The persecution of genetics: Lysenkoism
Perhaps now genetics is what it should be, namely a full-fledged scientific discipline that plays a vital role in medicine, agriculture, genetic engineering and even production, but before it was a bit different.
Before and after the great Patriotic war in genetics in Russia was the unenviable fate. If at the beginning of the twentieth century it was even promoted as new and innovative discipline in the period of Stalin’s power genetics was taboo.
The persecution of geneticists began in the 30-ies. At that time there were two unequal strength of the camp, and genetics were much less strong in the new reality. On their side was science, sound arguments, arguments and scientific papers, which were written over the years. Scientists suggested experimentally confirm their point of view to throw off any possible suspicion.
But the world was different, and the attacks on scientists were not rational. Their opponents, the head of which was Trofim Lysenko, used in the discussions just images and politically motivated. For example, they said that the Soviet people can not be hereditary diseases, and genetics is an invention of the Nazis, and its popularization will lead to fascism.
Lysenko said that there can be a certain substance of heredity, he believed that heredity has a whole body, and genes are all made up, because they had not seen. Special absurd is that this «academic» believed that education can help to mutate properly, and heredity can change for the better.
Political partisanship was very evident in these disputes. Lysenko used different labels in order to attack real science and scientists. When geneticists relied on foreign scientists in their writings, they immediately became «Yes-men to foreign influence,» the laws of Mendel, the Austrian biologist, who discovered the laws of inheritance of monogenic traits – called «pea laws». Supporters of Lysenko was laughing at how genetics experiment on fruit flies (these flies, which are often used for experiments due to their fast reproduction), considering that it is necessary to experiment on cows, sheep, chickens. And flies is a waste of national resources.
But all were not so easy. Mutual insults for us is the norm. They are on the Internet, on the street and at home. But scientists had much worse. The first victim was the scientist S. S. Chetverikov: through the organization of seminars on genetics, he was dismissed from the Institute and exiled from Moscow to Sverdlovsk. It was a very good result for him, because after the scientists had not escaped so easily. In 1937 was arrested many representatives of genetics, among them were G. A. Nadson, who died in custody after he was arrested he himself.And. Vavilov, an outstanding scientist-geneticist, botanist and plant breeder. He was sentenced to death, but the shooting was replaced by 20 years imprisonment, which was equivalent to death. He died in 1943 in Saratov prison from exhaustion. Then he was arrested by G. D. Karpechenko, G. A. Levitsky, who also died in prison. It’s funny, but the Second world war gave a respite to scientists, they forgot for a while, but then resumed the persecution again.
It was a period that was called «Lysenkoism». Lysenko himself was a figure very interesting, lined various state awards, ranks and titles. He founded a pseudo-direction in biology – Michurinskaya agrobiologia that the famous breeder Michurin relationship almost does not have any, since he was long dead. Lysenko initiated all the persecutions, many of which ended in death, and slowed down a huge reservoir of domestic science.
How did it all happen? It’s simple: friendship with the dictator who helped him. Trofim had their share of power in the government, he was Deputy Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 1937 to 1950. Became known thanks to the technique of «vernalization,» which was allegedly invented by him, but in fact was known for a long time, at least since 1854. This and his friendship with Stalin and gave him into the hands of a large enough power.
But when the leader dies and the cult becomes less significant and is being criticized, even among the party leadership, the authority of the quack is on the decline. The Lysenko school is gradually losing its importance, and in 1970 he became the recognized pseudo-scientific doctrine.
Of great importance in this matter was played by the concern of the scientific community of the USSR in the defeat of genetics. Powerful support was provided by the nuclear scientists together with biologists and other experts were initiated in 1955, the famous «letter of three hundred», in which the most outstanding men of science urged to open a discussion on restoration of reputation and studies in the field of genetics. At first everything went bad, and new institutions that are open to this discipline, often subjected to inspections, to closing. But they survived and were able to continue their activities.
Legacy «Lysenkovshina» almost nothing left, although in France an annual prize is awarded by Lysenko, which in its essence is antinegro. Its wording reads as follows: «the Author or person who works or activities have made exemplary contributions to the misinformation in science or history, using the ideological methods and arguments».
Such a struggle in the scientific community have spawned many of his characters. For example, the famous saying by I. A. Rapoport, which could not just be executed, because he was the hero of the just ended war. He was forced to publicly renounce the chromosome theory, referring to Molotov’s speech, to which he replied that he is better versed in genetics than hammers. At that time it was a manifestation of courage, a scientist escaped with only an exception of party and dismissal from the Institute. Surely there are other people who are adequately met «Lysenkova,» not having any guarantee that they are not executed. Surprisingly, in this period formed the main schools of this discipline, despite the fact that they existed almost underground.
A rather dark milestone in the history, isn’t it? Especially in a state that has publicly put at the forefront of scientific approach. Although we all know that the word is one thing and business is another. And we need to take away from this story its conclusion. Is it possible now? Not will any modern «Lysenko», which is exactly the same will smash, for example, psychology, surgery, or, again, genetics? Refuse our modern scientific community from their views, if over their heads will be hanging the weight of the conclusion, or show courage? Sometimes the world changes very quickly, so do not deny the possibility that this might happen again.