Less than two weeks ago Sarah Palin's running mate and mentor, Senator John McCain, had referred to "children who have autism. Sarah Palin knows about that better than most."
In her speech, Palin took pains to mock a federal research grant devoted to studying fruit flies, a.k.a. Drosophila melanogaster.
Just about everybody knows that scientists use fruit flies in genetics work because of their short life spans. Therefore, numerous generations can be observed within a relatively short period of time.
And, of course, anybody who knows about autism better than most would understand that it has genetic components. Fragile X syndrome, for example, which is an inherited genetic condition with a close connection to human mental impairment, including autism and other severe cognitive disabilities.
In fact, according to the National Fragile X Foundation, it is the leading known cause of autism. Sarah Palin actually said this today:
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.And here is what researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta announced last March:
I kid you not.
Scientists using a new drug screening method in Drosophila (fruit flies), have identified several drugs and small molecules that reverse the features of fragile X syndrome — a frequent form of mental retardation and one of the leading known causes of autism. The discovery sets the stage for developing new treatments for fragile X syndrome.I kid you not.
eta: Not surprisingly, PZ Myers noticed too.