Skip to main contentU.S. National Library of MedicineU.S. National Library of Medicine

Profiles in Science
Pinterest badge Follow Profiles in Science on Pinterest!

The Joshua Lederberg Papers

Letter from "Tired of Genetic Myths" to Ann Landers Annotation pdf (170,506 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from "Tired of Genetic Myths" to Ann Landers
Item is handwritten. Item is a photocopy.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (170,506 Bytes)
1978-02-07 (February 7, 1978)
Landers, Ann
The National Library of Medicine's Profiles in Science program has made every effort to secure proper permissions for posting items on the web site. In this instance, however, it has either not been possible to identify or contact the current copyright owner. If you have information regarding the copyright owner, please contact us at
Lederberg Grouping: Correspondence D
Metadata Record Letter from Ann Landers to Joshua Lederberg (February 27, 1978) pdf (54,794 Bytes) ocr (391 Bytes)
Box Number: 21
Folder Number: 45
Unique Identifier:
Accession Number:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Correspondence, 1935-2002
SubSeries: 1961-1978
Folder: Landers, Ann
February 7, 1978
Dear Ann Landers:
Now that you've taken care of the blue eye/brown eye inheritance myth would you be so good as to set the record straight concerning another popular genetic myth. I refer to the "black baby" folk tale that is alive and well even in this supposedly liberal age.
Just recently I noted that a popular "confessions" magazine carried a story in which a young white wife supposedly gave birth to a black (dark brown and completely Negroid) baby. This is "explained" by the discovery of her otherwise white husband's partial black ancestry. Needless to say, such a couple could only produce white children, but countless readers of that magazine will accept the story as gospel.
You have no idea how popular this idea is among otherwise intelligent people. There is even a story going
around, which I heard from two totally different sources, that a blonde celebrity's supposed black ancestry was revealed by a dark-skinned baby. (I refer to Dinah Shore, which of course can't be printed.)
Ideas like this are reinforced by television shows that couldn't care less about the misinformation they feed to their audiences. In "Roots", for example, the audience is told to believe that a blonde white man (Chuck Connor) and a brown-skinned Negroid woman (Leslie Uggams) produced a black-skinned son (Ben Vereen). Also, in a recent "Quincy" episode the star character (Jack Klugman), who is supposed to be a doctor, alarmingly tells a white mother to have her daughter tested for sickle cell anemia because her father was found to be partly black. In reality it wasn't possible for the daughter to be in danger since sickle cell anemia is a recessive trait and appears only when both parents carry the gene for it. Yet "Quincy" ominously told the mother that the daughter's impending marriage made such a test essential.
Please set the record straight, Ann.
-- Tired of Genetic Myths
Metadata Last Modified Date:
Linked Data:
RDF/XML     JSON     JSON-LD     N3/Turtle     N-Triples

Annotation by Joshua Lederberg:
KW: from "Tired ...";

jl 1/2/00