f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

February 24, 2006

blue genes and billie wilson

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 12:39 pm

The article “Twigs Bent Left or Right: Understanding how liberals

and conservatives differ, from conception on,” from the current 

edition of Harvard Magazine (Jan-Feb. 2006), has a rather mis-

leading title.  It’s really just a discussion of studies that support 

(usually quite weakly) or refute (ditto) various theories on what 

forces effect an individual’s political philosophy or party affiliation.

The article is worth a read if those issues interest you.  For me,

the most compelling section was a Sidebar called Blue Genes or Red?,

which describes a study by Harvard Professor Sidney Verba into

whether one’s genetic makeup can predict whether they will have

conservative or liberal views. 


“twins Nov51 small”


The study used data on 8,000 sets of twins. “Using information about

their opinions on 28 different political issues, they compared fraternal

twins, who share half of their genes, with identical twins, who have the

same genes. The researchers assumed that twins raised in the same

home experienced a similar upbringing.”  The results?

tiny check They found that genetic inheritance played a

statistically significant role in all 28 issues, but opinions on

school prayer and property taxes were the most powerfully

influenced by genes. Both had a ‘heritability estimate’ of .41,

while views on federal housing and liberals had estimates of

.20 and .18, making them the least affected by DNA.


“Although DNA appears to predispose people to react one way

or another to certain issues, shaping their ideology, the researchers

said party affiliation seems to depend more on the environment in

which the twins were raised. 

Naturally, Verba is cautious about what this study reveals, saying, he says.

“Pinning down any genetic basis of politics and separating it from how you

were raised, and then connecting them to actual public policy or voting behavior

has got a long way to go. But I can see more of this in the future.”


                                                                                your editor and his brother  twins 2001 small


Another wishy-washy study from an academic who hopes for more grant money?

Probably.  I can tell you, though, that my identical twin brother and I almost

certainly have similar views on school prayer and property taxes.  I need to poll

him about his feelings on federal housing and liberals.


“snowflakesN” From Billie Wilson and the Alaska Haiku Society


late night rain–

he reads to me from the book

I read to him


Mayfly #40 (2005)





nearly dark–

snow deepens

on the baseball field


Acorn 15 (2005) 


snow pile


swing shift

scattered through the parking lot

leaves from distant trees


                   Mariposa13 (2005)





winter storm–

three people in the checkout line

buying daffodils


              Acorn 15 (2005)



a squabble of jays–

he shovels my bootprints

off the sidewalk


           The Heron’s Nest VII:4 (2005)





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