Sarah Palin's speech ridiculing fruit fly research earmarks as wasteful has spawned an enormous reaction. However, that reaction is almost as wrongheaded as Palin.
When I read the criticism at Skeptico, I just couldn't resist deflating that (sometimes good and reasonable) windbag again for his confidence in his ignorance.
So many people are so wrong about this, that I've decided to post my response here as well. I wrote:
While it seems many people have their hearts in the right place on this subject, the press (and this site) are showing an incredible ignorance as well.
The common name "fruit fly" is used for SEVERAL FAMILIES of flies. The olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae) is in the family Tephritidae, while the common fruit fly of genetic research (more accurately called a vinegar fly or pomace fly) is in the family Drosophilidae.
Olive fruit flies have NEVER been important for genetic research, and anybody implying that this earmarked research is important for genetics is a fool ignorant of the differences between flies. I've yet to see the research proposal itself, but the few words I've seen describing it make it sound as if the research was for biological control through release of sterile irradiated males: a technique that has been used successfully to control several pest fly species such as the screwworm fly. That's economically valuable research that Palin is wrong to ridicule, but it also has nothing to do with genetics.
Once again, we see Skeptico (this time following the herd) making comments on a subject where he is extremely ignorant, where anybody familiar with the subject (like me: I had a course in fly systematics at Cornell) could immediately spot the howlers. I suppose his excuse is that he's as ignorant as most people, and doesn't have the sense to consult an expert in the RIGHT FIELD before he regurgitates bullshit from experts in the wrong field, who can't tell one family of flies from another.