enough that she's almost certainly a Young Earth Creationist, given reports such as these and the fact that she was until recently a member of an Assembly of God congregation.

But check out this policy speech, brought to my attention by PZ Myers, whose commentary I also commend to you:

Look: she's deliberately saying fruit fly research, from Paris, France. See, she thinks this is a delicious triple whammy, since the France reference encourages a knee-jerk xenophobic reaction along the lines of 'un-American', while the use of the word 'fruit' is a code word for 'gay agenda.' And, of course, why would anyone bother spending tax dollars on something as insignificant as flies?

Palin, of course, is not a biologist but even a reasonably educated layperson with a college degree should probably have had enough science that they know that fruit flies are the most important model organism in the history of biology, associated with several Nobel Prizes for fundamental breakthroughs in genetics, some of which have led to significant advances in medicine....in fact, as this blog mentions, potential advances in the treatment of autism. But don't take a political blog's word for it: here's a news brief, unpoliticized, on such lines of research from May of this year. Fruit fly research is important, has been important for decades in biology, and well-educated people should know that kind of thing before making major policy speeches that affect public support for scientific research.

Well, Palin is more willful than well-educated. Consider her decision to carry a pregnancy to term this year at the age of 44, despite being aware that the child would be born with Down's Syndrome. She and her husband show conviction of sorts in choosing to support this child, and I actually admire that choice. But what about the decision to even pursue a pregnancy at this stage? Geneticists have determined that, at age 35, that the odds of a fetus with Down's Syndrome is a high risk....and the odds for a 44-year-old mother is more than eight times greater than that! Presumably, as a governor, the Palin family got those statistics, yet they decided to role the dice, anyway. Perhaps, after the backlash from this gaffe is brought to her attention, she'll start actually vetting decisions based on science with real scientists...maybe even, from time to time, personal decisions?



First of all, my apologies to the many readers of Monkey Trials who haven't had much to read here of late. Secondly, thanks to the many other people who don't read my blog, but who haven't heard from me much of late and have been rather patient with me. Since my previous post, I:

  • cancelled a scheduled choir rehearsal on Thursday
  • missed Monday at my school site due to district-mandated CLAD training
  • got a sub on Tuesday for my classes so that I could personally move a lot of materials into...

....my new classroom. I'd have pictures to share, but I'm now at home with aches and pains. Frankly, I overdid it. After working all day in moving on Tuesday, I played softball in the evening as part of my continuing road show as a desperate 46-year-old attempting to still doing something athletic. I hit the ball hard three times, ran the bases, dived for (and--sigh--missed) a sinking liner in the outfield, made two pretty decent over-the-shoulder catches on a pair of Texas Leaguers, and...pretty seriously bruised my heel, and am just pretty banged-up in general after that much exertion.

I did go into my site this morning to set up a lesson plan for my sub, but I came back home and spent the morning in bed and the afternoon with the political pundits. Tomorrow I'll be back in the saddle, getting serious with science ed, and as I get settled in my room, you can expect more regular commentary again on the blog. I'm excited about actually having a real science classroom, with multiple sinks, a data projector, a sound system and lots of storage. Lots of work needs to be done, but I'm not in a jury-rigged situation for the very first time in my teaching career. After more than eight years, I (and my students) are no longer being cheated by a sub-par facility that does not meet the minimal standards of my profession. I looked over Jordan, and what did I see, comin' for to carry me home?