Race Biology Follow Up: Larry Bartels on Genopolitics

By Amanda Grigg

Apparently Larry Bartels and I have mind melded (I think that means I get tenure) because he also posted about genetics yesterday. More specifically, he posted about “genopolitics” which, yes, is a thing.

For those interested, The Scientific American gets into the gritty scientific details in a piece called “Why Genes Don’t Predict Voting Behavior.” 

Back to Bartels, he comes to a conclusion that I think is similar to, if slightly more conservative than my take on the value of certain kinds of genetics. In this case it’s genetic research aimed at predicting political behavior, but I think the argument could apply equally well to my last post about biological race and genetics:

My argument is not that genetic explanations of political attitudes and behavior are infeasible (though they are sure to be extremely difficult to achieve) or illegitimate (though it is easy to imagine them being harnessed to unsavory political ends). It is simply that the real scientific payoff does not look worth the effort.

So for those of you not convinced that race isn’t at least a little genetic, there’s still reason to question the value of (and even oppose) this kind of research. Of course I would add that in the case of biological race and genetics, the acceptance of the assumption underlying the research also does real harm to racial minorities. And, perhaps worst of all, it puts you (at least a little bit) on the side of jerks like Craig Cobb.


*Image credit: Dan Saelinger

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