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Tuesday, 21 September 2010


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Read the Wikipedia article on cousin marriage, particularly the section on genetics. There are a lot of distortions here.

'NA', first of all welcome to D&N.

Much beyond actual dates and names I wouldn't trust Wiki too far. Nor do I take Mr. Sennels without caution which is why I wrote "if Sennels is right, and so far I only have his word for it". However, the subject is worth investigating if only to avoid the risks to future muslim children.

the MP concerned was Ann Cryer

I seem also to remember a channel 4 documentary a couple of months ago.

As adults the children from cousin marriage have higher risks in everything. Cancer for example. Or Diabetes. This because they got the same faulty genes from each parent. In Denmark one in 5 Pakistanis have Diabetes. The death rates for muslims is higher in all groups. It isn't just children that are the victims. As they grow up illnesses keep emerging. Mental ones too.

It's not the occasional cousin marriage that's the problem, it's pursuing the habit for generations. And the further habit of producing a horribly handicapped baby girl, and then producing more and more of them in hopes of finally getting a boy.


the local rabbit breeder could have told you all that the Danish scientist did (and more).

The actual question we need to dare ask here is: can the damage to the DNA be undone?

In nature, the answer would most likely be 'no' since the 'good' information has been lost and replaced with 'bad' genes, and that is what there is.

In the modern world, we luckily have GM (in it's infancy) and so, in theory I have a hope that in more enlightened times to come, science will be able to undo the damage.

If this will not happen, then eventually the people who keep inbreeding may end up being their own species (this is a few millenia away, but in essence, inbreeding and isolation is what creates new species)

As an aside, it's crazy to suggest that anyone concerned about incest is a racist -- the real 'racists' are the people who encourage others to maim their children with incest.

Rob, thanks for clearing that mystery (to me) up,adnwell done Ann Cryer.

'Geni', welcome to D&N and thanks for the info. It sounds as though Sennels is right.

'DM', indeed, the danger lies in the repetition.

'Chick', also welcome to you. I'm not sure what you mean by "GM", does that stand for Genetic Modeling, or Manipulation, or what? And of course you are entirely right, this practice should be stopped and it has nothing to do with racism. Indeed, it was Noel Coward who once said that the people of Norfolk, a very rural area of Britain, looked suspiciously like each other!

I don't know what NA is talking about. The Wiki article does not contradict anything that Sennels says, nor does it make your post seem like "a lot of distortions". In fact the Wiki article clearly supports Sennels, and even gives the caveat that DM brings up, that the problem is not just first cousin marriages, but the repetition of this over generations. This is from Wiki:

"After repeated generations of cousin marriage the actual genetic relationship between two people is closer than the most immediate relationship would suggest. In Pakistan, where there has been cousin marriage for generations and the current rate may exceed 50%, one study estimated infant mortality at 12.7 percent for married double first cousins, 7.9 percent for first cousins..."

These numbers far exceed anything in the general population, even if we look at births from women over 40.

I meant 'genetic manipulation' because this would be the only ethical approach that can be taken here to undo the damage.

If you were to attempt to 'naturally' breed the damage out, it probably can be done, but the price the affected offspring pay will be very high: if you have 2 damaged parents who both carry the damaged recessive and the intact dominant gene, one child will be intact, 2 will be carriers, 1 will have the actual damage.

And this of course assumes that there is still a dominant, properly working gene in the DNA available that actually can be passed on, which after 50 or more generations of closed inbreeding within individual lines is not a givens.

'Chick', sorry not to have responded more quickly but I have been mulling over your comment.

I'm not sure that your 'cure' is not worse than the fault! I instinctively rear back at the thought of someone altering behavioural genes. Who does it? And more important, who decides? Not just what to do but what constitutes 'acceptable' behaviour? Dangerous ground, I think.

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Oh my giddy aunt! A Muslim polygamy dating service! I wonder if you get a discount on the third wife? What will the little 'Memsahib' say? I think I can guess.


this is indeed a tricky matter. But your post is about this topic, and so... I think we can trust ourselves to talk about this.

There is always the scope for abuse of any technology that we develop -- atomic bombs, frivilous surgery, Swedish sterilisation programmes (ended in the 1990's) and so on. But it remains, that atomic power, surgery and sterilisation also have their good sides -- just like chocolate pudding is great to eat, yet tragic to drown in if you fall into the pot when visiting the factory.

So, let's go back to the start... and let's try to admire the process of chocolate pudding making (and eating), without taking a bath in the pot :)

We have a number of DNA carriers whose line of genetics we wish to preserve. It does not matter if we're talking about peas of humans here, this is true for all living things.

First, let's deal with what happens if we don't act -- if we do not wish to preserve the line, then all can go on as has, and eventually, the damage in that line will be so great that no offspring is viable anymore, in other words over time, if we do not manipulate the line, it'll terminate by itself.

Now, this process is not 'free' -- the price is paid by a long line of (very) sick individuals, but at least, the only guilty people are the parents who bring them into life.

If we want to preserve the line, the we need to start the repair process of the damaged DNA.

Now, you can do this either by directed breeding, but by now, the number of carriers is so high that you cannot avoid producing sufferers, and also, those genes are like time bombs that may hit future generations. So, if you do it au natural, only 1 in 4 will be healthy, 2 will be carriers and one will suffer. But to sustain numbers, those parents will need to produce 4 more such kids in order to get the healthy replacement, and now, you have 4 carriers who cannot have kids (this would perpetuate the problem) and 2 sufferers.

Depending on luck and the amount of damage done, this process will take a lot of generations (and produce many 'losers of life') to be repaired into a viable line that can be safely bred with any other stock out there.

Now, let's pretend we have the required technology already (which we will, as we have proof of concept and if anything can be done, over time will we find out about it)

We can then do the repair job within a a few generations, and we can use IVF so that carriers will not have to forego parenthood and we avoid the many sufferers too.

Hence, I think that GM is the only option that ethically would allow us to perpetuate this line of DNA, all other options are inhumane.

Now, to your worry about personality being manufactured. Genes don't (or very rarely) pass on actual detailed traits, but they pass on a range of probabilities -- as a example like someone with large hands finds it easier to play piano and is thus more likely to become a pianist, especially if they have been gifted with perfect pitch.

So, your genes enable you to do things that in turn open other possibilites -- but they do not force you into a behaviour, at least not in the case of human beings, we have free will to determine our own behaviour and make the choices that we do unlike animals, whose instinct rules them.

So, there is no way we could ever breed humans that will have guaranteed behaviours.

In a way, DNA is an organ like any other body part you have than can go wrong, just with the small difference that your broken DNA will hurt your offspring. So, there is also an interesting discussion to be had whether it's a duty of afflicted people to fix their DNA before they inflict it on their children and cause them to suffer by omission.

'Chick', I'm not sure if I understand you correctly so feel free to put me right if get things wrong.

So, am I right to suppose that you are suggesting that Muslim people in the west should have their DNA checked in order to see if they are carrying the gene (or genes) likely to cause problems in their children? If so, I cannot agree. Such an programme would need to be government-run and would open the door to governments having the right to check anyone's DNA.

Also, even if a couple, perhaps through private testing, knew they carried malfunctioning genes, should they be forbidden from producing children? Again, I say 'no', and I do so, with reluctance, because of the obvious risks. However, I rate freedom higher.

However, I do think it is acceptable that a law be passed forbidding cousins from marrying. I am not expert enough to know, or even guess, how many generations it would take for the rates of disability quoted by Sennels, above, to reduce to the levels of the indigenous population but I suspect that the effect would be fairly rapid.

It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, that the law should be vigorously enforced which prevents forced marriages.

Hang on Mr Duff, I'm enumerating the realities of the situation because you asked, technical but I've not suggested any solutions at all, so don't assume things please :)

Your freedom argument is a no-goer, because you want to ban incestuous marriages whilst granting the same people the right to maim their children in exactly the way you hoped to prevent. Moreover, what kind of marriage are you banning? The registry office one is irrelevant and the Mullahs will not change one word of the Quran.

Moreover, such drastic action is not needed at all either.

It's plain to see that no reasonable person needs to be disturbed in their personal happiness in life, and no sane person would actually want to destroy their own progeny knowingly either -- part of having children is the charm of potential genetic immortality. However, the entire problem's simple solution is voluntary sensible behaviour and smart use of modern science.

How you get people to toe this natural line is an entirely different matter all together and totally dependent on the culture. Whilst I regard it as disgusting, I have no moral problem with incest at all -- as long as the people in question use genetically sound (and distant enough) donor eggs or sperm to conceive their children. So I'd be against banning incestuous marriages of any kind as the ban was was made technically obsolete by modern medicine.

If you'd asked me to come up with legislation to punish inbreeding, well, I don't think we need any, we already have all the laws we need to deal with parents who hurt their children intentionally, just use the normal penalties for the various degrees of assault, manslaughter and murder accordingly. I don't think we have a moral right to declare children to be private property -- one man's freedom to swing the fist ends there where another mans nose begins and all that. Also, we currently ban a number of IVF techniques, such as gender and physical attribute picking, even if it would help a sibling, why should the IVF child have different rights to a normally conceived one?

But all those are lose ends where our collective capability of moral reasoning and our laws got overtaken by the new reality that scientific and cultural progress brings -- our moral dilemma here actually is very simple to solve, but it means we need to give some complex (and seemingly callous) answers some emotional questions as to when a human life begins, and why we should allow abortion even tho we want to ban deliberate genetic mutilation.


As for forced marriages(and polygamy), well, that's another kettle of fish and actually more of an economic issue.

Whilst it's a legal, lucrative tax-free MMF scam, you will not stop tribal society norms from being exploited by slavers, you can only stop this abuse by creating a situation where this is too difficult to inflict and enforce. Also compare our stellar failures in the war on drugs!

Tricky stuff all this..., perhaps you enjoy this Dan Carlin rant about this kind of problem:

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