Monday, February 01, 2016

How Much Do Our Genes Influence Our Political Beliefs?

This is the title of a New York Times piece in July, 2014, which had an illuminating thesis. Click on the table below to make it larger.
"Identical twins are more likely than fraternal twins to share traditional values with their twin siblings, suggesting a biological link on cultural outlook.

"In this table, 0 represents no correlation in outlook; 1 represents identical outlooks. In reality, the numbers fall in between, but identical twins are much more culturally alike (higher numbers) than fraternal twins.

"In an email, Ludeke explained how to interpret this information: “These correlations represent the extent to which members of a given type of twin pair resemble each other for the trait in question,” he wrote. “Low correlations, like those we found for fraternal twins, indicate that knowing the scores of one twin won’t give you much, if any, clue for figuring out the scores of the other. On the other hand, based on the correlations presented here, knowing the scores of one identical twin gives you a pretty good indication of the scores of the other.”

"The significance of the different correlations for identical and fraternal twins, Ludeke added, is that “when we see identical twins who are this similar, while fraternal twins are much less similar, we have a good indication that genes account for some of the difference between people for the trait in question.”
High heritability for political outlook doesn't mean you are destined to share your parents' views; after all, you are neither a clone nor an average mixing of your parents. It does mean that your unique genome is providing you with temperament/personality settings which inform your political outlook.

In my previous post, I quoted Scott Alexander's figures that elite US universities, like Harvard or Yale, sort something like 90:10 liberal vs. conservative. That academics - particularly in the social sciences - are bleeding-heart lefties is a truth universally acknowledged. In business, to the contrary, I have rarely found the ranks of management thus populated. Occupations are a great sorter, not just for intelligence but also for temperament and personality type.

In Keirsey/Myers-Briggs terms I suggest:
  • Liberal-leftists tend to be NF-Idealists
  • Libertarians (of left and right) are NT-Rationals
  • Conservatives (of left and right) are ST-Guardians
  • Populist insurgents are often SP-Artisans.
So some examples.
  • The emotion-driven, fuzzy-thinking, heart-on-sleeve, leftist BBC/Guardianista is the classic Idealist-NF. My favourites include Lyse Doucet and Shami Chakrabarti.

  • Left-wing Rationals include Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders; on the Right you have US neocons such as Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Richard Perle - and Michael Gove.

  • You find small-c conservative Guardians in all political parties. David Cameron is one, and so is Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party. Also Hillary Clinton.

  • My favourite Artisan is the leader of the Italian Five Star movement, Beppe Grillo, ... and then there's Trump.

We're all puppets of our own temperaments. Rod Liddle (a working-class Rational) rages at bien-pensant liberals; they rage at heartless and utilitarian dessicated intellectuals ... so it goes.

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