Archive for January 4th, 2011

Lysenko Lesson I

Trofim Lysenko was appointed the director of the USSR’s Institute of Generics by Stalin in 1940. Like every other Communist absurdity, he has been carefully forgotten in today’s history.

Before 1914, the Ukraine had been know as The Breadbasket of Europe for centuries. After the Soviet takeover, it was a center of starvation and at the end the USSR was importing huge amounts of American wheat just to stay alive in peacetime.

How Communists managed to turn The Breadbasket of Europe into a wheat importer involves a lot of history, collective farms, Stalin‘s murder of millions of kulaks, and other things that would have to be introduced to most readers because Mommy Professor is sure as hell not going to talk about it.

One part of that history is Lysenko. The first problem is to say this so you won’t laugh.

Lysenko said that there is no such thing as genetics. He had MILLIONS of peasants planting summer wheat in winter time, in RUSSIA, because the wheat would LEARN to be winter wheat.

This was NOT an experiment. This was a Truth of Soviet orthodoxy.

Lysenko Lesson I is why this was NOT an experiment. A small scale experiment is a method of trying out a THEORY. This was NOT a THEORY. Mentioning the possibility that Lysenko’s Method would not work was the same as saying that only four million Jews died in the Holocaust in today’s Germany.

The big difference is that in modern Germany, you only get a prescribed minimum four-year sentence in a relatively comfortable prison. In the USSR if you referred to Official Soviet Genetics as a THEORY, you got ten years in Siberia that made the old chain gangs look like a vacation.

Russian peasants were already starving, but millions of them had to plant their entire summer wheat seed supply in winter time. It is likely that a lot more people died of that than six million, but nobody talks about it, so we don’t know.

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