Trump Overruling Scientists to Pursue Pet Coronavirus Drug
Trofim Lysenko was a Soviet biologist who gained the favor of Joseph Stalin by promoting pseudoscientific theories that purported to apply Marxist-Leninist theory to biology. Lysenko’s insight was to dismiss the burgeoning field of genetics as a capitalist lie, and to posit a socialist alternative theory of biology that refused to accept that plants were bound by any such thing as “genes.” Orange trees would flourish in Siberia, he promised Stalin. Catering both to the regime’s state ideology and its yearning for prosperity — he promised his methods would yield orange trees in Siberia — Lysenko established his crackpot theories as official Soviet science, and purged scientists who refused to endorse them. Stalin directed Soviet farmers to follow Lysenko’s bizarre theories, contributing to mass starvation.
There are eerie echoes of Lysenkoism in President Trump’s obsession with promoting hydroxychloroquine, a medication used to treat malaria, as a cure for the coronavirus. The parallel is not exact: Hydroxychloroquine has shown some anecdotal promise as a coronavirus therapy. It might emerge as a treatment, and conceivably even the major treatment, for the coronavirus. What gives Trump’s hydroxychloroquine obsessions its creepy Lysenkoist tinge is that the fervor is altogether disconnected from science.
Trump has repeatedly touted the medication, at times with a fervency that makes him sound like a marketer hired to promote the drug. “Hydroxychloroquine. Try it. If you like,” he suggested from the podium Saturday. In perhaps the most surreal moment of his pitch, he announced that he might personally try the medication, even though he does not have the coronavirus: “I think people should — if it were me — in fact, I might do it anyway. I may take it. Okay? I may take it. And I’ll have to ask my doctors about that, but I may take it.”
Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has repeatedly lobbied Trump to adopt hydroxychloroquine, which he has falsely described as “100 percent effective.” Giuliani told the Washington Post that he hasn’t discussed his views with Fauci, “I’m sure he thinks I am an ignoramus,” he concedes. Upon realizing that one of the country’s most prestigious scientists considers them an ignoramus, most laypeople would begin to question their own views, but Giuliani operates at a level of self-confidence that few people can fathom. Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro, has enlisted in the cause. In a bizarre episode, he confronted Fauci at a Saturday White House meeting, denouncing his caution.
Trump promotes unproven unsafe patent drugs and vaccines, while denying, suppressing and attacking proven safe Naturopathic remedies, which have plenty of scientific and medical studies that prove they work.