The Genius Sperm Bank
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The Genius Sperm Bank

2006, Technology  -   55 Comments
Ratings: 7.94/10 from 16 users.

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

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John Doe
4 years ago

This is an interesting conversation. What is common sense? What is considered common? What is considered sensible? Who decides? Who is more likely to succeed; a lone wolf or a pack animal? Don't all brains basically work the same but each is good at a different thing?

5 years ago

would be cool to experiment with this idea. do a test on genius+genius, genius+normal , genius+Athlete etc. see if these produce anything significant.

9 years ago

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.

9 years ago

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

10 years ago

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

11 years ago

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.

s b
11 years ago

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.

11 years ago

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

web web
11 years ago

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

11 years ago

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.

11 years ago

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.

11 years ago

Environment plays an very important role in development.

11 years ago

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.

11 years ago

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

11 years ago

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.

11 years ago

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?

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago


12 years ago

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

12 years ago

great idea!

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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 years ago

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 ?

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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

13 years ago

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

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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

K Patterson
13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

K Patterson
13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.