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A scorpion and a frog are sitting on the bank of a river, and both need to get to the other side. “Hello, Mr. Frog!” calls the scorpion through the reeds. “Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the water? I have important business to conduct on the other side. And I cannot swim in such a strong current.” The frog immediately becomes suspicious.
The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book by Kevin Dutton
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“Well, Mr. Scorpion,” he replies, “I appreciate the fact that you have important business to conduct on the other side of the river. But just take a moment to consider your request. You are a scorpion. You have a large stinger at the end of your tail. As soon as I let you onto my back, it is entirely within your nature to sting me.”
The scorpion, who has anticipated the frog’s objections, counters thus: “My dear Mr. Frog, your reservations are perfectly reasonable. But it is clearly not in my interest to sting you. I really do need to get to the other side of the river. And I give you my word that no harm will come to you.” The frog agrees, reluctantly, that the scorpion has a point.
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So he allows the fast-talking arthropod to scramble atop his back and hops, without further ado, into the water. At first all is well. Everything goes exactly according to plan. But halfway across, the frog suddenly feels a sharp pain in his back—and sees, out of the corner of his eye, the scorpion withdraw his stinger from his hide.
A deadening numbness begins to creep into his limbs. “You fool!” croaks the frog. “You said you needed to get to the other side to conduct your business. Now we are both going to die!” The scorpion shrugs and does a little jig on the drowning frog’s back. “Mr. Frog,” he replies casually, “you said it yourself. I am a scorpion. It is in my nature to sting you.”
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In a similar (if less high-tech) vein, I asked a class of first-year undergraduates to imagine they were managers in a job placement company. “Ruthless, fearless, charming, amoral, and focused,” I told them. “Suppose you had a client with that kind of profile. To which line of work do you think they might be suited?” Their answers, as we shall see a little later on in the book, couldn’t have been more insightful.
CEO, spy, surgeon, politician, the military … they all popped up in the mix. Along with serial killer, assassin, and bank robber. “Intellectual ability on its own is just an elegant way of finishing second,” one successful CEO told me. “Remember, they don’t call it a greasy pole for nothing. The road to the top is hard. But it’s easier to climb if you lever yourself up on others.
Easier still if they think something’s in it for them.” Jon Moulton, one of London’s most successful venture capitalists, agrees. In a recent interview with The Financial Times, he lists determination, curiosity, and insensitivity as his three most valuable character traits. No prizes for guessing the first two. But insensitivity? The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book
“The great thing about insensitivity,” explains Moulton, “is that it lets you sleep when others can’t.” If the idea of psychopathic traits lending a hand in business doesn’t come as too great a surprise, then how about in space? Blasting psychopaths off deep into the cosmos does not, I am sure, given their terrestrial reputation, particularly inspire confidence—and psychopathic qualities.
You’d think, might not exactly be foremost among NASA’s prohibitively exclusive selection criteria for astronauts. But there’s a story I once heard that provides a graphic illustration of how the refrigerated neurology that showed up on Robert Hare’s brain scans can, in certain situations, confer real benefits.
How the reptilian focus and crystalline detachment of neurosurgeon James Geraghty can sometimes code for greatness not just in the boardroom, the courtroom, and the operating theater. But in another world entirely. The story goes like this. On July 20, 1969, as Neil Armstrong and his partner Buzz Aldrin zipped across the lunar landscape looking for a place to set their module down. The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book
They came within seconds of crash-landing. The problem was geology. There was just too much of it. And fuel: too little. Rocks and boulders lay scattered all over the place, making a safe approach impossible. Aldrin mopped his brow. With one eye on the gas gauge and the other on the terrain, he issued Armstrong a stark ultimatum: Get this thing down—and fast!
Armstrong, however, was decidedly more phlegmatic. Maybe—who knows? —he’d never had time for twitchy backseat drivers. “Like a flashy, violent streak across the prison sky” is how one private investigator has described them. And there aren’t too many, on either side of the bars, who would disagree with him.
The Aryan Brotherhood, also known as the Rock, is one of the most feared gangs ever to emerge within the U.S. federal penitentiary system. Responsible, according to FBI figures, for 21 percent of murders inside U.S. prisons (though their members account for a mere 1 percent of inmates), you can’t exactly miss them. The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book
Members display walrus-like mustaches more befitting the Wild West than a modern-day outlaw, and tattoos depicting a shamrock fused with a swastika, with the motif “666” emblazoned upon its leaves. Sport one without permission and you’re invariably asked to remove it. Usually with a razor. Brutally elite, the Rock is the Special Forces of the prison world.
Founded in California’s San Quentin “Supermax” high-security facility in 1964 by a group of white supremacists, the Brotherhood was numerically smaller than other prison gangs, but within a matter of just a few blood-spattered months had skyrocketed to top-dog status. How did they manage it? Well, it doesn’t hurt to be smart, that’s for sure.
Despite the fact that many gang members were incarcerated in other Supermax units, often under conditions of twenty-threehour lockdown, they managed to coordinate their activities through a number of ingenious methods: invisible ink made from urine and a four-hundred-year-old binary code system devised by the Renaissance philosopher Sir Francis Bacon, no less, being a couple of notable examples. The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book Download
But they were also utterly remorseless, and lived (as still they do today) by one simple, sinister code: “Blood in, blood out.” Blood in: every prospective member is admitted on the basis of their having already killed a member of a rival gang, and on the understanding that they will carry out further executions to order.
Blood out: their only exit card is their own, often hastened, demise, whether through an event as vanishingly improbable as natural causes or, as is infinitely more likely (and, in many cases, more preferable), through similarly violent means. To answer this question, let’s imagine a society slightly different from the one we currently live in.
A society like that of days gone by, in which the workforce is paid in cash at the end of each week, in personalized little brown envelopes. Now imagine that we can divide this workforce into two different types of people. The first type is honest and hardworking and puts in a full week’s work. Let’s call them the saints. The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book Download
The other is dishonest and lazy and preys upon its diligent counterparts as they make their way home on a Friday, lying in wait outside the factory gates and appropriating their hard-earned wages for themselves. Let’s call them the shysters. Suppose I were conducting an experiment on people’s responses to the unexpected and I presented you with the following opportunity.
For a thousand dollars, you must take off all your clothes and walk, stark naked, into a bar to join a group of friends. You must sit at a table and talk to them for five minutes (that’s two hundred dollars a minute!), during which time you will feel the full force of the excruciating social embarrassment that will undoubtedly accompany the venture.
However, after the five minutes have elapsed, you will leave the bar unscathed, and I will ensure that neither you nor anyone else who was present will have any memory of the event. I shall erase it all. Apart from the crisp bundle of notes burning a hole in your pocket, it will be as if nothing had ever happened. Would you do it? The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book Download
In fact, how do you know you haven’t done it already? There are some people, I’m sure, who would gladly bare all for the sake of scientific advancement. How liberating it would be if somehow, somewhere, in the terraces and tenements of time, we could check in and out of a transient, encapsulated world where experiences are rented by the hour.
This, of course, was very much the theme of The Matrix: humans inhabiting a virtual world, which appeared, at the time, compulsively, compellingly real. But what of the flip side? What of computers inhabiting a world that is human? In the late 1970s, the political scientist Robert Axelrod asked exactly this question in relation to the Prisoner’s Dilemma—and hit upon a method of digitizing the paradigm.
Of determining a strategy, over time and repeated interaction, that ticked all the boxes of evolutionary stability. He sequenced the genome of everyday social exchange. First, Axelrod approached a number of the world’s leading game theorists about the idea of holding a Prisoner’s Dilemma tournament in which the sole participants were computer programs. The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book Free
Second, he urged each theorist to submit a program to take part in the tournament that embodied a set, prespecified strategy of cooperative and competitive responses. Third, once all the submissions had been received (there were fourteen of them in all), he set up a preliminary round prior to the commencement of the contest’s main event, in which each of the programs competed against the others for points.
“Then you can get to work—not right away, you need to be patient. But a month or two later. You modify whatever it is, whatever the hell they’ve told you —you tend to know instantly where the pressure points are—and then tell the story back as if it were your own. Bam! From that point on, you can pretty much take what you want.
“I’ll give you an example … [One guy is] rich, successful, works like a dog … When he’s a kid, he comes home from school to find his record collection gone. His pop’s a bum and has sold it to stock up his liquor cabinet. He’s been collecting these records for years. “So wait, I think. You’re telling me this after, what, three or four hours in a bar? The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book Free
There’s something going down. Then I get it. So that’s why you work so goddamned hard, I think. It’s because of your pappy. You’re scared. You’re life’s been on hold all these years. You’re not a CEO. You’re that scared little kid. The one who’s going to come home from school one day and find your record collection is history.
“Jesus, I think! That’s hilarious! So guess what? A couple of weeks later I tell him what happened to me. How I get home from work one night and find my wife in bed with the boss. How she files for divorce. And cleans me out.” Morant pauses, and pours us some more champagne. “Total bullshit!” he laughs.
“But you know what? I did that guy a favor. Put him out of his misery. What do they say—the best way to overcome your fears is to confront them? Well, someone had to be Daddy.” Hare’s position makes a great deal of sense to those who take even a passing interest in what they read in the newspapers, see on TV, or stumble upon online. The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book Free
In Japan in 2011, a seventeen-year-old boy parted with one of his own kidneys so he could go out and buy an iPad. In China, following an incident in which a two-year-old baby was left stranded in the middle of a marketplace and run over, not once but twice, as passersby went casually about their business.
An appalled electorate has petitioned the government to pass a “Good Samaritan” law to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. On the other hand, however, bad things have always happened in society. And no doubt always will. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker has recently flagged this in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature.
In fact, he goes one step further. Far from being on the increase, Pinker argues, violence is actually in decline. The reason that vicious slayings and other horrific crimes make the front pages of our papers isn’t because they’re commonplace. But rather, the complete reverse. Take homicide, for instance. The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book Free
Trawling through the court records of a number of European countries, scholars have computed that rates have fallen dramatically down the years. In fourteenth-century Oxford, for example, it seemed, relative to today, that everyone was at it, the rate back then being 110 murders per 100,000 people per year, compared to just 1 murder per 100,000 people in mid-twentieth-century London.
Similar patterns have also been documented elsewhere—in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia. The same goes for war. Pinker calculates that even in the conflict-ravaged twentieth century, around 40 million people died on the battlefield out of the approximately 6 billion who lived—which equates to a figure of just 0.7 percent.
Incorporate, into that estimate, the war-related demise of those who died from disease, famine, and genocide and the death toll rises to 180 million. That sounds like a lot, but statistically speaking, it’s still pretty insignificant, weighing in, give or take, at a modest 3 percent. The Wisdom of Psychopaths PDF Book Free