June 14, 2012

Ecstasy and love

NootropilShould you take ecstasy to improve your marriage? Not so fast … - a small response by me, Julian and Brian about some newspapers that misunderstand our love drug papers.

Basically, they tend to assume (as per how science is normally reported) that we are presenting some new wonder pill (would *you* take a pill developed in the philosophy department?), and since our paper mentions MDMA they also assume there is ecstasy in our recipe for marital bliss.

It is not unreasonable to think that something like MDMA, used in the right way, might be helpful for couples. But that remains to be properly investigated: what we argue is that it is a good thing to do this investigation, since enhancements of love bonding would be helpful for human well-being. Whether the enhancement happens through pills, smarter therapies, gamification of marriage (10 points for smooching!) or magical ceremonies doesn't matter.

Given the high likelihood of placebo effects and self-delusion in this domain, investigations have to be pretty stringent to find what actually reliably works - just trying things will likely mostly give placebo effects and loud claims "it works for us!" with little empirical reliability. The real problem might be that people and their relationships are so different that the ideal treatments have to be totally individual and we can never figure out what actually works. However, going at the deepest common denominator - well-preserved brain systems - seems a good start.

Posted by Anders3 at June 14, 2012 10:58 AM