Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two genes do not make a voter

Date:
February 29, 2012
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Voting behavior cannot be predicted by one or two genes as previous researchers have claimed, according to a professor of public policy and political science.

Voting behavior cannot be predicted by one or two genes as previous researchers have claimed, according to Evan Charney, a Duke University professor of public policy and political science.

In "Candidate Genes and Political Behavior," a paper published in the February 2012 American Political Science Review, Charney and co-author William English of Harvard University call into question the validity of all studies that claim that a common gene variant can predict complex behaviors such as voting.

They use as an example a 2008 study by James H. Fowler and Christopher T. Dawes of the University of California, San Diego which claimed that two genes predict voter turnout. Charney and English demonstrate that when certain errors in the original study are corrected -- errors common to many gene association studies -- there is no longer any association between these genes and voter turnout.

"The study of Fowler and Dawes is wrong," Charney said. "Two genes do not predict turnout. We re-ran the study using all of their assumptions, equations, and data and found that their results were based upon errors they made. When we corrected the errors, there was no longer any association between these two genes and voter turnout."

Charney and English also document how the same two genes that Fowler and Dawes claimed would predict voter turnout are also said to predict, according to other recently published studies, alcoholism, Alzheimer's disease, anorexia nervosa, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, depression, epilepsy, extraversion, insomnia, migraines, narcolepsy, obesity, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, Parkinson's disease, postpartum depression, restless legs syndrome, premature ejaculation, schizophrenia, smoking, success by professional Wall Street traders, sudden infant death syndrome, suicide, Tourette syndrome, and several hundred other behaviors. They point to a number of studies that attempted to confirm these findings and could not.

"Researchers the world over are using data sets that contain behavioral information about study participants along with limited genetic data for a handful of their genes," Charney said. "Often, the genetic data contained in these various data sets is limited to the very same four or five genes. The result is that the same genes are now said to predict an astonishing array of human behavior."

"How could one common gene variant possibly predict so many diverse behaviors?" Charney asked. "And what are the odds that the very same handful of genes -- out of an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 genes -- will miraculously turn out to be the genetic key to all of human behavior?"

Charney and English also note that the underlying assumption of gene association studies is at odds with our current understanding of the relationship between genes and complex human behaviors, such as political behavior.

"There is a growing consensus that complex traits that are heritable are influenced by differences in thousands of genes interacting with each other, with the epigenome (which regulates gene expressivity), and with the environment in complex ways," Charney said. "The idea that one or two genes could predict something like voting behavior or partisanship violates all that we now know about the complex relationship between genes and traits."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Evan Charney, William English. Candidate Genes and Political Behavior. American Political Science Review, 2012; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0003055411000554

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Two genes do not make a voter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229121118.htm>.
Duke University. (2012, February 29). Two genes do not make a voter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229121118.htm
Duke University. "Two genes do not make a voter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229121118.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins