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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Which party has more scandals?

Reading about the recent Bill de Blasio scandal in New York City reminded me of my vague impression that while Republicans are more likely to get into sex scandals, Democrats are more likely to try to use their office for illicit financial gain.

If you look at this list of federal officials who've been convicted of corruption, and look at the convictions since 1970, which we can roughly define as the modern era, the score is 23 Democrats vs. 8 Republicans.

But if you look at this list of federal political scandals, the picture becomes murkier. Most scandals don't result in outright convictions, even when there was obvious corruption or at least dishonesty involved. For instance, the current administration has had the Fast and Furious scandal, the IRS scandal, the Benghazi scandal, the Veterans Administration scandal -- all of which are proof that stonewalling works. When events like these occur, a few lower level scapegoats may lose their jobs, but the big fish usually escape.

Of course, what some consider scandals others don't. One side's scandal is the other's "politically-motivated witch hunt."

Plus, if you cross reference the two lists linked above, the first list appears incomplete. And both lists are of federal officials, not the far more numerous state and municipal officials. In any case, I'll retain my vague impression that Democrats are more corrupt -- though I can't back that up with a satisfyingly well-defined set of statistics.

If you look at this list of sex scandals involving federal officials, you run into the same problem of murkiness. How do you define a sex scandal? Some are relatively innocuous, involving garden variety adultery. Some involve sexual harassment. Some involve having sex with an employee, often an intern. Some involve putting paramours on the federal payroll. Some involve homosexuality. Some involve physical abuse. Some produced illegitimate children. Some involve prostitution. Some become larger scandals because they were lied about at first. And some involve several of the elements listed above.

So, where do you draw the line as to what constitutes a sex scandal?

Again, as with corruption scandals, it's hard to define exactly which should be counted and which shouldn't. And, as with the corruption scandals, you get the sense that what comes to light is the extremely tiny tip of the iceberg anyway.

But, counting from the list linked above, and using all of the scandals since 1970, the score is 22 Democrats, vs. 32 Republicans. So, I'll retain my vague impression that Republicans are more likely to get into trouble because of sex.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Male nurses

One of the most striking things about that list from two posts ago of the top 25 most prolific serial killers is that four of them were nurses. Nurses -- and doctors -- are trusted precisely because of the uniform they wear. So any nurse with mayhem in mind can do a lot of damage before being caught.

Some of these nurses should probably have ranked higher on the list, as well. For instance, Charles Cullen, ranked #24 with 37 victims, is thought to be responsible for as many as 300 deaths. That makes Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy look like pikers. (The reason Cullen doesn't rank higher is because the list used only the proven number of victims.)

The even more striking statistic is that three out of four of the top serial killer nurses were men, during a period when men comprised only 5% of all nurses. (The percent of nurses who are male rose gradually from 2.7% in 1970 to 9.6% in 2013.)

Orville Lynn Majors (pictured twice below), #25 on the list, had his heyday from 1993 to 1995. He may have murdered as many as 130 elderly patients:

(He bears a slight resemblance to "Buffalo Bill," the character in Silence of the Lambs:)

Charles Cullen (pictured below) was active from 1988 to 2003:

Donald Harvey, ranked #2 among American serial killers, confessed to killing 87 people. He was active from 1970 to 1987:

All three of these men are still alive, unlike their many elderly victims. (It's easier to get away with multiple killings if you work with the elderly, as their deaths will arouse less suspicion.)

The only woman who made the top 25, Jane Toppan, was active from 1885 to 1901. So serial killing, once again, is mostly a man's world. This doesn't mean that the vast majority of the tens of thousands of male nurses, of course, aren't perfectly upstanding people. But the disparity is still striking.

Not that anyone would object if you pointed that disparity out. Today's politically correct world is all about favoritism, and since women are favored over men, pointing out that even among nurses, serial killers are more likely to be male is perfectly acceptable.

To point out the even more obvious fact that most serial killers in general are male would also ruffle no feathers. Yet pointing out other equally factual disparities involving gender or race somehow seems to evoke shrieks of protest.

Suppose that men's rights advocates behaved like feminists, and imagine you had the following conversation with one:

You: Did you know that three quarters of the most prolific serial killer nurses have been male, yet males are only 5% of all nurses?

Men's Rights Advocate: Well, you know, the vast majority of male nurses are law-abiding, and do their jobs very caringly.

You: Yeah, yeah, I know. But still, that's a pretty striking statistic, don't you think?

Men's Rights Advocate: I find it really offensive that you would point that out.

You: Why? It's just an interesting fact, that's all.

Men's Rights Advocate: It's really sexist that you would try to tar all men that way.

You: But all I'm saying is…

Men's Rights Advocate: You're a hateful, bigoted person!

You: Wha…..??

Sounds awfully silly, right? Yet other, touchier topics evoke such reactions constantly. So most people -- unlike me -- know better than to point such skewed statistics out.

Anyway, if I run across a male nurse, I certainly won't shun him. But a thought or two will cross my mind.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Munchausen's, liberal dishonesty, or just an ordinary scam?

An openly gay black pastor, Jordan Brown, recently claimed that after he ordered a cake with icing spelling out "Love Wins," he received a cake spelling out "Love Wins Fag." (That's him, above, looking thoroughly traumatized by his ordeal.)

Here is a statement from Brown's attorney Austin Kaplan:

“Pastor Brown never asked for this to happen. He continues to be overwhelmed by the feelings of pain, anguish, and humiliation because of this incident. He frequently shopped at Whole Foods, which makes this all the more shocking and disappointing. What really concerns him is knowing that unless some action is taken, this kind of thing could happen again, and that someone else might have to go through a similarly excruciating experience.”

Practically breaks your heart, doesn't it?

And how noble of Brown that his real concern is not any monetary gain or attention for himself, but the thought that "someone else might have to go through a similarly excruciating experience."

Except there was one little glitch: as the security cameras later proved, it turned out that Brown had added the extra word himself.

So Kaplan's statement is in fact partially true: Brown never asked for this incident to happen. He simply made it happen.

Does Pastor Jordan Brown suffer from Munchausen's Syndrome, that "disease" (which only sociopaths seem to suffer from) which "compels" its sufferers to go to extremely dishonest lengths in order to gain attention and sympathy?

Is he another Leftie who simply wants to further his cause by any means necessary?

Is he simply another sociopathic con man who figured he could squeeze a few bucks out of deep pocketed company with his scam?

Or is he some combination of the above?

Whatever he was, he certainly fit the well-worn pattern of recent hate hoaxers: they all fit the description of a "victim" as defined by the Left. Worse, they seem to revel in that description.

What conclusion can you draw from the fact that all of the hate hoaxers come from the Left?

And, if you believe in the concept of hate crimes, isn't a hate crime hoax itself a hate crime

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Why are such a high percentage of serial killers gay?

Here's a list, from Ranker, of the most prolific serial killers in the US; I've indicated which of the killers are gay:

1. Gary Ridgway (the Green River Killer)
2. Donald Harvey (the Angel of Death) -- gay
3. John Wayne Gacy -- gay
4. Jane Toppan, (nurse, active from 1885 to 1901)
5. Ted Bundy
6. Dean Corll -- gay
7. Juan Corona -- gay
8. Wayne Williams (the Atlanta Child Murders) -- gay
9. Ronald Dominique -- gay
10. Patrick Kearney -- gay
11. Earle Nelson (the Gorilla Killer, active from 1926-1927)
12. William Bonin -- gay
13. Raymond Martinez Fernandez
14. Paul John Knowles
15. Jeffrey Dahmer - gay
16. Joel Rifkin
17. Randy Steven Kraft -- gay
18. Robert Lee Yates
19. Charles Ray Hatcher -- gay
20. Leonard Lake
21. Robert Hansen
22. Angelo Maturino Resendiz
23. Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker)
24. Charles Cullen (nurse)
25. Orville Lynn Majors (nurse)

If you cross reference this list with Wikipedia's list of the most prolific serial killers worldwide, you'll see that the number of murders each killer is credited with varies somewhat. That's because there's always some doubt about the actual number of victims any serial killer had. Some lists go by the number that a killer was actually convicted for, some go by the number the killer confessed to, and some will also include the number of estimated victims, which in many cases is far greater than either of the first two numbers.

For instance, Gary Ridgway, who is number one on this list, had 49 proven victims, confessed to 71, and is thought to have had closer to 90.

Part of the reason the number of convictions is almost always lower is because once a killer is convicted of, say, seven killings, and gets the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole, there's no point in spending a lot of money on trials convicting him of other killings. You can only give someone the death penalty once. The police then quietly close some of their cases with similar signatures, and that's that.

So, what does it signify that 11 out of the top 25 most prolific serial killers are gay men? (And if you just look at Ranker's top 20, it would be 11 of the top 20.) That's 44% (or 55% of the top 20), an amazing disparity considering that gay men account for roughly 2 to 3% of the population.

I don't know what it means, exactly. But I do know that it means something. And if we're trying to understand what makes serial killers tick, we ought not ignore the fact that so many of them are gay.

Is it because gay sex is more likely to be tied in to violence somehow? Because gays are more unbalanced? Because gays are angry at a world which regards them as disgustingly perverse?

None of those reasons really explain it. I've racked my brain, and can't figure it out.

But I do know that the disparity is so overwhelming -- they're punching way, way above their weight here -- that it can't just be coincidence.

Maybe you can figure out the "why" of the connection.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A memory of a memory

Recently I've been getting emails for a class reunion for a boarding school I attended for one year in Japan, from 1967 to 1968.

The mailing list includes everyone who went there who is still alive. Some of the people write in, some don't. The ones who do seem to feel quite nostalgic about the place.

I don't have fond memories of either the secondary school I went to for four years, or my college. I can't quite figure out whether I feel fondly about that boarding school, though.

It's been almost half a century since I went there, and it seems both more and less real for that reason. More real just because I was a very impressionable 13 when I went there, so the memories are more vivid. But it also seems less real, simply because so much time has passed, which makes it more a memory of a memory.

I suspect pretty much everyone who reaches a certain age feels the same way (even if most people have fonder memories of their school years than I do).

The next reunion is this summer. But it'd be weird, and discombobulating, and probably a little depressing, to see a bunch of old people you knew as 14-year-olds.

So I'll pass.

Hardly any translation required

I was resting at the end of a lap pool between repeats the other day. A young man and woman, roughly college-aged, were in the next lane. The young woman was saying to the young man, "You are such an asshole….You're such an asshole….You're such an asshole…..You are such an asshole."

I didn't hear what the young man said to provoke this response, but he was smiling, maybe a little smugly.

She was wearing a look of slight disbelief as she spoke, but also didn't look particularly angry.

Her one sentence, repeated four times, obviously translated as, "You really tickle my fancy."

I couldn't help but feel a little envious.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Obama confused about right side of history

On November 2, 2015, to great fanfare, Obama signed an executive order banning the box. In case you're unfamiliar with that particular euphemism, it refers to the part of the application for federal jobs which refers to whether you've ever been convicted of a crime. Now, applicants for federal jobs no longer have to say whether they've ever been convicted of a crime.

The idea is that everyone deserves a second chance, and once criminals "have paid their debt to society" -- as per the White House press release -- they deserve an opportunity to make something of themselves, otherwise they will be tempted to turn back to a life of crime.

Sounds reasonable enough. But if someone has a conviction for a violent crime, you'd think his coworkers would have a right to know. And shouldn't people who've maintained a clean record have preference over those who haven't?

In any case, "ban the box" appears to be one of Obama's many domestic initiatives motivated primarily by racial considerations. (You've got to love that alliteration -- this administration certainly knows how to appeal to their constituency.)

Fast forward three months. On February 8th, Obama signed the International Meghan's Law, which requires that the passport of anyone ever convicted of a sex crime be specially marked so that he's immediately identifiable to foreign authorities.

Doesn't that law conflict with the spirit of banning the box? If sex criminals have done their time, and paid their debt to society, don't they too deserve a second chance? And they're not even applying for taxpayer-funded jobs; all they want to do is travel.

The case can be made that sex criminals are irredeemable: once a child molester, always a child molester. Peoples' sexualities simply don't change. So, it seems reasonable that foreign authorities be alerted when a known child molester is in their country.

But aren't criminal predilections also somewhat ingrained? A man who's been convicted of assault and battery in the past is still prone to violence, even after he's served his term. Wouldn't it be unfair to his future employers to keep them in the dark about this?

And what does this mean for federal employment? Now that the box has been banned, will sex criminals -- including child molesters and rapists -- no longer have to let federal employers know of their crimes? That results in a situation where we're alerting foreign authorities -- but not their coworkers in the US -- to the sex criminals' presence.

Keep in mind, the definition of a sex crime varies from country to country. In the US, if a 19 year old male has sex with a 15 year old female, he's considered a criminal. Likewise, if a 24 year old female teacher has an affair with a 17 year old male student, she is breaking the law. In many countries, these are not considered criminal acts. Yet at the same time, Obama lectures African leaders on how homosexuality -- which is illegal there -- ought to be decriminalized.

Is there a value judgment there? And might that judgment possibly be influenced by the fact that Obama himself is a homosexual?

Obama always claims that he is on "the right side of history." But does the right side of history consist of forgiveness, or the scarlet letter?

"That's not funny"

If you make a lame joke, and you're among friends, chances are that one of them will point that out. Maybe they'll say "ha ha" sarcastically. Or maybe they'll note the lack of laughter following it, by saying, "That went over like a lead balloon," or any of a number of other common sayings used to put down an attempt at humor.

When someone says, admonishingly, "That's not funny" in a stern tone of voice -- or with a touch of hysteria -- that usually means that your joke was in fact funny, but that it hit a sore point in a particularly biting way, which is the essence of humor.

Funny video

A friend forwarded this video. It's less than a minute long, and quite amusing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"Oh, how do you know, were you there?"

In August of 2014 I analyzed one of the most moronic and annoying arguments people use: "Who are you to say [such-and-such]?"

Another equally absurd formulation is, after someone makes a relevant historical reference, to say, "How do you know, were you there?"

(I've heard the same person make both "arguments.")

And I've never heard either "argument" made in other than a childish, petulant tone of voice.

You might say, for instance, that there was less freedom in the Soviet Union than there was in the US. ("Oh? How do you know, were you there?!")

If you refer to the fact that Stalin killed more than 20 million of his own people, you might get the same response.

When someone uses a nonsensical formulation like that, it's basically a tacit admission that one has lost the argument. Of course, the type of people who make such tacit admissions tend to never actually admit they're wrong about anything.

I'm not sure what the best response to this is. Maybe, just a simple, "Because it's accepted historical fact."

Or, "How do you know it didn't happen, were you there?"

It's tempting to say, "What kind of a moronic question is that? Of course I wasn't there, and neither were you. But certain things are just obviously true, and if you can't accept them, then you might as well not believe anything. You don't have to have participated in World War Two to know it happened."

But the best response is probably just to avoid this person in the future. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sociopath alert: Julie Miller

Every now and then someone cheats during a long distance race by skipping part of the course. There's only one type of person who does this, a sociopath. No one else could possibly get satisfaction from the false glory they get from supposedly winning a race they haven't won, and feels no guilt about cheating the rightful winner out of their moment of glory. 

Rosie Ruiz was the trailblazer in this field, so to speak, who faked winning the Boston Marathon back in 1980. 

Last year Kendall Schler faked winning the St. Louis Marathon

Now we have Julie Miller, who faked winning her age group at the 2015 Ironman Canada Triathlon. Since that race, several of her previous "victories" have been called into question as well. 

The NY Times had a long article about her today. Here she is: 

One of the striking things about Miller is that, like Ruiz and Schler, she simply doesn't look like a world class endurance athlete. Such women tend to have a lean, chiseled look, with muscles in the right places. Miller is somewhat pear-shaped, and there is little definition to her legs.

Ironically, Miller is a mental health counselor specializing in body-image disorders. She herself appears to have the opposite of body dysmorphia: she thinks she can pass as a world class athlete even though she can't.

The Times explained at length how it would have been impossible for Miller to have hit the various checkpoints in the race with the times required for her splits to have made any sense. Miller claimed that her timing chip had fallen off of the velcro band to which it was attached, but that was near impossible. (In an earlier cycling race she claimed to have lost the identifying number from her bicycle; she was the only one of 800 competitors to whom this happened, and the people who trained with her were all astonished at her time.)

It goes without saying that Miller is a sociopath. Unfortunately, the Times didn't give any particulars about her personal background. But it was still interesting to the other ways her sociopathy manifested itself. Her denials were classic sociopathy. As per the Times:

Miller denies it all, in the most emphatic tones. She says that she is the victim of a smear campaign by envious, spiteful athletes who cannot cope with her success and high profile and that the only thing she did wrong, besides winning too often, was to lose her timing chip in a couple of races.

“I did not cheat in the Whistler Ironman competition,” she said in an email, “nor would I ever cheat or have I ever cheated in any competition...”

Key here is "in the most emphatic tones." This is exactly how sociopaths lie -- with great conviction. With Miller, it wasn't enough to merely deny having cheated in the 2015 race; she insisted she has never cheated, nor would she ever. (Think of OJ Simpson saying, "Absolutely, 100% not guilty." Think of Bill Clinton wagging an angry, admonishing finger at the press and saying, emphatically, "I did not have sex with that woman.")  

While she kept a low profile in Squamish this past fall and winter, Miller vociferously maintained her innocence to some friends and neighbors. For a time she was active on social media, criticizing people who she said were targeting her unfairly. She positioned herself as a victim of cyberbullying, at one point blaming “mean girls” for the accusations.

Sociopaths tend to position themselves as victims, even when victimizers. And note, once again, the "vociferously." This is how sociopaths fool people: by appearing as angry as someone who has actually been falsely accused.

“After achieving a goal I had set for myself years ago, for reasons I will never know, a hateful and false rumor was started by another woman that dampened my celebration,” Miller said on Facebook. “Ultimately, I and others close to me know my integrity, and that is what matters to me.”

Sociopaths often describe others (or their actions) as they themselves are: "hateful and false."

In several email exchanges, on the telephone, and in a brief conversation at the front door of her house in Squamish, Miller declined to be interviewed for this article, saying that she would derive no benefit from trying to explain how she completed the races in the times she claimed. Her critics would find a way to rebut her story no matter what, she said. At one point she promised to provide evidence that she had completed one of the suspect races, but she never followed through with the complete information.

In every exchange, she portrayed herself as an innocent victim who had just wanted to train and compete.

“I do know for certain in my heart — and people who know me know this, too — that I would never, ever knowingly do anything to disrespect or disparage my fellow competitors, the race organizers and volunteers, myself, my friends or — most importantly to me — my children, husband and family,” she said in a written statement she provided for publication. “We are moving on with our lives, I continue to train and compete and I wish everyone the joy that family and sport bring to me.”

This is pretty much standard boilerplate, but all of the cliches ring particularly hollow in light of the fact that we know she cheated. How can Miller wish everyone the joy that her sport brought to her when she robbed the winners in her age group of their rightful victories?

Miller's type of subterfuge is, in a way, quite similar to Munchausen's Syndrome: the sociopaths want attention and admiration or sympathy so badly that they will lie in order to get it. But you have to be utterly shameless to obtain any of those things by living a lie this way, and those are two of the defining traits of sociopathy: dishonesty and shamelessness.

Nonsociopaths will sometimes employ dishonesty if there's a tangible reward in return, as on Wall Street, though a sociopath is more likely to do so. But only sociopaths will consistently lie in order to gain sympathy, as with people with  Munchausen's Syndrome, or to gain admiration, as with Miller.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A good cause

I was talking recently with a young man who was doing his taxes. He mused, "Hmm, how much did I give in charitable donations this year? Over $500? Well, I did make contributions to a home for wayward girls, most of whom are uneducated and come from broken families….I even took the trouble to visit the, uh, shelter which houses them, if you will, and gave some of the money to the girls directly."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Filial Respect, Part VIII

Last night my son and I watched Black Mass, which was about Whitey Bulger's relationship with the FBI in Boston. The casting was terrific, the dialogue realistic, and even the Boston accents (by non-Bostonian actors) were pretty good. Johnny Depp (as Whitey Bulger) and Benedict Cumberbatch (as Billy Bulger) were both fantastic.

We rehashed it a little this morning and that led to a discussion of revenge killings and the like.

My son then said, "Dad, you and Mom have to hurry up and get killed by gangsters sometime soon so I can then kill them in revenge and get my career as an action hero started. Hmm….I have an idea. Why don't you write a blogpost called 'Homo alert: el Chapo,' and make the case for why that's so."

The quintessential expression, Part II

The previous post described how serial killers, even when first taken into custody, or on trial for multiple murders, don't feel the slightest guilt or shame. They've just been exposed as the bogeyman, and….they're not embarrassed in the least. Most people, in those circumstances, would be distraught, beside themselves with mortification. But some serial killers actually bask in the limelight, conceit oozing from their every pore.

Here are a few more examples of that.

Aileen Wuornos is one of the rare female serial killers. Here she is at her trial:

She looks as if she's flirting with someone in the audience.

Juan Corona killed 25 migrant farm workers and drifters in California:

He looks like one of those goofballs you see on TV at a ball game -- "Hi Mom! I'm a celebrity now!"

Russian Andrei Chikatilo killed 56 women and children in Rostov between 1978 and 1990:

He looks quite pleased with himself in a queer sort of way.

Randy Steven Kraft was the "Freeway Killer" who was convicted of killing 16 young men between 1972 and 1983; he is thought to be responsible for the deaths of as many as 67:

Kraft obviously feels no guilt, or even embarrassment about all the young men he killed. Here's a mugshot taken of him in 2007:

Have you ever seen a more benign smile? Kraft looks like a CEO who just delivered a particularly good quarterly report, and who's just spotted his favorite investor in the audience.

Edmund Kemper, who raped and strangled seven girls in Santa Cruz, then killed his mother and her friend, decapitated his mother, and had sex with her disembodied head:

(Most guys would feel a little embarrassed after being discovered doing that.)

Kenneth Bianchi, one of the two Hillside Strangers:

Bianchi looks as if he's trying to put on a modest expression for the courtroom, but not quite succeeding.

Carroll Cole, on trial for killing 16 people from 1948 to 1980:

Carroll looks as if he is enjoying some private joke.

Tamara Samsonova, the Russian serial killer and cannibal:

She's actually blowing kisses to reporters at her trial as if she's a movie star graciously acknowledging her fans. How glamorous!

There aren't that many photos of serial killers in the courtroom, as photographers are often not allowed there. But the few that exist can be quite telling.

If you ever doubt how utterly without remorse or guilt or shame sociopaths are, remember these photographs.

It's striking how many serial killers there are who haven't become household names. Here's a list, in order of number of victims, on Wikipedia. (Warning: it's easy to waste a couple of hours just following the various links and reading about their crimes.)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The quintessential expression of sociopathy

If you ever doubt how completely different sociopaths are from other human beings, consider their behavior in court. But first, imagine how you'd feel if you were on trial for a number of murders.

If most people were faced with the prospect of a lifetime in jail, or maybe the death penalty, they'd be beside themselves with fear and depression. And those feelings would probably be superseded by the guilt at the horrible deeds they'd done, not to mention shame and embarrassment and mortification at all their friends and acquaintances finding out what monsters they really were.

Of course, no one who can feel guilt and shame would ever become a serial killer in the first place. But, just for argument's sake, imagine how you'd feel if you were on trial for a series of sexual murders.

You'd be distraught beyond belief, and ashamed beyond imagination.

Now, take a look at pictures of actual serial killers who've just been caught, and are either in police custody or on trial. The expressions on their faces tell the entire story of their character.

Here's Ted Bundy, on trial for multiple murders. He looks as if he's sharing a private joke with the judge that only the two of them are in on:

Here's Ted, looking quite pleased with himself:

And Ted, in court once again, undoubtedly testifying to his own good character:

Bundy opted to act as his own lawyer at his trial; he undoubtedly felt he was dazzling the courtroom with his brilliance.

Here's Australia's worst serial killer, Ivan Milat, being driven away after a court appearance:

You'd think he was a Hollywood star being whisked away in his limo after a particularly well-received movie premiere.

Here's nurse Daniela Poggiali being led into court after being accused of killing as many as 93 patients at the hospital where she worked in Lugo, Italy:

Daniela seems to be saying, "I am a free-spirit and an artist -- appreciate my work!"

Here's Richard Ramirez, aka "The Night Stalker," on trial for multiple murders:

In the bottom picture Ramirez is flashing the satanic pentagram, as if to say, "See? This is what makes me so great."

Rodney Alcala, "The Dating Game killer":

Alcala looks as if he thinks he's still on the show and has just made a particularly witty riposte.

David Berkowitz, aka "Son of Sam," after first being taken into custody:

In both pictures, Berkowitz appears to be the only one enjoying himself. Hey, it's fun to be the center of attention!

 Charlie Manson on trial:

"Hey, let's face it. Everybody knows I'm the coolest guy in the room. In the universe, as a matter of fact."

These are merely pictures of some of the most famous serial killers; there are plenty of others with similar mindsets. Not all serial killers exhibit such glee at their trials; some merely look angry that their pleasurable run is at an end.

But what's striking about these killers is not just how utterly lacking in remorse or guilt or worry they are but also how pleased with themselves they look.

You may have seen some of these inexplicably smiling pictures before, and not paid them any particular attention. But when you really stop to think about what they say about the serial killers' character, you realize it speaks to a yawning gulf between them and most people.

They're on trial for their lives after having been exposed as monstrous killers, but they still seem to be brimming with conceit. They're actually proud of being everyone else's worst nightmare. Until you can get your mind around that, you won't understand sociopaths.

(And remember, even though most sociopaths are not serial killers, they have the same basic mindset.)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Are there as many female sociopaths?

A commenter recently suggested:

John, you should write an article on female sociopaths as a category, how it presents in them, etc. I think there's this myth flying around that most are male, and I know your experience belies this.

My reply (in edited form):

Actually, most of the literature on sociopathy states that it's more common among males than females. The figure most commonly cited in some of the textbooks from 15 or 20 years ago was that 3% of the male population is sociopathic, but only 1% of the female population is. The explanation given was that males, due to their hormonal mix, are more aggressive and fearless, and thus by nature harder to socialize.

I'm not sure I buy that. If a young female has no close bond with an adult in the first couple years of her life, she is going to have that same lack of capacity for positive emotions that male sociopaths do. The only difference is that she'll express her sociopathy in less overtly aggressive ways: she won't beat people up, physically bully them, shoot them, etc. But that doesn't mean these women aren't just as poisonous on the inside.

I understand why the textbooks said what they said, though. The ultimate crime -- sociopathic or otherwise -- is murder, and men commit roughly ten times as many murders as do women. So, male sociopaths are simply more visible. A female sociopath like the one described here is more likely to go through life flying under the radar, undiagnosed. She spread dissension, brought false sexual harassment charges, got others at her company fired, was a lousy mother and wife, and in general left a small trail of destruction in her wake. None of it was quite dramatic enough to land her on the front pages, or even get her tossed in jail; but her behavior was all insidiously destructive in its own way.

Anyway, yes, female sociopaths are more common than thought by many. Not sure if there are exactly as many as there are male sociopaths; but the ratio is more than one to three.