We should use the emerging knowledge from genetics to have not just healthier children, but children with better genes. Unfortunately however, talking about better genes invites the objection, “That’s eugenics. That’s what the Nazis did.”
Last century, the eugenics movement in Europe and the United States sought to use selective breeding to protect the gene pool by weeding out criminals, the insane and the poor, based on the false belief that such conditions were simple genetic disorders.
It reached its inglorious climax when the Nazis moved beyond sterilization to exterminate the “genetically unfit” – those with inferior genes.
Latest 2 of 117 commentsView all comments
Looks like men are going to be OK. Some panic merchants were putting it about that the Y chromosome would eventually just pack it in, leaving Earth to the females of the species – but new research has shored up the future of the males.
Even though the Y has shrunk from 1400 genes to just 45, it’s got a fairly solid base. And even if the little guy responsible for turning boys into men does shuffle off this DNA coil, apparently men can be men without all of the men bits. Fascinating!
But revisiting comments such as those from Oxford University genetics professor Bryan Sykes – who in 2003 declared men would likely be extinct within 125,000 and that one ‘radical’ solution would be to let them go – did make me prematurely nostalgic for the days of men.
Latest 2 of 223 commentsView all comments
There are a few things I’d like to share. I’m at greater than normal risk of developing Crohn’s disease, Tourette syndrome and losing a testicle or two to cancer. On the bright side, the odds are I’ll never develop Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis. My IQ and episodic memory fall into the “typical” range (go to town with that one, Punchers).
Although I’m of 99 per cent European extraction, my mother’s people are Haplogroup J, which arose in the Middle East 45,000 – 50,000 years ago. On my father’s side I’m Haplogroup R1b1b2a1a2f, which most likely formed in Turkey about 20,000 years ago during the last Ice Age.
How do I know all this? Did I subject myself to an exhaustive battery of medical tests and spend millions of dollars tracing my genealogy back into the mists of time? Well, no. I spat into a vial, mailed it off, then logged on to a website a few weeks later to have the mysteries of my genetic code laid bare.
Latest 2 of 70 commentsView all comments
Should we play God? It’s time we dumped that question. It only shows how deluded we are about where we’ve already got to.
Playing God is taking over responsibility for the things that once could only be committed to prayer, ritual and trust in the Almighty – the things that couldn’t be controlled, including most things to do with the health of you and those you loved.
You become responsible for what was just “in God’s hands”. A hazard of life becomes a risk you accept. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the matter of starting a family.
Latest 2 of 106 commentsView all comments
The old “I’m sorry… but I was really drunk” excuse has just been trumped. Researchers in the US have recently discovered there is, supposedly, a genetic condition which could explain why some people cheat on their partners.
It’s the old Michael Douglas “I have a sex addition” baloney.
Give me a break. It seems that every time someone gets caught drink driving, cheating, being violent (or whatever) they trot out some medical or genetic condition to excuse their behaviour.
Latest 2 of 110 commentsView all comments
It is encouraging to see that a spirit of bipartisanship is being brought to the issue of patenting human genes.
However, it will take more than a recent House of Representatives motion calling for an end to the patenting of isolated human DNA to achieve change.
Despite the US Federal Court finding patents for the BRCA1 and 2 genes invalid, the weight of precedent is against the finding being upheld.
Latest 2 of 10 commentsView all comments
Growing up we used to call it the “Cadbury” – just one glass and a half of an alcoholic beverage and you’d be gone, but now science has an explanation for why some people get drunk faster than others.
And just like good looks, great hair and natural sporting ability, it seems being good at drinking is something you’re born with.
Latest 2 of 6 commentsView all comments
People always tell me that my hair isn’t red, it’s strawberry blonde. It’s as if they are paying me a compliment, like having red hair is something to be ashamed of. Well ladies and gentlemen, not today. Thanks to our new prime minister, being a redhead doesn’t just mean you have two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16, it means you are a winner.
If you are one of the many people who followed the leadership challenge on Twitter, you would have noticed that references to Julia Gillard’s red hair were made almost as often as references to the fact that we have our first female prime minister. It’s clear that the red hair thing is an issue for us as a society.
Those of us blessed with a fiery red mop make up only 1-2% of the human population. As much as our struggle pales in comparison to that of racial minorities, homosexuals and many other oppressed groups, the fact is that we are a minority.
Latest 2 of 35 commentsView all comments
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…