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Martin

Choosing the baby's sex

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Here are two methods currently being used in the US

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/daily/graphics/sexselection_121404.html

 

It costs a few thousand dollars, but many families think it is worth it for what they call "balance".

 

Like for instance they already have 4 boys and the mother really wants a little girl.

 

Or they do it because of some genetic problem that runs in the family and is only expressed in males, or passed down in the male line, so they choose to have daughters to avoid an inherited handicap.

 

And maybe other families do it for what you might think were frivolous reasons.

 

But anyway it is legal and clinics that do it advertise on the web and it looks like there are a lot of customers.

 

I was interested in the two methods. Particularly the one involving a fluorescent dye, a laser, and electrically charged plates. It sorts sperm into the X ones and the Y ones. Wooo

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so the age of designer babies has come...

 

(ominous silence)

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so the age of designer babies has come...

 

(ominous silence)

 

 

I wanna dat my wife hava da boy! You got a problem wid dis, ecoli?

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not if you're trying to avoid diseases.

 

But is you just don't want a certain sexed child... I don't know, it seems sort of immoral to me.

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I dont believe that God chooses the sex of your baby, I think it's chance. And i see no reason to leave it to chance----like a lot of things I dont leave simply to chance: when I cross the street I look both ways and so on.

 

 

Some familys run to boys for several generations. Younger women tend to have more percentage boys than older women do. I forget why. Read something about this years ago. may have to do with pH. Or age-differential in prevalence of miscarriages. Lots of weird small factors can change the sex ratio. So we do things that AFFECT the ratio, why not take some conscious steps, if people want?

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I dont believe that God chooses the sex of your baby' date=' I think it's chance. And i see no reason to leave it to chance----like a lot of things I dont leave simply to chance: when I cross the street I look both ways and so on.

 

 

Some familys run to boys for several generations. Younger women tend to have more percentage boys than older women do. I forget why. Read something about this years ago. may have to do with pH. Or age-differential in prevalence of miscarriages. Lots of weird small factors can change the sex ratio. So we do things that AFFECT the ratio, why not take some conscious steps, if people want?[/quote']

 

I have another example... there is this weird anomoly with a lot of Rabbi's I know... they seem to have more girls then boys. This one rabbi has seven girls and one boy.

 

I, personally, don't see anything wrong with leaving sex up to chance. What's wrong with little surprizes?

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not if you're trying to avoid diseases.

 

But is you just don't want a certain sexed child... I don't know' date=' it seems sort of immoral to me.[/quote']

immoral :)

 

you mean monkeying with Nature?

interfering with Sacred affairs?

 

yes actually I like the sensibility you show here. I like there to be some absence of control and mystery about life.

 

but I would prefer to leave it up to the couple. Some dont even want to know the results of amniocentesis! They want to be completely surprised on the day of birth. Some like to know, but want it to be random. and evidently some want to exercise this preference.

 

 

in fact it is the same with having a child in the first place. People choose differently----some use birth control and make it a conscious decision to have a child. Some just hump away and let the Lord decide whether or not she gets pregnant.

 

I guess I am saying that people who WANT to exercise choice, that I am glad they are able to. (regardless of whether my wife and I would have, had we been given the opportunity, probably actually we would not have exercised the sexchoice option)

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This one rabbi has seven girls and one boy.

 

lucky him, they have nicer manners and don't rebel against authority so much

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I only call something immoral when it is against will. However, it is also immoral when it is irreversible. I think more immoral when it is irreversible.

 

In today's society humans can have a sex change at an older age. Unfortunately, they can't exactly bring back the dead after an abortion...now martin has a hillbilly accent.. good job martin..

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I guess I am saying that people who WANT to exercise choice' date=' that I am glad they are able to. (regardless of whether my wife and I would have, had we been given the opportunity, probably actually we would not have exercised the sexchoice option)[/quote']

 

Ok, I can agree with you here. There should be an option whether or not couples want to chooose the sex. However, I can't help thinking of a Gattaca-type situation (great movie, btw). The couple wanted to leave something up to chance, but were pressured by the doctor into choosing. I can see this occuring too.

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Gattaca was more about natural selection... not male vs. female.. but... male vs. female is up for throw if you want to.. :D

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Gattaca was more about natural selection... not male vs. female.. but... male vs. female is up for throw if you want to.. :D

 

natural selection? Not really...

 

http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/g/gattaca-script-screenplay.html

 

GENETICIST

Your extracted eggs...

(noting the couple's names from

data along the edge of the screen)

...Maria' date=' have been fertilized with...

Antonio's sperm and we have performed an

analysis of the resulting pre-embryos.

After screening we're left with two healthy

boys and two healthy girls. Naturally, no

critical pre-dispositions to any of the major

inheritable diseases. All that remains is

to select the most compatible candidate.

 

Maria and Antonio exchange a nervous smile.

 

GENETICIST

First, we may as well decide on gender.

Have you given it any thought?

 

MARIA

(referring to the toddler

on her knee)

We would like Vincent to have a brother...

you know, to play with.

 

The Geneticist nods. He scans the data around the edge of the

screen.

 

GENETICIST

You've already specified blue eyes, dark

hair and fair skin. I have taken the liberty

of eradicating any potentially prejudicial

conditions - premature baldness, myopia,

alcoholism and addictive susceptibility,

propensity for violence and obesity--

 

MARIA

(interrupting, anxious)

--We didn't want--diseases, yes.

 

ANTONIO

(more diplomatic)

We were wondering if we should leave some

things to chance.

 

GENETICIST

(reassuring)

You want to give your child the best possible

start. Believe me, we have enough imperfection

built-in already. Your child doesn't need

any additional burdens. And keep in mind,

this child is still you, simply the best of you.

You could conceive naturally a thousand times

and never get such a result.

 

ANTONIO

(squeezing Maria's hand)

He's right, Maria. That's right.

 

Maria is only half-convinced, but the Geneticist swiftly moves

on.

 

GENETICIST

Is there any reason you'd want a left-handed

child?

 

ANTONIO

(blank)

Er, no...

 

GENETICIST

(explaining)

Some believe it is associated with creativity,

although there's no evidence. Also for

sports like baseball it can be an advantage.

 

ANTONIO

(shrugs)

I like football.

 

GENETICIST

(injecting a note of levity)

I have to warn you, Mr Luca, he's going

to be at least a head taller than you.

Prepare for a crick in the neck in

sixteen years time.

 

Antonio beams proudly.

 

GENETICIST

(scanning the data on the screen)

Anything I've forgotten?

 

MARIA

(hesitant about broaching the subject)

We want him--we were hoping he would get

married and have children. We'd like

grandchildren.

 

GENETICIST

(conspiratorial smile)

I understand. That's already been taken

care of.

(an afterthought)

Now you appreciate I can only work with

the raw material I have at my disposal but

for a little extra...I could also attempt to

insert sequences associated with enhanced

mathematical or musical ability.

 

MARIA

(suddenly enthused)

Antonio, the choir...

 

GENETICIST

(interjecting, covering himself)

I have to caution you it's not fool-proof.

With multi-gene traits there can be no guarantees.

 

ANTONIO

How much extra?

 

GENETICIST

It would be five thousand more.

 

Antonio's face falls.

 

ANTONIO

I'm sorry, there's no way we can.

 

GENETICIST

Don't worry. You'll probably do just

as well singing to him in the womb.

(rising to end the appointment)

We can implant the most successful

pre-embryo tomorrow afternoon. [/quote']

 

you get the idea...

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And what's wrong with that?

 

I'll tell you what i think is wrong. I think Gattaca is a scare-propaganda movie. The hero you are meant to identify with is the average white American kid next door, who now finds himself in the oppressed underclass in a BraveNew future where society is a strict totalitarian two-class system: the genetically enhanced and the UNenhanced.

 

It is powerfully unrealistic, instead of a MERITOCRACY based on a person's performance, they do everything by testing genes. Job applicants are ranked by their genes.

 

That doesnt make sense---it is not how things would work out in practice. When you hire someone you want to know their actual achievement (not their mere genetic potential). When you recommend someone for grad school you want to know what they actually LEARNED in college and what kind of independent projects they can do----the last thing you want to know is their mere genetic potential. Even if it has been genetically enhanced, a person's potential is of no use to you unless it has been REALIZED in the form of real capabilities. You have to assess the PERSON and not their genes, or you will make suboptimal choices.

 

I can't see that any real society would ever evolve into the Gattaca pattern, too inefficient and counterproductive. No socieity with economic competition anyway, because a company that is so very obtuse about choosing personnel would go broke.

 

Much of what a person can do (for his company, for his profession, for his clients, patients, students, you name it) depends on the guy's CHARACTER, which is the result of so many non-genetic accidents---parents, siblings, childhood environment, formative experiences, his marriage, the UNCONTROLABLE intangibles that determine non-IQ factors like judgement, honesty, courage, sense of humor, ability to work with other people. You can find plenty of people with a great genetic potential shown in their IQ who are nevertheless lacking in these ways.

 

I am not talking "nature versus nurture", because I think what a person can accomplish IS very strongly influenced by heredity and that no "nurture" program can compensate for mediocre genes. What I am saying is that environomental effects are to a large extent uncontrollable, not understood, and random. So that among 10 people with equally good genetic endowment you are going to find a huge amount of variation in actual ability and productivity. So while not denying the importance of heredity, an employer or gradschool admissions officer etc HAS TO LOOK AT THE PERSON and what they've done in life already, and not at the genes. Like, after age 20 the genes your parents gave you, whether they were bioengineered or randomly ovulated and ejaculated, don't matter any more. After age 20 it is not your biological potential but what you have already made of it.

 

So even in a society with lots of genetic engineering, if you are taking someone on, in your company or lawfirm or as a grad student in your lab or to teach in your highschool, YOU SURE AS HELL DONT WANT TO SEQUENCE THEIR FRIGGING GENOME, you want to see the Vita and do the interview and to understand that person. If you are hiring a ballplayer you dont just examine his muscles or his genome, to rate his potential, you have to see him play.

 

But in the unrealistic pretend future society of Gattaca, in every situation where you and I would be doing an interview or some real-life trial evaluation, those freaking artificial dweebs analyze the guy's DNA.

 

In the movie, everything is arranged to give you a bad feeling about gene technology --- because the HERO that you identify with is a naturally engendered human with oldfashioned genes who is getting up in the world by giving people FALSE DNA samples and you sweat it with him because you are afraid of being FOUND OUT as a natural instead of an enhanced.

 

So this film is teaching you to fear and hate the idea of humans genetically improving themselves. It is totally directed towards that propaganda goal from the plot outline on. And it projects a totally UNREALISTIC future, as far as I can tell-----a society and human experience which they pass off as the result of introducing genetic enhancement for humans.

 

Gattaca also plays the race card in a sneaky way. When you are feeling sorry for the hero's poor confused parents being bullied by a geneticist professional in that interview that ecoli kindly supplied us, guess what, the alpha-male professional is AfricanAmerican. This happens a few other times in the film IIRC. When you are are at the mercy of the representative of the all-powerful state, who is sitting across the desk from you, just then, that person will be a smoothtalking black guy with a genetically superior brain, and you are the poor gardenvariety white underclass American, confused and alienated by this future world in which you are the unenhanced mongrel.

 

But the hero's true grit and dogged determination overcome the disadvantages of birth and beat the system and win out in the end. So if you are taken in by the whole setup and the plot, you get a real sense of moral victory when the unenhanced underdog overcomes the evil System and becomes an astronaut.

 

And maybe BECAUSE of the very naturalness of his makeup he even has something that the overbred humans lack------sounds like another kind of genetic determinism doesnt it?---that will allow him to save the day. For some reason I think of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

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we should try to figure out what the real impact of more genetic options is likely to be. might be interesting to think about. might still be some undesirable effects even if it looks nothing like Gattaca

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Ah. Yeah, I remember that in Gattaca now.

 

Well about the gene development thing.. Recently I was asking about chromosome 6 and a gene inside of it.. nevermind this.. eh why not..

 

Supposedly there is a gene inside that has to do with intelligence. I understand the nature vs. nurture debate, however there probably is a biological predisposition that comes to intelligence, just as people who are mentally handicapped have a predisposition.

 

Many people theorize that the human brain has an infinite learning ability and storage capacity.. yet there must be some type of capacity.. i mean.. if electrons have a weight.. and the brain has a weight... well.. you know what I'm getting at.. However, there would probably be a long run problem based on choosing gender such as more men than women.. say there are five men for every 1 woman on earth.. that's goona create problems.

 

It already does, anyways.

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. However, there would probably be a long run problem based on choosing gender such as more men than women...

 

supply and demand

if women are scarce, a woman's value goes up, and parents will be more eager to have daughters

 

I know of no reason to suppose that in American society, if people were able to choose their baby's sex, the sex ratio would turn out anything other than 50-50.

 

why do you suppose that it would average out any different?

 

=====================

 

I would like to see the affect on some traditional societies where women are definitely secondclass citizens. Parents might choose at first to have more male children. But as women became scarcer they would very likely gain in status and it would become a status-factor to have daughters. Women in short supply might actually become more powerful than they were previously in those societies.

 

Anyway, i see the sex-ratio stabilizing at some percentage split, like 50-50, that works for that society-----by a kind of market price (supply demand) model. I do not see it going off the deep end, like 5 men to one woman or the reverse: 5 women to each man. those are not serious scenarios IMO.

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Purely personal view:

 

I have no problem with people chosing the sex of their baby as long as we don't get a generation of only males or only females.

 

I do begin to have something more against designer babies (ie. chosing looks etc.) but what's wrong with just chosing sex? (Is my view... I can read the answer to my question above, you don't need to repeat it!)

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I have no problem with any of these things. Why not specify a kids hair colour? Why not have them brighter? None of these sorts of traits are things which are 'unnatural' - they all have a chance of happening in a 'natural' birth, so why would a baby having these traits be bad?

 

The only possible objection could be that the definition of 'bad' is arbitrary. For example, I am sure many gay people would object to a 'gay gene' being removed. But I think that there are enough difference of opinion in possible parents that this would not be a problem, and if everyone were agreed that something is bad, hey, that's democratic evolution!

 

Also, we already have this artificial distinction of 'good' and 'bad'. For example, most people would have no qualms about genetically ensuring kids don't have Down's syndrome. But kids with Down's can lead perfectly happy lives, so why should they be selected against?

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Good posts, everyone, especially Martin.

 

All I meant by bringing up Gattaca is that the doctor was convincing the couple to "design" their own baby, despite personal misgivings. In my opinion, the doctor should have let the couple leave up to chance whatever they wanted to left up to chance. The rest of the movie was a stretch...obviously the potential measured by your genes tells little about your actual accomplishments.

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... or the reverse: 5 women to each man. those are not serious scenarios IMO.

 

too bad, that'd be nice lol

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Or it could get to the point where the governments like "hey we want good taxpaying citizens, so no ones having babies anymore" then just make the babies from bottles...

 

Or I could stop reading Brave New World lol

 

I think you can pick w/e you would want in your baby, however there are issues. What happens if 2 gay parents would like there child to be gay as well? what doctor would be allowed to do that?

 

Lots of issues, but fortanetly theres only the sex to choose at the moment

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Man, so this is what science grew up to be, eh?

If everyone started doing this, the general 50-50 balance of males and females would be broken. There wouldn't be enough of one sex to reproduce!

But then again, that could be a good thing, population's already way too high.

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Correlation does not imply causation.

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