Moral enhancement explained: Can science make us better people?

Could a pill make you more moral? Should you take it if it could?

  • Moral enhancement is the idea that technology can be used to make us more moral people.
  • Proponents argue that we need to be better people in order to solve global problems.
  • Ideas on how to use this ethically abound, but no solid consensus exists yet.
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How gratitude makes you more attractive

Social interactions are important for building the strongest relationships.

  • When someone says thank you, who is it for? According to Dr. Sara Algoe, expressions of gratitude have a positive effect on the person receiving the message, the person delivering it, and even those who witness the exchange. These types of social interactions are crucial for building lasting relationships with romantic partners, friends, and coworkers.
  • "When we say 'thank you,' we're sending a message to the person who just did something nice for us, that they are valued, that they're seen, that the thing that they did for us was worth doing in the first place," Algoe says.
  • Expressing gratitude is easy, and the research shows that the benefits far outweigh the effort.

Is empathy always good?

Research has shown how important empathy is to relationships, but there are limits to its power.

  • Empathy is a useful tool that allows humans (and other species) to connect and form mutually beneficial bonds, but knowing how and when to be empathic is just as important as having empathy.
  • Filmmaker Danfung Dennis, Bill Nye, and actor Alan Alda discuss the science of empathy and the ways that the ability can be cultivated and practiced to affect meaningful change, both on a personal and community level.
  • But empathy is not a cure all. Paul Bloom explains the psychological differences between empathy and compassion, and how the former can "get in the way" of some of life's crucial relationships.
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You’re simply not that big a deal: now isn’t that a relief?

Learn how to practice "self-indifference."

Photo by Kazuo ota on Unsplash
There is a meme that speaks directly to the hearts and minds of the overly self-conscious.
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Psychedelics: The scientific renaissance of mind-altering drugs

There is a lot we don't know about psychedelics, but what we do know makes them extremely important.

  • Having been repressed in the 1960s for their ties to the counterculture, psychedelics are currently experiencing a scientific resurgence. In this video, Michael Pollan, Sam Harris, Jason Silva and Ben Goertzel discuss the history of psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin, acknowledge key figures including Timothy Leary and Albert Hoffman, share what the experience of therapeutic tripping can entail, and explain why these substances are important to the future of mental health.
  • There is a stigma surrounding psychedelic drugs that some scientists and researchers argue is undeserved. Several experiments over the past decades have shown that, when used correctly, drugs like psilocybin and LSD can have positive effects on the lives of those take them. How they work is not completely understood, but the empirical evidence shows promise in the fields of curbing depression, anxiety, obsession, and even addiction to other substances.
  • "There's a tremendous amount of insight that can be plumbed using these various substances. There's also a lot of risks there, as with most valuable things," says artificial intelligence researcher Ben Goertzel. He and others believe that by making psychedelics illegal, modern governments are getting in the way of meaningful research and the development of "cultural institutions to guide people in really productive use of these substances."
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