Genetics and genomics projects galore!

By Razib Khan | May 6, 2012 11:29 am

Thought I would pass these on. A graduate student at Rice is trying to raise some funds for research, Genopolitics: Your Genes Affect How You Vote!. The methodology is a twin study:

To test this, I’ll track how genes affect attitudes during the 2012 US Presidential election by running several surveys of twins. Why twins? Well, there are two kinds of twins: identical twins (called monozygotic, or MZ) and fraternal twins (called dizygotic, or DZ). MZ twins share 100% of their DNA, but DZ twins share only about 50% of their DNA just like normal siblings. Every twin is born around the same time as his or her co-twin, so each pair of twins shares a common upbringing. If politics is mostly about upbringing (as traditional theories would have us believe), then fraternal (DZ) twins should be just as similar on average as identical (MZ) twins. But if genes do play a role in political attitudes alongside upbringing, then DZ twins should be less similar to each other than MZ twins, since MZ twins share more of their genes. So by tracking attitude changes during the election, if the attitudes of identical twins change together more than the attitudes of fraternal twins, this would suggest that genes play a role in political attitude change.

Secod, Genomes Unzipped put up a very complimentary review of openSNP. I just went in and added a bunch of phenotypes for me. I’d say openSNP is one of those attempts to bridge the space between the type of people who find 23andMe a bit overwhelming, and those who are comfortable using plink and phasing their genotypes.

MORE ABOUT: Personal genomics

Comments (6)

  1. chris w

    With the declining price of genome sequencing, do you think twin studies will eventually be abandoned for whole genome studies (such as this one: One can obtain a larger sample size with the latter, although I’m not sure if that adds value beyond a certain minimum. Does the twin study have any advantages? Thoughts?

  2. james

    this is a really neat idea that genes can affect the attitudes of “fraternal twins”. but was your idea true whether or not identical or just regular twins have the same or even similar political attitude change?

  3. Chris

    I certainly hope there isn’t a link otherwise the political parties will start doing genetic testing to identify potential voters. They already look at your shopping habits, who knows what’s next. Although thinking about Chris Mooney’s “The Republican Brain” suggests there might be a weak genetic link.

  4. kyrilluk

    In France, most people vote according to circumstances – sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right. So I’m very doubtful that such research teaches any thing.
    Also what is considered to be “conservative” or “liberal” depends on who you are, where you live, etc.. For example some policies held by Democrats can be seen as being conservative in my country. And inversely: Sarkozy that used to be a president considered to be very right-wing in my country has created the RSA which is a benefit system that give money to people that are out of work or that is starting a new low paid job. I doubt that the conservative in America would do such a thing.

  5. #3, the link is modest, not weak. and it’s heritable, not at large effect QTLs. if that doesn’t make sense to you, please read into the literature.

    #4, you don’t know what you’re talking about. please see the behavior genetic literature before you comment again (another comment which bespeaks ignorance of the literature will result in banning).

  6. woceht

    Well even with twins you can’t control completely for environmental differences (friends etc). Might or might not be worth tracking and including as random factor.


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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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