Don’t Swallow the Morality Pill
Leftist totalitarians are becoming more brazen in their tactics for enforcing conformity on the public.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been developing into a fight between individualism and groupthink. When the seriousness of COVID-19 was unfolding in March, most citizens complied with government mandates, even to great personal loss of incomes and businesses. It is now August, and citizens have been watching very unequal application of mandates: gambling halls are OK, but church meetings are not; rioters get away with close encounters without masks, but everybody else must wear a mask, even when alone at home or in the woods by oneself. Some churches, having seen the unequal treatment, are appealing to the Constitution and peacefully protesting (WND). In California, the large Grace Community Church is facing stiff fines for continuing church services against the orders of the state’s leftist governor and mayor (Daily Wire), but is fighting back by suing the state, and is also getting the support of powerful lawyers (YouTube). It’s an epic constitutional battle, the outcome of which remains to be seen. At the heart of the contest are scientific questions: what does the science say about masks and social distancing? Both sides are appealing to scientific facts to support their positions.
Certain leftists assume that the science is on their side. They don’t think it is necessary to debate it. They just know. Look at the wording by Parker Crutchfield, Associate Professor of Medical Ethics, Humanities and Law, at Western Michigan University. Writing for The Conversation, he is self-assured enough to assert that
COVID-19 is a collective risk. It threatens everyone, and we all must cooperate to lower the chance that the coronavirus harms any one individual. Among other things, that means keeping safe social distances and wearing masks. But many people choose not to do these things, making spread of infection more likely.
The half-truth is a very persuasive propaganda tool. What Crutchfield says is true—to a point; we all have to work together to stop the spread. And most citizens have. After five months of lockdown, though, other experts are pointing to worse outcomes than the coronavirus: a ruined economy, businesses going bankrupt, kids losing out on education and socialization, cancer patients missing treatments, rising suicide rates, and more. Must society burn down the bank to kill a snake?
Having presented the appealing half-truth, Crutchfield now introduces the half-lie: Because all must cooperate, the government must force people to cooperate:
Democratically enacted enforceable rules – mandating things like mask wearing and social distancing – might work, if defectors could be coerced into adhering to them. But not all states have opted to pass them or to enforce the rules that are in place.
His advice now gets scary. Give the defectors a pill. He calls this “moral enhancement.”
Moral enhancement is the use of substances to make you more moral. The psychoactive substances act on your ability to reason about what the right thing to do is, or your ability to be empathetic or altruistic or cooperative.
This advice has the makings of a horror story. Crutchfield thinks that anyone who doesn’t wear the mask or keep social distance could be given “morality pills” without their knowledge. All in the name of science, of course.
There are of course pitfalls to moral enhancement.
One is that the science isn’t developed enough. For example, while oxytocin may cause some people to be more pro-social, it also appears to encourage ethnocentrism, and so is probably a bad candidate for a widely distributed moral enhancement. But this doesn’t mean that a morality pill is impossible. The solution to the underdeveloped science isn’t to quit on it, but to direct resources to related research in neuroscience, psychology or one of the behavioral sciences.
Another challenge is that the defectors who need moral enhancement are also the least likely to sign up for it. As some have argued, a solution would be to make moral enhancement compulsory or administer it secretly, perhaps via the water supply.
Once that Pandora’s Box is open, there’s no stopping it. If a totalitarian government finds that compulsory “morality pills” get people to wear their masks dutifully, why stop there? Put substances in the water that make them cooperate on other goals of the regime:
The scenario in which the government forces an immunity booster upon everyone is plausible…. The scenario in which the government forces a morality booster upon everyone is far-fetched. But a strategy like this one could be a way out of this pandemic, a future outbreak or the suffering associated with climate change. That’s why we should be thinking of it now.
Why, the possibilities are marvelous. This is so much easier for the regime. No more long debates in the legislature. No wrangling about laws and rights. Big Science can tell the dictators what the proper views are on issues, and they can invent the pills to dispense for an efficiently-operating dictatorship.
- Disagree with the government on climate change? Take the red pill.
- Disagree with the regime on LGBTQ issues? Take the purple pill.
- Disagree with Big Science on Darwinism? Take the green pill.
- Don’t like our pills? Too late. We put the medicine in your coffee.
“We’re just here to he’p you.”
See also Richard Weikart’s reaction to Crutchfield’s article on Evolution News. It was written after this article was completed, so it represents an independent response that agrees substantially on major points.
This Crutchfield nut is an ethicist! Incredible. Scary. Just like leftist totalitarians, he thinks in terms of controlling other people. He doesn’t want to debate. He wants to coerce. With his Yoda Complex, he looks down on other people as puppets to be controlled. His advice is horrendous. Given power, he would slip drugs into every communion cup at Grace Community Church.
His big mistake was stating it publicly, so that people can be alerted to the dreadful propensities of totalitarians in academia who would use “science” as a means of stopping the resistance to the dystopic brave new world.
Here’s how you deal with the Crutchfields out there. Get him alone. Gather some good actors to play Darwinians. Tell him that a secret revolution has just occurred, and that all leading scientists have agreed with the regime’s new leaders that certain undesirables must be eliminated. They have learned that he has harbored counter-revolutionary views in the past, and so he is being given a choice: take this pill, which will erase his memory of those views, or submit to the rat torture until he agrees that two plus two equals five. “By the way,” they continue, “we have already burned all your books.”
Totalitarians are cowards. If they didn’t have power, they would squeal for mercy if the tables were turned on them. Crutchfield needs a little scare like this to learn his lesson. After Crutchfield has sobbed sufficiently, and begs for mercy, then the actors turn on the lights, smile and say, “So how did it feel to be on the other side of the fence?”