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A Socialist Realist distortion of Dr. Paul Kammerer's experiments in the inheritance of acquired character(istic)s -- the (not entirely anti-Darwinian) conjecture that certain changes the environment produces in an individual may spontaneously appear in the next generation. As recounted in Arthur Koestler's The Case of the Midwife Toad (1971), Kammerer (1880-1926) claimed that darkened footpads he had artificially induced in a toad had been passed on to its offspring. When it was discovered that his critical specimen had been injected with ink (though why and by whom is still unknown), his credibility was destroyed and he apparently suicided. Richard Goldschmidt's synopsis of the film in "Research and Politics," Nature (1949), mocks it as Soviet propaganda in support of the inheritance of acquired characters: The importance attached to the subject is revealed by the facts that none other than the then all-powerful [People's] Commissar for [Public] Education, the highly ...
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