Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dispassionate juror

A friend of mine was particularly disturbed by this gruesome murder that happened near New Haven, Connecticut:
The men put him and his family through an ordeal of beatings and sexual abuse that ended as flames tore through the house where the girls, still alive, had been strapped to their beds. Their mother had already been strangled.

Only the father — Dr. William A. Petit Jr., dazed and bloodied after being beaten with a baseball bat in his sleep — managed to escape.
The jury just voted for the death penalty for one of the murderers.

When I was reading the article, I was looking for signs of sociopathy, which I didn't see. Instead I read this sentence, "For nearly two months, jurors learned every searing detail of the night and morning in July 2007," and started thinking about how much counseling these jurors are going to need.

The concept of having lay jurors as part of a legal system is an interesting one. They are supposed to be dispassionate -- coldly and rationally interpreting the facts that are presented to them. Eventually they must come to a decision, perhaps about whether someone lives or dies, and be able to live with that decision themselves.

I started thinking, sociopaths would be great at this. Sociopaths would be so good at this, in fact, that I wonder why no one has thought of an all sociopath jury before. It's like getting someone who has lost their sense of smell to take out the trash, am I right? Someone has to do the enforcing, why not have it be someone who is naturally good at it, and even likes it? I'm going to add "jury duty" to the list of reasons why societies with sociopaths have an advantage over those without.

101 comments:

  1. Jurymen and policemen should switch places.

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  2. M.E., intereting concept. The only problem would be coming across the times when emotions would still get in the way of being objective. I can think of at least two possible instances. First, I can imagine myself actually admiring the criminal. Granted, you'd think, what's to admire? If he's being tried for his crime, he was caught, which might mean he wasn't all that clever. That would be true most of the time. OTOH, one can appreciate creative effort in ALL its forms, and sometimes, it's just one small thing that went wrong in an otherwise beautiful plan. I can totally see myself admiring the defendant in such a case and wanting to acquit the guy/gal. My objectivity would be out the window then.

    Second, I can imagine feeling the opposite of admiration. I can easily see myself feeling loathing for the system, especially as it is applied to particular cases, and wanting to send society's do gooders a loud FUCK YOU by acquitting the defendant. You know how the system is sometimes blatantly absurd and contradictory. That alone sets my teeth on edge sometimes.

    But barring those two types, I can see the utility of deliberately picking the coldly rational for jurors. If it's justice that you want that is. But it isn't justice that some (most?) attorneys want, is it? It's victory. An emotionally predictable juror is precisely what particular lawyers would want in order to maximize their chances of winning, right?

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  4. I've dwelled on this line of thought several times, but it really comes down to this. A sociopath jury/judge/lawman is an easily bought jury/judge/lawman.

    I'd have no qualms about sabotaging a jury, especially if the price was right. Hell, I might even throw it just for kicks so long as I could find enough holes to use for my argument.

    I don't consider the modern American justice system to be much justice at all.

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  5. No pay for jury duty, lots of sitting around waiting (boredom), give up your free time for 'civic responsibility'... I don't see this as being a good gig for 'paths. Still, a couple on the OJ trial could've triggered some riots.

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  6. I still think having your own "empire" to control is the key.

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  7. Imagine being sequestered with UKan, or NP? - yikes!

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  9. I got paid $25 per day, for 3 days of sitting and waiting to serve on a jury. Non of us were needed but they paid about 100 people to be there just in case. That was just for Magistrate Court. They also were paying people to wait to be called in for juries in State Court and Juvenile Court. No wonder our taxes are so high.

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  10. I must not have a imagination. Why would it be alarming if this care bear and I were sequestered for a jury?

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  11. Notable, I completely agree. Why that's probably the reason laws exist to begin with. Also, with respect to the justice system complaint, who would give a shit anyway? It's an easy target altogether such as why Lawyer was nearly the word of the day yesterday.

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  12. i just skimmed this blog's archive and it would take forever to read through it all, plus the often not-to-miss comments sections. sheesh!

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  13. If there's something to be learned here, you'll stumble upon it in the comments.

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  14. An impartial jury is not the same as an unfeeling jury. Feelings should not override the facts, but an implied "jury of our peers" is that the men and women serving can relate to both the criminal and the wronged. Can a sociopath ever really put himself into somebody else's shoes?

    AB

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  15. I agree with UKan, how did I get thrown in the same category as him?! I was a punk kid, not a career criminal.

    Speaking of which, he probably wouldn't even go to trial. Career criminals have ways of being cooperative for their own benefit.

    @Postmodern Sociopath:
    From our brief talk about Eckman/Lightman, yesterday. I see what you're saying, now. I've also noticed that he doesn't seem to have that sensory, subconscious 'sixth sense' when it comes to people, he's actually consciously studying them. Makes a lot more sense, now. Not sure how I didn't realize that last night...

    Oh, and um, I think I'm going to get a pack of periques in the near future. It's been a while and I think I deserve it.~ Any other brands/types you recommend for bold, full smokes?

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  16. Can a sociopath ever really put himself into somebody else's shoes?

    Of course. Just because we can't feel what a 'normal' person does, doesn't mean we can't understand things from their perspective.

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  18. I think its a common practice of most sociopaths to, at least attempt, to understand how others feel. The best way to play a part is to understand it.

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  19. Notable: Glad you've seen the Light, man.~

    For cigarettes... I dunno. Anything Nat Sherman is good if you have the cash. MCDs are a good "bold" choice.

    Can a sociopath ever really put himself into somebody else's shoes?

    Of course. Just because we can't feel what a 'normal' person does, doesn't mean we can't understand things from their perspective.


    Lol, fail.

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  20. I suppose I should qualify that "fail" as depending on which literature on the subject of empathy is used as a reference.

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  21. Indeed. You know what I was trying to convey. Ass. :P

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  22. No. I don't. Personally, I don't put myself in other people's shoes. Never have, probably just can't. I can understand someone intellectually (if they present a logical argument, for instance), but I can't do what the anonymous was suggesting.

    And, as if to reinforce my point, my inability to put myself in your shoes has made it impossible for me to determine what you meant to convey.

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  23. Interesting. I guess it depends on our apparent definition of 'other people's shoes'.

    Maybe I can, maybe I can't, and maybe I think I can from relating past personal experiences to a frame of reference in the current state of a situation. Hmm.

    The latter does seem to be the logical choice... I can't think of a time where I just got it in regards to something I hadn't experienced or knew of someone experiencing in some form of detail passed on to me.


    I'll definitely give Nat Sherman's a shot, just have to find a place nearby that sells them. The Black & Gold sound intriguing, but I have a bit of a thing for charcoal filters as of late.

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  24. Normal humans are predictable. They have patterns that they follow and personality types they fit. Once you place a personality its easy to guess a pattern. If you learn this well enough you can fall right into "the shoes" of a normal. Illogical as it may be this can bring an understanding, but only to a minimal level. Or not... who cares.

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  25. I think the point that Postmodern Sociopath was talking about, and that I extended upon, is the inability to 'walk in their shoes'. You can observe someone's reactions to many things through a relationship, both casual and in-depth, but you never see life through their eyes, truly.

    You can guess, and quite often right, what they are feeling or thinking by reading them and measuring how they act/react to certain things. You also have your own personal history of reactions and anecdotes to fill possible gaps that may be present. But this isn't 'walking in their shoes', it's anticipating, which is quite different than the actual experience.

    My apologies if I misinterpreted your meaning, Postmodern Sociopath.

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  26. Blah blah blah Method acting. That's all.

    And I miss Vanilla and Chocolate Sweet Dreams. Illegal now in the US thanks to Mr. O.

    I think I need to start smoking a corncob pipe again.

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  27. I think, not only is it impossible to walk in anyone else's shoes, it's also impossible for anyone to walk in the same shoes twice.
    Every situation one is in is different, if for no other reason than the person experiencing situations is never exactly the same as they were before.

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  28. I think, not only is it impossible to walk in anyone else's shoes, it's also impossible for anyone to walk in the same shoes twice.
    Every situation one is in is different, if for no other reason than the person experiencing situations is never exactly the same as they were before.


    Well said.

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  30. Personally, I don't put myself in other people's shoes. Never have, probably just can't.

    Once you place a personality its easy to guess a pattern.


    Since I've become an adult, I've found people rather predictable. It seems to me that walking through the logic of the decisions that they made (and sometimes their presumed feelings, "I assume that he feels sad because of this and so he does that") is the definition of "walking in their shoes." Am I missing something?

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  31. Pythias: The phrase is generally used to describe the mechanism of empathy, that is, the ability to take on another's perspective and feelings is intuitive rather than conscious.

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  32. yes but no one can see through someone else's eyes. As a sociopath its easier to see those patterns and even "understand" the motivations behind the choices. An empath can't see past their own experiences until they understand their own choices. They only understand when their life experiences are similar. I guess what I'm saying is that a sociopath learns from others experiences easier than a normal because they don't have filter through which they see the world. To say that a sociopath truly understands the behavior of a normal is incorrect. Its more of a scientific understanding. Like observing lab rats. A sociopath understands the cause and effect of it. This happens, so, because that happened when they were a child, they will do this. Maybe I'm missing something but this is what I'm saying. If we are talking in absolutes, which I find foolish because outside of math there are no absolutes, then yes there is no understanding.

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  34. There's a difference between "seeing the world through someone else's eyes" and "walking in their shoes". Obviously no one can manage the former, but the latter is the defining difference between non-empathetic and empathetic personalities. Empathy requires the ability to put yourself in another person's position, e.g., "Bob's grandmother died. When my grandmother died, I felt this way. I empathize with Bob." In my own experience, that internal process stops at the first sentence.

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  36. In my own experience, that internal process stops at the first sentence.

    Hmm, good point. I think the only times I can actually 'empathize' with people is when it comes to moments where the appropriate feelings are of elation, fear and anger. Not that it always is the case, but for several scenarios, yes.

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  37. Christ on sale, Notable. Sometimes you make me throw up in my mouth.

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  38. yes, there are so many variables,
    dealing with certain non-socio non-neurotypicals further increases those variables i believe. (they are not so predictable).

    but that's not about 'walking in someone's shoes,' (which is simply about understanding/appreciating a point of view), that's about prediction.

    i think we've drifted off the point.


    my w.verification made me go cross eyed and slightly mental just then.

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  39. What I find interesting is that on days when I'm actually being productive, these conversations seem less interesting to me, and feel an impulse to troll and derail.

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  40. I think the subjects of behavior prediction and empathy got mixed together because some posters were saying that even if they lack empathy they can predict feelings.

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  41. Medusa, what I find interesting is during hours when I'm alert and my brain is clipping along at a good rate of speed, nothing of interest is being said.
    Conversely, when I'm too tired to see straight, much less convey an idea, the conversations seem to be more interesting.

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  42. i think we've exposed some chinks. suddenly, all goes quiet on the socio front.

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  43. Wait, what? Sorry, I just had to find some insulin before I went into a diabetic coma after reading Notable's last few comments again.

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  44. I wouldn't read to much into the lag notme, it's probably just a smoke break.

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  45. Ha, just walked back in after a smoke.

    Diet TNP. Coming to stores near you, Q1 2011.

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  46. Aerianne, dear, you've got my schedule down. ~clap clap~

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  47. Geez. I'm going to bed before my brain starts spilling out on the keyboard.

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  48. Oh Aerianne, it was nice to see your brain spill out further up on this thread. I wanted to say you had good points and shit like that. Cuz you did.

    I wish I had some weed.

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  49. Damn the lizards! All thats left are just bits of skin and teeth..

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  50. You don't predict someone by trying to figure out what their next move is going to be. You predict what they will do by controlling their next move. You should never be reacting, you should constantly be in control at all times. That way their moves become your moves.
    NOTable, career criminals don't cooperate you fucking fink, you people do. We have a future to look after, and rat bastards like you don't have one. That's why you were a punk kid.
    I don't know about anyone else but all this intellectualising your emotions is fucking boring. If we have one more empathy vs milieu I'm going to watch someone cut their wrists. Certainly it will be more entertaining than this bullocks.

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  51. empathy vs (insert name) milieu rather

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  52. empathy vs (insert name) milieu rather

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  53. QUAD POST!!!!!!!!!!!

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  54. You don't predict someone by trying to figure out what their next move is going to be. You predict what they will do by controlling their next move. You should never be reacting, you should constantly be in control at all times. That way their moves become your moves.

    Definitely something to keep in mind in the future.

    Oh, and may I suggest for my future empathy vs. milieu comments, head on over to Ogrish.

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  55. You should learn that Notable, and you should also learn how to have purpose when you speak, instead of putting anything that comes to your mind on the screen for all to see. Action without a purpose is ash. The minute the wind blows it's direction is lost entirely. You leave that direction open to anyone who wishes to wisk you away.

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  56. Ever more words to live by.

    Question: When you say you don't cooperate with lawmen, what is the context of the lack of cooperation, or is it total lack, no matter what? I've not run in such circles, and only have anecdotes and media to reference such. Is there ever an instance where back-stabbing your mates is actually a better move for the sake of self-preservation in these regards? I'd assume doing so would ruin your reputation, endanger you, and anyone connected to you. The only benefit seeming to be, I can only guess, a reduced sentence. Not exactly a Catch-22, but a general, shyte situation.

    My word verification is 'gangs'. Go figure.

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  57. "A scene of Cowboys moving and ushering cattle towards the penn, and juicy steaks in the table". Suddenly that appears clear even in my current fugue state.

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  58. Oh, and may I suggest for my future empathy vs. milieu comments, head on over to Ogrish.

    Just for that comment, NTP, I'm going to refuse to visit your blog for at least another 3 days.

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  59. I would think the offensive typography and lame content would be enough.

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  60. The 45893 point size header font and extra line breaks hurt my eye and scroll finger.

    Well written, though. But still, I refuse to patronize further.

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  61. For certain values of well-written. Maybe my standards are just too high.~

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  62. By the way, PMS, your friend L.Y. has a discretion problem.

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  63. Life in prison is better then life without your reputation. Prison is just another aspect of the game. Its not over because you have to do all day. Its only over when you stop breathing. If you leave someone behind to take your place it continues from your grave. Without your reputation to pass on, you aren't even a ghost. You are forgotten forever.

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  64. No fair, Medusa. You made me think I'd made a friend and then you disappeared. Meanie.~

    This discretion problem on the part of whoever the hell L.Y. is has got me all interested, though.

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  65. I can't comment on it being better, but I'll have to take your word for it in good faith. I know all too well the price of a shattered reputation...

    Oh, and thanks to those of you with the format input. I'm new to Blogger and hadn't spent much time on it. Getting the line breaks to only perform one line break as opposed to two required changing the damned editor and a few other options... Annoying. Any other input would be appreciated, here, there, or my email. Whatever works.

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  66. ﬠ ﬨשּׁבּﬡ בֿטּטּ

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  67. I'm still not following. The translation of that means nothing to me.

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  68. M.E.,

    this is one of the more ridiculous of your pro-sociopath posts. I'm not sure if there's much point in contributing a serious comment.

    But okay, here goes:

    If you have sociopaths as jurors, or juries consisting completely of sociopaths in an empathic mainstream society ... which is the whole point - to include sociopaths in mainstream society functions, yes? ... they'll be likely to pass judgment randomly for the heck of it. They'll start experimenting on reactions to their verdicts.

    Being a juror isn't fun, except perhaps for a few moments when the sentence is being passed based on the jury's verdict. The rest is waiting, discussing at length about somebody else's actions and future, and waiting again, all of it things that only few people can keep their focus upon consistently for any longer period of time since it has nothing directly to do with their own lives.
    Growing bored is not a specific sociopath feature to, it's a human feature. But intelligent people with sociopathic traits have an even harder time dealing with monotonous work that provides low levels of stimuli.

    Whereas I like your ability to 'think outside the box', and I share your interest in the wellbeing of those that we call Sociopaths or Psychopaths (you can say it carries issues that are "close to home") I must insist you lack realistic sense now and then.

    When I first began following your blog some time back, I thought you might be motivated and have the sharpness of someone wanting to 'take things somewhere' (I've hinted at some possibilities now and then).
    Now I'm not so sure.

    But hey, that's all fine and merely having fun is totally okay too. Your blog is undeniably entertaining and so are the comments from my fellow readers, so don't mind my sour comment here. :)

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  69. Who's "we", PMS? Do you have a fetus in fetu?

    And Zhawq, are you someone who wants to 'take things somewhere'?

    Have something specific in mind?

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  70. I suppose I should ask... are you intending the Hebrew or the Yiddish?

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  71. Okay, so you mean Hebrew. That means I have "By Atsaba Abtadt" and "Christopher".

    Neither of these statements mean anything to me. Any more hints?

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  72. לשון־קודש = "holy tongue"

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  73. Yeah, I knew that part. That's how I knew you were using Hebrew.

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  74. اتمنى لو كان لدي بعض الماريجوانا

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  75. And I wish you'd explain yourself so I could go to sleep comfortably. I can't remember any L.Y., and this scavenger hunt approach isn't working for me.

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  76. This discretion problem on the part of whoever the hell L.Y. is has got me all interested, though.

    More clues!

    Y

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  77. Aerianne: You can't reliably predict what actions I will choose even if you factor in experiences you know I've had.
    I’d say that really means that I just need the newest updated version of “What Aerianne Does and Why,” but I get your point. If the key is empathizing, and not knowing with x% confidence what the person will do next and why, then it sounds like you are right.
    Ukan:You predict what they will do by controlling their next move.
    For the sake of this discussion, though, it seems that the question is about being in their shoes and understanding their choices without outside interference. I like where your head is at, but I think that it isn’t the most useful perspective for this thought experiment.

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  78. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  79. Like snowflakes. Precious snowflake steps.

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  80. Pythias said...
    "Like snowflakes. Precious snowflake steps."

    Yep, every fucking one.

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  81. Sociopaths would make terrible jurors. They would have no incentive to make a truly objective and accurate decision, just following their whims. That's justice, right? Right.

    At least empaths have some motivation to produce an accurate judgment.

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  82. Sorry to post so late, but wouldn't working in a slaughter house be a perfect place for a sociopath that has bloodlust impulses to work?

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  83. >Medusa,

    I'm inclined to think the answer to your question was inherent in the very sentence you ask about. But - with a thought to other readers as well - I've written a more elaborate description (addressed to you, honey, dear, Medusa, ^^) of what it is that I mean when I write something like 'taking things somewhere'.

    I've implemented the URL. Go a'clickin' Zhawq's name, readin' folks yo!... ^L^

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  84. Funny you should mention it. I have Jury Duty coming up here very soon. Let the games begin. ;)

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  85. I agree, I think an all-sociopath jury would be very beneficial. I constantly find that I am the only one of my friends able to distance a sense of self from an event. I'm the only one who can view things dispassionately enough to form a decision.

    Bring on the jury ;)

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