Sunday, August 30, 2020

Road trip!

 Hello friends! I am on a roadtrip, slightly different locations and dates than I first tweeted. I'm looking for people in the DC area going east to the Smoky Mountains the second week of September.

Also if you want to meet me at Six Flags in either New Jersey or Virginia the first week of September. 

Or Orlando the third week of September. 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Victoria Part 4

Ok friends! So Blake never made it on the call and sorry it was cut off suddenly in the last few minutes because of an internet glitch. Here's the YouTube link of Victoria and I talking, and the YouTube description:

Victoria and M.E. Thomas swap stories about narcissistic fathers, talk about whether ASPD and BPD are a good match, talk about boundary problems with people who suffer from a personality disorder, nature vs. nurture for developing psychopathy, parallel universes and the trauma psychopaths may feel when realizing that the way they thought an experience was unfolding was really very different. 

I will get back to you on the next zoom meeting as soon as I can confirm them. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Victoria Part 3 and Next Zoom: Blake and Victoria

Here's a link to the interview with Victoria. We pick up where we left off and talk about all sorts of topics, including fear of death and primary and secondary emotions. 

Here's the invite for this Sunday:

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Blake and Victoria 
Time: Aug 9, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 748 1015 4919
Passcode: DwA26L

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Victoria Part 3 Sundar Aug. 3

Here's the invite for the next zoom meeting a week from today:

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Victoria Part 3
Time: Aug 2, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 771 1851 3341
Passcode: hzj8M8

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Arya and Frances Interview Youtube link

Here's the interview with Arya and her ex Frances. From the YouTube description:

Arya (boo of M.E. Thomas) interviews her ex-girlfriend, who was the one who told Arya she might be a sociopath, had Arya read "Confessions of a Sociopath", and sent Arya to meet M.E. They talk about the role of mercy in relationships, the possibility of change, empath/sociopath relations, emotional growth, getting better, strengthening sense of self, kismet, spirituality, personal boundaries, relationship boundaries, etc.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Zoom call tomorrow: Arya and Friend!

Tomorrow we'll talk with Arya and the friend who suggested to her that she might be a sociopath. An hour later than last time!

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Arya and Friend!
Time: Jul 12, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 758 7574 2726
Password: 9uFV3t

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Victoria Asian female psychopath Part 2

This was a super interesting one for me because I've tried to be less ethnocentric about my view of psychopathy, but with the language barrier and travel restrictions, it's been hard to connect meaningfully with any Asian psychopaths, and bonus a female Asian psychopath. Here's the description from the YouTube video:

M.E. Thomas of Confessions of a Sociopath interviews an East Asian woman in her 20's about why it may be easier to "mask" psychopathy in Asian than western cultures. 

1. There's no real word or sense of meaning regarding psychopath in East Asian cultures. 

2. The social norms are all explicit and easy to follow. 

3. Public displays of negative emotions are frowned upon as being a burden on the rest of the community, i.e. they require the listener or observer to respond empathetically, which is considered a little rude, too individualistic, and a burden on the community. 

We also talk about animal experiments, narcissistic parents, guilt vs. shame, and public shaming and community centric punishments in American law and East Asian culture. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Yale Finance Professor Denigrates Personality Disordered Individuals

I don't know why the world of wokeness has not even begun to approach the issue of the stigma of psychopaths, but I thought I would just flag that in a Yale University Coursera course on finance by Robert Schiller, he spends a whole module on personality disorders, including ASPD and BPD. Why? I don't know. Can you imagine sitting in his class diagnosed with ASPD, BPD or another personality disorder and hearing him give you his take on how these people will not succeed in finance but will end up in jail?

From the transcript:

The movie The Big Short suggests that some people in the finance [LAUGH] profession have antisocial personality disorder, is that true? Well, there's a literature on this, I think the answer is no, those guys are in jail. That the profession like, the finance profession, like other professions is pretty successful in discovering these disorders, but on the other hand, there might be an attraction. If you read the list of symptoms of antisocial personality disorder, it does fit, but I think that it's not true. That, like in any other profession, we are successful, and you can't hide these things for too long, and you'll end up caught. It's unfortunate we have to deal with these, it's 3% of our male population has this disorder, we have to live with it. Anyway, I'm just going to conclude with these psychological principles that I talked about are involved in many things that happen in the financial world.

There you have it, you can't hide these things for too long, you'll end up caught. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Blake Video and Victoria Part 2 Invite

Here's the video from today with Blake, fresh out of prison.

Here's the invite for next week's part 2 interview with Victoria:

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Victoria Part 2
Time: Jul 5, 2020 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 797 9854 2315
Password: 3THw1T

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

New Interview Sunday Blake 20s East Coast Felon

Hello friends! I am excited for this next interview. I met him while he was in prison and am so happy that he is out, join me this Sunday for a conversation with Blake and I'll share how I was almost kicked out of visiting hours.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Blake East Coast 20's felon psychopath
Time: Jun 28, 2020 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 719 0233 5520
Password: 6hy2S3

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Self Part 2 with Elsa, Eddie, and Ryan

Here is last week's video about the self with our psychopath friend Elsa, my brother and philosophy major Eddie (whose philosophy interest is self but until recently has not been able to identify anything beyond an illusion of self) and empathy Ryan (who has struggled with knowing herself but has tried new techniques to get beyond the surface labels). We talk about the first 1/3 of Bruce Hood's Illusion of Self. If you're interested in that book, here is a list of quotes you might like and if you google specific passages you'll find a Russian cite with the whole book (although I decline to post the link).

Victoria: Asian female 20s scientist married poly-amorous psychopath interview.

Hello friends!

I'm going to try to post last week's video on self as soon as I can get the slightly edited version, but here is this week's Zoom interview with Asian female 20s scientist married psychopath Victoria!

This is the astrology test we referenced.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Next Zoom meeting June 21st

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Asian female, 20s cancer patient, scientist, self-identified sociopath
Time: Jun 21, 2020 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 736 6390 4501
Password: 8V9uxH

Friday, June 12, 2020

Next Zoom meeting Sunday 10 am PDT on Self!

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Elsa and M.E. Brother
Time: Jun 14, 2020 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 791 3277 7257
Password: 6KpGq8

Monday, June 1, 2020

Alex and George Part 2 Video and Mormon Psychopath interview

Here is the video for Alex and George Part 2.

Here's the information for my interview with an ex-communicated but returning to the church
Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) psychopath-identifying individual.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Mormon Sociopath
Time: Jun 7, 2020 09:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 784 4852 3671
Password: 9VDqxh

Sunday, May 24, 2020

UPDATE! Time and date for Part 2 Alex and George Sociopath/Empath relationship interview

Here's the link for today's interview with a couple, one of which is a self-identified psychopath and one of which is not.

I had so many follow up questions that I asked if George and Alex could do a follow up interview, and they graciously agreed. Same time and day.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Alex and George Part 2
Time: May 31, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 745 2648 9985
Password: 0wiCtU

Sunday, May 17, 2020

UPDATE!!! Time change again, sorry! Elsa interview link and Socio/Empath relationship invitation

Sorry about the timing mix-up for the last one, but see the recording here. Zoom messed up the recording a bit so it's just my head, sorry.

Here's the info for next week, also a Sunday morning in Los Angeles, European Sunday evening because our guests are a psychopath/empath couple, going to be on talking about relationship and other stuff.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Socio Empath relationship
Time: May 24, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 718 1228 4940
Password: 2PH7GT

Monday, May 11, 2020

Arya interview video link and Elsa interview invitation

Here is the link to the interview with Arya.

For Elsa, on the advice of a listener, we're going to try to have a more structured audience participation. So come prepared! Or feel free to lurk as always. But we're going to be discussing this Slate article from an American lawyer who specializes in Chinese law.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Elsa and Arya
Time: May 17, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 712 4489 6244
Password: 5mhHH0

Tweets referenced:

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Zoom Week 4 link and Week 5 Saturday night Asian Sunday morning

Here is a link to Zoom week 4 where we talk to Arthur.

Here is the information for Week 5, which will be Saturday night Los Angeles time and Sunday morning Asian time. Guest will be my psychopath boo, Arya.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Sociopathworld 20 0509 Arya
Time: May 9, 2020 06:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 792 1039 7856


Saturday, May 2, 2020

Zoom week 3 youtube link and Zoom details for Monday 5/4

Here's the video for last week. Our guest had technical difficulties and didn't end up making it in time, so it turned into just a little Q&A about filling out forms, ethics, moral inconsistency, and religion.

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Sociopathworld Zoom Meeting 20 0504
Time: May 4, 2020 12:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 716 4707 5746

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Zoom week 2 Youtube link and Next meeting Monday April 27th

Here is the interview with our Australian friend.

Here are the details for the next meeting, Monday because our interviewee is busy on weekends:

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Sociopathworld 20 0427
Time: Apr 27, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 743 6678 9171

Thursday, April 16, 2020

UPDATE to the UPDATE!!!! Saturday 7:30 p.m. Zoom meeting details


M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Sociopathworld M.E. Thomas
Time: Apr 18, 2020 07:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 748 1613 2923

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Zoom Week 1 YouTube link and Zoom Week 2 Time

Hello friends! Thanks for trying out Zoom with me. This is a link to the video. It's blurred this time, but next time please make sure that you exclude any personally identifying information or any information that you wouldn't like made public so we don't have to blur it.

We're going to do next week during Americas Saturday evening and Asiatica Sunday morning: Saturday 6:30 PDT (Los Angeles). I'll post the link in a bit. We'll try to mix up the format this time too, both technically and substantively.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Zoom get together Easter Sunday morning!

Hello everyone! We're going to try to do a Zoom meeting tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. - 12:10 p.m. PDT (Los Angeles). Here is the meeting code:

Feel free to participate by asking questions, lurk anonymously, or whatever else you might like to get up to that is not disruptive to the other participants. You should be able to participate via your computer audio and video (if you choose) or type questions in the chat feature.

For those who cannot make it at that time period, I think we're going to alternate weeks and do the first week morning U.S./evening Europe and then the next week evening U.S./morning Asia/Australia. If someone can figure out the perfect time to do it worldwide, let me know.

I'm going to try to record the discussions and post them on YouTube. If you do choose to log into the Zoo meeting, you acknowledge and agree to the terms of use on this website, including providing me a nonexclusive perpetual license to use any material from the Zoom meetings that you contribute.

Apologies in advance for any technical hiccups, I'll try to keep getting better at this. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Spotify playlist and regular Zoom meetings?

I thought some of you might enjoy listening to my favorites (mostly chill) for your WFH.

If you want to chat about the music sometime, I might set up a Zoom or something. In fact, I enjoyed the aforementioned Killing an Evening Zoom webinar so much I thought maybe we could do a similar format on the regular, maybe Sundays (to replace church for me). I'll try to get the details to you ASAP, but let me know in the comments if that is something you'd be interested in.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Panelist for Killing an evening: The inconvenient truth about psychopaths and sociopaths

I'm going to be participating in an online Zoom panel Thursday 9 April, 7.30pm - 9.00pm London.

Here is the info. Signing up is free, but limited. Relevant details and sign up link:

Killing an evening: The inconvenient truth about psychopaths and sociopaths.
Psychopaths are commonly viewed as evil serial killers, but many top athletes, business leaders, journalists and comedians have psychopathic traits; are psychopaths helpful for a prosperous society? If there is a neurobiological basis for personality disorders, what does it mean for our understanding of free will and culpability in the criminal justice system? And why are we all addicted to watching psychopaths and sociopaths on TV and in films?

The panel
Luke Jennings - author of the Killing Eve novels.
Dr Luna Centifanti - a senior lecturer in Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool, where her research focuses on the development of psychopathic traits in children.
M E Thomas - a high-functioning non-criminal sociopath and author of Confessions of a Sociopath.
Dr Mark Freestone - a senior lecturer in psychiatry at Queen Mary University of London and a consultant on the TV series Killing Eve.

This event is part of Life Science Centre's Science Speakeasy programme – a series in which important and often controversial topics are debated. No question or statement is taboo, so these events are not suitable for anyone who is easily offended!
At events held in Life Science Centre, a cocktail bar is available; for Virtual Science Speakeasy, we want you to replicate the experience in your living room, so pour yourself a drink, dim the lights and get comfy on the sofa.

Register your place at our Zoom event by clicking the link below and enjoy a lively night of debate from the comfort of your own home, and even raise a virtual hand to ask our panel a question.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Waking up to Self

I recently stumbled upon this very old comment that I thought was interesting and relevant to current events:

We're born narcs, then our parents starts to exhibit control and dominance. In other words, they are psychopathic towards us. "It is for your own good". This role is later taken over by the society. Collectivism, mores, police and so forth.

But already as children, most people give up. They give up their true desires and personality, and then start to create something, which most aren't. They define themselves by their creation. "I am lawyer"... Not you're not. you have studies laws, because you had to get a fcking living and salary. And you probably picked something you suspected would maximize income per effort. And deep down we all know it. It is just so hard, and often impossible, to find an alternative escape from that fact and from the "dominators". So if someone comes around and remind "you" of reality, "you" become frustrated, because "you" had forgotten about being "arrested", being "under control". You had accepted it, and even developed the Stockholm syndrome. You were doin fine till someone reminded you that it is all just bullshit. So you fight. You have to keep the false ego in place. Even though you know it is false. Because, in reality, alternatives are very few. One of them is suicide. And some people opt for that. Others need a very bright mind. Most people don't have that.

I have learned that parents, in my society, are allowed to do to their children, what a grown up would be imprisoned for years for doing. And I just had to ask why it is like that ? Well, I think I have touched some possible answer to it in my first paragraph.

Weird World

Monday, March 30, 2020

Covid-19 and Reactionary thinking

I've been tweeting a lot more. Probably because I think the world has gone a little sideways, but mostly not because of the virus. I know in times of uncertainty people have a tendency to be more fearful (I have noticed people struggle with uncertainty). Others will try to profit and superimpose their previously held viewpoints on the situation in a way that is more opportunistic and transparent than I am used to seeing. I thought this was particularly true of this NY Times piece about how as early as 2006, the United States federal government found that it was 700,000 ventilators short in the event of a pandemic. Rather than just buy more ventilators, it tried to contract with medical device companies to produce some very cheaply. Companies submitted buds, but it wasn't until 2010 (a few months after the H1N1 outbreak, so already too late for the next pandemic) that a contract was signed with a company. So it took  4 years of the government dicking around from realizing it needed 700,000 ventilators to signing a contract to procure those ventilators. Remember, design and production are still years away. 

The lowest bid was for 15% the going rate of ventilators by a very small, unproven company. Why 15%? Apparently the government really didn't feel like this emergency surplus warranted paying retail rates. To me, this is a little like (as I tweeted) leaving my car on the side of the road gasless and waiting until gas prices drop below $3 before I gas it up again. Like knowing that you don't have fire extinguishers for your 50 story building, but waiting until they go on sale for 85% off until you buy any. This alone is not the craziest part of the story to me, in terms of shocking government decisions.

$6M government dollars later, the contracted for medical device company got stalled at FDA approval in 2012 (apparently because it didn't work on infants), but the NY Times article tried to make it seem like the failure was because the company was intentionally purchased by a bigger company to stifle innovation (no sources were named to support this proposition). The contract was finally cancelled in 2014.

But now 8 years after it realized it was short 700,000 ventilators and not being able to get a single one (at least according to the NY Times), instead of just buying ventilators on the open market the federal government again chooses to contract with a medical device producer, Philips. I can't really tell from the gaps in the NY Times timeline, but I think that contract happened around 2014. Philips has also failed to produce any usable ventilator in the past 6 years. Why? The FDA: "It wasn’t until last July that the F.D.A. signed off on the new Philips ventilator, the Trilogy Evo. The government ordered 10,000 units in December, setting a delivery date in mid-2020."

The NY Times take on this, with zero facts to support their argument:

The stalled efforts to create a new class of cheap, easy-to-use ventilators highlight the perils of outsourcing projects with critical public-health implications to private companies; their focus on maximizing profits is not always consistent with the government’s goal of preparing for a future crisis.

Whoa kay! Sounds like a defamation lawsuit to me, especially since Medtronics (the parent company of the original contracting party) is not in any way a public figure under the Supreme Court standard from NY Times v. Sullivan and its progeny.

People have a lot more spicy takes nowadays. The arguments I see most from though-leaders are that these circumstances call for extreme measures, and don't worry we can just trust them that what they're saying is necessary and if we don't comply we lack empathy and are team virus and should be fined or imprisoned. At least, that's according to my local subreddit that is saying that surfers who want to still surf during this pandemic are "entitled fucking children" lacking in "empathy".

I've seen other people savagely (gleefully, I think) tear apart Richard Epstein after this New Yorker interview. Not his ideas, mind you, just him, or perhaps in fairness laser focusing on some ideas they disagree with and ignoring his other points.

I guess that's the most common thing I have seen that scares me, much more than the virus -- that people are no longer willing to attack other people's ideas, they seem to be only attacking people. And the people they attack are people who do not share the same "feelings" they do about what is happening.

Because the truth is even the data we have is extremely all over the place (even when you exclude the the Chinese data and try to account for differences in culture, etc.). If you hear anyone say that they know what is happening, you can know for a fact that there is no definite evidence to prove practically anything. We are in the extreme position of flying blind on almost every level.

So why attack each other personally and not the ideas? And here's what I mean using Epstein as an example. I think the main issue that people seemed to take with Epstein is that he said that viruses evolve, and tend to (1) evolve in response to their hosts responses and they (2) evolve to weaker strains, which I don't know anything about but a quick google turned up innumerable sources that support number 1, including this peer reviewed article from two years ago in the journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution. And again without spending too much time on this issue, I found in support of number two this and this. But read the interview, it's crazy how much of a set-up hit piece it is and how cherry-picked their own experts are to contradict Epstein. They knew ahead how they wanted to discredit Epstein, not just his ideas but to discredit him as a person. Why? Because Epstein made the mistake of asking what is the basis for all of this non-democratic action from the executive branches in this country:

Well, I’m saying in effect, by this particular point—this is not the medical side—is after you start declaring emergencies you have time for reflection and adaptation and modification, which you don’t have in a fire case. So the political point is one which essentially says, when you see governors of three major states putting out statements that their experts have said this, that, and the other thing is a result, and you don’t see the studies and you can’t question the assumption, I regard that as a serious breakdown in the political process. So my view on that particular point is I’d like to know which of these studies they’re relying on. If it’s the New York Times studies, then I thought that that study was mistaken for the reasons that I was trying to give you a moment ago, which is that as the virus becomes more apparent, adaptive responses long before government gets involved become clear.

The craziest thing is he doesn't even criticize them for acting with urgency, he just says that now that we have some down time and this is the new normal, maybe they could do us the favor of explaining what models and assumptions they're basing their decisions on.

I want this too. I'm tired of being subject to mob mentality throughout with people who appear to be (at least to me) fear driven and not thinking as well as I am used to seeing from them, but instead being reactionary and making knee-jerk decisions with lasting consequences on the spur of the moment with seemingly little before-thought. But even some of that, that's ok that's predictable, that's fine. Pandemics, I get it. But what about after thought, i.e. thought after we've jumped to decisions and conclusions about what we think is going on or should be going on? What about allowing new ideas in? What about challenging what we think we know? What about attacking ideas instead of people? What about using data instead of feelings? Can we at least agree that those precepts don't go out the window in an emergency?

Hopefully another we can get back some humility to question our own thinking and that of our leaders, lest we turn out like Hungary.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Religious moral reasoning vs. guilt and getting better

A reader sent me this video of David Woods (Christian psychopath) talking about his religious conversion and how he gets pushback from other Christians because he still doesn't feel guilt.

First, him explaining (I don't think super well) about guilt. 

Second, him talking about how religious people insist that feelings of guilt are a necessary part of religious conversion/salvation. 

I remember when I got judged by some members of my own church, they said that it wasn't necessarily what I had done in the past that made me such a bad person, but that the way that I felt about it. I thought that was a totally anticipated reaction for people to have because my religion does emphasize to a certain point one's change of heart over the ledger recording one's actions in life, whether good and bad. That is, someone might have a change of heart at the last minute death row style and still be just as worthy of salvation as someone who had been "good" their entire life. On the other hand, it's obvious a mental health disorder to not have the same feelings of guilt and to expect someone to feel differently is like expecting gay people to not be attracted to members of the same sex. So I feel like this thoughts vs. action issue is something that many if not all religions have had to evolve their thinking on as we learn more and more the limits of controlling one's thoughts and feelings.

A quick word about guilt. The way I explain a sociopath's lack of guilt is through sense of self. Shame is something that society imposes on you to make you feel bad because you have violated one of their moral constructs. Guilt is a feeling that you have violated your own moral construct or self construct. For instance, if you think of yourself as being an honest and generous person, you may feel guilt if you behave in a dishonest or selfish way. But if you don't think of yourself in any sort of terms, either as being dishonest or honest, you won't ever have experience guilt because you won't ever violate your own self concept. I think sociopaths can regret that things didn't play out differently, and they can even feel remorse when they understand that it was their action that led to things paying out poorly or hurting people that they didn't want to hurt but maybe in a moment of extra impulsivity they did hurt.

Here's his video saying that before a sociopath can get better, he has to see himself as having a problem or being flawed or missing something, rather than seeing sociopathy exclusively as a super power.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Knowledge vs. Understanding

One thing I hear a lot from people is that sociopaths know right and wrong, i.e. if you asked them to say what is the right thing to do in a particular situation, they'd more than likely give you the "right" answer. Consequently, the argument goes, sociopaths are responsible for all of their actions to the same degree as a normal person. I've tried to use the analogy before of how most children understand the "right" answer regarding stealing, hitting, not waiting their turn, not sharing, etc. but that we don't expect them to have the same capacity to behave well as we would a neurotypical adult. I think this difference between knowing something and understanding something was illustrated well in this video.

On the positive side, just like this guy learning how to ride the messed up bike, I think that sociopaths can learn to perspective take (which is basically empathy) and to learn to think more of others and other "good" behavior (or behavior which promotes "good" actions). I actually think the bike analogy is really good because like the hard wiring we have regarding riding a bike, the sociopath got hard wired at a very early age -- hard wiring that is very difficult to ignore or bypass. Just as the man describes needing to concentrate the whole time while riding the messed up bike and if anything should happen to distract him, he crashes, even a sociopath that has learned the "good" behavior mentioned above will likely socially or morally "crash" if there are too many other things taking up his or her cognitive load. I do think with practice the sociopath can get better and better, like learning a foreign language, but we should not expect sociopaths to just understanding good behavior automatically, just like we shouldn't expect a normal person to understand how to ride the messed up bike automatically. 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The origins of criminality as a feature of sociopathy (part 3)

Because it largely captures people who commit crimes, either sociopathic or non, the PCL-R is both over-inclusive of non-sociopathic criminals and under-inclusive of non-criminal sociopaths. (Id, citing Lilienfeld, 1994.) At best, research based on the PCL-R can be characterized as “a literature on unsuccessful psychopathy.” Id. However not all sociopaths are unsuccessful. Rather the “great majority of psychopaths” have (Id, quoting Hercz, 2001, ¶ 11.) via their “ individual differences in talents and opportunities” channeled their psychopathic tendencies not into criminality, but into heroism, worldly success, etc. Id, citing Cleckley, 1976; Harkness & Lilienfeld, 1997; Lilienfeld, 1998; Lykken, 1995. Hare himself has conceded, most sociopaths are not criminals.

Although Hare never filed suit, he successfully delayed publication of Skeem and Cooke’s article by three years. He was also roundly criticized as improperly interfering with the peer review process. In an article titled “Fear Review,” Scientific American writes : “’It was [a] shock,’ Skeem says of Hare's legal threat. ‘this is not about Professor Hare, and it's only incidentally about the Psychopathy Checklist,’ she says. ‘The focus was really on how we could move the field forward.’”

Hare conceded in his response to Skeem and Cooke that the PCL-R does not embody the concept of psychopathy, nor is criminality a necessary component, but there are only twenty factors and three of them specifically deal with criminality: “criminal versatility”, “juvenile delinquency” and “revocation of conditional release” (revoked parole). Another is “many short-term marital relationships”. Only half of the factors track Cleckley sociopathy.

How did non-Cleckley traits enter the PCL-R?

[B]ecause participants in the PCL development sample were criminals rather than nonincarcerated patients or nonpatients, it seems likely that the initial candidate pool included many more deviance-related items, such that [Cleckley’s] positive adjustment indicators dropped out in the selection process. The result is that the PCL-R, compared with Cleckley’s original diagnostic criteria, contains items that are uniformly indicative of deviancy and psychological maladjustment.

Patrick, et al. (2009).

Studying exclusively criminals and then assuming sociopathy must be related to criminality seems like an obvious sampling error. If I exclusively studied my church congregation for sociopathy, could I properly infer a connection between sociopathy and organized religion? Even Hare admits “the majority of psychopaths aren't criminal,” so how could he be satisfied basing his test exclusively on criminals?

Despite round criticism from the psychological community, the PCL-R’s psychopath has left a lasting academic and public impression. Notwithstanding mounting research to the contrary, the dominant popular view of sociopathy is Hare’s criminal recidivist remorseless killer. This is the psychopathy of Hollywood murder movies. I too am scared of such a person, although I haven’t yet encountered one.

Modern researchers remain divided between Cleckley’s carefree bon vivant and Hare, Rollins, McCord and McCord’s criminal deviant.  While Cleckley’s view of sociopaths amounted to emotional colorblindness, Hare et al. depict a “bad egg” rife with moral rottenness – a severely emotionally damaged individual characterized by a loveless and guiltless existence of unrestrained malice for fellow man. Id. Where Cleckley saw “boldness,” they see “meanness.” Where Cleckley saw a lack of connection to the sociopath’s own feelings and the feelings of others, they see a vicious disregard for the feelings of others. Id. Cleckley sought to understand underlying thought patterns, they sought to label external behavior. Cleckley saw a potential patient, they see a social predator. Cleckley saw a problem for which he was seeking a cure.[i] They see a problem that needs to be identified and isolated to protect society, or as Hare has said:

Measurement and categorization are, of course, fundamental to any scientific endeavor, but the implications of being able to identify psychopaths are as much practical as academic. To put it simply, if we can't spot them, we are doomed to be their victims, both as individuals and as a society.

Hare’s remorseless criminal psychopath is associated with “Factor 2 psychopathy”. While Factor 1 traits track Cleckley’s sociopath, Factor 2 adds new traits largely associated with deviance. Not surprisingly, there is little correlation between Factor 2 and Factor 1 traits. In fact, some flatly contradict each other:

  •         High aggression, impulsivity, and sensation seeking. Harpur et al., (1989); Hare, (1991).
  •         Aggression provoked by reactionary anger. Patrick & Zempolich, (1998); Porter & Woodworth, (2006).
  •         High levels of alcohol and drug dependence. Hare, (2003); Smith & Newman, (1990).
  •         Deviant behavior.  Hall et al. (2004)
  •         High disinhibition and boredom, anger, alienation, distress at negative everyday events. Id.
  •         Low conscientiousness and low interest in achievement. Id.
  •         Low personal socioeconomic status. Id.
  •         Historic and future crimes against people, including violent crimes. Skeem, Mulvey, and Grisso (2003)
  •         High aggressiveness. Id.
  •         Low agreeableness and lower connection to or interaction with other people. Id.
  •         High FFM neuroticism (worrying or negative feelings about everyday incidents), low FFM agreeableness, and low conscientiousness.

o   Interestingly, these are exactly opposite of the Factor 1 results for these categories.

Patrick, et al. (2009).

How can the same group be characterized by both high emotional reactiveness and low emotional reactiveness? Are they angry anxious drug addicts or are they happy-go lucky charmers? Are they impulsive sadist below-the-poverty-line loners or socially dominant Machiavellian CEOs? Are we looking at violent offenders who have a hard time regulating their overpowering emotions or feckless opportunists who have a hard time feeling their own or others’ emotions? Are they primarily emotionally or intellectually driven? Reactive or proactive?

As researchers have posited, the same group can’t really be both, unless we’re talking about two or more separate but related things. Perhaps, as some have suggested, one thing is more nature and the other nurture. Some say one is a sociopath and the other is a psychopath. Or one is a primary sociopath and the other a secondary sociopath. Some say they have the same underlying cause, but only manifest differently. For example, that sociopathy manifests itself naturally in boldness, and meanness is only what happens when you combine sociopath plus risk factors, e.g. childhood neglect or abuse, low socioeconomic status, low education, single parent household, etc. When Cleckley’s emotional blindness is given prosocial outlets, they argue, it can lead to “social efficacy, imperturbability, and tolerance of danger” and if not, “impulsivity, rebelliousness, alienation, and aggression.” Id. This would explain the shared traits (fearlessness and boldness) you see between criminal and non-criminal sociopaths as well as the differences in behavior between the two.[ii]

[i] Cleckley’s position was that he knew of no treatment, but he blamed it in part on the collective evasion of the issue by the psychological community and society at large rather than any definitive evidence of there being no treatment:

Although I spared no effort to make it plain that I did not have an effective therapy to offer, the earlier editions of this book led to contact with psychopaths of every type and from almost every section of the United States and Canada. Interest in the problem was almost never manifested by the patients themselves. The interest was desperate, however, among families, parents, wives, husbands, brothers, who had struggled long and helplessly with a major disaster for which they found not only no cure and no social, medical, or legal facility for handling, but also no full or frank recognition that a reality so obvious existed.

….the psychopath presents an important and challenging enigma for which no adequate solution has yet been found. Although still in the unspectacular and perforce modest position of one who can offer neither a cure nor a well-established explanation, I am encouraged by ever increasing evidence that few medical or social problems have ever so richly deserved and urgently demanded a hearing.

Cleckley, “Mask of Sanity”.
[ii] See, e.g.:

“The boldness component of psychopathy, which is tapped weakly and incompletely by the items of the PCL-R, is important to distinguish in turn from the meanness component, which is well represented in the PCL-R. One reason is that the distinction between boldness and meanness is crucial to reconciling Cleckley’s conception of psychopathy with that advanced by more criminologically oriented theorists (e.g., McCord & McCord, 1964; Robins, 1966). Another is that boldness, although phenotypically distinct from meanness, appears to share a key etiologic substrate (i.e., diminished fear capacity). This raises the important developmental question, discussed in the last major section below, of what intersecting etiologic factors give rise to meanness as opposed to boldness in temperamentally fearless individuals.

Yet another reason is that the construct of boldness is likely to be of unique importance in understanding so-called “successful psychopaths”: individuals exhibiting high levels of charm, persuasiveness, imperturbability, and venturesomeness who achieve success in society as military, political, or corporate-industrial leaders (cf. Lykken, 1995).”

Patrick, et al. (2009).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The origins of criminality as a feature in sociopathy (part 2)

Cleckley’s sociopath was “bold”, boldness here being “a capacity to remain calm and focused in situations involving pressure or threat, an ability to recover quickly from stressful events, high self-assurance and social efficacy, and a tolerance for unfamiliarity and danger. Terms related to boldness include fearless dominance (Benning, Patrick, Blonigen, et al., 2005), daringness, audacity, indomitability, resiliency (Block & Block, 1980), and hardiness (Kobasa, 1979).” Id. Bold individuals are likely to show: “social dominance, low stress reactivity, and thrill–adventure seeking (Benning et al., 2003; Benning, Patrick, Blonigen, et al., 2005) . . . imperturbability, social poise, assertiveness and persuasiveness, bravery, and venturesomeness.” Id.

Boldness was evident in [Cleckley’s] case descriptions and diagnostic criteria in terms of poise and high social efficacy, absence of anxiety or neurotic symptoms, diminished emotional responsiveness, imperviousness to punishment (“failure to learn by experience”), and low suicidality. Other historic writers concerned with psychopathy in psychiatric patients as opposed to criminal samples (e.g., Kraepelin, Schneider) also identified bold externalizing types. Id.

Cleckley studied non-criminal sociopaths at a large inpatient facility. No other researcher has focused so extensively on non-criminal sociopaths.

Most researchers studied criminals, and consequently defined sociopathy as a dark strain of criminal deviance. Early researchers William Maxwell McCord and Joan McCord painted a picture in “The Psychopath: An Essay on the Criminal Mind” (1964) of a socially detached, predatory, aggressive, and remorseless individual plagued by angry-reactive forms of aggression and resultant criminality. Similarly Lee Robins, whose work underlies the DSM-V’s “Antisocial Personality Disorder” (ASPD), focused on a maladjustedness marked by persistent aggression, criminality, and destructiveness. Robins (1966, 1978).

Around that same time, Robert Hare developed his Psychopathy Checklist (now revised, PCL-R), based on the Canadian criminal population. The PCL-R is the most popular diagnostic tool for sociopathy. Hare based it on Cleckley’s sociopath, however, it is distinctly darker:

In contrast with Cleckley’s portrayal of psychopathic patients as personable and ostensibly well meaning but feckless and untrustworthy, this latter perspective conceptualizes psychopathic individuals as cold, abrasive, and aggressively exploitative in their interactions with others.

Patrick, et al. (2009).

Cleckley saw “boldness.” Hare substituted “meanness.” Why? Interestingly, Hare’s own early work also found boldness instead of meanness. Id. What changed?

Alice, a sociopath I met in Australia, theorizes that it wasn’t the sociopaths that changed, but Hare. Alice thinks Hare is biased. In fact, she goes so far as to tell me she believes he’s a subclinical narcissist. Her evidence for narcissism includes Hare’s statements that suggest he has a fragile ego and needs to be liked by others. For instance, you could read the following statement as a theory about how most people feel, or you could read between the lines and see someone who is overly concerned with how he is perceived by others:

“We are haunted to some degree by questions about our self-worth. As a consequence, we continually attempt to prove to ourselves and others that we are okay people, credible, trustworthy, and competent.”

He does seem to take the misdeeds of sociopaths personally, for example he warns:

“All the reading in the world cannot immunize you from the devastating effects of psychopaths. Everyone, including the experts, can be taken in, conned, and left bewildered by them.”

Hare speaks from personal experience. He is on record describing his first encounter with a sociopath “Ray” as a long con in which Ray influenced Hare to break prison rules. Hare said he did what Ray asked to build a “rapport”. Due in part to Hare’s influence, Ray received a plum job in the prison mechanic shop. When Hare’s tenure at the prison ended, Ray performed a tune-up on Hare’s car. The brakes failed while Hare was driving down a hill, family in tow. A local mechanic confirmed that the brakes had been rigged with a slow leak. 

Alice thinks this early experience and his continuing inability to build a rapport with prison sociopaths caused him to harden his heart against them. Alice thinks he sought payback by portraying them in the worst psychological light possible, destroying their possibility of parole.

Alice’s theory for Hare’s anti-sociopath bias is consistent with the facts as we know them.

To give you an idea of Hare’s lack of scientific objectivity, in his book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us he calls sociopaths the “monsters of real life” and warns:

“On a more personal level, it is very likely that at some time in your life you will come into painful contact with a psychopath. For your own physical, psychological, and financial well-being it is crucial that you know how to identify the psychopath, how to protect yourself, and how to minimize the harm done to you.”

Hare has manifested other narcissistic traits. In a widely publicized move, he threatened to enjoin the publication of an academic, peer-reviewed article that criticized his PCL-R. The article, by researchers Jennifer Skeem and David Cooke, argued that “the PCL–R weighs antisocial behavior as strongly as—if not more strongly than—traits of emotional detachment in assessing psychopathy.” Consequently, it “is overly saturated with criminality and impulsivity (Blackburn, 2005; Forouzan & Cooke, 2005)” and as such, it “imperfectly maps psychopathy” and “does not fully correspond to Cleckley’s (1941) conceptualization, on which it is purportedly based.” 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The orgins of criminality as a feature of sociopathy (part 1)

“People tend to think of psychopaths as criminals. In fact, the majority of psychopaths aren’t criminal.”
--Dr. Robert Hare

In his seminal treatise The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So-Called Psychopathic Personality (1941), Hervey Cleckley theorized that sociopathy was due to an underlying impairment in emotional processing, e.g. an emotional colorblindness.

Common manifestations of this impairment included emotional disconnectedness:

  • ·        lack of feelings of guilt
  • ·        shallow emotions
  • ·        self-centeredness
  • ·        lack of empathy
  • ·        insincerity
  • ·        lack of awareness or understanding of their own emotional states
  • ·        failure to imbue sexual behavior with emotional meaning

Adaptive (positive) traits:

  • ·        intelligence and social aptitude
  • ·        absence of irrationality
  • ·        boldness and confidence
  • ·        low incidence of suicide

And maladaptive (negative) traits:

  • ·        deceitfulness
  • ·        unreliability
  • ·        impulsivity
  • ·        failure to learn from experience
  • ·        unrealistic expectations that things will work out
  • ·        recklessness, especially when intoxicated
  • ·        atypical sexual behavior

Modern researchers would call Cleckley’s sociopath a “Factor 1 psychopath”. Factor 1 traits make up the first half of Robert Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) and/or the similar set of personality traits in Scott Lillienfeld’s Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI).

Factor 1 sociopaths are associated with:
·        High social abilities and emotional resilience. Hall et al. (2004).
·        High five-factor model (FFM) extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness. Id. The Five-Factor Model includes the five major personality traits that all people share in different levels: extraversion, openness to experiences, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and agreeableness. These standardized traits are used to compare different personality types or reflect the prevalence of certain personality characteristics in particular populations, like sociopaths.
o   FFM extraversion is associated with social confidence, social adeptness, and charm.
o   FFM openness is associated with novelty seeking, adventurousness, and openness to unconventional beliefs and behaviors.
o   FFM conscientiousness is associated with an awareness of the effects of one’s actions.
·        Low FFM neuroticism. Id.
o   FFM neuroticism is a preoccupation with avoiding negative experiences or punishment, worrying, focusing on problems, and an inability to cope with every day stressors. People low on neuroticism are much more influenced by positive rewards than punishment.
·        High verbal intelligence and personal and parental socioeconomic status. Id.
·        High self-interest and self-regard, prone to manipulation and Machiavellian behaviors. Harpur, Hare, & Hakstian, 1989; Hare, 1991; Verona et al., 2001.
·        Long-term planning to use people and things in an instrumental way to achieve the psychopath’s desired aim. Patrick & Zempolich, 1998; Porter & Woodworth, 2006.
·        Low empathy. Hare, 2003.
·        Social dominance. Hare, 1991; Harpur et al., 1989; Verona et al., 2001.
·        Low fearfulness, distress, and depression. Harpur et al., 1989; Hicks & Patrick, 2006.
·        Low physical responses to fearful situations. Cf. Patrick, 1994, 2007.

Patrick, Fowles, Krueger (2009).

Are you surprised at how many positive characteristics there are? It’s easy to imagine how traits like emotional resilience and social dominance could promote success. Or how low fearfulness and depression might improve overall mood? How extraversion and adventurousness might help in love, business, and overall life satisfaction? Indeed, I receive several emails a month asking me to help the writer become more sociopathic.

Noticeably absent in Cleckley’s sociopath are traits like intentional cruelty, sadism, misanthropy, or even violence. Id. In fact, only three out of fifteen of Cleckley’s sociopaths showed high interpersonal aggressiveness. Id. They were no one’s angels, but nor were they devils. Instead, they were “charming ne’er-do-wells who harm others incidentally rather than deliberately.”  Id. Cleckley even argued that sociopaths are less prone to violence because they’re less likely to be emotionally triggered. Id.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Trading stocks like a sociopath

My friend sent me this NPR quick 10 minute piece on investing in the stock market and what tends to be the best strategy overall -- buy and hold.

I remember talking about this just a bit in the book, about how I have beat the market year after year. I don't think I am super good at picking stocks. Maybe just a bit better than average. I think this is one thing that I am super great at, though, which is not letting my emotions dictate whether I buy/hold/sell. I do think sociopaths might be bad at stocks for other reasons, including impulse control short sightedness, and a novelty seeking tendency to self destruct a bit every few years or so. But if you can somehow avoid those sociopath pitfalls, I do think sociopaths can have a bit of an advantage long term over the average investor. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Shame as the root of narcissim

My sister in law has been reading "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead" by Brené Brown and sending me quotes.

I think this one is such a good point, especially on the heels of this post on what is actually the best way to help a sociopath change their behavior. Re narcissists:

"Here’s where it gets tricky. And frustrating. And maybe even a little heartbreaking. The topic of narcissism has penetrated the social consciousness enough that most people correctly associate it with a pattern of behaviors that include grandiosity, a pervasive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. What almost no one understands is how every level of severity in this diagnosis is underpinned by shame. Which means we don’t “fix it” by cutting people down to size and reminding folks of their inadequacies and smallness. Shame is more likely to be the cause of these behaviors, not the cure."

“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”

Same thing for sociopaths. Their grandiosity and self centered behavior comes from a profound lack of sense of self. They don't recognize or honor the boundaries of other people because the sociopath has no sense of his own boundaries. He was never taught to understand, respect, or make space for the vulnerability of others because he was taught from his earliest ages to stifle his own vulnerability and to take up no space, to be a cyper.

Along those lines, from the same book:

"The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself. I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections. We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both. We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices. You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel. I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude. I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable. When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life. Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it. We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here. As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly. I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you."

Sunday, January 12, 2020

"What matters is behavior"

I try to read most of the comments and I saw this one that raised interesting points:

I should have mentioned: I like that video because it's message is that what matters is behaviour, not nature of experience. Behaviour is pertinent to evolution; regardless of how motivation might vary between types of individuals.

The video the comment references is here:

I recognized this belief as being the one that I had for 95% of my life. It was the one that I advocated multiple times in the book, that "what matters is behaviour, not nature of experience." And I still do believe it in so many instances. For instance, I do believe that sociopaths love, even though it is different than the way that other people experience love.

I was also just reading about Shaquem Griffin, who is a one-handed NFL linebacker. He told the story of how when he was young, there were weight minimums and maximums for the league he was playing in. At one of these weigh-ins, he was told he was too heavy, even though he had weighed himself the night before and was fine. He had his coach re-weigh him and he was within the proper range. When they confronted the official that said that he was too heavy the official confessed that it wasn't so much about the weight, the official said what he said because he was too uncomfortable having a boy play who was one-handed. This seems like a very good application of experience vs. behavior. Is he able to play? Then he should be able to play. I don't feel like someone can validly come in and say that he can't participate in all life has to offer just because others experience the same situation differently.

And I think that was always what I was thinking about when I voiced that belief -- that behavior matters over internal experience. Because I didn't want my personality disorder to limit me in any way. I wanted to have enriching relationships and lasting and rewarding jobs and maybe even kids! (Although that last one turned out to not be in the cards for me.) So what if my risk/reward meter was always on. So what if my love was as shallow as a sandbar? These things all felt very real to me, despite not experiencing them in the same way that others did.

But my brother recently shared with my a BYU talk with the following passage:

The challenge is not so much closing the gap between our actions and our beliefs; rather, the challenge is closing the gap between our beliefs and the truth. That is the challenge.

This is more how I feel now. Because when your beliefs are based on true and right principles, it's much easier to act accordingly. When you see good and loving behavior as a natural form of self-expression, that becomes that most natural way for you to behave.

I think a related point is the question that some people have about how much responsibility a sociopath has for their actions. My pinned tweet is "I'm not saying that sociopaths aren't responsible for their actions, but they're certainly not responsible for being sociopaths." Even that gets push back from people who think that sociopaths are trying to eschew any responsibility for their actions. It it oft cited and accurate that a sociopath often knows what the morally "right" answer is in any given situation. But the sociopath does not have an actual belief in the rightness of the thing. To the sociopath, even well decided moral issues are seen as essentially social conventions. To them there's not much difference between the moral issues you fault them for and using a shellfish fork properly.

Some of you are probably less gross than I am, but at least when I was younger I remember washing my hands after using a restroom much more frequently in public than I did in my own home? Why? Because I knew it was the "right" answer, but I myself did not value washing my hands in most situations. I think everyone does things like this, even daily. But imagine the world of a sociopath in which you do things like this dozens of times per day -- always conforming your behavior without ever having the belief. If you want to know how difficult this is to sustain, look at how often sociopaths self-destructive (or how often you give up your New Year's resolutions).

I think the key to a sociopath having greater life living sustainability and being and feeling "better" is not in changing behavior, it is in changing beliefs. Unfortunately, hardly anyone in the psychological community is willing to help sociopaths change their beliefs and it's almost impossible for them to do themselves, like a game of blind man's buff.

I'll write a little more on this in the next post.

Here's the more full context from the BYU quote:

People say, “You should be true to your beliefs.” While that is true, you cannot be better than what you know. Most of us act based on our beliefs, especially what we believe to be in our self-­interest. The problem is, we are sometimes wrong.

Someone may believe in God and that pornography is wrong and yet still click on a site wrongly believing that he will be happier if he does or he can’t help but not click or it isn’t hurting anyone else and it is not that bad. He is just wrong.

Someone may believe it is wrong to lie and yet lie on occasion, wrongly believing he will be better off if the truth is not known. He is just wrong.

Someone may believe and even know that Jesus is the Christ and still deny Him not once but three times because of the mistaken belief that he would be better off appeasing the crowd. Peter wasn’t evil. I am not even sure he was weak. He was just wrong.

When you act badly, you may think you are bad, when in truth you are usually mistaken. You are just wrong. The challenge is not so much closing the gap between our actions and our beliefs; rather, the challenge is closing the gap between our beliefs and the truth. That is the challenge.

So how do we close that gap? 

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