Soviet Genetics : The Real Issue*


ONE misapprehension must be dealt with. Quite intelligent people often seem to think that, when a new theory wholly or partly replaces an old one, the whole fabric of the relevant branch of science has to be scrapped. That, of course, is quite incorrect. For example, the acceptance of relativity theory has not involved the jettisoning of classical Newtonian mechanics, but has in the great majority of cases only meant a slight correction, negligible for most purposes, in a number of laws. The body of ascertained knowledge remains : it has merely to be rendered more exact and incorporated into a more comprehensive framework. The same holds for neo-Mendelism : whatever new theories Lysenko or anyone else may contribute to genetics, the vast body of scientific fact comprised in neo-Mendelism remains as a contribution to our knowledge of the universe. (The difference between the two examples is that whereas Einstein has successfully introduced a radically new theory, or framework of ideas, to correlate the physical facts involved, there is at present no prospect of neo-Mendelian theory being overthrown by Lysenko's ideas–they are too vague to deserve the title of a framework—or, indeed, by any other general theory of genetics and evolution.)

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HUXLEY, J. Soviet Genetics : The Real Issue*. Nature 163, 974–982 (1949).

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