Vote Your Genes

| Fri Feb. 1, 2008 7:03 PM EST

istockphoto_3887591_democrat_vs_republican_on_white.jpg Fire the pundits. Cancel the debates. According to an emerging idea in the social and political sciences, political positions are substantially determined by biology and can be stubbornly resistant to reason. New Scientist follows the trail of evidence:

Twin studies suggest that opinions on a long list of issues, from religion in schools to nuclear power and gay rights, have a substantial genetic component. The decision to vote rather than stay at home on election day may also be linked to genes. Neuroscientists have also got in on the act, showing that liberals and conservatives have different patterns of brain activity… People who scored highly on a scale measuring fear of death, for example, were almost four times more likely to hold conservative views. Dogmatic types were also more conservative, while those who expressed interest in new experiences tended to be liberals. [This] review also noted research showing that conservatives prefer simple and unambiguous paintings, poems and songs.

Finally, an explanation for Thomas Kinkade, "God Bless America," and flag fetishes.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent and 2008 winner of the John Burroughs Medal Award. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.