Monday, October 26, 2009

Sharks = psycho killers

According to this article sent in by a reader, scientists are using the known patterns of serial killers to explain the hunting patterns of sharks:
What do great white sharks have in common with serial killers? Refined hunting skills, according to a paper recently published in the Zoological Society of London’s Journal of Zoology. Researchers have found that sharks hunt in a highly focused fashion, just like serial criminals.

Predation is one of the most fundamental and fascinating interactions in nature, and sharks are some of the fiercest predators on Earth. However, their hunting pattern is difficult to study because it is rarely observed in the wild. As a result, shark predatory behavior has remained much of a mystery. Now, researchers from the United States and Canada are using geographic profiling -- a criminal investigation tool used to track a connected series of crimes and locate where serial criminals live -- to examine the hunting patterns of white sharks in South Africa.
I wonder if they can go they other way: use known behaviors of animal predators to explain the behavior of serial killers. But it brings up a good point: how many of the arguments for eradicating sociopaths could equally be applicable to sharks, tigers, lions, killer whales, and other man/animal predators? Maybe people are just scared because man has gotten used to thinking that he is at the top of the food chain. But most species have natural predators -- it's nature's way of keeping things in check. Is man an exception?

46 comments:

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  2. Interesting questions ME. The first question that popped into my mind involves the fact that psychopaths, serial killers and the like are considered intraspecies predators. The predators you mentioned hunt outside of their species. I think. (I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about the rest of the animal kingdom.) What other species prey on their own kind I wonder? Surely humans aren’t the only ones capable of that. The second question involves social predation, which refers to those of us who prey on other humans in a less than lethal way. Is the social predator a uniquely human variant on the theme of predation? Third question is, why haven’t we killed or at least severely decimated all of the interspecies predators that we know of which could kill us in a one on one match up? We’re capable of pulling off the extinction of entire species. Why not target it specifically on lions, tigers, killer whales and so on? And if someone brings up PETA, well, where’s the sociopath’s version of PETA? And just to be clear, the last questions are kind of tongue in cheek. I'm imagining that killing off entire species willy nilly would upset what I hear are delicate ecosystems, which could have a negative impact on humans in the long run. Or is that just bleeding heart propaganda?

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  7. Daft:

    If by ecosystem you refer to human society or even more intriguingly the human mind itself, then yeah, that would be an interesting experiment. But like Sarah reminded everyone in one of her previous comments, we’re dealing with personality traits here and we haven’t yet figured out the exact process by which they are formed. Sure, we know genetics play a huge role and we know environment (not to be reduced to just one’s family of course) plays also plays a part. What we don’t know is precisely how this interaction leads to the manifestation of personality traits that we see by the time we become adults. Genetics is a relatively young science after all.

    And what if, as I believe, it’s true that personality traits are not an either/or matter but should instead be thought of as existing on a kind of continuum? How would society handle people who have some psychopathic traits but are not psychopathic per se? Would society only go after those who would be called psychopaths using Hare’s checklist? Would they also go after subclinical psychopaths and Machiavellians? What about narcissists? But wait, what about those who don’t fit neatly within those categories but who nevertheless sometimes behave in ways that could be considered sociopathic? But then again, why stop there? Why not go ahead and get rid of any and all competitive and defensive drives and instincts within the species? And as another commenter noted, who exactly would carry out such a eugenic program, people who are pitiless and amoral themselves? And none of that even touches whether or not tinkering with character traits at a genetic level might lead to blowback in other areas, like an increased susceptibility to disease or other unforeseen vulnerabilities. There’s just too much we don’t know yet. I think.

    All of the people who come on here and fantasize about science coming up with a magic pill to eradicate certain character traits like consciencelessness any time soon (if ever) are woefully ignorant. It’s a very complicated issue. I’m no geneticist myself, but good lord, all they need to do is just a little bit of research and a little bit of thinking sans emotion. But no, ignorance is much more entertaining I guess.

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  8. Sharks may be predatory geniuses for their geographical behaviours, but in the case of serial killers the geographical behaviour symbolise their stupidity and is how they get caught.

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  9. Daniel Birdic wrote "And as another commenter noted, who exactly would carry out such a eugenic program, people who are pitiless and amoral themselves? "

    You may have noticed that some sociopathic traits may give competitive advantage, but seem to come entangled with others that may be deleterious to the group. If true, Evolution probably noticed this and looked for a way to have the cake and eat it.
    The solution may be that empaths are evolved in such way they are particularly able to organise into collectives, where the collective level group psychology manifests many of those very advantageous sociopathic traits.
    So you ask, what cold hearted person will eliminate sociopaths when the technology is there. The answer is it will be the collective. Empath collectives carry out all the evil sociopaths do, with all the same specious rationalisations and dehumanisation of 'the other', but on a far grander scale.
    Why some of you have trouble conceiving of these fairly obvious connections, or seeing the writing on the wall for sociopaths, is difficult to understand, but may be because one sociopath trait is limited vision in the fast forward direction.

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  10. The relationship between sharks and serial murderers seems like sensational nonsense: the CNS of predatory fish are just too different from mammals to feel the study would be illuminating.

    Bringing predatory mammals into the conversation is more interesting, but as DB noted above they don't hunt within their species (to my knowledge).

    Humans are the apex predators, but I believe it's our 'empathetic' nature and intelligence that allows us to enjoy this status despite our frail/ineffectual bodies. Cooperative hunting and the development of ever more lethal tools was just the beginning. Civilization itself (the rapid growth of human communities) could be seen as a form of hyper-predation.

    For humans, hunting is a pro-social behavior. I think it's a bad metaphor for what psychopathic killers are up to.

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  11. First of all, my irrational anonymous friend, evolution notices nothing, not being a conscious entity. Secondly, the term “collective level group psychology” means nothing within the context of my quote. After all, “collective level groups” can’t perform the specific procedures required to carry out daydream eugenics programs, individuals do. Granted, normals following their conscience are just as capable of doing horrific things as any so called psychopath. Still, the kind of program we’re talking about has serious ethical ramifications (for those who give a damn about such things) and I’m guessing that a goodly number of those attracted to manipulating the brains of thousands of people might be a tad sociopathic themselves. (Imagine the power.) So in other words the very traits your mythical collective would be eradicating would not in fact be eradicating anything because at least a few of the technicians would themselves be on the sociopathic side.

    You ignored the rest of my comments for a good reason. This fantasy collective you refer to would be on a science fiction like mission. For all of the reasons I’ve mentioned previously, the reasons you ignore, this “rid the world of sociopathic traits fantasy” is just that. You’re right; I do have trouble making connections where none exist.

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  13. Daft,

    Don't start that sociopath externalizing blame shit with me.

    Not my fault you're using "I" all the time!

    And, if you're throwing me to the sharks, I'm taking you with me.

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  15. Anonymous

    No. Not sociopathic. Just because a group manifests a similarly unpleasant characteristic that defines a sociopath doesn't mean that the behavior will have the same pathology. And your presupposition certainly doesn't. I'm afraid genocide via group think (and the like), is just simply and uniquely 'empath' behavior. Not sociopathic. We can't own all the atrocities in the world.

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  16. The nature of man is an atrocity unlike the world has ever seen.

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  17. Oh god. You're one of those.

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  19. serial killers and the like are considered intraspecies predators.

    'Predator' isn't correct tho, it's just used for emotional impact. There are many species that fight amoungst each other, kill others for territory, reproductive privileges and just 'alpha'-type status. It's different from 'predatory' behavior. And it's different when human behave this way. Hunt/kill is predatory...all the other fighting, killing, raping maiming is generic greedy-bitch behavior that happens when one group fights over the same resources. It's not special, it's animal.

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  20. You know what else isn't correct Sarah?

    Your spelling of the word though.

    tho = homer simpson talk.

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  21. Incorrect. Shutup you fucking cunt. I've never heard someone come on any blog so much to sit here and tell us what's correct and what's incorrect. Blow it out your arse. Get your head out of your academic books for a minute and join the real world. Maybe then you'll have some wisdom to add instead of ivory tower knowledge.

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  22. And saying human when it is plural: Humans. You are incorrect.

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  24. I'm saying 'I disagree with xyz...' but in a shorter, admittedly more assuming way. I guess it works tho, because all you seem to notice is that I'm correcting, not that I'm giving my opinion like everyone else. If I'm guilty of assuming authority, your guilty of not questioning it...just kinda whining for me to stop. Prove me wrong if you want me to shut up. And find something a little more substantial than a spelling error to disagree with if you want to burst my bubble.

    So, do you think that the word 'predator' is accurate in describing a sociopath or what? I think it's purposefully used for emotional impact and manipulation and doesn't reflect reality. (Otherwise stated as 'incorrect')

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  25. But my original comment was for Daniel and I wasn't disagreeing with what he states, I was using his paraphrase to point out where I think the differences lie. I was agreeing with what Harry Lime says: I think it's a bad metaphor for what psychopathic killers are up to.

    But for a different reason.

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  26. I think your long winded arguements and defensiveness are tedious and pointless. I think your academic garbage you spew on this comment section lacks any life experience at all and sounds like a bunch of mixed text book nonsense and crap you pulled off the internet.
    I could care less about your grammar you stupid whore. Why would I, out of all people, give two squirting hot piles of shit about your stupid grammar or spelling. If you weren't to busy defending yourself constantly you would see that was sarcasm. Sarcasm lost on the dimwitted.
    Everything written by anyone here is 'incorrect', according to you and I'm personally tired of seeing you use the word. What the fuck do you know about killers or psychology you dunce. What you read in your little 'Psychology for Dumbies' handbook and your bookmark to wikipedia. Get the fuck out of here. You think you're teaching a class when actually you are getting schooled bitch so sit down and shut up.

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  27. I think your long winded arguements and defensiveness are tedious and pointless.

    Don't read it. I only read about one and a half sentences into your comments before I can decide if it's worth my time or not. I don't like wasting my time on your rambling pointless not-quite-insulting-but-certainly-trying insults. So I don't. Some people think they're funny, so I guess that's why you still go on and on and on (and on) but I find it...well, tedious and pointless. But I don't give a shit if you stay, go, post or don't post because I'm not some drone that has to read threw every goddamn word that scrolls on this page. And neither are you. Skim. Be my guest, skip everything that has my name on it.

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  29. Shutup you idiot. Nobody asked you to get all Sarah on us and start correcting people you dumb frog. If I wanted to use grammar correctly I would. If I wanted to find definitions of words I'd email Sarah not you dickbreath. You were the one who thought people were talking about 'spectrum disorder', when they said 'across the whole spectrum'. You felt so dumb you created a whole other account. How fucking pathetic is that. Shut up and listen for a second before you get yourself caught up like last time and have to make a new account again. At least you chose the right name. Daft.

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  30. I hate when facts get in the way of my opinions, too.

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  32. Cut your wrists Symbols. How can anyone have a opinion when their name is made by hitting random keys on the keyboard and holding down the shift key. Your interests on your profile is rape and murder? What a muppet. Your blog looks like the scribblings of some depressed teenage girl who's angry about her mum not letting her go to the Marilyn Manson concert. Go hang yourself like Meagan Meier.

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  35. The Inuets where asked, if they too incounterd this type of person. And the method of dealing with them. Someone pushes them off the ice when no one is looking!

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  36. Daft is alltogether cool, but dumb.

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  37. I'll take it, since your opinion of me doesn't mean much.

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  38. "Why would I, out of all people, give two squirting hot piles of shit about your stupid grammar or spelling."

    Hahahahahaha

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  42. More people need to be on http://sociopath-community.com/

    !!! it used to be connected to this blog but was disconnected over a year ago. We need fresh blood and lots of interesting things have happened recently (relates to kiwifar.ms drama: https://archive.is/M2tXa) that will go down in the forum's history! Be sure to check out http://www.psychforums.com/antisocial-personality/ too, as some of its regulars are regulars on SC too!

    Goddamn ME refused to reconnect the blog to the forum so we SC goers will just have to spam advertisements for the forum in the comments section. ;)

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