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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 7, 2004 04:51 PM

So, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes that America is heading back to the Dark Ages, as the Bush Administration rushes to replace science with religion:

W.’s presidency rushes backward, stifling possibilities, stirring intolerance, confusing church with state, blowing off the world, replacing science with religion, and facts with faith. We’re entering another dark age, more creationist than cutting edge, more premodern than postmodern. Instead of leading America to an exciting new reality, the Bushies cocoon in a scary, paranoid, regressive reality. Their new health care plan will probably be a return to leeches.


That comment about leeches is supposed to be a snort line at the expense of us religious Neanderthals. But the joke is on Dowd. The hard science bureaucrats at the FDA recently granted approval for leeches as medical devices:

WASHINGTON – The government has lent its seal of approval to marketing an age-old medical device — leeches.

The Food and Drug Administration said Monday that Ricarimpex SAS, a French firm, is the first company to request and receive FDA clearance to market the bloodsucking aquatic animals as medical devices.

Leeches are already widely used in American hospitals, and companies that raised and sold them here before 1976 were allowed to continue doing so. However, the medical device law passed that year required newcomers to the field to seek approval.

For many people, leeches conjure up the image of Humphrey Bogart removing the bloodsuckers from his legs in African Queen, but FDA reports that leeches can help heal skin grafts by removing blood pooled under the graft and restore blood circulation in blocked veins by removing pooled blood.

Indeed the use of leeches to draw blood goes back thousands of years. They were widely used as an alternative treatment to bloodletting and amputation for several thousand years. Leeches reached their height of medicinal use in the mid-1800s.

FDA noted that today they are used in medicine throughout the world as tools in skin grafts and reattachment surgery.

Sometimes what seems like “rushing backward” actually represents scientific progress.

As for Dowd’s main point–that Republicans are more hostile than Democrats to scientific progress?

Click here to take a quiz comparing the statements of former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore and the Unabomber.

Click here, here and here for columns on the Luddite radicals in the animal rights terrorism and eco-terrorism movements.

And here’s Orrin Judd’s concise comment on the matter:

Here’s as good a definition of the difference between conservatism and liberalism as you’re likely to find: liberals can’t comprehend that leeches work, because we’ve used them for thousands of years, but they do think that Christopher Reeve would be walking around today if only they sacrificed enough lives at the altar of Stem Cell Research. And they think we’re the fanatics.

At the risk of sounding like an anti-science evangelical: Amen.

Update: A blogger in Brussels catches Belgian liberal elitists voicing Dowd-like contempt for religious Americans.

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