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Bloggingheads 05-31-2008 11:09 AM

Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin

Happy Hominid 05-31-2008 01:18 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
Lysenko - The only reason he's not an historical hero to the Bush Administration and the Religious Right is that he was a godless commie.

bjkeefe 05-31-2008 01:40 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin

Originally Posted by Happy Hominid (Post 79147)
Lysenko - The only reason he's not an historical hero to the Bush Administration and the Religious Right is that he was a godless commie.

I, too, could not help but think of the many parallels between Stalin and the Bush Administration as regards ideology trumping science. I know that Carl likes to keep current politics out of his conversations, and I also note Peter's preference for staking out the middle ground, but I do not think it would have been asking too much for them at least to have noted this. Perhaps they felt it was so obvious that they did not need to belabor it, or perhaps Carl, at least, felt his SciBlog/ colleague, Chris Mooney, owns this turf.*

Still, though, Carl and Peter -- if you're reading this, I think it does not hurt to remind people of things of this importance. Actually, I think it hurts not to remind people of this. We have had eight years where a fundamentalist religious viewpoint held sway over many branches of the government that should have been science-driven. Even given the overall impression of disaster that almost everyone agrees is the Bush Administration, I remind you that the current crop of candidates declined to participate in a science debate during this campaign, even the Democrats. Meanwhile, three Republican candidates were proud to admit on national television that they did not believe in evolution.

Well, I'll hop off my soapbox. A great diavlog overall. I look forward to reading Peter's book.

* Note: new excerpt available

wrhamblen 05-31-2008 02:09 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
One thing about the Great Terror is that Stalin jailed nearly all Soviet citizens who had ever traveled abroad. Vavilov would have been in danger, regardless of Lysenko, simply because Vavilov had traveled so extensively outside the USSR.

Happy Hominid 05-31-2008 02:23 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
Come on, Brendan. Who needs meteorology when Pat Robertson, John Hagee and the late Falwell can all explain the cause of hurricanes and why they strike in particular places? McCain - 4 MORE YEARS!

Happy Hominid 05-31-2008 02:25 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
Perhaps true, but there is plenty of evidence that Lysenko envied and despised Vavilov. There were people who traveled outside the country and lived. Vavilov did not.

ogieogie 05-31-2008 04:55 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
I'm currently reading Carl's book. It's every bit as good as everyone's been saying it is. Extraordinarily good, that is.

Eastwest 05-31-2008 05:56 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
Another great science DV with marvelous insights into the sanities and insanities of the human species.

Thanks to both for a fine discussion.


fedorovingtonboop 05-31-2008 08:30 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
carl: you are good

uncle ebeneezer 06-01-2008 12:49 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
As much as we all get wound up in arguing about Obama/Hillary/McCain, Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative etc. during the week, Sci Saturday is always like the much needed cleansing that appeals to us all and brings us to an astonishing amount of harmony even with all our different beliefs and points of view. I always look forward to it. Kudos to Carl, John, George and all the other participants, and of course to Bob for putting it all together and sticking with it in times of low (zero) revenue. When I watch Si Sat it really re-inforces how unique this site is and all of the people who participate and comment on it. Here's to everybody!!

Now if I could only find the time to read all the books that BHTV (Sci Sat especially) has turned me onto. I doubt I will EVER catch up.

sharkdog 06-01-2008 04:43 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin

Originally Posted by Happy Hominid (Post 79147)
Lysenko - The only reason he's not an historical hero to the Bush Administration and the Religious Right is that he was a godless commie.

You lefties have a long history of endorsing Godless commies. In the 30,s and 40's Joseph Stalin was very popular in left wing circles. I'm sure Lysenko would have been welcomed here by such people, if he ever chose to visit. The soviet Union was and is the left's baby, not the right's.

Baltimoron 06-01-2008 07:41 AM

Bored of the Selection
Although I enjoyed the historical angle of this diavlog, the latter segments on crop variety and GM food offered the most topical discussions.

Yesterday I read that molten salts might allow for more efficient processing of switchgrass and wood for biofuel. And, in Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond points out that Native Americans in the Northeast initially domesticated squash, sunflower, sumpweed, and goosefoot Diamond, GGG, 2003, p. 150). The Mexican trio of corn, beans, and squash replaced this founding quartet. Diamond argues that ancient farmers would have attempted to domesticate flora and fauna, and that modern people should not doubt their wisdom. However, after listening to Zimmer and Pringle (non-scientists, mind you), I wonder if Diamond was a bit premature about the finality of the current food choices. Might it be possible to modify crops to domesticate and also to render easier to convert to biofuel?

I would be interested to know if anyone, including the 'heads has any information on that.

harkin 06-01-2008 08:01 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin

The Soviet Union was and is the left's baby, not the right's.
I didn't think Science Saturday would start off with the usual suspects comparing the Bush admmin to a tyrannical regime that murdered millions of its own citizens (by many devices but including the disasterous collectivization of farmland).

Will save the laughter for another day; interesting discussion. I wonder if my mail-order organic seeds are also part of the small grouping Peter Mentions.

Anybody remember atomic seeds (from the 60's)? I tried googling them but all I get is the stoner friends chronic network.

bjkeefe 06-01-2008 11:36 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin

Originally Posted by harkin (Post 79185)
Will save the laughter for another day; ...

... too wrapped up in denial at the moment.

Whatfur 06-01-2008 11:55 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
A few years ago I drove across Nebraska to bring some furniture to my son who was in Golden, CO achieving his EE degree and after doing so vowed to never drive across Nebraska again (sorry, with all the options the U.S. has to offer I cannot understand anyone living in Nebraska...even the roadkill I felt looked like suicides)

In any case, on my way back (via Rapid City), I was heading North out of Denver in bumper to bumper traffic. Wanting to fill up on gas to start my trip; I approached the exit ramp at Fort Collins and I noticed a rather large Native American hitching a ride and having very little success in spite of the heavy traffic. After filling up, and getting a quick bite to eat I was merging back onto the highway, 20 minutes or so later, only to notice that the hitchhiker had progressed only the distance from the highway exit to the highway entrance and I decided that if I did not pick him up, no one would. There was admittedly some additional apprehension when I pulled over and saw him shuffling quickly up to my truck in my side mirror as besides validating his size; the long scar across his cheek was a bit disconcerting. Rolling down the power window and letting the 90+ degree heat invade my air-conditioned comfort, Seven Thunders (as I came to know him) stuck his sweaty head in the window and then took a bit of a stumbling step back causing me to say "What?" ...and with a look of feigned wonderment he said "Your colors are very intense!" to which I responded with less than feigned disbelief and impatience, "Yeah, right...where you going?. He answered "Rapid City" to which I responded "This is your lucky day, hop in". Which he did. So for the next 700 miles or so (he ended out traveling with me all the way to Sioux Falls which is a whole nuther story) we had some of the most amazing conversations...

One of them was about a concept he heralded called "Sonic Bloom" which he wanted to use up at his home reservation, Pine Ridge, to help them commercially grow hemp. He described it as scientific based "talking to plants" in which crops are bombarded with speeded up recordings of nature thus supposedly faking them out as to what part of the growing season they were in and supposedly causing them to grow faster also. It sounded just as off the wall in a interesting way as many of the other things he shared with me, but I did look it up when I got home and there were actually some studies going on in that arena. Not sure if they really have resulted in anything but I thought I would share it as there were things here that reminded me of it. I also apologize if my getting to the point was like driving through Nebraska.


p.s. Soon after I picked up Seven Thunders, but after both our apprehensions about eachother had been put to rest he stopped in the middle of a story he was telling as said "I realize most people are afraid to pick up Indians, especially those who look like me, why did you pick me up?' I responded "Well for exactly that reason...I am not like most people and I knew that if you meant me any ill-will that I would at least break your nose." He laughed.

a Duoist 06-01-2008 04:53 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
All famines in the world for the past one hundred years are entirely man-made. Starving humans in a world where table scraps are an industry are starving only because somewhere, somehow, political decisions interfere in the economics of food distribution. Look at any modern famine; it occurred in a country with appalling human rights and repressed economic freedom.

Happy Hominid 06-03-2008 02:40 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
No, you are wrong. Western science would never have revered Lysenko. On the other hand, if he were NOT a commie, "you" reactionaries would still have him on a pedestal.

Jlaird 06-03-2008 07:26 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
Check out the response from Cary Fowler posted over on The Loom, correcting a couple of the statements in this interview.
"First, my congratulations to Peter for the publication of his book on Vavilov.
Allow me to clarify a couple of statements made in the interview in regards to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Peter stated that the Seed Vault is storing corporate collections and that these contain GMO varieties. Neither is true. Currently at least, no corporations have deposited duplicates of their collections (though many governments, international institutes and one NGO have). And, as Norway prohibits importation and storage of GMO's in facilities such as the Vault, there are also no GMOs there.

The Seed Vault works much the same way that a safety deposit box at the bank works. Depositors own the contents and access is restricted to the depositors. However, in all cases, the deposited material is a copy - seeds of the same variety will be held in the seed bank making the deposit. Seeds of deposited varieties are therefore available directly from the depositor under terms consistent with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. Think of the Seed Vault as a great, effective and cheap insurance policy for all the seed banks in the world that are striving to conserve the most valuable natural resource on earth - the biological foundation of agriculture.

Hope this clarification is helpful. For more information, see:"

rgajria 06-05-2008 11:37 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Science Under Stalin
What a fascinating diavlog. These two Gentlemen should be invited again to carry on the discussion.

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