Lysenko echoes

Trofim Lysenko was a geneticist (of sorts) who rose to become the head  of the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences, which was the broad network of plant and cattle breeders, academicians, and research facilities operating in the Soviet Union from 1929-1992. Lysenko and his ideas, now known as “Lysenkoism”, dominated the organization for 30 years, and led to the formal ban on teaching “Mendelist” genetics (i.e. real genetics) in the Soviet Union, which lasted until the 1960s.

According to Lysenko, acquired traits could be inherited. In other words, if you grafted a branch of a plant of one species onto a plant of another, you’d be creating a new hybrid plant whose characteristics would be passed on to its descendants. Or if you plucked the leafs off a plant, its descendants would be leafless. In other words, Lysenko was not a scientist at all.

Lysenkoism was very attractive to the Soviets because it was “politically correct”, a term invented by Lenin, meaning that it was consistent with the underlying Marxist view that heredity played a limited role in behavior, and that a new “breed” of citizen, a selfless Soviet Man, would be created as generations lived under socialism.  Lysenkoism also held promise for addressing the famines created by the Soviet collectivization of agriculture. And Lysenko himself had risen from the peasantry and developed his theories “practically”, i.e. without scientific experimentation. All good, right?

The control of politics over science got to the point where Stalin personally “corrected” Lysenko’s draft of his 1948 opening address to the Academy,  “On the Situation in Biological Science”.

Looking back from our advanced and enlightened 2017 perspective, we can see the absurdity of it all, and appreciate the harm it all did, not just to science and “truth”, but to the millions who might have been properly fed without it.

And we can easily see that the real problem was the  cult of personality around Stalin. That one individual had the power to say what was science and what wasn’t, and that lives could be destroyed by such a pronouncement, is the ultimate indictment of the totalitarian model. And when you add in the personal limitations of that individual – paranoia, insecurity, superstition, the willingness to embrace nonsense as fact – you know it will end in catastrophe.

Lucky for us we live in a democracy with checks and balances, where one man cannot determine what science is, and one man cannot silence dissenters with the stroke of a pen. We live in an open society where the scientific method is understood, even with the occasional Inconvenient Truth it reveals. Right?

Wrong, suckers!

Your new president has banned expressions from within any part of the federal government of thoughts on climate change that conflict with his own nutty mindset. And just to remind you what exactly that mindset is, here’s what he said in 2012:


Tweets from Badlands National Park with actual facts have now been deleted by Man-baby-fiat. Of course nothing is ever actually gone from the internet once it gets there, so, for the curious, here they are:


The Interior Department had its Twitter account shut down as well after two re-tweets regarded as unsympathetic to Trump during the inauguration. They’re back now, for the moment anyway.

Web pages about climate change, LGBT rights, civil rights and health care have disappeared from Archived Obama-era pages here.

Did we think this was possible? Could Obama or anyone else in the past have gotten away with this? Where’s Congress? Where’s the outrage? Who will say “no” to this guy? It hasn’t been a week and free speech has been happily thrown out the window.

We’ve seen the climate change denial among Republicans for years. Here’s a 2013  opinion piece from Forbes  on Lysenkoism and climate change. But it took the election of the man-baby to make all their dreams come true.

Screw facts, truth, science and the liberal elite horse they rode in on.


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