The Soviet Era’s Deadliest Scientist Is Regaining Popularity in Russia
Trofim Lysenko’s spurious research prolonged famines that killed millions. So why is a fringe movement praising his legacy?
Wheat, rye, potatoes, beets—most everything grown according to Lysenko’s methods died or rotted, says Hungry Ghosts. Stalin still deserves the bulk of the blame for the famines, which killed at least 7 million people, but Lysenko’s practices prolonged and exacerbated the food shortages. (Deaths from the famines peaked around 1932 to 1933, but four years later, after a 163-fold increase in farmland cultivated using Lysenko’s methods, food production was actually lower than before.) The Soviet Union’s allies suffered under Lysenkoism, too. Communist China adopted his methods in the late 1950s and endured even bigger famines. Peasants were reduced to eating tree bark and bird droppings and the occasional family member. At least 30 million died of starvation.
Lysenko’s grip on power began to weaken after Stalin died in 1953. By 1964, he’d been deposed as the dictator of Soviet biology, and he died in 1976 without regaining any influence. His portrait did continue to hang in some institutes through the Gorbachev years, but by the 1990s, the country had finally put the horror and shame of Lysenkoism behind it.
Until recently. As the new Current Biology article explains, Lysenko has enjoyed a renaissance in Russia over the past few years. Several books and papers praising his legacy have appeared, bolstered by what the article calls “a quirky coalition of Russian right-wingers, Stalinists, a few qualified scientists, and even the Orthodox Church.”
There are several reasons for this renewal. For one, the hot new field of epigenetics has made Lysenko-like ideas fashionable. Most living things have thousands of genes, but not all those genes are active at once. Some get turned on or off inside cells, or have their volumes turned up or down. The study of these changes in “gene expression” is called epigenetics. And it just so happens that environmental cues are often what turn genes on or off. In certain cases, these environmentally driven changes can even pass from parent to child—just like Lysenko claimed.
Abstract.Recent studies have shown that many results published in peer-reviewed scientific journals are not reproducible. This raises the following question: why is it so easy to fool myself into believing that a result is reliable when in fact it is not? Using Brownian motion as a toy model, we show how this can happen if ergodicity is assumed where it is unwarranted. A measured value can appear stable when judged over time,although it is not stable across the ensemble: a different result will be obtained each time the experiment is run.
just for fun.
Anyone want to defend these laws?
Anyone surprised at the number of Western countries that still have blasphemy laws on the books?
Do any of the skeptics of skepticism think there is an alternative to science in medicine or engineering?
When confronted with unexplained mysteries, is incredulity a better stance than parsimony?
Is the invisible hand that constructs complex systems Adam Smith’s, or the hand of a deity?
Is nature regular or subject to caprice?
ID is like the old locked room mysteries.
Scenario: Mr Body is found in a locked room with two bullet wounds in the back of his head. Lethal weapon found in his hand.
All the people known to profit from his death have airtight alibis. Security cameras show no one entering the room after Mr Body enters.
Only Mr Body’s fingerprints are found on the gun.
2. Magic or Divine Intervention?
3. Space Aliens having unknown technology?
4. Something else?
Interestingly, number one has actually been put forward in at least one actual, recent case.
If we substitute biogenesis for Mr Body’s death, ID proponents assume number two or number three.
If we substitute evolution for Mr Body’s Death, then Michael Behe and Mendel’s Accountant proponents assume number two or number three.
What do you guys think? What assumption do you think is most reasonable? I’m not asking what really happened. I’m asking what is the first working hypothesis that comes to mind?
Any sufficiently convoluted explanation for biological phenomena is indistinguishable from epigenetics.
The Imprinter of All Maladies
Use of the word “epigenetics” over time
Even on his birthday, don’t say Darwin unless you mean it
How Darwin’s name is taken in vain, with mini-reviews of some of the worst offenders
Don’t say Darwin unless you mean it. Above all, don’t say “Darwin” when you mean “evolution”. It’s like saying “Dalton” when you mean atoms. Our understanding of atoms has moved on enormously since Dalton’s time, and our understanding of evolution has moved on similarly since Darwin’s. Neither of them knew, or could have known, the first thing regarding what they were talking about, and both would be delighted at how thoroughly their own work has been superseded. (Dalton of course deserves further discussion in his own right, which I will be providing in a few weeks time.)
From John Dalton’s A New System of Chemical Philosophy (1808)
Imagine if a lot of people decided that atomic theory was against their religion. We would see a parallel world of sacred science, in which molecules were “intelligently constructed”, and real chemistry would be referred to as Daltonism, or possibly, these days, neo-Daltonism. The scientific dissidents from Daltonism would invoke Dalton’s name on every possible occasion, and draw attention to the many inadequacies of atomic theory as he presented it in 1808.
consilience. : the linking together of principles from different disciplines especially when forming a comprehensive theory.
contextomy. : an informal fallacy and a type of false attribution in which a passage is removed from its surrounding matter in such a way as to distort its intended meaning. Quote mining.
excilience. : the linking together of Contextomies from different disciplines especially when forming a comprehensive theory. Thought mining.
The Quote Mine Project provides excellent examples of contextomy. Uncommondescent provides excellent examples of excilience.
The practices lend themselves to all kinds of humorous incongruities. Among them are:
1. free will vs predestination
2. deism vs interventionism (Michael Denton vs Michael Behe)
3. front loading vs twiddling (Mike Gene vs gpuccio, etc.)
4. ascentism vs degenerationism (Chardin vs Sanford)
5. old earth vs young earth
6. realism vs last thursdayism
7. biblical literalism vs inspirationism
There are probably a lot more, but these come up frequently. The humor comes from observing that the armies of ID clash by night, without ever mentioning or discussing their differences and their contradictory assumptions and conclusions.
Food for discussion.
A working version of FMM’s design detection game is available.
Download and install the applicable version of “Processing”.
Get the fifthmonarchyman progam code from here, and paste it into the Processing script area.
Sample data here
You need two files in the same folder as the Processing executable.
real.txt and fake.txt
The testing and such starts here Continue reading
New tools could allow scientists to discover other fossils that significantly predate the start of the Cambrian explosion, according to David Bottjer, a professor at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and co-author of a study announcing the finding of the sponge in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Fundamental traits in sponges were not suddenly appearing in the Cambrian Period, which is when many think these traits were evolving, but many million years earlier,” Bottjer said. “To reveal these types of findings, you have to use pretty high-tech approaches and work with the best people around the world.”
Physicists typically think they “need philosophers and historians of science like birds need ornithologists,” the Nobel laureate David Gross told a roomful of philosophers, historians and physicists last week in Munich, Germany, paraphrasing Richard Feynman.
The crisis, as Ellis and Silk tell it, is the wildly speculative nature of modern physics theories, which they say reflects a dangerous departure from the scientific method. Many of today’s theorists — chief among them the proponents of string theory and the multiverse hypothesis — appear convinced of their ideas on the grounds that they are beautiful or logically compelling, despite the impossibility of testing them. Ellis and Silk accused these theorists of “moving the goalposts” of science and blurring the line between physics and pseudoscience. “The imprimatur of science should be awarded only to a theory that is testable,” Ellis and Silk wrote, thereby disqualifying most of the leading theories of the past 40 years. “Only then can we defend science from attack.”
Having studied Darwinism for over 20 years, I can tell you what it posits. Therefore, when I attack it, I am attacking the actual thing, not some distortion of the thing that exists nowhere but my own mind.
Good grief Zach do you have no shame? Do you seriously believe you can get away with saying that Darwin believed stasis is more typical than change and not his own words when he wrote infinitely many fine gradations between past and present species [are] required on the theory.
It is a more important consideration, clearly leading to the same result, as lately insisted on by Dr. Falconer, namely, that the periods during which species have been undergoing modification, though very long as measured by years, have probably been short in comparison with the periods during which these same species remained without undergoing any change. We may infer that this has been the case, from there being no inherent tendency in organic beings to become modified or to progress in structure, and from all modifications depending, firstly on long-continued variability, and secondly on changes in the physical conditions of life, or on changes in the habits and structure of competing species, or on the immigration of new forms; and such contingencies will supervene in most cases only after long intervals of time and at a slow rate. These changes, moreover, in the organic and inorganic conditions of life will affect only a limited number of the inhabitants of any one area or country.
Darwin, Origin of Species, 1866. p. 359
20 years of study, and nothing learned. Pathetic.
Lots of heat surrounding this question.
My take is that a code must be a system for conveying meaning.
In my view, an essential feature of a code is that it must be abstract and and able to convey novel messages.
DNA fails at he level of abstraction. Whatever “meaning” it conveys cannot be translated into any medium other than chemistry. And not just any abstract chemistry, but the chemistry of this universe.
Without implementing in chemistry, it is impossible to read a DNA message. One cannot predict what a novel DNA string will do.
DNA is a template, not a code.
Go to it.
They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with… geometric logic… that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist, and I’d have produced that key if they hadn’t of pulled the Caine out of action. I, I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow office
For some of us old farts Captain Queeg is a symbol of reasonableness over reason.
For me, he is the patron saint of cranks, and a crank is someone who employs geometric logic in the service of silly axioms and premises.
Queeg is, for me, the archetype of someone who thinks great arguments are settled by reason.
My own thought is that if theology and philosophy could be decided by reason, the great debates would have been settled long ago.
My thought is that theologies and philosophies go in and out of fashion over time. Some rise in favor because they are useful and productive, but most just drift.
Over time, ideas gain or lose market share, but seldom die out altogether or become universal.
I’m sure there’s a name for this.