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October 25, 2007

Is Voting Genetic?

A new study suggests that the answer is about 60% yes. It sounds a little ill-defined to me -- which is to say, voting is almost certainly a third or fourth order expression of other proclivities, be they sociability or income bracket, and thus is not the act to focus on here -- but whatever. It's Science.

October 25, 2007 | Permalink


Woah. I obviously haven't read the actual paper, but this sounds like really irresponsibly bad science. (Or else it was really badly reported, which does often happen.) Twin studies on behavior really have to be done with twins who were separated at birth, and this study wasn't done that way. They noticed a significant difference in voting patterns between fraternal and identical twins, but it's easy to attribute that to social rather than genetic factors -- identical twins are socially programmed to identify more strongly with each other than fraternal twins are, so of course their political identities are going to be more interrelated. The whole point of this study was supposed to be isolating genetic factors from social factors, and they didn't bother to actually control for a variety of significant social variables. I'm not saying genetics doesn't play a role in voting behavior, but this study seems worse than worthless in that it will appeal to people who want to believe voting is genetic but doesn't actuall provide meaningful evidence.

Posted by: Galen | Oct 25, 2007 12:51:41 PM

Uh, NO, it's not 'science'.

The difference between fraternal and identical twins is useful in determining whether a medical problem is hereditary.

When it comes to a behavior that can only exist when society acts cohesively to make it possible, like voting, not so much.

For example, the likelihood that you can suckle a child at your nipples is largely dependent on genetics- women have a huge advantage here. The ability to teach in an elementary school is not dependent on genetics, in spite of the numerous 'scientific' studies claiming it is.

Posted by: serial catowner | Oct 25, 2007 1:37:48 PM

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