New York – A Pill That Could Prevent Racism?

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    New York – A common heart disease drug may have the unusual side effect of combating racism, a new study suggests.

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    Volunteers given the beta-blocker, used to treat chest pains and lower heart rates, scored lower on a standard psychological test of “implicit” racist attitudes. They appeared to be less racially prejudiced at a subconscious level than another group treated with a “dummy” placebo pill.

    Scientists believe the discovery can be explained by the fact that racism is fundamentally founded on fear.

    Propranolol acts both on nerve circuits that govern automatic functions such as heart rate and the part of the brain involved in fear and emotional responses. The drug is also used to treat anxiety and panic.

    Experimental psychologist Dr Sylvia Terbeck, from Oxford University, who led the study published in the journal Psychopharmacology, said: “Our results offer new evidence about the processes in the brain that shape implicit racial bias.

    “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.”

    Two groups of 18 participants took part in the study. Each volunteer was asked to undertake a “racial Implicit Association Test” (IAT) one to two hours after taking propranolol or the placebo.

    The test involved categorising positive and negative words, and pictures of black and white individuals, on a computer screen. More than a third of the volunteers had a “negative” IAT score, meaning they were biased towards being non-racist at a subconscious level. This was not seen in any member of the placebo group.

    Co-author Professor Julian Savulescu, from Oxford University’s Faculty of Philosophy, said: “Such research raises the tantalising possibility that our unconscious racial attitudes could be modulated using drugs, a possibility that requires careful ethical analysis.

    “Biological research aiming to make people morally better has a dark history. And propranolol is not a pill to cure racism. But given that many people are already using drugs like propranolol which have ‘moral’ side effects, we at least need to better understand what these effects are.”


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    15 Comments
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    itzik18
    itzik18
    11 years ago

    News source “PA”? Is this article a Purim joke?

    11 years ago

    no this was a real study, it is all over the media.

    dman1800
    dman1800
    11 years ago

    PA may be the Press Association in the UK.

    Teddybear
    Teddybear
    11 years ago

    A Baande Meshiguim

    qazxc
    qazxc
    11 years ago

    I won’t believe it until they try it on Rush, Hannity, Savage and the Great Nitwit.

    11 years ago

    I know plenty of people who should be on this drug… Black Panthers, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson. but then, how would we know it is working? They are some of the most racists people I have ever heard of…

    11 years ago

    Two groups of 18 volunteers? I’m no statistician, but that’s a tiny sample. I’m surprised a reputable journal would publish it.

    11 years ago

    So racism must be hereditary, not learned.
    CBT hasn’t been effective so far.

    11 years ago

    “the discovery can be explained by the fact that racism is fundamentally founded on fear”

    Thats not a chidush, I was a racist ever since my home was robbed

    11 years ago

    We should try it on anti-Semites.