The Pseudoscientist Doth Protest Too Much
Pseudoscience and unnatural beliefs are prevalent among the members of the Indian scientific establishment, and since many of them have decided to seek their fifteen minutes in the limelight by signing a political statement and participating in the circus of returning awards given to them by governments friendly to them, it is only fair that their beliefs are subject to public scrutiny. In their statement, the signatories cite Article 51 A (h) of the Indian Constitution which calls for developing the scientific temper and it is now time to apply the same standard to them.
Among the signatories of this statement is PM Bhargava, the first person to have headed the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology. Bhargava harbors some curious beliefs based on Lysenkoism, and in his own words in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, “In evolution, it probably has been primarily a question of competition between species which will not mate one with another, rather than between individual members of the same species, or between the races to which they might belong.”
The source of this idea is none other than the discredited Soviet era Communist, Trofim Lysenko, who was responsible for the persecution of many geneticists in the Soviet Union. Under him, the Stalinists denounced biology as bourgeoisie, reactionary and capitalistic, and sought to reformulate it under the framework of dialectical materialism.
In his book, ‘A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution and Cooperation,’ Peter Singer notes how Marxism agrees with Christianity in denouncing biology and also highlights Lysenko’s words, “How [to] explain why bourgeois biology values so highly the ‘theory’ of intraspecific competition? Because it must justify the fact that, in the capitalist society, the great majority of people, in a period of overproduction of goods, lives poorly… There is no intraspecific competition in nature. There is only competition between species: the wolf eats the hare; the hare does not eat another hare, it eats grass.”
The Marxist rejection of genetics meant that although they agreed with the strange objective of eugenicists in creating a new breed of supermen, they disagreed with the means by which the goal would be achieved. While the eugenicists believed in genetic engineering and selective breeding as the means to their end, the Marxists believed that propaganda and systematic brainwashing were the right methods to create the new breed of supermen. This divergence formed the core of the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate in the middle part of the twentieth century.
Given this background, one must wonder if the state of research in life sciences in India lagged behind because PM Bhargava was appointed the first head of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology despite being a staunch follower of Lysenkoism.
PM Bhargava is also a signatory to a document entitled ‘A Statement on Scientific Temper’ that was created in 1981. Here is an abridged version of the document-
…great ideals of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru… nation owes a deep debt of gratitude to Jawaharlal Nehru… can only be achieved by promotion of what Jawaharlal Nehru chose to call THE SCIENTIFIC TEMPER… Jawaharlal Nehru gave an impetus to scientific temper… Jawaharlal Nehru resolved the seeming contradiction between our material and spiritual needs… Despite Jawaharlal Nehru’s advocacy of scientific temper…
What was this ‘scientific temper’ of Nehru that PM Bhargava and his friends extol? By his own admission before the Indian National Congress, Nehru used the term ‘socialism’ in the “scientific” sense and dreamed of a “new civilization, radically different from the present capitalist order” a glimpse of which we could get “in the territories of the USSR.” The proponents of this ‘scientific socialism’ in the Soviet Union did not just persecute geneticists. They persecuted mathematicians like Andrey Kolmogorov and Boris Gnedenko, the latter being imprisoned for several months. Certain areas of physics escaped a ban despite the effort to crush “reactionary Einsteinism” only because Beria, the chief of Stalin’s secret police, was informed that they would have to reject the atomic bomb if they rejected the theory of relativity on the grounds that it was inconsistent with dialectical materialism.
After Lenin’s death, the Soviet government set up an Immortalization Commission and preserved his dead body believing that ‘scientific socialism’ would bring him back to life some time in the future. These ‘scientists’ studied Lenin’s brain cells and declared that they had discovered the source of his genius which was the super sized pyramidal cells inside his head. Such is the nature of the ‘scientific temper’ that Jawaharlal Nehru foisted on India and which was repeatedly praised in the 1981 document. The document was co-signed by Mohit Sen of the Communist Party of India which should explain the support for Communist ‘science.’
Nehru’s belief in pseudoscientific ideas resulted in a huge tragedy after he put PC Mahalanobis in charge of the economy. The folly of Mahalanobis was to reduce the Indian economy to a mathematical equation, and over the decades, this led to an estimated 200 million deaths through child mortality, starvation and malnutrition. Ironically, this meant the fabian socialists had delivered on their promise of their version of socialism being Communism in slow motion. While the Soviet Union delivered instant death by shooting the “enemies of the state,” Nehruvian-Stalinists had created a system that resulted in slow death for millions of people.
Bhargava is also a believer in Global Warming which is based on the principle adopted by the United Nations at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 that the “lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason” to oppose the pseudoscientific claims of an impending doomsday caused by man-made global warming that would melt the polar ice caps and raise sea levels inundating vast areas of inhabited land.
It is based on this anti-science resolution that India faces pressure to join the “cap and trade” regime under which an international institution operated by the US and the European Union will sell pollution licenses to India under the name of carbon credits. According to its proponents, these licenses will be traded on an exchange, and once they are bought and sold on the exchange by Goldman Sachs and other financial firms, the rise in sea level will be under firm control. Thus, if the prophets of doom are appeased with huge amounts of money and wealth is transferred from India to the US and Europe, apocalypse can be averted.
The cap and trade regime is nothing but an international license raj combined with the system of touts who hawk these licenses. The system was first proposed by US President George HW Bush in 1989 as the “free market solution” for the environmental problem while the Democratic Party in the US, which is today a vocal supporter of the scheme, pretended to oppose it. At that time, the environmental group Greenpeace opposed the scheme, but the group has now reversed its stance and thus continues to be in alignment with the public positions of the Democratic Party.
The Republican Party now pretends to oppose the plan, thus creating a perception of the two dominant parties being deadlocked on the issue, but the reason for this stage-managed deadlock was given away by George W Bush during the negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol when he all but admitted that the real intent of the treaty was to suck money from India and China and that the US would not sign any international treaty as long as there was no procedure in place to loot these two countries.
The Global Warming brigade uses questionable science and unreliable data when they make their assertions. For example, until 1998, they used 15 degrees Celsius as the baseline for the global mean temperature which they had declared to be the most important number in their field of pseudoscientific enquiry. Even by their standards, there was no global warming and so they quietly changed the baseline average temperature in 1998 to 14 degrees Celsius.
The proponents of global warming who pressure India to join the global licensing regime are the same people who claimed in the 1970s that smoke from kerosene stoves in India blocked sunlight from reaching earth which in turn was about to trigger the onset of an ice age that would have devastating effects on the world. Back then, the only way to avoid the alleged catastrophe was for India to purchase “clean stoves” for hundreds of millions of dollars from the West. The solution for the new imaginary problem too involves transferring money from India to the US.
None of these questionable scientific methods or political machinations seem to matter to Bhargava who asserts, “Climate change has to be addressed, bearing in mind the fact that a one-degree rise of temperature can bring down the production of wheat by 5 million tonnes.”
This statement is primarily due to the manipulation of public opinion by shrewd politicians in USA where the two dominant political parties have successfully shepherded people into two camps each of which is subservient to politicians belonging to one of the two parties. The two political parties play good cop and bad cop on various issues, and as a result, frightened masses of gullible Americans are terrified of the ‘other’ political party and become subservient to the leaders of ‘their’ political party.
Many Indians too have fallen for the propaganda that human beings fall into exactly two camps and use American labels such as ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ or ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ to describe political positions. They typically propagate the ideas expounded by American politicians. When Bhargava calls for addressing climate change, he believes that he supports Al Gore and follows the party line of the Democratic Party which panders to Marxists, but little does he realize that he has been manipulated into supporting the “free market solution” proposed by George HW Bush of the Republican Party.
The fact that an advocate of Lysenkoism and other dubious theories is considered an ’eminent’ scientist in India speaks volumes about the sad state of science in the Nehruvian establishments in the country. India needs to stick to actual science instead of injecting the political positions of Lysenko, George HW Bush, Al Gore or Jawaharlal Nehru into scientific theories.
[The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org]