Medical Lysenkoism in California

Commentary It seems the bad medical politics won’t end with the apparent waning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) introduced Assembly Bill 2098, “Physicians and surgeons: unprofessional conduct,” which is scheduled to be heard March 17 before the Committee on Business and Professions. It reads, “It shall constitute unprofessional conduct for a physician and surgeon to disseminate or promote misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19, including false or misleading information regarding the nature and risks of the virus, its prevention and treatment; and the development, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.” It sets up four criteria—all vague—to determine an offense: “(1) Whether the licensee deviated from the applicable standard of care. “(2) Whether the licensee intended to mislead or acted with malicious intent. “(3) Whether the misinformation or disinformation was demonstrated to have resulted in an individual declining opportunities for COVID-19 prevention or treatment that was not justified by the individual’s medical history or condition. “(4) Whether the misinformation or disinformation was contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus to an extent where its dissemination constitutes gross negligence by the licensee.” But just a couple decades ago “scientific consensus” held Freudianism was a sensible psychological method, instead of the quackery it is. And millions of Americans are fat because the “food pyramid” foisted on us in the 1970s by the Department of Agriculture pushed carbohydrates over protein and fat—sugar instead of steak. As Gary Taubes’ research has shown, much of that “scientific consensus,” including at elite Harvard, was funded by the sugar lobby. Moreover, since COVID-19 struck two years ago, a lot of contradictory information has been handed down, even by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is not surprising, as the pandemic was a highly volatile disease that struck quickly, and led to many differing opinions. Remember “two weeks to slow the spread”? Bret Stephens headlined in the New York Times last July, “Covid Misinformation Comes from the Top, Too.” He wrote, “[T]he U.S. government’s scientific establishment did support gain-of-function research that deserved far more public debate than it got. Also incontrovertibly true is that beneficiaries of that funding engaged in deceptive tactics and outright mendacity to shield their research from public scrutiny while denouncing their critics as conspiracy mongers. “In one State Department meeting, officials seeking to demand transparency from the Chinese government say they were explicitly told by colleagues not to explore the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s gain-of-function research, because it would bring unwelcome attention to U.S. government funding of it, Vanity Fair’s Katherine Eban reported last month in an exposé of the government’s internal debates over the source of the pandemic. “If millions feel that some public-health experts are not as heroic or as honest as their media stenographers make them out to be, there’s a good reason for it.” Weirdly, just on Feb. 27, the Times ran this headline, “New Research Points to Wuhan Market as Pandemic Origin.” That would put us back to the Wuhan “bat” markets as the alleged origin of COVID-19, not the labs linked to the Chinese Communist Party that Fauci used for “gain of function” research because it was banned in the United States. The point for this article is such a discussion should not be shut down—which is what AB 2098 could do. Trofim Lysenko What’s being proposed in AB 2098 is what can be called Medical Lysenkoism. The name comes from Trofim Lysenko, whom Stalin put in charge of Soviet biological science. Lysenko applied Marxist economic theory to genetics, a major reason the communist land was hit with periodic famines. This was in contrast to Soviet excellence in mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering. Stalin made sure he had the scientists to produce tanks, planes and rockets. Soviet rocket engine designs from the 1950s form the basis of engines still used today, and even used on a U.S. rocket today, for the first stage of the Atlas V. Writing in Foreign Affairs on Soviet science, John Turkevich provided this description, “In the period between the two world wars genetics was developing rapidly and the Soviet geneticists attracted scholars from all over the world to come to work with them. However, just before World War II, N. I. Vavilov, their distinguished leader, incurred the displeasure of the Kremlin leaders and disappeared to an unknown death. In 1948, Lysenko baited the followers of Vavilov into public identification with ‘Western’ genetics. They were then summarily crushed by an ex cathedra pronouncement by the Central Committee declaring Marxist genetics to be the ‘truth of the land.’ “Genetics as we know it in the West disappeared from the research lab

Medical Lysenkoism in California

Commentary

It seems the bad medical politics won’t end with the apparent waning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) introduced Assembly Bill 2098, “Physicians and surgeons: unprofessional conduct,” which is scheduled to be heard March 17 before the Committee on Business and Professions.

It reads, “It shall constitute unprofessional conduct for a physician and surgeon to disseminate or promote misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19, including false or misleading information regarding the nature and risks of the virus, its prevention and treatment; and the development, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.”

It sets up four criteria—all vague—to determine an offense:

“(1) Whether the licensee deviated from the applicable standard of care.

“(2) Whether the licensee intended to mislead or acted with malicious intent.

“(3) Whether the misinformation or disinformation was demonstrated to have resulted in an individual declining opportunities for COVID-19 prevention or treatment that was not justified by the individual’s medical history or condition.

“(4) Whether the misinformation or disinformation was contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus to an extent where its dissemination constitutes gross negligence by the licensee.”

But just a couple decades ago “scientific consensus” held Freudianism was a sensible psychological method, instead of the quackery it is. And millions of Americans are fat because the “food pyramid” foisted on us in the 1970s by the Department of Agriculture pushed carbohydrates over protein and fat—sugar instead of steak. As Gary Taubes’ research has shown, much of that “scientific consensus,” including at elite Harvard, was funded by the sugar lobby.

Moreover, since COVID-19 struck two years ago, a lot of contradictory information has been handed down, even by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is not surprising, as the pandemic was a highly volatile disease that struck quickly, and led to many differing opinions. Remember “two weeks to slow the spread”?

Bret Stephens headlined in the New York Times last July, “Covid Misinformation Comes from the Top, Too.” He wrote, “[T]he U.S. government’s scientific establishment did support gain-of-function research that deserved far more public debate than it got. Also incontrovertibly true is that beneficiaries of that funding engaged in deceptive tactics and outright mendacity to shield their research from public scrutiny while denouncing their critics as conspiracy mongers.

“In one State Department meeting, officials seeking to demand transparency from the Chinese government say they were explicitly told by colleagues not to explore the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s gain-of-function research, because it would bring unwelcome attention to U.S. government funding of it, Vanity Fair’s Katherine Eban reported last month in an exposé of the government’s internal debates over the source of the pandemic.

“If millions feel that some public-health experts are not as heroic or as honest as their media stenographers make them out to be, there’s a good reason for it.”

Weirdly, just on Feb. 27, the Times ran this headline, “New Research Points to Wuhan Market as Pandemic Origin.” That would put us back to the Wuhan “bat” markets as the alleged origin of COVID-19, not the labs linked to the Chinese Communist Party that Fauci used for “gain of function” research because it was banned in the United States.

The point for this article is such a discussion should not be shut down—which is what AB 2098 could do.

Trofim Lysenko

What’s being proposed in AB 2098 is what can be called Medical Lysenkoism. The name comes from Trofim Lysenko, whom Stalin put in charge of Soviet biological science. Lysenko applied Marxist economic theory to genetics, a major reason the communist land was hit with periodic famines.

This was in contrast to Soviet excellence in mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering. Stalin made sure he had the scientists to produce tanks, planes and rockets. Soviet rocket engine designs from the 1950s form the basis of engines still used today, and even used on a U.S. rocket today, for the first stage of the Atlas V.

Writing in Foreign Affairs on Soviet science, John Turkevich provided this description, “In the period between the two world wars genetics was developing rapidly and the Soviet geneticists attracted scholars from all over the world to come to work with them. However, just before World War II, N. I. Vavilov, their distinguished leader, incurred the displeasure of the Kremlin leaders and disappeared to an unknown death. In 1948, Lysenko baited the followers of Vavilov into public identification with ‘Western’ genetics. They were then summarily crushed by an ex cathedra pronouncement by the Central Committee declaring Marxist genetics to be the ‘truth of the land.’

“Genetics as we know it in the West disappeared from the research laboratories and textbooks of the Soviet Union. Lysenko dominated the biological sciences and agricultural research in Russia, and his influence extended well beyond the life sciences. Marxist philosophy battled relativity, cosmology, quantum mechanics, basic concepts of physics, cybernetics and the theory of chemical bonding. This Marxist inquisition continued through the period of Stalin terror, then abated in the Khrushchev period” beginning in the late 1950s.

This is relevant because real science is not about some politicians, whether in the Central Committee of the Soviet Union in 1948 or the California Legislature of 2022, telling real scientists what to do.

Scientific Method

In fact, modern science is what the philosopher of science Karl Popper called in the title his book, “Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge.” A scientist makes a conjecture; the scientist himself, as well as other scientists, then tries to shoot holes into it, finding a “refutation.”

Moreover, the scientist has to set up “refutability” parameters (sometimes called “falsifiability”). He has to show how his conjecture—his hypothesis—can be proved wrong. This again comes from Popper, in his “The Logic of Scientific Discovery.” Also see this.

The classic example is Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, developed by him between 1905 and 1915. It could not be tested immediately, but he set up refutability parameters, based on an eclipse bending light. In 1919, an eclipse allowed a test that proved his theory. It has been proved many times since.

But some day it could be disproved and superseded, much as his theory pushed aside Newton’s 200-year-old Theory of Gravity.

There’s no neo-platonic “form” up in the sky somewhere to be handed down to us mortals. Rather, science is somewhat of an art, as seen in the great scientists, who spin theories like symphonies, then test which “sound” the best, and move on, ever theorizing and testing.

Here’s a classic progression from astronomy: Ptolemy (earth the center of the universe) → Copernicus (the sun is the center) → Galileo (solar system; planets move in circles) → Kepler (planets move in ellipses) → Newton’s mechanics → Einstein → etc.

The scientists were not “wrong,” as Newton’s mechanics still is useful, for example, in building a bridge.

We now see this in front of us in the coronavirus crisis. Two years ago there was this conjecture: scientists said we needed many more ventilators. Refutability parameter: some new evidence showing the ventilators were not as efficacious as originally thought. Change: ventilators were used less often, only for the most extreme cases. Other treatments were developed.

And so it goes, in all fields of human scientific endeavor.

Scientists, including medical doctors, should not be oppressed with this new Medical Lysenkoism. They should be free to make their own conjectures about science.

I suggest every member of the Legislature read Popper’s books, as well Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolution.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. He has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at JohnSeiler.Substack.com