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tv   Carl Zimmer She Has Her Mothers Laugh  CSPAN  July 22, 2018 5:00pm-6:31pm EDT

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>> and to welcome you here to write and to appear each week
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in the new york times and adjunct professor in the university. >> including the stephen j gould prize studying evolution. and according to the official bio the only writer after species of tapeworm has been named left. [laughter] he is here to share his newest book she has her mother's laugh.
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but also because we are recording this event for new podcast coproduced so please do check it out for his great content over the anthropology and for the first podcast is and also to be recorded for c-span we appreciate our partners there who have given us this opportunity. so we will start with a conversation between carl and i so all of you can be included we will do q&a and after the conversation we will be meeting at the front of the museum where we will meet with you. are you ready to get started?
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>> absolutely. you describe the process to undergo genetic testing and 2001 in anticipation of your first daughter but that experience was a bit unnerving is that a good word? >> that's a polite way to put it but i freaked out. [laughter] >> you didn't quite say that in the book. [laughter] but rather than moderating your concerns the genetic counselor left to with lot of questions and you were unsettled the more we talked about our genes the more alien they felt to me. what did you mean? >> we came into the genetic counselor's office referred from our doctor my wife was pregnant with her first child
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so they just start talking to us about basic family history. so my father is jewish and then we were talking about the that are more prevalent in that community. and she is not too worried about that that she keeps asking more questions about her family history. like we sat down with that pedigree to everyone's diseases and the fact that i can't remember that puts me into a bit of opinion in. if i had inherited one of these genes whatever it is, how does that impact this new person now i feel completely irresponsible. i cannot even remember what a
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relative died of. how pathetic is that? so i think what was happening was the power of heredity was hitting me hard and taking it out on the genetics counselor. i almost started to shout that i realized what i was doing. my daughter is fine. [laughter] >> but it is a burden we think of heritage as having a possibility but also to have its weight as well to have that experience right off the bat. >> and for a long time it has that lightness and darkness and then try to speak how we look at children and what we find delightful then we figure
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out where that came from. but then the team time there is that anxiety that you are harboring some hereditary legacy that you might not even know about. so this episode was in 2000 when my wife was still pregnant the technology was so primitive compared to now so there is no way i can know except for a few genes. it has totally changed in the past 16 years. >> digging a little further than the concept of heredity you talk about it often but yet that would refer to a lot
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of different things that we believe we inherit. so could you talk about this concept of heredity? where did it come from? how should we be thinking about that today? >> the word heredity is quite old, but it doesn't mean what we mean by that going back to the origin. in latin, that had nothing to do with your father's eyes but your father stuff and inheriting a house or money or slaves. that is where heredity comes from so how are they passed down through the generation?
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>> so if you look in ancient greece like aristotle and their writings, they don't talk about people inheriting trade from their ancestors. but the fact that people look similar is due to other thing that they are born in the same climate so of course it is like making a recipe for cheese. it's the same cheese it just doesn't mean that inherited cheesiness from yesterday's cheese. [laughter] and then certainly in western culture and then talking about things like blood there is a continuity between generations
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and very often that's in a way is a justification. and blood was the mechanism. >> nobody is ever specific but they keep talking about noble blood and then after a while it starts to set groups of people apart. in the 1400s in spain you start hearing about the races themselves. and the jews have jewish blood you better not have that if you are in spain which that means you cannot have any ancestors who were jewish.
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as that blood would pollute you. and this is also the phrase where blueblood comes from because if he were a christian in spain that your skin was very pale so you could see your veins through your skin. that is where the phrase comes from. >> are there other examples from other cultures how these traits were passed down to the generations? >> when i would do research on other cultures i would find i would say this is happening in western civilization but trying to impose that what is happening elsewhere so it
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allows the term. and it has to do with kinship. there is a group in malaysia where kids in the same family are related to each other because they all nursed from the same woman and ate the same food so they are composed of the same stuff that is their definition of kinship over blood or dna. >> but the book is to redefine the concept of heredity so what was the goal and wanting us to deeply rethink what we mean today? >> at me? >> at me. all the way in which to define
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yourself can be kind of astonishing we talk about heredity implicitly all the time but now what is heredity? and that was dependent on that. and why those psychiatric disorders were running in families? but in 1800 some scientist rediscovered create a science of genetics. so when we talk about genes now we want to explain about
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heredity in a straightforward way. that is marvelous and counterintuitive. and there can be other forms of heredity so instead of shrinking that down to genetics. >> so there is a lot of hope and fear we put into genetics today so we need a fresh look at heredity as a biological process and multifaceted process. >> and where genetics or science cannot answer these
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questions that we have about heredity. so people have been asking can you inherit? we don't say things like that but with the genetic study of laughter anybody that swaps can nobody has done that. so yes. sometimes things are so mixed to gather it is almost impossible to pull them apart. but yet you learn all sorts of amazing things nobody had a
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clue. >> the journey across the 17181900 looking at your scientist and american scientists around the world will conceptualize this idea of heredity. so talk about, you mentioned mendel but what about the struggles over the last three or four centuries? >> one part of the story is breathing life stock but they were not expressively thinking about heredity that is changed to what one -- strange to us and how can that be?
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look at the manual for being a farmer. but then you can start to change and those who produce an entirely new breed of sheep by choosing which blends he will breed. people call him the man who invented sheep. so how did he just do that? we have these existing sheep breeds and now we have a new one. so there were mysteries of heredity and all the things to come of that. talk about luther burbank in the late 1800s one of the most
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famous americans and we still have his plants today. if you stop at mcdonald's and have some franchise -- french fries. so scientist geneticist will come to california just try to learn from the wizard then they realize there is no science there. >> he would have thousands of plan and that's it. when he claimed he knew more than mendel was a very complicated person.
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so mendel comes out of that tradition not just working out of isolation but he is a member of the scientific society and is train in science and university so he picks trying to figure out heredity. unfortunately he didn't know what to make he was signing with these people with those amazing ratios of plants different colors for example. he didn't know what to make of it because other science had not yet figured out that the chromosomes are passed down. it is quite an amazing story of people groping in the dark with that crazy idea of heredity it was a total movie
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idea those that would stream into the gonad and each one of those cells would encompass everything. some people tried to do experiments and they failed and that was that. >> what was the link to animals to humans? >> one genetics took hold then there were some people who said maybe we humans although the same rules. but they could do is look at
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genealogies so there are studies to say this person with this disease did any relatives have that disease? and then sometimes they could find patterns but other times it was fuzzy that they would be more common but it wasn't a simple pattern it was many, many genes. >> so talk about the history of thinking heredity to human and trying to control that has led to a very dark history of genetics and racism and segregation not to mention the genocidal practices. so how have scientists in larger society come to terms
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with heredity when it's framed in these ways? >> in my book i talk about how eugenics were wrapped up from the start even we knew about genes. so eugenics is a word claimed -- coined in the 1880s because he was doing preliminary studies over heredity and he found a statistical relationship between the parents and the kids. roughly speaking for things like height can be inherited then and to say clearly we can
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read things for what we want so eugenics basically means a generation so if you look at those clever people that is good for society. if you keep doing that consistently you have a galaxy of genius. this was in the 1880s he talked about this. see you can see in the united states with the family concept of global affairs great eugenics specimen but there was a dark side especially with american scientists that i write about.
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but there is a big danger which is people who don't want to have children will have children. that leads to a lot of laws to be passed for sterilization. and then to be supported by the supreme court. because supposedly people from italy >> so a white nationalist signs up. >> and that happens.
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the anthropologists studied what happened when they are not entirely white. >> so idea without a lot just as a journalist if i write about africa is twitter and people say no way my daughter could have descended from an african. but then because europeans were not light-skinned they are dark skinned. >> that is a surprising report from the british isles. >> it is amazing to pull out not just the dna but the whole
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genome to say so why variance that is very common for light-skinned are just not there so we don't know how dark skinned they were but they were dark. and we don't know why maybe a change of diet or migrants coming in with different skin color. that remains to be seen. >> and to have your own genome and you were nationalized, can you share that process and what are your own hopes and
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fears of your genetic history? >> get was pretty amazing it geneticist e-mailed me said there is a dna sequence offering those genomes for certain diseases. do you want to know your genome sequence? i couldn't believe it. when i started to save you want your genome sequence do you want to go to another galaxy? sure. but i don't think that will happen. so i jumped at it. the old worrywart started to come back again now what will they find? fortunately i had a day genetics counselor who again went through the family history again.
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>> but then you look at the whole genome of 20000 genes. something has to be weird in their. [laughter] then to say your results are in. okay. so to find a time to lay that heavy news on me. instead we can just do it on the phone. we are looking for 1600 diseases you don't have any of them. you are a carrier for two diseases but he would know if you're kids have those they would be very sick and they are not. that's it. [laughter]
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so it was weird like why am i so disappointed. [laughter] to have a horrible exotic disease? [laughter] but then i decided now i want my genome. so i could get a hold of the raw data to show up on my door one day and it was very funny i have never seen a person whose genome has been studied. it is just data for them. to say you are the first person i have ever seen. so you really want to dig in there? so that initial test? i could never do that.
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i would be so terrified. >> everybody ways to analyze. and just to see that is nothing special but it is fascinating to look at those billions of letters and to see how the one end of a long long line of those things i inherited genetically. it is this amazing labyrinth of genetic information. >> with those genes? can you visualize what is it look like? >> it looks like a horrible spreadsheet. the way the technology works
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that they smash the dna into pieces and you can think of them to be the off of that dna. they are a couple hundred letters long. and they make lots and lots of copies of these. there are many of these fragments. and when you start off with the genome so to say this fragment where does it come from? so to find a place in the chromosome. and it takes a huge amount of competing power. but once you have that.
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you have that variance. and they start to do amazing stuff. >> are you? >> you and me both. everybody is about 1% to have the dna in their genome. that is because one group expanded out to encounter neanderthals in the near east or asia or europe. they clearly that there were
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many. and with that catalog. a lot of stuff is happening in china. so that dna was passed down to the generations but what is really weird is that there were a lot of neanderthals before they became extinct and a lot of humans so there is actually much much more today than there were neanderthals. >> being a science writer that most humans do cover -- carry traces but to stare at all
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those letters to know that sequence that you do carry that within you does that change your identity or connection to history or humanity is not like i will go out i did not to have those skills of any intervals. so into showing the genes. and then to zero in and then those genes that you
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inherited. and there they are. and that i have bad genes there is no question. and as soon as i get to the hygiene we want all the answers at once. and what does that do? i've never heard of that before. and that is very common for a human being. it is very common.
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and that it could be hard to know what difference that makes. i have a mutation is the gene from any and all that is associated with a high risk of nosebleeds. [laughter] i don't get them but not like the neanderthal. [laughter] and why would they get nosebleeds? i don't know. so i ask them point-blank these dumb questions and say i have no idea but it's cool because it feels like we are at the dawn if you call and resolve medicine where we try
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to understand our inheritance and what that means for our health. that is a thing. so there are these others because someone pulled that dna out and they were in east asia much higher percentage and some in china. so we are talking about 40000 years ago. but so to have some amazing scientists look at your genome
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but with the direct consumer genetic taste -- testing. ancestry alone has 10 million customers i just had my own dna test. so it is striking to me that this demand is opening up now that the technology is there. and just to show how intense it is. and between generics and genealogy. because genealogy it can get you so far. it is pretty good if you do
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have two different experiences. to have a vague idea that the ancestors came from this one place. and that was it but my mother and then goes right back to the mayflower. very different experiences but what is going on there? and it is much more profound and then to take as slaves and then ripped away.
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then to drive the market and then to learn some important things. and then you can be confident in that but then to get these percentages irish or japanese or whatever it isn't like you are getting a cholesterol test. not precise at all. >> bv that is not telling you what you think it might because of those locations. >> now you have your test to try that add a different company and get a different result. >> almost certainly. >> and it has its own database?
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with that genetic comparison. but additionally looking at the group being company by company. so to be troubled how those groupings were framed and i was also lost cannot the jewish as well but instead i am middle eastern which is a geographic region. with that at ethnicity and doesn't give you straight answers. because that is tied differently to the region. so how they interpret those could be a little fuzzy.
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>> so do you have a sense of how people are interacting or engaging? >> i think it has all sorts to have an impact on people. those that discover to their surprise they are italian so now i need to start eating pasta. left my feeling is to say this must be my heritage. that is complicated. because there may be things about you but also things you are reading into. and we also need to be careful
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not to equate genetics it's not the same thing if you go back with the genetic material there's just not enough room in the genome for everybody. the way that they are passed down generation to generation people get lost. and then you have no dna from them. so in a very real way the genetics is part of the heredity puzzle that only one part. so what can we think about heredity beyond genetics? and one of them is culture.
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but when we both inherit genes languages and customs and knowledge and culture really works as a separate channel of heredity in humans and the reasons that works has to do with interesting things like we can teach kids in the animal kingdom is almost unheard of. that doesn't happen maybe the meerkat. they help their young. and then to grab a scorpion almost kill it and they give it to the young to say finish it off. watch. and then to come back with a slightly less dead and say try
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this. then they get better and better to do it themselves. >> that was a fascinating sidebar. [laughter] that is what happens with heredity. so we are passing along our culture and that innocence is just as much as our genes? >> right. that made that agricultural revolution possible and building on that culture to pass that downed cumulatively to the next generation. now people would know things they could never figure out on their own. and that led to heredity in its original sense. now they have all the extra stuff, food, wealth, houses to
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pass down. >> going back to the. it is a pandora's box. so what is your sense of the future? are we headed to dystopia? and chaos and inequality at every level? if that is empowered by the genetic revolution? or where can we manage the power and the new ways to better humanity? >> in the sense that you don't
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need to edit dna for your dystopia. [laughter] so let's focus on that now. and then we jump to that dystopia because being able to alter heredity of which they are able to do now is very disturbing because we feel they have always been this way. and then to talk about this in the book about what happened with in vitro fertilization.
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to help in fertile parents have kids and they started to do experiments then when they got wind of it it was a huge controversy. the catholic church that it is a terrible sin and the survey show the vast majority were against the idea and what you doing? and then you start to see children who were born from in vitro and then so now we don't look at and is in vitro as they still be in future because they all say these exact same things.
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and honestly to take care of those serious hereditary diseases. >> let's open up for questions i will shout out and then repeat that. back that variation of what happened something that is that and then to travel down was the case in point james fellow population. >> that question was around the genetic history. >> this is an interesting
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story because when scientists noted there was one genetic variance that was common in europeans that it looked as if it may have resistance to the bubonic plague so if that was so terrible now natural selection but now that has fallen apart and now they think there was another disease in europe that was common and made that very into more common. we don't know. it is common in people of european ancestry. we are still puzzling over that. so people of european ancestry susceptible to the bubonic plague more than other people but if you go from culture to culture without genetic
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variation that is common because of diseases like malaria, that is a huge threat to people. and in places there are several different stations because they protected people from malaria in different ways. >> have you looked into that phenomenon? >> the question is about at the genetics. >> we have another hour? [laughter] i have a whole chapter in the book because real quick it is basically the study of all the
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molecules that regulate how your genes work. if they don't do them on their own they need lots of help there are molecules that keep them active or silent. and your experiences can lead to changes. and in your lifetime this is related to things like having terrible stress as a child. i will leave it at that. but then the question is can those changes be passed down to the next generation? so if it were true that would meet our experiences could affect future generations. it is mind blowing. and they suggested experiments where they would take sperm
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from the stressed-out mice to fertilize the mouse eggs and then they get stressed out easily. so it is very suggestive they are small and a lot of critics think it could be random noise. plants yes. but we care more about people. >> so is there evidence? be making me the other ancient human ancestors? >> so that question is the whole array of the human
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lineage is there any influence other under other ancestors? >> not quite yet so with the interest all you go to the hospital to recognize somebody already had a name. it was called the end with all. so that common ancestor that lived at this time but then so they think are they humans or neanderthals? and then they say neither. so that human is about 400,000 years ago. that is dna out fossils. nobody yet has gotten a totally different branch but
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they are looking really hard. what is interesting is there are some his point -- his disadvantage people in our genome. there are certain genes that they carry that are unusual compared to other parts of africa or other parts of the world that seem to come from a very old ancestor so people think that the ancestors but we have not even found their fossils yet. so i'm guessing in ten or 20 years we will talk about more of these diseases. >> c will come back then with an answer? >> great question. >> what is the danger to have
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these things available in a private company? like facebook? the so these companies with that analysis with those privacy concerns and ethics. and given to a private company? >> so you are asking a company to get data for you and they are holding onto the data as well. there are clear-cut ways to use the data and those include for example partnerships to go in like a drug discovery
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company to say you have 20,000 people i want to to compare their genes to the 50000 to see if there are any genetic differences so if you don't like that. that was explicit and clear-cut. so please. take that. if it helps take my dna what about life insurance that is not protected with the discrimination laws.
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but all the issues of consent coming to genetic testing are complicated because when i go to a genetic testing company it's not just my dna but half of my brothers dna and they don't give consent. but that is how those with similar dna. then starting to engage with them. that is a totally legitimate question.
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. . . . different ancestors in their genome. has there been any kind of reaction to that on an ethical front with someone looking at those kinds of issues? >> essentially it is not a genetic basis and get some
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researchers are pointing to some genetic differences between what some people subscribed to as racism, so it's the sort of current thinking on that. the large question is around race and genetics more broadly. >> the way that we talk about race and a lot of the sort of concepts that float around our heads, the way things were developed in the 15 hundreds and 16 hundreds where different races were thought of as fundamentally different kinds of people with traits that were inherited that were so distinct that it was okay to enslave a race and there was a lot of justification that had to do with biology. as things start to a marriag em,
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they say we are not really finding sharp boundaries between the use anthese and the closer t the genetic diversity, the more of these ideas kind of dissolved. that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist or that these different people in different parts of the world may have more copies of a certain gene than others, but even within a group of people there is a huge amount of genetic diversity and if you try t to come. compare it with the difference between an arbitrary group of people it's going to be a lot more. these ancestry tests can say your ancestors are from europe, but that is simply because they are looking at random markers
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scattered. it's not the genetic variance. i would be curious to hear what you think from a geneticist at stanford's like the four elements or fire and water. we've moved on and we don't want you to force us to go back and talk about it in the era of high air and water. we are past that. >> in other words, there is a basis perhaps. >> there are more fundamental things to talk about. >> that would reflect what i'm
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thinking about these days in how we have the categories of concept that we thought along from the colonial period and it's best if we move beyond it and go back to some of these take-home tests. it actually brings back some of the terminology an and these ids in the category that are kind of a critical analysis. there is something to lament about that. but i talked him about about if you take a continent, any content. i talk about europe in particular because there has been a lot of interesting work done on it.
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it's not just like there was a group of people from 50,000 years ago that have been there and have been european the whole time. basically you have wave after wave of distinct immigrants coming in and producing this new sort of hybrid and then somebody else comes in and they can be farmers coming in from turkey or from the russians step and it happens over and over again. if you look at the ancient dna from europe, save the old stuff like 40,000 years ago, almost no genetic connection to a.
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of it is a term that it's ethical one time. how do you manage to determine what's ethical and what is not? >> specifically in the realm of genetics and there is a field of bioethics is and it isn't simply saying religion says this or that. it sort of based on philosophical principles about what is right, what is the right way to treat people. so the idea of informed consent is something that came out of bioethics, whether, there's nothing in ththere isnothing ins
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you have to give people a genetic consent. this is something that has emerged and needs a moral basis and it throws out situations where you feel unprepared for what is right or wrong to give you an example we learn how they go from being embryonic to bring muscle that we have as adults. that means you can take a cheap slob and basically throw them in a chemical bath and available turn into basically embryonic cells and then you can throw some other chemicals in.
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people are doing this all the time that you could actually turn them into eggs or sperm and so that raises the supply and is that okay with. that is a painful blo flow in te unreliable process [inaudible]
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what are your thoughts? scientists are identifying a lot of genes. it's been about 80% that are active in which isn't too surprising because it really complicated. i try to dive into some of this complexity the book looking at
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intelligence for good and for bad there was this idea of feebleminded miss that came down to one gene and this was a popular idea that help to lead to these wall but now scientists started to be able to find genes where there are variations on how people do on intelligence tests on memory, vocabulary, sporting a geometrical problem. there are some that have an influence. each one might alter the scores on average.
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you'd have to know so much more about how the brain works and take into account that they are working in an environment. it's interesting how now we are starting to get the very beginninvery beginningto underse intelligence and the same is true for the personality and schizophrenia or autism as well. is there any work correlating that is being done is there any
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correlation and does not impact mental illnesses and genes as well? >> we have 37 trillion or so cells in our body and roughly the same number of microbes. collectively there is a mike crowe by him and they are on your skin and in your gut and in your lungs. they are everywhere. they keep your immune system in balance and scientists are becoming increasingly appreciative of the fact that they are talking to our brain. they send up a lot of said as and bake it picked up via the
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nervous system and seem to have an effect on how the nervous system works. if you change the microbe im you can produce an anxious mouse and personality trait so in terms of gravity, we have thousands of species that are living in us and it is in similar but different than mine we will have some species in common and different streams. a lot of it is what you are encountering in the environment. but it does seem like it may pay for some bacteria over others so that families have similar micro biomes because they live in the same house but also because they have the same gene.
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we have another question up front. [inaudible] thinking about the future behavior and otherwise from the past and will it be kind of a genetic convergence perhaps. >> there certainly is more flow as the scientists call it now than in the past because it was easier for people to move
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around. obviously it's not like it is just getting on a plane. i think you will find certain variances in one part of the world will become more common and other parts. i don't think it will be totally uniform in part because every new child has around 60 and those mutations would have come into the world and get spread out so we are always producing a new diversity which is nice but they are mutations and because the medicines get in and food and so on van a couple hundred
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years ago, people have mutations that are passed down to kids who might have just died or not able to have a kid. think abou of being born with juvenile diabetes, not looking good. it wouldn't be good for me either but people can take insulin so there may be something scientists call the mutation load. we don't know if that is going to happen for sure but if it does it could be a bad thing because you could end up with harmful mutations that could make us all sick. we are healthy and thereby making ourselves more sick.
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>> maybe you can explain what that is and tell us about where the science of it stands. >> it kind of got applied to a the genome that isn't a genius with the idea was that it goes off and does something for us and that's good. it was puzzling to what is the
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other 98% and so people would call a bit junk saying it doesn't do anything. we've known since the 1950s that things do stuff so some of it acts like a genetic switch so a protein can land on the switch and turn it on and it activates the gene nearby. one of the things i found there is a switch called fto and baths which is very important in ourselves deciding to take energy and burn it.
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i have a new tent version of it where it's stuck on the south side of and i got two copies. [laughter] so thanks mom and dad. on average, people are a few pounds heavier than the broken switch. so that is an example of the dna that is obviously not junk and so they are looking at finding more and more of these pieces that do have functions and switches. some of them may produce some that are functional.
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it's going from 98% 99%. most of it is broken genes we sort of carry along with us. we have a couple hundred for the receptors in our noses for spelling. we have several hundred more about our broken that can't make a protein and we just carry them around because they are not hurting anybody. moscodoris kearns goodwin has aw book coming out. what is your focus?
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>> to take four of the guys that i knew about before and look at them through the lens of leadership so hopefully it can be a roadmap for the established leaders about what the moments of great turbulence was able to achieve. >> when did you start working on a book like this? >> five years ago. it was more fun than i imagined. somehow i felt like i was seeing them in a new way by looking at them as young leaders, when did they first recognize themselves, how they went through adversity and the big question that demand at the time so certain leadership that they were fitted for the moment in history. i hadn't thought about all this stuff before so it was like being in college again.
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i feel like a lif i lived with m for so many years i've been studying these presidents are no longethatare no longer alive any there will be a panel of them all in the afterlife and someone will tell me everything they missed about them. but this was especially fun because they haven't thought about those kind of question. what did you learn about lyndon johnson, somebody that you knew personally? >> the war in vietnam will always be a scar on his legacy but the more that i thought about what he did in the first year and a half as the president and civil rights and social justice issues, the more respect i had for his ability not to cut a deal with the congress but to have a vision of where he wanted to take the country. the first night he said i'm
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going to get medicare and a civil rights bill. unbelievable everything he said came true. >> what were the turbulent times for degette or roosevelt? >> the revolution have shaken up the economy much as the revolution has today. there is a lot pouring in from abroad in th and the gap betweee rich and the poor. it was almost that time there was a fear of revolution there were a lot of strikes and violence and he had to come along and square a way that deals until he was able to mobilize to begin to deal with the problems in this area. >> we often hear from history we can't talk about five years ago. we need to have more space in
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between. what about the revolution that we are going through today? >> as having a huge impact on our public lives especially when you think about the digital revolution. it's taken a lo little fragmentd attention. when i think about how mine communicated, they would like speeches printed and you could read them aloud to. he had a country kind of language. lincoln was a great speaker. that is what worries me today is people are saying things without
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preparation of a dialogue that has become so of course. for the last 30 to 40 years. >> with the advent of instant messaging etc., as the historian argue fearful of losing the long form letters and dialogue that have been? >> i worry about what will happen years from now. they will see them walking and talking but they will not have by diaries and letters. there's nothing more exciting than looking over the shoulder of a handwritten letter imagining that you are with that person. they will have some stuff to sort out. what did you learn about abraham lincoln? >> his ambitious was so fierce
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when i start the story some of them are going to lose and be confused. i was at a college funds and i could never imagine being one of them d but think if i start whee they start themselves like abraham lincoln that first time he said he had a peculiar ambition. i think i will try five or six time. he tries again and he wins and loses more. it is an extraordinary story of resilience. >> were they able to see around corners or think more in the patterns? >> the interesting thing to be roosevelt for example, he was able to think about where he
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wanted his career to go. they thought ahead but then he lost his wife and mother on the same day that goes to the badlands and from then on decides i'm not going to look ahead at the next title i'm just going to take whatever job can make me feel worthy at the time so he gets the civil service commissioner, state legislature and bank of america and the soldier, but the winding path to the presidency taught him a lot of different kinds of leadership skills that made him a more comfortable. >> doris kearns goodwin nubuck leadership in turbulent times, she will be at the national book festival the first weekend of september. booktv will be live. what have you learned personally about turbulent times from these guys
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>> turbulent times creates the opportunity for great leadership and opportunity for failure. the depression was there with hoover and he wasn't able to mobilize in the way. buchanan was president during the beginning of the break apart of the south and north, but he wasn't able to deal with it the way that lincoln was. so they make it more possible like abigail adams says, great necessities and great virtues so there's something you can mobilize but unless you have this fixed -- i learned you have to be fit for the times and each of my people were fit for the times they might not have been a leader in another time but think of fdr for example, somebody that has gone through polio learned contagious optimism can help a fellow victim become
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president at the time that people need that confidence and optimism. >> you mentioned you've been working on the book for about five years, but the genesis of the idea came earlier different if? >> a long time ago when i was in graduate school and studying political science and philosop philosophy, we used to stay up at night thinking about these kinds of questions, what does the good state mean, what does leadership theme, and i thought about it a little bi bit in wrig these books but it was the middle of writing about their families and biographies of these presidents. i felt is meeting them agai likn again for the first time. >> is it unhealthy when it comes to u.s. presidents? >> at a certain point if you are
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a present to give the president that stands the test of time to welfare and social justice in the community and each one of them made that tur the turn at n point that is what you look for. >> leadership in turbulent times, the author doris kearns goodwin you are watching book tv on c-span2. >> link back to the
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good evening, everybody. welcome to politics and prose. i am part of the event staff. before i begin i would like to remind you of a few quick thing


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