Lysenko Award, Again!

Author’s Note: This excerpt is from my weekly “Top of Mind” email, sent to subscribers every Thursday. For more content like this and to receive the full newsletter each week, sign up on Minding the Campus’s homepage. Simply go to the right side of the page, look for “SIGN UP FOR OUR WEEKLY NEWSLETTER, ‘TOP OF MIND,’” and enter your name and email.

Reporting from Swarthmore, PA—a charming spot I might just revisit for fun—I’m here to remind you about Minding the Campus’s Trofim Lysenko Award.

Tomorrow is the last day to submit nominations for the Trofim Lysenko Award! Nominate someone in academia who has suppressed academic speech and inquiry for political reasons and include a brief explanation of why they deserve consideration using this form

As I wrote last week, the award is named after the infamous Stalinist pseudoscientist Trofim Lysenko, whose rejection of Mendelian genetics and promotion of unscientific agricultural practices such as “vernalization” resulted in several famines in the Soviet Union and whose dominance in Soviet biology suppressed genetic science, denouncing classical genetics as “bourgeois pseudoscience” and persecuting many geneticists, such as Nikolai Vavilov, whose imprisonment and death marked a severe setback for biological and agricultural sciences.

The nomination portal—linked above … and here—closes tomorrow. Don’t miss out!

Image: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain


One thought on “Lysenko Award, Again!”

  1. “… suppressed genetic science, denouncing classical genetics as “bourgeois pseudoscience” and persecuting many geneticists…”

    In fairness, we must look at Lysenko in the context of his times and not ours. Born in 1898 he took power circa 1935 and held it through about 1955, with his influence declining after Stalin’s death in 1953.

    The 1920s was the heyday of the Eugenics movement, both in American academia and elsewhere. Lysenko graduated from the graduated from the secondary school of horticulture in Uman in 1921 when he was 23 years old. He may or may not have agreed with Eugenics (much as I don’t agree with what a lot of UMass teachers), he was at least exposed to it and aware of it.

    And then came a man named Hitler and his National Socialists. They were quite clear that they considered Russians (and Ukrainians which Lysenko was) to be an inferior race worthy only of extermination. One can argue if extermination of Russians was actually part of the Holocaust or not, the facts remain about how the German army treated not only captured Soviet soldiers but Ukrainian civillians — who initially viewed the Nazis as liberators.

    I’m not justifying what he did, and history shows the tragic consequences of it, but could it be possible that someone who came of age with a scientific theory that held that he, personally, should be exterminated not have the greatest of faith in said scientific theory?

    He might have “thrown the baby out with the bathwater” but if you were to reject Eugenics within the speech structure of the good Soviet citizen, might you not call it“bourgeois pseudoscience”? Remember too that would have been in Russian, written by someone’s whose first language like was Ukrainian.

    It’s been 45 years since the problems with the nuke plant at Three Mile Island. People don’t forget things and I’m wondering how much of Lysenko was him not forgetting WWII.

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