Paternity before birth

By Razib Khan | June 19, 2012 8:42 pm

Before Birth, Dad’s ID. Nothing too surprising, if you can check for fetal abnormalities, it shouldn’t be too hard to ascertain paternity. Two issues of note in the piece. In the specific cases highlighted the author and the sources emphasized that unambiguous paternity reduced the stress of the expectant mother. But this seems like a double-edged sword. Of course that’s ultimately irrelevant, the technology and the procedure will probably become ubiquitous, because prenatal screening will become ubiquitous. Unless the analytic software is specifically designed to obscure paternity, it should simply drop out of the data as next generation genomic medical methodology attempts to phase and assess identity by descent of the in utero fetus. But the broader is the nature of parenthood itself. Rather than being legalistic or dogmatic, I think that a casuistical mode of assessment probably works best.

Finally, much of our customary law and tradition implicitly or explicitly assumes that father is at best probabilistic, while motherhood is assured. This prior condition no longer holds, so some of the laws should probably be updated. Ultimately exact knowledge of paternity is probably going to be a force for “good” rather than mischief. Last I checked paternity testing clinics catering to men who suspect they’ve been cuckolded actually only come back with a 1/3 positive result for cuckoldry. The evolutionary reasons for exhibit a “false positive bias” here are clear, but we don’t need to rely on instinctive heuristics when the truth can set us free.

Addendum: If you are a member of the cuckold-community, or, are an men’s rights activist, I’m going to delete your comment. Not interested in bizarre fantasies or anger.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Personal Genomics
MORE ABOUT: paternity
  • marcel

    I suspect that “caustistical” is a typo, but I cannot figure out what it is supposed to be. Please clarify.

  • Sister Y

    we don’t need to rely on instinctive heuristics when the truth can set us free

    This implies that genetic paternity is a completely proper means of assigning legal paternity. This is no longer a fringe issue for angry misogynists, e.g.

  • Grey

    “Ultimately exact knowledge of paternity is probably going to be a force for “good” rather than mischief.”

    Absolutely. The damage done at ground level by the (far greater) number of men who suspect “their” children may not be theirs compared to the number where it’s true is huge. A lot of the nastiest anti-child violence has that root. On balance a very good thing indeed.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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