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Lysenko Effect : Politics of Science (04 Edition)


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Publisher Comments:

Ukrainian agronomist T. D. Lysenko (1898-1976) was the leader of an influential Soviet agrobiological school that rejected standard genetics and instead promoted a brand of pseudoscience that held sway among Soviet biologists for over twenty-five years. The dominance of Lysenkos pseudoscientific ideas has been characterized as the biggest scandal of 20th-century science. That it happened under a regime that took particular pride in building its policy on science makes the affair particularly interesting, even for Western observers free from totalitarian governments. The Soviet Union was the first country with a government policy and large-scale public support for science. Agricultural science was a main showcase for this unprecedented investment in science.

In this in-depth study of Lysenkoism, historian of science Nils Roll-Hansen seeks to understand how Soviet biology went so wrong. Unlike other scholars who have studied Lysenkos influence, Roll-Hansen argues that the corruption of Soviet biology should not be explained primarily as the result of Stalins despotism and the willful intervention of party hacks into the objective methods of science. Because of ideological and economic pressures to produce tangible benefits to society, says Roll-Hansen, Soviet biology, under Lysenkos leadership, succumbed to a wishful-thinking syndrome, which paved the way for Lysenko. By such thinking scientific objectivity was compromised in favor of ideas that accorded with progressive political ideals and economic goals as determined by the ruling politburo. Roll-Hansen draws provocative parallels between Lysenkos bad science in mid-20th-century Russia and attempts by Western theorists today to construe science in social constructivist terms or to exercise political control over scientific research.

Based on archival materials not previously accessible, The Lysenko Effect is both a valuable contribution to the history of science and an instructive case study in the ways in which ideals of social progress can skew the results of objective science in any society.

Book News Annotation:

T. D. Lysenko (1898-1976) was a Russian agronomist and head of a school that rejected classical genetics. He was championed by the new Soviet government, which officially condemned genetics until 1964. Ross-Hansen (history and philosophy of science, U. of Oslo) looks beyond the standard explanation of the phenomenon as tyrannical stupidity, and examines what about the nature of national science policy and the lure of creating a whole new science, leads scientists and officials in certain directions.
Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author

Nils Roll-Hansen (Oslo, Norway) is professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Oslo, the author of The Freedom and Necessity of Science: Pasteurs Theories in Growth and Decline and the editor (with Gunnar Broberg) of Eugenics and the Welfare State.

Product Details

Roll-hansen, Nils
Humanity Books
Roll-Hansen, Nils
Life Sciences - Biology - General
Europe - Russia & the Former Soviet Union
History of Science-General
General Philosophy
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Control of Nature
Publication Date:
8.92x6.06x.73 in. 1.01 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Russia » General Russian History
Humanities » Philosophy » General
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
Science and Mathematics » Biology » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General

Lysenko Effect : Politics of Science (04 Edition) Used Trade Paper
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