Watch: Chris Hayes Defends Study of Duck Penises Against Right-Wing Onslaught

On his new show last night, Chris Hayes took on the right wing’s long-running assault on government-funded research. The MSNBC host pointed to a recent strand of conservative Web content deriding a Yale University study of duck genitalia. One of the study’s authors, Patricia Brennan, defended her work on Slate, saying her research on the influence of male ducks on genital morphology “is grounded in solid theory” and has “moved science forward.”


Hayes joined the defense, noting that, “The attack on Brennan’s work is just the latest example of a tried and true tradition of right wing attacks on government-funded research … [they] relish finding examples of research projects they can hold up for ignorant mockery.”

He pointed to Bobby Jindal’s 2009 State of the Union response, where the Louisiana Governor chided the federal government for doing volcano monitoring research—just months before a volcano erupted in Alsaka.

“The persistent and repetitive attacks, as idiotic as they seem, have a real destructive effect,” Hayes said, “This is what’s happening to basic research funding: it’s getting cut.”

The host noted that sequestration, cheered on by Republicans, drastically cut funds from the National Science Foundation, National Institute for Health and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Hayes ended his segment saluting the beauty of basic research and academic exploration. He told the story of Chris Thomas, a British lepidopterist, whose research on butterflies’ migration patterns led to huge implications for climate change science.

“That is the beauty and genius of research,” Hayes concluded, “You do not know what benefits it will provide. And so we do not know right now just what breathtaking vestiges of knowledge we are losing with each cuts.”

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