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    Political Science Overturns Biology, Finds Genetic Components For Voting Preference
    By News Staff | February 15th 2013 02:05 PM | 15 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    A group of political scientists says a growing field of research has found links to genetics and political preferences - well, sort of.


    They don't come right out and declare a genetic component determines whether a person will affiliate as a Democrat or a Republican - that is up for biologists to find, much like  mathematicians who invent time travel insist experimental physicists have to prove them right. Rather, they claim, individuals tend to have a broad, evolution-based orientation toward being more conservative or liberal about various elements, such as protecting their in-group. Evolutionary biologists enjoy that their field is so well-explained and intuitive everyone can find an evolutionary basis for their world view. That in-group orientation, they say, can translate into preferences on political issues such as reproductive rights, immigration, and war, as well as political behaviors such as voting behavior and political participation.

    This panel at the AAAS meeting is not bound by political science of the past, which strangely believed voting was a choice made due to social factors. Now, say the panelists, a very large proportion of political preferences along the spectrum of conservative to liberal come from hereditary components.

    And they have surveys of twins to prove it.   Since some are identical and some are fraternal, if you ask them questions and do some statistics, you have science.

    "We always had to worry about finding a mate and having children and raising our children. We always had to worry about defending ourselves against predators. And today, that may look like opposition to gay marriage and immigration and support for war, but the underlying propensity is along that [conservative–liberal] spectrum," Brown professor of political science Rose McDermott said in their statement.

    The next step in the research, they say, is to better map how genes influence those psychological processes and biological mechanisms that interact with an individual's upbringing, social environment, and personal experience in ways that may be expressed as differences on the liberal-conservative spectrum.  Then we can maybe breed out those voters holding back real progress, or at least segment them into special rehabilitation programs.

    The panel is running until 4:30 eastern in Ballroom A of the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. If you run, you can still catch it and perhaps learn a thing or two about biology and genetics from the real experts in political science.


    Comments

    First of all, good read. I got a kick out of this one.

    They are just screaming for intellectual credibility, aren't they? The funny thing is: they really believe that their subjectivity can be camouflaged into objectivity!

    I checked out this "panel," and this is their opening line:

    " “Politics” is an elusive phenomenon, with popular perception focusing on the importance of factors that do not seem subject to scientific inquiry; perhaps this is why National Science Foundation funding of the discipline has been under attack in Congress." -Organizer: David Lazer, Northeastern University

    riiiiight

    Hank
    Indeed, everyone except the NSF agrees the NSF should not be funding humanities and social science; no analyses of Farmville, no political hoopie about surveys proving existence of liberal genes.  Every time one of these studies gets funded, a real science project does not and that is why actual scientists would like them moved back over into their own categories. 
    >>" Every time one of these studies gets funded, a real science project does not"<<

    Oh, bitter irony -- he came to mock political scientists for saying ignorant things about biology with NSF money, and wound up saying something ignorant about the political processes of the NSF instead.

    Hank
    How is it ignorant to note that if the National Science Foundation's finite budget goes toward non-science, actual science is not funded with the money that was earmarked for science?  If the Department of Energy funds studies of Farmville, would that not mean an energy project did not get funded? Of course it would. 

    One of us does not know what the words 'ignorant' or 'irony' mean. Hint: it is you.
    Let me explain how the "earmarks" in the NSF actually work. The NSF doesn't have a unitary budget that they can allocate to whatever project they like. Instead, its budget is pre-allocated (earmarked) to different disciplines.

    If I may fix up your analogy: If the Department of Energy funds studies of Farmville *using money specifically allocated by Congress for this purpose*, would that not mean an energy project did not get funded? Of course not, since the funding level for energy projects is determined separately.

    And, if your dream comes true and Congress decides to eliminate funding for one of those disciplines, there's no guarantee it will be automatically allocated to another. More likely it would be redirected to drone strikes against camels.

    Again if you had ever applied for an NSF grant you would know that the budgets allocated to each field are announced before the call for proposals, so it's very clear that the different fields are not competing with each other for money.

    One of us has never received an NSF grant. Hint: it is you.

    Hank
    You could be on an NSF grant committee, for all I know; that is the beauty of your anonymity. But the notion that you as a recipient would somehow know more about how the process actually works is silly; you are like some cranky old guy insisting he knows more about World War II than historians because he was alive then. But, oh, 'I received an NSF grant and that means I am an expert' is actually your idea of a legitimate argument.

    Anyway, if you are a humanities nonsense peddler sucking money away from science, your defensiveness is completely understood - that you are part of the problem is evident by you jeering at people who have not stepped up to the government trough and claiming they are somehow inferior.  I am proud Science 2.0 works without any government handouts. You should try it some time. 
    You were just demanding that NSF money be spent on programs you like, and now you deride the program as a government handout. Are you just a bot that spouts random conservative slogans?

    Hank
    Not programs I 'like', I want the National Science Foundation to spend its money on science. You seem to think sticking 'science' after anything qualifies, so I guess 'Astrology Science' is valid to you also.

    Anyway, you already said you bilked the NSF out of money for your nonsense so go play Everquest or whatever it is you do after you get funded. 
    LOL at the angry Tea Party activist playing scientist on the internet.

    Hank
    You're really going to have to do better than this. I know it hurt your feelings to have someone note that you aren't doing science - but I didn't say what you do has no value and never have said that. But it isn't science, and should not deny funding for science projects. Your 'tea party' nonsense probably is a hoot in whatever little clique you twirl in, but to the rest of the world it is a head-scratcher, just like if someone here called you a 'Move On'er because you happen to be an idiot.
    Define science.

    I saw a study showing that Democrats and Republicans use different parts of their brains to process risk taking activities like gambling. They used fMRIs to show that democrats use the left insula while Republicans used the right amygdala. The left insula is used in social and self-awareness while the right amygdala is used in fight or flight response. They were able to predict political leaning with 82.9% accuracy just using the fMRIs. This isn't the first study I've seen showing that fear and reaction to fear is a major component of republican and conservative thinking. I feel sorry for them; constantly worrying about that scary thing under their bed.

    Hank
    I saw that paper too. Unfortunately, it was also written by political scholars and the risk-taking behavior of Democrats and Republicans did not differ but the brain activity did - presto, they are now subconsciously believing something they are not doing. This is the way sociologists declare everyone is racist, even if they are not.

     In other words, they knew what the voting record of the people in the study were and using their samples, were able to guess right 80% of the time. The problem is that you can be right 70% of the time just asking what political party their parents are - regrettably, in the social sciences, that means it must be adaptive.
    Gerhard Adam
    Evolutionary biologists enjoy that their field is so well-explained and intuitive everyone can find an evolutionary basis for their world view.
    Perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad, if there weren't those initial claims that genes were 'selfish' and driving our behaviors accordingly [introducing all manner of questions as to how cooperation or altruism could have arisen from such an evolutionary history].

    It was nonsense then, and it's nonsense now.  Since these political scientists are clearly not aware of what is current, then perhaps they can be forgiven for engaging in the same sort of anthropomorphism that was so popular when genes were the end-all be-all of evolution.
    Mundus vult decipi