Recently on The Colbert Report, in typically tongue in cheek fashion, “You-genics” was highlighted in “The Word” segment (October 28, 2009). Colbert’s discussion was tied in with our nation’s current health care debate – who is and isn’t coverable, what constitutes a pre-existing condition, and how to breed an insurable individual. Taken literally, Colbert’s words didn’t sound far off from those of proponents of the eugenics movement itself. Taken as intended, we see that a sense of humor can offer a unique perspective on anything.

Not surprisingly, eugenicists considered sense of humor as a trait to be studied, and the archive features a complete family case study focused on humor, as well as high blood pressure, rheumatism, and interest in electricity. Written by Margaret Kessler, a student, it’s sure to bring a smile when you read “the family shows inheritance of the typical Irish humor,” or “she is a jolly good sport” (yes, really!).

Kesslers Pedigree Chart of Sense of Humor

Kessler's Pedigree Chart of Sense of Humor

It seems this family didn’t fully express this trait. Not likely that they are Colbert’s long lost ancestors….