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Student experiment to combat sin through behaviour change drugs to be feted by Physiological Society


In “Scientific solutions to sin?”, Suzanne Morrison (April 08, 2011) of Canada’s Mcmaster University asks,

Most people are familiar with the seven deadly sins – pride, envy, gluttony, lust, wrath, greed and sloth – but could there be molecular solutions for this daily struggle between good and evil?That’s what first year bachelor of health sciences students in the undergraduate biology course at McMaster University were asked to find out: their assignment required that they explore the molecular underpinnings of human misbehaviour.

At the Physiological Society’s DC annual meeting, they are to be feted for their project in which

181 students were divided into 18 groups, randomly allotted to deal with one of the four deadly sins – sloth, gluttony, lust and wrath. They were expected to read sources to devise molecular ways to counter these sins.[ … ]

By getting students to think outside the box, the aim was to come up with the best molecule and design for a drug, or remedy, that counteracts sin.

[ … ]

“Arguments were flying left and right,” said Naji. To reduce lust, for example, one group suggested targeting testosterone; others chose prolactin or oxytocin. Another group “invented” a wrath-o-meter that would sense changes in brain transmitters that signaled rage attacks and counter that with an automated nasal spray with an anti- wrath drug.

The arguments and “verbal fisticuffs” that erupted were not pride and anger, of course, but rather “science.”

Sources have suggested that Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood was wrong in placing her Orwellian Republic of Gilead, in the US Bible Belt; she might wisely have looked much closer to home.


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