covid morality pill

Forbes Edits COVID ‘Morality Pill’ Article Following National Pulse Report.


A Forbes author who floated the idea of “morality pills” to make “people more likely to adhere to social norms such as wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines” has walked back the story following massive backlash to the piece after it was flagged by National Pulse Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam.

The National Pulse’s Raheem Kassam drew attention to the article in a February 6th tweet, writing “Just want to remind you what they’re working on” in reference to the piece by Forbes Healthcare Contributor Paul Hsieh.

The article, which was originally published on August 30th, 2020 and originally titled “Could A ‘Morality Pill’ Help Stop The Covid-19 Pandemic?”, outlines how certain chemicals can “potentially “boost” our “cooperative, pro-social behavior” in the context of COVID-19 restrictions like lockdowns and mask mandates.

“As the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to kill thousands of Americans each week, bioethicist Parker Crutchfield has suggested a controversial approach to battling the pandemic — namely a “morality pill.” Specifically, he suggests that widespread administration of psychoactive drugs could provide “moral enhancement” that would make people more likely to adhere to social norms such as wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines,” explains the article.

Upon Kassam drawing attention to the article, the Forbes author was forced to issue the following clarification:

(Author’s note, 6 Feb 2022: I have updated the headline to more clearly state my position, as opposed to the position being discussed. The original headline was “Could A ‘Morality Pill’ Help Stop The Covid-19 Pandemic?” The article has received some recent attention in February 2022 more than a year after the original publication, and some readers had contacted me requesting clarification of my own views.”

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“As I mentioned in the original piece, I regard the idea of a “morality pill” as both unrealistic and undesirable. Instead, I greatly favor “discussion, debate, and rational persuasion” to decide public policy,” Hsieh adds in the statement.

Staff Writer

The National Pulse is a part of the American Principles Project.