Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Situation in Biological Science

Got a copy at the Trades Hall booksale of The Situation in Biological Science, a Verbatim Report of the Proceedings of the Lenin Academy July 31st-August 7th, 1948 - the final triumph of the Lysenkoites. I was going to scan some of it in, but I see Google Books already has scanned it - but won't release it on copyright grounds, which sounds very odd indeed.
On the first day, a speech by Lysenko puffing Lamark. Over the next couple of days, more Lamarkia and some testy argument in response from Mendelians such as Zhukovsky.
On the laast day, Lysenko comes to the podium:
The question is asked in one of the notes handed to me, What is the attitude of the Central Committee of the Party to my report? I answer: the Central Committee of the Party has examined my report and approved it. (Stormy applause. Ovation. All rise.)

Closely followed by Academician P.M. Zhukovsy.
Comrades, late yesterday evening I decided to make this statement.
There are moments in a man's life, especially in our historic days, which are to him of profound moral and political significance. That is what I experienced yesterday and today.
Academician Lobanov's noteworthy speech yesterday moved me deeply. A sleepless night helped me think over my behaviour.
The speech I made the day before yesterday was an unhappy one: it was the last of my speeches against Michurin... my last speech from an incorrect biological and ideological standpoint.... unworthy of a member of the Communist Party and of a Soviet scientist.

Apparently Stalin had read over Lysenko's speech and revised it in detail.
The odd thing isn't that the Mendelians recanted, the odd thing is that there was anybody left in July 1948 who was prepared to stand up for Mendel in public; even before the Central Committee edict it was hideously dangerous to oppose Lysenko, and most of the Mendelian geneticists were already dead or disgraced. Lysenko was just rubbing their noses in it.

1 comment:

Adelaide Dupont said...

What a mean man!

And how very unscientific too.

(it probably happens in Western societies or in China. Certainly not unique to the Soviets in that time or that place).

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