How Much of Black Crime Could the MAOA Variants Account For?

Blacks commit violent crimes at far higher rates than most other races, including whites and asians. Wherever blacks make up a significant percentage of the population, overall violent crime rates tend to be higher. It would be natural for someone of a scientific bent to look for genetic causes, when such a widespread and consistent behavioural phenomenon is seen in a particular population group.

A few years ago, a great deal of attention was given to the discovery of “The Warrior Gene,” the MAOA allele containing a 3 repeat region in its promoter region. This gene causes lower activity of the monoamine oxidase enzyme, and allows for much higher levels of monoamine neurotransmitters in the brain. These higher levels of neurotransmitters have been associated with higher rates of violence under certain circumstances. The MAOA 3R allele is more prevalent in black men than in whites.

But very little attention was given to the MAOA allele containing a 2 repeat region in the promoter. Research has shown (see below) that the prevalence of the 2R MAOA promoter allele in black men may be over ten times the prevalence of the 2R allele in white men, and over 100 times the prevalence in Asians.

The frequency distribution of variants of the MAOA gene differs between ethnic groups.[17][18] 59% of Black men, 56% of Maori men, 54% of Chinese men, and 34% of Caucasian men carry the 3R allele. 5.5% of Black men, 0.1% of Caucasian men, and 0.00067% of Asian men carry the 2R allele.[18][19][7][20][21][22][17][23][24][25] __Wikipedia article “Monoamine oxidase A and the Warrior Gene

Another estimate of the prevalence of the 2R allele by race is mentioned below:

Reti et al determined that 0.5% of white MAOA genes and 4.7% of African-American MAOA genes are this 2-repeat allele, almost a ten-fold difference. Racial Controversy over Violent Gene

According to earlier research, the violence-promoting tendencies of the MAOA 3R allele will not be triggered unless the male suffered from child abuse when young. Whether this association will hold up in further research — and whether it is actually a limit on the violence-causing activity of the MAOA 3R allele — is a question best settled by careful science. But the MAOA 2R allele — while much less common — seems to be under no such constraints.

Keep in mind that behaviour is influenced by multiple genes, but if it is true that roughly 5 – 10 % of black male genomes contain the potentially more dangerous MAOA 2R allele, how much of black crime overall might be “attributed” to this gene?

If only those who possess the 2R allele were especially prone to violence, we might expect to see an incidence of violent crime among black males of 5% or less. But if each violent offender is prone to commit multiple crimes before (and after) incarceration, the number of violent crimes committed by this small minority of black males could accumulate in an impressive manner over time.

Greg Cochran estimates that at any given time in the US, about 2.2 million black males are in prison, for a variety of offenses. That is far more than 5% of US black males, and even allowing that many of those offenses may not have been of a violent nature, it is clear that a higher number of black males are guilty of violent crime than could be explained by the prevalence of the 2R allele among black males.

This becomes particularly clear when one contemplates the ongoing black violence that continues to occur at an increasing rate in many urban areas, despite the incarceration of the above-mentioned 2.2 million black males.

Clearly both the population of black males behind bars, and the population of black males on the streets, contain a mixture of 2R and 3R MAOA alleles — and perhaps a few 3.5R and 4R alleles as well. So one could not blame the entirety of black violent crime on the 2R allele directly.

But what are the indirect effects on violent crime of an individual with the 2R allele? Violent gangs tend to coalesce around the most violent individuals. Gang leaders and other particularly violent criminals can become role models, using peer pressure to instigate heinous acts of violence which most of the individual members of the group might not have considered on their own.

In childhood, violent bullies on the schoolyard or in the neighborhood can make life hell for other children who would rather experience a “normal non-violent childhood.” These bullies likewise act as role models and magnets for other lads and girls who may feel a natural resonance with their violent behaviour.

Thus the 2R allele may have a “multiplicative effect” on group behaviour, far above its meagre prevalence within the population.

The only way to answer these questions is through careful and extensive genetic and forensic research, with free access to the involved populations of offenders and potential offenders given to scientific study.

Unfortunately, careful research in this area is not being widely funded by the US federal government, even though the federal, state, county, and municipal governments would benefit immensely from a better understanding of the origins of the violent criminal impulse.

Massive denial caused by political correctness and other counter-productive ideologies tends to hamstring the best efforts of science when attempting to understand race and gender based differences.

The end effect of this failure to carefully study crucially important population phenomena, could very well be cataclysmic. At the least, it is likely to be tragic.

For further study:

A nice literature review of MAOA allele variants

A literature review on the Serotonin 2B receptor variants, including the relationship to antisocial and impulsive behaviours

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One Response to How Much of Black Crime Could the MAOA Variants Account For?

  1. When I read that Wikipedia article a week or so ago, some of the same thoughts went through my mind, but I was not surprised with the higher prevalence of the 2r allele in black folks. If you consider the incidence of this genetic complex as an example of adaptive micro evolution, then it’s no shock that the inner city black communities might just be teeming with it. After all, the culture of these communities carries an unfortunate and seemingly cyclical association with violence. I’m primarily referring to violent crime related to poverty and especially the insane levels of violent media which are directly marketed to black youth. So in a culture where violence and ultimately TRAUMA can easily become the psychological baseline, a persons brain would simply not need the per se home abuse to actively engage or rather disengage those parts which physiologically induce symptoms of violent psychopathy.

    Then, if violent behavior is psychologically rewarded and socially revered, then it only makes sense that it’s prevalence would increase and that those individuals with a natural inclination and talent for it might rise to the top of the reproductive chain. When I worked for the schools there was one black family I remember in particular. Eleven boys and three girls with an obviously wide age span. I knew four of them personally and all of the males, including at least two of the fathers, had or were currently serving real time and mind you, three of these kids were still in high school and had reputations of scary criminal behavior following them in from middle school. Considering some recent revelations that this genetic mutation often passes from mother to son and compounding it with the cultural reward scenario, it seems obvious that these boys were SELF IDENTIFYING as violent offenders while they were still children. The school district, by the way, was unaware of any history of reported abuse.

    I think these elements hold the answers in the statistical disconnect between levels of prevalence between blacks and whites. In my experience, whitebread culture is less conducive to this sort of behavior becoming normative and socially rewarding. As a general rule, I’d suspect, the incidence of abuse at home is higher in white offenders than in blacks. Studying and categorizing different types of violent offenses, cross referenced by race and class, might shed some light on the question. Specific traumas will trigger specific defense mechanisms. Repeat these traumas again and again and again and the brains response will stabilize in this mode, theoretically. Pathologically violent behaviors are manifestations of these mechanisms. So in white people with this genetic variant, I think, types of offense would probably relate to some element of systematic abuse. For example, if a certain traumatic event happened to be sexualized, the offender may engage is some very bizarre manner of violent sexual expression. On the other hand, I think we’d see distinctly different types of expression of the genetic mutations in black folks. I also think many of these manifestations could even be considered “survival manifestations.” Look at it this way…if you were 20 and black and living in Detroit, would having this specific genetic make up help you or hurt you?

    I think such a study is not happening because, among other reasons, white owned media conglomerates are unequivocally guilty of perpetuating violent stereotypes by glorifying violence in directly marketed media and white owned corporate prison systems are overflowing with a disproportionate number of black males.

    I think I’ll follow your blog. I like your style and this article really made me think.

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