The Genius Sperm Bank
Why am I seeing this page?
This feature can also be viewed as flash video. This page exists for people who have problems seeing broadband flash videos, and for visitors from outside the UK.
Visit BBC Webwise for instructions on how to install the free flash plugin.
The Genius Sperm Bank was created in the late 1970s by Robert Klark Graham, an American millionaire optometrist. His aim was to breed highly intelligent people by getting clever men to donate sperm.
Doron Blake was the second child born through Graham's scheme. His mother is Californian psychologist Dr Afton Blake, his father 'donor red 28'.
Doron on Graham
Doron remembers Robert Graham and guesses what he would think of Doron today.
Robert Graham and my mum and I would essentially go out, you know, to dinner every so often, every couple of months or every year. And we would just kind of meet. I was one of the first kids from the sperm bank and I was sort of poster child I think in Robert Graham's sense, because the first child born from the sperm bank had a bunch of problems, and I turned out very well. You know my IQ was off the charts, and is basically everything Robert Graham wanted. So in that sense I think he felt pleased about me and he, you know, was proud of me because I was essentially what he was trying to get out of his project. I don't think he'd be so pleased today, because I've taken my life on a little bit of a different course than I think he would have chosen if he could.
That fact that he started by trying to recruit Nobel Prize winners, I mean clearly if you win the Nobel Prize in anything that's about the highest level of achievement that one can get. And if that's sort of the gene pool that he's shooting for it seems clearl that that's what Robert Graham values. I mean, if you look at me, I want to teach kids in an elementary school. My guess is Robert Graham probably doesn't have a tremendous amount of respect for that occupation, you know. I do, I think it's a very important occupation, that's why I'm doing it, but my guess is that Robert Graham would not share that sort of value, and would probably feel like what I'm choosing to do with my life is, you know, a bit of a waste of my aptitude.
IQ and Intelligence
Doron talks about his exceptionally high IQ and tells us what he thinks of the notion of intelligence.
I'm exceptional statistically, you know, I mean I've always understood it that way. I'm like okay so.. most people have an IQ here, my IQ is here. I would argue that everybody has things about them that are exceptional and I don't think that the way that I'm exceptional is worth particular notice.
I think that there are many other things one has to look at and try and to determine the quality of a person and intelligence is not even hardly worth a look. I matters more what one chooses to do with ones intelligence, how one applies ones intelligence in their life. And I think it's much more important than, sort of, genetic predisposition that Robert Graham seemed to really emphasise.
Sperm donor dad
Doron reflects on the fact that he is a sperm bank child and has never met his father.
As far as I can remember from my youth, the fact that I was born from a sperm bank was no secret. I mean the way that my mum always phrased it to me was that, you know, she wanted to have a kid and she was forty and she didn't have a husband or, you know, a long-term partner. So she started exploring various ways that she could have a child outside of that. And that makes perfect sense to me. I've never felt that my mum's choice was weird or that is was strange. Clearly, it's unconventional, it's unusual, but it's never seemed unnatural or bizarre to me in any way.
Most people are surprised to find out that I've really never felt any strong urge to meet, you know, the sperm donor that my mum used. And I think that there's a sort of expectation that people, that sort of the mother/father structure is what is normal, and that if somebody has something that is different from that that they're going to automatically seek to recreate that.
And for me, that just isn't the case. I've always felt like, my mum and me is my family. And for me, you know, the genes that my mum got from the sperm donor, you know it's just a bunch of As and Cs and Ts and Gs. You know, I don't really care about that, that's not him, that's genetic material, that's biology, that's, you know, just organic stuff.
And me and who I am comes out of that in part, but you know it mostly comes out of the environment that I've been nurtured in and raised in. So I don't think of the sperm donor as a part of my family, I don't think of him as part of my life, and I have no desire to meet him any more than I would desire to meet any other random Joe out there..