If this political scientist is right, your genes and the environment make you liberal or conservative.

Peter Hatemi’s paper in Trends in Genetics was summarized on PhysOrg, “The role of genes in political behavior.”

In the past, social scientists had assumed that political preferences were shaped by social learning and environmental factors, but recent studies suggest that genes also strongly influence political traits. Twin studies show that genes have some influence on why people differ on political issues such as the death penalty, unemployment and abortion. Because this field of research is relatively new, only a handful of genes have been implicated in political ideology and partisanship, voter turnout, and political violence.

Future research, including gene-expression and sequencing studies, may lead to deeper insights into genetic influences on political views and have a greater impact on public policy.

Instead of mere social determinism, Hatemi now argues for social plus environmental determinism.  “The emergence of this research has sparked a broad paradigm shift in the study of political behaviors toward the inclusion of biological influences and recognition of the mutual co-dependence between genes and environment in forming political behaviors,” the abstract explains.  How Hatemi (a political scientist and molecular biologist at the University of Sydney) exempts himself from these influences enough to write about as if detached from them it is not clear.  It’s not clear what constitutes “insight” in such a view. Nor is it clear whose genetically-determined leanings should have sway on public policy….



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