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Tilting at Windmills

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February 2, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

YOU AND YOUR TAQI A REPEAT FRAGMENT LENGTH POLYMORPHISM....Some of us are raging partisans. Some of us are mushy independents. According to Christopher Dawes and James Fowler of UC San Diego, part of the reason is in your genes. In particular, partisanship is mediated by the TaqI A repeat fragment length polymorphism in the DRD2 gene.

Here's the deal: Compared to people who have two copies of the major A2 allele, it turns out that people with the minor A1 allele are less partisan. "Holding the control variables at their means and changing the number of A1 alleles from zero to one decreases average partisanship by about 4 percentage points and from zero to two by about 8 percentage points."

And how does this break down for the population as a whole? Like so: 54% of us have two copies of the A2 allele, 37% have one A1 allele, and 8% have two A1 alleles.

For obvious reasons, don't take this too seriously. But still, be honest: doesn't this give you the urge to rush out and get your DRD2 gene tested to find out just how partisan you are? And don't you have a few friends you'd like to get tested too?

Via The Monkey Cage.

Kevin Drum 12:41 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (66)

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Comments

They don't address the gene for partisan hack.

Posted by: steve duncan on February 2, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

A remarkable results. Of course a 4% change per copy doesn't exactly overturn free will. Slight changes in propensity don't mean much to the individual, however slight changes across a population can sometimes change the overall dynamic.

Posted by: bigTom on February 2, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I am guessing most political blog writers and and commenters have negative numbers of A1 alleles.

On a related topic, researchers at Texas A&M are closing in on the cause of Bush-Derangement Syndrome. It appears that sufferers of the disorder have two copies of the Faq-U Allele.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 2, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

And don't you have a few friends you'd like to get tested too?

Hi its me, sorry for not calling for a while, hey uh, remember that one election evening....? You should probably get tested.

Posted by: yt on February 2, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Questions, questions...

How do these genes, I wonder, manifest themselves in different political environments? For instance, would the presence of extra copies of the major A2 allele have been more likely to participate in the French underground during World War II?

Is the term "partisanship" shorthand for a set of behaviors that only emerge under certain circumstances, or emerge differently in different political environments? Are there ensembles of genes associated with being partisan and having the extroversion, or courage, or sheer cussedness to actually do something about it?

Under what circumstances, over multiple generations, would the tendencies for relatively greater or lesser partisanship prove themselves to be a survival advantage (or disadvantage?) Do these gene frequencies vary among cultures? If not, would that be a piece of evidence that the relative partisanship of political cultures is not, or only minimally, genetically influenced? (Given that culture is an emergent property that can't necessarily be predicted from the behavior or genetics from individuals in a vacuum.)

What could what seem on the surface to be relatively modest (albeit statistically significant differences) such as these actually mean to society? Why might they arise (if they are in fact real)? Is the science of genetics really at the point where we can be even remotely confident about any finding of this nature?

I'll have to go read the paper...

Posted by: bcamarda on February 2, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

doesn't this give you the urge to rush out and get your DRD2 gene tested to find out just how partisan you are?

No.

a 4% change per copy doesn't exactly overturn free will.

What it means is that some single digit percentage of individuals of the tested population will be partisans when they wouldn't have been absent the gene. For these individuals, there's no free will involved -- it's an outcome entirely dictated by genetics. And that's just for this particular gene/outcome combo. Many other genetic factors dictate plenty of other stuff that you mistakenly think your free will has control over.

Free will is overrated.

Posted by: jimBOB on February 2, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

>"Many other genetic factors dictate plenty of other stuff that you mistakenly think your free will has control over."

jimBOB has it right.

Unfortunately the same genetics that shape our behiaviors will also prevent the majority of people from ever admitting this simple fact.

'Semi-Rational' humans comprise maybe 20-25% of the population at best. (Rational = those not having a strongly expressed 'god gene', i.e. not worshiping some variant of a 'flying spahegetti monster').

While the god gene no doubt had survival value in evolutionary terms, it may ultimately prove to be our downfall as a species.

Obviously I do not share Zarathustra's sin...

Posted by: Buford on February 2, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

this is bullshit of the highest order. or the lowest if you will. I am embarrassed for my alma mater.

Posted by: gregor on February 2, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

What it means is that some single digit percentage of individuals of the tested population will be partisans when they wouldn't have been absent the gene. For these individuals, there's no free will involved -- it's an outcome entirely dictated by genetics.

You really can't draw that conclusion.

As with many such things, one's ultimate personality makeup or cognitive "style" or whatever is surely only partly determined by genetics.

It may very well be that, for example, these same individuals, had they had different prior experiences, and most to the point, had they made different prior choices in their lives, would simply not have become partisan. If that's true, then it's not really correct to say that their partisanship was simply "dictated" by their genes.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 2, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

This gene codes for a protein that literally fills the cephalic region with shit.

Posted by: absent observer on February 2, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Haha. A little googling on the DRD2 gene led to this interesting article. So does partisanship represent some form of 'compulsive' disorder?

"While other neurotransmitters have also been implicated, to date the only molecular genetic defect which has been found to associate with alcoholism, drug dependency, obesity, smoking, pathological gambling, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, as well as other related compulsive behaviours, are the variants of the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2)."

Dopamine D2 receptor gene variants: association and linkage studies in impulsive-addictive-compulsive behavior, NIMH

Posted by: nepeta on February 2, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Wait until they find the "liberal" gene... Compulsory sterilization, anyone?

Posted by: thersites on February 2, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

By limiting their subject to voting behavior, they're probably leaving a lot of stuff out. Rabid sports fans, for example, are about the most partisan people I know outside of Limbaughbots, but many of them don't even vote. Or people who are devoted to some celebrity, or hell, some brand of soft drink for that matter. What if the "partisan" behavior they're trying to measure is expressed outside of politics? The bottom line is, this gene could be more influential than they are claiming here, because they aren't measuring many areas where it might affect behavior.

Posted by: Martin Gale on February 2, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

"For these individuals, there's no free will involved -- it's an outcome entirely dictated by genetics."

Hardly. But I assume that it is more likely to be expressed in environments that encourage and reward partisanship. And it's a correlation. I wonder how it correlates with open-mindedness and other measures of tolerance and curiosity.

Off to find the paper. I love this kind of finding.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 2, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Kev wrote:

But still, be honest: doesn't this give you the urge to rush out and get your DRD2 gene tested to find out just how partisan you are? And don't you have a few friends you'd like to get tested too?

Well, it won't really tell you how partisan you are, it will just tell you whether you have the allele or not.

Wait until they find the "liberal" gene... Compulsory sterilization, anyone?

That will never happen, because the people left over wouldn't be useful for anything.

Posted by: Swan on February 2, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

That will never happen, because the people left over wouldn't be useful for anything.

Except mindlessly following orders...

Not a lot of comments on this, compared to what I'd expect. Where are all the Ron Paul supporters telling us we should put racial quotas on immigration?

Posted by: Swan on February 2, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine if we could reduce the proportion of conservatives in the society with gene therapy and eugenics in the form of cloning intelligent liberals.

Less botched disaster responses, less misplaced emergenct response centers, less stolen government funds, less unnecessary or badly-run wars. Sounds like a much better world to me.

Maybe someday the world will view the use of science to decrease the occurrence of anti-social individuals the same way it views the use of science to prevent mental disorders and physical/mental retardation. Certainly most people would support using gene therapy to prevent child-molestors from being born.

Posted by: Hagar on February 2, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

My friends know my lab was a major player in the Human Genome Project, so I'm constantly getting asked about every new association "finding" [much to my annoyance]. To quote a current issue of Nature magazine on the subject, "identified variants, or alleles, contribute to only a small part of the overall risk" for specific diseases or behaviors. Dunno if the article is available unless you're a subscriber though:
http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080130/full/451516a.html

Posted by: genome on February 2, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

As a political scientist, my partisanship exhibits itself in my sense that this study is BS.

Posted by: westerd on February 2, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

"But still, be honest: doesn't this give you the urge to rush out and get your DRD2 gene tested to find out just how partisan you are?"

The scary thing is that, if we don't get out of Iraq soon, I might do better with funding by converting my lab over to this type of testing! Maybe I'll do it on the side to pick up summer salary.

Posted by: OKLiberal on February 2, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

I thought partisanship was ruled by the fact that the other party (Republicans) has bizarre, extremist, dangerous views and a complete lack of ethics, glorifying only wealth and cronyism.

How silly of me.

Now I can get back to my youthful fantasies of wearing a bow tie and looking adorable! Maybe they'll make me a talking head on MSNBC!

Posted by: Anon on February 2, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

So what is the DRD2 gene, you ask yourself? Head over to the NCBI Gene page for it at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=gene&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=1813

DRD2 is the dopamine receptor subtype D2 and is involved in many aspects of behavior and can contribute to several neurological disorders.

Check it out!

Posted by: Jim Lund on February 2, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

The objections to this study are well-taken (see of course my comment at 3:40 PM), but I remember there was another study a little while ago that found the biological underpinnings of liberal/conservaitve ideology more precisely. Apparently, conservatives' minds are wired so they makes judgments more quickly.

This doesn't sound foreign, of course-- people who come to conclusions about issues before hearing enough information, who's heard of that before?

Anyway, an avenue to prevent an individual from developing alcoholism, or a gambling addiction, or pathological lying, and so on- if there are so many conditions that cause great cost to our society that could be prevented, it seems that applies just as well here.

Posted by: Swan on February 2, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Lots of other genes to investigate, many of unknown effect on behavior. I wonder if any of you entrez-pubmed types could tell me what other personality or behavioral traits are associated with the variant alleles? We might be looking at variations in temperament such as how loyal one is to one's in-group, or quickness to anger, or the ability to block logical reasoning in the face of painful facts about one's leaders.

Posted by: Bob G on February 2, 2008 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

You really can't draw that conclusion.

As with many such things, one's ultimate personality makeup or cognitive "style" or whatever is surely only partly determined by genetics.

Amusing how much people resist the obvious. Assuming the study has found something real, then whatever percentage of the subjects were different as a result of the presence of the gene must necessarily have have been different only because of the gene. This is why a well-designed study will use control groups and will manipulate only a single variable. By controlling for other variables, you isolate the effects of the manipulated one.

The main caveat in effect is that you probably can't determine which individuals in your test group changed in response to the manipulated variable. You only know that x% of the ones displaying the responding characteristic are doing so as a result of the manipulated variable. However, for that x%, free will, environment etc. have nothing to do with it.

Thus my original point: for some single-digit percentage of the sample in this study, their expression of partisanship is a purely genetic result.

Posted by: jimBOB on February 2, 2008 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

(Second paragraph of previous message was supposed to also be italicized.)

Posted by: jimBOB on February 2, 2008 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

"I wonder if any of you entrez-pubmed types could tell me what other personality or behavioral traits are associated with the variant alleles."

Bob, Check out my link at 3:16 PM.

Posted by: nepeta on February 2, 2008 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Holding the control variables at their means and changing the number of A1 alleles from zero to one decreases average partisanship by about 4 percentage points and from zero to two by about 8 percentage points."

4%? 8%? Wtf??? Isn't this still within the margin of error? This is supposed to be the result of a scientific study?

Posted by: Gray on February 2, 2008 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

From the linked pdf research paper:

"A potentially meaningful determinant of partisanship, originally suggested by Downs (1957), is the cost associated with gathering information about issues. Downs theorized that rational voters facing information constraints use parties as a cost-saving shortcut. Following this line of reasoning, Shively (1979) argued that there is an inverse relationship between the ability to pay costs associated with being informed on issues and the development of party identification. In his argument, Shively equates the ability to pay with possessing the cognitive resources necessary for learning, managing, and recalling relevant political information. Those with the fewest cognitive resources view partisanship as a lower-cost alternative and therefore are the most likely to identify as a partisan."

What that tells me is that partisans are more predisposed to "groupthink" and less inclined to independently verify factual information. That would stand on it's head the idea that "independents" are "mushy" or "low information voters".

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 2, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Amusing how much people resist the obvious. Assuming the study has found something real, then whatever percentage of the subjects were different as a result of the presence of the gene must necessarily have have been different only because of the gene. This is why a well-designed study will use control groups and will manipulate only a single variable. By controlling for other variables, you isolate the effects of the manipulated one.

To me, it's amazing that you can be so naive as to believe that any study has in fact managed to control for all of the sorts of variables I described. If, in fact, a gene merely inclines someone to certain behavior, but whether in fact those inclinations are actually expressed depend on possibly very subtle features, then how can you know that you've "controlled" for them?

Suppose that in fact someone with the relevant gene is partisan if and only if they also had a very dominant father -- that is, that in every single case in which they had a dominant father, they were partisan, otherwise not.

Now suppose that the reason that say 8% of those with the gene are partisan is because exactly 8% of those with the gene had a dominant father. If you don't explicitly control for a dominant father, you will never be able to get at the true underlying regularity; you will simply see that 8% more who have the gene are partisan. And yet we would certainly not be willing to say that the gene by itself "dictates" the partisanship of the individual, right?

In fact, of course, the single most difficult thing to do in just about any experiment of this sort is to guarantee that you've controlled for everything that's relevant. Typically, if an experimental methodology is considered failed, it's on this ground that it's failed.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 2, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

I need some doughnuts, my eyes just glazed over.

Posted by: Mazurka on February 2, 2008 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Now suppose that the reason that say 8% of those with the gene are partisan is because exactly 8% of those with the gene had a dominant father. If you don't explicitly control for a dominant father, you will never be able to get at the true underlying regularity; you will simply see that 8% more who have the gene are partisan.

Your argument is essentially a speculative conjecture that the the study was not well run. You have no evidence that it was or wasn't. In your example, the "dominant father" effect will only be missed if dominant fathers are consistently overrepresented in either the test group or the control group.

Assuming the study's results can be replicated, we'd only miss the "dominant father" effect if all iterations of the study happen to have the same over-representation of dominant fathers in test vs. control groups, something that's exceedingly unlikely.

At this point I'm not saying that this particular study is definitive - maybe it'll be supported by subsequent studies, maybe it won't. I've simply been saying that if the results of the study turn out to be well-supported, then we can throw out a "free will" explanation for individual partisanship, at least in a small percentage of cases.

Posted by: jimBOB on February 2, 2008 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Your argument is essentially a speculative conjecture that the the study was not well run. You have no evidence that it was or wasn't. In your example, the "dominant father" effect will only be missed if dominant fathers are consistently overrepresented in either the test group or the control group.

No, the final point you raise just is not true. In fact, in the control group, it may very well likewise be true that there are 8% with dominant fathers. But in the case of the control group, because (let's say) partisanship requires BOTH the gene AND the dominant father, you just don't see those 8% being partisan. There is no requirement in my example for over-representation.

The point is, unless you explicitly control for dominant fathers, you will never get to the underlying complexity of the case, namely that the additional partisanship requires BOTH a dominant father and the gene.

And while you want to claim that I'm somehow disparaging the experiment as defective, I'm simply not doing that. In fact, it would only be defective if it concluded something like exactly what you claimed: that the ONLY factor for 8% of the individuals that drove them to be partisan was the gene. (And of course I should point out that it's probably confused to begin with to imagine that there are 8% of the gene carriers for whom the gene "dictates" their partisanship. What about the other 92% of the gene carriers? Why don't they have it? Obviously, because there must be some other factor that they lack. In what sense then does the presence of the gene "dictate" partisanship if it must in fact depend on other factors for the expression of partisanship?)

Insofar as the experiment made no such claims, it is not defective. But it may also not be very informative, because we have so little idea of what the other factors involved might be. Indeed, this is almost always the problem with inferences from the presence of gene to psychological traits.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 2, 2008 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Alleles came about, surely, before mankind invented politics.

What kind of science is this?

Posted by: Ya Know... on February 2, 2008 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

The cart was invented before the horse?

Posted by: Ya Know... on February 2, 2008 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

It is important to note that DRD2 is associated with the likelihood a person will
attach to a party, but it does not say anything about which party a person will attach
to. In the appendix we present results that show Democrats and Republicans do not have
signi cantly di erent distributions of the A1 allele, suggesting we will need to look elsewhere
for genes that may be associated with political orientations.

Posted by: Ya Know... on February 2, 2008 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

No one is linking to the paper I linked to at 3:16 PM and this quote:

"While other neurotransmitters have also been implicated, to date the only molecular genetic defect which has been found to associate with alcoholism, drug dependency, obesity, smoking, pathological gambling, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, as well as other related compulsive behaviours, are the variants of the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2)."

So think of what all these things, e.g., alcoholism, gambling addiction, ADHD, etc. have in common. Some sort of strong psychological focus, connection, identification (?) with a particular object. Being a partisan is sort of like being 'addicted' to something, unwilling to listen to reason, accept new input, be logical, and perhaps most of all, a resistance to changing one's behaviors.

Posted by: nepeta on February 2, 2008 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

I meant to say "No one is considering the paper...."

Posted by: nepeta on February 2, 2008 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

ya know,

Yeah, we could be in big trouble when they learn how to do 'gene therapy' on the liberal/conservative gene.

Posted by: nepeta on February 2, 2008 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Very interesting! Modern political parties have not been around that long. I'd say partisanship is likely a spandrel, perhaps exploiting some of the genetic architecture that supports larger kin group identities, such as the clan. Partisanship increases with age (experience) but has low heritability. Political orientations have higher heritabilities. Only 10-20% seem able to absorb and take seriously political ideology--a disease of civilization that infects mainly intellectuals?

Posted by: dnaguy on February 2, 2008 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

This "study" is a bushel basket of bullshit -- and as such, it must have been funded by congressional Republicans. ;-)

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 2, 2008 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0

Fine, you can speculate that the genetic effect interacts with other inputs to produce the extent of the final partisanship results. I never said it couldn't. Assuming it did, what we see from the study is that apparently in the tested population, a change to the gene will result in some single-digit percentage of the people tested showing partisanship when they wouldn't have absent the gene.

If the test group had been different, say with a larger proportion of dominant fathers, the results might have been different. So what? This has no bearing on my point, which was that for the purposes of this test, given the group tested, apparently in x% of cases the genetic component is the controlling one, and not free will. Please note that even if the genetic component interacts with other factors, in this percentage of cases it is controlling, something we know because we see the effects by manipulating the genetic component in isolation. (Or at least we do if the experiment is well-run and sees it results replicated by other researchers.) You may consider this to be "not very informative," but it is certainly enough to support my original statement, that in this case the effect of genes is controlling, and not free will.

Posted by: jimBOB on February 2, 2008 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

If Kevin could post in comments the link to the original "liberal brain" post from a few months ago, that would be helpful, because the arguments a lot of the commenters are making are ignoring that there is a study that found a gene associated with those who self-identified as liberal or conservative, and that a behavioral test identified in those individuals different results in decision-making between the two groups. It could be the gene is responsible for both the different behavior, and people becoming conservatives or liberals.

If that study is valid, effects of other genes and environment/child rearing probably account more for deviation from the party line on particular issues than they do with over-all political orientation.

Posted by: Swan on February 2, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure we've all heard, too, the accounts of identical twins separated at birth, who both, for example, married a woman with the same first name, became firefighters, have an identical habit of how they hold their keys, own the same breed of dog, and have the same bench by a tree in their backyard. So there's a limit on what mothers who force their twins to dress alike are actually doing. When there's a clone of an organism, it's basically the same- a mirror-image.

Posted by: Swan on February 2, 2008 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

Here we go.

Posted by: Swan on February 2, 2008 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to take this seriously.

I don't have time to read the whole paper and the referred research too.

Perhaps someone out there who is smart and knows these things could tell me why, if genetics plays such a rle, the political choice is so narrow in the US as compared to many other similarly developed democracies, essentially only two parties? The right of the left and the left of the right party have significant overlaps, yet the "partisanship" between the extreme wings runs at a higher level than countries whose parties stretch from communism-lite to hard-bitten capitalism, fascism-lite.

I know for some that's 2 sides of the same coin but there's a world of ideological difference inbetween.

And why, if genetic, have the majority of democracies from which the majority of US citizens have sprung, lie far to the left of the US in terms of economics, politics and social outlook?

Wondering.

Posted by: notthere on February 2, 2008 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Some of us are raging partisans. Some of us are mushy independents.

Hmm...I kinda like to see myself as a 'raging independent' and to save the 'mushy' adjective for the joiners - could be this is just pretense on my part.

Posted by: snicker-snack on February 2, 2008 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

The eight percent must be those people who answer "no opinion/don't know" when the pollster calls.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on February 2, 2008 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

notthere wrote:

Perhaps someone out there who is smart and knows these things could tell me why, if genetics plays such a r�le, the political choice is so narrow in the US as compared to many other similarly developed democracies, essentially only two parties?

That's not something genetics controls, at least not in the same way, I imagine. That has more to do with who gets into power politically and what kind of political systems they are aware of and think will promote their interests the best. Different types of political systems allow different ranges of political ideology to prosper in a country to different degrees.

Your objection is like saying that if we sent 1,000 people into America back in time, or far away, or both, to a different culture where only very different ideologies are represented in the political process, the Americans wouldn't be able to find anyone to support politically or to vote for. Probably the Americans would realize that the different issues faced by and concerns advocated by the political groups there have to do with the context in with they arose, and they'd make their political judgments based on that, instead of saying "Well I'm a Republican Murkin so I can only vote Republican!!" That is, unless they're total blockheads.

I think it's possible enough that genetics may play some role in whether people have vastly different political systems, say, a monarchy or a democracy. It may be that once the era of monarchy passes, different kinds of personalities that were more able to flourish in that kind of social system, and the set of conditions it promotes, are less surviveable. This selection would most likley take place over the course of several generations. Also, if the theory is valid at all, it's probably reductionist to just look at political arrangements and not accompanying technology/economy-- that is, does a shift in technology and the economic base tend to accompany a shift from say, a monarchy to a democracy (history seems to suggest it does). But all this may be way off-base, and humans may be so adaptable and surviveable in terms of their behavior, ever since a few tens of thousands thousand years ago or more, so that changing conditions ever since civilization began haven't significantly selected out different personality types, to the point that human personality actually evolved through selection, post-civilization.

Posted by: Swan on February 3, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Swan, I think you need to read the first sentence in notthere's comment again. The one that reads "It's hard to take this seriously."

I think it's possible enough that genetics may play some role in whether people have vastly different political systems, say, a monarchy or a democracy.

Now that is some serious nonsense. What major country has more genetic diversity in its population than the US? And yet the spectrum of political choice is, as notthere says, exceedingly narrow.

Posted by: thersites on February 3, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

What major country has more genetic diversity in its population than the US?

Well, okay. Brazil. But you see my point.

Posted by: thersites on February 3, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites, I don't understand your point about nottheres' comment. If you're caliming that his/her whole comment was a joke, you probably didn't read nottheres' whole comment, because he or she made some pretty serious arguments, which is what I responded to.

Also, I think your response to my speculations was pretty simplistic; but anyway, you seem to have intentionally ignored that I wasn't taking that particular speculation of mine too seriously, either. Please try to moderate your tone, 'kay?

To respond more directly to your objection:

For the West, modern democracy arose several hundred years ago (not counting, for example, ancient Athens). The country where it arose (England) was not as racially diverse as America is today. I think that's kind of beside the point, though. In standing up my theory, I'm not interested in diversity as far as Chinse-verus-Germans-versus-Native Americans, and what have you. Instead, I'm looking at people who have personalities that would support or do well in a monarchy, as opposed to how they would do in a democracy. One might suppose the personality that would do better in a democracy (or, as I suggested, a democracy coupled with a burgeoning urban/industrial setting) would be a less thuggy personality, and that people who are more sociopathic or more unthinking and brutal would tend to get killed off defending dying monarchies against the advancing forces of democracy, or not be able to get along as well with the type of men who would end up leading a democracy as they would with medieval rulers. These types of personalities could occur among Chinese, English, Germans, Hawaiian islanders, whatever. It's not as if specific races have monopolies on particular personality types. Even in America, once different races got here, the people who came from non-democracies could end up being selected out because they wouldn't get along with the personalities that thrive in a democracy, and therefore couldn't thrive here: they would end up going to prisons, not getting married, getting killed in fights / gang warfare, be unemployed, and what have you. So your objection isn't too good.

Posted by: Swan on February 3, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Where do people with two copies of A1 stand on the "partanship" scale? Just for the record, I have *no* idea whatever, about *my* A1 or A2 genes!
Anne G

Posted by: Anne Gilbert on February 3, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: And don't you have a few friends you'd like to get tested too?

LOL. You know whose genes I'd like to test? James Carville. What sort of genetic mutation could account for his attraction to Mary Matalin?

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hi its me, sorry for not calling for a while, hey uh, remember that one election evening....? You should probably get tested.

Oh my God, I wet my pants.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

And don't you have a few friends you'd like to get tested too?

Let's test the Shiites and the Sunnis.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine if we could reduce the proportion of conservatives in the society with gene therapy and eugenics in the form of cloning intelligent liberals.

LOL. I expect to see this quoted in Ann Coulter's next book with a title something like Liberals Are the Anti-Christ.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Bob Gthe ability to block logical reasoning in the face of painful facts about one's leaders

Devastating!

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Doc Radar What that tells me is that partisans are more predisposed to "groupthink" and less inclined to independently verify factual information. That would stand on it's head the idea that "independents" are "mushy" or "low information voters".

Very astute observation! Excellent!

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Napeta: No one is linking to the paper

I did and think the cluster of maladaptive behaviors associated with that gene does suggest that some forms of partisanship are, in actuality, compulsions. That seems to be true just using ordinary powers of observation. Since most partisans probably do not fit within that cluster, I think it's a fundamental error to associate the word "partisan" with whatever cockamamie result they got in the study.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

dnaguy: Only 10-20% seem able to absorb and take seriously political ideology--a disease of civilization that infects mainly intellectuals?

Priceless!

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Donald: it must have been funded by congressional Republicans

Probably with an earmark appropriation.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

notthere: And why, if genetic, have the majority of democracies from which the majority of US citizens have sprung, lie far to the left of the US in terms of economics, politics and social outlook?

Good question.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

thersites: Now that is some serious nonsense. What major country has more genetic diversity in its population than the US? And yet the spectrum of political choice is, as notthere says, exceedingly narrow.

But the partisanship is exceedingly high. Partisanship is what we're talking about. No? The debate is not party/idealogy v. party/idealogy, it's partisan v. nonpartisan and whether the latter has some genetic determinants.

Kids, I agree with someone upthread. We need doughnuts.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Swan: they would end up going to prisons, not getting married, getting killed in fights / gang warfare, be unemployed

Swan, now you're casting asperions on my country. You've gone too far. Why do liberals hate America?

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Alright, that tears it. I'm changing my name to Wallflower.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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