Friday, September 23, 2011

Dupes of the Collective

Reading this article about Nobel-prize winning physicist Hermann Muller (1890-1967), it says
Nobel prize winner Hermann Muller knowingly lied when he claimed in 1946 that there is no safe level of radiation exposure... his decision not to mention key scientific evidence against his position has had a far-reaching impact on our approach to regulating radiation and chemical exposure. 
Muller himself served on the NAS’s Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation (BEAR) committee, through which the linear dose-response approach to risk assessment became firmly entrenched. The two successfully suppressed last-minute evidence from the fruit fly experiment conducted in Stern’s lab by postdoctoral researcher Ernst Caspari, and the rest is history, Calabrese says. It marked the “transformation of a threshold-guided risk assessment to one now centered on a linear dose-response."
...Muller was awarded the 1946 Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery that X-rays induce genetic mutations. This helped him call attention to his long-time concern over the dangers of atomic testing.
It was a lie that led to many restraints on medical uses of radiation even today, but also bans on the testing and development of nuclear weapons by the U.S. government--so I immediately had to ask myself: was Muller a communist?

Was he doing it on behalf of a Soviet agenda, which frequently manipulated academic trends and science to the end of weakening the U.S.?

For instance, the dangers of nuclear weapons causing a planet-wide "winter" was initially a Soviet "psy-op" to manipulate the Left in this country, with the goal of influencing U.S. policy to halt weapons testing and production, as well as promoting disarmament treaties that would be beneficial to the Soviets (and now Russia).  But when the nuclear winter hypothesis fell apart, it morphed into anthropogenic global warming (AGW), as a means of crippling the economies of Western countries.  (In my opinion, the various attempts to limit CO2 emissions were ultimately Soviet/Russian orchestrated efforts.)

To show that this strategy wasn't limited to nukes, I think there could be credible evidence that Keynesianism was a theory with KGB origins, intended to cripple Western economies--Keynes was an avowed socialist, but he openly admired communism.  For instance, he is quoted here as saying
Until recently events in Russia were moving too fast and the gap between paper professions and actual achievements was too wide for a proper account to be possible. But the new system is now sufficiently crystallized to be reviewed. The result is impressive. The Russian innovators have passed, not only from the revolutionary stage, but also from the doctrinaire stage.
There is little or nothing left which bears any special relation to Marx and Marxism as distinguished from other systems of socialism. They are engaged in the vast administrative task of making a completely new set of social and economic institutions work smoothly and successfully over a territory so extensive that it covers one-sixth of the land surface of the world. Methods are still changing rapidly in response to experience. The largest scale empiricism and experimentalism which has ever been attempted by disinterested administrators is in operation. Meanwhile the Webbs have enabled us to see the direction in which things appear to be moving and how far they have got.1

...It leaves me with a strong desire and hope that we in this country [Britain] may discover how to combine an unlimited readiness to experiment with changes in political and economic methods and institutions, whilst preserving traditionalism and a sort of careful conservatism, thrifty of everything which has human experience behind it, in every branch of feeling and of action.
Keynes was very probably a Fabian--a secret society of communists pretending to be socialists, working to promote communism. (Under Marxist dialectic, socialism is merely a stepping-stone to communism.)  A well-known British political theorist and economist in the 1930's and 1940's, Harold Laski, was publicly a Socialist and much later revealed as a communist Fabian -- he was highly influential, and the architect of post-war Socialist India, as well as the model for Ayn Rand's fictional character Ellsworth Toohey.

So as I read the above story, which says that Hermann Muller's lie led to restrictions on U.S. nuclear weapons development, I had to ask if he was a communist.  Sure enough.  Typing "Hermann Muller communist" into Google brings up this biography, which says
Hermann Muller was born in Manhattan in 1890 and grew into a 5'2" science geek. His father... influenced Hermann with his socialist ideals and a love of science. ...Upon graduation from Morris High School in 1907 at age sixteen, Muller attended Columbia University and was attracted to the emerging field of genetics. 
...In the 1920s, Muller performed his Nobel prize-winning research showing that X-rays could induce mutations and he became instantly famous. Muller used his fame to caution against the indiscriminate use of X-rays in medicine, but despite his warnings, some physicians even prescribed X-rays to stimulate ovulation in sterile women. His warnings angered many doctors and were largely ignored. 
Muller's outspoken views on socialism also got him in trouble with the Texas administration. He helped publish a Communist newspaper at the school, and the FBI tracked his activities. Feeling that U.S. society was regressing during the Depression, Muller left for Europe in 1932.
A move to the Soviet Union in 1934 seemed to have cured Muller of his Communist sympathies, although he always remained a socialist.
Well, maybe.
By the time he left in 1937, several of his students and colleagues had "disappeared" or been shipped to Siberia.
How many people got out of Russia while it was under Stalin, simply by asking to be let out?

So I think we can safely say Muller was not only a communist, but he was working for the Soviet spy apparatus, in some capacity.  In fact, his zeal for the dangers of radiation seemed to grow after he came back to the West, and
World War II forced Muller to leave Scotland in 1940 and he eventually found a permanent position at Indiana University in 1945. A year later, Muller won the Nobel Prize for his work on mutation-inducing X-rays and he used the opportunity to continue pressing for more public knowledge about the hazards of X-ray radiation.
Given that, I would say with very high probability that his lie about the dangers of radiation -- in 1946, one year after the bombs were dropped on Japan -- was part of a KGB operation to scare people in this country away from using anything associated with the word "nuclear".

It offers some insight into how the Soviets operated then, and how Russia operates today, under Putin (who is ex-KGB/FSB). Or possibly how Obama (a closet communist, in my firm opinion) pursues destructive economic policies such as "stimulus", tax increases, crippling regulations, and healthcare laws (a trillion dollars annually when fully implemented) -- all with the object of stressing the U.S. economy to the breaking point.  Or his aggressive pursuit of the new START disarmament treaty, which reduces U.S. nuclear stockpiles by 2/3, while letting the Russians increase their stockpiles.

Muller was also an advocate of government-run eugenics to improve the Soviet breed and eliminate weakness in their people.  See his rather long-winded letter to Stalin, where he seeks to persuade Uncle Joe of the need for such an effort. I greatly condense it, but include portions mainly to show Muller's deep committment to communism and some indication of his naive adherence and philosophical approach, which attempts to unite Marxist theory with practice; ultimately it shows he was little more than a dupe for the Collective:
To Comrade Joseph Stalin,
Secretary of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R.,
The Kremlin, Moscow
Dear Comrade Stalin, 
As a scientist with confidence in the ultimate Bolshevik triumph
throughout all possible spheres of human endeavor, I come to
you with a matter of vital importance arising out of my own
science – biology, and, in particular, genetics. The matter is
clearly such that it should be referred to you yourself, primarily.
For, on the one hand, it involves such limitless potentialities of
progress. And on the other hand the passing of judgment
concerning it requires your farsighted view and your strength in
the realistic use of dialectic thought. 
The matter is none less than that of the conscious control of
human biological evolution – that is, the control by man of the
hereditary material lying at the basis of life in man himself. This
is a development which bourgeois society has been quite
unable to look squarely in the face. Its evasions and perversions
of this matter are to be seen in the futile mouthings about
“Eugenics” current in bourgeois “democracies,” and the vicious
doctrine of “Race Purity” employed by the Nazis as a weapon in
class war. These spurious proposals are offered as a substitute
for socialism, i.e., as a decoy to mislead and divide workers as
well as petit bourgeois. 
In opposition to these bourgeois misconstructions, geneticists
of the political left recognize that only a socialized economic
system can provide the material basis and the social and
ideological framework necessary for a really sound policy with
regard to human genetics, for a policy which will guide human
biological evolution along socially desirable lines. They
recognize further that sufficient biological knowledge and a
sufficiently refined physical technique already exist for the
production of very noteworthy results in this field even within
the span of our own lifetimes. And they are aware that both the
immediate and the ultimate possibilities of a biological kind
thus opened up under socialism so far outdistance the
biological aims hitherto envisaged by bourgeois theorists as to
make the latter appear quite ridiculous. True eugenics can only
be a product of socialism, and will, like advances in physical
technique, be one of the means used by the latter in the
betterment of life....

...The science of genetics has made it clear that there is one
means and only one whereby a worthwhile beginning may be
made in the direction of providing more favorable genes. This
is not by directly changing the genes, but by bringing about a
relatively high rate of multiplication of the most valuable genes
that can be found anywhere. For it is not possible artificially to
change the genes themselves in any particular, specified
directions. The idea that this can be done is an idle fantasy,
probably not realizable for thousands of years at least. 
...The process by which such biological progression may be
accomplished artificially, with the minimum disturbance of
personal lives, is by allowing all people who wish to take part in
the production of children that have the best genetic
equipment obtainable, to obtain appropriate reproductive
material, for use by artificial insemination. No doubt this
method would first of all be sought after by women who for
some reason have been forced by circumstances to remain
unmarried. Statistics show that there are regions having a
considerable excess of female population, women who never
have had a chance to marry and probably will never have this
In this connection it should be observed that there is no
natural law which rules that a person instinctively wants and
loves exactly the product of his own sperm and egg. He
naturally loves, and feels as his, that child with whom he has
been associated and who is dependent upon and loves him, and
whom in its helplessness, he has taken care of and brought up....
...True we have today, rooted in traditions from the bourgeois
society in our past, the idea that our child must be derived from
our own reproductive cells.

...These feelings would rest upon a higher and increasingly
strong basis of morality: that morality in which the individual
finds his greatest satisfaction in the consciousness of being
instrumental in making an especially valuable contribution to

...After 20 years, there should already be very
noteworthy results accruing to the benefit of the nation.
And if at time capitalism still exists beyond our borders,
this vital wealth in our youthful cadres, already
strong through social and environmental means, but
then supplemented even by the means of genetics, could not
fail to be of very considerable advantage for our side.
...All the above represents quite the antithesis of the “Race
Purification” and so-called “Eugenics” of the Nazis and their
kin, who set up artificial hierarchies of races and of classes,
branding as inferior those whom capitalism wishes to oppress,
and brandishing against them the knife of sterilization, or
restriction. The social way, on the other hand, is positive, and
works for a surplus reproduction that combines the highest
endowments of every race, as found in a classless society...
Many a mother of tomorrow, freed of the fetters of religious
superstitions, will be proud to mingle her germ plasm with that
of a Lenin or a Darwin, and to contribute to society a child
partaking of his biological attributes. act upon this recognition is but to
be realists and to unite our theory with our practice. It is
especially important that our practice to right in this field, for
what material is as important to us as our human material? And
it will be acknowledged that in deciding the production of
children, the chief interests are the interests of the children
themselves, and of the children’s children. Theirs is the need,
to which we should give in proportion to our own ability. 
...The above, in brief, is what appears to me to be the dialectic
view of the relations between biological and social evolution,
and a real Bolshevik attack upon the matter will be based on
the full recognition of these relations. In view of the
immediately impending rise of discussion on matters relating to
genetics it is important that the position of Soviet genetics on
this subject should soon be clear. It should have its own
standpoint, the positive, Bolshevik standpoint, to set against the
so-called “Race Purification” and perverted “Eugenics”
doctrines of the Nazis and their allies on the one hand and
against the “laissez faire” and “go slow” doctrines of the
despairing liberals on the other hand. Most liberals take an
attitude of practical hopelessness and impotence with regard to
human biological evolution, declaring that little or nothing can
be done. This is in line with their political individualism and
hopelessness. And even some communists, lacking a sufficient
biological background, or influenced by liberal thought, have
drifted to the pessimistic liberal position. 
...There are of course many important points of principle and
practice involved in these proposals for which the present letter
did not have space. Some of these are taken up in the book
above mentioned, of which I am sending you a copy separately.
I should be glad to go into any further details on these subjects,
if that would be desired. 
With deep respect,
In a brotherly spirit,
H. J. Muller
Senior geneticist of the Institute of Genetics of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences, Moscow,
Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States,
Member of the Foreign Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.,
May 5, 1936

Reportedly, Stalin ignored Muller. As the introduction to the previous letter says,
Muller’s letter is an enormously important historical text, and had it been received positively by one man it would undoubtedly have become one of the single most important documents of world history.
Maybe Stalin did ignore Muller--or maybe someone remembered his letter. In 1959, experiments were conducted in Siberia to breed tamer foxes -- and more vicious ones.  (I recommend the full BBC documentary of which the following is merely a clip from The Secret Life Of The Dog.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Day

      "Who is John Galt?"
  The light was ebbing, and Eddie Willers could not distinguish the bum's face. The bum had said it simply, without expression. But from the sunset far at the end of the street, yellow glints caught his eyes, and the eyes looked straight at Eddie Willers, mocking and still--as if the question had been addressed to the causeless uneasiness within him.
  "Why did you say that?" asked Eddie Willers, his voice tense.
  The bum leaned against the side of the doorway; a wedge of broken glass behind him reflected the metal yellow of the sky.
  "Why does it bother you?" he asked.
   ...[Eddie] walked on, reminding himself that he was late in returning to the office. He did not like the task which he had to perform on his return, but it had to be done. So he did not attempt to delay it, but made himself walk faster.
  He turned a corner. In the narrow space between the dark silhouettes of two buildings, as in the crack of a door, he saw the page of a gigantic calendar suspended in the sky.
  It was the calendar that the mayor of New York had erected last year on the top of a building, so that citizens might tell the day of the month as they told the hours of the day, by glancing up at a public tower. A white rectangle hung over the city, imparting the date to the men in the streets below. In the rusty light of this evening's sunset, the rectangle said: September 2.
This date, and meaning, runs throughout the story of Atlas Shrugged. It's also today, as I write this.
  ...The calendar in the sky beyond the window of her office said: September 2. Dagny leaned wearily across her desk. The first light to snap on at the approach of dusk was always the ray that hit the calendar; when the white-glowing page appeared above the roofs, it blurred the city, hastening the darkness.
  She had looked at that distant page every evening of the months behind her. Your days are numbered, it had seemed to say--as if it were marking a progression toward something it knew, but she didn't. Once, it had clocked her race to build the John Galt Line; now it was clocking her race against an unknown destroyer.
  ...She raised her head, as she finished reading his pages. The calendar in the distance said: September 2. The lights of the city had grown beneath it, spreading and glittering. She thought of Rearden. 
In a few days, Obama (I can't call him "President" — it's too much of a desecration of that title) will be speaking to the nation.
  ...The last event of the day had been a large dinner reception at the home of Senor Rodrigo Gonzales, a diplomatic representative of Chile. No one had heard of Senor Gonzales a year ago, but he had [been described]... as a progressive businessman. He had lost his property--it was said--when Chile, becoming a People's State, had nationalized all properties, except those belonging to citizens of backward, non-People's countries, such as Argentina; but he had adopted an enlightened attitude and had joined the new regime, placing himself in the service of his country. His home in New York occupied an entire floor of an exclusive residential hotel.  He had a fat, blank face and the eyes of a killer.
  ...[He had mentioned] that by agreement with the future People's State of Argentina, the properties of d'Anconia Copper would be nationalized by the People's State of Chile, in less than a month, on September 2.
I'm not saying that's what Obama's speech will be about — except in spirit.
  [Dagny] shuddered and walked faster--but ahead of her, in the foggy distance, she saw the calendar above the roofs of the city--it was long past midnight and the calendar said: August 6, but it seemed to her suddenly that she saw September 2 written above the city in letters of blood--and she thought: If she worked, if she struggled, if she rose, she would take a harder beating with each step of her climb, until, at the end, whatever she reached, be it a copper company or an unmortgaged cottage, she would see it seized by Jim on some September 2 and she would see it vanish to pay for the parties where Jim made his deals with his friends.
But the party can only go on so long before it's over.
  ...On the morning of September 2, a copper wire broke in California, between two telephone poles by the track of the Pacific branch line of Taggart Transcontinental...
  "Copper wire?" said James Taggart, with an odd glance that went from her face to the city beyond the window. "In a very short while, we won't have any trouble about copper."
  "Why?" she asked, but he did not answer. There was nothing special to see beyond the window, only the clear sky of a sunny day, the quiet light of early afternoon on the roofs of the city and, above them, the page of the calendar, saying: September 2.
And from there the effects ripple outward.
  "Ladies and gentlemen!" the voice of the radio speaker leaped forth abruptly; it had a tone of panic. "News of a shocking development has just reached us from Santiago, Chile!
  "...The seizure of the multi-billion dollar d'Anconia Copper was to come as a munificent surprise to the country. [But] on the stroke of ten, in the exact moment when the chairman's gavel struck the rostrum, opening the session--almost as if the gavel's blow had set it off--the sound of a tremendous explosion rocked the hall... The chairman averted panic and called the session to order. The act of nationalization was read to the assembly, to the sound of fire alarm sirens and distant cries.  But more terrible a shock came later, when the legislators called a hasty recess to announce to the nation the good news that the people now owned d'Anconia Copper. While they were voting, word had come from the closest and farthest points of the globe that there was no d'Anconia Copper left on earth. Ladies and gentlemen, not anywhere.
  "In that same instant, on the stroke of ten, by an infernal marvel of synchronization, every property of d'Anconia Copper on the face of the globe, from Chile to Siam to Spain to Pottsville, Montana, had been blown up and swept away.  In place of the golden dawn of a new age, the People's States of Chile and Argentina are left with a pile of rubble and hordes of unemployed on their hands!"
Call it the work of anti-social misanthropes, or just the natural consequence and end-game of looters everywhere.
  [Dagny] saw the glare of the explosion in every face she met through the rest of the day-and in every face she passed in the darkness of the streets, that evening. If Francisco had wanted a worthy funeral pyre for d'Anconia Copper, she thought, he had succeeded.  ...She saw it in the face of Hank Rearden, when she met him for dinner that evening. ...She knew whom he meant, when he said suddenly, his voice soft and low with the weight of admiration, "He did keep his oath, didn't he?"
      "His oath?" she asked, startled, thinking of the inscription on the temple of Atlantis.
      "He said to me, 'I swear--by the woman I love--that I am your friend,' He was."
      "He is."
      He looked away, out at the city. They sat at the side of the room, with a sheet of glass as an invisible protection against the sweep of space and streets sixty floors below. The city seemed abnormally distant: it lay flattened down to the pool of its lowest stories. A few blocks away, its tower merging into darkness, the calendar hung at the level of their faces, not as a small, disturbing rectangle, but as an enormous screen, eerily close and large, flooded by the dead, white glow of light projected through an empty film, empty but for the letters: September 2.
The meaning is a tocsin -- an alarm bell warning of great danger.
  "How could he? How could he?" a woman was demanding with petulant terror. "He had no right to do it!"
  "It was an accident," said a young man with a staccato voice and an odor of public payroll. "It was a chain of coincidences, as any statistical curve of probabilities can easily prove. It is unpatriotic to spread rumors exaggerating the power of the people's enemies."
  "Right and wrong is all very well for academic conversations," said a woman with a schoolroom voice and a barroom mouth, "but how can anybody take his own ideas seriously enough to destroy a fortune when people need it?"
  The muffled scream of a woman across the room and some half grasped signal on the edge of Dagny's vision, came simultaneously and made her whirl to look at the city.
  The calendar was run by a mechanism locked in a room behind the screen, unrolling the same film year after year, projecting the dates in steady rotation, in changeless rhythm, never moving but on the stroke of midnight. The speed of Dagny's turn gave her time to see a phenomenon as unexpected as if a planet had reversed its orbit in the sky: she saw the words "September 2" moving upward and vanishing past the edge of the screen.
  Then, written across the enormous page, stopping time, as a last message to the world and to the world's motor which was New York, she saw the lines of a sharp, intransigent handwriting:        
Brother, you asked for it!  Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastian d'Anconia 
In one sense, the entire story of Atlas Shrugged is one of contrasts between two numbers:  the number "2" -- and the zero.  The first is a response to the latter.  As John Galt told the world,
   "This, in every hour and every issue, is your basic moral choice: thinking or non-thinking, existence or non-existence, A or non-A, entity or zero. ...You who are worshippers of the zero--you have never discovered that achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death.
  " can no longer say to me, the builder: 'Produce, and feed us in exchange for our not destroying your production.' I am answering in the name of all your victims: Perish with and in your own void. ...Perish, because we have learned that a zero cannot hold a mortgage over life. 
  "...You dart in panic through the trap of your days, looking for the exit you have closed, running from a pursuer you dare not name to a terror you dare not acknowledge... The purpose of your struggle is not to know, not to grasp or name or hear the thing I shall now state to your hearing: that yours is the Morality of Death. pursue a course of action that does not taint your life by any joy, that brings you no value in matter, no value in spirit, no gain, no profit, no reward--if you achieve this state of total zero, you have achieved the ideal of moral perfection. 
  "A morality that holds need as a claim, holds emptiness-nonexistence-as its standard of value; it rewards an absence, a defect: weakness, inability, incompetence, suffering, disease, disaster, the lack, the fault, the flaw-the zero. 
  "...It is only the metaphysics of a leech that would cling to the idea of a universe where a zero is a standard of identification. 
  "...All actions are caused by entities. ...An action not caused by an entity would be caused by a zero, which would mean a zero controlling a thing, a nonentity controlling an entity, the non-existent ruling the existent--which is the universe of your teachers' desire, the cause of their doctrines of causeless action, the reason of their revolt against reason, the goal of their morality, their politics, their economics, the ideal they strive for: the reign of the zero. 
  "...When a savage who has not learned to speak declares that existence must be proved, ...he is asking you to step into a void outside of existence and consciousness to give him proof of both--he is asking you to become a zero gaining knowledge about a zero...  
  "You who've never grasped the nature of evil, you who describe them as 'misguided idealists'--may the God you invented forgive you!- they are the essence of evil, they, those anti-living objects who seek, by devouring the world, to fill the selfless zero of their soul. It is not your wealth that they're after. Theirs is a conspiracy against the mind, which means: against life and man. 
  "...It is a conspiracy of all those who seek, not to live, but to get away with living, those who seek to cut just one small corner of reality and are drawn, by feeling, to all the others who are busy cutting other corners--a conspiracy that unites by links of evasion all those who pursue a zero as a value: 
  "This idol of your cult of zero-worship, this symbol of impotence-- the congenital dependent— is your image of man and your standard of value, in whose likeness you strive to refashion your soul.  
  " help a man who has no virtues, to help him on the ground of his suffering as such, to accept his faults, his need, as a claim --is to accept the mortgage of a zero on your values. ...Be it only a penny you will not miss or a kindly smile he has not earned, a tribute to a zero is treason to life and to all those who struggle to maintain it. It is of such pennies and smiles that the desolation of your world was made."
The full meaning of the number zero is concretized in the following discussion between Galt and Mr. Thompson, the leader of the country who wants Galt to save everyone from themselves-- but Thompson finds there is no common ground he can offer in trade:
        "Well, what on earth do you want?"
"What on earth do I need you for?"
"What have you got to offer me that I couldn't get without you?"
There was a different look in Mr. Thompson's eyes when he drew back, as if cornered, yet looked straight at Galt for the first time and said slowly, "Without me, you couldn't get out of this room, right now."
Galt smiled. "True."
"You wouldn't be able to produce anything. You could be left here to starve."
"Well, don't you see?" The loudness of homey joviality came back into Mr. Thompson's voice, as if the hint given and received were now to be safely evaded by means of humor. "What I've got to offer you is your life."
"It's not yours to offer, Mr. Thompson," said Galt softly.
Something about his voice made Mr. Thompson jerk to glance at him, then jerk faster to look away: Galt's smile seemed almost gentle.
"Now," said Galt, "do you see what I meant when I said that a zero can't hold a mortgage over life? It's I who'd have to grant you that kind of mortgage--and I don't. The removal of a threat is not a payment, the negation of a negative is not a reward, the withdrawal of your armed hoodlums is not an incentive, the offer not to murder me is not a value."
"Who... who's said anything about murdering you?"
"Who's said anything about anything else?
      ...There was a long pause.
"Well?" said Galt. "What are your orders?"
"I want you to save the economy of the country!"
"I don't know how to save it."
"I want you to find a way!"
"I don't know how to find it."
"I want you to think!"
"How will your gun make me do that, Mr. Thompson?"
        Mr. Thompson jerked suddenly into bustling, unnecessary motions, as if he were in a hurry, "I've got to run along," he said. "I... I have so many appointments. ...[He] paused at the door, turned to look at Galt for a moment and shook his head. "I can't figure you out," he said. "I just can't figure you out."
Galt smiled, shrugged and answered, "Who is John Galt?"