I guess I'll start with the Olbermann clip:
And then, just to be really spiteful, link to one of my favorite atheists, P. Z. Myers., who is a known practising, um, science-type person. Who factually breaks down the importance of a species with a super-simple genome that's been extensively studied--because those critters are way easier to study than people, which would be ethically wrong.
But here's the deal: she doesn't have a reason to know. I was a Biology student back in the long ago, even though I switched to English Lit in a fast hurry when my math skills didn't turn up as being up to par. I stayed fascinated by all things scientific and pay some attention to genetics research, which is why the fruit fly thing seems like a no-brainer to me. To me, I think knowing a little bit about science makes you well-rounded, and you should be up on recent events in the sciences, just as you would want to know about recent events in international affairs or be confident about what the Vice-President of the United States does. And it may even behoove you to know a bit about the economy, since you'll have to live with it.
I could give her a little bit of a pass on not knowing the benefit of the drosophila melangogaster with its little-bitty lifespan and generational turnover, that makes genetics experiments so neat for people studying them. But is she unaware of the impact of the Medfly to California? She ever hear about gypsy moths or horned beetles? Bee colony collapse? Ever think about the impact of globalization on the spread of predatorial and parasitical species that aren't easily contained? Think about how research in alternate energy and out-of-the-box solutions to environmental clean-up might be needed to save our behinds, some day? Does she know at least enough about science to make decisions--that will fund the important research that impacts our future?
It's not a bad idea to wonder about. Of the people I've voted for on the national ticket over the years, I know Al Gore was probably the most credible and informed on science-related issues. Kerry was bright about process and rule of law, and I think would've boned up if it was needed, and I think Obama and Biden really give a damn about making politics work for people, and are, on the whole, educated and cosmopolitan people. I might expect them to know a thing or two. By necessity.
But with scientific earmarks, the point is having at least the information to assess the usefulness. Or the ability to find out--like one might do before including an example in one's speech. Which either herself, or her staff--both--either, whatever--didn't check. Especially in the context of genetic disorders.
Even her opinions fail to be vetted.
It's an understandable, but nonetheless troubling thing.
I've seen that at least the Obama campaign is really very tech-savvy. I'd love to know they were science-savvy, too.