Darn those scientists, confounding our politics again!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-s0bWJB59s&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&fs=1]

Unbelievable!! This is the leadership we are supposed to look forward to?!

As someone who came to the US because of the opportunities this country offered to pursue scientific research, and having seen science get bipartisan lip service (at least) over the past 4 presidential election cycles (when I have been here), despite the decline in science funding over the past 8 years, I find it really bizarre to see this “team of mavericks” tilting against the windmills of science in this fashion! First it was grampa McCain railing against “pork-barrel” earmark funding to study the genetics of grizzly bears (a very successful project, btw, that he had actually voted for, before turning it into a convenient flogging-horse on the campaign trail), and now Palin takes on the iconic model organism of modern genetics, Drosophila!! Talk about clueless chutzpah, bashing research on the very organism which has yielded, among myriad other insights, important clues about autism, the cause she claims she would fund by cutting off these “earmark” projects!! But, as has been clear from the day she joined the ticket, and as Rachel Maddow demonstrates yet again, this hockey-mom continues to operate in a completely irony-free zone – how can one make fun of her when she embodies the joke so completely? (remember how people chuckled when someone initially suggested that she had foreign policy expertise because of Alaska’s proximity to Russia; until she actually took that line seriously and ran with it?)

Science – cutting-edge basic science – has surely been one of the defining characteristics of this country’s global leadership over the past half-century or more, no?! Why do these “mavericks” now suddenly think it is ok to throw that away, and that they will win more votes if they bash science and scientists? I’ve wondered about the curious dichotomy in this culture, where science and technology provide the basis of so much of everyday life, yet science and scientists, and intellectuals in general, are feared/reviled as nerds/dangerous elitists. Is the anti-intellectual strain in this society so strong that McCain/Palin can drum up a few more votes to win this election by continuing to bash science, and further entrench the age of american unreason? Please tell me that is not the case, that things haven’t gone that far wrong… or should I be packing my bags as another soon-to-be-unwanted scientist who has been wasting his life and taxpayer money studying birds??!! And a foreigner, to boot!!

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