[ExI] Bad people

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Fri Apr 18 17:50:37 UTC 2008

At 08:32 AM 4/18/2008 -0700, Keith wrote:

> >The only reason for doing this would be sadism. There are some
> >sadists, of course, but the vast majority of the vast amount of evil
> >in human history is not driven by sadism. Bad people are bad because
> >they gain something out of it other than pleasure in badness.
>I think it's more complicated and worse in a way.  Most of what we
>consider evil is just the outcome of evolved mechanisms that--when
>prospects look bleak--go into a mode that fixes the problem.

At least some bad people are bad because (it seems) their brains are 
wired for what's called "borderline personality disorder." This seems 
to be an emergent condition induced by circumstances in their life 
that, had the circumstances been more benign, might have not produced 
a mad, bad sociopath. The behavioral bias seems to be endogenous, not 
purely environmental. A popsci book on the topic that's moderately 
worth reading (it's not terrifically rigorous) is EVIL GENES, by 
Barbara Oakley. It has an amusing subtitle (look for it on amazon) 
that cashes out into a rather grim tale. I've known at least one 
person like this, and the damaged people she's interacted with from a 
position of power.

Damien Broderick 

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