March 5, 2024


With IVF specialists hot in pursuit of genes for dread diseases so that they can filter out defective embryos, the latest issue of Science brings intriguing news. According to political scientist (not a geneticist) Donald R. Kinder, of the University of Michigan, kids may be hard-wired to be Republican or Democrats.

Until quite recently, the assumption that political beliefs are acquired through experience has been taken as an article of faith,” writes Dr Kinder. “Rapid developments in human behavioural genetics have made this stance increasingly difficult to maintain.” Statistical studies of the politics of twins indicated that adult political beliefs on issues like the death penalty or school prayer have a sizeable genetic component”.

On matters of politics, parents may influence their biological offspring as much through the ‘genetic blueprint’ they provide at conception as through the modelling and instruction they provide later on.” Does this suggest that parents could sift out embryos with defective views on the death penalty? Time will tell.