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Australia's Chief Scientist Compares Trump to Stalin

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Australia's Chief Scientist Compares Trump to Stalin

The Trump administration has incited a war on science that "defies logic" and resembles the censorship enforced by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, Australia's chief scientist, Alan Finkel, said Monday.

Warning that "science is literally under attack," Finkel stated, "It will almost certainly cause long-term harm." He recounted the consequences under Stalin when the scientific method, based on facts and evidence, was suppressed by politics:

Soviet agricultural science was held back for decades because of the ideology of Trofim Lysenko, who was a proponent of Lamarckism. Stalin loved Lysenko's conflation of science and Soviet philosophy, and used his limitless power to ensure that Lysenko's unscientific ideas prevailed. Lysenko believed that successive generations of crops could be improved by exposing them to the right environment, and so too could successive generations of Soviet citizens be improved by exposing them to the right ideology. So while Western scientists embraced evolution and genetics, Russian scientists who thought the same were sent to the gulag. Western crops flourished. Russian crops failed.

Finkel has extensive experience as an engineer, educator, neuroscientist and entrepreneur. In 1983 he founded the California-based Axon Instruments, and in 2004 he became a director of its acquiring company, NASDAQ-listed Molecular Devices (MDCC).

"Today, the catch-cry of scientists must be frank and fearless advice, no matter the opinion of political commissars stationed at the U.S. EPA," he said. He expressed gratitude for the freedom of speech he's been granted in Australia.

One of the first measures the Trump administration took was to restrict scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from speaking to the public or releasing information before it gets reviewed by political appointees. Soon after, a Twitter account appeared in response to the censorship. Alt U.S. EPA calls itself the "Satirical 'Resistance' team of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."

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