From Maureen Dowd at The New York Times (Op-Ed):
Christine O’Donnell doesn’t understand why monkeys can’t turn into people right before her eyes.
Bill Maher continued his video torment of O’Donnell by releasing another old clip of her on his HBO show on Friday night, this time showing one in which she argued that “Evolution is a myth.”
Maher shot back, “Have you ever looked at a monkey?” To which O’Donnell rebutted, “Why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?”
Original DVD cover
The comedian has a soft spot for the sweet-faced Republican Senate candidate from Delaware, but as he told me on Friday, it’s “powerful stupid to think primate evolution could happen fast enough to observe it. That’s bacteria.
“I find it so much more damaging than the witch stuff because she could be in a position to make decisions about scientific issues, like global warming and stem cells, and she thinks primate evolution can happen in a week and mice have human brains.”
In the Republican primary, O’Donnell beat Congressman Mike Castle, who had the temerity to support stem-cell research and acknowledge global warming.
In 2007, O’Donnell frantically warned Bill O’Reilly, “American scientific companies are crossbreeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.”
The field of human-animal experiments is dubbed “chimera” research, named for the she-monster in Greek mythology that has a lion’s head, a goat’s body and a serpent’s tail.
Dr. Irving Weissman, director of Stanford’s Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, did the first experiments injecting human brain-forming stem cells into the brains of immune-deficient mice 10 years ago.
He assured me that the mice did not suddenly start acting human. “There were no requests for coffee from Minnie,” he said.
Dr. Weissman is sensitive to ethical questions and has tried to ensure that “the nightmare scenario” won’t happen [...]
He is working toward breakthroughs on multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injuries, strokes, breast cancer and a host of other diseases, and is worried by the retrogressive attitude about science and medicine among the new crop of Tea Partiers.
Sarah Palin will believe global warming is a hoax until she’s doing aerial hunting of wolves underwater. And in a 2009 clip, Sharron Angle, the Republican Senate candidate from Nevada, suggested that autism — a word she uttered with air quotes — is a phony rubric.
Dr. Weissman said, “The question they should be asked is, if it were their child or wife or selves or parents and there was this whole list of diseases treated by stem cells, would they deny these therapies?”
Maybe the problem is not so much chimeras in science as chimeras in politics.
We seem beset with spellbinding hybrids with the looks of Fox News anchors, the brains of mice and the power of changing the direction of the country.
President Obama was supposed to be a giant leap forward in modernity, the brainy, rational first black president leading us out of the scientific darkness of the W. years. But by letting nutters get a foothold, he may usher us into the past.
Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, John Boehner, Jim DeMint and some Tea Party types don’t merely yearn for the country they idealize from the 1950s. They want to go back to the 1750s.
Joe Miller, the Palin-blessed Republican nominee for Senate in Alaska, suggests that Social Security is unconstitutional because it wasn’t in the Constitution. The Constitution is a dazzling document, but do these originalists really think things haven’t changed since then.
Evolution is no myth, but we may be evolving backward.