Glorious Bastards

A while ago I mentioned Neil Turok’s search for the African Einstein, which doesn’t seem to have had much success. I’ve thought of a more efficient search strategy that should be fairly easy to execute.

Search for Feynman’s bastards (and by this point, their children). It should be easy enough, with modern DNA technology. While we’re at it we might look for the unofficial offspring of other people of high accomplishment. People like Svante Pääbo. Hopefully smarter than Svante.

I know that paternal uncertainty is generally low, but winning a Nobel may make a difference.

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37 Responses to Glorious Bastards

  1. Ursiform says:

    Feynman was a ladies man, but I never heard much suggestion about unintended little ones.

  2. georgioxblog says:

    “but winning a Nobel may make a difference” Scientists are not that sexy. Period. I think the chances are far higher to find unofficial offspring of artists. Lucian Freud maybe?

  3. crew says:

    Is the Nobel Peace Prize good enough?

    Oh wait, wasn’t it the other guy who won the Nobel Peace Prize. The gay one.

  4. Asimov years ago thought a workable strategy was to throw any kid who had checked out a science fiction book from the library into more science classes. My understanding is the genre has changed, but something like it might still work.

    • sam57l0 says:

      It has, as I understand it, been infected by “progressives” and “social justice warriors”, at least for the SF Writers Association and the HUGO awards and the World Convention at which the HUGOs are given out. They got terribly upset when the Sad Puppies nominated novels and stories for HUGO consideration. Seemed to deem them “unclean”. You could look it up, but it’s all pretty much word soup now.

    • gcochran9 says:

      One problem is that Asimov wasn’t particularly smart. On the other hand, I’d be happy to consider what Kornbluth had to say.

  5. RCB says:

    I’d think administering an IQ test would be a pretty efficient search strategy for geniuses.

    • ghazisiz says:

      Problem is, ethnic proportions might be all wrong. Disparate impact. Can’t have that, you know. Would be better not to look for those geniuses at all.

  6. JRM says:

    The youngest child from the “Nobel Prize sperm bank”, aka Repository for Germinal Choice is 18 and the oldest about 38. But the founder admitted, “No women ever chose a Nobel laureate’s sperm—the men were probably too old anyway, Graham rationalized later—and today there is no Nobel sperm in the bank,” he wrote.
    (link )

    So while the children created from that sperm bank were well above average, none used actual Nobel Prize sperm. So the idea was not given a fair trial.

    • Wency says:


      Tangent: was Shockley wrong about anything? Did he contribute any novel and true ideas about genetics? I wasn’t familiar with him before reading this. But boy, Richard Lynn’s treatment in Wikipedia reads like a hagiography next to Shockley’s.

    • ghazisiz says:

      The Nobel Sperm Bank idea failed. On the other hand, celebrities (especially 70s rock stars) have used sperm banks to produce offspring with hundreds of women. You can consider this a quasi-experiment, showing what kind of genes are most valued: genes for celebrity, genes for coolness, not genes for pursuing truth.

      If our civilization survives, it will not be by intrinsic worth, but by luck.

      • gcochran9 says:

        As far as I can tell, the Repository for Germinal Choice probably succeeded. From the wiki: < Two women who claimed to have been the recipients of Repository sperm and to have raised children born of that sperm responded anonymously to a series of articles in Slate in 2001. Both stated that their children were extremely intelligent and healthy.[3]

        A later segment of the same Slate article reported on the highlights of the lives of fifteen of the resultant children. Of the fifteen, six reportedly had 4.0 GPAs and two were reported to be “artistically precocious”. Still others were reported to be “geniuses” and “whizzes” at various disciplines. All the children contacted by Slate were in good health, except one, who had what his mother described as a “developmental disability”.[4] >

        Interesting how Plotz, from Slate, refused to believe his own lying eyes. Probably born that way.

        Narrow-sense heritability for IQ is pretty high. Of course this approach works.

  7. engleberg says:

    It’s a pity some James Bond villain hasn’t been equipping his Octopussy minions with turkey basters and sending them after after Nobel winners.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Let’s just say you want to collect something that you think will have future value. You cannot do better than to follow the follow the worlds smartest people into the barber shop and pick up their human hairs. You don’t want the old farts hair, get the hair from world recognized geniuses before or around they turn thirty.

      Authenticate it as best you can. Snap dated pictures of the famous person coming or going from the barber shop and the snap pictures of you collecting the hairs off the floor. Seal it up, refrigerate it, and wait for technology to catch up.

      Save em, swap em, collect the whole bunch.
      “i’ll trade you my 1912 Einstein for your whole collection of 26 nobel prize winners.”
      “But I have worked real hard to collect these hairs from 26 geniuses, All you are giving me is a few hairs from Einstein!”
      “Yep, take it or leave it.”
      “I’ll take it. Boy oh boy I am going to get rich selling cloned Einsteins to a few billionaires who can raise the cloned Einstein as their adopted son.”

  8. georgioxblog says:

    We could raise the birthrate of Ashkenazi haredi jews. Instead of 7 children, why not 12 children and in a few decades we assimilate them. So we just repeat history. The Israelis seem to do such a thing, although not intended. There are 900.000 Ashkenazi haredi jews in Israel. I read that they integrate them right now. Start-up Nation should get a boost!

    • biz says:

      As an Israel booster (actually just an Israel-realist, but in the dark web that makes me a relative booster), I have thought about this. I hope it is going to be a case of history repeating, but I fear it isn’t.

      Why? In the years 1800-1930 there was a lot of cultural foment and opportunity for the Jewish people of Central and Eastern Europe to choose their fate. They could stay traditional, or become secular, or become communist, or immigrate to Western Europe, or immigrate to one of the various New Worlds (America, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, etc), or immigrate to Zion, or become Haredi, etc. Out of all of those paths choosing to go Haredi may have really been a selection filter for less intellectual people.

      • georgioxblog says:

        I thought about that problem too? Is there any data about the iq of Ashkenazi Haredi jews in Israel? Maybe data about educational success?

        • biz says:

          General educational attainment among the Haredi sector is very low, because their communities usually discourage it. There are individuals from those communities that break the mold and they tend to be highlighted success stories, especially in the software/tech sector, but these are mold breaking individuals.

          I would love to see some actual IQ data. IQ data in Israel tends to be fishy though, in my opinion, showing an average IQ of <100 for the whole country.

        • Ursiform says:

          They are smart enough to exert great political and cultural influence while making the rest of society pay for their upkeep.

  9. Out of Macon says:

    It is easy to be a sperm donor. Check out known donor registry if any of you are interested.

  10. Anuseed says:

    Speaking of Feynamn, I recently learned he used to have a van decorated with his diagrams. Apparently it’s still around.

  11. Clay says:

    Neil Turok is smart enough to understand marketing. African Einstein is an attention grabber. The problem I see with his AIMS is that it is a ticket for the best and brightest of Africa to leave the continent. Look at some of the Youtube videos. If the best and brightest leave Africa, then AIMS is having exactly the opposite effect of what was intended.

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