Bill Maher on his HBO television show Friday night played another clip of Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for senator from Delaware, from the 1990s. In it, she denied the evolution of human beings from other forms of life. When Bill asked her to just look at a monkey, she refuted him by asking why monkeys are not still evolving into human beings. Another guest suggests to her that ‘it takes time.’
The practical implications of O’Donnell’s nonsense should not be lost sight of. Her anti-scientific way of thinking harms education in the biological sciences, and in turn harms the prospects of American leadership in biotechnology.
Biotechnology and pharmaceuticals not only have the potential of saving millions of lives and improving tens of millions of lives, but they are becoming a significant contributor to US economic growth. The sector has grown at a time when the rest of the economy is in crisis, and it will be key to global prominence in the rest of this century. If South Korea or France outstrip the US in this area, their citizens will grow wealthy and even more of ours will fall into poverty than already have.
I checked the Delaware Development Office web site, and was unsurprised to find that it touts biotech as a significant engine of the state’s economy, and is expected to grow as such.
O’Donnell and her like would, if sent to Washington, destroy that potential faster than you could sequence a gene. A dedication to ignorance and a demonization of science are a one-way ticket to being a poor, backward country of illiterate yahoos. In other words, candidates like O’Donnell are not just quirky potential senators. They are shapers of our future in their own image.