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Genes are responsible for politics? Convenient news in an election year

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James Barham writes here:

“I know there’s a knee-jerk reaction that this can’t be right: ‘There’s no way there’s a gene that’s responsible for my politics,’?” says Matthew C. Keller, a behavioral geneticist at the University of Colorado. “For me, this is a genetic IQ test. If they say that type of thing, it means they don’t understand genetics that well.”

So, as if Chris Mooney’s neuromania were not enough for us to swallow, we are now expected to choke down a big helping of Darwinitis as well, served up hot by [New York Times’] Mr. Issenberg.

But for anyone with a modicum of common sense, Darwinitis—especially in the form of evolutionary psychology that we see here—is a thoroughly indigestible intellectual meal. In fact, there are so many things wrong with this picture, it’s hard to know where to begin.

For one thing, why wait 10 years? Why not do the experiment now? Surely we can already evaluate the immune systems of people in various ways, and if so, what is stopping us from correlating their political views with the strength of their immune systems already?

The answer is obvious: Darwinitis is essentially a form of uncontrolled speculation, not science. It depends entirely for whatever shred of plausibility it has on promissory notes written against future experiments. If its hypotheses were required to be really tested, they would soon be revealed to be the absurdities they are.


I read of one man who had a yen for cars, wanting to copulate with them, and another, pavemements. Who can doubt that there will be Nobel prizes for the guys who find the genes responsible? Axel

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