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Studies show that people have different levels of intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is another way of saying a person's body chemistry is such that it produces enthusiasm for doing hard work and creating great things. I predict that someday a drug will be able to mimic or stimulate whatever body chemistry produces intrinsic motivation. When that drug is developed - and I predict that it will be, or maybe it already exists - could it ever become legal and widely prescribed?

For a drug to become legal it needs to be safe, and it needs to address a real medical problem in a way that benefits society. Let's assume this motivation drug produces the same body chemistry that any naturally-motivated person enjoys. That sort of drug seems safer than introducing entirely foreign chemistry to a body. It would probably be no riskier than testosterone injections or other hormone therapies, meaning there would be some risk, but not enough to keep it off the market.

The next hurdle involves labeling a lack of motivation as a medical problem. I think that would be the easy part. Any pharmaceutical company that creates such a drug would spend huge amounts to get that designation. And their argument would be solid. A lack of motivation can ruin a person's life as well as the life of anyone who is economically linked to that person. That's a strong argument. The definition of a medical need is fairly flexible.

Obviously some unmotivated people are influenced by their circumstances more than their body chemistries. It's hard to feel motivated if you're surrounded by people who feel doomed, look doomed, and tell you that you are doomed too. Still, we see highly motivated people emerge from just about any form of poverty. So we know that chemistry - if it is just right - can overcome environment. As a practical matter, it might be cheaper and easier to tweak the motivational chemistry of people who are in bad circumstances instead of trying to fix their circumstances and hope that's enough to stimulate their natural motivation.

I can also imagine Republicans and Democrats being on the same page and supporting such a drug. Republicans think poor people lack motivation, so a motivation pill would fit right into their ideology. Democrats tend to go where the scientific consensus leads (evolution, climate change), and if science says unmotivated people can be helped by a prescription drug, why not?

This idea is easy enough to test. I believe the medication for ADHD acts like speed (and feels like motivation) for people who don't have ADHD. Just pick a poor community and put a random sample of volunteers on the drug and see what happens. If the drugged kids get better grades and the drugged adults increase their incomes compared to peers, and they have no worse side effects than ADHD patients, you have everything you need to allow doctors to prescribe the drug off label.

I think you'll see some version of this happen after science finishes chipping away at the glorification of free will, and society starts to understand itself as a bunch of moist robots that sometimes need chemical tuning.

 
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+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 20, 2012
Maybe I'm missin' something, but in the pop song '9 to 5' about 25 years back, Dolly Parton sings about getting her morning cup of 'motivation'. I always thought meant 'coffee'. Maybe, you should switch from the de-caf?
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 20, 2012
Scott - Forgive me for saying so, but sometimes you describe things in such simplistic terms that the resemblance to whatever you're talking about is merely anecdotal, at best.
 
 
Sep 20, 2012
@Password

[propaganda is a cleaner, more effective, more accurate solution than a chemical one. There is promising research into electromagnetic solution tho. They can monitor which lobes of brain are being used, and control bloodflow to brain regions via magnetism. we are at the beginning stages of real mind reading and mind control.]

Sorry, dude, but I don't think I'd trust a helmet (or whatever this is) to avoid messing up my brain more than a drug would.
 
 
Sep 20, 2012
the problem is... i don't know who'd be motivated enough to go out and buy the drug
 
 
Sep 20, 2012
Would someone who is already naturally motivated be permitted to take the drug?
 
 
Sep 20, 2012
the closest thing to a motivation drug i can think of is uppers like cocaine or meth.

imo motivation is a function of psychological battles like self esteem, ego, interest in particular course of action, belief you deserve reward, mood. so unless you can create drugs to manipulate mental abstractions you are screwed.

other than uppers i dont think you can 'motivate'. the easiest clumsy weapons to motivate ppl are emotions like fear, anger, lust. barring that your next step would be either therapy or character building camping trips.

so after thinking about it a minute, i would say cocaine/meth or emotion drugs that make ppl paranoid or maybe viagra if you want to leverage their desire for sex. very inaccurate tho. too many variables to actually control outlet of their new found 'motivation'.

propaganda is a cleaner, more effective, more accurate solution than a chemical one. There is promising research into electromagnetic solution tho. They can monitor which lobes of brain are being used, and control bloodflow to brain regions via magnetism. we are at the beginning stages of real mind reading and mind control.
 
 
Sep 20, 2012
@random thunking

[OK, let's summarize shall we?
Scott thinks:
...
4) If some one is cold and hungry, what they need is an adjustment of brain chemicals. Not a roof and a meal.]

I was with you until that point but then you lost me. What part of Scotts post did you get this from?
 
 
Sep 20, 2012
[randum thinking

4) If some one is cold and hungry, what they need is an adjustment of brain chemicals. Not a roof and a meal.]

What are the root causes of poverty?

One is education and by law you have to get some (of course our educational system suck so the point of those laws are moot). The other is lack of a network of friends to help you out, this is tricky and luck/personality is part of it. A third is for a lot of people is lack of motivation; they just don't aspire to be anything better or see the work needed to improve their station worth it.
 
 
Sep 20, 2012
Three points.

1. Yeah I can see this being an approved drug.

2. Actually the democrat party would be against this under certain conditions. A big part of progressivism is control. Environmentalism could just be labeled as men controlling the natural world. If people are more motivated and independent you have less control over them. I would contend more people are on food stamps and government assistance in the US now for this very reason: the government gets power over them by being their source of sustenance. It's a form of mental slavery for the poor, complete with a skinners box (do nothing, get your food stamp pellet) to sustain the system via moist robot programming.

In 1984, Big Brother needed people to be both very smart at times and very dumb at times. I could see that happening with this drug. You'd get it when they needed you to be motivated; you wouldn't when motivation on your part would be perceived as a bad thing.

3. If the rich are so bad, why not create the opposite of this drug so we don't have any rich people? Kill their motivation and they'll stop being rich and doing rich guy stuff.
 
 
Sep 20, 2012
OK, let's summarize shall we?
Scott thinks:
1) Random drug testing on an unwitting group is good policy.
2) Poor people are unmotivated, or unmotivated people are poor (your choice).
3) Government should intervene to produce more motivated people.
4) If some one is cold and hungry, what they need is an adjustment of brain chemicals. Not a roof and a meal.

1984, meet Brave New World. Brave New World, meet 1984.
 
 
+16 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 20, 2012
But motivated to do *what* exactly?

Become a better serial killer?

Murder that annoying spouse?

What about spraying it as a mist over a crowd of people, to motivate them to riot?

There are way too many down-side effects that the law of unintended consequences will produce from such a drug.
 
 
Sep 20, 2012
...Ummm....anyone else here think this post ignores a large swath of factors that can influence a person's motivation? Scott mentioned c i r c u m s t a n c e s but there's also past experience, the risk/rewards they see around them for being motivated, how much hope they have in the causes they care about just to name a few. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm surprised at Scott for not at least touching on the first two that I mentioned since they have been subjects of Dilbert cartoons.
 
 
 
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