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Biotech Science

Designer Babies 902

Posted by samzenpus
from the wings-and-a-nice-prehensile-tail dept.
Singularity Hub writes "The Fertility Institutes recently stunned the fertility community by being the first company to boldly offer couples the opportunity to screen their embryos not only for diseases and gender, but also for completely benign characteristics such as eye color, hair color, and complexion. The Fertility Institutes proudly claims this is just the tip of the iceberg, and plans to offer almost any conceivable customization as science makes them available. Even as couples from across the globe are flocking in droves to pay the company their life's savings for a custom baby, opponents are vilifying the company for shattering moral and ethical boundaries. Like it or not, the era of designer babies is officially here and there is no going back."
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Designer Babies

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  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:10PM (#26991931) Homepage Journal

    Although there certainly is a lot of "fashion" and "tradition" in choosing names, it's hardly the nightmare of uniformity that is predicted by those who oppose genetic choice. Sometimes it might appear that everyone is named Steve, but alas, it is not so.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@nOsPAm.beau.org> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:14PM (#26991975)

    I remember people predicting this, mostly the fundies. They were laughed at. The gist of the flameage was "That won't ever happen, you guys need to STFU and let us scientists get on with the science."

    Ok, now it's happened. And as a society we lack the moral fiber to even say it is a bad idea. Forget making an actual judgemental moral decision and declaring it "immoral" or "wrong". We can't even agree it is a bad idea and will almost certainly have bad consequences.

    We are so doomed.

  • by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:32PM (#26992203)

    Remember when antibiotics were developed and they were hailed as the great solution for bacterial infections? Now look what has happened - yes, we've solved some problems (many, even), but we've made others much worse.

    So let's take a minute to think of the can of worms that we're opening. 1.) How are we supposed to determine whether something is a disease and whether it should be screened for? 2.) What if there's some genetic/evolutionary advantage to many of the "diseases" we hope to prevent? Obviously, no one wants to stand up and say that there's an advantage to -insert horrible disease here- but it's impossible to predict the future and what may be advantageous. 3.) We're also bound to get idiots that want their kids screened for stupid things like being short or stupid. There's probably a potential danger in this as well, not to mention that it's stupid.

    Anyways, as far as treating diseases go, we should be mindful that if we don't want to mess with the gene pool (as many believe that we shouldn't), we should consider non-genetic alternatives to treating problems. Furthermore, we should be excited with the advent of new technology, but we should be very careful in how we employ it (in particular, how much). These aren't necessarily my opinions, but it's important to at least play Devil's Advocate.

  • My genes are shit. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:34PM (#26992229)

    One of my younger brothers has severe autism. My other brother and our sister wear dentures. We all wear glasses. My parents wear glasses. My father's side of the family is all alcoholics, except for my grandfather, who is dead of a heart attack in his late 40s. My grandmother has had a triple bypass for her heart attack. On my mother's side of the family, my grandmother has survived breast cancer, and my grandfather is deep in Alzheimer's.

    To hell with the crapshoot that is conception. I've long since decided that any kids I raise will be adopted. Then again, maybe this sort of technology will get cheap enough for me to pass on whatever portion of my genetic code that isn't crap.

    All you "moral guardian" types are still stuck up on the crazy idea that condoms promote evil, bad sex, and think that the AIDS pandemic deserves nothing more than a crate of bibles shipped to Africa every few months. You haven't got a leg to stand on. Don't tell me the proper way to pass on genetic information.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:54PM (#26992459)

    What if there's some genetic/evolutionary advantage to many of the "diseases" we hope to prevent?

    What are the odds that some horrible genetic condition like, oh, sickle cell could, say, give immunity to malaria for example?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:09PM (#26992659)

    Ummm... Brad Pitt vs me or you. Everything but physical characteristics being equal, he will always win in life. Imagine 10 years from now and little poster boy for the Aryan nation gets told how he is the "chosen One" by his parents b/c they chose him out of thousands... or hundreds... Depending on how parents deal with it, that could seriously hurt his or his siblings psyche very much. Little big head doesn't have to play nice with love children around him....

    The more powerful the tool, the greater possibility for devastating abuse.

    And btw, this is the opposite of evolution. Withholding moral judgement, I say this is another step in humans playing "God"

  • Re:China and India (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:19PM (#26992755)

    The trend of not having/keeping girls is doing wonders (i.e. horrors) for their population balance. Every family wants a son, until they realise they cannot find them a wife.

    There are already 30 million more men than women in the 15-65 age bracket, add another 20 million extra males from the accelerating difference in the under 14 bracket over the next 5 years. 50 million disgruntled males who cannot find a partner are going to be a significant, dangerous and destabilising force for the whole region (including the effects of drawing females out of other nearby populations).

  • by Kozz (7764) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:31PM (#26992881)
    From Freakonomics (Levitt): "...in 1958, a New York City man named Robert Lane decided to call his baby son Winner. The Lanes, who lived in a housing project in Harlem, already had several children, each with a fairly typical name. But this boyâ"well, Robert Lane apparently had a special feeling about this one. Winner Lane: how could he fail with a name like that?

    Three years later, the Lanes had another baby boy, their seventh and last child. For reasons that no one can quite pin down today, Robert decided to name this boy Loser. It doesnâ(TM)t appear that Robert was unhappy about the new baby; he just seemed to get a kick out of the nameâ(TM)s bookend effect. First a Winner, now a Loser. But if Winner Lane could hardly be expected to fail, could Loser Lane possibly succeed?

    Loser Lane did in fact succeed. He went to prep school on a scholarship, graduated from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and joined the New York Police Department (this was his motherâ(TM)s longtime wish), where he made detective and, eventually, sergeant. Although he never hid his name, many people were uncomfortable using it. âoeSo I have a bunch of names,â he says today, âoefrom Jimmy to James to whatever they want to call you. Timmy. But they rarely call you Loser.â Once in a while, he said, âoethey throw a French twist on it: âLosier.â(TM)â To his police colleagues, he is known as Lou.

    And what of his brother with the canâ(TM)t-miss name? The most noteworthy achievement of Winner Lane, now in his midforties, is the sheer length of his criminal record: nearly three dozen arrests for burglary, domestic violence, trespassing, resisting arrest, and other mayhem."
  • by EdIII (1114411) * on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:34PM (#26992915)

    Yes it is.

    NO. It is not.

    Eugenics is about controlling which sperm has the legal/moral rights to fertilize which embryos. All of your examples reference such acts.

    What is occurring in the article is actions regarding fertilized embryos that had free will, or non-Eugenic motivations, in the choice of which sperm fertilized it.

    Don't confuse eugenics with euthanasia either. Or genocide for that matter. Euthanasia is the killing of human beings motivated by the desire to mitigate the burden to society or the idea that is was merciful to the person. You can't confuse that with assisted suicide either as euthanasia exclusively involves unwilling victims. Genocide is the systematic murder of a group of people based on certain traits.

    You can argue that eugenics is horrible all you want and that I don't understand history. BTW, not mentioning certain parts of history in a post does not mean that I am ignorant of them. The bottom line is that the actions being performed by this company and the parents involved DO NOT MEET THE DEFINITION OF EUGENICS. It is not the same as the behavior referenced in your examples either.

    I don't have reservations whatsoever about choosing among fertilized embryos to throw away those that are diseased and otherwise defective. I can absolutely understand the controversy about choices regarding height, eye color, hair color, sex. That concerns me as well. However, you need to come up with a new word for that though, since eugenics does not apply.

    Using the word eugenics here only serves to provoke an emotional response and does not serve anyone attempting to make arguments against the practice of this company as anyone that has a dictionary can see that you are conflating two different situations for dramatic effect.

    Finally, if you still cannot understand the definition, let me make it simpler. The words line up vertically with their respective actions and concepts that can apply to them:

    Two people meet - They bump uglies - They have child, possibly with defects or disease - Normal child grows up

    Segregation - *Eugenics* - Euthanasia - Genocide

  • by Tuoqui (1091447) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:41PM (#26993019) Journal

    Just wait until they patent the genes for intelligence. If your kid reproduces without the assistance of the medical company they'll be spreading patented genes or something and they'll demand the DNA information of the offspring. Sorta like Monsanto does with crops... Just imagine if these companies only give you sterile kids and require you to go through them to have future kids.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:51PM (#26993123)

    Yeah this is what I wonder too. Right now we have, I believe, the largest genetic diversity that humans have ever seen. There is a possibility that this diversity will be the reason we survive the next cataclysmic event. If we start selecting, and this reduces our genetic diversity as a whole, will something that could be the next progression of human survive? Don't know if that really matters anyway, but something to think about.

  • The Homosexual Gene (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spasmodeus (940657) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:09AM (#26993345)

    So, what happens when they find the genetic marker that indicates homosexuality?

    Will it be okay for parents to not select an embryo because he/she might grow up to be gay?

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:39AM (#26993615) Homepage Journal
    It would be cool if they could be selective against thick ankles in chicks.

    Whenever you see a young lady with a good body...but has thick ankles, you know that in a few years, she will put on the pounds. Maybe it is the same gene for being overweight and the thick ankles.

  • by ternarybit (1363339) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:45AM (#26993657)
    It's a bad idea because the potential for disastrous mistakes, oversights, and miscalculations to cripple future generations is staggering. Sure, your designer baby might never get Alzheimers, but who cares if it won't even live long enough to get it because of some deficiency caused by mis-manipulated genes?

    Who are we to assume we know enough about this to put *human lives* at risk?
  • by p0tat03 (985078) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @01:26AM (#26993949)

    In some countries, it's not uncommon for parents to kill girls that are born to them because they cannot carry on the family name, so to speak.

    Nice straw man YOU got there.

    There's a difference between infanticide (i.e. killing someone) vs. designer babies (i.e. preventing a hypothetical person from existing). By your logic it's also abhorrent for people carrying genetically transmission illnesses to abstain from having children.

  • by Workaphobia (931620) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @01:55AM (#26994141) Journal

    Society as a whole doesn't have to put up with embryos being aborted over hair/eye color if it deems it to be immoral.

    I'm heavily pro-choice, but that made even me cringe.

  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @01:55AM (#26994143)

    In this case the "shit you don't like" is a de facto eugenics policy. I would have thought we'd learned from the last century that eugenics is very problematic.

    No we didn't learn eugenics was a problem. If anything what was learned was that a group of people, whether it's the government or not, should not try to to exterminate those they don't like in an attempt to create a super race like the NAZIs did.

    No rational person wants to place blind trust the state to enact a eugenics policy allowing it an extreme degree of control over the physiology of the newborn.

    Read this [slashdot.org] thread of which this [slashdot.org] post is my last and you'll see I don't trust government. Here's [slashdot.org] another. So I don't trust government, whether dealing with eugenics or not. But I am willing to allow others to make their own decisions on whether or not to design their own children.

    Similarly, no rational person wants the same thing to happen by proxy as rich people design their children.

    Why not? Please give rational reasons why people should not be able to make their own decisions on whether we will "design" their own children.

    The point about names is a good one. Giving a child a horrible name is a form of mild child abuse.

    And who decides what's a bad name? You?

    Designing a child as one would design one's home interior (and that's how a lot of people who would do this think) would be much worse.

    Citation needed. Can you prove this or are you just making it up?

    Falcon

  • by Deanalator (806515) <pierce403@gmail.com> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @01:57AM (#26994157) Homepage

    A lot of people saw gattaca, and pulled out the message that we should abandon all genetic research before it destroys us all.

    In the beginning of gattaca, the narrator even mentions that "genoism" laws were passed, but in the movie we see blatant discrimination.

    The message that I got out of that movie is less about genetic engineering, and more about discrimination in general. If we as a society just flatly ignore certain discrimination laws, then of course society is going to go to hell in a short amount of time.

    It seems like there is this whole branch of scifi designed to terrorize people about the horrors of technology. The creators seem to think that we would all be better off if we abandoned technology and all went back to live in caves.

    If I had the opportunity to have children who were smarter, faster, stronger, and with laser eyes, I would do it in a heartbeat. What is the point of life in general without progression of evolution?

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@nOsPAm.beau.org> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @02:52AM (#26994491)

    > In the beginning of gattaca, the narrator even mentions that "genoism" laws were
    > passed, but in the movie we see blatant discrimination.

    Because the idea that laws from a legislature will overrule laws of physics is dumb. It's the sort of thing Democrats do.

    > The message that I got out of that movie is less about genetic engineering,
    > and more about discrimination in general.

    Wrong. Discriminating against people because they are of African descent is just dumb. Discriminating against someone because they are physically weaker, less intelligent, less emotionally stable, more likely to contract diseases and will generally die younger is a totally different thing. And that is where genetic engineering leads. I am not opposed to Eugenics because I don't think it will work, I oppose it because I know it WILL work.

    Our whole civilization can be summed up by these immortal words:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    Genetic engineering tosses ALL of that in the trash. All men are created by the Company with whatever inequalities the customer orders. Their ass is the property of the customer who commissioned them but the copyrights and patents on their design belongs to the Company. If it's defective just kill it and try again, hopefully we catch the defects before initial customer delivery.

    And as for Happiness? We commissioned a miner and mine it damned well better do, who cares if it enjoys it. We can just breed the 2.0 version to be too stupid to care if too many revolt or commit suicide. So what if it causes a few more losses because they won't be able to understand some of the safety rules, we will adjust the design until the cost benefit is right.

  • Re:The 99% Solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheLink (130905) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @02:53AM (#26994503) Journal
    Well what might happen before that is some of the female babies might start looking so cute (and behaving soooo adorably) that the parents decide to keep them anyway.

    You might also end up with female babies that tend to not cry and wake up their parents in the middle of the night.
  • Re:The 99% Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xilmaril (573709) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @03:12AM (#26994627)

    putting aside how horrible an idea that is for a moment, let's face that that's certainly what is happening.

    In india, their are more boys than girls now, which is something of an oddity, and in some communities the new generation are so predominantly male than they're having to do reverse-dowries. As my brother put it, "sooner or later they're going to run out of girls to subjugate, and they'll have to stop treating girls like dirt. either that or the guys will all go gay, but oh wait, that's against crummy traditional values too."

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@nOsPAm.beau.org> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @03:15AM (#26994651)

    > I guess if a culture wants to go that way, then it is their own fault when they don't
    > have enough chicks for all the guys to marry....and they slowly go extinct...

    That is one option. But what if they decide to wage The War For Poontang? Think about it. You get a bunch of your excess male population killed off along with a good proportion of the male population of the victim country leaving it with an excess of females to carry off as prizes. And there is that nice territorial expansion bit for essentially free.

    It is a related problem to the Muslim problem. Muslims are permitted up to four wives. Wealthy ones max out leaving lots of poor horny males with almost no prospect of getting any poon. And we wonder why they sign up as suicide bombers on the promise of those heavenly virgins? Those mating practices are a win if you are losing lots of your male population to war or other things, a recipe for disaster otherwise.

  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @04:33AM (#26995063) Journal

    There are 3 things I might select for, health, high intelligence, and physical fitness.

    I had a palaentology professor who described the interesting puzzle of a type of ocean bacteria which uses a tiny magnetic crystal to determine which way is up (the Earth's magnetic field having a vertical component). What the biologists could not figure out is why a small fraction of each generation would be born with the crystal the wrong way around and then swim down, instead of up, and perish. Surely evolution would have corrected this error?

    What the palaentologists did was use the crystals that fell from the bacteria when they died to measure the direction of the magnetic field - this in part lead to the discovery of the flipping of the field every 100k years and suddenly things became clear. What was a bad genetic mutation 99.99% of the time suddenly became essential to the survival of the species after the field flip. The few percent with the wrong crystal then became the survivors.

    So convince me that in selecting the "perfect" health gene and high intelligence gene we are not also potentially removing other genetic traits that might appear to be useless at the moment but which may offer resistance to some future virus or similar threat? Not to mention the social problems of trying to find a road sweeper or janitor when we are all giving birth to baby Einsteins.

  • by the_womble (580291) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @07:14AM (#26995915) Homepage Journal

    Asian cultures are not homogeneous. Even within the larger countries there is huge variation - why do you think infanticide is common in certain parts of India and unheard of in others?

    Dowry customs, in particular, vary enormously between countries and communities within countries. I think there are still places where a bride price is paid, completely changing the economics of it.

  • by Thiez (1281866) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @07:16AM (#26995925)

    Oh c'mon, it'll be awesome! What would it be like to be able to see an extra color? Say, infrared or ultraviolet?

    > Once we do this, we'd be wondering what else can we do, individuals with no limbs?

    We can do that already, it is called 'amputation' and I don't recommend it.

    > individuals with 8 arms?

    I'm hardly able to use two arms at the same time, I simply don't have the concentration to effectively use another six. Eight arms are going to be pretty useless most of the time.

    > eyes on the back?

    Now you're just being crazy. Some genetic stuff is relatively easy, other stuff is pretty hard. Lets stick with UV-vision. Check out this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrachromacy [wikipedia.org] : some males (and many more females) are already able to observe four different colors. Adding another color might well be as simple as adding a single gene. Putting eyes on your back would be much more difficult; it would require genetic modifications that tell your body where to put these eyes, how to connect them to the brain, how the brain should process this information, etc. And that is when you ignore the more tricky stuff, such as your normal eyes having a connection with your vestibular system to compensate when you move your head.

    It'll be a long time, if ever, before we can create people with an eye on the back of their head, and even then nobody will do it because it is useless. 'A CIA spy with an eye on the back of the head, BRILLIANT!' except that it would become rather simple to identify such spies, don't you think? If you are really that paranoid (and like to overcomplicate stuff), attach a tiny camera to the back of your head and send the signal to your optical nerve.

  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:11AM (#26996717) Homepage

    In a way, dog breeding is all about performance. Dogs in AKC-recognized shows are _not_ judged on how pretty they are. Each dog is judged against the official, written physical standard for that particular breed, not how well they're groomed or how cute they are. If you've ever wondered how a judge can compare dogs of different breeds in the group competition, that's how; the dog that best meets its standard wins.

    Of course since the judges are human, grooming or cuteness sometimes plays a part, but not usually.

    Just because you think your second puppy was "...not at all trained or bred for racing" doesn't mean it wasn't a perfect specimen according to the breed standard - if it met the standard, it had all of the traits needed to _be_ trained and excel at pulling a sled. The rest was a matter of training, not breeding.

  • Re:The 99% Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Asic Eng (193332) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:36AM (#26996967)
    Optimistic, but I don't think that's the way it will go. Traditionally, if a country has a surplus of males they go and conquer a neighboring country. War reduces the number of males, and the conquered country provides the women for the rest. The Chinese sign for peace is "" - a women in a house (not sure if that will show up on Slashdot, but you can just google for it). I think that's a well-chosen sign.

    It may not happen this time, but a surplus of unhappy males always creates a volatile situation. Partially the problem is solved by Chinese importing women from neighboring poor countries (like Vietnam), but while that may help in China it obviously creates a problem elsewhere.

  • Re:Are you catholic? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:41AM (#26997015)

    I am the father of a 4 months old baby daughter. We had planned on getting children and prior to this we have had 2 abortions because the embryo did not develop properly. And by that I mean that they did not develop with a cranium. "Children" like this can develop until birth, whereupon they die after a couple of hours due to the fact that they do not have a brain. A "natural" miscarriage had not happened, hence the abortions. A messy business all around.

    During this process I learned a few things by listening to doctors, going to genetic consultations and by reading up on the subject. Most of the human embryos (more than half) that are started, dies in some way inside the womb. Usually so early that the woman never realizes she is pregnant. The reasons are as varied as the embryos, and quite immaterial to this topic. The point is that "natural" pregnancies are a chancy and tricky business with less than 50/50 chances for each pregnancy to have what you may call a child that is able to live outside a womb (some would argue that this would make children even more "precious").

    Why are pregnancies tricky and chancy? Because it has developed over millions of years through a process called evolution. A process that is far from perfect, but that works. If anything the trickiness of having children is a (another) strong argument against the creationists (if we ever needed any more) who are determined to believe that we are "perfectly" created by some kind of supreme being. If so this proves he made a hash of it. But this is again a sidetrack to this topic.

    The "holy grail" of a "designer baby" is that you are able to take what is the "best" genes in each parent, prune away dangerous recessives and damaged genes and then hope that it works. It is with the current technology quite impossible to do this. For this the variables are just too great.

    As a person born with near-sightedness and a couple of other issues (which we all have), I would not mind having my genes a bit altered. And I would definitely consider it with any future children if the technology is actually viable (which it is not). Alterations that don't work at all, will for the most part be terminated in the womb. Other will die afterwards (just like it is now. No difference). And maybe some will grow up and be able to have children of their own. It is evolution.

  • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:42AM (#26997025) Journal
    Trade is a very apt word since these traditions hark back to the days when kids/wives/concubines were considered one's property.

    Kind of like marriage in the west. Wow. Small world!


    Doesn't it kind of remind you of that "endangered species" article yesterday, which suggested that by placing a dollar value on members of endangered species and allowing individuals to control them a motive would be created to protect them?

    Personally, I'm saving money to pay for a surrogate so I can have another child, and since I already have a daughter, I'll probably have them screen for a son.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:05PM (#26998943)

    I have known someone who's day job was to work in a residence for old people where half the occupants had it, and from the stories he told me I take it that you, were you to work for a few months at such a residence, would quickly abondon the notion that such a patient really is a full person. Or a person at all, if the decease has progressed far enough.
    That doesn't mean that I'm advocating killing them. However, if I ever discover that I've got Alzheimer's I'll kill myself before I become mentally incapable of doing so. Because I have to take the feelings of my friends and family into account, and the cost of society, and I think it would be the right thing to do.

  • by Reziac (43301) * on Thursday February 26, 2009 @02:46PM (#27001509) Homepage Journal

    I'm one of those weirdassed extra-colours seers [g] To me, a peacock's tail plumage looks more like the righthand example than the left: http://www.bio.bris.ac.uk/research/vision/4d.htm [bris.ac.uk] -- not quite that blue, but with the sparklies in the black "eye" clearly visible.

  • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @05:17PM (#27003833) Journal

    "The probability that _both_ the egg _and_ the sperm have that mutation out of nowhere, is pretty much nil."

    Welcome to the evolution creation debate.

    1. Not really. There's a massive difference between:

    A) the chance of you and your wife doing it, by repeatedly getting her pregnant and screening the embryo to see if it matches your expectations

    B) the chance of some mutation happening across billions of individuals and millions of years

    To illustrate the difference: a 1 in a million chance per pregnancy is unfeasible for case A. Even if you got her pregnant on every ovulation, you'd need an average if 4 million weeks. The same 1 in a million case is peanuts for the world's population. There are about 4 people born per second world-wide, so 1-in-a-million chances will happen on the average every 250,000 seconds = approx 70 hours = more than once per 3 days.

    Simply put, what's feasible for _one_ family is entirely different from what's possible for the whole species.

    2. Here we're talking about the chance of getting a very specific mutation, wanted in advance by the parents. Evolution does't have such predestined outcomes. It can yield literally billions of different mutations which are just as ok, if they pass the natural selection test.

    To illustrate the difference: think of getting a mutation that gives one green eyes. For "designer babies", well, if the parents really wanted blue eyes, it's the wrong one and the foetus will be discarded. For evolution it's a non-issue. The baby will be born anyway, and since it gives no other disadvantage, the mutation will survive just fine.

    Or in the words of Richard Feynman: "You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won't believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!"

    That's exactly the difference we're talkig about here:

    I. Creationists come all the time with ideas like "what are the chances of exactly us being created by accident?" But that's like the license plate here. We're just one of the billions of different species, and billions of different mutations each. It didn't _have_ to be us, and it didn't have to be any particular mutation. We're just a random thing that worked.

    We're not even the best thing imaginable. E.g., birds' lungs are much more efficient than mammalian lungs. We would have had an advantage if we had that other type of lung but we didn't, because that random chance didn't happen.

    Evolution doesn't call it in advance "it's going to have to be blond with blue eyes." It just tosses the dice and see what works better out of the random results. Maybe it'll be green hair and yellow eyes instead. If it works, it works.

    II. Whereas here the proposition is precisely that the parent say in advance what they want to get. They want blond with blue eyes, for example. Now the aim isn't just to have anything that works, but a given combination required in advance. A lot of otherwise viable combinations for the evolution scenario just became "wrong" for what a given mom and dad want. That makes the chances a lot shittier.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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