The university of life

Be Smart and a Duck

Many people in our society are worried by the alarming increase in stupidity in our current society. This is probably due to the evolutionary phenomenon that smart people decide to have fewer children than stupid people, who just enjoy making children. Straightforward Darwinist doctrine tells us that this must lead to an increase of less intelligent people if intelligence is at least to some degree genetically determined.

Some people think that the answer lies in modern transgenic techniques. Why not simply do some light genetic engineering to make our children smart again? One possibility would be to increase the size of the brain (although we all should know that size isn’t everything). And fortunately there is already a solution present. It has been known for some time already that during our development from a little fertilized egg to the adult we produce many more neurons than that we actually end up with. What happens to all these little grey cells? Nature is a firm believer in the waste of precious resources. All these superfluous neurons are killed of by a process called apoptosis, or cell death.

The process of cell death can easily be prevented though. Apoptosis is caused by 2 proteins, called Apaf1 and Caspase-9. In normal cells these proteins are inhibited by another protein, Bcl2. But if you make a transgenic mouse in which the Apaf1 protein does not function properly then there is no cell death. These mice have huge brains! We therefore suggest that we do the same for the next generation of humans. We will create a whole generation of little geniuses.

There are some other beneficial side effects of this mutation. The mice have webbing between their toes similar to ducks. Usually this tissue between the toes is also removed by the process of apoptosis. We predict that during the Olympic games of 2020 new records will be set during all swimming events.


Professor at the UOL

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