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Trofim Lysenko

Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898-1976) came from a peasant family in the Ukraine. He was a prominent figure in the Soviet Union because of his controversial, unscientific, approach to biological science, beginning with agriculture and leading to a more general theory of heredity that rejected the existence of genes. Particularly, Lysenko insisted on the ability of different species to transform one into another. He "proved" this by planting a field of wheat and finding there several plants of rye. The real reason for this was in stray seeds of rye that found their way to the field; however in order to hide the obvious he silenced those who dared to speak against him using his connections with the Secret Police (NKVD).

Biography After World War II, the Soviet regime led by Joseph Stalin began to distance itself from Western ideas and concepts, and science was no exception. Stalin declared genetics and cybernetics to be Anti-Soviet and ideologically unfit; Lysenko was put in charge of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences of Soviet Union and made responsible for ending the propagation of these harmful ideas among Soviet scientists. He served this purpose faithfully, causing the expulsion, imprisonment and death of hundreds of scientists and the demise of genetics (a previously flourishing field) throughout the Soviet Union. Particularly, he is responsible for the death of the greatest Soviet biologist, Nikolai Vavilov[?], at the hands of the NKVD. After Stalin's death in 1953, Lysenko retained his position, enjoying a relative degree of trust from Nikita Khrushchev.

In 1962 three of the most prominent Soviet physicists, Yakov Borisovich Zel'dovich[?], Vitaly Ginzburg[?] and Peter Kapitza[?], set out against Lysenko, his false science and his policy of political extermination of scientific opponents. This happened as a part of a greater trend of fighting the ideological influence that has caused so much harm to Russian society and science. Lysenko was then dismissed by Khrushchev.

See also

  • "Lysenko came to believe that the crucial factor in determining the length of the vegetation period in a plant was not its genetic constitution, but its interaction with its environment." [1] (http://www.comms.dcu.ie/sheehanh/lysenko.htm)
  • "Under Lysenko's guidance, science was guided not by the most likely theories, backed by appropriately controlled experiments, but by the desired ideology." [2] (http://skepdic.com/lysenko)

See also : Gregor Mendel



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