John McCain Continues His War on Science

I guess that with George Bush leaving office John McCain felt it was up to him to continue the Republican War on Science. Ryan Grim reports that McCain is repeating the same ignorant attacks on science that Sarah Palin used during the presidential campaign:

John McCain reached back into the presidential campaign on Wednesday to pull out a scientific critique that had first been made by his running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, when she ridiculed funding for fruit fly research. In a late-October speech, Palin noted that the research was going on in “Paris, France” and added “I kid you not.”

On Wednesday, McCain himself grabbed for the fruit-fly swatter at a press conference to unveil his new anti-earmark legislation.

After a long takedown of research into lobsters by the University of Maine that involves a “Lobster Cam,” McCain, a Senator from Arizona, turned on the fruit flies, saying, “also, there’s one in Paris that — yes — $212,000 for Olive Fruit Fly research in Paris, France.”

During the campaign, Palin’s criticism of fruit-fly research was heavily attacked by the scientific community, which argued that fruit flies, because of their brief life-spans, make up a cornerstone of scientific and medical research. In 1933, Thomas Hunt Morgan won a Nobel Prize for his work with fruit flies, which showed how genes are passed on through chromosomes.

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  1. 1
    Fritz says:

    There is a bit of difference between “war on science” and “war on wide-open government funding of scientific research”. 

    Perhaps because I am an avid reader of science magazines and journals, it has been a bit disconcerting to read in every science periodical article after article of speculation about how much more government money the Obama administration is going to funnel into each and every discipline.  The rush for government megadollars is well on.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    There would be a difference, but in this case it is science itself that McCain and Palin are attacking. It is one thing to say that you don’t want to fund valid science out of a desire to limit government spending. It is another thing to justify limitations on spending by falsely claiming valid science is not actually valid scientific research, and by distorting information about the research.

  3. 3
    Fritz says:


    True.  But maybe that is the handle McCain can use.  In a year when it is apparently appropriate to ask the Feds to pony up for everything anybody might want, from a Mob Museum to light bulb replacement, it sounds niggardly to suggest that our grandchildren shouldn’t be in hock to pay for scientists to study away.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    We know that government spending is going to increase. Right or wrong, this is seen as the right response to the current economic problems. If the money is going to be spent, I’d prefer that we get value for our money. This includes improving the infrastructure and scientific research. McCain isn’t doing us any favors when he throws in bogus arguments about the scientific research to influence how the money is spent if the result would be money spent elsewhere as opposed to for scientific research.

  5. 5
    Anonymous says:

    the paris france part is becuase srsly why are we (america) funding research in paris

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    The explanation from the Congressman (Rep. Mike Thompson of California)who proposed this sounds reasonable:

    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,” said Thompson. “The 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 1990s.”

    Of course dishonest people such as John McCain and Sarah Palin leave out such important details in their attacks.

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