American Renaissance
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Benedict Carey, New York Times, June 21

Political scientists have long held that people’s upbringing and experience determine their political views. A child raised on peace protests and Bush-loathing generally tracks left as an adult, unless derailed by some powerful life experience. One reared on tax protests and a hatred of Kennedys usually lists to the right.

But on the basis of a new study, a team of political scientists is arguing that people’s gut-level reaction to issues like the death penalty, taxes and abortion is strongly influenced by genetic inheritance. The new research builds on a series of studies that indicate that people’s general approach to social issues — more conservative or more progressive — is influenced by genes.

Environmental influences like upbringing, the study suggests, play a more central role in party affiliation as a Democrat or Republican, much as they do in affiliation with a sports team.

The report, which appears in the current issue of The American Political Science Review, the profession’s premier journal, uses genetics to help answer several open questions in political science.

They include why some people defect from the party in which they were raised and why some political campaigns, like the 2004 presidential election, turn into verbal blood sport, though polls find little disparity in most Americans’ views on specific issues like gun control and affirmative action.

The study is the first on genetics to appear in the journal. “I thought here’s something new and different by respected political scholars that many political scientists never saw before in their lives,” said Dr. Lee Sigelman, editor of the journal and a professor of political science at George Washington University.

{snip}

On school prayer, for example, the identical twins’ opinions correlated at a rate of 0.66, a measure of how often they agreed. The correlation rate for fraternal twins was 0.46. This translated into a 41 percent contribution from inheritance.

As found in previous studies, attitudes about issues like school prayer, property taxes and the draft were among the most influenced by inheritance, the researchers found. Others like modern art and divorce were less so. And in the twins’ overall score, derived from 28 questions, genes accounted for 53 percent of the differences.

But after correcting for the tendency of politically like-minded men and women to marry each other, the researchers also found that the twins’ self-identification as Republican or Democrat was far more dependent on environmental factors like upbringing and life experience than was their social orientation, which the researchers call ideology. Inheritance accounted for 14 percent of the difference in party, the researchers found.

“We are measuring two separate things here, ideology and party affiliation,” Dr. Hibbing, the senior author, said.

He added that his research team found the large difference in heritability between the two “very hard to believe,” but that it held up.

The implications of this difference may be far-reaching, the authors argue. For years, political scientists tried in vain to learn how family dynamics like closeness between parents and children or the importance of politics in a household influenced political ideology. But the study suggests that an inherited social orientation may overwhelm the more subtle effects of family dynamics.

A mismatch between an inherited social orientation and a given party may also explain why some people defect from a party. Many people who are genetically conservative may be brought up as Democrats, and some who are genetically more progressive may be raised as Republicans, the researchers say.

{snip}

Original article

(Posted on June 21, 2005)

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Those who control the New York Times would know this better than anyone.

Posted by Tim2 at 8:09 PM on June 21

“The implications of this difference may be far-reaching, the authors argue. For years, political scientists tried in vain to learn how family dynamics like closeness between parents and children or the importance of politics in a household influenced political ideology. But the study suggests that an inherited social orientation may overwhelm the more subtle effects of family dynamics.”

While this is all very interesting, it is now generally held in the behavioral sciences that how we think and act is an interactive 50/50 genetic and environmental process. Perhaps, the social(ist) sciences are now starting to catch up? In the broadest general sense, this is a (hopefully, at any rate) positive sign; it indicates that the once verboten subject of genetics has begun to be accepted as a reasonable consideration, in one of academia’s most liberal divisions of study? In the end, one hopes that the equally verboten concept of genetically determined racial differences, also begins to be considered in formal research and its application to social policy? This would logically be cause (again, at least one hopes) to reconsider the currently fashionable idea that social engineering to “remedy” the environmental deprivations of “endemic racism” and the like, is the “only” explanation and solution to the pathologies of certain minority groups?

Hmmm…why does the word Apartheid come to mind???

All I can say is, God let it be so!



Posted by John PM at 8:42 PM on June 21

Well, this certainly explains why America suddenly lurched to the left in the 20th century- it was all of the immigrants and their children who came in from 1890-1926 and again from 1945 till now. Think about it a moment before you have a knee jerk reaction to what I just said. Exactly how many Irish Republicans can you name? Or Italian Republicans, or, Jewish Republicans? I think I know almost all of them here in Minnesota, and they number about 100 of all three groups. I know far more who are conservative in every way, but they will never vote for a Republican or anyone else who is not a Democrat.

See, I think the European Monarchies were kicking out any one remotely to the left of the Monarchists before WW1 and again after WW2 many Trotskyites and what not immigrated out of Europe into America.

Posted by RobertB at 10:54 PM on June 21

So political opinions are etched in our genes? Why do I have a feeling that “political opinions” are just an epiphenomenon of other attributes such as “altruism”, “law-abidingness”, etc.?

And once we have realized that certain “groups” have a higher frequency of, say, “law abidingness”, is it that much of a stretch to postulate that certain ra… I mean, “genetic population distributions” have higher or lower rates of these genes than others?

The Left is, as usual, digging its own grave here. It is awfully eager to find genes for “gayness”, which would lay rest fundamentalist notions of homosexuality as a “lifestyle choice” to rest. (I do not believe that most gays have a choice in their orientation, whatever the case may be.) Yet this will be their Achilles heel. For as the public starts to think that there is a “gene” for everything, how can anyone buy into the notion that intelligence is not genetic?

Posted by Revelation 20:9 at 11:47 PM on June 21

Tim2….

What a very insightful comment !!

Posted by nanook at 10:38 AM on June 24


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