British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson is either a practical joker or a quirky eugenicist. On March 31 he announced the creation of the world’s first dyslexia-only sperm bank.
In the past, some sperm banks in the UK rejected dyslexic donors because they might be carriers of “common genetic diseases or malformations”. Ironically, they were reproached for being “eugenicist”. But Branson says on his personal blog that
“this is absurd when you think that some of the most successful people in the world are dyslexic. Rather than being seen as a weakness, dyslexia should be seen as a strength ... Dyslexia has been a massive help for me personally; it makes me think creatively and laterally, two major factors that helped me create Virgin and build a global brand ...Dyslexia is a different way of thinking, not a disadvantage and it shouldn’t stop young people from achieving success and striving to make their dreams a reality.”The notion has the air of prank, but Branson says that he will launch “the world’s first dyslexic sperm bank” in London on May 2. A website already exists, MadeByDyslexia.org, which also promises great things on May 2.
As Stat noted, Branson’s holding company, the Virgin Group, has a habit of making announcements on April Fool’s Day, like left-handed telephones, a trip into an active volcano, and using trained ferrets to lay underground cables.
Watch this space.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
We’re back from the Easter holidays, which in Australia are far longer than elsewhere, thank goodness. To get back into the rhythm of things, we have published two articles about “fake news” and bioethics. One reports that prospective IVF parents in Mississippi discovered to their horror that they were twins separated at birth. This went around the world before some spoilsport blew the whistle on it. The other is an announcement by British billionaire Richard Branson that he is setting up a sperm bank for dyslexics. Branson being Branson, it’s hard to tell whether this is fake news or not, but I suspect that it is.
The problem with BioEdge, some readers tell us, is that everything sounds like fake news. This, of course, is not true; we take great care to check our sources. However, all too often the articles seem to have been composed in some gigantic facility manned by bad news elves.
In fact, when you read today’s lead story, “Euthanised organ donors could dramatically shorten waitlists in Belgium, say doctors”, I must concede that it does sound so implausible as to be fake. But it’s not a report from The Onion, but from the Journal of the American Medical Association. Go figure.
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BioEdge: Will Richard Branson erase the stigma of dyslexia?