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GenesisThe Evolution of Biology$
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Jan Sapp

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195156195

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195156195.001.0001

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Genetic Heresy and the Cold War

Genetic Heresy and the Cold War

(p.171) 15 Genetic Heresy and the Cold War

Jan Sapp

Oxford University Press

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

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