Political DNA


Remember that Woody Allen movie where the hyper-liberal Upper West Side couple are mystified about how their son could've become a staunch Republican… until their doctor reveals that a medical condition was blocking the supply of oxygen to his brain?

Well, if it's not quite that simple, The New York Times is reporting on a new study suggesting that our gut-level political reactions may have as much to do with our DNA as with whether mom and dad reared us on National Review or The Nation. The study compared the views of fraternal and identical twins on a range of issues, and came up with this graph showing the purported heritability of opinion on various issues.

Count me a little skeptical: For one, unless these are studies on twins raised apart, you need to account for the fact that being raised as someone's identical twin is a difference in family environment that could conceivably shape one's attitudes in various subtle ways. On the other hand, so much political argumentation seems to amount to an elaborate rationalization for what we know in our bones has to be right that it's hard to entirely discount as well.

The article closes with the chilling observation that, since people tend to seek out ideologically congenial mates, genetic concentration of this sort may well be increasing. Yep, the zealots you see on the party convention floors? They're breeding.