Do you remember the little flashy light thingie from Men in Black? The thing that erased people’s memories so the secret of aliens living on Earth could remain secret? Well, if you don’t remember it, I guess it worked.
Anyway, neuroscientists are developing new methods to make people forget things. Not with flashy lights, but with drugs. Experiments on rats show that, by injecting a chemical directly into the brain, scientists can make the rats forget to associate a specific sound with an electrical shock. Click here for more on these experiments.
Other drugs and chemicals are already known to alter or erase short-term memory in humans. With continued research, scientists hope to find new treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder and addictions to various legal and illegal substances.
But imagine what would happen if that flashy light thing from Men in Black got into the wrong hands. If organized crime ever learned of its existence, I’m sure they’d pay a lot of money to get one. Somehow I suspect they’d find getting memory-erasing drugs much easier than hunting down the Men in Black. If it were available with a prescription, they’d only need a crooked doctor or a burglar willing to hit a pharmacy.
Supporters of memory-erasing or memory-dampening drugs say there are already laws to protect us from the misuse of these drugs. However, if someone doesn’t remember being the victim of a crime how can the law be enforced?
Personally, I don’t know what to think about this. A memory-erasing drug could help a lot of people dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder, but there is also a lot of potential for misuse. What do you think? Should research of this nature be allowed or banned?
For more information, click on the following links.
The Ethics of Forgetfulness Drugs from Neuroskeptic.
Why We Need Memory-Altering Drugs from Io9.