No Taming This Shrew


Science blows my mind

This was a headline in today's paper: "Hormone Spray is Found to Bolster Truth in Others."

Our capacity for trust can be reduced to a hormone! (I exaggerate for effect, ahem.) The results: "Those who inhaled the hormone, which occurs naturally in the brain, were more likely to entrust others with large sums of money than were volunteers who inhaled no hormone."

Nice "experiment," to start with: "Here, breathe this. (pause) Now give me your wallet."

I really got the heebie-jeebies when I read this, because I think a fear response and NOT trusting people who have seemed ok has likely saved my bacon more than once. As the science reporter so aptly put it, "Researchers said their finding might lead to cures for people with disorders that prompt them to hold others at arm's length, but they acknowledged that the chemical, which is widely used in medicine, could be misused."

It's a "disorder" to hold people at arm's length? I assume they mean things like social anxiety, or is there something more grave? Does this thing seem custom made for a date-rape drug or a kidnapping/extortion tool or am I just deeply paranoid? Gullible Gas on the black market?

While the scientists were very fired up about the potential for the drug and expressed their desire to heavily regulate it so that politicians didn't gas the people they were stumping to during a campaign (this seems the least of the worries to me?!), this was my favorite response:
"Hogue, the theologian and pastoral psychologist [does this mean he treats sheep?], said the research held out the possibility of reconciliation between individuals and the potential of healing rifts between political groups, even nations: 'While spraying oxytocin on one's political or religious adversaries may be strategically difficult, comprehending the biological correlates of trust could conceivably offer promising avenues for reassessing and reconciling conflict.'"

If you can't beat 'em, gas 'em? Hooray for science! Hooray!