Bitchin' Channels
A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Bitchin' Channels: Inside the Warrior Gene

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Henry Rollins. Photo / Supplied
Henry Rollins. Photo / Supplied

The documentary Inside the Warrior Gene (8:30pm, tonight, Nat Geo) may be more showbiz than science lesson, it's Nat Geo after all. That means the production values are slick and there will be, somewhere, some footage of Hitler.

The Warrior Gene in question is something called MAOA. It comes in two versions - a short and a long. About 30 per cent of men have the short 'warrior' version, so-called because it's been linked to violence and agro.

And who better to host a show about violence and agro than post-punk loudmouth Henry Rollins. Of course the real science behind all this is one big complicated grey area the size of Texas, but this is TV so black and white is called for.

They do this by testing a bunch of suspects to see if they have the gene, some gangsters, some bikers, cage fighters and some Buddhist monks. Rollins himself is given the test too, which I won't spoil.

This programme doesn't delve into the thorny issues of race that was raised in NZ a few years back when a researcher claimed that Maori had a higher incidence of the Warrior gene than Europeans.

The paper has since been discredited and the study criticised as being too small, a 'dinner party' sized sample etc. It illustrates the dangers with terms like 'warrior' and of oversimplifying complex science.

That's also true of Inside the Warrior Gene, but this is TV after all. As an introduction to this fascinating story it's not a bad place to start. For a more nuanced angle, have a read of this.

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