Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The genetics of politics

People on both the Left and the Right are usually quite firm in their view that their political choices are reasonable and the product of thought.  But what if they are not?  It would tend to explain the vast gulf in views betweeen the Left and the Right in America today.  And I have for some years been pointing out the various studies that have found that there is a substantial element of genetic inheritance behind our political preferences.  We are to a degree born to be Leftists or Rightists.

This sits comfortably with just about no-one so it behooves us to check and recheck the research concerned.  That has recently been done, looking at many of the bodies of data that enable us to research the matter.  The result is a remarkable degree of agreement that genetics IS a major factor influencing our political opinions.  The abstract of the paper concerned is given below.

The paper also tried to identify specific genes behind the effect but was unsuccessful.  Investigations of that sort are still at an early stage.  The paper also did not try to ascertain if there were any personality variables that mediated the genetic connection.  My deduction is that the correlation indicates that Leftists are just born miserable.  All the research certainly shows that conservatives are happier.

The paper below was concerened with detailed political questions  such as abortion, gay marriage etc.  It did not deal with actual vote at election time.  Is Democrat or Republican loyalty inherited too?  We do have some data on that from elsewhere which points to a somewhat qualified conclusion.  Hatemi et al (2007) found that vote was substantially inherited but only because many of the things influencing vote were inherited -- church attendance, specific attitudes etc.  Vote does not have its own set of genes behind it.

REFERENCE: Hatemi (2007) "The Genetics of Voting: An Australian Twin Study" Behav. Genet., 37:435–448

Genetic Influences on Political Ideologies: Genome - Wide Findings on Three Populations, and a Mega - Twin Analysis of 19 Measures of Political Ideologies from Five Western Democracies

Forthcoming in Behavior Genetics – Lindon Eaves Festschrift

By Peter K. Hatemi et al.


 Almost forty years ago evidence from large studies of adult twins and their relatives suggested that between 30 - 60% of the variance in Liberal and Conservative attitudes can be explained by genetic influences. However, these findings have not been widely accepted or incorporated into the dominant paradigms that explain the etiology of political ideology. This has been attributed in part to measurement and sample limitations as well the inability to identify specific genetic markers related to political ideology

Here we present results from original analys es of a combined sample of over 12,000 twins pairs, ascertained from nine different studies conducted in five western democracies (Australia, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, and the U.S.A.), sampled over the course of four decades. We provide definitive evidence that heritability plays a role in the formation of political ideology, regardless of how ideology is measured, the time period or population sampled. The only exception s are questions that explicitly use the phrase “Left - Right”.

We then present results from one of the first genome - wide association studies on political ideology using data from three samples : a 1990 Australian sample involving 6,894 individuals from 3,516 families; a 2008 Australian sample of 1,160 related individua ls from 635 families and a 2010 Swedish sample involving 3,334 individuals from 2,607 families . Several polymorphisms related to olfaction reached genome - wide significance in the 2008 Australian sample, but did not replicate across samples and remained suggestive in the meta - analysis. The combined evidence suggests that political ideology constitutes a fundamental aspect of one’s genetically informed psychological disposition, but as Fisher proposed long ago, genetic influences on complex traits will be composed of thousands of markers of very small effects



Obamacare Schadenfreudarama

It feels pretty good to watch the whole thing fail

Jonah Goldberg

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the unraveling of Obamacare.

First, the obligatory caveats. It is no laughing matter that millions of Americans’ lives have been thrown into anxious chaos as they lose their health insurance, their doctors, their money, or all three. Nor is it particularly amusing to think of the incredible waste of time and tax dollars that has gone into Obamacare’s construction. And the still-unfolding violence that this misbegotten legislation will visit on the economy and our liberties is not funny either. This very magazine has been downright funereal about the brazen and unconstitutional seizure of one-sixth of the economy, and rightly so.

But come on, people.

If you can’t take some joy, some modicum of relief and mirth, in the unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president, his administration, its enablers, and, to no small degree, liberalism itself, then you need to ask yourself why you’re following politics in the first place. Because, frankly, this has been one of the most enjoyable political moments of my lifetime. I wake up in the morning and rush to find my just-delivered newspaper with a joyful expectation of worsening news so intense, I feel like Morgan Freeman should be narrating my trek to the front lawn. Indeed, not since Dan Rather handcuffed himself to a fraudulent typewriter, hurled it into the abyss, and saw his career plummet like Ted Kennedy was behind the wheel have I enjoyed a story more.

Alas, the English language is not well equipped to capture the sensation I’m describing, which is why we must all thank the Germans for giving us the term “schadenfreude” — the joy one feels at the misfortune or failure of others. The primary wellspring of schadenfreude can be attributed to Barack Obama’s hubris — another immigrant word, which means a sinful pride or arrogance that causes someone to believe he has a godlike immunity to the rules of life.

The hubris of our ocean-commanding commander-in-chief surely isn’t news to readers of this website. He’s said that he’s smarter and better than everyone who works for him. His wife informed us that he has “brought us out of the dark and into the light” and that he would fix our broken souls. The man defined sin itself as “being out of alignment with my values.” We may be the ones we’ve been waiting for, but at the same time, everyone has been waiting for him. Or as he put it in 2007, “Every place is Barack Obama country once Barack Obama’s been there.”

In every tale of hubris, the transgressor is eventually slapped across the face with the semi-frozen flounder of reality. The Greeks had a god, Nemesis, whose scythe performed the same function. It was Nemesis who lured Narcissus to the pool where he fell in love with his own reflection. Admittedly, most of Nemesis’s walk-on roles were in the Greek tragedies, but in the modern era, comeuppance-for-the-arrogant is more often found in comedies, and the “rollout” of has been downright hilarious. (I put quotation marks around “rollout” because the term implies actual rolling, and this thing has moved as gracefully as a grand piano in a peat bog.) But, as the president says, “it’s more than a website.” Indeed, the whole law is coming apart like a papier-mâché yacht in rough waters. The media feeding frenzy it has triggered from so many journalistic lapdogs has been both so funny and so poignant, it reminds me of nothing more than the climax of the classic film Air Bud, when the lovable basketball-playing golden retriever finally decides to maul the dog-abusing clown.

During the government shutdown, Barack Obama held fast, heroically refusing to give an inch to the hostage-taking, barbaric orcs of the Tea Party who insisted on delaying Obamacare. It was a triumph for the master strategist in the White House, who finally maneuvered the Republicans into revealing their extremism. But we didn’t know something back then: Obama desperately needed a delay of In his arrogance, though, he couldn’t bring himself to admit it. The other possibility is that he is such an incompetent manager, who has cultivated such a culture of yes-men, that he was completely in the dark about the problems. That’s the reigning storyline right now from the White House. Obama was betrayed. “If I had known,” he told his staff, “we could have delayed the website.”

This is how you know we’re in the political sweet spot: when the only plausible excuses for the administration are equally disastrous indictments.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it took about five minutes for liberals to cast the chaos and confusion of the disaster as a searing indictment of not just the Bush administration but of conservatism itself. Whatever the merits of that argument (and there are not many), Katrina was at least a surprise. The October 1 deadline for Obamacare was set by Obama’s own administration years ago — and it caught them completely off guard. The president may now claim that he knew nothing, but he must have wondered why Henry Chao,’s chief project manager, set the bar of success at sea level last March: “Let’s just make sure it’s not a Third World experience.” At this point, it could only be more of a Third World experience if required enrollees to pay with chickens



Obama's War On America's Standard of Living

Some quotes to remember

When Barack Obama was campaigning for the 2008 Democratic nomination for President in Oregon, he made some very revealing comments about his plans to "fundamentally transform the United States." On January 17, 2008, he told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would put an aggressive cap and trade system in place, "more aggressive than anybody else's out there," and that he is willing to let the coal industry go bankrupt. Obama said: "So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted. That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, and other alternative energy approaches. ... We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times -- and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK."



Democrats Panic Over ObamaCare

On Friday, the House of Representatives voted 261-157 in favor of the “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” authored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). Some 39 Democrats joined all Republicans in voting yes just a day after Barack Obama announced his own unilateral and illegal “fix” for his ailing law.

The Wall Street Journal summarized Upton's bill:“The one-page bill would allow insurers to continue offering for sale in 2014 the policies that ObamaCare terminated, exempting them from federal regulatory edicts.” However, because insurance companies have spent the last three and a half years working to comply with ObamaCare regulations, Upton's bill is unlikely to actually save many plans. Such is the nature of Obama's “you can keep your plan” lie.

By contrast, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) offered her own version of a “keep your plan” bill in the Senate. In this case, the Journal writes, Landrieu's bill “would order insurers to continue to offer the dumped plans that in many cases no longer exist. This is also a substantive due process violation for business and unconstitutional commandeering of state regulators.” That would be par for the course.

Unfortunately, but predictably, the House vote didn't come close to a veto-proof majority as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) did the necessary nagging to prevent a caucus-wide jackass stampede. Furthermore, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) vowed that he won't take up the House bill. Either way, Obama would never let Congress compromise his legacy when he can come to the rescue himself.

But the House vote does indicate that, thanks to the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare, at least 39 Democrats are in near-total panic over their election prospects in 2014. Nearly all of them barely won their 2012 elections, and many are in Republican-leaning districts. Their short-sighted scrambling is quite a shift from 2010, when Democrats gleefully used their Washington hegemony to realize the 100-year-old progressive dream of “universal” health care. Recall that Democrats lost a near-record 63 seats in 2010 after passing the law.

It's also clear that ObamaCare will hang like an albatross around Democrats' necks. They'll never admit it – in fact, DNC chair Debbie Wassermann Schultz swears Democrats will run on ObamaCare next year – but they all know it's true.



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