Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why another blogger?

So, why start yet another blog, when there are so many out there already? Mostly because I feel the need to share my point of view with anyone who will listen. And to degrade the signal-to-noise ratio of the internet.

My interest in blogging comes from the fact that solid science is built on critical thinking skills, and those skills are becoming tough to find in people. Thus, I am here to advocate for, well, improved education in science and critical thinking.

But why is this important? Let me share a bit from the last presidential campaign. In one of her more vacuous speeches, Sarah Palin derided fruit fly research being conducted by the US Department of Agriculture. You can see it at

Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), basic research does, in fact, have everything to do with the public good. In the case of fruit flies, their genetic makeup is very, very well understood and, because of this, we can do very well-controlled experiments using them as models, as in the autism research noted in the video.

Of course, the USDA does not (to my knowledge) do autism research, so why Paris? Simple. Fruit flies that damage olive crops have started to infest groves in the US. We have very little experience with this species. But the French? They have been dealing with it for decades. Where do the experts go when they have a question? To other experts. It's not rocket science, Ms. Palin.

Politics impacts science in a profound way. Science impacts the public good even more deeply. We do not need more anti-science hacks in power.

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