Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Suppressed research in the Soviet Union
Suppressed Research in Soviet Union in science and humanities from the very beginning was under a strict ideological scrutiny, together with art, literature, education and all other domains of human culture. All these were supposed to serve the interests of the victorious proletariat. All research had to be founded on the philosophical base of dialectical materialism. All humanities and social sciences were additionally tested for strict accordance with historical materialism.
In several cases the consequences of ideological influences were dramatic.
At different moments in Soviet history a number of research areas were declared "bourgeois pseudosciences", on the ideological grounds, most notable and harmful cases being these of genetics and cybernetics. Their prohibition caused serious harm to Soviet science and economics. Soviet scientists never won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine or Turing Award. (In comparison, they received seven Nobel Prizes in Physics.) The USSR always suffered from severe lag in the fields of computers, microelectronics and biotechnology.
"Black Book" of Soviet science
Main article: Lysenkoism.
In the mid-1930s, the agronomist Trofim Lysenko started a campaign against genetics and was supported by Stalin. Between 1934 and 1940, many geneticists were executed (including Agol, Levit, Nadson) or sent to labor camps (including the best-known Soviet geneticist, Nikolai Vavilov, who died in prison in 1943). Genetics was called "the whore of capitalism" (продажная девка капитализма) and stigmatized as a "fascist science", hinting at her closeness to eugenics, popular in Nazi Germany. However, some geneticists survived and continued to work on genetics, dangerous as this was. In 1948, genetics was officially declared "a bourgeois pseudoscience"; all geneticists were fired from work (some were also arrested), and all genetic research was discontinued. The taboo on genetics continued even after Stalin's death. Only in the mid-1960s was it completely waived.
Cybernetics was also outlawed as bourgeois pseudoscience, "mechanistically equating processes in live nature, society and in technical systems, and thus standing against materialistic dialectics and modern scientific physiology developed by Ivan Pavlov". As with genetics, the taboo continued for several years after Stalin's death, but ultimately served as a rallying point for the destalinisation of Soviet science. The symbolic significance of cybernetics in the reformation of Soviet science after Stalin - as well as its position as a label for interdisciplinary research - accounts for much of the subject's popularity in the Soviet Union long after its decline as a distinct field of research in the West. By supressing cybernetics, Stalin was arguably responsible for its dramatic growth after his death.
Semiotics and structural linguistics
To circumvent ideological pressure in 1960-1970s on "formalistic tendencies in linguistics", Soviet researchers in semiotics introduced an obscure synonym, theory of secondary modeling systems ("вторичные моделирующие системы"), the language being the "primary modelling system".
Pedology was a popular area of research on the base of numerous orphanages created after the Russian Civil War. Soviet pedology was a combination of pedagogy and psychology of human development, that heavily relied on various tests. It was officially banned in 1936 after a special decree of VKP(b) Central Committee on pedology on July 4, 1936.
In 1951, an attempt was made to reform organic chemistry in the spirit of Lysenkoism. The culprit was the theory of structural resonances (cf. benzene) by Linus Pauling, declared "idealistic" (since it speaks about the "resonance" of nonexistent molecular structures). The planned victim was Chemical Department of the Moscow State University that carried out the related research. In June 1951 The All-Union Conference on the State of the Theory of Chemical Composition in Organic Chemistry was held, where the resonance theory was declared bourgeois pseudoscience, and the corresponding report to Stalin was sent.
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