Genes‘R’Us: Science and Ideology in the Lysenko Controversies
The debate over whether nature or nurture guides who we are is as dependent on politics and ideology as it is on scientific research.
Like many wealthy Americans in the first half of the 20th century, the self-made entrepreneur Roger Babson believed fervently in the power of genes. There are only three important days in a person’s life, he preached: when they choose their ancestors, their career and their spouse. Tracing his own heritage back to the arrival of the Mayflower, Babson consolidated his English origins as well as his fortune by applying Newtonian laws of action and reaction to the stock market. He even planted a descendant of Newton’s apple tree in the grounds of the Massachusetts business college that he founded in 1919.