Are we governed by psychopaths?


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    Are we a Psychopathocracy?

    For several decades I’ve been trying to figure out why our leaders cannot ‘get’ the implications of limits to growth. Whichever window you look through, whether it be peak oil, climate change, overfishing, debt — the evidence is staring us in the face.

    Having taught human evolution at high school level for twenty years, I tend to see our predicament through the lens of biological anthropology. As primatologists have shown, chimpanzees have a ‘theory of mind’, enabling males to use others as social ‘tools’ to gain power and influence and hence access to females (see for example Chimpanzee Politics by Frans de Waal).

    We can see the behavior of politicians, CEOs and bankers as a highly sophisticated elaboration of this struggle for sexual success (which might help to explain why so many ‘successful’ people seem to be highly sexed). In industrialised societies, rulers are even more remote from the consequences of their actions than in pre-industrial times, and until recently I thought this was sufficient to explain our inability to come to grips with our problems.

    Now, I’m not sure. According to psychologists, psychopaths are far more common than the axe-murderer stereotype. It seems that about 1 per cent of the general population show psychopathic characteristics, such as unreliability, lying, obsessive craving for power and adulation, an inability to empathise with others (despite being highly skilled in acting the part of a caring person), inability to feel remorse or shame, and an inflated ego.

    Isn’t much of the behavior we see in investment bankers, CEOs and politicians of this kind? If so, it would account for the fact that many CEOs, investment bankers and ‘top’ politicians, reportedly show at least some of these characteristics (Tony Blair has been cited as a prime example). In fact it is reported that amongst Wall Street Bankers the proportion of such individuals is far higher than 1 per cent.

    If so, it would explain why we continue, full throttle, towards the cliff.


    From what I have read, this condition exists in 1% of women and 10% of men.

    Here is an especially interesting book and interview about Ponerology.

    “The Trick of the Psychopath’s Trade: Make Us Believe that Evil Comes from Others”

    BTW, Blair is in a class all of his own.


    Thanks, Nassim. Judging from Amazon reviews, seems to be just what I’m looking for.


    Anyone in a position of such power will behave the same in time, because s/he will start to see the others as tools (and whiny, slimy tools that don’t understand his/her ideals). Large scale societies (civilizations) also lack the correctional means by which the alpha (now a pharaoh) is punched in the nose and maybe grilled a bit when he acts against the tribe (now a civilization). I think it’s really that simple, but this explanation doesn’t sell many books and certainly doesn’t stand as elevated conversation, being too simple. It’s been discussed to a great extent in the old TAE blog, though.



    Here is an article from today’s main Melbourne newspaper

    Cardinal George Pell shows all the manifestations described above. In fact, his boss, Pope Ratzinger is very similar in outlook. They are ponerologists.

    Let us not forget that Ratzinger was in charge of the Vatican’s internal FBI (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and there has been zero cooperation with police investigators into such abuse during that period and since.

    In fact, the local police believe that the Vatican has files on all these priests and is hiding this information.

    Lastly, I would like to point out that 30-40 years ago, the Catholic Church used to try to protect Palestinians who were being terrorised by the Israelis. The Popes of the day would publicly condemn the Israelis and it would make the news.

    Now, that no longer happens. The Israelis can do what they like with scarcely a squeak coming out of the Vatican. I can only conclude that the Mossad has thick files on a huge number of priests and that they have forced the Catholic Church to shut up. The depravity of these psychopathic priests has made the Church an anachronism.


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