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Is Biology Political Destiny?

Will your genes decide whether you vote for Obama or Romney in November?

According to a review article published in Monday' Trends in Genetics, researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Brown University argue that genetics, in fact, may play more of a role in which candidate someone votes for than is generally believed.

While the article's authors say there is no such thing as a liberal gene or a conservative gene, "whatever genetic influences exist probably operate through those emotional, cognitive, or rational processes that are instigated when individuals are asked particular questions about their attitudes."

Or in other words, a complex play of genetic factors may influence emotions, which may, in turn, influence political decisions.

In particular, the authors note studies that found that identical twins maintained similar social viewpoints to each other even after they left home as teenagers, while fraternal twins who left home also as teenagers were more likely to develop differing viewpoints from each other. This suggests that genetics, in addition to social factors, influence political ideology and voting patterns.

These kinds of "genopolitical" studies, unsurprisingly, have not been widely embraced by the scientific community, with doubts raised about the ability to pin down a person's political predilections to biology. Some researchers have gone so far as to say that how a person votes can actually be predicted based on an individual's genes, although such research has also been pooh-poohed.

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