Re: [OVC-discuss] 50/50 elections

From: Dylan Hirsch-Shell <dylanhs_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Dec 01 2008 - 21:53:48 CST

Keep in mind that political views and political party affiliation are two
different beasts, and genetics/environment might play different roles in
determining each.

See what I mean here:,575,Are-politics-in-your-DNA,Stephen-Pincock

Twenty-one years ago, a young Australian geneticist named Nick Martin
published a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
(83:4364-8, 1986) that described a curious sideline to his regular work on
the epidemiology of disease in twins. The study, which Martin coauthored
with his mentor Lyndon Eaves, probed the transmission of social attitudes
among more than 4,500 pairs of fraternal and identical twins. The results
suggested that genetic factors, rather than cultural ones, were mostly
responsible for family resemblance in social attitudes.


John Alford from Rice University in Houston, and John Hibbing from the
University of Nebraska, had begun to feel that standard political science
models, which focus on environmental factors, were missing something big.
Prompted in part by reading Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate, they began
scouring the behavioral genetics literature for relevant papers and soon
came across Martin's 1986 study.

The data were tantalizing, but didn't quite fit their needs, so they decided
to do some analyses of their own, making use of old survey data from Martin
and Eaves. The survey questions that most interested them were those that
made up the Wilson-Patterson Attitude Inventory, which asks participants to
mark their agreement or otherwise to a list of words or phrases such as
death penalty, striptease shows, socialism, and apartheid.

Alford and Hibbing reanalyzed this data with an eye to political
orientation, calculating a simple index of conservatism or liberalism based
on the spread of yes or no responses, and constructing a measure of
political opinion by looking at how many neutral responses were given. They
calculated that *between 40% and 50% of variation in political orientation
was genetic, and almost none of it resulting from parental socialization*.
On the other hand, *when they examined a specific question about political
party affiliation, the results were nearly the reverse: Heritability had
little to do with it, while shared environment was key*.

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Received on Wed Dec 31 23:17:02 2008

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