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Don't Blame Your Genes for How You Vote

The political season in the US is nearing a fever pitch with the presidential election just about here. A number of past studies have linked certain gene variants to voting behavior, but Evan Charney from Duke University and William English at Harvard University write at Scientific American that that notion is likely hogwash.

"The kinds of studies that have produced many of the findings we question involve searching for connections between behavior and gene variants that occur frequently in the population," they write, adding that "genes predict certain well-defined physiological diseases — such as hereditary breast cancer and the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease — but when it comes to complex human behaviors such as voting, the link is tenuous at best."

Genetic influences on behavior, they add, likely involve thousands of genes that also interact with one another. " The chance that any complex human behavior — such as voting — might have one or two major predisposing genes is practically zero," Charney and English write.

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