Narrator: Researchers now know that the possession of one sickle cell gene can, in at least
one sense, be considered an advantage. Their work has shown that people with a single
gene have a high degree of protection against malaria, once considered to be the greatest
disease scourge in some parts of the world.
Linus Pauling: Now of course malaria is no longer a scourge in the United States and in other countries,
and so being a sickle cell heterozygote is not of any advantage, and yet the defective
children with sickle cell anemia continue to be born. And that is a way of getting
rid of the gene now that it no longer is of value. When these defective children die,
they carry two sickle cell genes out of existence; consequently the gene will slowly
A man who has worked in this field, Dr. Anthony Allison - he is an Englishman who
is responsible for having shown that the sickle cell gene protects against malaria
- has calculated that among the Negro population in the United States the incidence
of the gene has dropped from about twenty percent to about ten percent, at the expense
of much suffering. If the children were not to be born, that would be a better way
of getting rid of this deleterious gene, not at the cost of human suffering but by
the use of human intelligence.