Sunday, August 12, 2012

Capitalism and Democracy: Can they Coexist?

Many people are out of work right now and struggling to make ends-meet. They may be questioning the fairness of an economic system that is presently increasing the income gap between the rich and the poor. For example, many in the United States took to the streets last summer in protest during the “Occupy” movement. I was alarmed at how many people seemed to be simplistically blaming capitalism for all of the global economic problems. I interpreted their message as being a democratic uprising to end capitalism and install a more egalitarian societal system. But I will explain to you why I think this reasoning is flawed.

In this essay I argue that Capitalism and Democracy are entirely compatible with each other. More precisely they are two very distinct concepts that complement each other very well. The two concepts shall be broken down into their constitutive conceptual elements so that we may compare and contrast them to see how I postulated my conclusion. You, the reader, will notice that although Capitalism and Democracy deal with different domains of society, they share many fundamental features. Where Capitalism deals with the creation and exchange of products and materials, Democracy deals with the creation and exchange of ideas and opinions. When you are finished reading, hopefully you will see that both concepts possess central tenets that rest on the idea of liberty, choice, and decentralization, and that they are indeed absolutely compatible with each other.

Democracy is a special form of societal governance because decisions are not made by a single individual or group. Democratic societies view their citizens as independent and autonomous entities with their own unique drives and goals. This is known as individualism. Citizens have free will and are knowledgeable enough to make choices that benefit them. As such, they view coercion and other such assaults on free will as something undesirable that should be avoided. Violence and the threat of harm is the most ancient form of human coercion, so democratic societies have laws set in place to discourage it among the population. These are generally known as Human Rights. Citizens are free to do as they so please as long as they are not interfering with other citizens’ Human Rights. Individuals are generally united in their common goal to achieve prosperity, happiness and good health, despite the fact that they each may have their own unique ideas about achieving it. As an extension of free will, all citizens must be involved in the matters of the state/society/group. This occurs through public discussions where every citizen is given the chance to have their ideas and opinions heard. In modern societies with large populations, citizens elect leaders to represent their interests during these public discussions. Through these exchanges of ideas and opinions, citizens discover new and innovative ways to cooperate with each other to achieve their goals. Ideally, group decisions must be made with group consensus, meaning that every single individual agrees to the decision. When consensus cannot be reached, decisions are made by the majority or through compromise. Individuals seek power not through violence or coercion, but rather, with political influence. What this means is that a person in a position of authority (i.e. the president, politicians) is dependent on the support he receives from other citizens. In this sense, power and influence is decentralized. If a Politician begins to do things that the citizens do not like, the citizens simply withdraw their support and the Politician can no longer influence public policy. This is usually done through the process of voting. A skillful politician finds the common ideas that unite the citizens and gains their trust by reflecting those ideas back on to the citizens.

Capitalism is a special economic system for very similar conceptual reasons as Democracy. Capitalism is the production, trading and proliferation of commodities to achieve profit and growth. Commodities are essentially modified and refined resources which have value, meaning they improve the quality of life of its owner. They are analogous to ideas in democracy.  Quality of life is an umbrella term for prosperity, happiness and good health, which as you may recall is one of the common goals among citizens of a democratic society. In fact, among the many Civil/Human Rights stated in democratic constitutions you will find something called the “Right to Private Property”. The Right to Private Property allows individuals to own commodities which are protected in ways that are similar to Human Rights, and can be considered as an extension of the individual. As such, an individual can accumulate commodities which serve to increase her quality of life. In this way we see that Capitalism benefits Democracy and vice versa.

The act of trading is when one party gives away a commodity in exchange for another commodity of equal value (may also be referred to as buying and selling). Value is usually measured in currency, a universal yardstick. The value of a commodity is determined on the free market through the homeostatic balance of supply, demand and competition. If the supply of the commodity increases, it is more accessible and thus becomes less valuable. Similarly if the demand increases, it is less accessible because more people want it and thus it becomes more valuable. As such, the scarcer the commodity is on the market, the more valuable it becomes. Businesses are entities whose main goal is to achieve profit and growth by selling commodities on the market. Profit is achieved by selling a commodity for a higher price than it cost to produce. Businesses cannot sell their commodities for too low a price otherwise they are not profitable and fail. They cannot sell for too high a price neither because buyers will simply buy from another business for cheaper. This is competition. As such, businesses must find a middle ground that is profitable yet cheap enough for buyers. This drives efficiency and innovation as businesses find ways to cut costs and increase profit margins. If you understand the concept of the free-market you also understand that these free-market forces are decentralized just like political power in a democracy is decentralized.

However, some folks may argue that Capitalism goes against democratic ideals of quality of life since it produces commodities that are harmful, like guns. Guns are a tool for causing violence and are against the principles of Human Rights because they are used for coercive purposes. I would respond that, although democratic ideals are against violence it does not change the fact that the world is a dangerous place where many people do not accept these principles. Guns improve the quality of life of their owners by enabling them to protect themselves, their families and their property from people who mean them harm.

Other critics may point out that Capitalism often uses exploitation to increase profits and growth. Exploitative techniques such as cheap labor are harmful to individuals because it is oppressive and creates profit at the individual’s expense. How can something which promotes exploitation be compatible with democracy? I respond that, even though capitalism may be exploitative, reckless and at times blind to human suffering, it creates choice. Through this choice it creates opportunity and growth in the long term. For example, a subsistence farmer in sub-Saharan Africa is given the choice to go work in a sweatshop. The working conditions in the sweatshop are terrible for her (judging from our comfortable Western standards). But are they really much worse than her conditions as a subsistence farmer where she experienced uncertainty, droughts and starvation? This textile factory, mechanistic and exploitative as it is, offers a choice.  A choice that can lead to something more, a choice that can lead to growth. She may still be starving while working long hours under terrible conditions, but at least her children are near an urban center where they may get some sort of education. Although she may never escape the miserable conditions within her lifetime, at least her children will have more choices than she had, and thus a better chance of escaping poverty than she did. And if you recall, choice and free will are the central tenets of democracy.

With this brief conceptual break-down we can see that Capitalism and Democracy share many of the same fundamental ideas. Democracy deals with the exchange of ideas and opinions, whereas Capitalism is concerned with the exchange of commodities. Both are based on a system of decentralization and individual liberty. This is strong evidence in support of my statement that: Yes, Capitalism is compatible with Democracy. I would even venture further to say that, like two soul mates, Capitalism and Democracy were made for each other. In fact, if we look back in history we can see that they were both thrust onto humanity at the same time. I believe that more conceptual, social, and economic research would confirm my statement. It makes me think that some of my fellow citizens exercising their democratic right to protest against Capitalism (of all things!), really do not understand Capitalism at all! In fact, if it were not for Capitalism, they probably would not be allowed to protest in the first place! Although I agree that the present economic system could use some substantive improvements, I whole-heartedly disagree that Capitalism is the problem! 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The World is a Stage

Put on a mask, be charismatic, and manipulate your image to reflect the population's desires. If done properly, gain power and influence to attain a wider field of control over outside circumstances. Shape the world to your own mental image.

Such is the game that a politician plays!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Getting people to do what you want.

Throughout our lives, we navigate a confusing maze of social interactions to achieve our goals. Dealing with other people is an inevitable part of every day life. After all, humans are highly sociable creatures, and all of our accomplishments as a species are the result of exchanges of ideas occurring as a result of the process of socialization.

This is my point: to achieve anything you want to accomplish in life, you will have to deal with other people. So it makes logical sense to try to figure out how other people function, what the motivations behind their actions are and what their behavior signifies. This is the study of Psychology!

Unavoidably, we will all be faced a situation where we want somebody to do something that benefits us. But a problem that I see with a lot of people is that they fail to put themselves in their target's shoes. They try to force, or coerce their target into doing something, without giving thought to the other person's motivations or desires.

In my opinion, it takes a lot of energy to coerce somebody to do something against their will. It's analogous to trying to bang in a screw with a hammer. It's doable, but you'd be fucking retarded if you were to try building an entire house that way. You can usually see personal level coercion when people yell, use threats and hurl insults. Your typical inept mother howling at her children in the Shoppers Drug Mart is what comes to mind. Or perhaps the United States posing sanctions on Iran? We've all been guilty of this primitive form of social control at some point in our lives. Any intelligent person should seek to minimize instances where it is used. 

A better way, I think, is to put your precious energy into getting the person to actually want to do what you want them to do. Your target is an individual, just like you, and will not do anything unless it benefits him/her in some way, just like you. Find a way to make what you want your target to do mutually beneficial. Both parties must derive some clear benefit, but this does not mean that you cannot benefit more than your target. Avoid the winner/loser bifurcation. Avoid making your target act in ways that are detrimental to his/herself (unless of course you are at war, in which case a whole different set of rules applies).

To summarize: make the people around you benefit from your presence, and they will actually want to help you achieve what you want to achieve. It's simple to do in theory, but very hard to do in practice! Next time you find yourself stuck dealing with an asshole/jerk/bitch/cunt, try a different approach than simple-minded coercion. Use a little finesse!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chasing money vs. Creating value

This is such a cliche topic, but I don't care, I want to write about it anyways. It seems these days that a lot of people do not differentiate between value and money, and this leads to problems.

A young person my age should focus on creating value, that is, something that is useful to other people. This thing of value that is being created should be something that is more valuable to the person buying it than to the person selling it. So for example, as a young strapping lad, doing physical labor is something that is easy and rewarding for me. As long as my belly is full, and I am hydrated, I can go for hours and it is a great stress relieving workout. But to an older person, digging a hole is tantamount to digging their own grave!

Other people can create value through other avenues. One person might be a really good artist, another person might be a great teacher, whatever. The most important thing is to create things, whether tangible or intangible, that benefit the lives of other people. If you can figure out what exactly you can do to improve other peoples' lives, the money will chase you instead of the other way around.

This is because money is simply a measure of value on an imperfect "ruler" or "scale". By chasing money you are essentially grasping at the ethereal and abstract versus the worldly and concrete. In chasing money, your thoughts and energy are focused on the measurement of value instead of value itself, which is something that I believe is not very fruitful in the long run.

So to summarize: Focus on creating something that will improve the lives of other people. Whether this is through making artwork, providing entertainment through athletic ability, mathematical acuity, interpersonal skills, or anything really, as long as it improves people's lives, and as long as you can do it consistently, you will not have an issue with money. That is because money follows value. By focusing on creating value, you create a sort of gravity field that will pull money towards you....

I am still a young buck, and I have not accumulated enough wealth so that I can let it speak for itself yet. But hopefully in a couple of years I will be able to read this post and say to myself "you were right!"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Exploring the Concept of Privacy

With the hubbub in the media about the issue of privacy these days, many may wonder why exactly it is such a big deal. The following section will examine the social and historical determinants of the concept so that the reader may understand why privacy is so important and how it relates to the modern issue of electronic health records and mobile health.

“Instantaneous photographs and newspaper enterprise have invaded the scared precincts of private and domestic life; and numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the prediction that ‘what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the roof-tops’. For years there has been a feeling that the law must afford some remedy for the unauthorized circulation of portraits of private persons”  (Warren & Brandeis, 1890).

The author of this excerpt is not talking about social media when he mentions the “unauthorized circulation of portraits of private persons” because he wrote this in 1869 before computers and the internet existed. The mechanical devices which he refers to were some of the first commercially available cameras being used by journalistic reporters at the time. As such, we see that the issue of technology and privacy is not something that is new to our society. While it is true that the information landscape has changed a great deal since the late 19th century, many of the issues remain fundamentally the same today in the 21st century.

From a psychological perspective privacy is seen as a form of social control which enhances the autonomy of the individual (Margulis, 2003). It allows the individual to differentiate between what is the ‘self’, what is outside the ‘self’ – family, society, environment, etc. – and the relationship between the two. In this way, privacy is seen as an essential feature of the human experience in achieving healthy psychological functioning (Margulis, 2003). In studies of psychiatric settings, some of the consequences of a lack of privacy included: stress, diminishment of voluntary control, dehumanization and the inability to reintegrate and operate normally in society (Goffman, 1961) (Johnson, 1974) (Margulis, 2003).

From a societal perspective, privacy is important for three main reasons (Margulis, 2003): (i) there is a common interest among members of society to maintain privacy; (ii) privacy is essential to the proper functioning of democracy; and (iii) privacy is seen as a commodity because “technological and market forces make it increasingly difficult for any one person to have privacy unless everyone has a similar level of privacy” (Regan, 1995).

From a legal perspective, the concept of privacy is understood as being a product of the individualistic Western ideal ( Nagenborg, 2006) known as the “right-to-life” (Warren & Brandeis, 1890). The “right-to-life” consists of three fundamental components (Warren & Brandeis, 1890): (i) the individual’s right to be free from violence and other forms of bodily injury; (ii) the recognition of the individual as an active agent capable of making choices free from unwanted restraint – also known as freedom and liberty; and (iii) the individual’s right to own property – also known as the right to private property (Warren & Brandeis, 1890) (Greaves, 1975). The right to private property is the “dominion which one individual claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual” (Greaves, 1975). Property that is worth owning is usually something valuable that improves the owner’s quality of life in some way. The right to own property set the foundation for the development of the more abstract Right to intellectual property and Right to privacy (Warren & Brandeis, 1890).

The right to privacy is closely related to the right to intellectual property in that they both protect intangible products belonging to an individual (Warren & Brandeis, 1890). Intangible property is different from tangible property in the sense that it does not have a physical presence and cannot be touched or grabbed in the same way a concrete object like a chair or baseball can be touched. But just because something does not have a concrete presence does not mean that it does not have value and cannot improve the quality of life of its owner. Intangible property are ideas and abstractions that are usually expressed by mean of words, painting, music and other forms of artistic production (Warren & Brandeis, 1890). The Right to Intellectual property grew out of the individual’s right to earn profits from the publication and dissemination of the ideas found in their literary and artistic productions (Warren & Brandeis, 1890). Its legislation served as a protection and encouragement of the conscious production of labor (Warren & Brandeis, 1890). The Right to intellectual property set the legislative foundation for the Right to privacy (Warren & Brandeis, 1890).

The right to privacy is different from the right to intellectual property in the sense that not only does it recognize the individual’s right to immaterial property – through the expression of ideas and information – it also recognizes the individual’s right to decide freely, without authoritarian interference, which of these intangible materials can be appropriately expressed in public and which ones cannot. In other words, The Right to Privacy is the individual’s freedom to choose what information about themselves they wish to divulge to others and which information about themselves they do not (Margulis, 2003). For example, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution[1] protects individuals from unwanted police searches without the presence of a probable cause – an individual’s privacy may not be invaded unless a good enough reason has been determined through the issuance of a search warrant by a judge (McWhirter, 1994) (Margulis, 2003). This protects individuals from institutions which may not always have the citizen’s’ best interest in mind. It solidifies the concept of the individual as an independent entity capable of making decisions with his/her own best interests in mind free from the coercion of an outside authority.

The importance of individual privacy to psychology and society is recognized in the legal framework of Western Democratic nations today (Margulis, 2003). But due to the rapidly evolving modern technological landscape, the law is often several steps behind in ensuring that the individual’s right to privacy is well protected (Barrows & Clayton, 1996) (Tene, 2008). Furthermore, the definition of privacy and what type of information should or should not be disclosed, is constantly undergoing change according to evolving societal norms and it also varies greatly from individual to individual (Barrows & Clayton, 1996).

The emergence of inexpensive information storage technologies have allowed for the creation of vast databases containing an enormous amount of information about individuals (Tene, 2008).With this, has come the development of a swath of confidentiality and informed consent issues that remain unaddressed by our current legal framework (Tene, 2008). For example, Google, the internet search behemoth, collects information on all of its users’ internet activities – whether this is through its search engine, e-mail service or any of the many internet tools that it offers “free” of charge – and compiles the information in databases on its servers (Tene, 2008). With data mining techniques, Google claims it is able to enhance the internet experience of its users by creating personalized and targeted advertisement (Barrows & Clayton, 1996) (Tene, 2008). However, due to a lack of clear protective legislation of personal information in Canada and the U.S., “third parties such as financial institutions, insurance companies, online service providers, and government agencies, [may have access] to databases with massive amounts of personally identifiable information, including in certain cases information not known to the individuals themselves”  (Tene, 2008). Great psychological and financial harm can come to individuals if their personal information falls into the hands of the wrong people, especially information relating to personal health (Barrows & Clayton, 1996).

This is known as the problem of user informed consent and confidentiality. Informed consent dictates that the user of the service (Barrows & Clayton, 1996): (i) must be made aware of what information is being disclosed and the significance of this information; (ii) must be made aware to whom this information will be disclosed to; (iii) is capable of making lucid decisions; (iv) willingly gives consent without coercion. In the case of Google, or Facebook, these criteria are not met, since it is not clear what and to whom this information is being disclosed to (Barrows & Clayton, 1996). Furthermore, in a sense users are being coerced because the only way to refuse consent is to forgo using the service.  Confidentiality is the notion that a user’s personal information should only be used for the purposes of the service being provided and should never be disclosed to a third party without the user’s explicit consent (Harwood, 2006).


Nagenborg, M. (2006). The Dichotomy of the Private and the Public. Privacy and Surveillance Technology - Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 1-10). Bielefeld: Centre for Interdisciplinary Research.
Barrows, R. C., & Clayton, P. D. (1996). Privacy, Confidentiality, and Electronic Medical Records. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 139-148.
Goffman, E. (1961). Asylums. Garden City, NY: Anchor.
Greaves, B. B. (1975). Free Market Economics: A Reader. New York City: Irvington on Hudson.
Harwood, I. A. (2006). Confidentiality Constraints within Mergers and Acquisitions: Gaining Insights through a ‘bubble’ Metaphor. British Journal of Management, 347-359.
Johnson, C. A. (1974). Privacy as personal control. In D. H. Carson, & S. T. Marguilis, Man-environment interactions: Evaluations and applications: Part 2, Vol 6. Privacy (pp. 88-100). Washington, DC: Environmental Design Research Association.
Margulis, S. T. (2003). Privacy as a Social Issue and Behavioural Concept. Journal of Social Issues, 243-261.
McWhirter, D. A. (1994). Search, Seizure, and Privacy. Pheonix: Oryx Press.
Regan, P. M. (1995). Legislating Privacy: Technology, social values, and public policy. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Tene, O. (2008). What Google Knows: Privacy and Internet Search Engines. Selected Works of Omer Tene (in press), 1-61.
Warren, S. D., & Brandeis, L. D. (1890, Dec 15). The Right to Privacy. Harvard Law Review, 4(5), 193-220.

[1] The American Constitution, ratified in 1787, had an enormous influence in shaping the legislation of Democratic countries around the world, including Canada.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Youth Unemployment

Comment on the post "19, and My Generation"

I am 21, turning 22 in two days.

I am wondering... I have just graduated with a B.Sc. in Psychology (lol) and I am working a manual labor cash job while I apply to medical school.

The employers that I've worked for this summer tell me that they cannot find enough guys who can actually work. It seems nobody wants to put their back into their labour.

So far I have not had any problem finding work. One day in June I got into an argument with my boss and quit, only to find a new job that very morning. Right now I am using this apparent scarcity of good workers in the market to my advantage. This week I will be asking my current boss to raise my hourly wage to $18/hr from $15/hr or else I will find somebody else who pays better.

Meanwhile, I have a bunch of buddies who smoke weed all day and play Call of Duty all night, complaining that they cannot find a decent job. Also, there seems to be some sort of a negative stigma surrounding manual labor jobs, almost as if it is below status work. I don't care though because money is money, my body is robust, and obviously I will not be doing it for the rest of my life.

So, my question to you Evan is: Is there some sort of a labor demand mismatch that is responsible for this high youth unemployment? Is my intuition, that a lot of guys my age are just too lazy to "man-up" and gain a few calluses on their hands, correct?

I suspect something funny is going on when I see reports such as this on one hand, and the deficit of workers on the construction yard on the other.

What's your take? What does the data say?

Great blog by the way!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Empathy, Sympathy and Psychopathy

During discussions I find that a lot of people seem to get the words “sympathy” and “empathy” mixed up, or use them interchangeably as if they mean the same thing. For today’s blog topic I will explain the important differences between Sympathy and Empathy.

Empathy is the ability of an individual to take on the perspective of another person. It allows one individual to imagine how another individual is feeling, acting and thinking. I hypothesize that empathy is an emergent property of the neural mechanisms described by motor neuron theory.

Our capacity to be empathetic is due to the fact that all humans are physiologically and neurologically similar to one another. This is because all humans arose from common ancestors whose bodies and minds evolved under the same selective pressures and dealt with the same types of experiences. These experiences shaped our neural machinery over several generations so that now, the structure of our brains is fundamentally the same among members of our species. Of course, due to our inherent uniqueness, the structure of one individual’s neural machinery is never identical to another’s, but it is similar enough so that most individuals’ experiences are concordant.

For example, my perception of the color red might be very different from yours, but we can both agree that a particular stop sign is red. The idea that I can put myself in your shoes and imagine what you are experiencing is empathy. The fact that my brain and nervous system are structured fundamentally the same way as yours, allows for this possibility.

I can empathize, and thus understand and appreciate, a broad range of the emotions and experiences that you are feeling, whether it is happiness, sadness, anger, excitement, suffering, etc. I can even "empathize" with your thoughts through different forms of communication. For example, when I am reading an essay, I am essentially empathizing with the author’s thoughts and ideas regarding a particular argument or topic. By reading the essay, I am recreating my own version of the neural activity that was originally developed in the author’s mind. Therefore, empathy is the recreation of neural activity which can correspond to a broad range of human experiences, whether they are emotional, intellectual, or physical, from one individual’s mind to another.

Sympathy, on the other hand, is fundamentally different. It is an emotion which elicits a nurturing response from somebody who is witnessing somebody else’s suffering. Suffering is a necessary prerequisite for sympathy. I can only feel sympathy for you if you are suffering. As I witness you in pain, “suffering patterns” in my brain are activated which then causes me to feel what you are feeling and encourages me to nurture and care for you to alleviate this distress that we now both feel.

If I am walking downtown and I see a bum, I empathize with the bum’s suffering and may feel a need to help him by giving him some extra change (or some extra crack). In essence, upon seeing him I may, consciously or unconsciously, imagine myself in his shoes (or grocery-bag-tied-with-elastic-bands-footwear) and suffer vicariously through him. This suffering which I feel then elicits a nurturing response from me called sympathy. Thus, we can reason that empathy is a prerequisite for sympathy. We cannot experience sympathy without experiencing empathy. But is the reverse true? Is sympathy required to experience empathy? The following example will help illustrate. Say you’ve made me so upset (i.e. by insulting my mother) that I punch you in the face. Having been punched in the face several times in the past, I can empathize with what you are currently experiencing. I know that your face is going to be sore for a couple of days and that you will suffer. However, since it is something that I felt you deserved, I will not feel any sympathy for you. After all, you were insulting my mother, and NOBODY is allowed to insult my mother! Therefore, I reason that sympathy is not required for empathy.

This brings me to the topic of psychopaths. If you did not discern between empathy and sympathy before reading this article, you should not feel stupid! It is a distinction that has been overlooked by mainstream academic psychologists with PhDs! For example, the DSM-IV, which is essentially an encyclopedia of disorders that mental health professionals use to diagnose patients, defines a psychopath as such: “Psychopaths possess a general lack of empathy. It includes deficiencies in comprehension and appreciation of others’ experiences and motivations, lack of tolerance of differing perspectives and diminished understanding of the effects of own behavior on others. At an extreme they are simply unable to understand the emotional states of other people, except in a purely detached, intellectual sense. Other people are thus little more than objects for their personal gratification. They are not disturbed by the suffering of others, nor do they take pleasure in making others happy. This callousness extends to everybody, family or strangers alike. They neglect other people's needs and desires and can casually inflict cruelty.” [Emphasis added]

Having just clearly differentiated between empathy and sympathy, it is difficult for me to accept this definition as being true. I argue that some psychopaths have an excellent ability to empathize. I would argue further that the ability to empathize has nothing to do with being a psychopath; rather it is the lack of sympathy which is the defining feature.

A good psychopath has a very intimate understanding of how his (or her) victim’s mind functions. By understanding the goals, motivations, desires, emotional and cognitive patterns, and everything else that makes a person tic, the psychopath gains great leverage for manipulating his victim’s emotions, thoughts and behaviour. Without this intimate understanding, there is no leverage and the psychopath is powerless. Thus, the psychopath is an expert at a “complex form of psychological inference in which observation, memory, knowledge, and reasoning are combined to yield insights into the thoughts and feelings of others." [] The psychopath is essentially an expert empathizer.

The successful psychopath is able to manipulate people with ease, and this is something that requires a lot of emotional and social intelligence which can only be achieved through high levels of empathy. What psychopaths are lacking, which can be troubling to other members of society, is sympathy, pity, remorse, or any other “nurture-inducing” emotions, which is probably why men are more prone to being labelled psychopathic than women. This is because women are naturally inclined to be nurturing due to their biological role as mothers.

I am sure most of you know this already, but contrary to popular belief, psychopaths are not crazy people who go around killing others for fun. Psychopaths are simply people like you and I who want to achieve their goals in the easiest way possible. Some of them just happen to have an intimate understanding of the way emotions function in humans and view psychological manipulation as a valid tool to achieve their goals. They may appear to be “unable to understand the emotional states of other people, except in a purely detached and intellectual sense”, as the psychologists put it, but how else is it possible to understand something fully without being detached and viewing it intellectually? The good psychopath places himself above the storm of his emotions to view things objectively and to make decisions in a calculated and rational way.

To sum it up, empathy is the ability to share an experience with another person. Sympathy is the feeling of distress upon witnessing another person’s suffering and the nurturing reaction that it elicits. I hope this cleared things up.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Graduating Undergraduate

I am almost done my classes.

That means I can devote some time to spewing out some of the ideas from my head, onto this keyboard, through the copper wires and fiber optic cables of the internet on to your computer screen, straight through your iris and into your mind. Unless of course you are blind. In that case fuck you.

So whoever is reading this (that is if anybody actually reads this blog), get ready for a veritable onslaught of critical information to keep your curious mind satiated with delectable topics ranging from: micro¯o economics, human psychology, philosophical liberalism (my narcissistic perversion of it anyway), critical reasoning, scientific understanding and my (keen) observations on life in general.

Basically this blog will be an online diary for the public to explore the methodically insane thought processes going on my mind.