Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Pill for Racists

Is this the cure for racism, sexism, or homophobia? Probably not, but Oxford University scientist say that the common heart disease drug, propranolol (40 mg), does show signs of shifting discriminatory thoughts in individuals that's above statistical error.

In an environment of increasing hostility, coercion, and fear, maybe we should all take two and see how we feel in the morning. If we use drugs to treat restless legs, why not racist heads?

 Published in the British journal, United Academics, a test was performed on a small control group:

Researchers from the Oxford University have found that people consuming a common heart disease drug, propranolol (40 mg), show less implicit racism than those who don’t consume the medicine. The drug acts on the mechanisms that activate fear, which, according to the scientists, is the main cause of racism.

The research was made on 36 people, who were separated into two groups: one received the medicine and the other was treated with a placebo pill. Then, they were asked to take tests on implicit and explicit racial prejudice. The results showed that people treated with propranolol tended to exhibit less implicit racial prejudice, while the explicit prejudice was similar in both cases.

“Our results offer new evidence about the processes in the brain that shape implicit racial bias,” says Sylvia Terbeck, co-author of the study. “Implicit racial bias can occur even in people with a sincere belief in equality. Given the key role that such implicit attitudes appear to play in discrimination against other ethnic groups, and the widespread use of propranolol for medical purposes, our findings are also of considerable ethical interest.”

In any event, it seems clear that further research is needed to draw any conclusions.

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