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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Are sociopaths happy?

This blog recently discussed the Gethin's question of whether sociopaths ever suffer from depression.

An equivalent question is, are sociopaths happy?

The best answer I can think of is: are great white sharks happy? Just as it's hard to imagine a great white shark getting depressed, it's also hard to imagine them feeling peacefully contented. They must get a feeling of satisfaction from grabbing a seal in their jaws, shaking it, and ripping the flesh off it. But it's a temporary feeling, and great white sharks have to keep moving, or they die.

These sharks are always ravenous, never quite sated, and remain on a sort of psychic autopilot. They are not inward-looking, introspective creatures. And they never stop to worry about whether what they're doing is "right."

In fact, even in the womb, they'll devour their own siblings.

And they spend the rest of their lives looking of their next victim.

Sociopaths are much the same. They always want more, and will do anything to get it.

Sociopaths feel physical pleasure every bit as much as the next person. In fact, because of their low level of inhibitions, they find physical pleasure hard to resist.

And sociopaths enjoy the feeling of schadenfreude even more than the rest of us; they are connoisseurs of it.

Although sociopaths can counterfeit love, affection, gratitude, and loyalty so well that to the naive they appear to be walking repositories of those emotions, they never actually feel them. So they never feel the warmth of those emotions can bring.

And sociopaths never feel the quiet satisfaction to be had from a good book, or a crossword puzzle, or a subtle turn of phrase. They need to be out and about, actively manipulating people and gaining their admiration, and, if there's anything to be gained, screwing them over.

Sociopaths also get a certain glee from fooling people -- sport lying -- but it's a very temporary satisfaction, then it's on to the next one.

Similarly, for "affect-hungry" sociopaths, like the one described in the previous post, who have a bottomless need for others' affection and sympathy and admiration -- and who will lie in order to receive such -- no amount of attention is ever enough. So they must tell more people that they have cancer, or that they were Navy SEALs, or whatever other lies it takes to get their undivided attention.

There's no rest for the scary.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ken Boyer, classic sociopath

The Daily Mail ran this article today about a con man who romanced multiple women while telling them that he was dying of stage 4 liver cancer:

A dying cancer patient who married the 'one that got away' this month despite having just weeks left to live is a conman, his ex girlfriends claim.

Ken Boyer didn't think he'd make it to his birthday next month after being diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer, according to his daughter.

The 60-year-old, of Palm Bay, Florida, even reached out to and married his 'long lost love' Michelle Kimbrel - who gave up her job to care for him - earlier this month.

But now multiple ex-girlfriends of Boyer have come forward to call out the 'cancer patient' as a fraud after reading about his wedding in the Daily Mail.

Karen Hagerty, a teacher from Winter Haven, called Boyer 'a master manipulator and conman' who just appeared to be after some free meals and a place to live, Click Orlando reports.

Another ex, Cheryl Alvarez said Boyer would call her his 'Jamaican princess' and talked about marriage with her even though they never had a sexual relationship.

But she became suspicious of his claims he was suffering from stage 4 cancer when they took a motorcycle trip they took together from Miami to Key West.

'It's five hours to the Keys and five hours back, someone going through liver cancer stage 4 can't do that,' she said.

Hagerty and Alvarez are among a long line of exes who say they were fed the same lies by Boyer.

All of them met him on, and all were told he had cancer.

Boyer even used the same 'love at first sight' line on every single woman he met, it is claimed.

The ex who says she suffered the most at Boyer's hands was Barbara Jones, of Sebastian, Florida, who filed civil lawsuit against Boyer last week.

In it, she alleges that he had borrowed $22,000 from her - and never returned the cash.

Jones said that Boyer moved in with her in September 2015, after they met on a golf course, and he told her that he loved her and was planning to spend the rest of his life with her.

She says that that she too was told about his 'cancer' which would then 'miraculously' go into remission.

Jones says she paid for everything, including all the household bills, until her wallet 'finally broke' in January this year. Boyer left a short time later.

'The man is a menace,' she wrote on Facebook. 'Manipulator and habitual liar doesn't even scratch the surface!'

She says that since he left her, Boyer had left a trail of broken heart and lies.

Trish Marsee, a hairstylist in Winter Park, said she became suspicious when Boyer wanted to move the relationship so fast - telling her he loved her on their first date.

'There were red flags as far as him pushing to move in with me and pushing to have a relationship,' she told WKMG-TV.

She says they only went on a few dates before she ended it, feeling 'I'm too young to be a caretaker.' He said he had a lot of illnesses.'

Boyer's current wife Kimbrel says she and Boyer had began communicating on Facebook earlier this year after meeting 20 years ago in a Missouri bar, but losing touch.

After exchanging a few brief messages, he told her about his condition and Kimbrel offered to take a leave of absence from work to come and care for him.

'I'll talk to them and see what I can do. I will take care of you,' Kimbrel, who is a grandmother, told Click Orlando.

She flew to Florida on April 19 and Boyer proposed a few hours after their reunion.

The pair tied the knot earlier this month.

At the time Boyer described the wedding as being the best possible end to a 'really good life' adding that he was 'ready' to die.

The groom did not disclose what kind of cancer he is suffering or exactly how much time he has left, only that the pair were planning to move back to Missouri to seek alternative treatment.

Yesterday, Boyer was defensive when reporters challenged him about his ex-girlfriends' claims.

'I'm not denying that I know them. I have dated them all, I am not going to play their game. The people that truly know me and truly love me still do, but you haven't talked to any of them. You are only talking to angry, hateful, jealous women.'

He also appeared to dodge the questions about his 'stage 4 cancer.

'Nobody said anything about weeks to live, and I'm sorry the drama card was used to sell the story, but we are done with this,' Boyer said.

However, the channel stated that Boyer's daughter claimed her father would not reach his next birthday which is in June.

Boyer declined to present any medical evidence of his diagnosis. 

Boyer shows a lot of the classic signs of sociopathy. First, pretending to have cancer when you don't is a time honored sociopathic scam. It incorporates dishonesty, manipulativeness, and heartlessness, all in one. (It's often referred to as "Munchausen's Syndrome," and it's driven by a need for attention and sympathy. But really, it's just an offshoot of sociopathy.)

Second, telling all of these women that he felt "love at first sight" for them shows an emotional dishonesty that is another sociopathic specialty, proclaiming positive feelings he simply didn't have. 

Third, scamming a woman you claim to love out of $22,000 is also a neat sociopathic trifecta, combining dishonesty, cruelty, and shamelessness. 

Fourth, accusing one's victims of being "angry, hateful, jealous women" is what sociopaths always do: attack and belittle people who tell the truth about them. 

And fifth, Boyer is a master of that sociopathic trick, being able to produce tears upon command. Here's an article from the NY Daily News which includes a video of Boyer talking about his cancer. Look at the video from the :54 mark to about 1:01. You'll see Boyer saying he's had a really good life, and how God's been good to him, but if it's his time, it's his time. (How brave!) If you've never knowingly seen a sociopath drip with sincerity while lying, you should watch Boyer's tearful performance; it's masterful.  

Boyer is a good-looking guy, but I couldn't help but be struck by his thin lips. Here are a few pictures of him from the Daily Mail article: 

Once again: you won't find the thin lips correlation mentioned in any psychology textbooks, and I certainly can't explain it logically. Maybe I shouldn't mention it, since it probably lowers my credibility on the subject of sociopathy. But, I do keep seeing it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The imperfect messenger

Given how incredibly biased the media has been about Trump, and how hard they try to inflate his every faux pas into a major scandal, it's hard to tell what's real from what's fake. But one thing that's clear is that Trump himself hasn't been helping matters with his personal style.

I support almost all of Trump's stated positions from his campaign. We need to enforce our borders, especially with regard to Islamic terrorists. We need to play hardball with China, have better relations with Russia, and help the middle class by bringing jobs back to this country. And, we shouldn't be engaging in the Sisyphean task of nation building abroad.

I don't blame Trump for the fact that some of his good faith efforts have been stymied by Congress (with the Wall, and with sanctuary cities) and the courts (with immigration). With other issues, it's less clear; but there may be hidden reasons for some of the shifts in stances (for instance, we may need China's help in dealing with North Korea).

But in the meantime, Trump is the ultimate in distractibility. Late last week he had to throw a jab at Rosie O'Donnell (telling her that they finally agreed on something -- that James Comey should have been fired). It was sort of funny, but it was also beneath the dignity of the Presidency. And it wasn't even in response to anything recent, just a gratuitous leading jab.

When people actually insult him, Trump's narcissistic personality and ADHD together render him incapable of not firing back -- whether it's O'Donnell, Chuck Todd, Alicia Machado, Kizr Khan, or Alec Baldwin. Trump's ego simply won't allow him to let an insult go unavenged. And, he seems incapable of admitting that he is not the best at everything, ever.

Presidential candidates used to run ads asking whom you would trust to have their finger on the nuclear button at 3 AM. In the next campaign, they'll be asking whom you would trust not to have his finger on the Tweet button at 3 AM.

A President is supposed to at least pretend to be noble, and gracious. I've never quite bought into the canonization that Ronald Reagan seems to have undergone in Republican circles, but he was a master at acting gracious.

Reagan hit his peak in that regard after being shot by John Hinckley. As he was wheeled into the operating room, a bullet in his chest, he joked to the assembled doctors, "I hope you're all Republicans." If it had been Trump, he would have said, "I hope you're all top rate doctors. Because I deserve the best -- the very best. Hey you, where'd you go to med school?"

Afterward, Reagan told his wife, "Honey, I forgot to duck." Trump would have spent the rest of his Presidency grousing, "That Hinckley....what a loser. Jodie Foster is way out of his league. He's right where he belongs, in a mental hospital. What a loser."

Imagine if FDR had a running feud with some minor entertainment figures, and had constantly sniped at them in his fireside chats. "Oh, and can you believe that fat sow Marie Dressler? She's as big as a house -- and ugly to boot. Her career is really going downhill fast. And Claudette Colbert, what a moron! What she knows about foreign policy I could fit in a thimble!"

Abraham Lincoln was once supposedly asked (apocryphally, I'm sure) how long a man's legs should be. His famous reply: "Long enough to reach the ground." If it had been Trump, he would have replied, "My legs are the ideal length. I'm six foot two inches, which is really the perfect height for a man. The perfect height."

George Washington reportedly told his father (in another obviously apocryphal tale), "Father, I cannot tell a lie. I chopped down the cherry tree." Trump would have said, "Father, that cherry tree was blocking the view from the foyer. We have such a great view now, what I did was a great move. The property is worth a lot more this way, believe me. It was a really smart move."

I'm still rooting for Trump to be able to make good on his campaign promises. It's just hard to root for the man personally.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Aspergers Syndrome and violence

I've mentioned previously that a lot of the recent mass shooters seem to have had Aspergers, or possibly a stronger form of autism. Another thing I've observed about Aspies is that they feel freer to hit people. This is obviously a far milder form of aggression, but it's hard not to notice the correlation.

I'm not sure exactly why they do it. It could be a reflection of their tendency to lash out when they feel they've been spited. It could be an inability to deal with frustration. It could be partly just a simple lack of empathy.

But they do lash out, and always seem to feel justified. I was once punched in the shoulder by a female Aspie, four times in a row. It didn't hurt, and when I laughed, she got even more infuriated.

I've was once kicked in the leg by another female Aspie; that did hurt. And when I expressed annoyance and told her how much it hurt, she laughed, thinking I was lying.

In a way, Aspies are sort of a modified version of a full blown autistic who'll go crazy and start hitting you. (Think of the title character's mentally disabled brother in There's Something About Mary, who seems to have been created  from firsthand experience.)

When I was a small boy my parents were friends with a couple who had a daughter about my age whom I've always thought of as retarded, though she had no physical manifestations as with Downs Syndrome. When the families got together to go camping, she would occasionally get excited and just start hitting me for no reason. I would just look at my parents, or her parents, and her parents would always gently remonstrate with her and pull her off me. In retrospect, I wonder if she didn't just have full blown autism.

I'm reminded of her when I think of how I've been hit by people with the far less severe form of autism, Aspergers.

If anybody has had any similar experiences, I'd be curious to hear about it.


Michael Jackson's daughter Paris has been in the news lately for her recent Calvin Klein modeling contract, for having been signed for a movie with Charlize Theron, and for her penchant for nudity.

She certainly is beautiful:

And she's the spitting image of Michael!

That should put to rest once and for all those ugly rumors that Michael was a child molester.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The nature of "hate"

I just happened to stumble across this picture of Middlebury students turning their backs to the podium where Charles Murray was supposed to have delivered his speech a couple months ago:

You'll notice the sign protesting the "hate" speech. Murray is deemed a "hater" because of his book, The Bell Curve, in which he acknowledged, in a couple of its roughly 900 pages, that intelligence has a genetic basis, and that there are, on average, differences between the races.

The idea that mentioning an obvious fact makes one a "hater" is one of the more ridiculous propositions that the Left promotes.

I know that men are, on average, physically stronger than women. This doesn't mean I hate women. And I readily acknowledge that blacks are, on average, more naturally talented at sprinting than whites are. This doesn't mean I hate whites.

In fact, the very idea of that emotion being sparked by either of those differences in ability seems absurd.

I'm also aware that whites, on average, have higher IQs than blacks; this doesn't mean I hate blacks. To hate a group of people based on their average IQ would be downright silly. The vast majority of my personal interactions with blacks are positive; in fact, as I've noted before, when blacks are friendly, it usually seems more genuine than when whites are.

True hatred is an intense, extremely personal emotion. It usually implies a bitter grudge which has grown over time, and is usually based on a series of unpleasant incidents. It would be awfully hard to muster that emotion for someone with whom you've had no contact.

For example, I have never -- to my knowledge -- met an Australian aborigine. So the idea that I could somehow bear them all personal ill will on the basis of knowing their IQs average in the 60's seems awfully farfetched.

Here's another way to look at it: if I hate people simply for having low IQ's, wouldn't that imply that I love people with high IQ's -- and that the smarter they are, the more I love them?

As someone who went to Harvard and worked at Goldman Sachs, I can assure you -- with 100% certainty -- that this is not the case.

What's really going on here is projection. I've pointed out previously that sociopaths have accused me of being sociopathic, Aspies have accused me of having Aspergers, and gays have accused me of being gay. It's also true that decent people generally think the best of others, whereas sociopaths tend to think the worst.

In much the same manner, many on the Left assume that because they are filled with rage and resentment, their opposite numbers must be the same. So they accuse those on the Right of being "haters." Even worse, they label any sort of realism "hatred."

I think I can speak for most on the Right when I say I reserve my hatred for liars and hypocrites -- like those who lie about race, advocate policies based on those lies, and call the truth "hatred."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tony Robbins encourages clients to be more sociopathic

I explained last month how Tony Robbins is a sociopath.

What Robbins essentially exhorts his clients to do is to be more like him -- more like a sociopath. His philosophy has certainly worked for him. He HAS unleashed the giant within, he is incredibly successful (with a net worth reportedly over $500 million), and his philosophy does work -- in certain circumstances.

Robbins is right: once you think you can succeed, you are more likely to. This is partly why so many sociopaths are incredibly successful -- as politicians, as hedge fund managers, as Hollywood producers, and as titans of corporate America.

He has his clients walk across coals and do parachute jumps to prove to themselves that they can overcome their fears and can do more than they previously thought possible. (Sociopaths tend to be fearless and think they can do anything.)

Robbins has people jump up and down and yell out responses to his questions. (Sociopaths are uninhibitedly verbal in public.)

He encourages participants to yell out how much they believe in themselves and how they will succeed. (A sociopath's mind is often in an egotistical whirl.)

Robbins exhorts his seminar attendees to go out and take action and conquer the world. (A sociopath never doubts himself, and is always ready to do whatever is necessary for his advancement.)

And he essentially tells them not to be paralyzed by fear or discouragement, but to take action. (Sociopaths, as discussed in the previous post, don't seem to suffer from clinical, paralyzing depression.)

Telling non-sociopaths to be more like a sociopath actually isn't bad advice.

Robbins doesn't tell his clients to be more disloyal, dishonest, and destructive. Though when you think about it, those sociopathic qualities might help some of them succeed, too.

Do sociopaths suffer from depression?

A few days ago, on the Red flags for sociopathy post, Gethin asked a question that hadn't occurred to me before:

Do you think it's possible for sociopaths to experience depression? I know it's possible for them to have anger issues, and for them to be sad about things, but I've never seen evidence that they can experience the same sort of disabling clinical depression that normal people can. In Hervey Cleckley's 1940s book, he says that suicide threats from sociopaths are rarely carried out. Many years ago I suffered from depression so bad I had psychomotor retardation, where I could sit in a stupor for hours. I somehow can't picture sociopaths having that disease.

It is hard to imagine a sociopath having the sort of disabling, clinical depression of the sort Gethin describes. I've seen sociopaths get discouraged, and be frustrated, but I can't recall ever seeing one in the throes of a disabling depression.

This may have something to do with their narcissistic natures, and their resulting ability to lie to themselves and convince themselves that they will triumph in the end because of their innate superiority.

The basic thought going through the mind of a depressive is, "I suck and there's no hope for me." But a sociopath's mind simply doesn't work that way.

I've heard it said -- and this expression was undoubtedly coined by a depressive -- that depressed people are simply people who see the world the way it is. Sociopaths tend to see the world it suits them to see, and they tend to see idealized version of themselves. When they look in the mirror they see an invincible -- and incredibly cool -- warrior who will triumph in the end.

Does that optimism render them immune to depression? To some extent, it probably does.

The other factor involved here is that sociopaths, when they do get down for whatever situational or neurobiological reason, react to that feeling differently. Instead of becoming essentially paralyzed, and sitting alone in a room feeling helpless and hopeless, they are far more likely to distract themselves with substance abuse, or criminal activity, or by using whatever means they can to make others feel bad (in a "misery loves company" sort of way).

I guess, if you want to escape your depression, you should think more like a sociopath.

Maybe elves not that good after all

After seeing The Lord of the Rings, I realized that elves were on the side of goodness and light:

But then yesterday the NY Post ran an article with the headline Teen arrested for recording girl hanging herself from tree, with this picture of the miscreant, Tyerell Przybycien:

Now I'm totally confused.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Primitive hairlines

The typical New York Times reader dismisses the New York Post as a tabloid which caters to people's basest instincts -- which is precisely why I prefer the Post. My baseness, and the Post's more commonsensical editorial section. (And make no mistake, the editorializing in both newspapers extends to their decisions about which news to put on the front page.)

You're certainly going to learn a lot more about human nature by reading a "lurid, sensationalistic" paper like the Post than you are by reading the Times, which has downright Victorian sensibilities when it comes to describing human nature as it really is.

Aaron Hernandez has recently been in the Post quite frequently, for his double murder trial, his jailhouse fights, his suicide, his gay prison fling, his financial status, and so on. He was pretty much trouble personified.

And every time I would see a picture of Hernandez --

-- I would be struck by his low hairline. It was hard to escape the conclusion that that low forehead, coupled with his high testosterone (he was 6' 2", 235, and a professional football player) made Hernandez's life of violence seem almost preordained.

Two days ago the Post had an article about the Phoenix serial killer having been caught, and ran this picture of him:

His name, coincidentally, is Aaron Juan Saucedo. For a period of about five months, between March and July of 2016, he terrorized a mostly Hispanic neighborhood in Phoenix by randomly shooting people after dark.

It's my vague impression that about half the time I see a photograph of someone with such a strikingly low hairline, it's in connection with a violent crime.

I realize I'm not dealing with a lot of data points here. And I'm sure there are more people with such low foreheads who are not murderers than who are.

Nonetheless, there does seem to be a correlation.

The only other conclusion I could come to is that you should beware of people named Aaron.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

How steroids mold the body

Two nights ago ran an article about Brazilian Nicholas Santos, who at 37 swam the second fastest 50 meter butterfly in history (and the fastest without a tech suit).

The article featured this photograph of Santos:

Does it not seem almost embarrassingly apparent that Santos is juicing? Here's another picture of him from a few years ago:

His body has all the usual steroid signatures: the line between the pecs is well-defined all the way up to his collarbones; his deltoids taper down to a well-defined point on the sides of his arms; he has convex trapezius muscles; he has a medical muscle chart level of definition; and he has veins popping out in places you wouldn't expect, like the outside of his right forearm in the top picture.

I'm sure he's passed all the drug tests he's been given, like many notorious juicers in sport. But the dopers are always a step ahead with new designer forms of artificial hormones for which tests haven't been devised yet.

Swimming seems to be a relatively clean sport. I think most of its biggest recent stars -- Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Katie Ledecky, and Sarah Sjostrom -- are all obviously clean. But swimmers who look juiced aren't all that rare. And it's particularly suspicious when the athlete in question doesn't have any other markers for high testosterone levels.

When you see someone like French rugby player Sebastien Chabal, who was obviously hyperandrogenized as he was growing up --

-- big muscles are supposed to be part of the equation. They fit with the Neanderthal brow, the prominent nose, the wide cheekbones and the big bone structure, all of which express a naturally high testosterone level:

And Chabal, though he was listed as being 6' 3" and 249 pounds, doesn't even look overly muscular.

It's far more suspicious when someone who is basically boyish-looking -- meaning, their facial features and bone structure don't reflect their having had a high level of testosterone while growing up -- has abnormal musculature. An example of that would be Adam Peaty, the British Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100 meter breaststroke:

His huge arms simply don't "match" his boyish face and tiny waist. Here's another picture of Peaty:

Another example would be Ben Proud, who a couple weeks ago tied the second fastest ever 50 meter freestyle in textile:

I'm not saying Peaty and Proud are necessarily on steroids -- though the visual evidence is pretty telling. (I think most British swimmers are clean, a statement I wouldn't make about the Brazilians or Chinese.) And, I obviously don't have proof that any of the three swimmers shown above are taking PEDs.

But bear in mind that it's awfully hard to develop such chiseled, bulging muscles while swimming six or so miles per day. Daily hard swimming workouts tend to wear one down and result in long, relatively slender, loose muscle, not the kind of muscle which would look at home on a body-building stage. Contrast the swimmers pictured above with the following examples of world class swimmers with more typical swimmers' builds.

Jack Conger, the American record holder in the 200 yard butterfly:

Will Licon, the American record holder in the 200 yard breaststroke:

Clark Smith, the American record holder in the 500 and 1650 yard freestyles:

Ippei Watanabe, the world record holder in the 200 meter breaststroke:

Aaron Piersol, who still holds the world record in the 200 meter backstroke:

It's virtually impossible to swim the distances required to be a world class competitor and be left with a sharply defined, bulging, body builder-like physique.

One must always allow for the fact that human beings come in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes. But when you see certain patterns, it's hard not to be suspicious. Especially since steroids leave their mark on a body as indelibly as gluttony, or a taste for tattoos.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

What's wrong with Kim Jong Un?

What is Kim Jong Un's syndrome? Is he a sociopath? Psychotic? Or just garden-variety narcissist with unlimited license?

His actions are so bizarre, in so many different ways, that it's tempting to just settle for saying something like "Guy's got a screw loose," or, "He's out of control." Neither of those statements, of course, would convey any useful information. But, neither would be wrong, either.

I've tried hard to pigeonhole him, but I can't: there's no recognizable pattern of behavior, no familiar tics that make me think, aha -- that's his syndrome.

And add to that the fact that the news we get is often misleading, and it's sometimes hard to tell truth from fiction. Yesterday an article in the NY Post said that Kim Jong Un was claiming that the US and South Korea had conspired to assassinate him, and that the CIA had snuck operatives into North Korea to that end.

That sounds like paranoia, and given all the other outlandish claims Kim has made, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. But -- and this has to be said -- it's also plausible. Trump has escalated tensions with North Korea recently, and the most effective way to end the threat of a nuclear strike from that country would be to kill Kim.

So, who knows.

Kim would, based on some of his other actions -- killing his uncle and his half-brother, among many others -- seem to suffer from paranoia. And paranoia, according to all the psychology textbooks, goes hand in hand with delusions of grandeur, which Kim obviously in abundance.

(Kim is a little reminiscent of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, who was given to saying, "Off with his head!" The difference is that in that book, the queen's courtiers would never carry out her orders, whereas Kim's minions do.)

But, Kim does present an a tempting target. So maybe these other people were plotting against him. Plus, how many of those killings are due to people close to Kim planting a bug in his ear in order to eliminate their own enemies? All we know is, we'll never know for sure.

And even when it comes to his delusions of grandeur, how many of those are actually his, and how much are merely the machinery of the state? Remember, he is the son of Kim Jong Il, who had these titles bestowed upon him, and about whom it was said by the state press that he would regularly shoot "three or four holes in one" per round of golf.

North Korea is obviously an incredibly repressive regime, where not only the press but the citizenry speak their minds at their own peril. If Kim had created this society himself, it would be say to say he was a sociopath. But Kim basically inherited a dictatorship. And if that's all you've ever known, it would take a pretty remarkable person to change it.

At the same time, making excuses for Kim this way is a little like saying that we should sympathize with Ted Bundy because he was the product of incest and had been lied to about his parentage as a child. Just because Kim grew up in such extraordinarily warped circumstances doesn't mean he's not a sociopath.

Usually, it's fairly easy to find about someone's family background simply by checking out the Early Life section of their bio on Wikipedia. But Wikipedia gives no sense of what Kim Jong Un's relationship with his mother was.

And what the North Korean press has said about Kim's father doesn't exactly seem reliable: that when he was born on top of a sacred mountain, winter turned to spring. And that his body was so well calibrated that he never needed to urinate or defecate.

Anyway, all of this is a little like trying to analyze the last emperor of China, the boy king Puyi, who ascended to the throne in 1908 at age two years and ten months. He grew up in such unique, extreme circumstances that the normal rules of behavior -- and probably even psychology -- don't apply.

And the same obviously applies to Kim Jong Un. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to get some sense of his personality.

Is Kim Jong Un just extremely narcissistic because he's effectively been spoiled rotten from the time he was very young?

Is he autistic? That would be easy to believe too, given his seeming lack of personal skills. (Though really, he never really had to.) And if he does drop one of his nuclear bombs on a nearby country, that would be the equivalent of some Aspie -- like Christopher Harper-Mercer, or Elliot Rodger, or Adam Lanza, or Seung-Hui Cho -- erupting in a violent autistic meltdown.

Kim doesn't seem schizoid. Although it's easy to attach the word "crazy" to his behavior, if he were in fact psychotic, he wouldn't have been able to hold onto power. And his father wouldn't have chosen him over his various brothers and half-brothers as his successor.

There's such a syndrome as "learned narcissism," which is sometimes applied to movie stars, rock stars, and sports stars. These people have been so indulged, and so lionized, that they essentially just learn to act in a narcissistic fashion.

(Who among us can say that if we were lavished with praise and catered to at every turn, we would not learn to become self-indulgent?)

In a similar way, is it possible that Kim has "learned sociopathy?" As in, absolute power results in absolute corruption? Maybe he didn't start out that way, and maybe his mother actually loved him, and he was the recipient of her affection growing up. And maybe if he had inherited a benevolent monarchy, he would have somehow ended up a benevolent monarch.

In the end, it probably doesn't make any difference. If Kim is not a sociopath, he might as well be. Because whether or not his family background predisposed him that way, he now acts like a sociopath.

And as Kurt Vonnegut once said, you are what you act like.

So if Kim's claims about the CIA were right, well, they had the right idea.

Friday, May 5, 2017

"Man admits posting photo of murdered dog to get back at wife"

Here are the first three paragraphs of this NY Post article from today:

The dog of an estranged Oklahoma couple became a casualty in their bitter lover’s quarrel when the husband killed the pet as revenge.

John Samuel Hise Sr. confessed to murdering the dog and then posting photos on Facebook to upset his wife, who he claimed cheated on him with his brother, according to news station KFOR.

The Facebook post came with a cryptic message: “What or who is next I on a [roll],” Hise said.

Here's a picture of Hise:

We don't know enough about Hise to say he's a sociopath, but his actions are all of a piece. 

Long term marital squabbles can result in a lot of anger, but most people wouldn't go so far as to kill their spouse's beloved dog. What kind of guy would? The kind who came from a family which inspired so little loyalty that the brothers would screw each other's wives. 

Hise's implied threat to his wife -- that he's on a roll and that she's next -- also fits. His original words, "What or who is next I (sic) on a role (sic) today," imply that he's not too bright, either. (Not that IQ has anything to do with character -- sociopaths come in a full range of IQ's.) 

At first glance, Hise's raised eyebrows and wrinkled forehead would seem to indicate concern, but if you look more closely, there seems to be a certain self-righteousness written into his features (though that could be my imagination).

I also can't help but notice his thin lips. Long term readers of this blog may remember all the times I've pointed out how heterosexual Caucasian sociopaths often seem to have those near-lipless mouths. I know it makes no sense, and I can't think of a reason why it would be so, but I keep seeing it. 

Anyway, it's always gratifying somehow when you see someone who seems fairly easy to figure out. The next post will be about someone I can't figure out.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How sociopaths keep you off balance

"Isabelle" described her recent experience with a sociopath on the Red flags for sociopathy post last night. She taught me some things about sociopaths I had been unaware of before. Here's her comment (with my responses not in italics):

I had an encounter with a sociopath yesterday which made me think of adding to this post. Duping delight, couldn't keep it off her face no matter how hard she tried, kept me off balance by asking inappropriate questions and if I tried to deflect her line of questioning, she would contradict me under her breath, obviously not all sociopaths are that overt I realise but it surprised me how grossly entitled she'd have to be to supply her own commentary.

She also complimented me inappropriately not long after meeting which had me on red alert since the timing and everything was off, usually when people notice my good qualities they would never bring it to my attention, but she was bombarding me with compliments within 15 mins of meeting, equally she turned it around and was calling me schizophrenic 15 mins later. Compliments followed by criticisms is a sociopath favourite as well as advertising their punches, at one point saying that she wasn't sadistic, which given everything she was doing, conning me out of large sums of money, was in fact what she was.

The too premature flattery I'm familiar with, but I hadn't realized that sociopaths would follow that up with insults right afterward as a way of keeping you off balance. That makes perfect sense though: it means they get to play offense while you're completely occupied with defense.

Volunteering that she wasn't sadistic was a definite tell: no one ever issues an unprompted denial unless what they're denying is in fact true. That's a little reminiscent of the guy who tells you, without being asked, that he has a lot of integrity and honesty. (Guard your wallet.)

Her calling me schizophrenic also had me on guard since sociopaths love labelling people as crazy, mad or schizo - partly as projective identification but also because it gives them duping delight to talk about themselves so openly without anyone knowing it's really themselves that they are referring to. So they get to advertise their punches and project at the same time. There was the constant communication misunderstandings that she would fall back on, as if she had misheard or misunderstood what I had said when she was being inappropriate or made me uncomfortable, despite understanding all the subtle nuances when I would try to deflect her line of questioning. The psycho stare of course which is a favourite and the watching of micro movements on your face and the paying attention to the smallest nuance in body language, all signs of a social predator at work.

I don't think that accusing Isabelle of being mad was projection; sociopaths aren't crazy themselves, they're simply evil. I think what the sociopath was doing was merely trying to keep Isabelle on the defensive, and also "gaslight" her, making her doubt herself. The intent was to soften her up and make Isabelle more vulnerable to the next line of attack.

However the one thing that made it certain for me that she was a sociopath was her asking about my abuse history, in the context of the massage therapy session it was highly inappropriate, but the feeding frenzy look that literally appeared in her eyes when I mentioned that I had cut away from my parents. I didn't say anything about sociopathy but she assumed that I was a good victim and when I was unclothed, she asked about further abuses that had occurred. I know the particular fascination sociopaths have with abuse histories and that alerted me wholesale to the fact that she was a sociopath but I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had read the inappropriate questioning and compliments faster. The completely over the top compliment at the start was the only thing that had me concerned since it was to lower my guard and it made me wonder why she wanted to lower my guard.

"Feeding frenzy look that literally appeared in her eyes" -- what a perfect description of what happens when sociopaths get to vicariously enjoy the abuse that someone else inflicted on you. Their eyes just light up as they savor your pain. And yes, they are great at reading people.

It was only after reading this paragraph that I realized that the sociopath was Isabelle's masseuse, so the "inappropriate" compliments bit made more sense to me, they must have been about her body. That situation must have made Isabelle feel doubly vulnerable, lying their naked while the sociopath passed judgment on her (even if the first judgment was a positive one).

What we tend to do is minimise all their eccentricities because we don't want to judge, but even we get over that hurdle there is still the social contract that makes it so hard to behave out of context once we realise we've walked into a trap. There is also the tendency to suspect one's own suspicions, partly because the statistics on sociopaths are not accurate. They seem to be much more common then is officially touted and partly because I also don't want to think that they are everywhere, so when I first encounter them I tend to dismiss the red flags but I have done that to my detriment on too many occasions, after all 5 mins of discomfort is better than 4 hours in their company. It seems breaking the social contract goes against our nature and is probably the most difficult part to master given that people are social creatures and are bound by empathy, even if the person you're dealing with doesn't have empathy, you tend to act out of that place and not let them know you know their motivations.

People DO tend to assume other people are like them. So decent people will automatically make the baseline assumption that others are decent, and sociopaths will always suspect the worst of everybody. And it IS hard, even if you know you're dealing with a sociopath, to just slough off the social contract and play the game by their (lack of) rules.

I also agree that the number of sociopaths is underestimated. Most textbooks say that they comprise roughly 1% of females and 3% of males. I'd guess it's more like 3% of women and 4% of men. (I have no hard facts to back that up, it's just a general impression.) Women are likely underdiagnosed simply because they are less likely to be violent; but that doesn't mean they're any the less predatory by nature.

In any case, the bit about keeping you off balance was what was most interesting to me. That's what sociopaths do: they flatter here, insult there, get you wondering about yourself, and make you dizzy and a little defensive. And all of that coming at you from different angles, nonstop, combines to make you just a little more suggestible, and a little more susceptible to their wiles. I'd seen it -- and felt it -- before, but had never quite put my finger on it the way Isabelle did.

Messing with Mother Nature not necessarily deadly

I wrote once about how there seemed to be an awful lot of healthy former drug addicts around: Charlie Sheen, Rush Limbaugh, etc. It makes you wonder if taking those drugs is quite as bad for you as it's supposed to be.

And you've undoubtedly seen a lot of warnings about how taking exogenous hormones (like steroids, or estrogen) will wreak havoc on your body.

By all accounts, Caitlyn Jenner should be the ultimate cautionary tale. As Bruce, he was widely thought to have taken steroids prior to his Olympic decathlon victory in 1976. More recently, he has taken female hormones, and was in the news recently for having had the final surgery to transform himself into a woman.

So if anyone should be suffering from ill health, it should be Jenner. Yet here she was in January, at 67, looking as healthy as a horse:

I certainly wouldn't mess with her (in either sense of that phrase).

Given the massive amounts of hormones of both varieties she's infused her body with over the years, shouldn't she be dead by now? (Keep in mind, 67 is an age at which most people are starting to slide into decrepitude anyway.)

It's hard not to wonder if all those warnings aren't a bit exaggerated.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Success - Looks = Intelligence

When I meet a handsome guy who's a success in the corporate world, I automatically subtract a few points from the IQ I'd generally associate with his degree of success.

As many studies have found, people will always give preference in hiring to the good-looking. People seem more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt once they know them, too.

I see some of these guys around where I live. Big, handsome, self-confident former athletes. And, they look pleased with themselves; I suppose they should be.

But I can tell, talking to them, that there's just not that much going on upstairs. They're mostly pretty smooth, and say the right things. And they'll espouse philosophies of life (which they've heard elsewhere) which could best be characterized as, convenient justifications for being pleased with themselves.

But don't get me wrong: they're not dumb. They're just not that smart.

(It's almost enough to turn me into a liberal.)

Their personalities could best be described as bland -- enthusiastically bland. They're almost like toned down versions of Tony Robbins (though they're generally not sociopaths). They have big smiles, they're masculine, and they radiate optimistic energy.

They usually have good-looking wives, too (which is often how I first notice them). A young version of one of these guys recently married a beautiful girl who happens to have Aspergers Syndrome. (I don't know if she's ever been officially diagnosed, but she definitely has it.) They look great as a couple.

Another young man said about them recently, "I feel sorry for that guy 23 hours and 55 minutes of the day."

But, he shouldn't feel too sorry. The husband is so focused on how they look as a couple that he probably won't even notice her syndrome for a while. He may not even be smart enough to ever figure out what it is.

Not that that will keep him from being a success at his firm.

"'Horrifying' death of fourth man executed in Arkansas leads to demand for inquiry"

Another article on Yahoo (originally published in the International Business Times) has once again given us the temperature of the populace. Just go to the comments section, and click on "Top" (meaning, highest rated comments).

Of the first 100 comments, exactly two took the side of the executed man.

The top-rated comment, from "boneponio," summed it all up:

Mr Willams crimes: He killed a college cheerleader after abducting her and a friend and forcing them to withdraw money from an ATM. He shot BOTH of them afterward, but the other survived. He escaped prison while serving life for that murder and killed another person, stealing his truck. While fleeing police during a high speed chase, Mr. Williams struck another vehicle, killing the driver before being recaptured. Three innocent people died as a direct result of this guy's actions, and he had attempted to kill a fourth. Can anybody tell me why he didn't deserve exactly what he got, even if it was uncomfortable for him? Good riddance to bad rubbish.

These comments show that people are onto the media's ridiculously skewed news coverage. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Academic credentialism

I've always found that the more stock a person puts in having gone to a prestigious school, the dumber he is. This isn't a vague but positive correlation: it is, in my experience, almost a straight line correlation. Saying you're a graduate of such-and-such a school is a substitute -- and a poor one -- for demonstrating intelligence through your own words and actions.

People get into Harvard for all sorts of reasons. Some because they're legacies and their parents donated money. Some because they were good athletes. Some because of affirmative action. And a few, like me, get in because they were faculty children.

Some of these people would have gotten in anyway. But most wouldn't have. So what exactly does it mean that they have Harvard degrees?

When I was in college, graduating wasn't hard. The dumbest guys I knew at Harvard -- and you'd be surprised how dumb they were -- graduated at pretty much the same rate smarter people did. They took easier courses, or they cribbed other peoples' papers, or they just graduated with worse grades.

So what exactly does it mean that they have Harvard degrees?

And the people who get in purely on their "smarts" tend to be grade grubbers. They're not necessarily smart, but they study hard, are pretty good at short term memorization, and can spew facts back on tests. They generally take great pride in their grades, and to them, their GPA is proof of how smart they are.

But we've all known enough of these people to know that, really, they're not that smart. They're almost never witty, they can't think for themselves, and they're generally only founts of received wisdom.

So what does it mean that they have Harvard degrees?

The smartest people I've known were not grade grubbers. They just explored various subjects because they found them.... interesting. Those subjects, whether lowbrow, middlebrow, or highbrow, simply held appeal for them. So these people were mostly autodidacts, and formed their own opinions about those subjects.

Most of the academically credentialed, when it comes right down to it, don't really trust their own opinions. (For good reason.) So they tend to recite middle of the road, "respectable" opinions, since their worst fear is that someone might think them off-kilter somehow.

And therefore, these are the same people who are most easily conned into believing in various forms of political correctness. (These days, "educated" is just a synonym for "brainwashed.")

These are the same people who recite cliches as if they're imparting the wisdom of the ages. (The more you use cliches, the more apparent it is that you cannot think for yourself.)

These are the same people who would say, with an airily dismissive wave of the hand, "Oh, I would never listen to anything that Neanderthal would say." (Shouldn't an argument be judged on its own merits?)

And these are the same people who recite their credentials as if this is proof that what they say must be correct. They may not be quick, they may make a lot of mistakes, and others may find their company deadly. But, they have the diploma, so they must be smarter than those who don't have it.

I've always found that the best measure of a person's sanity and intelligence -- but especially sanity -- is their sense of humor. To be funny, one must have a sense of the absurd. And to have that, one must have a strong instinctive grasp on reality. (When was the last time you heard someone boast of his academic credentials and then say something truly funny?)

The next time you hear someone ask for your academic pedigree, as prelude to reciting his own, you should hear three things: first, he's not really that smart; second, he's probably pretty closed-minded; and third, he's a snob.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"New Biography: Young Obama ‘Considered Gayness’"

A friend, Ed, just forwarded this article from The Daily Caller:

President Barack Obama considered being homosexual as a young man, according to a forthcoming biography of the president.

The biography by David Garrow, "Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama," is set to come out on May 9. Garrow wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Martin Luther King Jr., and is a regular contributor to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

In a chapter about the former president’s two years at Occidental College, Garrow reveals a close relationship Obama had with an openly gay assistant professor named Lawrence Goldyn.

“Goldyn made a huge impact on Barry Obama,” Garrow wrote in the book. “Almost a quarter century later, asked about his understanding of gay issues, Obama enthusiastically said, ‘my favorite professor my first year in college was one of the first openly gay people that I knew…He was a terrific guy” with whom Obama developed a ‘friendship beyond the classroom.'”

The biographer added, “Goldyn years later would remember that Obama ‘was not fearful of being associated with me’ in terms of ‘talking socially’ and ‘learning from me’ after as well as in class.”

“Three years later, Obama wrote somewhat elusively to his first intimate girlfriend that he had thought about and considered gayness, but ultimately had decided that a same-sex relationship would be less challenging and demanding than developing one with the opposite sex,” Garrow wrote. “But there is no doubting that Goldyn gave eighteen-year-old Barry a vastly more positive and uplifting image of gay identity and self-confidence than he had known in Honolulu.”

Garrow recently spoke about his book on The Jamie Weinstein Show. When asked about Obama experimenting with homosexuality, Garrow paused and replied, “I think anyone and everyone, no matter what their role in life deserves a certain basic degree of privacy, in that context.”

You may consider having apple pie for dessert. You may consider buying a new car. You may consider moving to Tallahassee. 

But you don't "consider" homosexuality, any more than you "consider" heterosexuality. Those are things you either are or aren't. 

This is actually one of the central tenets of the gay liberation movement: that they can't be blamed for something they have absolutely no choice about. In fact, gays generally despise those clueless conservatives who term being gay "a lifestyle choice." 

Yet Garrow, who writes for both the NY Times and the Washington Post, is now apparently accepting that Religious Right view of homosexuality. 

According to Garrow, Barack Obama evidently came to this fork in the road of his life, and then, based primarily on intellectual considerations, decided to become a heterosexual.

Note Obama's "reason" for deciding to become heterosexual: "that a same-sex relationship would be less challenging and demanding than developing one with the opposite sex."

Yep, that really rings true. After all, isn't that what all young men want from a romantic relationship: more challenges and demands? (Some of us managed to find those things, but that doesn't mean we were looking for them.)

To swallow that line, one's bullshit detector has to be turned completely off.

And with regard to his answer about whether or not Obama had ever "experimented," could Garrow's evasiveness -- and the real answer -- possibly have been any clearer?

It seems fairly apparent that Obama has never stopped "experimenting."

(Because I had titled the previous post "Queer theory," it occurred to me to title this post, "Theory of a queer." But I decided against it because that makes me sound anti-gay, and I'm not; I'm just anti-dishonesty and hypocrisy.) 

Queer theory

I've always been sympathetic to gays. I've always thought gay bashers were despicable. And I supported gay marriage back when Barack and Hillary were -- publicly, at least -- against it.

I'm less sympathetic to queer theory. I've always had the vague impression that it boils down to not wanting to think of oneself as an oddball, and preferring to see everyone else that way.

I just looked it up on Wikipedia, which gave this description:

Queer theory is a field of post-structuralist critical theory that emerged in the early 1990s out of the fields of queer studies and women's studies. Queer theory includes both queer readings of texts and the theorisation of 'queerness' itself....Queer theory builds both upon feminist challenges to the idea that gender is part of the essential self and upon gay/lesbian studies' close examination of the socially constructed nature of sexual acts and identities. Whereas gay/lesbian studies focused its inquiries into natural and unnatural behaviour with respect to homosexual behaviour, queer theory expands its focus to encompass any kind of sexual activity or identity that falls into normative and deviant categories.

In other words, it's all about justification and obfuscation.

The whole field can be summed up by that old joke about the mother who watches the parade go by and then says, hmm, every single person in that marching band is out of step except my son. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sociopath alert: Tony Robbins

I was reading about acromegalics a few days ago, and among the prominent cases mentioned was the 6' 7" Tony Robbins. I peeked at his biography and saw something that should have occurred to me before: he is probably a sociopath.

He doesn't strike me as someone who is out to harm others. But, like Joel Osteen, another ostentatious self-promoter who's made a fortune off of theoretically wanting to help others, Robbins has a lot of the traits of a typical sociopath.

Robbins, a personal empowerment guru, has always given off the air of a snake oil salesman. The phrase "con man" is short for confidence man, and that's exactly what Robbins sells: confidence. He basically gives his audiences rousing pep talks about how they can accomplish everything they've ever wanted to, all they have to do is just do it.

(It's hard to argue with that logic.)

Robbins' books have titles like Unlimited Power, Awaken the Giant Within, and Giant Steps.

For his personal seminars, he uses tricks like fire walking and skydiving to imbue his audiences with the attitude that if they can do that, they can do anything. These techniques can work, and Robbins has many believers.

Pep talks can unquestionably benefit some people, and a skillfully delivered spiel by a charismatic man -- combined with "proof" that we can do things were wouldn't have imagined ourselves capable of -- can inspire us even further.

The question is, what kind of man is going to be best at delivering this kind of message? What kind of man makes the best salesman? What kind of man has no limits -- or brakes, if you will -- on his own personality?

What kind of man can sling that line of talk and constantly exude earnestness, with no hesitation, no catch in his voice, and no sense of sheepishness?

Usually, the kind who is unburdened by any sense of embarrassment.

Robbins certainly had the kind of family background one associates with sociopaths. This is from the "Early Life" section on him from Wikipedia:

Robbins is the oldest of three children and his parents divorced when he was 7. His mother then had a series of husbands, including Jim Robbins, a former semiprofessional baseball player who legally adopted Anthony when he was 12.

His father could not provide for their family, so he left them. His mother started abusing alcohol and prescription drugs sometime after. While growing up, Robbins helped provide for his siblings. Robbins was raised in Azusa and Glendora, California. He was elected student body president in his senior year and grew 10 inches in high school, a growth spurt later attributed to a pituitary tumor. He has said his home life was "chaotic" and "abusive." When he was 17 years old, Robbins' mother chased him out of the house with a knife, and he never returned.

Multiple marriages and substance abuse are often yellow flags for sociopathy. And what kind of monster chases her own son out of the house with a knife? The fact that Robbins ran out of the house shows that he thought she would actually use it. That's certainly a red flag for (her) sociopathy.

And, sociopathic mothers often pass that trait along to their children.

Running for student body president can be a sign of neediness (from one who gets no love from his own parents), and being elected to that position shows a certain early manipulative ability. We shouldn't read too much into that, but in combination with everything else, it is a clue to Robbins' personality.

Robbins has left a long trail of controversy and lawsuits, a not uncommon pattern with sociopaths. Again, from Wiki:

In May 1995, Robbins Research International (RRI) responded to Federal Trade Commission charges of misrepresentation of potential earnings to franchise investors. RRI and the FTC entered into a stipulated settlement agreement, in which RRI agreed to pay US$221,260 in consumer redress. RRI did not admit guilt under the settlement.

Financial seminar guru Wade Cook also sued Robbins for copyright infringement and plagiarism, alleging that Robbins used proprietary terms in his seminars and from Cook's book Wall Street Money Machine. In 1998, a Tacoma, Washington, jury ordered Robbins to pay Cook $650,900 in damages....

One chapter of Unlimited Power, called "Energy: The Fuel of Excellence", is dedicated to a discussion of health and energy. The National Council Against Health Fraud wrote a highly critical review of the chapter.

In 2001, Robbins filed a lawsuit against The Vancouver Sun newspaper, alleging defamation and libel. The judge determined the Vancouver Sun defamed Robbins when it called him an "adulterous, wife-stealing hypocrite." Awarding Robbins $20,000 in damages, the judge wrote "While damages are presumed, the plaintiff's failure to take the witness stand and to testify about his feelings and the effect of the defamation upon his reputation leaves the court somewhat in the dark about these matters"...

On June 24, 2016, dozens were burned and required medical attention after attempting to walk on hot coals during a fire walking event at a Tony Robbins motivational seminar in Dallas, TX. Several attendees required hospitalization and were transported to medical facilities to treat burns while a bus was required by emergency services to handle the triage of burn victims.

None of these things, individually, prove sociopathy, but add them all up and you get a very distinct odor.

What I found most revealing was a letter Robbins wrote to one of his fans who asked him why he had gotten divorced from his first wife. (He had previously gone on publicly about how wonderful his wife was and what a great relationship they had; and he evidently had continued to do so even after they were separated.) Note how Robbins' glib, evasive, and ultimately meaningless reply is filled with vague generalities which reveal exactly nothing:

Thank you so much for your e-mail. First, I want to apologize for this belated reply. My intense seminar and travel schedule, along with my business and family responsibilities, have taken a big bite out of my time. However, I wanted to respond personally and acknowledge the time you took to think of me.

I’ve worked for years to create and present the most innovative, entertaining, and empowering materials possible. However, I know my technology is worthwhile when I receive notes
from people like you who are not only emotionally touched by my work, but more importantly, are taking action on what they’ve learned. To know that in some small way I’ve made a difference for at least one person and that I have helped them to begin to create the quality of life they truly deserve is what drives me most.

I appreciate your interest in my former marriage. The strategies I share with my audience to guide them on the path to more fulfilling relationships are based on my own personal experience and the knowledge I have gained from working with people from 80 different countries for more than a quarter of a century. Relationships are one of the single most important areas of our lives and one of the greatest opportunities for fulfillment or pain. The secret is making certain the person you select shares your values and vision. Some relationships cannot continue to be fulfilling because the two people have different visions for their lives or have learned to value different things.

While I offer many tools for enhancing relationships, I have never led my audience to believe that the path to a successful relationship would be to stay in a relationship where after deep, honest communication and soul searching both people discover that they do not share the same life vision. Any relationship can be made to work, but when people’s values and life directions are extremely different they must compromise. Continuous compromise means a compromised life for both parties. That is when difficult decisions need to be made.

Deciding to end my relationship with my former wife Becky was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I am extremely proud of our 14-year relationship. When I entered the marriage at the age of 24 I immediately embraced the responsibilities of being a father to a 17-year-old son, an 11-year-old daughter, and a 5-year-old son. I remained in that marriage until my children were grown and I realized that I did not share a life vision with my former wife. At that time I chose to take the necessary actions to pursue a life in which I could be more fulfilled. Sometime later I met Sage, my lovely wife, whom I met coincidentally through a business relationship, and married a year later. We have been together for a blissful two and a half years.

The first two and a half paragraphs are just a standard boilerplate advertisement for his seminars, where he has "worked for years to create and present the most innovative, entertaining, and empowering materials possible."

That second paragraph in particular exudes insincerity: "To know that in some small way I’ve made a difference for at least one person and that I have helped them to begin to create the quality of life they truly deserve is what drives me most."

Gee, I would have thought that money was what drove him most.

And note how skillful Robbins is at reframing questions. When his fan asked him what had happened to his first marriage, about which Robbins had formerly waxed so enthusiastically, he was obviously calling Robbins to account, essentially saying, what the hell happened? But Robbins reframes it by thanking him for his email and "acknowledging" him for the time he took to think of Robbins and saying, "I appreciate your interest in my former marriage."

Now, what do you think the odds are that Robbins really appreciated that interest? (The rest of his reply shows about as much honesty.)

But what really gives Robbins away is that he has that peculiar sociopathic quirk, overuse of adjectives and adverbs meant to emphasize sincerity and goodness. When used in overabundance, however, they in fact indicate the opposite. I pointed out once how Franklin Lynch, aka "The Day Stalker," did this. And I pointed out how David Berkowitz, aka "Son of Sam," did it as well.

Robbins doesn't just have a seminar and travel schedule, he has an intense seminar and travel schedule. Note that the strategies he uses to guide his audiences to more fulfilling relationships aren't just "from my own experience," but "from my own personal experience."

And it's not just to help them create the quality of life they deserve, but the quality of life they truly deserve.

Robbins doesn't just say that the partners in a relationship should communicate, but that they should have deep, honest communication. (In my experience, the only people who emphasize honesty that way are those who lack that trait.)

Robbins isn't just proud of his 14 year relationship with first wife Becky; he's extremely proud of it. Also note that he's reframed the situation so that that first marriage now sounds like a success. Robbins sounds like one of those guys who proudly says he's had five very successful marriages.

And note that Robbins didn't divorce his wife because he grew tired of her and their constant fighting, or because he met a younger, hotter babe. Or because he wanted to take advantage of all his wealth and fame to screw around. It's because he "didn't share a life vision" with her.

That almost makes it sound as if before he divorced his wife, he was divorced from reality. At least, according to the way he describes their breakup.

The fact is, people don't get divorced simply because they don't "share a life vision." It's almost always for much more mundane reasons, like odious personal habits or financial irresponsibility or sheer boredom. And people like Robbins aren't driven by being able to make a difference "in some small way...for at least one person." They're driven by a desire for money, and fame.

Robbins isn't divorced from reality; he's just a habitual liar.

I happened to catch another clip of Robbins, embedded in this article. He's being interviewed by Oprah, and at one point he says, "I love people so much..."

This just isn't the kind of thing that honest people say. Normal people are programmed to love a small handful of people, not lots of people. Whenever you meet someone who talks about how they love a lot of people, it comes across insincere. Generally, the people who claim to love lots of people don't really love anyone.

And a false emotionality is a hallmark of sociopaths.

Robbins is a little reminiscent of Norman Vincent Peale (the author of The Power of Positive Thinking). Positive thinking -- essentially what Robbins pushes -- does work, and Robbins has probably helped a lot of people. But I'm not discussing his techniques -- his "technology," as he puts it -- but the man himself. What kind of guy makes the best promoter?

While I was reading about acromegalics, I was struck by the fact that so many of them have been cast in villainous roles, either in the movies or in professional wrestling. But most of them were actually decent people, from what I could see.

It's ironic that the one famous acromegalic with a reputation for helping people is, in my opinion, a sociopath.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Coming of age rituals, then and now

In many primitive cultures, tradition has dictated that young men, soon after reaching puberty, undergo various tests of courage and fortitude before they could be considered full-fledged adults.

Young boys of the Satere-Mawe tribe in the Brazilian Amazon mark their 13th birthdays by putting their hands into specially woven gloves containing hordes of fiercely stinging bullet ants. They must keep their hands in the glove for ten minutes at a time without crying out, and must undergo this 20 times over the course of several months.

In Vanuatu, young men must prove their manhood by jumping off a 98-foot tower with only two bungee-like vines attached to their ankles to break their fall. For the jump to be considered a success, their heads must actually touch the ground before they are yanked back by the vines.

The Masai of Kenya and Tanzania get circumcised at puberty, but must not flinch during the procedure, or they will bring shame upon their families.

In ancient Sparta, when a boy turned 18, he had to go into the countryside, armed with only a knife, and kill as many state-owned slaves (helots) as he could.

The Mandan Indian tribe of North America would pierce a young man's chest, shoulder, and back muscles with wooden splints, then lift him by ropes attached to those splints. Crying out during this ordeal was forbidden. After the young man lost consciousness, he would be lowered to the ground again, and subsequently had to present his left hand for his pinkie to be chopped off.

The Fula tribe of West Africa would introduce their boys to manhood with a whipping duel, in which the boy who took the most punishment the most stoically was judged to be the winner.

There have been many similar rituals the world over, too many to list. All present a stark contrast to the current coming of age ritual in our country.

At age 18, many young people are herded off to college, where, in order to be accepted, they must demonstrate that they are so incredibly sensitive, and have such exquisitely refined sensibilities, that they cannot bear to hear any offensive truths.

And should they be exposed to any harsh truths, they must flinch and yell and cry as loudly as possible. He who can take the least pain/reality, wins.

I'm glad I didn't have to grow up in one of those primitive cultures and undergo one of those excruciating rituals.

I'm also sorta glad I'm not going to college today.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bill O'Reilly's doppelgänger

O'Reilly has been in the news a fair amount recently for his firing from Fox News. Yesterday an article about him in the NY Post featured this photograph:

With his wide, thin mouth, his hooded eyes, his slight grin, his backward-sloping forehead, and the prominent jowls coming down from his chin, he reminds me of a crocodile:

O'Reilly's teeth don't quite emerge from his closed mouth, but the effect is not dissimilar.

Regarding the sexual harassment suits which eventually brought him down: the issue is way overdone these days, and it's ridiculous that cracking a dirty joke in the presence of a female or looking at her the wrong way is now considered "harassment." That said, my guess -- and it's only a guess -- is that O'Reilly was guilty of implicitly making a job contingent upon providing him with sexual favors.

Having his own personal harem must have been fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How whites use that 15 point IQ advantage

I was recently tasked with driving my parents' car back across the country, which I did last week.

Driving back, I listened to a few books on CD. I had been ambitious enough to borrow War and Peace from the library. What Tolstoy did best was analyze how peoples' egos drive them their behavior; he's actually reminiscent of Tom Wolfe that way. The book could have been called War and Pretension.

The actor who narrated it had a somewhat pretentious voice himself to begin with, and when he dialed it up a few notches to read the lines of the more grandiloquent characters, it was hard to take. So I ended up listening to less than a quarter of the book. (Not enough to call myself cultured.)

Anyway, listening to Tolstoy, it struck me: whites may average 15 points higher than blacks in IQ, but what do most of them use those extra points for? Mainly, to be pretentious: to buttress their egos, to admire their own reflections, and to preen morally.

I said in another post that blacks tend to be more genuine in the emotions they display, whereas the vast majority of the time, whites will just say whatever it is they think they're supposed to say -- whatever they think will make them look best.

A white will do something like sit through an opera, or ballet, just to prove to himself -- and others -- that he has sophisticated tastes. (I almost did that with War and Peace.) Blacks don't waste their time that way.

Pretentious blacks do exist -- I've met a few -- but on average, it's just far rarer to see blacks putting on airs. For instance, if they're proud of their clothes -- and black men do pay a great deal of attention to style -- they exhibit that pride guilelessly, without trying to hide their enjoyment of their fancy threads. Whites feel obliged to disguise their pride.

When a black does well at sports, he can be unabashedly egotistical about it, in an I-am-the-greatest sort of way. White athletes are more likely to pay lip service to a modesty they don't feel. (It wasn't a black who came up that trite phrase, "There's no I in team.")

I discussed this difference in a post where I contrasted the behavior of Peyton Manning and Cam Newton after the 2016 Super Bowl. (I basically said that Manning said all the right things, but was a liar; and that Newton behaved like a petulant child, but at least he wasn't phony.)

Whites often seem to have to pretend that they're busy, important people, with pressing engagements, who don't have the time to dally around. I first met people like this in college, back before anyone was important, long before they could possibly have had busy engagement calendars. But, somehow, they always wanted to show how they didn't have time for anything. Blacks never seem to feel that compulsion.

Whites often feel that they must show that they are morally superior beings. So they constantly do things to show how "good" they are. Only whites could be silly enough to define goodness as preferring other races to their own; blacks, Asians, and Hispanics do not suffer from this disease.

And whites will do things like drive around in a Prius, not to save the environment, but to show that they are saving the environment. (How often do you see a black in a Prius?)

Here's the real proof: when was the last time you heard a black person voice a humblebrag? If a black wants to boast, he makes no attempt to disguise it with false modesty. To me, unabashed egotism is far more palatable than the ultimate egotism of thinking you're not even egotistical. (How incredibly egotistical does a person have to be to believe that?)

If you're going to be a race realist, you have to be realistic about this difference, too: whites have the pretentious gene.

As long as I'm on the subject: what do Asians, who average roughly 7 or 8 points higher than whites, do with their extra points? Become grimly efficient automatons. They don't become pretentious; but they also remain charisma-free.

And what do Jewish people, who average 8 to 10 points higher than other whites, do with their extra wattage? Basically, take over -- and tell the gullible what to think. (In particular, to hate white men.)

White men, of course, are the ones who invented the train, the automobile, books on CD, and "War and Peace."

But in all honesty, they probably deserve credit for having invented pretension as well.

(There -- that should offend absolutely everybody.)