Genetic Sequencing and Your Privacy: Should You Be Worried?

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Photo Credit: Max Pixel

Genetic sequencing was used to catch the Golden State Killer in a way that it never has been before. And because of the phenomenal result the privacy implications of what was done has been largely overlooked (to check out how police used genetic sequencing to track down the killer click here)

To be clear, getting a serial rapist and murderer off the streets is a fucking phenomenal result. But it shouldn’t be used to justify the ethical quandary of the methods that they used.

So, what did they do exactly? They used publicly available genetic information on millions of individuals to track down the identity of the killer without having the genetic information of the killer himself. Instead, they found the genetic data from the killer’s relatives and were able to utilize that data to determine who the killer was.

Where does the potential ethical dilemma arise? It’s with what else that publicly available data can be used for. As an example, your genetic information can be used to tell if you are more susceptible to certain diseases or health conditions.

The problem isn’t that the police used this information to track down the killer, they’d be foolish to not utilize the databases that are available to them. The problem is that ANYONE can access many of these databases.

Think about if a potential employer had this data. Two applicants, one who is more susceptible to develop cancer than the other. Which do you hire? The individual that is more likely to get sick, miss time from work, and raise your company’s health insurance costs, or the individual that is more likely to stay healthy?

Of course, using this data to determine who you are going to hire is illegal. Just like it’s illegal to pay a woman less than a man for the same day’s work. You see how well that’s going.

The obvious solution is not to put your data out there, that way you are protected right? Wrong. The problem is that even if you protect your data what the police investigating the Golden State Killer proved is that your data is extremely similar to your relatives’ genetic data.

But we already knew this, that’s why brothers often look so similar. So, do you have a family member in the military? A convicted felon? Register for a program like GEDmatch? If so your information is already compromised.

The Dangerous War on Media

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The war on the media is stronger then ever. If you haven’t heard the term “fake news” you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years. Yet it’s still gaining traction every day and the results are dangerous.

First let’s clear a few things up, every journalist has a bias. You see journalists are human, just like you and me, and if you think you can write a political story without any bias you are only fooling yourself. Bias is a human condition, and as such will always be present in the work created by humans.

Second, most journalists that write for national media outlets in the United States have a liberal leaning. This doesn’t make the stories that they cover “fake news”, but it does mean that most national news stories will have a liberal bias. But it doesn’t change the fact that the facts presented in their stories are just that, facts. You see you can disagree with facts all you want, but a fact will remain a fact.

Facts are something that President Trump has convinced himself, and many of his supporters, changes depending on the bias of the story. Yes, a biased story might mean that there is more to the story that isn’t being presented but it doesn’t make it “fake news”, and the facts presented remain relevant.

News today isn’t any more or less biased then it’s been in the past, the difference is that people used to know how to pull the facts out of the story that they were hearing and form their own opinions. They used to get the story from more then one source to make sure they got the whole picture.

Americans today have lost that ability.

And as such Americans are gullible to attacks labeling legitimate media sources as “fake”. You see once you start labeling a news source as fake you have no way of distinguishing reality from fiction. Certain politicians would have you believe that all news sources are fake. Once they convince you of that the only person you feel like you can trust for your information is them. And if they are your news source they can convince you of anything they want to. And at that point you are following the most biased source of all, the politician.

Boy Scouts, Masculinity, and Feminism: The Hard Truth

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Every time a story about Boy Scouts of America allowing girls to join their organization pops up on one of my newsfeeds I scroll through the comments and am appalled with what I see. The amount of resistance to the idea is horrendous. A private organization has decided to change their policies to try and be more inclusive and the world responds with hate.

Who cares if they decided to allow girls to join? Why does it matter? As someone with both a son and daughter I don’t see why my son should have the opportunity to go camping and learn survival skills while my daughter is told to go sell cookies. And honestly, I don’t understand why my son can’t sell cookies if he wants to.

But it’s not until you understand the basics of masculinity and feminism that you can make sense of either the reason for the change or the opposition to it.

The right wing screams that masculinity is dying or dead, but what they fail to realize is that feminism is doing the same thing. Feminism is evolving into masculinity, and masculinity is evolving into feminism. But this only makes sense if you understand what both feminism and masculinity used to be, so you can understand what they are becoming.

Being masculine used to mean that you drank beer, watched football, and objectified women. It used to mean that you protected and provided for your family. It used to mean that you took care of your family by going to work every day.

Feminism used to mean that you stayed at home and were submissive to your husband. It used to mean that you were meek and quiet. It used to mean that you raised your kids and loved them unconditionally. It used to mean that you took care of your family by staying home every day.

But now that changes.

Masculinity still means that you protect and provide for your family, but now it also means that you raise your kids and love them unconditionally. It means that you take care of your family at both work AND home. It means that you can still drink beer and watch football, but that you respect women, even in the locker room.

Feminism still means that you raise your kids and love them unconditionally, but now it also means that you protect and provide for them as well. It means that you take care of your family at both work AND home. It means that you can drink beer and watch football, and that you respect men, even in the locker room.

You see they’re becoming the same thing, as they should be. And in a world that defines masculinity the same way it describes feminism there is no longer a need for an organization that raises boys to become men in a different manner then it raises girls to become women.

Feel free to let me know what you think in a respectful manner in the comments below!