Writing in the Guardian, clinical psychologist Oliver James claims that genetics has turned into a "left wing" science, because it has failed to identify any innate, genetic reasons why some people are winners and others are losers — suggesting that, instead, it's society's fault that some people end up on top and others end up on the bottom.
In developed nations, women and those on a low income are twice as likely to be depressed as men and the wealthy. When DNA is tested in large samples, neither women nor the poor are more likely to have the variant. Worldwide, depression is least common in south-east Asia. Yet a study of 29 nations found the variant to be commonest there – the degree to which a society is collectivist rather than individualistic partly explains depression rates, not genes.
Politics may be the reason why the media has so far failed to report the small role of genes. The political right believes that genes largely explain why the poor are poor, as well as twice as likely as the rich to be mentally ill. To them, the poor are genetic mud, sinking to the bottom of the genetic pool.
Writing in 2000, the political scientist Charles Murray made a rash prediction he may now regret. "The story of human nature, as revealed by genetics and neuroscience, will be conservative in its political [shape]." The American poor would turn out to have significantly different genes to the affluent: "This is not unimaginable. It is almost certainly true." Almost certainly false, more like.