November 21, 2011

To be posted on

Marietta DiChristina
Scientific American
415 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017-1111

Dear Marietta DiChristina:
I read with interest your editorial.  (Marietta DiChristina Emergent Genius SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN vol. 305 no. 6 December 2011 page 6)  You address the idea that ideas arise from the interacting social pool.  Many people will have the same idea at about the same time and although one will be the first to publish, there are others snapping at the metaphorical heels and the emergence of the idea is ultimately inevitable.

My impression is that this is true of the ideas you hear about.  But for some ideas seeing the light of day is supremely evitable.  If one came to you, a single idea on an important topic from a single source with evidence lined up, would you recognize it?  Would you pursue it at all, understanding that your help would be invaluable?  Would you at least blurt something out?  Let’s see.  It will take three sentences:

In the old days we all married cousins, and there were lots of babies.  Now we don’t marry cousins, and there are not enough babies.  Do you suppose that we could get the babies back by marrying cousins again?

The idea is simple.  The problem with the evidence is that there is so much of it along so many lines that it is very cumbersome. 

To get the evidence go to and click on the “Orlando Meeting” button.  It is some notes I put together for a conference of fertility doctors.  They did not seem very interested.  Are you?


M. Linton Herbert MD

I sent the letter as indicated and yesterday it came back.  I’ll try to get it to her some other way, but so far she has not had a chance to respond.

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