Sarah Palin's War on Science

By Christopher Hitchens
Slate, October 27, 2008


Edited by Andy Ross

At a speech in Pittsburgh, Governor Sarah Palin denounced wasteful expenditure on fruit-fly research, adding for good measure that some of this research took place "in Paris, France" and winding up with a folksy "I kid you not."

It was in 1933 that Thomas Hunt Morgan won a Nobel Prize for showing that genes are passed on by way of chromosomes. The experimental creature that he employed in the making of this great discovery was the Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit fly. Scientists of various sorts continue to find it a very useful resource.

Palin was not just being a fool in her own right but was following a demagogic lead set by the man who appointed her as his running mate. Senator John McCain has made repeated use of an anti-waste and anti-pork ad in which the expenditure of $3 million to study the DNA of grizzly bears in Montana was derided as "unbelievable."

With Palin, the contempt for science may be something a little more sinister. She is known to favor the teaching of creationism in schools. One would like to ask her whether she is a "premillenial dispensationalist" who believes that there is no point in protecting and preserving the natural world, since the end of days will soon be upon us.

Only last week the chiller from Wasilla spoke of "prayer warriors" in a radio interview with James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who said that he and his lovely wife, Shirley, had convened a prayer meeting to beseech that "God's perfect will be done on November 4."

The Republican Party has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. On November 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.

More on and by Chris Hitchens

Sarah Palin Goes Rogue on Evolution

By Christopher Hitchens
The Sunday Times, December 13, 2009


Edited by Andy Ross

Going Rogue
by Sarah Palin
HarperCollins, 413 pages

Sarah from Alaska
by Conroy Scott and Shushannah Walshe
Public Affairs, 301 pages

Sarah Palin is convinced that she and her career are the objects of a divine design. She asserts that she did not originate from "single-celled organisms", let alone from "monkeys who eventually swung down from the trees". The evolutionary evidence in which she does not "believe" she chooses to call "a theory", which she then takes some care to show she does not understand.

Steve Schmidt, the Republican party handler to whom she confided her stupefying ignorance, after she had been selected as a candidate for the vice-presidency of the United States, "winced and raised his eyebrows", she recalls, then he said: "But your dadís a science teacher."

Palin's dad, Chuck Heath, tells Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe why she lasted only one term at the University of Hawaii, the first of the four colleges she attended. Her book claims that the "perpetual sunshine" of Hawaii was "too perfect" and "not conducive to serious academics". Her beloved father says: "They were a minority-type thing and it wasn't glamorous, so she came home."

When this sort of bigotry and provincialism is directed at Alaska or Alaskans, the state's former governor acts like a girl grizzly defending her young. Her stock-in-trade is the deft cultivation of resentment against the big cities, the intellectual elite, the media and all who look down on small-town folk.

The Palinistas regard their candidate as a rebel or an outsider. The greater part of both these books is taken up with a rehash of Palin's quarrel with the Republican party managers who drew the short straw of projecting and protecting her farcical candidacy. When these books' pages are not dismally boring they are positively alarming, and you can almost see the ashen faces of men who suddenly realised what a ghastly thing had happened to their party.

The most arresting thing about Palin is the absolutely unbreachable serenity of her ignorance.

Copenhagen's Political Science

By Sarah Palin
Washington Post, December 9, 2009


Edited by Andy Ross

The agenda-driven policies being pushed in Copenhagen would change our economy for the worse.
The e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia reveal that leading climate "experts" deliberately destroyed records, manipulated data to "hide the decline" in global temperatures, and tried to silence their critics by preventing them from publishing in peer-reviewed journals.

This scandal obviously calls into question the proposals being pushed in Copenhagen. I've always believed that policy should be based on sound science, not politics. Our representatives in Copenhagen should remember that good environmental policymaking is about weighing real-world costs and benefits, not pursuing a political agenda.

In his inaugural address, President Obama declared his intention to "restore science to its rightful place." But instead of staying home from Copenhagen and sending a message that the United States will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices, the president plans to fly in at the climax of the conference in hopes of sealing a "deal." The president should boycott Copenhagen.

AR  What was John McCain thinking? Let the lady sink into well-deserved obscurity to enjoy all the millions her "dismally boring" book will earn her. And don't give her any more op-ed space!