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August 13, 2010
Posted at 3:21 pm

Is it for real?

Several people have inquired whether the research Heather refers to in the story Don't Ask, Don't Tell, is true or a figment of my yearning imagination.

The answer is yes. By that I mean yes, it's true ... but I can't prove it.

First off, I read this information on the web three or four years ago. So the first caveat is: It was on the web, which doesn't make it true. I should have saved the link, because now I can't find it again. Part of that is because I can't remember if it was in JAMA or the journal: Nature. It was one of the two.

I say it was one of the two because those are the only journals I read online and actually believe, most of the time.

The article gave stats, which are fuzzy in my head now, but which were minescule in terms of the number of problems incestuous births have compared to normal births. That flies directly in the face of "experience" for most people. But I have to point out that "experience" in most people actually means "I believe it because I've always been told that."

I mean think about it. How many of you actually know a child that is the product of incest between close family members?

I don't see a lot of hands going up out there.

Maybe that means there are a minsecule number of children born from such unions.

Now. How many of you actually know someone with the gene for sickle cell anemia? The fact is you probably do know someone with the gene. You just aren't aware of it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not promoting incest, even though I write love stories about it.

But the reason I'm not promoting it is probably not the same reason the local organized religion folks are against it.

They're against it because it's morally wrong and causes horrible birth defects almost all the time. They know this. They've seen Deliverance and heard all the stories. Don't mention a man named Lot to them, or his daughters, who escaped Sodom with him and then noticed that the only man around they could have children with was ... well ... dear old dad. And don't mention Noah and his three sons, who somehow repopulated the entire world not engaging in incest somehow. And for sure don't mention Adam and Eve as having done exactly the same thing. And for double sure don't mention that this (and a heck of a lot more) is actually in the Bible they hold to be the incarnate word of the big guy. You'll confuse them, and then they get dangerous.

The reason I don't promote incest is because in this society it won't work because of the social stigma against it. There really is a test that the woman can take that will tell her whether her eggs are too receptive to the sperm of close relatives. But she can't go ask for it. There really have been tens of thousands of perfectly normal children born of incest, but we can't count them. Admittedly that's an assertion based on statistics, but so is the prevalence of the potential for sickle cell disease.

So in some ways it doesn't matter that I can't prove any of this. It still exists somewhere, hidden away from a society that would not approve of it. If it was found and splashed all over the media, it still wouldn't be approved of. People who "know" things don't want to be confused by the facts.

But it does make for a good story.

Thanks for reading.