Eggsploitation and the New Eugenics

Couples seeking egg donors have been placing ads in Ivy League student newspapers, seeking the perfect blonde, blue-eyed Aryan with a high IQ to sell one of her eggs for $20,000.  Nothing is said about what the ovary-manipulating drugs may do to her.

From Melinda Henneberger in the Washington Post:

“Exceptional egg donor needed,” said a recent ad in the Harvard Crimson. The couple looking for that donor, it said, is working with a “prestigious Los Angeles IVF clinic,” in search of a “100% Korean woman” with an excellent education, “outstanding” test scores, “extremely healthy family history,” plus an “altruistic nature,” and a “slim build.” The Nobel Prize in Physics is only optional, I guess, since the ideal candidate sought in such notices must also be under 28.

It’s eugenics on steroids, a friend observed, though actually, it’s eugenics on Lupron and other hormones. Today, the word “eugenics” rightly summons Hitler, and in this country, forced sterilizations. It also calls to mind what Ruth Bader Ginsburg referred to several years ago as the expectation, at the time Roe v. Wade became law, that abortion would curb “growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

But at the turn of the last century, the idea of keeping “mental defectives” — and often, one qualified for this designation simply by being black and/or poor — out of the gene pool was as widely accepted as the rationalization for our march into Iraq was a decade ago. “More children from the fit, less from the unfit,” said the early feminist Margaret Sanger. “That is the chief issue of birth control.”

In “The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering,” the moral philosopher Michael J. Sandel wrote that champions of “the new eugenics” see it as not only ethically superior to the bad old days of forced sterilizations — this time, it’s optional — but perhaps even morally required. . . .

For the ‘donor,’ the going rate seems to be 20k, plus “all expenses paid,” and all women have to do to cash in is get so pumped up on hormones that they produce not one egg but many, and are chemically thrown into reproductive sync with the surrogate.

But I hope these super smart young altruists who want to help an infertile couple while also scoring enough money to (almost) pay for a semester’s tuition know the risks, which according to the Our Bodies, Ourselves Health Resource Center have too long been under-played. Lupron, the drug used to shut down the ovaries before they’re revved up again with other drugs, has been reported to cause everything from hair loss to amnesia and bone pain, and is not even approved for this use.

The drugs used to jump-start the ovaries again can cause Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which is always serious and in rare cases can cause strokes and even death; the literature says this happens in a small number of cases — between .5 and 5 percent — though on the high side of that range, one in 20 is not small at all.

Cancer risks are also among the longer-term effects suggested in some, though not all studies. But even the low doses of hormones used in estrogen replacement therapy have been linked to an increased cancer risk, so I won’t drop my spoon in surprise if further research makes the danger clear.

Jennifer Lahl, who’s spent the last three years traveling from college to college showing her documentary film “Eggsploitation” — interviews with women who did have serious complications as a result of egg donation — says she often feels like a latter-day opponent of Big Tobacco, outmatched by an lobby that’s “strong, wealthy and powerful.”

What she wants is what Big Tobacco finally had to provide: A warning label. A major survey of egg donors in 2008 found that one in five was unaware of any health risks, though with cash on the table, it’s easy to understand how the small print might have been overlooked. Can you even have informed consent with money at stake?

via The ultimate Easter egg hunt: ‘Ivy League couple’ seeks donor with ‘highest scores’.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • tODD

    The article asks:

    Can you even have informed consent with money at stake?

    Isn’t that sort of the basis to our society’s economy, that people are generally capable of weighing benefits vs. costs and deciding what’s best for them?

    Of course, I’m all for the donors having all the medical information possible. You can’t make an informed choice without that. But if she does have that, I do think it’s possible for her to give informed consent, even in the face of a decent hunk of cash. I’m not saying the cash won’t convince more than a few women to make poor choices, but, again, this is the nature of our economy. Other people get tattoos branded on their flesh in return for money, you know.

  • Pete

    tODD @1
    Your logic is, as a rule, impeccable (entirely devoid of pecc) but I’m puzzled at your comparison here. I don’t get paid to make the choice to get a tattoo – I pay for it. In the “egg donor” deal here, I don’t pay to do a stupid thing – I’m paid for it. Apples and.. well, eggs.

  • Paul Reed

    If you think egg selection sounds kind of like eugenics, you ought to familiarize yourself with some of the algorithms that places like match.com and Eharmony use. EHarmony, for example, won’t match a guy and a girl unless the guy is at least as tall. People are looking for their perfect mate to spread their genes to the next generation, whether they are conscious of it or not. In our church, how Godly a guy is is about number 8 on a young lady’s wish list. Of course, not all eugenics is not all equally sinister. We slaughter about 75% of children with Down’s Syndrome, as late-term abortions. Even the pro-aborts will concede there’s something wrong here.

  • Tom Hering

    Pete @ 2, the world is stranger than you think:

    http://leaseyourbody.com/main.php

    … and getting stranger every day. :-D

  • fjsteve

    I’m not sure the comparison with eugenics is fair. The eugenics movement was promoted by governments and sociologists in order to improve the gene pool and create a more perfect society. It seems to me that the examples given in the story are of parents who want their children to look like them. This is only natural, isn’t it? No,w if you’re already going down the path of selecting the perfect egg to produce your kid, throwing in other good genetic qualities seems like the smart thing to do. To be clear, I’m only talking here about the desire of the parents who are being labeled eugenicists. The cost to the egg donor is an entirely different matter.

  • Pete

    Tom @4

    Like just about everything else in the world, your linked website brings to mind a line from a song by Bob Dylan:
    “People are crazy, times are strange,
    I’m locked in tight, I’m outta range,
    I used to care, but things have changed.”
    from “Things Have Changed”

  • Cincinnatus

    fjsteve@5:

    How is the marketization and industrialization of something that was once only the fantasy of professional bureaucrats and academics (and Hitler, I suppose) a good thing? Why should it be legal to purchase eggs–of whatever quality–in the first place? Why is it acceptable to commodify the ovary?

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@1,

    A surprisingly libertarian argument you make!

    I see your point, but money is factored out of the equation of exchange more often than you might think. For example, pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies can offer me a drug that will cure my chronic disease for a comparatively small fee–and they can even list all the horrific side effects (may cause DEATH)–but that doesn’t mean I can purchase the wonder-drug at will. Rather, I have to get a prescription from a licensed physician–i.e., I’m definitely not allowed to be the initial judge of whether or not I can purchase the drug (and that’s not even to mention the FDA and other agencies involved in whether I can make a personal “contract” with the drug companies to purchase the drug).

    Policymakers have made similar arguments in light of the economic crisis: banks “seduced” folks into signing mortgages that were ultimately “predatory.” How? By offering these people–totally unqualified, irresponsible people–houses that were heretofore unimaginable on their budgets.

    Similarly, if you take a poor college student–I know, I know: it’s unlikely that Harvard undergrads are starving–and offer them 20,000 bucks to do something dangerous and exploitablahblahblah…did someone say $20,000? Informed consent goes out the window, as the argument goes.

    I don’t know if I fully buy this argument, but I don’t think I fully buy yours either. When disproportionate monetary or material rewards are in play, there usually seems to be asymmetric information/rationality in play as well.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    All kinds of neat questions here, of which the question of whether donors suffer health problems is really pretty low on the Pareto, IMO. Not that health problems for donors are a minor issue, but rather that the other issues are so big.

    Let’s start with the fact that if I’ve got the “creme de la creme” of students donating eggs for wealthy parents-to-be, it’s not hard to wonder whether inbreeding would become a problem. Yes, I know that “reputable” IVF won’t do this, but reputable and disreputable IVF are separated by a mere lie on one or two lines of the patient questionaire, no?

    And let’s take a look at IVF; you take hundreds of eggs, fertilize a dozen or so, implant three of the kids and leave the rest in the freezer, and leave the rest of the eggs who knows where? In the meantime, while some parents can’t conceive normally, I’d have to guess that some “dads to be” are effectively telling their wives that they’re not worthy to be a mom–”you can carry my child, but it won’t be yours”, and some will do the reverse, and in others, the child will be completely unrelated to both parents.

    So for IVF to get going, you’ve got to have populations of parents-to-be and donors fully comfortable with this–and the possible health effects as well.

    Regarding the health effects, I had thought that the purpose of the FDA was to figure this sort of thing out. Where are they on this? If the relative risks are really as portrayed (OK, debateable for sure), they are not looking so smart and “on the job.”

  • fjsteve

    Cincinnatus,

    I didn’t say it was a good thing. In fact, due to the physical cost to the donor and the egg, it is a decidedly bad thing. What I was saying is that the comparison to eugenics and a Nazi utopia are unfair since this is the practice, so far, of private individuals affecting their own families. As long as people have been walking the earth, they’ve been choosing their mates, consciously or subconsciously, based on how fit and how much like themselves their offspring are likely to be. This just seems like a high-tech extension of that desire.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    One other thought about wealthy parents-to-be pulling out the stops for the best eggs (and I’d have to guess “seed” as well); the thing that corresponds best to success for a child is the involvement of both parents, not innate ability. I’m sure we can all point to any number of prize academics/atheletes/more who have flamed out because of a lack of character–and perhaps another number who “should have.” So they’re kinda missing the point, IMO.

  • Tom Hering

    How many parents, who are both good stock, have turned out kids who suck in every way? The assumption that best possible parent + best possible parent = best possible children is questionable.

  • tODD

    I also don’t see why shopping around for an egg donor constitutes eugenics. I mean, at a technical level, perhaps, but the real question is whether the connotation we all know we’re thinking of fits.

    I suggest it doesn’t, because that style of eugenics was horrific because it was involuntary. Killing, forced sterilizations, all that.

    Trying to pick an egg donor with just the right characteristics, however, is exactly as evil as looking for certain attributes in your future spouse. Are we going to call that “eugenics”, too?

    That said, I’m not sure that these people are necessarily “parents who want their children to look like them”, as FJSteve says (@5). It’s possible they’re looking to improve their child’s genetic lot in life over what they would be able to provide themselves. That certainly seems weird, and possibly even “unfair” to us today, though I’m not sure I’d call it wrong.

  • tODD

    Cincinnatus (@8), “surprisingly libertarian”? I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not.

    Anyhow, I think the question raised by the article (“Can you even have informed consent with money at stake?”) is, at best, poorly phrased. Because the answer is obviously “yes”.

    But you raise two different points along those lines. One is, more or less, that there are certain types of financial transactions that have always been illegal. And sure, prostitution, organ trafficking, etc. If we want to argue as a society that certain things simply ought not be done for money, then we can do that. It doesn’t mean that informed consent isn’t possible — I would argue that many, though not all, prostitutes are capable of just that, for example.

    The other question, though, is about the amount of money. That is: Can you have informed consent with “disproportionate monetary or material rewards” at stake? The problem I have with this line of thinking is that you’re asking someone (the government?) to determine what payments are “disproportionate”. Hmm. Not sure I like where that takes us.

  • fjsteve

    tODD, @ 13,

    Obviously we can’t speak to everyone’s motivation but the examples in the article–looking for a woman who is 100 % Korean, for example–sound very much to me like people who understandably want their offspring to ‘look like them’. I don’t mean to imply some negative or narcissistic quality but it does make life easier, right? Standing in line at the Korean market. Going to friends’ houses to play. You don’t want the kids sitting around the table playing “which one of these is not like the other”–with each other.

  • R. Hall

    The concern here is not systematic eugenics like we’ve seen before, but that the attitude behind these techniques of procreation must be second-guessed–there are presuppositions here that could eventually make way for systematic harm.

    I could easily see, somewhere, someplace, parents losing health benefits for choosing to bear children when they have known genetic defects in their backgrounds. I hope that’s just a bad dream. But worse things have happened in history, lots of times.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I’d agree that this does not constitute eugenics on the scale in which it was practiced worldwide in the 1920s-1940s, but I’d argue that it could become dangerous because it starts to normalize the drive to not just take what God gives you for your children, but rather to pick and choose. That is, after all, at the root of the 1920s eugenics efforts–to choose the “fittest.”

    (again, thankfully it lacks legal compulsion, but it’s setting up the philosophical framework and acceptability)

  • DonS

    I agree with tODD’s comment @ 1 and follow-ups. The last line of the quoted portion of the article: ” Can you even have informed consent with money at stake?” kind of takes away from everything else the author says. Once society has made the decision to permit egg donation, why shouldn’t the donor, who is going through the inconvenience, side effects, and potential long-term health risks of the procedure, be appropriately compensated? And, as to the level of appropriate compensation, as tODD says, I decidedly DON’T want the government to impose or decide that issue.

    As others have noted, this is not eugenics, but more akin to matchmaking. No one is being deprived of the ability to procreate because of these activities between private individuals. I don’t have a clear ethical position on infertility treatments and options, but as long as they have been deemed not to impose any definitive health dangers or risks it shouldn’t be government’s job to prohibit or intensely regulate them.

  • sg

    “How many parents, who are both good stock, have turned out kids who suck in every way?

    A lot fewer than those parents who suck in every way.

    The assumption that best possible parent + best possible parent = best possible children is questionable.”

    No, it isn’t. It isn’t questioned at all. Rather it is a generally accepted fact.
    Yes, two healthy parents really do have the best odds of having the best kids. When two unhealthy parents have some really outstanding kid, he is an outlier. So it is a matter of distribution and odds. I hate to break it to you but this also applies to racehorses and livestock and even wheat and corn. 100% of an individual’s biology comes from his genes. There is no other source.

  • tODD

    SG (@19), how’d you go from Tom’s statement about “kids who suck in every way” to merely discussing health? Do you think Tom was merely limiting his comment to health? If not, why did you?

    You said, “100% of an individual’s biology comes from his genes. There is no other source.” Sure, if you define “biology” strictly in terms of genetics (making it a banal tautology). But that’s not all biology is. Environment matters in gene expression, among other things.

  • Kathy

    I recall a pastor once giving our ladies’ Bible study a class on fertility issues. I almost laughed when he pulled out Luther’s Small Catechism. The bottom line was…fertility treatments that only involved the husband and the wife were acceptable. When a third person was brought in, whether as a sperm or egg donor, or as a surrogate mother, the commandment against adultery was broken. That third person intruded on the marriage, hence the use of the Catechism. I’m thinking that the LCMS did a study on fertility issues, and the info came from that study.

  • sg

    @20

    Okay, swap out healthy for good-looking or criminal or smart or tall or fat or whatever and it will be a correlated distribution. I already said that it is a distribution and odds. To use Tom’s words, good stock begets good stock generally but not absolutely. It is a distribution and the distribution holds for whatever trait you choose. So, Tom was totally wrong in his assertion that “The assumption that best possible parent + best possible parent = best possible children is questionable.” It is not at all questionable. It is reliably true because it has been thoroughly demonstrated. Are you familiar with dog breeding? They get physical traits and breed specific psychological abilities from breeding, aka genetic.

  • trotk

    “specific psychological abilities”!!!!

    Possibly true for dogs…actually, no, not at all. And certainly not true for humans. sg, your deterministic and reductionistic view of genetics is laughable. There are many other factors that are just as important as the genetic factor. tODD mentioned environment, but things like training and diet (which can be considered environmental) are as important as the genetic material. And in the case of humans, there is that monumentally important little issue – the will (if you want, call it the soul, mind, heart, etc.). Unless you are a true materialist/determinist, you have to acknowledge that who a child ends up being is due to factors far beyond the genetic make-up of the sperm and egg.

    But I suppose it is possible that you are a materialist/determinist. If would fit with your incessant criticism of low-performing racial and ethnic groups.

  • trotk

    Actually, in rereading your comment at 22, I am more amazed that you included “criminal” in your first sentence. Did you actually just claim that criminality was a genetic issue? Do you have any idea how bad the science is behind those sorts of claims, and how frightening the societal imperatives that can be drawn from them are?

  • http://penzahobby.ru/JustineDo Phoebe

    Increasingly folks are adopting this method which they’re finding really simple to practice.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    @23: Even if you are a determinist/materialist, you won’t come to sg’s conclusion. Because cultutral influence can also determine the outcome. Culture, environment etc have an impact on the individual, and how their “pre-programmed genetics” runs, or is activated, in that environment and culture.

  • trotk

    Certainly, Klasie. sg appears to be a very particular type of determinist – the type who believes everything is attributable to a person’s genetic make-up, at least in a “correlated distribution.” The funny thing about her view is that it is totally unprovable, not to mention ridiculous prima facie, because there are so many non genetic and non physical factors. It is obviously unprovable, because we don’t even know what genes create most human tendencies, or in her words, “psychological abilities” (and there certainly isn’t a gene for criminality), and thus we couldn’t even begin to test for them in order to prove her thesis.

    Her thesis, as everyone but sg recognizes, is what leads to the conclusions she favors in terms of immigration, but frighteningly, it also led to the pre-emptive incarceration, sterilization, and extermination of various races, classes, and groups of people over the course of human history.

    I wish she would show up and defend the utterly ridiculous claims she made, although I can imagine that she would hide behind the fact that she used the word correlation, rather than causation, failing to recognize that she cannot both claim genetic causality (as she did in 19 and 22) and correlation (as she did in 22). She also tends to point to statistics referring to the measurable outcomes of various people groups (education, poverty, crime, etc) and assume a genetic cause, all the while overlooking environmental and non-physical causes.

  • sg

    Even if you are a determinist/materialist, you won’t come to sg’s conclusion. Because cultutral influence can also determine the outcome. Culture, environment etc have an impact on the individual, and how their “pre-programmed genetics” runs, or is activated, in that environment and culture.”

    Bull.

    And you know it.

    You know I qualified it by saying the odds are not the same.

    Any given individual is of course an individual and may be near or far from the mean. However, any sufficiently large same bears out that high yield corn begets high yield corn.

  • sg

    “specific psychological abilities”!!!!

    Possibly true for dogs…actually, no, not at all. And certainly not true for humans.

    Absurd.

    It is well established that dogs are bred for specific temperaments. Go look up any dog breed and the description will describe the breed’s temperament. There are always outliers, but there is also a general case. They breed for it and they get it. It is selection.

  • trotk

    Nice dodging, sg. Corn? A step down from dogs. Which is, of course, a step down from people.

    You are, of course, way out of your league when it comes to genetics. People don’t work like corn. Thus, Marcus Aurelius begets Commodus. There is no argument from genetics, because there is no gene that dictates (name the psychological characteristic). Arguments from statistics don’t prove anything, because of the multitude of factors. And anecdotes can be used to prove anything.

  • sg

    Did you actually just claim that criminality was a genetic issue?

    It has already been established. It isn’t even controversial. Children of criminals adopted by non criminals are more likely to be criminals than the biological children of non-criminals.

    Trotk, where do you think people’s personalities come from? Do you believe they are 100% determined by external forces like society, parents, experiences etc.? If not, then what percent do you think is innate?

  • sg

    “Nice dodging, sg. Corn? A step down from dogs. Which is, of course, a step down from people.”

    What is the difference? Corn is what it is because of what it is. Dogs are what they are because of what they are. People are what they are because of what they are. Corn is affected by outside influences, too, you know.

  • sg

    “There is no argument from genetics, because there is no gene that dictates (name the psychological characteristic). Arguments from statistics don’t prove anything, because of the multitude of factors. And anecdotes can be used to prove anything.”

    This is so absurd. Plenty of psychiatric illnesses have been shown to have a genetic component? What are you so afraid of? Afraid to admit humans can’t control everything and that we can’t just be who we want to be, but are constrained by our own biology? Why can’t we teach chimps what we can teach people if genetics has no bearing from the neck up?

  • sg

    “There is no argument from genetics, because there is no gene that dictates (name the psychological characteristic).”

    There is no gene that dictates height either, but it is still genetic. Probably due to the influence of many genes, but certainly not 100% due to environment, friends and the weather.

  • sg

    Arguments from statistics don’t prove anything, because of the multitude of factors.”

    Bull. How do you think the FDA determines safety and efficacy of prescription drugs? Statistical evidence. Duh. There are certainly a multitude of factors acting upon on the many human subjects in a clinical trial, yet the statistical evidence is used as the basis for approving various therapies. If a drug shrinks tumors in 30% of patients, then they don’t say, “Well that proves nothing because each of those subjects lived in different houses and ate different foods, yada yada a multitude of factors.”

  • trotk

    Episodes 31-33, in which sg doubles down on bad science…

    First, let me state clearly that no sane scientist denies that genes can influence certain characteristics. They are one of many factors.
    Second, let me state clearly that the vast majority of what you are claiming is way beyond any provable science. Basically, you are spouting dung.
    Third, let me state clearly that examples from animals and plants prove nothing in terms of your argument.

    And now, to the meat:

    @31: Please cite your proof that “Children of criminals adopted by non criminals are more likely to be criminals than the biological children of non-criminals,” and please make certain that you isolate variables in this proof such that the only factor in play is whether the child was begotten by criminal parents.

    Of course I don’t think the personality is 100% external. I listed three sources as examples, only one of which is external (environment – the other two are internal: genes and the will). Please read more carefully.

    @32: Again, examples concerning corn might prove statements about corn (which you haven’t done, by the way), examples concerning dogs might prove statements concerning dogs (which you haven’t done, by the way), and neither prove anything about people (I always tell my students that claiming does not equal proving).

    @33: Again, I have not claimed that there is no genetic component to psychiatric illness. However, I will now claim, that, as of yet, there is no proof that genetics are the primary cause for most psychiatric illnesses, and there is no proof that genetics are even a subsidiary cause for criminality, psychological dispensations, educational success, or anything else you assume.

    I am not scared of admitting that people can’t control everything. But as I said, I acknowledged that people are the result of multiple factors, of which the personal will is only one. But your claims are prima facie ridiculous, based on zero science,and likely to lead to horrific conclusions, and so I will call you out on them, and unless you provide conclusive evidence, assume that you are speaking out of prejudice.

  • trotk

    @34:

    Again, the 100% is your claim, not mine. Remember the three factors I claimed @23. You ought to read more carefully. Or should I blame that on your genes?

  • trotk

    @35:

    Yes, there are arguments from statistics. And then there are arguments from statistics. What you neglect is the isolation of variables, or at least the control of them. And hopefully, when the FDA makes a decision, it is at least controlling variables. Unlike you.

  • sg

    I don’t feel the need to prove stuff that is common knowledge.

    Here are a few sources on inherited criminality and psychological traits.

    http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/jones.html

    http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130319/srep01480/full/srep01480.html

    Anyway, when folks say that genes contribute 0% to criminality, that is demonstrably false. Psychological traits are inherited. That doesn’t mean that every kid of criminals will himself be criminal. It does make it more likely. Also, two non criminals may have a criminal child, but it is less likely. It is a matter of odds. Statistics allow us to calculate the odds and see the distribution as it relates to the incidence of a given behavior exhibited among the forebears of the group being examined.

  • trotk

    sg, I can only come to the conclusion that you have a preconceived belief that no amount of argument will shake. It isn’t based on reason, nor is it based on evidence. It is simply a prejudice that ignores the statements of others, as well as basic facts.

    You call your stance common knowledge. Interesting, especially considering that a.) it isn’t even remotely common knowledge, as evidenced by the fact that you entered this conversation @19 because others were claiming the opposite, and b.) the first study you cite claims, “On the other hand, some have concluded that there is not enough evidence from these twin, family, and adoption studies to profess that genetics do play a role in antisocial or criminal behavior (Lowenstein, 2003).”

    Second, neither article you cite proves what you think it does. I am inclined to believe that you didn’t bother to read either. The first acknowledges that a.) there are contradictory studies, and b.) environment is a factor.

    Again, I agree that genetic predispositions for certain conditions probably exist. That doesn’t make those predispositions determinative, because they are one of many factors. It is worth noting that even the idea of genetic predispositions isn’t proven, because in most instances, there are not single, isolated genes for the tendency.

    And as to your conception of statistics, again, find me a source with variables (all of them) controlled. Otherwise, we are at the mercy of how the statistics were taken. Having studied stats in grad school, I can say confidently that trusting statisticians who don’t publish every detail about how the information was derived is foolhardy.

  • sg

    “First, let me state clearly that no sane scientist denies that genes can influence certain characteristics. They are one of many factors.”

    Okay, so now is a good point to distinguish between characteristics and behavior. Take for instance a mild mannered breed like labradors. The mild temperament is inherited, but it isn’t an absolute guarantee that a lab won’t bite. But the odds are very good he won’t. Biting is a behavior. Mild temperament is a characteristic.

    Obviously circumstance etc will play a big part in whether the dog bites, but so will temperament.

    The point is just that what the dog is (100% genetic) plays a large role in what the dog does (x% genetic influence and x% external).

    So, now it is just a discussion of how big factor each is. Discussions of this sort tend to focus on external influences to the exclusion of even a slight consideration of the genetic component.

    External factors matter a lot, but they cannot and do not account for all of the variation.

    So what percent do you think is inherent and what percent is external?

  • sg

    I don’t get what you think needs to be proved. These are just plain observations.

    http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/13/4/148.abstract

    There is now a large body of evidence that supports the conclusion that individual differences in most, if not all, reliably measured psychological traits, normal and abnormal, are substantively influenced by genetic factors. This fact has important implications for research and theory building in psychology, as evidence of genetic influence unleashes a cascade of questions regarding the sources of variance in such traits. A brief list of those questions is provided, and representative findings regarding genetic and environmental influences are presented for the domains of personality, intelligence, psychological interests, psychiatric illnesses, and social attitudes. These findings are consistent with those reported for the traits of other species and for many human physical traits, suggesting that they may represent a general biological phenomenon.


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