Skip to main content

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.

The Scan

Gap in COVAX Doses

BBC News reports that COVAX is experiencing a vaccine shortfall, as the Serum Institute of India has paused exports.

Sanofi, GSK Report Promising Results

The Wall Street Journal reports that the candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccine from Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline has had encouraging early results.

Influence of Luck

The New York Times examines how the US avoided variant-fueled increases in COVID-19 cases.

PLOS Papers on Retina GWAS, Hantaan Virus, COVID-19 Phenome-Wide Association Study

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of retinal morphology, analysis of hantaan virus found in a mouse, and more.