26
Nov
14

2:8 Decembrist: The Warrior Gene & Me (11/20/2014)

Sometimes you have secrets even you didn’t know you hadย 

I had looked into the research on the “Warrior gene” (MAOA) earlier and posted that here [on WSJ Speakeasy] but decided last night to look again, to check out @A.M.’s theory. I worked in biomed research and genomics for more than a decade, so that was a start. There was a swell of new research back in 2009-12 which roughly coincides when The Blacklist was being conceived.

It didn’t take long before I stumbled onto something that literally kept me up all night. I found a blog post that said there was a genetic marker (several actually) that could now be looked up on the website 23andMe that would tell you whether you have the Warrior gene. I didn’t even know you could look up SNPs (markers) on the site. Of course, you have to have your tissue (a cheek swab) on file there. Well, it turns out I do! (Cost: $99 at https://www.23andme.com ) I just had to look it up.

My grandfather was a boxer, an Irish-American heavyweight fighter who fought both Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney. He then went into law enforcement. On the other side, I’m Scots-Irish, descended from Rob Roy, or so the story goes (I don’t buy it). So, anyway, I was prepared, sort of. For all three markers I was positive. Double positive: All 3 markers on both X chromosomes. The comorbidities, by the way, are a chamber of horrors, but nothing that hadn’t popped up in my family โ€“ or myself.

There are actually three levels of “the Warrior gene.” The gene is involved in the modulation of neurotransmitters like serotonin and it’s actually when it malfunctions that it results in the “warrior” coming out. A very small number of people are known about (just 3 families are known about) who did not have a functioning gene at all http://bit.ly/1xtONZT. Most had very poor impulse control and were violent criminals. Then there are two levels of lesser malfunction, 3R and 2R. 3R is less severe, affecting about a third of white males and making them, well, Warriors, which can be a very good thing for societies. The more severe malfunctioning affects only 0.1% of white males. Fewer females are affected because the gene is on the X chromosome and females have two of those. They also don’t produce much testosterone, which works sort of like a catalyst. Unfortunately, there is no simple test yet to tease out the 2Rs from the 3Rs. You need special lab equipment. So I only know I am 3R or 2R, probably just 3R. Since I have it that means my sons will have it, since it’s on the X chromosome, so there’s that.

People who are MAOA-2R have a host of problems functioning and are associated with higher levels of criminality โ€“ however, good child-rearing practices, healthy environments and supportive educational opportunities can help them adjust. There has been a lot of follow-up research on this aspect.

The chance of a white woman having two copies of the 2R Warrior gene would be (if I’m thinking about this right) 0.03% X 0.03% or 0.0009% โž” if that’s what’s up with Lizzie, she is indeed “very special.” It also may explain why Red tells her “Think… like a criminal. It may come easier than you think.”

Now, here’s the sensitive part: while about 1/3 of white males have the 3R version of the Warrior gene, about 2/3 of black males do. But so do about 2/3 of Chinese males. So you can see this opens up a potential can of worms โ€“ and some corners of the conservative blogosphere have seized on this research for the wrong reasons.

So, @A.M., I think you have made a good case and are really on to something. I still think the Internet idea is good, especially if Red actually WAS an intelligence officer and Military Liaison to the NSA, iow not the Luddite he comes across as โ€“ perhaps, instead, some who knows the full well the power of technology, maybe even someone who is deep undercover or who has his own reasons for trying to thwart the emergence of a new world order.
__________

Selected sources:

ScientiaSalon (Jul 2014): The Extreme Warrior gene: a reality check http://bit.ly/1zs0iQx

Elsevier, Kevin Beaver et al (FLState) (2012): Exploring the association between the 2-repeat allele of the MAOA gene promoter polymorphism and psychopathic personality traits, arrests, incarceration, and lifetime antisocial behavior http://bit.ly/1vsGqhO

AlFin2100 (2012): Why are Blacks so Violent? http://bit.ly/1vsFL0s // e.g. from rw blog

SciAm (2011): Code rage: The โ€œwarrior geneโ€ makes me mad! (Whether I have it or not) http://bit.ly/1xROSWf // skeptical perspective

BioNews [UK] (2010): Financial whizkids could carry ‘warrior gene’ variant http://bit.ly/1zGkwGA // (yay!)

ScienceDaily (2009): ‘Warrior Gene’ Predicts Aggressive Behavior After Provocation http://bit.ly/1vsiVG5

[Cross-posted at WSJ Speakeasy]

p.s. family response underwhelming: husband โ€“ not surprised because of my grandfather, son #3 โ€“ “cool”



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