Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Al Gore, Our Trofim Lysenko

He considered that rumors of his being very dangerous to his scientific opponents and resorting habitually to police methods and denunciations were, in all likelihood, exaggerated.  
                                  Vasily Grossman, Forever Flowing  
It seems to me that there is a remarkable resemblance between Al Gore and Trofim Lysensko.  Lysenkso was a quack Russian agronomist whose “acquired characteristics” approach to plant genetics so impressed his boss, Joseph Stalin, as to shutdown scientific debate, ruin Soviet agriculture, and put biology in the Soviet Union into a thirty year deep freeze.   Lysenko rose from obscurity to dominate life science and genetics in the Soviet Union for decades.   “He [Lyskenko] had no postgraduate  training or higher degree, no formal claim to the title of scientist, yet he aspired to the theoretical heights from which, as he told a Pravda correspondent in 1927, practical problems could be solved by a few calculations ‘on a little old scrap of paper.’” [David Jorasky, The Lysenko Affair, Chicago, 1970, 189]  Lysenko was, in sum, completely unqualified for the role he played, a fraud who “talked” science but acted as hard core ideologue and with his Party patrons intimidated critics and bullied the real scientists. To question the Lysenkoists was to be labeled a traitor, an enemy of the Soviet Union.

Al Gore and the resemblance to comrade Lysenko?   Gore fulminates regularly about the “global warming deniers” (hint: they are in the same category for Gore as holocaust deniers) and insists that the “science” of it all is “settled.” So what are Gore’s academic, scientific credentials?   He was a mediocre, C- graduate of Harvard with a degree in Government.  He went to Divinity school and Law school at Vanderbilt University -- didn’t finish either program.   He went on to be a newspaper reporter, then used his father's name to vault into politics. He became a congressman, Senator and Vice President with likely little contact with meteorology or climate science.   Yet at some point he became an authority on global warming.  Like Lysenko he talks science but is a science ignoramus, a pure ideologue who responds to reasonable  criticism and opposition with denunciation and vilification. Those who disagree are either neanderthals or  Nazi's. In recent years he compared global warming skeptics to people who believe the moon landing was actually staged in a movie lot in Arizona.   In 2007 Robert Kennedy Jr. bested Gore in  perfect Stalinist-style by saying of global warming skeptics: “This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors.”
Like Mr. Gore, Mr. Kennedy is politician, not a scientist.  Treason is still a capital offense in the United States.  The fact that such an outrageous comment from a mainstream politician received so little attention and push back is a depressing indication of how Stalinist the Democrat Party has become and how no one has seemed to notice it.

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