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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 19, 2006 / 23 Tamuz, 5766

Think your cousin's cute? Relax

By John Stossel


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I'd always thought marrying a blood relative as close as a cousin was immoral, and certainly risky if you plan to have kids. Conventional wisdom says only primitive people who live in isolated places marry cousins. It leads to stupid children. But that's a myth.


It's the sort of myth that leads to stupid laws. Half the states in America have banned cousin marriage, but there's no good reason for it. You can marry your cousin and have perfectly intelligent kids.


Take Albert Einstein — was he intelligent enough for you? His parents were cousins, and he married his cousin. So did Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria. Worldwide, 20 percent of all married couples are cousins.


A lot of "experts," politicians and clergymen, are dead set against cousin marriage, and they've convinced a lot of people, including many lawmakers, that marrying a cousin is a bad thing to do.


As with many of our laws, there is little reason for the ban. The laws date back hundreds of years to a time when the Catholic Church campaigned against cousin marriages, because in the Bible, in Leviticus, it says, "None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin."


But a cousin isn't terribly "near." Just ask Brian and Caren Wagner. Brian's dad and Caren's mom are brother and sister, so Brian and Caren spent a lot of time together at family functions. Eventually, they fell in love and decided to marry. This did not go over well with either of their parents.


"There was a phone call from my mother, to Brian's father, of, 'What are we gonna do about this?'" Caren told me.


But Brian's father, Dennis, knew their options were limited. "We said, 'Well, we've got a couple of choices. Either we can say no, we don't want this to happen' — which, you know it wasn't our choice if this is what they were going to do. They're both over 21. I said, hey, we're not gonna lose you."


The parents blessed the marriage. Then Caren and Brian decided to have kids. They'd heard stories about birth defects and worried that their kids would be stupid. But they had kids anyway — two sons — each of whom went on to be at the top of his class in school.


That confounds the conventional wisdom. Novels like James Dickey's "Deliverance" and movies like "Brighton Beach Memoirs" reinforce the notion that cousin marriage will produce retarded children. ("You'll have a baby with nine heads!") But a study funded by the National Society of Genetic Counselors revealed that assumptions about cousin marriage are unfounded. The risks of birth defects or mental retardation are 2 or 3 percent higher among married cousins, but other parental risk factors are higher. Age, for example, increases the risk much more: There's a 6 to 8 percent chance that a woman over 40 will give birth to a child with birth defects.


It would be ridiculous, however, to prohibit middle-aged women from having children. It's equally wrong to prohibit cousins from marrying. There are risks and challenges in any marriage, but it should not be for politicians to decide such intimate matters as whether you get to marry the person you love. Love, marriage and procreation are personal choices better not left to "experts" who are often repeating myths.


There is one real risk, however, to cousin marriage. Pat Bradfield, Caren Wagner's mother, had a warning about divorce: "You could divorce your husband," she told Caren, "but you can't divorce the whole family. Your father-in-law and your mother-in-law would still be your uncle and aunt."


Now that's expert advice worth considering.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JUST OUT FROM STOSSEL
Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel --- Why Everything You Know Is Wrong  

Stossel mines his 20/20 segments for often engaging challenges to conventional wisdom, presenting a series of "myths" and then deploying an investigative journalism shovel to unearth "truth." This results in snappy debunkings of alarmism, witch-hunts, satanic ritual abuse prosecutions and marketing hokum like the irradiated-foods panic, homeopathic medicine and the notion that bottled water beats tap. Stossel's libertarian convictions make him particularly fond of exposes of government waste and regulatory fiascoes. Sales help fund JWR.



JWR contributor John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20." To comment, please click here.


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