Genetic Heresy and the Cold War

Jan Sapp

in Genesis

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780195156195
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199790340 | DOI:
 Genetic Heresy and the Cold War

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This chapter discusses the outlawing of Mendelian genetics in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and the emergence of Lysenkoism. Led by Trofim Denisovich Lysenko and supported by the Communist Party, antigeneticists in the Soviet Union denied that the basis of heredity was in special substances such as chromosomal genes, and they asserted rather that evolutionary and agricultural advances had been achieved through the inheritance of acquired characteristics. In the West, Lysenkoism came to represent a breakdown of scientific freedom and a clamp down of political control over the beliefs of scientists and the direction of research. Historians and biologists have extended considerable effort to analyze how Lysenkoism arose and maintained its power — how dogmatism, authoritarianism, displaying how the abuse of state power can help create and sustain erroneous theories.

Keywords: Mendelian genetics; Soviet Union; Cold War; evolution; Trofim Denisovich Lysenko; Lysenkoism; heredity

Chapter.  6616 words. 

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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