"Empathy Pill" Makes People Act More Fairly with Money
Researchers think they may have found a way to make people more empathetic. Perhaps one day in the future we'll be able to prescribe "kindness" pills.
What if there was a way to turn all the Ebenezer Scrooges of the world into kind, empathetic people? Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco, think it may be possible, some day.
With a little tweak in brain chemistry, researchers wrote in their paper, published in Current Biology, that they were able to make participants more generous. Just by dosing them with some dopamine.
The study was quite small, only 35 participants, but the test raises some questions that may help aid in future research. The participants were split into two groups, one that would receive a placebo and the other would take a pill containing tolcapone. The drug is typically used for Parkinson's patients to help prolong the effects of dopamine in the brain, and dopamine is a feel-good “reward” hormone. Neither group was aware of which pill they had taken.
The participants were then asked to take part in an “economic game” where the volunteers distributed wealth amongst themselves and a group of anonymous individuals. EurekAlert! writes, “After receiving tolcapone, participants divided the money with the strangers in a fairer, more egalitarian way than after receiving the placebo.”
One of the co-authors commented on the results, saying:
“We typically think of fair-mindedness as a stable characteristic, part of one’s personality. Our study doesn’t reject this notion, but it does show how that trait can be systematically affected by targeting specific neurochemical pathways in the human brain.”
The question will be if in the future we'll be able to tap into these traits and prescribe them to people in the future.
In his interview with Big Think, Nicholas Kristof from The New York Times, talked about how good storytelling can help turn people on to issues. Rather than highlighting the plight of a million people, tell readers a story about one — they're more likely to connect.
Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.
- Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
- In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Going back to the moon will give us fresh insights about the creation of our solar system.
- July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — Apollo 11.
- Today, we have a strong scientific case for returning to the moon: the original rock samples that we took from the moon revolutionized our view of how Earth and the solar system formed. We could now glean even more insights with fresh, nonchemically-altered samples.
- NASA plans to send humans to a crater in the South Pole of the moon because it's safer there, and would allow for better communications with people back on Earth.
Pugs and bulldogs are incredibly trendy, but experts have massive animal welfare concerns about these genetically manipulated breeds.
- Pugs, Frenchies, boxers, shih-tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade.
- Higher visibility (usually in a celebrity's handbag), an increase in city living (smaller dogs for smaller homes), and possibly even the fine acting of Frank the Pug in 1997's Men in Black may be the cause.
- These small, specialty pure breeds are seen as the pinnacle of cuteness – they have friendly personalities, endearing odd looks, and are perfect for Stranger Things video montages.
Jokesters and serious Area 51 raiders would be met with military force.
- Facebook joke event to "raid Area 51" has already gained 1,000,000 "going" attendees.
- The U.S. Air Force has issued an official warning to potential "raiders."
- If anyone actually tries to storm an American military base, the use of deadly force is authorized.