The Genius Sperm Bank

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Ratings: 7.64/10 from 11 users.

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The Genius Sperm BankThe Genius Sperm Bank was created in the late 1970s by Robert Klark Graham, an American millionaire optometrist. Officially named the Repository for Germinal Choice, its aim was to breed highly intelligent people in order to save the world from genetic decline. Graham believed he could achieve this by getting clever men to donate sperm.

To be safe from prying eyes, Graham used an underground bunker in the backyard of his ranch in San Diego, California. He then set about sourcing the cleverest sperm and managed to convince three Nobel Prize winners to donate. One of them was William Shockley, a notorious racist. Accused of being a Nazi, Graham got slammed in the press. His other donors left him and his dream was nearly destroyed. Despite this the clients came flocking.

In the end, the Repository was in operation for 20 years - and responsible for the birth of 217 children. (Excerpt from bbc.co.uk)

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53 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Doug

    In nature, it's called survival of the fittest and results in the most adaptable of a species having the most offspring, improving the survival of the species in the long run. In human societies, it's called "eeeeevil", by idiots, passive thinkers and religious nuts.

  2. K Patterson

    Sad. Intelligence is one of many survival tools afforded to the human animal. Cockroaches may not be as intelligent, but they are prolific, lichens may not be intelligent, but they can endure a wide range of harsh environments. The environment determines what mix of tools is most advantageous. Too much intelligence is an evolutionary dead end, so too too little. We have grown to believe intelligence is somehow a superior survival too. This belief stands up to reality...sometimes. For instance, if our intelligence serves to further destabilize the balance between our consumption and the carrying capacity of nature then the cockroaches will outlive us. Survival of the fit indeed.

  3. Tomato

    There is no reason to believe human gene pool is going to be worse. Market mechanism works here too, if being smart is good idea there will be more smart people because idiots cant compete against smart ones.

    Sperm bank is great idea but there should be ovum bank too.

    Documenary is not that good, too little information on weather this was good idea or not.

  4. K Patterson

    I do not agree with the assertion that idiots cannot compete against smart people. Much of my reasoning is clear from my first comment. Further, what is intelligence? Is it the ability of an organism to dominate its environment and other organisms (for instance), or is it the ability to co-exist harmoniously and sustainably with them? Human history is littered with examples of the less intelligent totally dominating naturally more passive, more intelligent people through violence and sheer barbarity. Is that intelligence? The opposite has also been true. The critical determinant has always been the package of survival tools an organism possesses, not any single asset, such as intelligence.

  5. Davod

    John Nash won a Nobel prize....and yet I think its safe to say that most women would not want to produce a replica!

  6. Epicurean_Logic

    My review: Eugenics is alive, well and in full flow.

    K patterson i agree when you say

    'I do not agree with the assertion that idiots cannot compete against smart people.'

    i dont agree ( i know you quoted tomato) with calling people who are less intelligent idiots. Many people with a lower IQ have a better common sense and many so called smart people are just as confused as their counterparts.

    you asked 'what is intelligence? ' and it is nothing more than the ability to input, manipulate and retain information. Certainly not the be all and end all in life.

    your post was bang on the money for me.

  7. HollyWood

    One word "Eugenics"...... please google the history of this scientific untheory....

  8. aj12gamer

    LOL It's probably tha old mans sperm and made a video to tell em that he's tha daddy! XD

  9. Cas

    Shockley, supporter of dysgenics, once reasoned that the black population would eventually become much less intelligent, losing the gains that had been made in the Civil Rights movement. He died in 1989. I am a black person, and I frankly don't hate him. I wish his children the best. He was a bright man, but he shows that even the best of us can have some flawed conclusions.

    I can't remember his name, but there was a black man who recently set out to transform urban neighbourhoods, he takes black children from their parents and puts them on a program. The result? The kids who graduated from his programs have 100% success rate in getting to colleges.

    The point is that there are very complex socio-economic, cultural, and environmental factors at play, but for most humans they often makes a simple one to one linear relationship.

  10. listener

    What a foolish idea, these neo Nazis are coming out of hiding at last. I have questions, is winning Nobel prize a hereditary trait ?? or are the children of these intelligent people as intelligent if not more as these donors ?

  11. Dodgy

    Don't women already choose the men they want to procreate with. What's wrong with this idea. Only reason you could be bothered by it is your own insecurity about being inferior to those considered intelligent. Welcome to the real world then, some men are chosen because they are sexy to the woman to breed with - that's even more shallow. At least choosing a man because you hope he will breed intelligence is something that could benefit more of humanity than just trying to breed an attractive person or bedding down because you "love him" though he is a complete piece of trash that treats you like dirt.

  12. Heather

    I think it was a great idea. Why shouldn't a woman want the father of her child to be a Nobel laureate? Nobody needs to be sterilized by crazy Nazi doctors.

  13. Creatio-whaa!?

    I read an interview of Stephen Hawking where, in response to the question "What is your IQ?" was:

    "I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers."

    Couldn't be more right. IQ tests, Mensa, and c@#$ like that are all shams invented to make snobby people with little real measurable achievement feel superior to the rest of us. Real scientists or innovators who make breakthrough discoveries or develop revolutionary ideas don't give a **** about their IQ, and having a high IQ does not assure any kind of success in the real world of business, science, technology, etc.

    This is the same idea, but with vague eugenics undertones.

  14. Tipsy

    Hollywood/Listener: This may demonstrate the concepts of eugenics, but I don't believe that it removes the merits of the idea. Both of you seem to be looking at the wholly negative history and brutality associated with it, but when it comes down to the pure definition, eugenics is just trying to influence genetics in a positive way. People have just done it in terrible ways in the past.

    But I do agree with other opinions here - having a high IQ means very little. I know someone personally who is quite brilliant, and did quite well studying neuroscience in university... and is now working at a drug store as a cashier.
    Having a high IQ does not translate into success unless you also have the motivation, interest, and dedication to the things which will make you successful - and those are the same things that will make the average person successful in the first place.

  15. Chris

    Not a bad idea, a pity it has not been followed up.

    I would bet, that if followed up in a scientific manner it would be shown that indeed more children born to this system who would do better in life - better than the percentage in the general population.

    Going back to the Nazis - well which nation in Europe is known to be the most hard working, etc, etc. Hitler did kill people who were mentally ret@rded and this "probably" has had an effect be it ever so small.

  16. sweepinghubris

    Interesting that so many people believe a genetic trait of intelligence equates to a successful society.

    Anyone seen or remember GATTACA? The human will and spirit can do many things, and lack thereof can hinder much potential.

    I know many "geniuses" who waste their intellect by being lazy; and I know of many people who have an incredible work ethic and strive for self improvement who eventually become successful in reaching their goals.

    But in defense to eugenics ( not the twisted version the Nazis adopted) it would be far better to have people genetically intelligent while a large portion remaining lazy, as oppose to genetically mediocre population with the same rate of laziness.

    But then again have you ever been in a conference/meeting with highly intelligent people with gigantic egos?....nothing is agreed upon and nothing productive gets done.

    We need to increase genetic intelligence and eradicate ego and laziness..... Good luck with that.

    P.S. I speculate the most devastating atrocities in civilization are not done by local dumb street bums, but by power hungry megalomaniac intelligent people who know how manipulate things to get to the top and enforce their agenda. Ego can be a mother effer.

  17. shaun

    great idea!

  18. Joe

    This sounds like a great idea, the mothers cant have kids and Who wants dumbass children.

  19. Natalie

    Outstanding!

  20. documental

    This "genius" sperm bank is based on the fallacious and erroneous assumption that intelligence, and other desirable human traits, are genetically predictable. There have been many geniuses born to parents that have average or below average intelligence. Likewise, many smart people have come together and produced offspring with below average intelligence, and even deformities.

    Furthermore, there are various types of intelligence, many of which are not directly equated to an individual's financial or academic success. In other words, a "genius" in mathematics may have average or poor creative problem-solving, survival, and musical creation skills. Is every mathematical "genius", as defined by test scores, capable of creating new forms of mathematics, or new ways of solving mathematical problems more efficiently? No.

    The definition of intelligence in modern society is in itself vague and oversimplified. Many forms of intelligence are not recognized or valued. We regard the most powerful and ruthless members of society as being "intelligent", but these individuals are primarily responsible for the declining well-being of our planet and its population. Is it intelligent to drain limited planetary resources, while alternatives are available, for the sake of profit and control? I would argue the contrary – it is not intelligent, it is brute and inhumane.

    We would all agree that intelligence can be accurately defined as mental aptitude; a capacity for understanding and utilizing information. So, if the human mind controls every bodily function, then are inherent athletic capabilities not, in theory, worthy of being classified as a form of intelligence? After all, the brain is responsible for hand-eye coordination, the assimilation of nutrients that contribute to muscle growth, regeneration, and strength, and every other attribute seen in an athlete who would otherwise be classified as "unintelligent".

    Our exemplary mathematical "genius" may be incapable of juggling five balls at the same time, gaining mass without supplements, or reacting quickly enough to dodge a fast-moving object. In truth, a math genius that is incapable of improving and displaying important physical attributes is less suited for survival than an athlete who scores 30% lower on an IQ test. While the academic skills of the athlete can be improved through persistent self-education, the educated math "genius" is incapable of obtaining the physical strength and speed that the athlete was born with.

    Even if the mathematician supplemented with steroids and was successful at building the same amount of muscle mass as the athlete, it could be argued that the mathematician did not inherently possess this physical intelligence, just as society argues that a "dumb" athlete does not inherently possess academic intelligence (oxymoron). Are uneducated people unintelligent, and how do you measure the intelligence of someone that has not been educated?

    So you see, there are different types of intelligence, most of which are overlooked and underrated. In addition, even someone with extremely well-rounded intelligence, but who lacks the motivation and drive to utilize this intelligence, could be considered dumber than an over-achiever with "inferior" intelligence and superior ambition.

    Let us suppose, hypothetically, that the concept of social eugenics which this "genius" sperm bank is based on is true. There are approximately 20,000-25,000 genes within the human genome, most of which are responsible for traits that we have not yet defined, particularly due to the way each gene affects another. For example, an individual may be born with the genes necessary for linguistic intelligence (a gift for language), yet also contain genes that give it a speech impediment and hand tremors. If we were to analyze the individual on the surface, we would assume that their language and handwriting skills were terrible, when in reality they may have been the greatest author to ever live.

    With that being said, can basic eugenics be used as an effective way to produce human beings with certain traits? Why yes, it is simply selective breeding, the obvious results of which can be seen in modern dogs. The problem is, social eugenics in human beings is much different from isolating and breeding for traits in dogs, because the seemingly "undesirable" traits of human beings are what make us humane, unique, and ultimately fit for survival. If you were to put a modern dog (a product of eugenics) against a natural wolf, who do you think would survive?

    The problem occurs not when you try to breed for specific traits, but when you try to eliminate "undesirables". Would you be happy if the only dogs left in the world were either Chihuahuas or Pitbulls? Which would you pick, the Chihuahua or the Pitbull? Or would it be much more desirable to have a naturally diverse selection of dogs? Dog breeding did not occur in the laboratory, so a semi-natural diversity of breeds can still be seen in domestic dogs. When you try to take full control of a process as delicate as evolution, problems are bound to occur. Point proven.

  21. snoopysnoopypoopdog

    This is of course pure rubbish!

    The most obvious difference between nature, modern societies and "survival of the fittest", is that in modern societies a person like Stephen Hawkins, who would probably have a quite small change in getting offspring is one of the brightest and valuable human beings on the planet.

    Where as, individuals like Muammar Ghaddafi and Donald Trump, who are the scum of the earth, have great chances of reproduction, makes no contribution to society or furthering the improvement "of the species in the long run".

    They are basically like human locust, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

  22. Tom

    This is defiling the natural law. There is what we called a balance. Everyone is created by God with his own purpose. If man can alter those which are not in our own hands.? There would be likely a side effects and other types of problem would arise. Human beings was created perfect by God even from the fall of Adam and Eve. Eve retain her respect as the child bearer while Adam was granted to be the head for not committing deliberately. If the natural law is disturbed. mostly we are going to Armageddon and worst total violation of human rights and other sort of negative effects this would result. We always believe that natural cures and natural things are really the best medicine there is. with the technology intervening in our culture we would be sooner be in slave by it.

  23. Guest

    Keep your inefficient gods out of this picture
    You have no business trying to push your religion on anybody.

    Humans were created perfect?? According to your fairy tale books, if your gods created humans, made humans imperfect and blames them for their mistakes.

    From Adam and Eve you say?? Show some proof that the World and Universe is only 6,000 years old, and everything was made in 6 days??

    Keep your "Armageddon" to yourself and stew in your own fear! Most of you religee's lack in any self governing power.

  24. His Forever

    That was all over the place, Tom. Armageddon? Technology slaves? I agree with your post in that I believe Adam and Eve were created perfectly, and everyone has a purpose if we allow God to use us in that way. However, keep it focused.

    Just out of love, from one theologan to another, I would like to say that ADAM, not Eve is credited with the fall. I think Adam was witness to the whole thing and was not deceived, but sinned along with Eve willingly and deliberately. In Romans, Paul states that the first "man" Adam brought death, but Christ brought redemption. Whole books have been written on that subject, but that's the nutshell version. Please study it more closely.

    Peace to you!

    Charles B.

  25. msafwan86_nnss

    The best thing about his sperm bank is that he doesn't just rely on IQ test.
    What he did is to get sperm from REAL people, people who got Nobel prize, and people who had real achievement.
    If one wonder "What if a person has special gift, but not on IQ test?" then the answer is his achievement... the sperm bank got the right people then.

  26. Ryan Patrick Walsh

    While I may agree that Technology without reason can certainly get out of control easily, as we are seeing in todays world, you cannot say that it what we are doing is against the natural order. If humanity was perfect so long ago, why did we continue to evolve? If we were created by something else as "perfect", a complete thing with no need to ever change, why were we given the ability to look at the world and question it? If we were not meant to make these discoveries, then wouldn't an omniscient omnipotent, being give us the minds capable of doing just that, discover the world around us? Furthermore, if this creator created us perfectly, then wouldn't everything we do, be perfect? If we aren't perfect the way we are now, then we wern't created perfectly. If we are perfect in Gods eyes, then all of our questioning is perfect, and by his design. So, either, there is no God, or gods, and we are an evolving reasoning animal attempting to understand the natural order through science and reason. Or, there is a God(s), and he/she/it/them created us knowing that we would attempt to understand the natural order through science and reason.

  27. Art Vinette

    I think this is a great idea! I mean a world populated with the smartest, brightest people. Who wouldn't want that? The only problem with this concept is this... isn't the world already populated with the smartest, brightest people on Earth? I mean nature has had several million years of development and fine tuning to get the human race to where we are today.

    That said there is a bell curve with regards to the smartest humans that now inhabit the earth. So I can see how certain men and women would want to choose the best sperm to fertilize their eggs in the hope that they can have a child with a genetic advantage in intelligence or some other traits of advantage. Every man and woman to some extent seek this out because the best genes ultimately survive to carry forward. Be it genetic intelligence, exceptional good looks, or superior athletic prowess.

    Those humans that are not suitable to carry their genes forward are automatically weeded out of the human gene pool through accidents, bad decisions, or what have you.

    Now the question arises with regards to the human race is, if everyone is going to be a Nobel Laureate, who is going to pick up the garbage and who is going to work in the shops and so forth? Not everyone can be a genius. In fact the survival of the human race depends on a balance of intellects.

    In 2011 even deeper questions can be asked. How much of a person's intelligence is genetic and how much is spiritual? There is an increasing amount of evidence in 2011 that suggests that a person's spirit may carry on after death to be reborn in a new body. Could it be that a person's spirit could have as much to do with their intelligence as their genetics?

    A Google search on "Previous Lives of Children" will reveal this evidence that exists all over the world. So if their is a universal intelligence in the universe, how much of this spiritual intelligence makes up a human being?

    Were Albert Einstein's parents Nobel Laureates? Were Albert Einstein's children smarter than other children? In general are Nobel Laureate children smarter and more gifted than other children?

    This program makes us ask the question, where does intelligence come from? Is it truly genetic or is there something more to it?

  28. Mathew Scannell

    there is no law of nature it is all random chance, what works works what doesn't doesn't that is it. if adam and eve where created perfect then there would be no need for a genius sperm bank which by the way is a ridiculous idea with no proof that it would work.
    natural/alternative medicines have been around for thousands of years and ones that are proven to work become medicine ones that aren't stay as alternative, there is a reason.
    technology is the ONLY thing that has EVER helped our species progress so to think it will lead us to armageddon is possibly a bit short sighted however i wouldn't rule out the possibility if we don't keep up with it. our bodies will be the next thing technology changes, it's happening already and i don't want to be left behind. as humans our time is coming to an end and natural law will have nothing to do with our next evolutionary step. stay with god or go with the machines! i know what i'm choosing xx
    p.s that is a really sexist comment about eve retaining her respect by carrying children, thinking like that has slowed our species down far far too much already, get out of the dark ages

  29. clay dawson

    I agree with just about everything you have stated. The Adam, Eve brainwash system of control has been at work far too long and evidently still is, albeit less so, thankfully.
    What I do not necessarily agree with are such statements as "technology is the ONLY thing that has EVER helped our species progress." The only basis for this idea would be a critically narrow notion of what constitutes "progress;" you appear to be working on your own unstated ideal.
    What this idea neglects by necessity is that an enlightened perspective is scientific, but not at the expense of humanity.

    For instance, you say by implication that in being met with the occasion you would side with "machines" rather than "god." What does this even mean?? You want to effectively live as a machine? There is an idea of humans achieving immortality within the scientific community via advances in nanotech etc.., but people do not consider what would happen if this was possible.

    First, overpopulation. People born to not die within finite space with finite resources. Second in such a circumstance where a higher order of being is created, you won't "join" them. You would be exterminated because you would be inferior. Regardless, we could never create harness and sustain such an idea of "machine life" superior to our own because it would require accommodations that we cannot beforehand envision.

    Evolution of natural processes are best left to nature. If we do not accept this, we are going to end up destroying ourselves for the sake of unchecked scientific ego. There is a significant difference between Abrahamic religions' notion of "God" and how many spiritually-enlightened self-reliant persons, or naturalists etc. conceive of god

  30. Kitty_Sea

    I do like that he looked for people who had achieved something, not just people who were famous etc. However, it seems that a more holistic approach would be better, looking at the donor's emotional and spiritual life as well as intellectual and physical aspects. I fully appreciate the desire for accurate choice in a sperm donor - after all we choose our partner in part because we hope to pass their wonderful qualities to our children (assuming you want children). His concept of providing choice simply mimics that natural process. I think that is much more natural than providing a totally random sample which seems to have been the norm before he pioneered the donor catalogue.

  31. Michaelyn Erickson

    OK, but what about the women? Just smart men matter? Any woman will do? Wow...the 1970s had many faces.

  32. NAND Gate

    So you got less than 100, didn't you?

  33. NAND Gate

    Sorry - but intelligence just breeds contempt for this ape that is "human". The smarter you are, the more standard deviations from the mean you are, the more you hate the median.

    Why? What's not to hate about violence and ignorance? In a perfect world, intelligence would be great. In this world, it is a new kind of hell every day.

    And btw, intelligence didn't evolve for the sake of intelligence - it evolved so that we could bend others, of our own species, to our will. Certainly not so we could know the mind of god.

  34. ewhite41

    Environment plays an very important role in development.

  35. Hodd

    The only attributes you can count on are physical, I think for anything else the environment plays a larger role than genetics. Pretty sure this was understood ever since eugenics was discredited many years ago.

  36. Hodd

    It sounds like you're crossing intelligence with egoism. Intelligence implies the ability to see things in a rational way, whereas hate is simply ignorance in it's worst form.

  37. Hodd

    In the past such ideas have led to mass sterilization programs targeting the poor in the US, Canada and elsewhere, who are NOT genetically inferior but whose intellect and attributes primarily reflect their environment. This racist clown was 50 years too late.

    Give him credit though, at least he was humane about it.

  38. Sebastiaan Halff

    First thing that penetrated my mind was: If everyone will be highly intellectual in our future, who is going to do the dirty jobs? Has this guy even thought about that? We need lower intellectual people, both for the amazing effort they produce in making our lives easier, and for their creativity, since most people who went to University have lost this.

  39. web web

    The most amazing thing about this documentary is that the producers didnt call it Strokes of Genius.

  40. Buzz Teddy Head

    In a word, Robots.

  41. Buzz Teddy Head

    There are two sides to the eugenics coin. Positive eugenic selection, which we all manifest subconsciously, it's inherent to all higher forms of life and selects for the best genes prior to breeding, and negative eugenic selection, (again we all do this through competition, although we usually fall short of actually killing 'inferior' members of society) preventing weaker genes from attaining reproductive states. This in the natural environment leads to evolution through natural selection....Hitler could be regarded as implementing negative eugenic philosophy, where as, Dr Robert Graham was an expounder of positive eugenic philosophy, and merely acted to facilitate the reproduction of, what he thought, would be socially productive genotypes. To call him a racist clown and refer to negative and positive eugenics on an equal ethical footing demonstrates a degree of foolhardiness.

  42. Buzz Teddy Head

    It after all takes the same amount of planetary resource to sustain an Einstein as a fool.

  43. s b

    I don't have time to watch the whole video however, I do have some questions. Mr. Graham, the man who came up with idea, does he give these sperm donations to about any woman? I would think that not only would you want the biological father to be an academic but the woman as well? If thats not the case, their would be a probablity it would be average; like the mother? Also, would race not impose a problem? If theses donors identities were confidential should the woman not be aware of their family history (medical wise), race,etc. I know i would.

  44. Simon Nee

    It is not true that creativity is lost upon graduating from university. At least from my experience I see more and more nice things coming from my classmates every year. We don't at all need slow people and there IS a clear parent-child correlation.

  45. Simon Nee

    Don't you see a large difference between a sperm bank and mass sterilization?

  46. Kitty Taylor

    Stephen HAWKING has 3 children.

  47. Agun Yush

    Wether we are all geniuses in space ships far away from planet earth or r*tarded men who live in crumbling caves, being able to be happy and having fun ( wich I believe is the point of living) is an equal challenge for all of us.

    This genius sperm bank also has the potential to breed psycopathy.

  48. Joseph

    Actually--it usually takes considerably more resources to 'sustain' a fool...

  49. chernencoffa

    The slightly less smart people. Also maybe our future hold more than jobs from wal-mart and mcdonalds.

  50. Buzz Teddy Head

    In the beginning Dr Graham had a parter Hermann Joseph Muller. He for saw this and wanted to encourage the selection of altruistic individuals. Dr Graham being a capitalist over rode this stipulation, unfortunately Muller had died and could not challenge him.

  51. Jeremy

    good documentary. I found the generic "super villain" music was a bit much though, as it subtly put him in a bad light.

  52. Oatmealforme

    Before Dr. Graham came along if women had an infertile husband, they would go to their doctor who would usually select a medical student if it was at at Medical School. The doctor would not usually supply any information. One woman mentioned that the doctor offered to give information on the religion of the donor which one can imagine is not what the woman had in mind. Now women can go shopping for a sperm donor because sperm banks do have donor information including educational achievement. So Dr. Graham did transform the sperm bank industry. Will the 217 children which resulted from the Repository for Germinal Choice make a difference? Perhaps, if one or some of the individuals do something extraordinary for humanity which is what Dr. Graham desired. However, 217 people is a small amount compared with the number of people born during the 20 years that Dr. Graham's sperm bank was in operation. To the families and children who were born as result it makes a difference but not to the intelligence of humanity as a whole. David Plotz wrote a book called, The Genius Factory if anyone wishes to read more on the history of this sperm bank.

  53. Katja

    Just watch Idiocracy (the movie). In reality smart people don't really reproduce a lot because they don't have time or interest in it. And I know a lot of these people, highly educated, no children/partners because their social skills are low. There are a lot more average people reproducing.

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