"It is not that opinions on specific issues are written into a person's DNA," the Times's Benedict Carey reassures readers. "Rather, genes prime people to respond cautiously or openly to the mores of a social group."
Sounds plausible, but there's good reason to be skeptical. Since the 1930s, the Left has offered a string of theories suggesting that conservatives are simply wired "wrong" and that our views can be ascribed to mental defects rather than conviction. It was this thinking that prompted 1,189 psychiatrists in 1964 to take out newspaper ads declaring Barry Goldwater to be "psychologically unfit" to be president. Just two summers ago, a Berkeley study claimed to prove that conservatism was more akin to a personality disorder than an actual political philosophy.
Indeed, one gets a whiff of this sort of thinking in Carey's coverage . The most ominous concern he raises at the end is that the study calls into doubt "the future of bipartisan cooperation or national unity." Why? "Because men and women tend to seek mates with a similar ideology . the two gene pools are becoming, if anything, more concentrated, not less."
This last bit strikes me as piffle. Did mates select for bipartisanship more during the Bronze Age?
Here's how I read Carey: The bipartisan divide exists because those chromosomally damaged right-wingers aren't going away until we can find a cure.
In other words, the Times is showing it's biases.
Which brings us back to the mortification of Larry Summers. Is it so unreasonable to assume there are greater genetic cognitive and behavioral differences between men and women than between, say, Jews and gentiles - never mind conservatives and liberals? If genes make us more open to some group mores, why can't they make one gender more open to one field of study? The animal kingdom is replete with enormous male-female disparities. Even among the branch of humans we call feminists, it's a widely held view that men and women think and behave differently.
Such views only become controversial when some aggrieved group's self-esteem is on the line - and the possibility of extortion is in play. Then, suddenly, Dr. Summers' pancreas becomes a cocktail peanut.
The problem is these sorts of stories are going to be pouring forth daily for the next 20 years, and there's just not enough of Summers for everybody with low self-esteem to feed on.