Racism has plagued humanity forever, or at least since we came across neanderthals in some god-awful primeval forest 60,000 years ago and promptly wiped them out for looking different. It maims, it hurts, it kills. And when the YouTube comment section is one long whitesplaining diarrhea streak derailing the vital conversation you are trying to have with your video, racism is just plain fucking annoying.
But this is the turning of eras.
Because this is the future, and science can now cure racism. I present to you the weapons of our liberation.
Trancranial magnetic stimulation-induced immigration acceptance
A study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that sending powerful magnetic pulses to the part of the brain that processes threats and conflict changes people’s views on a number of subjects, including racism.
The variation of trancranial magnetic stimulation used by the joint team of American and British scientists suppressed brain activity in the posterior medial frontal cortex and instantly produced reduced belief in God and increased acceptance of immigrants.
Dr Keise Izuma, one of the authors of the study, said: “As expected, we found that when we experimentally turned down the posterior medial frontal cortex, people were less inclined to reach for comforting religious ideas despite having been reminded of death.”
On attitudes to immigrants, he added: “We think that hearing criticisms of your group’s values, perhaps especially from a person you perceive as an outsider, is processed as an ideological sort of threat.” “When we disrupted the brain region that usually helps detect and respond to threats, we saw a less negative, less ideologically motivated reaction to the critical [immigrant] author and his opinions.”
This shroom kills fascists
Psychedelic drug use entered the modern era through the characteristically egalitarian, anti-establishment counter-culture movement of the 60s, and it turns out the connection is no coincidence at all.
Scientists from the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London have found that psychedelic mushrooms, or more specifically the psilocybin in them, “significantly reduced” fascism in their test subjects.
The study, published earlier this year in Journal of Psychopharmacology, also found that these were “sustained changes in outlook and political perspective.” The control group experienced no change in views or politics at all, other than possibly some jealousy.
The psilocybin treatment also significantly deepened the subjects’ love of nature, presumably putting a stop to climate change denial.
“Before I enjoyed nature, now I feel part of it. Before I was looking at it as a thing, like TV or a painting… [But now I see] there’s no separation or distinction, you are it,” said one subject. And is that not preferable to goosestepping through a scorched rain forest?
Beta blocked implicit bias
No, not ecstasy/MDMA. While several illicit drugs can offer a dose of empathy and generally chillaxed outlooks not necessarily habitable for racism, the “love drug” triggers oxytocin which actually only increases love toward your in-group.
Volunteers given the beta blocker Propranolol were found in an Oxford University study to have become less racially prejudiced at a subconscious level, as measured by the standard Implicit Association Test.
Scientists believe the reason for this effect is that racism, like homophobia and sexism, is based on fear. Propranolol acts both on heart rate and the part of the brain that triggers fear and emotional responses for a one world, one love double whammy.
Professor Julian Savulescu, one of the authors of the study, said: “Such research raises the tantalising possibility that our unconscious racial attitudes could be modulated using drugs, a possibility that requires careful ethical analysis.”
Subconscious bias is a particularly important field of study because implicit racism, like microaggression, is something that can afflict even people who believe they are anti-racist.
Never before have individuals had to adapt to social environments defined by such magnitudes of ethnic diversity and cultural differentiation. However, neurobiological evidence informing about strategies to reduce xenophobic sentiment and foster altruistic cooperation with outsiders is scarce. In a series of experiments settled in the context of the current refugee crisis, we tested the propensity of 183 Caucasian participants to make donations to people in need, half of whom were refugees (outgroup) and half of whom were natives (ingroup). Participants scoring low on xenophobic attitudes exhibited an altruistic preference for the outgroup, which further increased after nasal delivery of the neuropeptide oxytocin. In contrast, participants with higher levels of xenophobia generally failed to exhibit enhanced altruism toward the outgroup. This tendency was only countered by pairing oxytocin with peer-derived altruistic norms, resulting in a 74% increase in refugee-directed donations.
Dating’s big data
Chocolate companion calculations
Most of us find love online these days, and dating apps collect big data like the rest of them. Big data means big potential in behavioral adjustment. It’s an established, billion dollar science that businesses already use to predict and modify consumer behaviors, and it’s far more effective than we like to admit.
Solving racism through dating app algorithms can be as simple as making sure the profiles seen by fertile romantic hopefuls include a good mix of people of color already deemed ‘popular’ through response ratios. Even the more blunt approach of making communication with potential same-race partners very slightly more tedious — an extra button push, say — would produce profound changes in the grander scale of things.
It will work because it already works.
The path forward then
Diversity conscious dating algorithms will do the majority of the work for us and we needn’t sit on our hands and wait for the brogrammers (still very white, very male) to implement them out of the goodness of their hearts. If we can regulate restaurants for the greater good, then certainly the ways in which dating sites use their data to influence us is not off limits, and we’re soon going to start working in those spaces.
As for the other technologies, convincing adults to undergo treatment to fix problematic views is a hard sell. And of course we can’t spike schoolchildren’s meals with psychedelic mushrooms and hope for the best.
But considered, science based, socially conscious treatment approaches within kindergarten and educational contexts have been shown to work — spectacularly so. Multiple studies show that almost 50% of kids now identify as LGBTQ and this is in large part due to curricula with a focus on adjusting binary-centric attitudes.
The great deliverance now offered to us by technology is going to happen whether the luddites want it or not, and its implementation will have no more significance to our coming generations than their field trip to the natural history museum.
And it will be enough.