Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Genetic Justification For Liberalism

Liberalism often advances science and research, who knew science and research would advance liberalism.

New scientific research has offered to strengthen foundational liberal principles, solidifying the ideology not just in abstract philosophy but empirically in human nature.

The liberal belief in equality and that government has a role in actively improving society was supported in a recent journal article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was shown that increasing the mobility between classes, if not eliminating them completely, and reducing stress caused by social environments has physiological benefits and improves health. The Economist offers a simplified summarized account of the study.

New research on our close primate relatives the Rhesus Macaques demonstrated that being in a low social position within a group, independent of the amount of resources available, negatively affects health. Being on that low rung activates biochemical responses that alters a creature's immune system and puts them at a higher health risk. The silver lining of the study was that moving up in socioeconomic status improved health by itself regardless of varying increases of food or preferential treatment.

Though the existence of a stratified society is commonly identified with conservatism, the notion of helping those on its lower levels is not.

The results of the study point towards actively alleviating those in lower social positions to achieve greater health benefits, which contrasts greatly to the often popular conservative notion of leaving one to fend for him- or herself. The study also indirectly offers insight into the ultimate arbitrariness of our social stratification by describing how the hierarchy of Macaques is determined almost solely by when one joins a group.

Researchers Jenny Tung, Yoav Gilad, et alum. offer this in their final comments:

In conclusion, our results emphasize important connections between behavior, social status, and change at the molecular level. Although in one sense these relationships emphasize the potential costs of adverse social environments, the plasticity of these effects is also encouraging, suggesting that mitigating social stress may confer rapidly realized physiological benefits. Our results motivate efforts to develop a nuanced understanding of social effects on gene regulation, with the aim of both exploring its evolutionary and ecological consequences and addressing its effects on human health.
Clearly our social environment affects us, not just in regards to health. But this recent evidence proves it's only through the liberal ideas of equality and concerted action that we can better society and in turn better ourselves.

The conservative idea that government shouldn't help those in need is better left to the monkeys.

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