Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Gosh, What a Great Out!

But on the basis of a new study, a team of political scientists is arguing that people's gut-level reaction to issues like the death penalty, taxes and abortion is strongly influenced by genetic inheritance. The new research builds on a series of studies that indicate that people's general approach to social issues - more conservative or more progressive - is influenced by genes.

It's not my fault that I don't obey laws and I think black people are evil and I rape women and don't believe in taxes, your Honor...'s all biology.

I find these sorts of studies really insulting. Like the kind telling me that because I'm a woman, I'm naturally inclined to build nests, burst into tears, and unable to learn how to defend myself.

"As long as there are entrenched social and political distinctions between sexes, races or classes, there will be forms of science whose main function is to rationalize and legitimize these distinctions."

- Elizabeth Fee

2 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

A fine example of why people in the humanities and social sciences should not pretend to practice the natural sciences.

Good grief! Most people who know at least one set of identical twins raised together and at least one set of same-sex fraternal twins can attest to the strong parental tendency to emphasize "twin-ness" in the identical twins, and the tendency of older identical twins to use their "twin-ness" to negotiate the world, to view it as a resource (more so than fraternal twins), if only to escape obligations by pretending to be the other twin, a trick fraternal twins can't get away with.

Complex cognitive functions (opinions) are not where I would start looking for a genetic basis for conservative vs. liberal political orientation. Exactly what selective pressure would an opinion one way or the other on unions have in the pre-industrial population? If you really want to look at "conservative" vs "liberal", I would propose looking at some traits that would be less culture-specific: reaction of young child or infant to new non-family face or new toy or new sound.

I would characterise the modern conservative personality as having strong need for group identification and own-family dominance and weak need for individuation from the natal group and for cross-group exploration (including empathy, altruism with non-related individuals), whereas the modern liberal personality would be the other way around. But what would be the biological basis for strong-group vs weak-group orientation? Rats recognise close relatives by smell (pheromones) and avoid mating with them if other non-related mating rats are available. But we humans don't have a vomeronasal organ. 

Posted by NancyP

Anonymous said...

I like, started to read this post, and Im sure it's like, great and all but like - my nail polish has a chip in it and you know how guys hate that so...

I forget what I was going to say... 

Posted by That Girl