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← 'In Our Time': Trofim Lysenko

'In Our Time': Trofim Lysenko - Comments

MuNky82's Avatar Comment 1 by MuNky82

I am squatting first post.

EDIT: Now that I have finished listening:

I find it depressing how arrogant and stubborn the soviet government were. You truly get a feeling from their policies that they were dogmatist and threw clear thinking out the window for the sake of politics (but then again doesn't any government?). So just because a scientist had noble or wealthy background he was ignored? Just another proof that blindly following something can cloud your judgment and cost lives and valuable resources.

That is why I am not an anti-theist but rather an anti-dogmatist.

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 09:37:00 UTC | #180314

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 2 by mordacious1


You are squating? Who gives a crap, besides you while you're squating?

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 09:53:00 UTC | #180326

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 3 by mordacious1

Anyone else having problems getting this to play?

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 10:15:00 UTC | #180340

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 4 by Richard Dawkins

Anyone else having problems getting this to play?

Try this link

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 10:27:00 UTC | #180343

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 5 by mordacious1

Thanks Richard.

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 10:40:00 UTC | #180347

aoratos philos's Avatar Comment 6 by aoratos philos

Or pop Radio 4 RSS link into your podacast manager.
"In our Time" usually wakes me up on my way to work!

It's overwritten each week so get it while you can!

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 10:53:00 UTC | #180354

gyokusai's Avatar Comment 7 by gyokusai

Fascinating. Moreover, what amazes me are these interspersed bits of information about Lysenko having at least not completely been wrong, after all.

I would really like to read/hear more about this.


Sat, 07 Jun 2008 11:06:00 UTC | #180358

Quine's Avatar Comment 8 by Quine

So many interesting things in this show, I'm going to have to limit myself.

The part about the low calorie feedback into grandchild growth stats leads to the issue of what secondary and tertiary control feedback loops exist into natural selection that we have yet to explore. I have often wondered if there are forms of environmental pressure on sperm motility (beyond the known X-Y difference) that could select by changing population gene frequencies. I could see how something like that would be expressed in grandchildren if it requires homozygous instantiation (a pair of affected grandfathers).

Another thing was the part about Stalin not allowing Einstein's equations. We should collect all these things that show that Stalin was a nut case dogmatist so we can show that, not only did Atheism have nothing to do with it, but the guy was off his rocker in a way that made him act just like the leader of a state religion.

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 11:14:00 UTC | #180363

Carole's Avatar Comment 9 by Carole

Many thanks Richard, one more great bit of audio loaded onto my ipod for a long flight to Las Vegas next week. Incidentally, we are booked to leave 2 hours after Randi's TAM starts - damn, damn, damn, one further proof there is no god...

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 12:10:00 UTC | #180373

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 10 by thewhitepearl

*hangs head in defeat*

Quicktime again? grrrrrrrrr

edit: whoo hoo an alternative link..downloading now..Thank you!

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 12:12:00 UTC | #180374

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 11 by Bonzai


Another thing was the part about Stalin not allowing Einstein's equations.

Einstein was not mentioned by name but Soviet scientists did work with his theories. Apparently in Russian physics books and papers of the era relativity was attributed to the Russian physicist Fock. Fock was a brilliant guy on his own, even though of course he didn't come up with relativity.

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 13:40:00 UTC | #180400

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 12 by mordacious1

Some people still believe in some of the things in here that we laugh at. The example, not Lysenko's, that giraffe necks are longer because they spent generations reaching for higher leaves is one. Many people today, if they didn't say goddidit, would assume this is true, knowing nothing of Natural Selection. Sad comment on our schools.

Lysenko would bury sacks of wheat seed in the snow to create a winter wheat. Typical of this guy's thinking. Typical of what happens when you mute peer review, in this case with the threat of a bullet to the head. Also typical of what happens when you have leaders, that know nothing of science, making the decisions over those who do. In this case people starved to death. In our case people remain paralyzed or die of Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 13:55:00 UTC | #180401

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 13 by phil rimmer

I adored the two failures to prove the Lamarckian adaptive principle of evolution-

1) The British farmers wife, sorry, scientist who cut of the tails of mice to try and create a breed of tail-less mice.

2) The failed 2,000-plus year old Jewish experiment of a similar nature.

(Hitch is probably right to call time on this one.)

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 15:20:00 UTC | #180405

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 14 by justinesaracen

Phil -- damn you. Now I have to go and get a sponge and wipe the coffee splatter off my computer screen.

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 23:24:00 UTC | #180451

ivellios's Avatar Comment 15 by ivellios

This support was a consequence, in part, of policies put in place by Communist party personnel to rapidly promote members of the proletariat into leadership positions in agriculture, science and industry.

If you look up Lysenko and Lysenkoism in Wikipedia, am I not the only one who can draw a parallel to modern creationists?

Bypass true science and put forth unproven concepts based on what they want the outcome to be.

Scary times repeating itself.

Sun, 08 Jun 2008 06:46:00 UTC | #180500

82abhilash's Avatar Comment 16 by 82abhilash

Lysenko is to Communism what Kent Hovind is to Christianity, except Kent Hovind is in Jail. To the world of science they are both very similar, except Lysenko more power.

Imagine where we would be if Kent Hovind and his 'Creation Scientists' where in the White House and his team was the science advisory board for the President and the President was George W. Bush! What a nightmare that would have been.

Sun, 08 Jun 2008 09:42:00 UTC | #180559

Jiten's Avatar Comment 17 by Jiten

J B S Haldane went along with Lysenko's work? He should have known better. I suppose everyone has some things they wish to be true and are led to believe them.

Sun, 08 Jun 2008 11:20:00 UTC | #180606

SOAS's Avatar Comment 18 by SOAS

Radio 4 is easily worth the license fee by itself.

The website has loads of interesting programs on religion science etc..( not to mention the comedy). These can be replayed..

Couldn't resist ""spreading the good news""" :-))

Mon, 09 Jun 2008 03:45:00 UTC | #180905

Misha Vargas's Avatar Comment 19 by Misha Vargas

I do like hearing about Lysenko. I think it's something to do with the natural karmic destruction unleash'd upon a pseudo-scientific plan and a system which does not allow for free inquiry.

Ah, the schadenfreude is strong in me. (Though sadly, Stalin and Mao were not the ones most directly affected by Lysenkoism.)

An out-of-context quote:

"In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments -- there are consequences." - Robert G. "Big Bob" Ingersoll

Mon, 09 Jun 2008 05:21:00 UTC | #180935

jdbartlett's Avatar Comment 20 by jdbartlett

I found this really fascinating:

At the end of the Second World War, there was a great famine in Holland and many pregnant women and their babies were poorly nourished, and when they grew up, they were small. That seems obvious, not very exciting. But their grandchildren were small, too. And we now know that wasn't just because of difference in size of the mothers; it has to do with the DNA. Some extraordinary results have come out of Sweden in the last few weeks, where they have very good records of good and bad agricultural years going back to 1800. It turns out, if you look at grandfathers, children, and grandsons--tens of thousands of people--grandfathers who grew up at times of famine had sons no different from anybody else, but their grandsons and not their granddaughters are very good at dealing with shortage of food. So somehow the DNA has been marked by this environmental experience; to ready itself almost for the expectation that food will be short in the next generation but one. Now that's... bizarre, it sounds Lysenkoist, but the evidence is overwhelming.

I haven't heard of anything like this before and it kinda weirded me out. As mordacious1 pointed out, its' very different from the evolutionary mechanisms we've observed thus far. Would anyone with more experience care to speculate? Perhaps this is something that affects "higher level" organisms? Just an idea.

Mon, 09 Jun 2008 11:32:00 UTC | #181189

Ascaphus's Avatar Comment 21 by Ascaphus

Well I haven't a clue what quine is talking about with 'tertiary feedback loops' into natural selection, but I'm with gyokusai, the innuendo that genes can respond to the environment, can be "marked" as the host put it, and can delay or alternate generations with the phenotypic expression is what caught my attention. I'm a skeptic. Either somebody misread the intent of some research, or there's something fishy in Denmark. Does anybody have a reference to this paper, so I don't have to do my homework?


Mon, 09 Jun 2008 11:41:00 UTC | #181192

jdbartlett's Avatar Comment 22 by jdbartlett

I found some more information on the Swedish families:,2633,n,n

I don't have time to read it through at the moment, but maybe this article will help anyone else similarly "stumbled".

Mon, 09 Jun 2008 12:02:00 UTC | #181207

Ascaphus's Avatar Comment 23 by Ascaphus

Thanks for the link. If this article for general audiences is any indication, skepticism is justified.


Mon, 09 Jun 2008 12:24:00 UTC | #181218

carbonbasedlifeform's Avatar Comment 24 by carbonbasedlifeform

Funnily enough, I first heard of Lysenko in chapter two of "The Day of the Triffids", one of my favourite books. The book seemed to be suggesting that triffids were the result of Lysenko's outlandish experiments. According to Carl Sagan, Lysenko is the reason why Russia is so backward in biology and genetics today.

Tue, 10 Jun 2008 19:00:00 UTC | #181847

errm...'s Avatar Comment 25 by errm...

There's a reference to Lysenko in "The Blind Watchmaker"("Second-rate plant-breeder"), a chapter in Gardner's "Fad's and Fallacies in the name of science" and I've just received Nils Roll-Hansen's "The Lysenko Effect" which looks very promising, so there's plenty of good reading on this subject. I believe that Steve Jones referred to the 'Swedish Effect' in "The Language of the Genes" but can't get at my copy... too many books!

Thu, 12 Jun 2008 09:02:00 UTC | #182407

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 26 by Bonzai

I know of Lysenko because even long after he was discredited in the East Bloc he was still revered in China. I used to hang out in old book stores as a teenager. In the 1990's I found not so old old Chinese books published in the 70's and early 80's which still spoke highly of the guy. To be fair, these are not biology textbooks, but mostly stuffs on "philosophy of science" or "scientific materialism"

Thu, 12 Jun 2008 09:07:00 UTC | #182410