For those of you who do not wish to read the article I shall sum up, if you did read it just skip this first paragraph and go on to the next. Basically, they took a group of 20 chimps and studied them for over a year. Then they split them into groups of 5, and over time a hierarchy emerged. They were also allowed to self induce cocaine at any time they wished. Over the period, the top five monkeys (I suppose one could say alpha males), were not using the cocaine while those lower on the totem pole were using in large quantities. This is thought to be linked to a higher amount of dopamine in the brain of the alpha males. (Dopamine produces feelings of achievement and euphoria, and is something which several controlled substances produce in the brain.)
The part that most grabbed me in the story, is where this will all lead. They make referrence to the possibility of it being of a similar situation in humans. (We have hierarchies just the same as the monkeys do, with alpha and omega males/females and the like.) If, humans are susceptible to the same inclinations, then what is to stop some semblance of prejudice against "wallflowers" as the article calls it?
I myself, being a potential wallflower I suppose, would hate to be assumed more liable for drug addiction based solely on that quality. Who knows, maybe it would manifest itself as them measuring the dopamine levels in those withdrawn or solitary in order to discern who might be most likely to fall prey to such an "evil". Would wallflower then become a liability on health insurance? Could your insurance company refuse to pay for drug addiction treatment based on the fact that you were already "predisposed" to it? Granted these seem like rather reactionary and far-fetched possibilities, but then again, when they started finding specific genes linked to diseases, insurance companies were there to cash in as fast as they could.
I doubt it will come to that, but it interested me to ponder it. The main qualm I have with the study though, is that they seem to be taking the cause and effect ratio to closely in this case. Is it not possible that those with a certain personality are just naturally withdrawn and hence that personality also leads to drug abuse? Is it also possible that a lack of dopamine to begin with could cause said personalities? It just seemed to me to make the jump too quickly. (I'd like to see some concrete numbers before I would agree of course, Monkey A when in group 1 had this much dopamine but after the hierarchy was established it dropped to this much..etc etc.) But then again, it's CNN, what can you expect?
This article raised some curious thoughts, but to me, the most important is...Where are these Scientists getting all their good coke and why in the world are they just giving it away to the monkeys!?!...err...nevermind..ignore that...