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World Association of International Studies

Post Richter, Lysenko: A Pseudo-Science Hall of Fame? (from Gary Moore)
Created by John Eipper on 03/02/21 3:23 AM

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Richter, Lysenko: A Pseudo-Science Hall of Fame? (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 03/02/21 3:23 am)

Gary Moore writes:

To Timothy Ashby's interesting travelogue on the "Austrian" sanctuary of Bariloche, Argentina, John E appended a rich aside that opens worlds. John reminded of Ronald Richter, the 1950s scientific wonder of Argentina's Perón years, who was promising Perón that he could make miracles with nuclear fusion, but never quite did.

The comment glows because Richter rounds out a genre, consisting of pseudo-science as a supposed tool for authoritarian paradise, in hopes of leaping over mere reality into a validating promised land.

Lenin's euphoria about electrification creating the worker's paradise was not exactly pseudo-scientific, but captures the delusional aspect. More on-point were "race science" in Nazism and the people's (fake) agricultural genetics pushed by Stalin via Lysenkoism. I think WAIS may also have discussed some examples from Mao's China. Richter in Argentina implies that the genre may be wide. Any other nominations for the Trofim Lysenko Authoritarian Pseudo-Science Hall Of Fame?

(And a belated thanks for that evocative review of Wild West mythology from Patrick Mears. Lots of resonance in that genre, too. John E has an echo in his Michigan backyard, pairing Pat's discussion of the Olympian Apache-Buddy Winnetou in German page-turners with Tonto--since the word "kimosabe" got lifted by the radio gnomes in about the 1930s from the name of a Michigan summer camp.)

JE comments:  "Pseudo-science as tool for authoritarian paradise":  Gary, this distills the phenomenon to its basic elements.  We must populate your Hall of Fame.  Lysenko was probably the most nefarious of all, or at least the deadliest, as his agricultural mandates killed millions in famines in the USSR and later China, which copied his methods.  One wonders why the authorities never once asked for a "pilot" project to validate his agricultural theories.

To this list we should add the "scientists" and engineers who promised the Germans a miracle weapon or two to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Kamp Kee-Mo Sah-Bee on Mullett Lake in Northern (Lower) Michigan closed around 1940.  Until today I was unaware of its existence or its connection to the Lone Ranger.  Few remote regions can claim two iconic etymologies:  note the emergence of the "Mullett" hairdo in the late 1980s, with its trademark "business in the front and party in the back."

The Mullett`s Prophet: Billy Ray Cyrus

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