Lee Pitts: Try cattle breeding techniques to get rid of bad human genes
March 1, 2016
I loved Animal Breeding when I was in college. No, not that kind of animal breeding, get your mind out of the gutter. I'm referring to a class I took where we learned about heritability.
I'm so old that when I went to college, there were no EPD's for beef cattle and that's a shame because that stuff fascinates me. I'm so interested because of all the recessive traits in my family that waited for me to come along so they could express themselves.
Let's just say, DNA has not been kind to me.
Wouldn't it be great if we could develop EPD's for people as we have done for cattle? It might tell us why in some people, the truck gene is very strong while in others it's not. For example, I come from a GM family, and that doesn't refer to "genetically modified" but General Motors. My parents never bought anything but Oldsmobile cars and GMC or Chevy trucks. This was strange because my grandparents on both sides were Ford folks. So much so that when my great grandmother died and left her Cadillac to my grandparents my Grandpa quickly traded it in for a Ford station wagon. He wouldn't even drive the Caddy to the dealership because he didn't want to be caught dead in a GM product. If he knew that the hearse that gave him his final ride was made by General Motors it would have killed him, if he hadn't already been — well, you know.
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I'd love to get a hundred million dollar grant to study why there are Ford families, Chevy clans and Dodge households. I can't tell you why my wife and I don't buy Fords, after all, when I see a great looking Ford, Dodge or Tundra truck on the road I have to bite my lip and turn my head so that I don't become infatuated and unfaithful and have an affair with one.
In some families the shopping gene appears to be highly heritable while in others, not so much. My grandfather wouldn't set foot in a Sears store and my mom wouldn't either, but my wife and I buy all our appliances there and my shop is full of great Craftsman tools.
I find it really interesting that while grandpa wouldn't shop at Sears because he thought it was killing Main Street in small town America, my wife and I don't shop at Walmart for the exact same reason. I have come to the conclusion that the shopping gene, while highly heritable, does seem to suffer from leakage and transference.
It's not just trucks and refrigerators. I know ranchers who only ride on Paint horses, Polaris four wheelers and John Deere tractors. A friend of mine (the same fella who served chicken at his branding) would not have a black bull on his place. While the rest of the cattle universe was having a big black attack, he still bet all his cow chips on red. He left behind a great herd of cattle when he passed away a year ago and, interestingly, his sons seem to have inherited the red gene because they only buy red bulls too. I think we can therefore accurately conclude that the red gene is highly heritable in cattlemen.
I'd love to know why I'm genetically prone to wear only a Stetson felt, a Resistol straw and a Pendleton shirt. The only trait or tradition I've been able to change was when I switched to Wranglers instead of Levis, but I suspect my choice in jeans had more to do with the escalating price of Levis than it did my other genes.
I'm sure if we threw enough money at the subject we could create EPD's for people like we did cattle. Then we could use those EPD's to reduce the number of rotten marriages and stupid kids by identifying the lowlifes with a tendency to be alcoholics, abusers and skirt chasers. We could answer age-old questions such as how can the idiot who married your daughter be the father of the world's smartest grandchildren? In just a few generations, we could eliminate men like me with bad genes because, as women have been telling us for years, all human faults come from the male side of the species. ❖