Monday, December 23, 2013
Researchers say our genes shape our political views
I have been pointing out evidence to that effect for years -- since the '80s -- but it is good to see that the evidence keeps coming -- JR
Biology may not be destiny but it does shape who we vote for. A new study has found that our political attitudes are hard-wired into our DNA, with 56 per cent of each belief influenced by our genes.
Individual experiences, upbringing and other social influences explain the remaining variation in our left or right-wing orientation, according to the study.
'We've tended to think of political attitudes and behaviors as being rooted in the environment,' study co-author Dr. Kevin Smith, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told HuffPost Science.
'What our study shows along with a number of other studies is that they seem to be at least partially rooted in our biology.
'I know people get bent out of shape about this. The environment is important, it's just not everything. 'You can talk about biology and you can talk about the environment. Who we are is a combination of both.'
For the study, published in this month's Political Psychology journal, researchers surveyed 682 pairs of middle-aged twins, all recruited from a large database called the Minnesota Twin Registry.
Half of the twins were identical (monozygotic), sharing all of the same genes. The other half were fraternal, sharing about 50 percent of their genes.
The twins were asked about their attitudes to a range of political issues including gay marriage and egalitarianism.
The research found the identical twins' political views were consistently more similar than those of the fraternal twins, with further statistical analysis revealing the differences were due to genetic influences.
The study also revealed about half (48 percent) of the difference in extreme authoritarian beliefs is inherited, while 50 percent of egalitarian views are encoded in our genes.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln co-author Dr. John Hibbing said the research could offer insights into how to ease political tensions.
'Some observers have the idea that if people just talk about politics long enough, everybody will come to agreement,' he told HuffPost Science.
'Our research, as well as that of others in the field, indicates that political differences run deep, are biological, and affect the way the world is perceived and processed.
'It is pleasant to believe our political foes are merely uninformed but often times (not always) they are well-informed but just have different predispositions.'
A&E Fires Phil
“Duck Dynasty” star and patriarch Phil Robertson came face to face with the political correctness police at A&E again this week when he dared to go “off script” during a GQ interview.
Last May, the network requested that the #1 show in cable TV history eliminate its references to God and guns, but Phil said no: “God and guns are part of our everyday lives [and] to remove either of them from the show is unacceptable. If we can't pray to God on the show, then we will not do the show.”
Responding to a question about sin in the current edition of GQ, Phil replied in his colloquial manner, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there.” He then paraphrased 1 Corinthians: “Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers – they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right.”
The reaction from the two most infamous proponents of gender confusion and homosexual normalization was swift and predictable. The so-called “Human Rights” Campaign protested, “Phil Robertson's remarks are not consistent with the values of our faith communities or the scientific findings of leading medical organizations. We also know that Americans of faith follow the Golden Rule – treating others with the respect and dignity you'd wish to be treated with. As a role model on a show that attracts millions of viewers, Phil Robertson has a responsibility to set a positive example for young Americans.”
Well, we think Phil did set a positive example for young Americans!
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (contact) complained, “Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe. He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans … who support [them].” They accused Robertson of “vile and extreme stereotypes” and “hateful anti-gay comments.”
As for “the majority of Louisianans,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal clarified, “Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the state of Louisiana. The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints – except those they disagree with. I don't agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”
When it comes to opposing the homosexual agenda, Christians are now routinely condemned for speaking their beliefs. But the tyranny of political correctness is anathema to America itself, and enslaving all of us to a particular code of thought deemed acceptable to leftists is no different from any other kind of slavery.
If you'd like to let A&E know what you think, send an email to email@example.com. (Keep it clean.)
Memo to A&E: Civil Rights Act of 1964: DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE…RELIGION…, SEC. 703. (a) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer – (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
We also read:: "But the vicious backlash from Robertson's supporters has unnerved executives at A+E Networks, who have been on the receiving end of death threats. And the company has hired extra security for its Manhattan headquarters. No further announcements are expected over the holidays but the Robertsons and A+E remain in talks."
The Snowden Chronicles and Another NSA Smackdown
A series of chain reactions that began in May with the release of highly classified information by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden continued this week. Snowden's leaks have revealed the sheer ubiquity and volume of information gathered and stored by the government, and this latest backlash arrives in the form of a stunning collective setback for the intelligence community, notably, the National Security Agency (NSA). Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, issued a preliminary injunction barring the agency's bulk collection of phone records, specifically, the so-called “metadata” associated with an individual phone call.
Metadata includes such information as the phone number called, the time the call was made, the duration of the call and, potentially, the location from which the call was made. Judge Leon ruled that the NSA's metadata collection violates the Fourth Amendment's proscription on unreasonable searches. However, the judge hedged his decision somewhat by staying his injunction order, pending an almost certain government appeal on the case.
By way of background, Congress first authorized bulk collection of phone records through the Patriot Act, which it passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Although special “FISA” courts were later established in 2006 to provide judicial oversight and authorization for intelligence collection operations, the enormity of the data collected renders this oversight largely moot: A single “authorization” to collect data can render millions upon millions of metadata records.
The controlling law up to this point has been the Supreme Court's 1979 opinion in Smith v. Maryland, in which the court ruled that collection of metadata regarding a phone call did not violate the Fourth Amendment's bar to unreasonable searches. Accordingly, critics complain that Judge Leon failed to follow the Supreme Court by not recognizing that metadata falls outside the Fourth Amendment's “unreasonable search” prohibition, as annunciated in that decision, and that the judge is employing judicial activism in his ruling. One critic – a former assistant U.S. attorney – even went so far as to call the judge's ruling “comically lawless.”
However, Judge Leon's central point – roughly paraphrased – is that the methods, conditions and assumptions that rendered Smith are apples-and-oranges apart from today's “privacy-expectation” landscape, and that the Smith court – which decided a case involving a single phone record on a single individual – could not possibly have foreseen the ways in which aggregate metadata is currently being used to violate all of America's “reasonable expectation of privacy,” and thus Smith is largely useless in determining the constitutionality of a governmental action fundamentally different from the one in that landmark case.
Additionally, where Smith gave the government authority to access metadata only in a limited manner (“limited data on outgoing calls”) on one individual in a single case, the government has extended that authority over the years – especially after the Patriot Act – so that it has no limits, has a duration of at least several years and extends to every person in the U.S. Information gathered from billions of cross-referenced data files is of a fundamentally different quality and character from data gathered from a single-line “pen register,” as in Smith.
Moreover, the NSA and other intelligence agencies have even further extrapolated the authority granted in Smith by dragooning every major phone company into involuntary service. To quote Judge Leon, “It's one thing to say that people expect phone companies to occasionally provide information to law enforcement; it is quite another to suggest that our citizens expect all phone companies to operate what is effectively a joint intelligence-gathering operation with the Government.” Indeed, in Judge Leon's mind – and ours, for that matter – there is only one word for this constitutional overreach: unsatisfactory.
Finally, we note that the most tangible result of Snowden's intelligence leak has been this: The leak, along with the government's subsequent damage-control reaction, has resulted in the tacit acknowledgement that metadata is almost certainly being collected on every phone in America. Thus the government has inadvertently conferred standing upon every U.S. citizen to levy a constitutional suit against it. Accordingly, expect a lot more of these types of suits in the future, independent of Judge Leon's controversial decision.
George Zimmerman and his girlfriend pick up their guns from Seminole County Sheriff
George Zimmerman picked up his guns yesterday. It really is a non-story on the one hand, and yet there is this:
"Zimmerman, 30, whose arsenal was confiscated in November following a domestic dispute with his girlfriend, picked up his four firearms, including a shotgun and an assault rifle from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Sanford, Fla., this week.
He was eligible to retrieve the weapons since Dec. 11 when assault charges against him were dismissed.
Zimmerman, perhaps Florida’s most notorious gun owner, picked up the weapons on Tuesday and Wednesday and returned to the sheriff’s office on Thursday with girlfriend Samantha Scheibe, 27, because she also had to retrieve a handgun police seized during the same incident in November.
Returned to Zimmerman were an Interarms .380-caliber handgun, a Glock 19 handgun, a Kel-Tec 12-gauge shotgun and an AR-15 assault rifle.
Scheibe picked up her Taurus 9mm handgun."
I’m particularly amused by their description one rifle, one shotgun, and two pistols as an “arsenal,” and want to point out that we are only now discovering that gun number five, the Taurus 9mm, belonged to Scheibe, not Zimmerman.
The media enjoyed protraying her as the poor, defenseless victim, and it was only after she dropped the charges and they came to pick up their respective firearms as a couple that we find out that she was armed as well.
Stay classy, mainstream media!
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Posted by JR at 1:53 AM