Hibbing - Additional - Response to Charney.August07

Hibbing - Additional - Response to Charney.August07 -...

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BEYOND LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES TO POLITICAL GENOTYPES AND PHENOTYPES John R. Alford Rice University Carolyn L. Funk Virginia Commonwealth University John R. Hibbing University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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Mind-body dualism allows that the physical body is the product of natural, presumably genetic forces but insists that the source of the human mind is mystical and fundamentally different. The mind is not nature’s but our own creation, shaped as we navigate through and are influenced by historical and cultural realities that we have constructed. The human mind, dualism asserts, unlike all other aspects of life on our planet, has left behind crude biological processes. And what better example of a pristine experiential, non-biological, uniquely-human phenomenon than mass-scale politics with its relatively recent advent and its constantly changing issues, terms, parties, and players. For those caught in the hubris of this dualist perspective, empirical evidence indicating that political orientations are transmitted genetically as well as culturally must be dismissed as “incoherent” and the product of a deeply flawed methodology. Thus it is that Evan Charney rises to attack a recent article of ours in the American Political Science Review , 1 an article he fears is part of “a trend among behavioral scientists to view ever more complex attitudes as in some sense genetically determined.” 2 We welcome the appearance of Charney’s essay. The scientific process needs scholars eager to question methodologies, data, interpretations, and implications. Genetics in general and twin studies in particular are not familiar topics to most political scientists. Several of the misconceptions evident in Charney’s written remarks are undoubtedly held by other members of the discipline so we are pleased to have been offered the opportunity to explain our procedures, findings, and conclusions more fully. Charney’s criticisms fall into two broad categories. The first is that the methods we employed to obtain our results—specifically, the classic twin design—rest on faulty assumptions and therefore yield meaningless results. The second, drawing directly from a dualist perspective, is that political beliefs are entirely embedded in culture and therefore, regardless of the empirical data, logically could not be expected to have a genetic component. We address each of these charges in turn. 2
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Twin Studies Monozygotic (MZ) twins share 100 percent of their genetic heritage while dizygotic (DZ) twins, like all full siblings, share roughly 50 percent. This known difference in genetic similarity across the two types of twins creates a tremendous opportunity to estimate the importance of genetic similarity—but only if the environments of MZ and DZ twins are equally similar. If, relative to DZ twins, MZ twins not only share more of their genetic code but also share more of their environmental experiences, variance attributed to genetics may actually be the result of
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Hibbing - Additional - Response to Charney.August07 -...

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