January 30, 2009

James Q. Wilson on "The DNA of Politics"

James Q. Wilson writes in City Journal on The DNA of Politics: Genes shape our beliefs, our values, and even our votes (the picture is of Polish president Lech Kaczyński, right, and former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczyński, who are identical twins):

Children differ, as any parent of two or more knows. Some babies sleep through the night, others are always awake; some are calm, others are fussy; some walk at an early age, others after a long wait. Scientists have proved that genes are responsible for these early differences. But people assume that as children get older and spend more time under their parents’ influence, the effect of genes declines. They are wrong.

Identical twins tend to get more dissimilar looking as they age due to random wear and tear and a desire to assert one's individuality (e.g., the Kaczyńskis style their hair differently). But they often get more similar in behavior as they spend less time together. For example, say one identical twin is at the 92nd percentile in dominance / leadership while the other one is at the 90th percentile. Growing up together, the second twin will tend to see himself as having a subordinate personality, but when they stop spending all their time together, he will start to realize that other people tend to defer to him and expect him to lead. (Robert A. Heinlein's novel "Time for the Stars" provides a detailed example of this in action.)

For a century or more, we have understood that intelligence is largely inherited, though even today some mistakenly rail against the idea and say that nurture, not nature, is all. Now we know that much of our personality, too, is inherited and that many social attitudes have some degree of genetic basis, including our involvement in crime and some psychiatric illnesses. Some things do result entirely from environmental influences, such as whether you follow the Red Sox or the Yankees (though I suspect that Yankee fans have a genetic defect). But beyond routine tastes, almost everything has some genetic basis. And that includes politics. ...

There are two common ways of reaching this conclusion. One is to compare adopted

children’s traits with those of their biological parents, on the one hand, and with those of their adoptive parents, on the other. If a closer correlation exists with the biological parents’ traits, then we say that the trait is to that degree inherited.

The other method is to compare identical twins’ similarity, with respect to some trait, with the similarity of fraternal twins, or even of two ordinary siblings. Identical twins are genetic duplicates, while fraternal twins share only about half their genes and are no more genetically alike than ordinary siblings are. If identical twins are more alike than fraternal twins, therefore, we conclude that the trait under consideration is to some degree inherited. ...

The gene-driven ideological split that Alford and his colleagues found may, in fact, be an underestimate, because men and women tend to marry people with whom they agree on big issues—assortative mating, as social scientists call it. Assortative mating means that the children of parents who agree on issues will be more likely to share whatever genes influence those beliefs. Thus, even children who are not identical twins will have a larger genetic basis for their views than if their parents married someone with whom they disagreed. Since we measure heritability by subtracting the similarity among fraternal twins from the similarity among identical ones, this difference may neglect genetic influences that already exist on fraternal twins. And if it does, it means that we are underestimating genetic influences on attitudes.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

Steve, FYI the link directs to a JPG of the Kaczynski twins.

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks, I'll fix it now.

m said...

don't know a lot about this topic but I think Derb once said you can't make much of a difference in rasing your kids....too many outside factors overtake your efforts.... so I started to not care so much and just hoped they got the right friends.

Just as an aside.... 3 of my 4 boys are gay

Anonymous said...

Genes shape our beliefs, our values, and even our votes

Hmm. Maybe that is why France's Sarkozy is demanding that the French people intermarry with the invading Muslims:

The Engineer of Diversity

"In his message Sarkozy insisted that the French people must change, that there will be dire consequences if they don't, and that not to intermarry racially is bad for the survival of the country."


Sarkozy seems to be very "gene conscious"! He almost sounds like a man who is obsessed with race.

What's to be done to usher in the utopia? Tax breaks for multiracial children? Discrimination against whites who chose to marry whites? Say it ain't so, Sarko.

Check out the photo at the link of the "Algerian-born businessman" Yazid Sabeg. He is the guy who Sarkozy has hired as his Race Commissar.

Meanwhile Sarkozy himself marries a European Alpine princess, Carla Bruni, but for the proles he suggests shacking up with North Africans.


Yes, Virginia, there is a New World Order. And, yes, the program seeks to breed out of existence, or otherwise displace the white populations from the white nations.

Anonymous said...

Sarkozy's the guy who ran as "get tough" on illegal immigration. I'm shocked - shocked! - that he hasn't followed through.

Anonymous said...

The Nurture Assumption, by Judith Harris, debunked the idea that parents and elders are critical formers of kids' characters years ago. Steven Pinker has praised it as part of his attack on blank-slate assumptions:


Basically Harris doesn't believe Mom and Pop count for much unless they're really terrible, or absent.

Anonymous said...

"Basically Harris doesn't believe Mom and Pop count for much unless they're really terrible, or absent."

But if Mom and Pop can really f*ck up their kids by being absent or really terrible, doesn't that mean the being a good parent DOES count for much? Sure, maybe you can't turn your kids into geniuses (although Laszlo Polgar might disagree), but if you raise 'em right, you can probably keep your kids from turning into criminals or welfare bums.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone takes Sarkozy seriously anymore, least of all the French!

Anonymous said...

Re: The Nuture Assumption by Judith Harris.... Steve's written about it, ten years ago.


Anonymous said...

France ought to insist to Sarkozy that he try out his "great answer" in Israel first. Best to watch "great answers" unfold from a safe distance than, say, under your own roof.

Anonymous said...

Redoubt said...

"In his message Sarkozy insisted that the French people must change, that there will be dire consequences if they don't, and that not to intermarry racially is bad for the survival of the country."

The ability of Europe to locate a bad American idea and magnify it is just mindblowing.

Anonymous said...

A better SF reference than Heinlein is Kate Wilhelm's "Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang."

Anonymous said...

Twin studies are problematic for one big reason: the embryogenesis of twins is quite different from singletons, and this has lifelong implications.

Anonymous said...

"France ought to insist to Sarkozy that he try out his "great answer" in Israel first. Best to watch "great answers" unfold from a safe distance than, say, under your own roof."

Sarkozy is NOT Jewish. He is a one quarter Sephardic Jew on his mother's side. Sarkozy is not even Ashkenazi. Like many people of Eastern European background he has an ancestor who was Jewish, or partly Jewish. And like many with Eastern European descent he is pro-American because America liberated Eastern Europe from Communism not because the US is pro-Israel.



Who is Nicolas Sarkozy?

Nicolas Sarkozy, also called "Sarko" by both his supporters and opponents, was born in 1955 in Paris. He is the son of Paul Sarkozy, a Hungarian immigrant whose family belonged to the lower nobility of Hungary, and a French mother, Andrée Mallah, the daughter of Greek-Jewish doctor, Aaron Mallah, a wealthy urologist with a well-established reputation in the mainly bourgeois 17th arrondissement of Paris.

Aaron Mallah was born in 1890 in the Sephardic Jewish community of Salonika (Thessaloniki) part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1904, Aaron Mallah left Salonika for France with his mother. He became a doctor and served in the French Army during World War I. Mallah met Adèle Bouvier (1891–1956) a recent war widow born in a bourgeoise family of Lyon, whom he married in 1917.

Adèle Bouvier, Nicolas Sarkozy's grandmother, was a Catholic. Mallah, for whom religion had reportedly never been a central issue, converted to Catholicism upon marrying Adèle, following her parents' request, and he changed his name to Benedict.

Although Benedict Mallah converted to Catholicism, he and his family nonetheless had to flee Paris and take refuge in a small farm in Corrèze during World War II to avoid being arrested and delivered to the Germans. During the Holocaust, many of the Mallahs who stayed in Salonika or moved to France were deported to concentration camps. In total, 57 family members were murdered by the Nazis.

After being married, Paul Sarkozy and Andrée Mallah, Nicolas’s parents, settled in the 17th arrondissement in Paris and had three sons: Guillaume, born in 1951, an entrepreneur in the textile industry, Nicolas, born in 1955, and François, born in 1957, an MBA graduate and manager of a healthcare consultancy company in New York.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:

Sarkozy is NOT Jewish.[etc.]

Someone doth protest too much, methinks.

Um, mebbe he ain't according the Nuremberg Laws (though Grandpa flew the coop pretty quick, and I would advise you to keep scouring Wikipedia for any low-down you can get on Adele and Paul).

Nevertheless, can you get any more practically Jewish?