Shomron Center for Economic Policy Research

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Lessons from Iosif Rapoport’s life


Article by Yehoshua Socol and Moshe Yanovskiy ‘Geneticist Iosif Rapoport: the Scientist vs. the State‘ just has been published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS) Volume 28 No 2, (Summer) 2023.

The purpose of the review was to analyze the life and contribution to the science of Iosif Rapoport (1912-1990) in light of the relationship between science and power, science and society. Through the dramatic twists and turns in the history of genetics in the USSR, Rapoport and his colleagues—some of whom paid with their lives for their commitment to the truth—worked for a long time under extreme conditions. Rapoport’s story also mercilessly reminds of the responsibility of many scientists, who have learned to build and exploit special relationships with authorities—but have ceased to be scientists. Rapoport was not merely an outstanding scientist nominated for the Nobel Prize, contributing to science despite very unfavorable conditions. Throughout his entire life, he demonstrated outstanding courage, both military and civil. Due to the latter, by the way, he was not awarded the Prize. While everyone should try to follow his way, an ordinary person will hardly replicate his behavior. Society cannot rely on the personal heroism of a few; it should strengthen rules and institutions that preserve the culture of scientific discussion.

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