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 July 29, 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 July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) 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:
from the past week

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