Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our fate

From the blog of the Lexington correspondent of the Economist.
THE other striking Supreme Court ruling yesterday concerned sex criminals. The court said the federal government could detain them indefinitely, even after their sentences end, if they are determined to be sexually dangerous.

Much of the debate turned on whether the power to detain such people properly belongs to the federal government, or to the states. Justice Clarence Thomas predictably says that Washington is over-stepping its enumerated powers.

Perhaps so. But I think the most important question is how the system will actually work. The government is claiming the power to imprison people forever, not for crimes they have been convicted of, but for crimes they might commit in the future. That's an extraordinary power. It's similar to the power both the Bush and Obama administrations claim to detain "enemy combatants" indefinitely because, although there is not enough evidence to convict them in a court of law, we know they will re-join al-Qaeda if we let them go.

Neither problem is easy. But with the sex offenders, we could be looking at a much, much larger group of people. The lead petitioner in yesterday's case, Graydon Comstock, was convicted of buying child pornography and sentenced to 37 months in prison. Less than a week before he was due to be released, Alberto Gonzales (then the attorney general) declared him to be sexually dangerous.

That is, the government asserts that he:

(1) has previously "engaged or attempted to engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation," (2) currently "suffers from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder," and (3) "as a result of" that mental illness, abnormality, or disorder is "sexually dangerous to others," in that "he would have serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released."

The thing is, he doesn't have to have been convicted of a sexually violent offence, or of child molestation. The standard of proof for holding Mr Comstock for the rest of his life is "clear and convincing". That is less rigorous than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard you'd need to establish to send me to jail for a few months for picking someone's pocket.

Will this kind of preventive detention be applied sparingly? Will there be adequate safeguards to prevent abuse? I have my doubts. There are more than 600,000 people on sex-offender registries in America, probably most of whom are not dangerous. Given the immense political pressure to keep our children safe, I worry that giving someone like Alberto Gonzales the power to hold people forever for crimes they have not yet committed is asking for trouble.


  1. m.e. wrote "I worry that giving someone like Alberto Gonzales the power to hold people forever for crimes they have not yet committed is asking for trouble"

    I don't agree. As our scientific, psychological and 'from-experience' knowledge increases we can and should begin incarcerating people based on computationsextr of extremely high risk.

    We know that most crimes of extreme deviance are committed by people with psychopathic personalities. However we also know that most psychopaths are not deviant criminals. However, if we have a deviant criminal who is also a psychopath, then we very much should be considering adjusting laws so as to keep such individuals locked away for life.

    Slippery slope? Potentially yes, but the vast majority in society would recognise we have a long way to slip before entering danger territoriy. Ultimately, we don't want deviant/sadistic psychopaths being locked up for life before they have committed their first crime: No..we don't want them being born in the first place.

  2. Ah, the eugenics argument, clearly not a big world thinker and once begun what other behaviors do we start smothering before existence? Winston Churchill had an earlier penchant for concentration camps and drinking before the Nazis and the war came along when his brand of thinking helped resist the Germans and went on to defeat them (with help of course). What about Abe Lincoln too? Species with the most diversity are most likely to survive catastrophes with natural immunities and behavioral adaptation. Because of this everyone has the right to exist but we need to find the choices available to treat certain conditions for society to function fairly in between such rare times. Incarceration is one but gene specific drugs are on the future menu.
    Although I still can't think of the type of catastrophe where a pedophiles behavior might be an advantage when you throw in the word psychopath I can. M.e.'s post on war referred to how most people can't bring themselves to kill which is why certain 'niche' personalities can get the ugly job done - don't blame the soldier for starting wars. I'm also reminded of the interesting fictional character played by Brad Dourif, Suder in Voyager. He is a sociopathic empath who was being incarcerated and treated due to his murderous tendencies. After a hostile takeover of the ship he was persuaded to re-embrace his killing tendencies (now against his will) to retake the ship. (Episode Basics part 2 for the Trekkies).

  3. I agree, Anonymous #2. See M.E.’s post here. It references an article on this very argument.

    It’s not the height of wisdom to proclaim that society is going to one day filter this or that unpopular personality variant right out of the species. Then again, when has a lack of wisdom stopped anybody? The ironic thing is that if a policy like this ever goes into effect (and it probably will at some point down the road), it’ll likely be administered by the very people normals wish to keep from being born in the first place. The unintended consequences should prove interesting and yes, a little delicious.

  4. The 'diversity is stonger' and 'ewwww eugenics..look what the nazis did!' are two very hackneyed counter arguments often expressed thoughtlessly and completely out of context as here. There is no reason to keep Downs Syndrome in the gene pool. There is no reason to keep violent criminality, ill health or low intelligence in the gene pool.
    Also, the 'psychopaths have a use' argument. Academics specialising in psychopathy have been known to speculate about this, but the speculations invariably involve the academic crossing the line of his own specialism into social areas he has no real experience of. The argument you put below..that psychopaths are useful when killing has to be false. Everyone can be conditioned to kill, as we have seen time and again when societies break down. When it comes to organised state sponsored killing psychopaths are actively screened out, and for a very good reason. They have impulse control problems, they are pathological liars, they tend to undermine cohesion of the small tightly knit groups that need to do this sort of work, and most of all, they are not loyal under pressure. A psychopath will not risk his neck for a comrade, and will not be willing to endure torture rather than betray. Psychopaths are very very overrated, even at violence. This is why they tend to target the vulnerable, and tend not to be James Bond type characters.

  5. Ok, so the link doesn't work for some reason. This the post I was referring to:

  6. " The ironic thing is that if a policy like this ever goes into effect (and it probably will at some point down the road), it’ll likely be administered by the very people normals wish to keep from being born in the first place."

    Not really. The main risk from psychopaths is disruption of organizational cohesion and/or abuse of poorly monitored low ranking staff. In instigating such policies society does not have to worry about psychopaths taking over, but it does have to worry about 'Himmlers'. Himmler was a respectable but unnoteworthy chicken farmer, who in almost every other possible history would have lived and died in bland obscurity having been a nice fellow having occasionally voiced some rather extreme sounding political views. That's what we have to look out for. The convictions and passions of the ocassional postman, bank clerk, refrigerator coolent saleman and housewife. Psychopaths don't have deeply such deeply held convictions and beliefs.

  7. Actually no, Anonymoose, it is not out of context. Here is the context: we can determine which personality variants we’d like to see bred out of the gene pool via genetics. Now think. Although some defects seem obvious, they aren’t. Who determines what the meaning of defect is? Why do those people determine it? What standards do they use to ascertain this definition? Is this definition of defect given or is it created by the mind doing the defining? And most importantly, who will be administering this defect eradication process and why? Yes, bringing in the Nazi’s breaks Godwin’s law, so that’s a good point. But at the same time, the Nazi’s are instructive because they are the last government to put this type of policy into play, with consequences most empaths say they find deplorable.

    Secondly, your generalizations about them darned psychopaths are just that, generalizations, and overly broad ones at that. Also, they are not entirely born out in actual observation. Sure, many psychopaths may fit your description, but not all. Have you not heard the term “successful psychopath?” Most of the studies done on psychopaths are based on the ones in prison, the so called unsuccessful ones. There isn’t a whole lot of hard, raw data on the successful psychopath, the ones who don’t end up in prison. What does that tell you? What are the consequences of that dearth of understanding for your own generalizations?

    You speak far too blithely about risks and consequences anonymoose, but you fail to demonstrate that you have understood the very basics, not to mention the potential blowback. We are not talking about alternate histories and what you are sure won’t happen because… well… you know it won’t, that’s why. Go back, read the M.E.’s post I referenced, read the “Orchids and Dandelions” article, read some of the comments below.

  8. Daniel Birdick, your arguments are instinctively in the direction of self-preservation. When the time comes, and it will come, the best shot for psychopaths will of course be to convince the majority that their freedom and survival is inextricably linked by immutable principle the freedom and survival of psychopaths. However, while there will be an advocate on a blog dedicated to glamourising psychpaths, in the real world when the time comes there simply won't be any organized advocacy. Why..because firstly psychopaths are intrinsically unable to organise into groups. Secondly no one else will be motivated to step in.
    You make two other points I want to respond to. First that there is no hard data on the successful psychopath and so for all we know the worlds elites and top businessmen, glamourous secret agents and so on, may all be successful psychopaths. There are two problems with this idea. First, the definition itself of the psychopath tends to rule this out. Look at the checklist. Inability to make realistic long term plans. Uncontrollable impulsivity and so on. This doesn't mean you don't get the very occasional very sucessful person who would be diagnosed as a psychopath. But statistically it's going to be rare. What will be much less rare, in fact much more common than in normal groups, will be people like you may be. Psychopathic personality but not criminal or involved in low risk criminal activity. In actual fact low ranking and rudderless due in inability to see plans through. But in his own mind full of grand dreams and overinflated notions of personal 'world view' and so on. All of this of course makes you believe that psychopaths are, like you, successful glamourous happening guys..even though in fact not a lot is happening.
    Your other point is that I am generalizing about psychopaths. I am not. I am going on the psychopathic checklist. You are generalizing, to include say, people who get a similar result to a psychopath in a brain scan. We already know that this connection is not absolute. Many people have that signature but are not psychopathic in clinincal terms.

  9. Daniel Birdick,another point you made that was false. You say the last government to practice eugenics was nazi germany. This is completely wrong. Eugenics policies were practiced in the USA as recently as the 1970's.
    Furthermore, the concept of using genetics science to screen out certain conditions, including psychopathy when it can be identified in biology and DNA, is not necessarily Eugenics in its traditional sense.
    One fair point you make is who will decide what traits to screen out. There are of course risks. However, screening out psychopaths will be seen as 'low hanging fruit' of the things we can safely assume is a good idea.

  10. Actually, my arguments, such as they are, are focused on reality. I don’t expect this issue will be a problem for me. I’m just commenting to be commenting.

    Advocacy groups? Really anonymoose? Do you really think that is how a grand eugenics scheme carried out on a nationwide scale will play out? How can you be so sure the general populace will have that kind of say in the process to begin with?

    Who decides what the "clinical terms" are and which ones will be used to put this policy into effect? How will this go from pipe dream to actual reality? What will have to happen in society in order for something like this become the rule of law?

    Do you understand how so called psychopathy comes into being anyway? Or introversion? Or conscientiousness? Or any other personality trait?

    You refer to Hare’s checklist as if it is the gospel truth, much like a fundie would keep referring back to his pet bible verses, as if that proves something. The checklist itself, if memory serves me right, rests on data primarily using the so called unsuccessful psychopath. Naturally, the results will be skewed in that direction. You have an incomplete picture. The results can’t be any better than the data used to create it. The only thing your clinging to Hare’s checklist proves is your lack of imagination.

  11. Fair enough on the last government point. I’m going off of memory here and it is admittedly less than perfect.

    Your assumption about what will and won’t be considered a good idea is just that, which is my most important point. It’s funny because unless you are the same person I have had this discussion with multiple times on this site, several of you make the same leaps of faith. You all just blithely assume that sane, smart, compassionate people will be making the scientific discoveries that still need to be made in order to make something like this work. You all assume that then these discoveries will be warmly embraced by a well educated and intelligent populace. You all assume a democratic process will be at the heart of any decisions made about this issue. You all assume that the government and their corporate “partners” will naturally put the will of the people on this subject into effect. You see what I mean? You make a series of assumptions, based on what, your dearly hoped for outcomes? A brief perusal of history, both ancient and very recent, should wipe away any false notions that something like what I described in this paragraph will happen in just this way.

  12. Let's break up what I am saying so we can decide what, if any, parts are implausible.

    1) Psychopathy appears not to be just another personality type. It appears to have biological basis and be permanent and fundamental in the personality. If this is true, then it will eventually be understood. Given developments probably sooner rather than later. Do you agree with this so far?

    2) The genetics revolution is very likely to lead to directed self-improvement of the human condition by screening in and screening out traits. Do you agree this is a strong possibility?

    The part about psychopaths being screened out is actually a direct implication of the first two above. If you agree with the first two above, you pretty much have to accept psychopathy will be fairly high on the list when the time comes.

    The argument looks strong to me. Please say where you see weaknesses, but please try not to resort to rhetorical devices and fallacies as in your recent points, for example waffling about currently unresolved technical problems as if they have any relevance in a discussion about a future in which such problems can be presumed fixed.

  13. Whether or not these people are dangerous isn't the issue. The real concern here is the power this places in the hands of the government to lock people up without any kind of proof. Because you cannot prove that someone will re-offend, or in the case of the man written out in the blog, offend for the first time, it all comes down to convincing someone or someones that a person is a danger. You can't prove it to them, because there's no such thing as proof for something that hasn't yet happened and may never happen. This kind of logic, taken a very, very small step further, would leave any of you vulnerable to life imprisonment. All someone would have to do is convince a judge or somesuch that you are dangerous, and you instantly lose all your rights--nothing you can do. Why can't you do anything about it? Because they don't require proof, just an opinion, and in a world like this facts are your only reliable weapon against people in power. If someone were to actually accuse you of something, like murder or rape, you'd have an extremely powerful defense as they cannot prove that something that didn't happen did happen. With laws like this in place, that goes out the window, along with everything our criminal justice system is meant to stand for.

    Also consider that human beings, and our judicial system in general, relies heavily on precedent. That applies not only to decisions like locking someone up for life instead of for his sentence, but also to the willingness to make radical changes that defy the fundamentals of our judicial system. Everybody feels entitled to do what the person before them did, and this change today opens the door for more perhaps even radical changes tomorrow.

  14. Anonymoose:

    1) We can start with definitions. What do you mean by personality type?

    I like the term traits. What do we mean by traits? We can define it as those features which distinguish one’s personality from another. We can further break that down to mean “habitual patterns of thought, emotion and action”. The psychopath is said to have a specific cluster of patterned thought, emotion, and behavior that set it apart from the average population. It does appear to have a biological basis. But then again, what traits don’t? Also, is this biological basis the only relevant factor involved in the formation of said traits? I agree that our understanding will grow.

    2) I can agree with this. Except you assume that there will be widespread agreement on what “self improvement” means in actual practice. Again I ask, who decides which direction this self improvement process will go down? How will they come to that conclusion? Who will implement the self improvement project? What powers will they have at their disposal?

    3) Those technical difficulties that you call waffling are in fact germane. How personality traits develop is in fact all important. If it turns out to be true for instance that personality traits are not only the result of genetics but also greatly depend on the society any particular fetus is reared in, then you can see that this self improvement project can’t just stop at genetic tinkering. You will have to also engineer society, from the bottom up, to ensure the changes you wish to see take place… take place. It seems clear to me how such utopian schemes fared in the past.

    You keep skipping past the “how do you think this will actually happen” part, as if that is of no relevance. The truth is, it is everything. Scientific discovery does not take place in a vacuum. Human values, human psychology will greatly shape the real life results. Which is why I firmly believe that if the kind of changes you wish to see happen take place in my life time, weeding psychopathy and psychopathic traits will be the least of your worries.

  15. Simply put, there's a lot more at stake here than the freedom of a pervert who just served 3 years for looking at child pornography. You'd have to be pretty narrow minded not to recognize that.

  16. Once again Peter Pan gets at the meat of it: “The real concern here is the power this places in the hands of the government to lock people up without any kind of proof.” His last paragraph was on point as well.

    It’s about power and unintended consequences. What the na├»ve person who jumps up and down about judicial decisions like this one (or those who come on here proclaiming that science will do away with all them bad humans) chronically fails to take into account is that the knife doesn’t care what or who it cuts. Weapons used to gain security can also be used to take that security away.

  17. Great, this is awesome. I'm a very persuasive person. Perhaps if this practice becomes more commonplace, I'll have another powerful way to ruin people I don't like.

    The neighbor who flipped me off? Let's see if I can have him declared dangerous.

    Being a sociopath sure is fun, even more-so now that proof needn't be a factor in getting people locked up. I'm all for it.

  18. ^you'll step into the machine first once you've made your accusation and then we'll look at your brain and then we'll have fun with you

  19. Keep dreaming of your science fiction redemption. These government actions are now, and fantasy isn't going to save you.

  20. sociopath = Dean Corll

    equals a bad future for those that have this brain signature

    finally, it will be done right

  21. But ya can prove it. Psychopathic bullshit shows up in special brain MRI scans pretty consistently. And the machines are getting smaller and more accurate. And people are getting wiser using teh internets. They forming all sorts of empathic connections to mess up a day.

  22. "The 'diversity is stonger' and 'ewwww eugenics..look what the nazis did!' are two very hackneyed counter arguments often expressed thoughtlessly and completely out of context....

    Exactly. These arguments are textbook psychopath pity play bullshit. Like the author Stout suggests.... psychopaths are responsible for most/all of the murder and evil in the world... the only way a normal person with a conscience commits these... actually it is impossible for a person possessing conscience to do so.... unless they are under the influence of drugs/sociopaths

    save the bullshit for someone who cares

  23. I hate you, DB. You took the position I was most likely going to and now I have nothing to really contribute.

    You, too, Peter.

    Although, in the argument, I noticed that it was a bit like this:

    Anonymous assumes x
    DB says *Cue verbal chain whip* NO BAD ANONYMOUS DONT ASSUME
    Anonymous assumes x subtly
    DB asks Anonymous to elaborate
    Anonymous bullshits
    DB asks Anonymous to elaborate, while espousing his point
    Anonymous bullshits again.

    Basically, the discussion was one-sided on both sides. I moreso see Anonymous and DB expressing their own ideals and not actually debating each other, because the neither really addressed every point the opponent was making. (And since I have a bit of a personal bias towards the argument its self, I won't say that either one addressed the other better.)

    It was just a lot of reiteration.

    I am going to boldly contradict myself and respond to one of Anonymous's foundations of his(?) ideals: "There is no reason to keep Downs Syndrome in the gene pool. There is no reason to keep violent criminality, ill health or low intelligence in the gene pool. "

    Bullshit. You're saying this as if it's academically proven. That's the thing though, this is personal opinion crossing into biology. It is something that cannot be academically proven. (This is a bit like morality. Generally, people agree with certain ideals. However, just because people agree with ideal x does not mean it is something that should be enforced by the government/entity of power.) Not only this, but if you had a biological disease, you wouldn't espouse this view seriously.

  24. blah blah blah you idiot
    who cares if its proven?
    it's righteous blood lust
    thunder struck

    believe that shit

  25. "I hate you, DB. You took the position I was most likely going to and now I have nothing to really contribute"..

    you weren't kidding!
    but you are not alone

  26. I'm not supposed to say or communicate anything but I will say this.... we are on your ass. Right now.

    Ain't no thing.

  27. Daniel Birdick - I broke my view up into two chunks.

    (1) It looks like psychopathy will turn out to have identifiable biological signature.

    (2)Biotech advances make it likely humans in the future will use this knowledge for directed self-improvement of the human condition.

    Some of issues you raise about my point (1) seem valid in and of themselves, but not necessarily to my point (1) itself. You start talking about definitions and attempt to get technical with talk of 'traits'...but I suggest that my point is sufficently made at a high level of generality AND that it is more sensible for non-specialists to AVOID attempting lower levels of technical specification because this increases not decreases the risk of hubris and misconception.

    It's a simple proposition that does not require producing complex definitional structures. Do you think psychopathy has a biological you think psychopaths process information in a fundamentally different way - i.e. using or not using different parts of the brain for specific inputs? If you believe the answer is probably yes, and you accept the pace of development in biotech is dramatic..then you probably have grounds to accept my point (1).

    Point (2) you did accept. The fact that psychopathy will very likely be high on the list of genetically identifiable undesirable traits is pretty much therefore a given.

    So what I suggest is that you agree with me that society will want to get rid of psychopathy, and your real position is that you think that in attempting self-improvement - in general - society is going to make a lot of mistakes and probably cause itself a lot of harm along the way.

    I agree this is a real risk...but the risk would come later on. At the beginning there is going to be a lot of low hanging fruit that society will be clear it is better off without. Things like disease, illhealth, schizophrenia, Altzheimers, extremely low intelligence, and..very likely..psychopathy.

    You ask 'who will make the decisions?'. This is a good question, and a variation on 'who will keep my keeper?'. But there are possible answers. One idea put forward by many people is that we leave it up to parents to decide what traits they want tested for and screened out or in.

    However we solve or fail to solve these problems, the problems are for a future time, long after - by hugely broad consensus - we've got rid of conditions like psychopathy.

  28. Daniel Birdick, you made a couple of other points I want to respond to.

    "Actually, my arguments, such as they are, are focused on reality. I don’t expect this issue will be a problem for me."

    How could you personally be affected by a future program to screen psychopathy from the unborn? You are no more affected than a living schizophrenic would be affected if that condition were oneday screened out.

    This is why I said above that the idea of using genetics science to improve our condition is not traditional eugenics, and doesn't have the same human rights or ethical problems attached. It has OTHER human rights and ethical questions some of which you mentioned very well. But there isn't going to schizophrenics or psychopaths being swept off the street and sterilised. This is about screening things in and out at the embryonic stage of gestation.

    Your other accusation, made several times, was essentially that I don't know what I'm talking about. Well, who does? As you say data on 'successful' psychopaths is not available. That said, I do have weekly experience of what you'd see as 'unsuccessful' psychopaths as I work in law enforcement (don't worry I'm not here in any official capacity).

    From that experience I can offer one piece of evidence against the idea successful psychopaths are succesful in society writ large. In the criminal world, if you ignore juvenilles the probability someone is a psychopath diminishes as the crime becomes more sophisticated. A violent burglar or street dealer has a higher chance of being psychopathic than a crime boss. Successful criminals tend to live quiet lives in the suburbs and at that level violence is rarely used.
    I would argue this is because psychopathy becomes a disadvantage when sophisticated planning, control and motivation is necessary. Maybe I'm wrong, but what is your personal experience Daniel Birdick? Is it just that believe you are a psychopath? If that's all, then I think mine is better. Have you been assessed by psychologists?
    What's more likely is that you believe you may share some traits and you have decided they are superior. Some traits isolation. But as a full package in my experience psychopathy is very overrrated as something useful in the world, and the world would be better off without it. If that every becomes possible to achieve in a humane way.

  29. Deputy Dog:

    First, your point was not made because you were being too general, hence my request for a little more precision. I did not suggest that we start discussing the actual science.

    Do I think psychopathy has a strictly biological basis? No. I don’t think any personality trait does. I see psychopathy as a cluster of traits, not as a singular and completely discreet phenomenon. The expression of those traits has a basis in the brain AND in the environment that brain was reared in. That is at least one reason your generalizations were too broad. By narrowing down psychopathy to a specific set of personality traits and then bringing in our current understanding of how traits come to be expressed in adulthood, it seems obvious to me that the idea of screening psychopathy out is going to be more complex than you suggest.

    Second, I did not accept your point 2 in its entirety and what you are saying there is not therefore a given.

    I ask again. Define what you mean by “self improvement” and what that would look like on a society wide basis. You do not have to provide numbers or statistics, or give us a biology lesson. Just provide a few more details about this mass “self improvement” project that seems so inevitable to you. What sounds like "improvement" might sound disastrous to someone else, know what I'm saying dawg? You see, once again you are not quite specific enough. It is easy to appear to be making valid points when you hide behind generalities.

    Third, to make it plain, I am not suggesting that science won't allow us to deliberately shape our species. I am however suggesting that it will very likely not play out in the way you suggest and/or hope.

    In fact, why are you so certain these things will unfold in the way you have described? You seem to agree that neither of us know what we’re talking about, and you’re right. I however admitted I was bullshitting my way through this conversation when I said “I was commenting just to be commenting” and when I implied that I did not fact check myself in the way I used to. I used to try harder when I commented here in months past. Not so much anymore. This “conversation” is hardly worth that kind of trouble. You, on the other hand, still manage to sound so certain of how this is all going to play out, as if you had a crystal ball that sees into the future. Sure, you’ll throw out the occasional “there will be problems”. But you immediately follow it with comments that amount to “meh, not really”. Your certainty and your confidence is unwarranted, only you don’t appear to know that. Or if you do, you are not expressing it here. Talk about hubris! I suggest you completely acknowledge that.

    Read the article I suggested, the one referenced in M.E.’s earlier post:, then get back to me.

  30. On second thought, we can skip this part of the conversation altogether and move on.

    “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

    I quote that because it sums up my attitude about a lot of things nicely. I don’t think psychopathy is superior or inferior. Then again, the definition of psychopathy is not universally agreed on, is it Deputy Dawg? And no, I am not a psychopath. I’m just an interested and curious observer. As such, I would love to hear more about your experiences in law enforcement as it relates to psychopathy/sociopathy. You seem like an intelligent, thoughtful person. Tell me, what brings you here to this blog and why go through the trouble of leaving comments? Why not just lurk?

  31. Daniel Birdick wrote "The expression of those traits has a basis in the brain AND in the environment that brain was reared in. That is at least one reason your generalizations were too broad. "

    If there is an essential biological component it wouldn't matter if actually expressed psychopathy required environmental triggers. Remove the biological component and the same environmental triggers will not produce psychopaths. At least not the kind that require the essential biological trigger.

    "I ask again. Define what you mean by “self improvement"......It is easy to appear to be making valid points when you hide behind generalities."

    If a point can be made in a general form it's better to do so in a general form. It's not necessary to define what form "self improvement" will take if you accept that in the future if the technology and public approval is there, society will be likely to attempt to change our species for - in the view of society at that time - the better.

    "Third, to make it plain, I am not suggesting that science won't allow us to deliberately shape our species. I am however suggesting that it will very likely not play out in the way you suggest and/or hope."

    Then I agree with you. I think it'll play out in ways no one alive can predict. But my points don't rely on me being right about how it will play out. Only that we'll try to change our species and we'll think it's because we can improve it, and if psychopathy is one of the conditions we think we can screen out, it'll be high on the to-do list.

    "Talk about hubris! I suggest you completely acknowledge that."

    Yes Daniel I do completely acknowledge we're a couple of silly mischief makers on a silly mischief making sociopath website. How did you end up here anyway? I googled "Sociopath World View" and this place was 3rd on the list.

  32. Why on earth would you be googling "sociopath world view"? LOL.

  33. ^DB beats me to the question yet again.

    I'm guessing it was, of course, for some educational purpose. . . ;)

  34. I wouldn't do it for an educatioal purpose, but pure fascination.

  35. So are all these sex offenders sociopaths then


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