The Genetics of Human Social Behavior, and Its Implications for the Peace

This is very cool. DRD47R is associated not just with high functioning ADD, novelty seeking, and distance from the Yellow River of China (for mongoloid populations), but also Friendship, Politics, and Food.

From James Fowler’s “Friendships Moderate an Association Between the DRD4 Gene and Political Ideology” (pdf):

Studies of identical and fraternal twins suggest that political ideology has a heritable component (Alford, Funk, and Hibbing 2005; Hatemi et al. 2007), but no specific gene associated with political ideology has so far been identified. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we investigate the moderating influence of friendships on the contribution of the 7R allele of the DRD4 gene to liberal political ideology. The number of self-nominated friendships in adolescence moderates the influence of the gene on political ideology; the more friends nominated, the stronger the liberal ideological identification of the respondent in early adulthood. This is the first study to elaborate a specific gene-environment interaction that contributes to ideological self-identification.

And “Dopamine receptor genetic polymorphisms and body composition in undernourished pastoralists: An exploration of nutrition indices among nomadic and recently settled Ariaal men of northern Kenya” (hat-tip to gnxp and Scientific Blogging):

While those with the DRD4/7R allele were better nourished in the nomadic population, they were less well-nourished in the settled population. Although the effects of different versions of dopamine genes have already been studied in industrialized countries, very little research has been carried out in non-industrial, subsistence environments like the areas where the Ariaal live, despite the fact that such environments may be more similar to the environments where much of human genetic evolution took place.

The first time I encountered research like this, my first reaction was “This can be used to help secure the peace.” Our knowledge is still early and piecemeal to turn this genetic research into real-world battlespace advantages, but I don’t think we are too far away. Imagine, for instance, if an occupying force could quickly screen the population using genetic knowledge, prevently detaining those most likely to cause trouble, thus protecting the general civilian population and potential terrorists from harm?

(While certainly those who oppose military solutions would object to this, an occupying power could easily argue that they are required to do such screenings once they are feasible, under the doctrine of responsibility to protect.)

An Interesting Day

We brought Mother and Sister of tdaxp to Beijing’s Terminal 3, seeing them off safely in an airport far more comfortable and hospitable than in any major city in America. Later, learned to play Mahjong with what I assume are “Hong Kong Rules.”

During the day, saw one of the “tricycle men” — those people whose job it is to carry very heavy loads on their three-wheeled peddle-powered vehicles. Over my trips to Beijing I associated this occupation in particular with the very visible class divide in China. He was listening to his MP3 player.