I thought this recent comment was an interesting explanation of why people fear the unknown, particularly sociopaths:
You are upfront, but to what degree? You are telling us that you are manipulative for various reasons, and then asking us to take what you say at face value. You are different, you lack something, and we don't know what the effect of that is just as we don't know what could set off a dangerous predator. Do you trust a wolf, or a tiger? Maybe you would, if you were a wolf or a tiger. But you're not, so you break those creatures down to the impulses and instincts that make them dangerous - predators, cunning, violent. Nevermind that they are also caring, sweet animals that can show affection and mercy.
In essence as a society, it's difficult to accept that there are people like you walking around as a member of the human family; just as individually it would be hard to accept the knowledge that we lacked the ability to control harmful impulses.
This comment reminded me of a time I visited a different continent for a wildlife tour. There were several dangerous animals and we were warned several times about avoiding them. However, we would also have impromptu picnics in the middle of the wildlife preserves. At one of these open-air picnics, I was chatting with a friend until she gasped, grabbing my shoulder in a vice grip, "Oh my God, we're going to die." I looked around us and we were surrounded by a 30 or so large rodent looking things. It was the first time we had seen this particular animal and our guide was not around to tell us what they were. Maybe my friend was overreacting, but maybe she wasn't, I thought, trying to remember whether the list of dangerous animals might possibly have included these. Even small animals can be dangerous, I rationalized -- think of those honey badger videos!
Or rabies? And it's not like we were close to any hospitals, should anything happen. The most unnerving thing about these animals, though, was the way they started closing in on us. It was like a Twilight Zone episode -- when we were looking directly at them, they would remain perfectly still, but every time we looked away, they would advance closer to us until they were within pouncing distance.
Without knowing anything about these animals, I had no clue how to react but my friend insisted that we abandon our food and try to wend our way through the fast approaching crowd. Unfortunately, a second, much larger species had appeared (or a more menacing adult-sized version of the first?). There were 60 or more animals between us and our tour vehicle and as we inched our way forward, my friend clutched my arm as if she expected impending death. We finally were able to climb onto the hood of the vehicle and waited there until our guide returned thoroughly amused at our reaction to what turned out to be perfectly harmless (in his mind), cuddly creatures.
Since returning home, I often think of this experience when I see commonplace wildlife native to where I live. How is it that I never noticed how ubiquitous squirrels are? Can they be rabid? Can raccoons hurt me? Was I wrong for worrying that the foreign animals were dangerous? Or am I wrong for not thinking more about the more familiar dangers that I encounter on a daily basis?
So although I can relate to the fear of unknown/sociopaths, it's also important to consider how concerned you want to be. Would you want to kill, lock up, or otherwise persecute a group of people because you don't understand them (and have made no real effort to try to understand or peacefully accommodate them)? Do they warrant that? Or not? Maybe you figure you've already been living a life with sociopaths without realizing it, like I had been living surrounded by squirrels without really noticing them, so how concerned should you be? Of course sociopaths are not like squirrels, more like bears or sharks or lions, but does the existence of those animals keep you from going camping? Or swimming? Or from copulating in Africa? Maybe. It's true that people have different tolerances for risk. Some are too afraid to even leave their apartment.