Biography of Famous Russian Scientist T.D. Lysenko Part 1

About the famous Russian scientist T.D. Lysenko, biography and history of the man.

T. D. LYSENKO (1898- ).

For nearly 30 years Soviet science was headed by an uneducated, fanatical fake. This man had absolute control over a vast segment of Russia's research in genetics, biology, agriculture, and related fields.

Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was a farmer's son who attended a meeting at Leningrad in 1929. He wanted to tell of his experiments in growing winter peas to precede a cotton crop--a discovery he felt was sensational. It wasn't. The idea was old.

He was ignored by everyone except a news-paperman who saw a good story. The journalist wrote: "Lysenko gives one the feeling of a toothache. He has a dejected mien. Since he is stingy of words, all one remembers is his sullen look creeping along the earth as if he were ready to do someone in." Lysenko returned home bitter.

A year later, Lysenko's father sowed grain in winter and got a yield in the spring. When Lysenko heard of this he immediately claimed credit for the idea and said it was proof of his own agricultural "theories." He bragged loudly and incessantly. It paid off. He landed a job at the Odessa Institute of Genetics and Breeding. Since winter crops ordinarily were poor, Lysenko was put in charge of a special department to study this problem.

He refuted all established scientific theories. Mendel, Pasteur, and the rest didn't know anything. He, Lysenko, had the real answers. Even the universities, he insisted, were teaching drivel. Since Lysenko was uneducated, it was easier to scorn others than to admit he didn't know what they were talking about.

In 1935, he went to a meeting of representatives from collective farms and gave a talk, the gist of which was that those who didn't agree with his ideas were enemies of the people. He transformed his agricultural report into a political harangue. As luck would have it, Stalin himself was in the audience, and afterward he commented, "Bravo, Comrade Lysenko!" That did it. Lysenko was assumed to be a Stalin protege. The press now called him a "genius" of the soil.

Meanwhile Lysenko had become friendly with I. I. Prezent, a man who knew all the sordid uses of public relations. Under his direction Lysenko refined the technique of charging those who ridiculed his ideas with being enemies of the proletariat. In time, many of the outstanding Russian scientists were not only removed from their positions but they were jailed or liquidated. Lysenko quickly stepped into the vacuum each time, moving ever upward--Comrade Prezent always at his side.

Soon Lysenko had a collection of followers. They were given degrees and titles and top jobs. Gradually, Lysenko and his friends controlled nearly every important position in the scientific establishment, as well as the editorial boards of newspapers and magazines.

After W.W. II, it became apparent that biology, and especially genetics, had developed tremendously elsewhere in the world. Lysenko dismissed these reports, pointing with pride to his own achievements: his prize herd of cows, bred according to his own theories; his experimental trees that would grow in barren country; and the many plans he had for future record crops of wheat, beets, and potatoes. Anyone who advocated trying new ideas taken from capitalistic countries was clearly a reactionary.

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