Monday, May 28, 2007

Biology and Belief


"environmental factors, or the types of situations people encounter in their lives, determine approximately half of their political preferences.

For example, when people fear death or terrorism, or are in a state of uncertainty, they tend to become more conservative, he said. A study of World Trade Center survivors after 9/11 reported that 38 percent grew more conservative in the 18 months following the attacks, as compared with only 13 percent who became more liberal.

The other factor that determines a person’s political beliefs is biology. Research by John Hibbing, a University of Nebraska political scientist, showed that identical twins share more political beliefs than fraternal twins. They also, of course, share more genes.

“Forty, perhaps 50 percent of our political beliefs seem to have a basis in genetics,” said Hibbing, whose studies were included in Jost’s analysis. While genetics are unlikely to “hardwire” people into being liberal or conservative, Hibbing said that genes could make people more or less likely to have certain values or react to situations in a particular way.

This knowledge could pave the way to a more tolerant society, Hibbing said.

“If you think your opponents are not just being willfully bullheaded but rather have a kind of biological predisposition toward a set of beliefs, you might not spend as much time beating your head against the wall trying to get them to change,” he said."

Usually I go to biological explanations of behavior to say that we shouldn't villify people for their actions, such as gay people. But, if people believe something because of their biology, then our prospects for living in peace will surely be questioned. If biology can fetermine political preference, and if the greatest predictor of political preference is church attendance, then is religiousity biologically determined?

I support reproductive policy to slow down the growth rate of low IQ people. Can we have policies to prevent people with subversive thoughts from reproducing? Shudder.

1 comment:

X said...

Your post about biology and politics is similar to two of mine: How to Treat Republicanism and Recommended reading which links to Bob Altmeyer's book.

I added you to my blogroll, by the way.