Interviewer: Lastly, why do you want to be a reporter, Kang Seo Jin?
Kang Seo Jin: I believe a reporter can change the world. I hope to write articles to right the injustices of the world. I want to be the voice for people who are weak. I want to make the world the better place to live in. That is why I want to be a reporter.
The above is a brief snippet of dialog from the Korean comedy Welcome to Waikiki. Seo Jin is interviewing for a reporter job and she gives a boilerplate answer to why she wants the job. I chose it because it is such a boilerplate answer -- rather than saying she wants to ferret out the facts for the public, she bluntly says she wants to, in effect, engage in social engineering.
That emphasis on a mission of social engineering has long been a de facto aim of both journalism and the soft sciences: psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, etc. Some, myself included, believe it is to the detriment of those disciplines.
This trend towards social engineering, now joined with the critical race theory hustle, is beginning to assail math and the empirical sciences: chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, etc. There are calls to inject a social engineering stance into them as well.
To the social engineering enthusiasts Se Jin's, "I want to make the world a better place to live in" trumps all other arguments. How could such a sentiment be questioned? What could go wrong?
In the 1920's and 30s, due to Stalin's disastrous policy of the collectivization of farms, the Soviet Union was beset by famine and hunger. Trofim Lysenko, the son of a peasant farmer, had studied biology. Lysenko rejected Darwin's theory of natural selection and instead adhered to the by then discredited Lamarckian theory of inherited characteristics. He soon caught Stalin's ear with his theories As Encyclopedia.com described them:
Despite the fact that Lamarck's theory of evolution by acquired characteristics had been widely discarded as a scientific hypothesis, a remarkable set of circumstances allowed Lysenko the opportunity to sweep aside more than 100 years of scientific investigation to advocate a "politically correct" way to enhance agricultural production. When Lysenko promised greater crop yields, a Soviet Central Committee—desperate after the famine in the early 1930s—listened with an attentive ear. The very spirit of Marxist theory, Lysenko claimed, called for a theory of species formation which would entail "revolutionary leaps." Lysenko attacked Mendelian genetics and Darwinian evolution as a theory of "gradualism."
At its heart communism is just another form of utopianism. Stalin believed that by properly ordering society he could social engineer the emergence of the New Soviet Man, a leap forward in human social evolution. Lysenko was also a committed communist and, in his biological theories, he extended the notion of creating a New Man to ordering nature to create better crops as well.
For example, because of Russia's climate, winter and summer wheat crops were a concern. Lysenko believed that by freezing seeds they would get acclimated to the cold and produce greater yields. Further, because they would gain the cold hardiness, their seeds would inherit it as well. Of course, none of that worked.
However, Stalin continued to support him and in fact Lysenko's notion of science supporting communism spread to other scientific disciples as well. Soon it became dangerous to question him, with many scientists and academics landing in Siberian gulags for doing just that. In the end, Soviet science became ridiculous in its chase of the proper Marxist interpretation of reality. Worse, Mao Zedong also embraced Lysenko's ideas and so they worsened the famines China experienced as well.
In the end the scientific method is just a process whereby you test your ideas of how things work against reality. Trying to use it to force reality to fit your preconceived notions will always lead you astray. I fear that is the mistake the modern social engineers of the sciences are making today; I fear that in chasing utopia they will find graveyards instead.
Finally, to remind us of the actual tragic cost of Stalin and Lysenko's "I want to make the world a better place to live in" motives, below are two paintings of the starvation by Marchenko Nina.
|Mother of the Year 33
|The Road of Sorrow