Can a 'liberal gene' determine political stance? Researchers say it's so

Now Fox political pundit Bill O’Reilly will have a new factor to consider in vetting his guests. Researchers say they have found a "liberal gene" that ties political ideology to something other than social factors.

The study published Thursday in the Journal of Politics comes from UC San Diego and Harvard University researchers who overlaid the presence of a dopamine receptor gene called DRD4 with the social networks of 2,000 people to examine the potential link.

Here's how a UC San Diego statement explains the study:

"[Researchers] reported that 'it is the crucial interaction of two factors – the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence – that is associated with being more liberal.' The research team also showed that this held true independent of ethnicity, culture, sex or age." Click here to read the full story.

News media were quick to seize on the findings. "Don’t hold liberals responsible for their opinion – they can’t help themselves," a Fox news story begins. Hmmm, "fair and balanced" meets "truthiness."

So if political disposition can be part nurture and part nature, how does that account for red states and blue states? And are independents kind of genetics-lite?

Stay tuned. Lead researcher James H. Fowler, professor of political science and medical genetics at UC San Diego, says in the university's statement: "It is our hope that more scholars will begin to explore the potential interaction of biology and environment. ...The way forward is to look for replication in different populations and age groups."

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