Mark Dery on Tue, 2 Apr 2002 16:16:02 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> More on Lysenko (for those who care)

Well, at least Plant comes by her crypto-Lamarckism honestly. In their
heyday, before the Net value of the cyberguru joined Enron stock in the
cultural shredder, Barlow, Kelly and their fellow-travelers were
name-checking Lamarck right and left (in between shout-outs to the Dead and
the Deity). Really, though, there's no need to belabor the pseudo-Darwinian
fallacies that undergird arguments for technologically bootstrapped
evolution. It's forehead-slappingly obvious, as any first-year journalism
student knows, that independent scholars can't expect their scholarship to
be taken as truly independent or objective when that scholarship is funded
by a corporation interested in fodder for its marketing efforts, advertising
campaigns, and product design. The research that results may be interesting,
but value-neutral it's not.

----- Original Message -----
From: ben moretti <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, April 01, 2002 6:30 PM
Subject: <nettime> More on Lysenko (for those who care)

> Here is some more information on Lysenko, a Soviet agronomist who adopted
> Lamark's theories. His technique of vernalisation as part of wheat
> breeding was used in wheat that was sowed through Soviet collective farms,
> and of course failed, causing the inevitable Soviet rural starvation. It
> is really interesting to see the acceptance of his theories by the Soviet
> dogmatists in parallel with the attitudes of technophiles towards features
> such as SMS from mobile phones affecting thumb development as alluded to
> in my earlier post. I should also state that I am not criticising Sadie
> Plant nor anyone else directly here, it is more diffuse.
> Ben
> Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich 1898- 1976, Russian agronomist. As president of
> the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences he became the
> scientific and administrative leader of Soviet agriculture. In 1937 he was
> made a member of the Supreme Soviet and head of the Institute of Genetics
> of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He first became known for his process
> (vernalization) of moistening and refrigerating the seed of spring wheat,
> thereby reputedly imparting to it characteristics of winter wheat. He
> became the leader of the Soviet school of genetics that opposed the
> theories of heredity accepted by most geneticists and supported the
> doctrine that characteristics acquired through environmental influences
> are inherited (see acquired characteristics ). Lysenko rejected
> neo-Mendelism and was a disciple of the Russian horticulturist I. V.
> Michurin.  Lysenko's theories were offered as Marxist orthodoxy and won
> the official support (1948) of the Soviet Central Committee.  However,
> they were severely criticized after the death of Stalin in 1953, and in
> 1956 his resignation as president of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural
> Sciences was announced. In 1965 he was removed as director of the
> Institute of Genetics, which resulted in the return of Soviet biological
> thought to the mainstream of international scientific ideas. Lysenko
> stated his theories of inheritance of acquired characteristics in Heredity
> and Its Variability(1943, tr. 1946) and in The Science of Biology
> Today(1948, tr. 1948).
> Bibliography: See J. Huxley, Heredity: East and West (1949,
> repr. 1969); Z.A. Medvedev, The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko
> (tr. 1969); D. Joravsky, The Lysenko Affair (1970); V. N.
> Soyfer, Lysenko and the Tragedy of Soviet Science (1994).
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