Harping on Palin's gaffes is getting old, but this one is worth a look ...
First: what everyone else said.
But I disagree with the view that she committed a "gaffe" here. She said exactly what she intended to say. There was no slip of the tongue here. By all indications of the video, she was making prepared remarks. It was fully her intention to present herself as disdainful of "scientists" who would rather study "fruit flies (!!??)" -- in "France", no less! -- than actual humans (your loved ones!) who are really suffering (I feel your pain!).
Clearly, her comment betrays her ignorance (and, more damagingly, her insolence) to the scientifically minded public. Of course this is not something she's particularly concerned about, since as Nanochick's comment suggests, the McCain/Palin ticket long ago lost any hope of earning the scientist's vote.
Their strategies are motivated by superficial emotional pandering, not by rational, well-reasoned argument. Considering the present situation, it's doubtful whether this comment caused any of Palin's remaining supporters to change their mind, turn away, and decide to vote for Obama/Biden. And it's conceivable that her comment, by conveying the (factually invalid but emtionally truthy) impression that she Cares About Them, still managed to secure the votes of some people in her target audience. Ultimately it matters little to the vote that these tactics lead Obama's supporters to lose more respect for her. Respect is like an unsigned value. Once it reaches zero, you can't have any less of it.
For McCain/Palin, the days of inclusive outreach are long gone. At this point it's about trying to minimize further defections. The weapons of choice are fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
RE: Palin's comment on science research....