[Reading] ➼ The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank By David Plotz – Dailytradenews.co.uk

The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank summary The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, series The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, book The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, pdf The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank 0ddaa2bdf3 Robert Graham, The Oddball Inventor And Millionaire At The Heart Of David Plotz S Book, The Genius Factory, Is The Archetype For The Clich , Money Than Brains It Was Graham Who Reckoned America Was Going To Hell In A Hand Basket And The Best Way To Halt The Trend Was To Impregnate Women With Sperm Donated By Nobel Prize Winners And Other Overachievers Providing They Were Smart And White Forget For The Moment The Not So Thinly Veiled Racism Powering The Whole Eugenics Movement That Served As The Backbone Of Graham S Repository For Germinal Choice Graham S Super Sperm Idea Also Conveniently Overlooked The Fact That The Women Carrying The Babies Would Also Leave A Genetic Imprint While Ignoring The Nurture Versus Nature Argument Though Plotz Addresses These Concepts In His Book, The Real Reason To Recommend It Is Its Characters, The Sperm Bank Progeny Plotz Unearths Through Intense And Covert Legwork The Book S Humor Is Also A Selling Point In Abstract, Donating Sperm Seemed Fundamentally Silly But Actually Doing It Was Seductive, Plotz Writes I Had Been Accepted By The Ultraexclusive Fairfax Cryobak My Sperm Was Well Above Average My Count Was Million What S Yours, George Clooney Elsewhere, Plotz Writes, By Late , Graham Found Himself Presiding Over A Nobel Prize Sperm Bank That Had No Nobel Prize Donors, No Nobel Sperm Left In Storage And No Nobel Babies None Of The First Three Women Who D Been Inseminated With Nobel Sperm Had Gotten Pregnant In Fact, No One Inseminated With The Nobel Sperm Ever Got Pregnant The Nobel Prize Sperm Bank Would Never Produce A Single Nobel Baby No Matter Graham S Experiment, Which Did Produce Dozens Of Non Nobel Babies, Was A Success In One Regard It Made For A Heck Of A Story And In Plotz S Capable Hands, It Also Makes For A Heck Of A BookKim Hughes

10 thoughts on “The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank

  1. says:

    Dutch optician astronomer naturalist, Nicolaas Hartsoeker s Essai de Dioptrique 1694 contains one of my favorite illustrations in the history of science sorry Vesalius, De Humani Corporis Fabrica might have to take a back seat for once What could possibly oust the masterful engravings of volumes of infinitely greater consequence The homunculus For those of you who don t parlez fran ais, you needn t fear the picture pretty much says it all Yes, Hartsoeker peered through the microscope and, seeing those squiggly little suckers below the lens, helped bring unto the world the panspermist theory of preformationism featuring tons of tiny, fully formed humans ready to burst forth in every wad of cough semen Though Hartsoeker s vision had been cast aside long before the Repository for Germinal Choice aka the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank was conceived, the spirit of it a little tiny sperm person spirit was is alive and well when, in 1980, the bank was founded by Robert Klark Graham seen below admiring a sample with such reverence Sure we ve fancied up the science a bit tossed in some friar s pea plant and a helix or two, but Graham and co churned up a consumer public who very much believed that the bits and pieces of a great human could be locked inside someone s little swimmers The Bank s Beginnings and the Shock FactorIn all likelihood, you aren t familiar with Graham himself though you have him to thank for shatterproof eyeglass lenses However, you might have heard and most definitely have reaped the technological rewards of physicist, inventor, Nobel laureate and completely racist a hole, William Shockley Yes, the transistor is a pretty big deal and Shockley was one of the forefathers of Silicon Valley He was one of the Repository s biggest champions and was certainly its biggest liability Without getting into the nuances of scientific mis understanding of genetics at the time, let s just say that Shockley was the vocal proponent of every aspect of eugenics that makes people squirm In a very Fred Phelps esque way, Shockley basked in every bit of attention that came his way When students were protesting outside his Stanford office and their megaphones broke, Shockley came out and fixed them before retreating to his den Genius BabiesBad PR did not stop demand for the sperm of brilliance Graham and co which consisted of a couple other oddball characters couldn t court donors fast enough And, to clarify, it was all about courting the donors I m going to skip the parts about just how far from the Nobel Laureate ideal the Repository had to stray, but nevertheless they were always looking for good seed Graham would literally take guys out to dinner, tell them about his project, then try to get them to go back to his hotel with him to produce a sample on the spot Author David Plotz ongoing journey An Experiment in Long Form Cyberjournalism with the help of his employer, Slate is a good chunk of the book Personally, I didn t find the genius babies all the children of married or now divorced, white women and donors uncovered to be all that interesting, but it s all in there So, you know, read the book The Growth of the Sperm SectorThough the Repository for Germinal choice did not, itself, produce all that many children, it did reveal a huge market for not just donated sperm, but information and choice about the donors Sperm Banks are unlikely to make the walk by donor ATM switch anytime soon Is this a slippery slope towards Aldous Huxley s Brave New World Probably not However, the industry has embraced the inherent weirdness of it all with fervor Plotz, ever the good reporter, goes in deep finding the process of becoming a donor to be a matter of intense vetting, and lots of kitsch e.g sperm mouse pads, and references to masterbatoriums While the ATM might be a pipe dream, the delivery of spooge by sperm bike is not Lucky denizens of Copenhagen and Seattle can see them rolling down the streets already on that here How was the book It was fine I m glad I didn t pay for it libraries are pretty awesome , and would likely have found Plotz series of Slate articles sufficient to sate my curiosity the Seed series link appears to be no , but you can get started with The Genius Babies, and How They Grew.

  2. says:

    Millionaire Robert Graham s Repository for Germinal Choice 1980 1999 sperm bank was founded as a form of positive eugenics in order to encourage sperm donation by gifted men initially Nobelists for use in the nascent field of artificial insemination Launched to instant infamy, it turned out to have actually struck a major chord among women seeking sperm, who were generally treated extremely shabbily by the medical establishment which when doing as it pleased, casually chose donors largely at random and denied the women any kind of choice or information about the donor Plotz notes the first recorded case of artificial insemination involved abruptly chloroforming the woman and using a random medical student However, it encountered perennial troubles in obtaining sufficient supplies, as artificial insemination not necessarily usually IVF, as I assumed for most of the book until I finally realized my mistake used up large quantities of semen before a successful pregnancy, so the lack of Nobelist participants between the rigorous medical testing and the notoriety immediately forced a switch to less distinguished donors further, fees charged to women never came close to covering the operating expenses of recruiting those donors and schlepping all the semen around, even as other sperm banks adopted the Repository s innovation of stringent health examinations forcing Graham to sustain the Repository himself, and while he arranged for millionaire Floyd Kimble to take over funding the Repository when he died, that millionaire then soon died himself without having made any further provisions Graham s family was happy to see the sperm bank die, and that was that.

    Around 2000, journalist David Plotz began a 13 part Slate investigative report describing the positive eugenics background, history of the sperm bank, and trying to find donors mothers offspring succeeding in reaching a small fraction of them The online series includes some of their personal reactions to their experience, beliefs about the harm, some of them being reconnected with each other, descriptions of their current circumstances etc.

    The first question about this book is, is it worth reading if you ve already read the Slate articles and are interested in learning Yes The background on Graham, Shockley, and modern sperm banking is much extensive in the book, and it goes into substantially detail about the donors mothers offspring For example, the Slate series has one 2001 post focusing on Donor White , who had not been found by that point but White showed up afterwards, was interviewed extensively by Plotz much of the book is in the first person , and interacted a great deal with Beth Joy over the following years, all of which is in The Genius Factory but not the Slate articles He also corrects updates a number of assertions eg how exactly the Repository closed, with the online version concluding vaguely that it must have shut down because Graham somehow just didn t bother to put anything in his will and his relatives didn t support it, while the book version fixes this by bringing in Kimble and explaining what went wrong apparently none of these corrections have been added to the Slate versions, checking back.

    It s interesting seeing how disparate peoples reactions to the sperm bank are, ranging from the proper indifference to considerable curiosity to almost neurotic obsession I also appreciated the book expanding on the descriptions of the offspring and their successes even in trying circumstances, and the modern sperm banking industry, which is hard to get a read on because it s so private eg Plotz quotes Repository staff noting that, as long suggested, prospective mothers value highly height and health leafing through the catalogue, everyone is a positive eugenicist , and the issue of where the unrelated fathers stand in a very difficult one, and at least for the women who contacted Plotz, in a generally untenable one, although he notes the selection bias So I enjoyed much of the book and read it in one or two sittings.

    Much of this is relevant to anyone thinking about the current prospects for embryo selection on traits The estrangement of fathers emphasizes how naive it is to hope that merely offering some sperm of better genetic quality would be enough to encourage en masse usage genetic relatedness is far too important to almost everyone, and giving up relatedness for better traits is inherently insulting to the cuckolded father egg sperm donors are always a last resort This is something the iterated embryo selection genome synthesis approaches must grapple with who will use your optimized eggs sperms if it means the child will be 50% or 100% unrelated to the birth parents On the other hand, regular embryo selection CRISPR preserve relatedness almost entirely The lure of greater intelligence turns out, surprisingly, to not matter as much to the mothers as does height athleticism health and avoiding below average outcomes So mothers prize physical attributes as much or than mental ones, and are risk averse suggesting the importance of doing selection on multiple traits of which intelligence is only one and perhaps not even the most important one and of emphasizing that we have excellent height polygenic scores which right now would allow height increases of 4 inches, and of framing it in terms of reducing the chance of a low outcome rather than its equivalent increasing the mean.

    What s bad in the book Plotz comes off, as a little snide anti intellectual he seems to take an attitude in slightly disliking almost everyone in the book and it bleeds through unavoidably He lacks any kind of sympathy This slight disdain extends from the people to the core topics Though he can t deny the power of genetics when even the briefest meeting or description of the sperm donors shows their resemblance to their offspring, he is an orthodox liberal in doing his best to deny it Which lends some passages surreal qualities having just described how successful a bunch of kids were or how they resemble their donor or conceded that intelligence is indeed heavily genetically influenced, he ll then invoke the shared environment or epigenetics as the explanation of everything and move on I am reminded of the story that Bertrand Russell, seated next to a Christian at dinner, asked what he thought would happen to him when he died Oh, well, I suppose I shall inherit eternal bliss, but I wish we wouldn t talk about such an unpleasant topic

    He also makes a number of errors or questionable claims or perpetuates things he should know better I noted down a few while reading

    He notes that the press hyped the Repository as the genius factory or the Nobel Prize bank or calls them superbabies or genius babies , and then he goes on and routinely uses those hyperbolic phrases himself and indicts the Repository as a failure for producing no geniuses, even after having correctly noted that the genius babies would not have been anything of the sort because they would get only half their genes from the sperm donor

    What were the kids like Had the genius genes created genius babies Were Repository prodigies now skipping their way through America s best private schools, prepping for Harvard, intent on curing cancer and reinventing physics Were there lots of little Shockleys out there, hot wiring the latest Intel chips to work double time Graham thought his donors would supply a massive intelligence boost In fact, the genetic improvement was probably minuscule Nobel sperm would give modest odds of slightly better genes in the half share of chromosomes supplied by the father And even then Graham would be operating on only the nature side of the equation he had no control over nurture schools, upbringing, parents This was a formula for a B plus student, not the secular savior Graham hoped to breed.

    This is problematic because, aside from putting words in Graham s mouth who reasonably expected a few creative, intelligent people , he is judging the method fundamentally flawed when the results, as far as Plotz s mini census is able to uncover and Graham himself believed based on early reports but was unable to confirm due to non cooperation from the mothers , are consistent with what the simplest application of genetics would have predicted At no point does Plotz figure out what the results should have been So I will do it for him The adult heritability of IQ is 0.8 now, increasing during childhood, because schools upbringing parents just don t matter that much The donors listed range in gifts, but an IQ of 130 seems like a reasonable guess given their general education and often scientific success at least two donors should ve been excluded by the Repository, but in both cases they are clearly well above average anyway So they would be expected to yield a boost of 12 IQ points The mothers themselves range from below average to perhaps 130s themselves, we ll guesstimate 110 The offspring will be half related to the donor and to the mothers so their total expected adult IQ would be 30 0.8 0.5 10 0.8 0.5 16 or 116 with the usual 15 SD their childhood IQs would tend to be a bit lower What would we expect from such a group Well, we would expect them to do well in school, be healthy, athletic, a number of them at the top of their class and MENSA level in short, we would expect what Plotz shows us, and we expect them to basically resemble a group of Ashkenazi children given mean Jewish IQs of 110 Incidentally, an especially high scoring child, such as Doron Blake would be expected to regress back to 116 due to the major instability of childhood IQ even if Doron Blake had scored at 160 or something, very early childhood IQ correlates r 0.5 or less with final adult IQ, so Blake would be expected to end up somewhere around 160 116 05 or 138 IQ A marginal 12 IQ points is no joke that s worth many thousands of dollars in annual income, increases the odds of graduating college, etc and from an eugenic perspective, this is a gain that can accumulate over multiple generations The world would look very different if each generation was 12 points smarter To put that in a global perspective, a mean of 12 points takes you from the UK or USA to somewhere like subsaharan Africa

    Plotz s timeline is hopelessly pessimistic when he writes

    The Nobel sperm bank kids, I realized, were messengers from our future We are on the brink of the age of genetic expectations Soon maybe not in 5 years, but probably in 50 fertility doctors will be able to identify and manipulate genes for intelligence and beauty

    Indeed, not in 5 years from 2005, but he knew full well that PGD existed in 2005 since he covers it in the book and was being actively developed, and had probably heard about the Moore s Law for sequencing It didn t take 50 years, it took 8 the publication of Rietveld et al 2013 would make the identification manipulation of intelligence genes possible, and PGD was already waiting for it It can be done now if anyone wants to

    Describing Galton s work

    Successful fathers had successful sons This, Galton claimed, proved that God given abilities were passed from one generation to the next It did not concern Galton that in Victorian England, advantages of birth, wealth, and education might have given the sons of famous men a career boost

    Wrong Galton was well aware of the issue and tried to figure out the effect of such environments, inventing the adoption study, and finding exactly as subsequent studies using a variety of designs have also found that the advantages of birth, wealth, and education didn t count for much Sloppy axe grinding

    On applications of eugenics

    The American eugenicists most important cause was sterilization How they longed to cut They thought practically everyone should get the knife the feebleminded, alcoholics, epileptics, paupers, criminals, the insane, the weak, the deformed, the blind, the deaf, and the mute and their extended families Of course, most of the purportedly genetic ailments developed by eugenicists were not, in fact, genetic in origin.

    Wrong All of those are highly heritable and many genetic variants for them have been found, particularly alcoholism, insanity presumably schizophrenia , and deafness Plotz s arrogance is particularly offensive here as even in 2005, hundreds of deafness genes had been identified

    Oddly, another trait that doctors sometimes tried to match was religion, as though it had some genetic component.

    Religious attitudes are heritable

    On speed of eugenics

    And even if they had been genetic, sterilization would have been a hopelessly bad cure for them It would have taken literally thousands of generations of mass sterilization to significantly reduce the incidence of genetic diseases But eugenicists didn t stop to do the math.

    Likewise wrong I have no idea where Plotz got this claim of thousands of generations as he doesn t cite it, but where to start Non disease traits respond extremely quickly to selection, which would justify eugenics on its own quite aside from diseases the commoner diseases could be substantially decreased within a few generations I calculated that after 20 generations, schizophrenia could be halved, which is effective than any other anti schizophrenia treatment currently in use while it might take thousands of generations to completely wipe out a particular disease, that will be because it had already diminished to a great extent and as it becomes harder to wipe out that becomes ever unimportant eugenicists did stop to do the math because eugenicists like R.A Fisher invented the math

    the timeline of behavioral genetics is quite bizarre

    late 1970s At the time, sperm collection was practically the only widely available fertility treatment that worked Social science research was beginning to show that intelligence was at least partly heritable.

    Well before then Plotz cites uncritically both empirically falsified Gardner s multiple intelligences and epigenetics many of Plotz s criticisms make no sense or are self contradictory he lambasts the Repository for the idea of focusing on Nobels, and then writes Graham wouldn t have known what to do with an oddball like Einstein Um, no, I think Graham would ve known exactly what to do with a Nobel Prize winner like Albert Einstein, since you just wrote an entire book on that topic

    a deeply disturbing anti intellectualism trend surfaces in his descriptions of Shockley I was particularly struck by

    Shockley himself didn t seem like much of a provocateur He discussed incendiary topics in a bizarre manner exactly as if he were summarizing the latest advances in semiconductor research He was the iceman He didn t exude hatred for blacks he didn t have any He didn t exude sorrow he didn t have any of that, either Shockley s critics assumed that his racial anxiety stemmed from some personal experience, some deep trauma, but it probably didn t He had no particular feelings for blacks one way or another He hardly knew any blacks To him, his racial conclusions were simply the logical outcome of a train of thought As far as he was concerned, once he started to address human quality, he would follow its logic wherever it took him In his mind, his conclusions had nothing to do with any actual black person he was simply making an irrefutable point.

    One might think that in discussing a highly controversial and highly important topic, being dispassionate, having no personal grievances, and attempting to hew strictly to the science and logic would be laudable Apparently not Apparently if you care about it, you re a racist if you are scientific and unbiased, then you re bizarre and the iceman and still a racist This total lack of sympathy or interest in understanding Shockly s points leads Plotz into another genetics blunder

    Shockley thought he could prove to blacks that whiteness led to intelligence Shockley proposed to do this by measuring the percentage of white genes in blacks he would show that the whiter the black person, the smarter he was Not that he had any real idea of how to test for white genes He asked NAACP leader Roger Wilkins to help him collect blood samples from members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other celebrated blacks, on the grounds that these accomplished people would surely prove to be significantly white When Wilkins rejected him furiously, Shockley suggested that Stanford blood test its five hundred black students You can imagine how well that went over on campus.

    Extracting racial ancestry and white genes is hardly as difficult as Plotz makes it out to be, and Luigi Luca Cavalli Sforza was busy doing just that at the time admixture studies have been extensively used throughout medicine to help pin down disease causing variants which differ by race, and just as Shockley proposed have been used in the debate since then

    overvaluation of shared environment

    The I thought about it, the less surprising the maternal resemblance seemed Most of these children had been raised only by their mothers Their social fathers tended to be emotionally distant, and their biological donor fathers were out of the picture So of course they were tied tightly to their moms The mothers were women anxious for children, so motivated that they had chosen a genius sperm bank Not surprisingly, they had become driven mothers They spent time with their kids than most parents did, certainly than I did with mine or than my wonderful parents had with me Was it any wonder their children grew up to be like them I got the feeling that Samantha could have taken sperm from the dumbest player on the NFL s worst team and would still have raised a brilliant boy Her good genes would have helped, but so would the stimulating world she created around her Any child would have fallen under that spell.

    Plotz ignores that he spends much time with the mothers than the donors in his quest to rescue shared environment.

  3. says:

    At first it doesn t seem like such a bad idea, trying to ensure a smarter populace Then words like racism and eugenics raise their ugly heads People become specimens, and a whole lot of crazies begin to emerge from the woodwork.In 1980, Robert K Graham, a multi millionaire who made his fortune inventing shatterproof plastic eyeglass lenses, dreamed of a race of super geniuses the sperm of Nobel prize winners the eggs of Mensa women an improved human race And voila, the Repository for Germinal Choice was born Highly controversial from the get go, the facility closed in 1999 after gracing the world with 215 genius babies.From the start, the center had trouble attracting donors Graham, an unabashed conservative and fan of big bidness supplemented his supply with sperm from business men, scientists, college professors, and medical students basically the same juice that s up for grabs at run of the mill sperm banks By now you re probably brimming with questions like Did they give the brainy donors centerfolds of Margaret Mead and Marie Curie to get them in the mood Graham claims there was no inspirational literature , though many donors produced their samples at home and called for pick up What about the kids Are they super smart The answer to that one is NO Like the children of Lake Wobegon, they are above average, but most were raised by intelligent, single mothers who pushed them to achieve In the contest of nature vs nurture, the hyper involved moms nudged the needle into the latter category What kind of a man donates sperm The range varies from men who genuinely want to help a stranger conceive to creeps you wouldn t want sitting next to you on a bar stool.Which brings me to Michael , one of the donors who is also the son of a Nobel prize winning scientist Michael, I learned, was a man of little renown It was not clear whether he had a job.He referred to sperm donation, unironically, as work He was the only person I have ever heard of outside the porn industry who thought of masturbation as labor he called it work because it was the most productive activity in his life As we talked, he ticked off his employers on his fingers Oh, there were probably half a dozen doctors I worked for, plus two or three sperm banks All in all, he had spent fifteen years masturbating It had, he admitted, been exhausting.Michael was now fifty, and sperm bank age restrictions prevented him from donating any but Michael s eagerness to reproduce had not faded with age He wanted to give away the samples himself He was hoping to find a woman who would let him stay in touch with the child Not that he intended to financially support the kid or be a father he just wanted to check in when it was convenient.When asked why he had spent the better part of his life donating sperm, Michael began to channel Charlie Sheen this is what evolutionary biology is all about Winning is passing on your genes, and losing is failing to do so.And I wanted to win He spoke this last sentence with a smug grin It was just about the creepiest thing I have ever heard anyone say.There you have it, folks AND, there are at least 50 lil offspring running around sportin this guy s genes shudder The good news is that not every donor was like this jerk We also meet Roger who is curious about his children, yet does not wish to interfere in their lives He speaks eloquently about fathering children he has never seen Fathering children anonymously is somewhat akin to producing paintings that to you are beautiful and priceless, but doing this with the understanding that when they are finished they must be given away and likely never seen again Plotz does an excellent job covering this unusual subject matter His conversational tone keeps things light, and his sense of humor cracked me up several times a photo of some sperm captioned, Who s your daddy , his habit of referring to reproductive opportunists as The Inseminators , and this quote by a sperm bank employee, He had so much sperm, and it was so active And oh yeah, I learned plenty, including things I didn t really want to know such as the possibility of donor s children committing accidental incest Stuff like thatThis book was surprising, outrageous, and occasionally quite touching I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in science, biology, or genetics Or anyone who was once a baby.

  4. says:

    Spoiler alert not a single baby was born from a Nobel Prize winner thanks to this bank The bank, which started as a very thinly veiled eugenics project, only used white sperm to inseminate heterosexual, married white women The book goes into the history of eugenics, the weird people who made the bank a reality, and the stark contrast between the initial plans and the disappointing reality The author met a lot of the donors as well as the genius babies, their mothers, and their families In some cases, he helped reunite the donors and their offspring, in a mix of charming and anticlimactic results This sperm bank, though an innovator in its time, was a total Icarus project This was a really interesting book about a little B side of history It s a good read with the inevitable it s not about your genes, but the choices you make message.

  5. says:

    I picked this up from my gentleman friend s house out of sheer boredom we have very different taste in books , because I recognized David Plotz, the author, as one of the hosts of the Slate Political Gabfest, a podcast that I favour I m honestly not sure why I read the whole thing this is usually a topic I would devote a piece of journalism to perhaps but not a whole book In fact, it did start as a series of articles by Plotz on Slate he later went on to be the editor of the magazine Learning about the history of eugenics in America and the birth of the modern sperm bank industry through the lens of the so called nobel sperm bank was pretty interesting The details of the various people that ran the bank and donated to it was a bit tedious at times, but what actually kept me going were the stories of the children, moms, and donors that end up connecting with each other through Plotz These stories were touching, and the subjects are treated both critically and compassionately by the author The conclusion is basically no, the nobel sperm bank didn t produce a crop of geniuses Moreover, the women that used it weren t interested in that at all yes, some of them wanted smart kids, but most of them wanted well rounded, healthy, and athletic ones too Most of all they just wanted information about the donors, which the nobel sperm bank provided much of than other options in 1980 What started as a Malthusian eugenics project ended up simply creating a model for the type of customer focused sperm shopping experience we all take for granted today There are several layers of irony that the three nobel prize winners who donated ended up never producing a child That producing brilliant scientific minds wasn t really the priority of the bank s customers That the most prolific donors weren t particularly brilliant or admirable people merely a special brand of narcissist obsessed with spreading their seed That the kids ended up similar to their moms than anyone else The book is exhaustively reported and punchily written Recommended, but only if you re curious about the intersection of politics, science and fertility.

  6. says:

    It is essential to read the non fiction, stranger than fiction The Genius Factory Unravelling the Mysteries of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank before reading My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl My Uncle Oswald is not a children s book, definitely not It is an hilarious dark satire, which Dahl wrote inspired by the enterprise in America in the 1970s and 80s of the genius sperm bank which lasted about ten years.It is imperative to read The Genius Factory first, to appreciate the context in which Roald Dahl wrote My Uncle Oswald, a work of sheer brilliance This novel alone is testament to Dahl being one of the 20th century s great writers, considering the events which inspired it Reading My Uncle Oswald in 2018 without the understanding of the context could give a misreading of the novel.The Genius Factory is a great work of investigative journalism.

  7. says:

    Part history of eugenics, part history of fertility treatment, and a heaping mystery catfish story to uncover how this Nobel Prize Sperm Bank came to be and what happened to the promise of genius children People had told me this book was funny, which it was in places, so I was surprised how wrapped up I got in the plot Eugenics in the 1980s Sperm banks before federal regulations Yikes And then there is the philosophical, human stories that are really the base of the book How do our genes determine who we are What makes for family What is a life well lived Overall, a quick fascinating read, even if some of the early 2000s references to CD players and old search engines give it a coating of dust.

  8. says:

    The story of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, created by a rich entrepreneur who thought that the human genome was being forever compromised because the less intelligent were still allowed to breed Goes beyond that initial wackiness, however, to explore the children resulting from the sperm bank, what they had become as teenagers, and how they felt upon meeting their biological fathers Brings up all kinds of complex ethical conundrums surrounding sperm donation and the children brought into this world because of it.

  9. says:

    David Plotz s book covers a lot of ground over it s brief span The story of a man who wanted to create a sperm bank using only Nobel prize winning men and and Mensa level women transitions into the history of eugenics in America, the interference of one of Silicon Valley s most influential and wildly racist men, and personal stories of so called test tube babies looking to meet their donors It sounds disjointed, but thanks to Plotz s clean, funny, self effacing prose, it all hangs together, and becomes a surprisingly moving exploration into the makings of a family.

  10. says:

    This looks like a popular science book, or another instalment in the endless nature nurture debate But in fact it s a very moving story of children plentiful and their parents and vice versa What actually struck me the most is that intelligence doesn t make you happy unless it is of the emotional kind

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