Tuesday, April 13, 2021
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Tag: academic freedom

Virginia’s Lysenko


Eighty years ago, Josef Stalin found a scientist he liked.  This was bad news for the scientists who were not so popular with the Soviet leadership.  

Trofim Lysenko, with Stalin's approval, directed the Soviet Institute of Genetics. He promoted the theory that characteristics acquired during an organism's lifetime can be passed on genetically to future generations.

This fit well with the communist objective of creating a "New Man". It did not fit quite so well with the truth.

Lysenko's theories would have been laughed out of the lab had he not found a sponsor willing and able to apply the full coercive power of government to reward those who supported Lysenko and punish those who disagreed.  Thousands of scientists suffered under Lysenko, losing their jobs and often being imprisoned.  

It takes enormous courage to "speak truth to power" when you have a tyrannically-minded leader using power to threaten the truth.  Which brings me to Ken Cuccinelli.