Gateway Gazette

Letter to the Editor—Trofim Lysenko: Attaching Political Correctness to Agenda-Driven Science

Part five in a ten-part series on the unsettled science of climate change from Grassroots Alberta

Political correctness, depending upon its degree and severity, can get you criticized, ostracized, imprisoned, and—in some places, killed. In the face of acute political correctness, the simple act of telling the truth is revolutionary.

Many people may be surprised to know that the term “politically correct” is not a product of North American pop culture, nor did it originate in the sixties. It was invented in the 1920s by the Soviet Union and their ideological allies at a time when “political officers” were stationed on every block.

“Politically correct” is the official term used by socialist governments to explain why the attitudes of party members and the general population need “correcting.” In North Korea, for example, it is politically incorrect to criticize leader Kim Jong-un or his bureaucracy. People who do will be thrown in the gulag or executed.

For early communists, the term “politically correct” was enthusiastically applied to science. In Russia, Trofim Lysenko was a quack agronomist who made outrageous boasts. He claimed that a change in environment could make wheat plants grow rye, and predicted that through this adaption process, the Soviet Union could grow oranges in the Arctic. Lysenko utterly rejected the emerging study of genetics, which he claimed was a fabrication of “bourgeois capitalism.”

Lysenko’s timing was perfect. In that era, it was “politically correct” to claim that socialism’s magnificence guaranteed that people living under its tenets—and their descendants—would acquire new characteristics, producing new-style Soviet men and women who would be utterly selfless. Stalin loved the guy, and turned him into a kind of science czar. Peter Ferrara ofForbes Magazine described Lysenko’s role thusly:

“Scientists who promoted [Lysenko’s ideas] with faked data and destroyed counterevidence were favored with government funding, official recognition, and awards. Lysenko, his followers, and [the] media responded to critics by impugning their motives, and denouncing them as bourgeois fascists resisting the advance of modern Marxism. All Soviet scientists were required to denounce any work that contradicted Lysenko. Ultimately, Soviet geneticists were imprisoned and even executed.”

Trofim Lysenko is dead and gone, yet the practice of attaching the vernacular of political correctness to scientific theory can still be seen today, particularly in the way that climate alarmists and like-minded politicians respond to inquiry, debate, and disagreement.

Media personalities like Bill Nye, sometimes referred to as the “science guy” (though he holds a degree in engineering, not science), openly advocate the prosecution of “climate disbelievers” or “climate criminals.” They are not alone. In the U.S., sixteen state attorney generals (all Democrats) met to discuss how they might prosecute “Climate Change Disbelievers.” Canada’s David Suzuki is quoted as publicly advocating jail time for people who ignore his version of “climate change.”

Unfortunately, shades of the politically correct mindset are also thriving in Alberta. It can be seen each time Premier Rachel Notley or one of her ministers hurls the word “denier” at someone who dares inquire about the evidence behind the province’s so-called climate leadership plan. Rather than debate the issues or respond to inquiries with hard data, Notley and others in her government clothe themselves in the verbiage of political correctness, thereby endeavoring to avoid discussion and debate.

This is unfortunate. Why? Because informed debate serves the public interest; avoiding it does not.


Grassroots Alberta Citizens Initiative—“Promoting the responsible & efficient use of tax dollars, while carrying out an educational role with respect to wealth creation and responsible public policy.”

About Grassroots Alberta

Grassroots Alberta Citizens Initiative was established to promote the responsible and efficient use of tax dollars and to carry out an educational role with respect to wealth creation and responsible public policy. Grassroots Alberta Citizens Initiative is a project of the Grassroots Alberta Landowners Association. “At the Grassroots” is a feature service of Grassroots Alberta. The author, Kevin Avram, is a director of Grassroots Alberta.

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