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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Janko Kokosar: on 6/4/14 at 18:09pm UTC, wrote Dear Armin Shirazi It is a clearly written essay about people who decide...

James Hoover: on 6/1/14 at 21:41pm UTC, wrote Armin, When you ask, "Is Steering Humanity a Good Idea?", I believe you...

Ross Cevenst: on 5/28/14 at 12:05pm UTC, wrote Hi Armin, An excellent essay exploring a number of interesting topics. I...

Michael Allan: on 5/21/14 at 21:11pm UTC, wrote PS - This is just a note to say I'll be rating your essay, Armin (along...

George Gantz: on 5/15/14 at 14:52pm UTC, wrote Armin - Thanks! I enjoyed your essay and invite you to review mine: The...

Aaron Feeney: on 5/10/14 at 5:42am UTC, wrote P.S., I will use the following rating scale to rate essays: 10 - the essay...

Lawrence Crowell: on 5/9/14 at 19:57pm UTC, wrote I am not an expert in this subject by any means, but it is of some...

Peter Jackson: on 5/8/14 at 16:01pm UTC, wrote Armin, that was a very engaging and interesting essay that needed writing....


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FQXi FORUM
April 20, 2019

CATEGORY: How Should Humanity Steer the Future? Essay Contest (2014) [back]
TOPIC: Is Steering Humanity A Good Idea? by Armin Nikkhah Shirazi [refresh]
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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 14:30 GMT
Essay Abstract

The notion that humanity should steer the future may seem inviting at first, but this paper points out two problems with it. First, it is argued that a society with the kind of features most people would find desirable and would want to “steer” to can only be realized if most of its members share a set of suitable universal values and take these as guidelines for living. Examples of rules that reflect these values are given. Second, it is pointed out that there is a small minority of the population that suffers from certain psychopathological disorders which may help some of its members to rise to the top of society and initiate efforts to "steer" humanity for their own ulterior motives. Starting with Political Ponerology, the work of Andrew Lobaczewski, a mechanism is proposed which describes the process by which the members of that minority rise to the top. The mechanism is called pathoselection. Some indirect evidence is presented that such a mechanisms may already be at work in the United States, though its testability is inherently limited as it requires the psychological testing of individuals at the top of society.

Author Bio

Armin Nikkhah Shirazi studies the foundations of quantum mechanics, which has more recently led him to study the foundations of mathematics. He is also a composer-pianist, having composed over 115 musical works. A sample of his music can be found at http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjxXL39uQxY7EGULNi3ddOQ. Finally, he works as a midnight pharmacist.

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Colin Walker wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 00:38 GMT
Dear Armin,

What a great essay!

In my essay Democracy of the dice people one of the dice people, Ted, develops a little plan which I think hints at "pathocracy" but you expose this side of society in a clinical way that is compelling, going straight for the jugular.

Saaay, you're not a psychopath are you? Just kidding, but some people have a genetic predisposition.

James Fallon, a professor doing brain scans of psychopaths, was recently in the news after he identified himself when he stood out as part of the control group (the "normals", for want of a better word). Turns out he has genetic traits as well, and is related to Lizzie Borden! He attributes his controlled behaviour to nurture - a good childhood - but he recognizes that emotional bonds are not there.

Well done,

Colin

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 21:44 GMT
Dear Colin,

Thank you very much for your comments. I looked up James Fallon, and yes, his case is very interesting and underlines that both genetic and environmental factors are at play. On the other hand, the sociopolitical aspects, in my opinion, may have not received sufficient attention beyond the serial killer stereotype.

As for your question, allow me to mention an experience I had when I was still in pharmacy school. We once had a guest lecturer, a clinical pharmacist who specialized in pain management. At the end of her lecture, she invited any of of the students in my class to come and see the kind of work that she was doing in person. I believe I was the only one who took her up on that offer.

I made an appointment and went to the hospital, and ended up accompanying her on her rounds. I was not prepared for the profound suffering that I witnessed during that single round, seeing cancer patients in the final stage of their lives, hearing unbelievable stories of shattering misfortune, and being engulfed by an aura of bleakness that permeated the entire hospital ward. The experience had a profound emotional impact on me (and led me to decide that I definitely did not want to work in that kind of an environment), so based on that experience I believe I can with some reasonable certainty answer in the negative.

I saw your essay and will leave feedback soon.

Finally, let me also mention that on the foundations of QM side I am investigating the incorporation of the key distinction that underlies my theory formally (i.e. as an axiom) into ZFC set theory, and there seem to be already some intriguing mathematical consequences. I hope to have a paper ready by the end of the summer, and if you are so inclined, I would be glad to bring your attention to it when it is ready.

Wishing you all the best,

Armin

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Colin Walker replied on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 21:27 GMT
Dear Armin,

I am sorry to have brought back your experience. You are right, it is those events that let us know who we are. I am pretty sure I am not a psychopath either.

I looked up ZFC and found an explanation of the axioms at Wolfram Mathworld website. They also briefly mention NBG set theory which is a "finitely axiomatizable" version of ZFC extended to classes of sets. I do not know if that is relevant, or even what it means exactly.

Set theories like these are the sort of thing that brought Whitehead to declare after working with his student, Russell, on Principia that he no longer felt as sharp as he used to be. He was 50 at the time and it took three years. I would like to see what you come up with, but you may have to do some extra explaining.

I try to avoid the term evil, but the "banality of evil" occurs when ordinary people find themselves in situations where conformity demands that they act criminally. The phrase comes from Hannah Arendt after the trial of Adolf Eichmann who seemed to be a quite mundane person, whose acts were the result of "just following orders". We humans are too adaptable and conformist to be led by misanthropic leaders, although that is too often the situation. I think you have identified a major problem whose solution bears pondering.

Colin

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 20:14 GMT
Dear Colin,

No problem, although it was by no means a pleasant experience, it widened my horizon and caused me to grow.

As for your reservations about set theory, let me just mention that introducing the distinction takes it into a completely new direction, so the past may not be predictive of the future. As for the banality of evil, please see my comment below Thomas'.

Armin

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 03:41 GMT
Dear Armin,

Your dealing with foundations of quantum mechanics led you the foundations of mathematics. Shouldn't you accordingly get aware of pathological tenets in science? At least the reported results of cold fusion were already labeled pathological.

You are suspecting "pathocracy". I am not sure if this directly answers the question how humanity should steer the future.

Regards,

Eckard

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 22:05 GMT
Dear Eckard,

Thank you for your comments. I am not quite sure I follow what you seem to be describing as a connection between the foundations of mathematics and some problematic foundational assumptions in science. If you care to elaborate I may be able give some feedback on that.

You are correct that I did not directly answer the theme question of this contest, but I did answer it...

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John C Hodge wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 17:38 GMT
“…notion of "steering" seems to imply a form of direction by a small and presumably enlightened group which has the best interests of humanity at heart , the best knowledge of how to further these interests and the means to do so.

The central thesis of this paper questions the premise that such steering is desirable. Rather, if every citizen were instilled with certain foundational values from childhood on which are integrated as guidelines for living , then the individual actions of each in accordance with these values may cascade upward so that the aggregate manifests itself eventually at a societal level…”

I agree. But “steering” may be done by each type of social organization and people may vote with their feet. Thus, nature chooses.

Such education by the state is indoctrination, which I also question. Parental indoctrination is necessary. But that would not be “a suitable shared value system”.

,

We need only steer away from war and starvation.

The US was a “Prosperous Society” but also got into a lot of wars. Now we have a welfare state (not “Own your share of responsibility for everything that happens to you.”

I think you discussed psychopaths. I think those that result in contribution are actually seekin fulfillment (seeking understanding, [you and me], truth, and justice in a changing world). The others are seeing happiness ( seeking hope, love, and mercy in an unchanging world). I think your comments are directed at those that are destructive for both types.

I think the succession of presidents (you mentioned Bush and Obama) are just the evolution of a democracy as has been experienced in history.

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 22:52 GMT
Dear John,

You said:

"I agree. But steering may be done by each type of social organization and people may vote with their feet. Thus, nature chooses."

I am not sure there is any disagreement between us on this point. The mechanism I describe in my paper is quite akin to natural selection, so summarizing it as "nature chooses" seems not inappropriate.

You...

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John C Hodge replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 14:40 GMT
Definition of diversity: The Shia Islam and Sunni Islam are currently killing each other. I conclude there is diversity so that nature is being given a choice – which lives, which dies. The tribes of Africa are also killing each other so there is diversity there. I also suggest the children of the rich and the children of the poor are being given different values. We need the diversity of the farmer, hunter, laborer, scientist, businessman (exploit others), soldier (Killing is good), etc.

Steering away from war and starvation (collapse) is the first necessary step. Until we reach this step, we don’t know if there is another. It may be sufficient, but I think there must be another about which I have no idea. The German Democratic Republic lived for such a short time (less than a century) it hardly qualifies as an organization competing with its values. I would call it a slave state and as such was in a war as a part of the USSR in their war. You know a great deal more about this than I. Perhaps you could share the inside scoop about the idea of shared values and what values fail. I think there should be only one shared value – tolerance.

Yes, Europe is farther down the road to the welfare state.

I think the seeking of fulfillment and seeking of happiness are not mutually exclusive. But few people become wise enough to have both.

“…evolution of a democracy…”. The long-term trend of a large, complex society from democracy is to a totalitarian organization (see Tainter, although he doesn’t address this in just this way – he talks of collapse then reorganization). There are many subtleties that can be argued.

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John C Hodge wrote on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 18:36 GMT
I would like to list your essay as a reference for my essay in a comment. The suggested text is “The following essays may be viewed as added references in the introduction of this essay: …”.

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Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 12:23 GMT
Armin,

We largely agree on what a prosperous society should be. Most all, free of coercion.

I am not familiar with Lobaczewski's work, and I found it interesting. It seems to correspond to the "banality of evil" that Hannah Arendt found in the Nazis. Just normal folk doing what they perceive as their duty to impose their beliefs on others. Truly a recipe for tragedy and disaster.

All in all, a creditable essay!

Best,

Tom

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 20:16 GMT
Dear Tom,

Thank you for your comment, of course you are correct, freedom of coercion is paramount. As for the "banality" of evil, please see my comment below.

I will leave a comment on your essay soon.

Armin

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Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 10:36 GMT
Dear Armin,

Thanks for clarifying the distinction. I appreciate your viewpoint. At the same time, I'm afraid I am as firm in my starting assumption that evil is not inherent in human beings, as you are in yours. I think people do evil things because they believe they are doing good.

My reason stems from a very old study in statistics that led to the now well accepted principle of regression to the mean, or the principle of mediocrity. Darwin's cousin Francis Galton compiled and superimposed thousands of photos of Jewish people, looking for a "Jewish type," which turned out to be a type not different from any other human type, in the aggregate. I hold the opinion that there is no type of human that differs from every other type, given the individual's freedom to act alone.

So I think it's the structure of social systems -- external coercion -- that leads individuals and groups to evil, not innate characteristics. Whether the nature-or-nuture question is ever settled, though, we find plenty of common ground in promoting a way to assure both the nature and nurture of human beings as individuals free of coercive influences.

All best,

Tom

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Anonymous replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 16:14 GMT
Dear Tom,

You said: "Thanks for clarifying the distinction. I appreciate your viewpoint. At the same time, I'm afraid I am as firm in my starting assumption that evil is not inherent in human beings, as you are in yours."

I think you have misunderstood my point of view. But then, looking back, I think it is easy to come away with your impression, so I'm glad you brought it up so that...

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Anonymous wrote on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 21:46 GMT
To All:

My paper evidently reminded some of Hanna Arendt's famous phrase "banality of evil", which appears in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem.

I would like to clarify here that that phrase refers to a kind of situation which is different but related to the main topic in my essay, and that it is important not to confuse the two.

The phrase "banality of evil" is usually meant to...

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 21:47 GMT
Anonymous was me.

Armin

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Lawrence B Crowell wrote on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 22:26 GMT
Wow!, and I say it again wow! You wrote something I have thought for some time. We seem to be seeing the rise of mentally disturbed people in positions of power, and those who rise particularly are sociopaths.

I make a few distinctions and I have a couple of other observations. The first is that the sociopath is often equated with the psychopath. Both are often defined too heavily...

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 17:07 GMT
Dear Lawrence,

Thank you for your extensive reply. I will comment on specific passages:

"I make a few distinctions and I have a couple of other observations. The first is that the sociopath is often equated with the psychopath. Both are often defined too heavily according to behavior that is erratic and violent. Yet the sociopath, or what might be called the “good psychopath,” is...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 22:43 GMT
Dear Armin Shirazi,

The first two people I mentioned this contest to, a manager and a lawyer, both thought it was a terrible idea. I think you've captured the essence of their objections! I fully agree with your analysis of the situation, and the way it plays into my own analysis in the Thermodynamics of Freedom. One of my readers asked if it is necessary to assume the large gap implied by my model, between the controllers and the controlled. I answered that there is no physical reason, it always just seems to work out that way, and I referred him to your essay.

The alternative, in my model, is what you call "The Prosperous Society", and it is the one I prefer. Your very strong argument agrees with my analysis. I hope you will enjoy my essay, and I look forward to any comments you might have.

My best regards, and thanks for your fine essay,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 17:13 GMT
Dear Edwin,

Thank you for your comments, I am not entirely clear what the two people's objection to the essay contest was and would appreciate it if you could clarify it further for me.

I will read and comment on your essay soon.

All the best,

Armin

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 21:30 GMT
Dear Armin,

My impression was that they felt the people trying to steer the future would be looking out for themselves, as you outline in your essay. I can't recall the specific quotes, but that seemed to be the gist of it.

Best,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 02:50 GMT
Armin,

I'm reminded of the old African saying, "If you want to travel fast, go alone, but if you want to travel far, go with a group."

Have you considered how this might be modeled as a physical system, say a storm, or vortex, or possibly a volcano, or maybe a bolt of lightning, where the energy in a field breaks loose, travels through, overrides another, etc? Not to be amoral on my part, but it does seem much economic activities can be modeled in terms of convective processes and the wealthy, successful, lucky necessarily are riding a wave of energy along a gradient and those we consider immoral, or amoral, are riding waves which happen to wash over the lives of other people. If we really step back and consider these processes, we might be able to mitigate some of their effects, even if at the expense of accepting them as natural. Even death is natural, but we still try to mitigate some of the sideffects.

Regards,

John Merryman

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 17:19 GMT
Dear John,

As it is not common for the same differential equation to model many different unrelated systems I suppose it would be possible to do what you suggest, but I do not see the use of it. If anything, I believe, it would detract from the impact of the message. Do you really think that people are going to be more interested if the same model is expressed in terms of a physical system? I seriously doubt this. Besides, I don't think that there is enough data yet to carry out such a detailed modeling. The area is still young and filled with treacherous ethical as well as socioeconomic land mines (I'm sure if the hypothesis is true, at least some of those at the top would not be too pleased with this kind research), and I think we may still have a little further to go (i.e. obtain more data) before we can construct quantitative models.

All the best,

Armin

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 17:24 GMT
My first sentence should have read: "As it is not UNcommon..."

Armin

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 21:23 GMT
Armin,

I certainly agree there are way too many moving pieces, enflamed emotions and unknowns to effectively do what I suggest in the context of what you describe. On a broader scale though, could we model what would be morality as a truly bottom up decision making process, developed over billions of years, rather than the top down set of rules we are handed by our few millennia of...

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Michael Allan wrote on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 13:48 GMT
Hello Armin, May I offer a short, but sincere critique of your essay? I would ask you to return the favour. Here's my policy on that. - Mike

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 17:22 GMT
Hello Michael,

I reviewed you policy and find your approach very interesting. You may know that over the past several contests I have been one of the most vociferous and outspoken critics of the author voting system, precisely because it introduces a conflict of interest. Perhaps aspects of your approach applied to the entire contest might mitigate some of those problems.

As to your question, the answer is yes, I welcome criticism.

All the best,

Armin

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Michael Allan replied on May. 4, 2014 @ 16:13 GMT
Thanks Armin, You make a strong impression. It's more this I have to share, and a number of questions, than any critique. First your essay strikes me (please don't take offence) as a hortatory sermon, almost as though you were a prophet speaking of Heaven (section III), Hell (IV) and the circles of Hell (V). Did you intend this? Or does my impression surprise you? - Mike

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Michael Allan replied on May. 21, 2014 @ 21:11 GMT
PS - This is just a note to say I'll be rating your essay, Armin (along with the others on my review list) some time between now and May 30. I still hope you'll be able to review mine. All the best, and bye for now, - Mike

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Joe Fisher wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 18:20 GMT
Dear Maestro Shirazi,

I thought your exceptionally well written essay was truly enlightening. I especially appreciated your contention that one should doubt everything at least a little.

With regards,

Joe Fisher

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 15:39 GMT
Thank you Joe,

Yes, if every person really took that to heart I believe the world would be a much better place.

All the best,

Armin

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James A Putnam wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 19:35 GMT
Armin Nikkhah Shirazi,

I think you gave very weak examples. Do you have other more definite support for your conclusion. It appears to me that your otherwise balanced appearing essay is an indictment of the government of the United States as a developed or nearly developed 'pathocracy'.

"For most people, 30 years and more is probably too long a period of time to materially notice the transmutation of a society into a pathocracy. Some of the things you can do to help counteract the these developments are: pledge to

vote for a party other than the two major ones; inform yourself more about these issues, educate others about them and support scientific research into them; inculcate your children with values that foster a prosperous society;

support the separation of corporation and state. The one thing you may not wish to support, however, is the "steering" of humanity by an elite few."

Presumably you believe that third party candidates will not be psychopathic. With regard to our children, my opinion, is that we have in the past and do now teach them values for a moral and free society. Prosperity is desired also. We want better for our children. But morals and freedom first. Your last point is clear enough and our government is designed to avoid that undesirable result.

I won't be rating your essay. It is doing very well with others who like it. I think you will finish high in the contest. So, good luck to you.

James Putnam

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 15:53 GMT
Dear James,

Thank you for your criticism. Unfortunately you did not mention why you think the examples are weak, and as a result I have no idea what your criteria are for a strong example.

I really would like to understand your point of view, so let me ask you specifically about the first example, which would at least from my point of view by most criteria not be "very weak".

How is the instance of one country attacking another country (and causing all the associated consequences) under a proven and already admitted false pretense a weak example to illustrate the possibility that those leading the attack may well literally lack a conscience?

I think it would be a great contribution if you could explain this to me.

Also, you said this: "Presumably you believe that third party candidates will not be psychopathic."

No, I don't believe this at all. But I do believe that when you have more than two parties negotiating for some political outcome, it will be less likely that each side will come out having buttered its own side at the expense of the rest of the country.

As for the question of teaching children values for a moral and free society, I'd like to agree that to some extent it is certainly true, and the proof is in the fact that, some exceptions aside, this is still a peaceful country, it is still a dream for many to come here, and the rule of law is largely obeyed. The issue I meant to raise was whether we are doing enough, and whether the values are really incorporated into each of our daily lives as much as they could be, and this is a much more complicated issue which would require for any sensible discussion the establishment of some kind of baseline.

Thank you for your comments, and I look forward especially to your explanation.

All the best,

Armin

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James A Putnam replied on May. 2, 2014 @ 21:40 GMT
Dear Armin Nikkhah Shirazi,

"The public perception of the term “psychopath” is heavily distorted because both in movies and in the news the term appears frequently as a description of serial killers. However, it is not a desire to kill people that characterizes most psychopaths but the absence of a conscience, together with diminished ability to experience certain emotions, like love...

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Anonymous wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 22:19 GMT
Hi Armin,

I read your essay last night. It is well written and easy to read and your strong feelings about the subject of psychopaths is clear. Like Lawrence, I did not see any physics, which is also true of a number of the other essays I have read. Not being an American and fully informed on Americas domestic affairs I felt a little uncomfortable reading such strong views.

Now that it is possible to see the brain structure differences of psychopaths by scanning wouldn't independent testing of all candidates for election be a way of selecting out individuals with those particular incurable personality disorders, ie. psychopaths/sociopaths? If a candidate does not agree to testing he will be excluded from possible nomination? The results could be kept confidential and candidates can just withdraw without giving a reason or using some other excuse.

With such scientific advances, which you could have discussed in some detail in your essay, it isn't inevitable that the future will be steered by psychopaths. There has to be recognition of the condition and the harm such individuals can do at all levels of society.Your essay may have helped in that, but I fear that the political view expressed might work against it.

Good luck, Georgina

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Anonymous replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 17:01 GMT
Dear Georgina,

Thank you for your review. Yes, to me (and perhaps others, too), the topic did not lend itself so well to a an essay hat is both heavily concentrated on physics and which reflects an issue that is most immediately relevant at least in my mind.

I'd rather be penalized for this and raise some awareness of a what I believe is a very important issue than strictly stick...

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 17:02 GMT
2nd Anonymous was me

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Georgina Woodward replied on May. 2, 2014 @ 00:01 GMT
Thanks Armin,

Bullyonline.org

Because psychopaths are highly manipulative and deceptive the fact that one appears friendly, well balanced and holds a good job should not make one think that s/he can not also be a highly unpleasant person who inflicts suffering on others with absolutely no insight into the wrongness of it. They can have Jekyll and Hyde type behaviour putting on a pleasant, likable, even charismatic mask in public but letting it fall when alone with their victims. They take care to avoid witnesses. Switching behaviour instantly should a potential witness appear. So yes I do think having the brain of a psychopath should be enough to prevent someone from gaining positions of political power or influence.

Being a psychopath is not an illness, they are not mentally ill. It is more akin to a learning disability. Their brains are structured and think differently.They are excellent mimics of normal human behaviour. We should not be expected to empathize with psychopaths, however recognizing that they do not understand the wrongness of their behaviour, and can not learn to understand because of their disability, and recognizing that they do not experience normal human emotions gives us room to feel some pity for their condition, and wish that it could one day be improved, rather than just hatred for their behaviour and attitude.

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Akinbo Ojo wrote on May. 1, 2014 @ 10:42 GMT
Armin,

A well thought out essay. But you are needed more on the physics blogosphere where your intellectual contribution is missing. I still recall your last year's essay and the 'photon existence paradox' in one of your papers. The time you spent writing this would have produced a physics paper that would have been more useful for humanity.

Akinbo

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Author Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 17:13 GMT
Dear Akinbo,

Thank you for your comments. I am actually currently working on a paper which sets up the mathematical foundations from which I can then rigorously derive my theory. It turns out that the distinctions introduced in the foundations lead to other interesting mathematical consequences which I wish to explore at least to some extent. This broadens the scope of my paper and delays its completion. However, I hope it will take no longer than a few more months.

Thank you again for your comments and for your encouragement on my work in physics.

Armin

PS: I understand now the resolution to the "photon existence paradox" in more rigorous terms. Entities associated with the speed of light in space belong to a different equivalence class than the equivalence class of spacetime observers (the detailed explanation will have to wait until my paper comes out).

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Akinbo Ojo replied on May. 2, 2014 @ 09:23 GMT
Okay. Good luck but take caution not to allow the math you use lead to bizarre physical consequences and paradoxes some of which physics is yet to recover from.

Akinbo

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KoGuan Leo wrote on May. 6, 2014 @ 10:58 GMT
Dear Armin, good to see meet you agin in this FORUM. I agree fully with your universal values:

."Treat others as you would like to be treated.

• Doubt everything at least a little.

• Own your share of responsibility for everything that happens to you.

• Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

• If an authority strikes you as genuinely unjust, consider disobedience"

I believe we are in Leibniz's world, the best of all possible worlds. I do believe that we must have not only somewhat ground rules or universal values but also diversified values and thought. Chinese Doctrine of the Mean promotes "harmonious unity in diversity" that is similar to Indonesian national philosophy "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" or "Unity in Diversity,". Yes we already acquired the wisdom of harmonious unity all over the world for common prosperity.

Thanks for caring, humanity united in diversity we shall have no fear of the future. I rated this caring essay a ten (10).

Good Luck,

Leo KoGuan

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Ajay Bhatla wrote on May. 8, 2014 @ 05:47 GMT
Armin,

Well written essay with very strong political undertones.

I think we are in sync on many levels, including not "steering of humanity by an elite few" and the idealization of the "Prosperous Society."

While your detailing the impacts of "psychopaths" is very interesting and informative I wonder if you are saying that no steering should be enabled because the psychopaths amongst us will steer us to a more unwanted future. Isn't this like saying that because a means can be put to a bad end, no one should have that means?

In my essay (here), by contrast I believe that everyone should get the continuous opportunity to reshape their future to their liking. This is much like saying that everyone should be considered innocent until found to be guilty.

- Ajay

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Peter Jackson wrote on May. 8, 2014 @ 16:01 GMT
Armin,

that was a very engaging and interesting essay that needed writing. I think you did so very well.As a racing yachtsman I'm not entirely sure we make safe progress with nobody at the helm, but them I've seen enough fools in charge and dangerous stupidities to wonder!

Which brings me to QM.

We've previously found agreement, I recall your comment; "background independent quantum theory has to be considered a contradiction," and on superposition; "The absence of an explicit specification entails all possible default specifications."

This year I extend my work in QM to include "collapse to pure singlet states" in that description. I present what looks to me like a quantum leap in understanding which I'd greatly appreciate your study and views on (and help!). Spin 1/2 seems to be derivable classically in various ways with hierarchical sets or gauges. In that case the speculative and unnatural 'pure spin state' is not needed. Substituting normal (gauged) OAM and invoking electron spin flip as 'joined up physics' a classical dynamic mechanism emerges able to fully reproduce the predictions of QM, circumventing Bells theorem. The solution is geometrical and self apparent.

Some fresh eyes not bound to old assumptions are needed (quantum physicists run away screaming and won't look!). I hope you'll also like the story. Bob and Alice have to escape Earth-centric thinking to work out true rotational relationships. I've tried to make it comprehensible (Ave Sci-Am reader) but you'll well know how tricky that is with QM. The implications are fundamental.

Finally; Having also read Ross Cevenst's essay on artificially intelligent clones with limited capabilities and rights ('AI's'), I'm now a bit concerned I may be both a psychopath and an AI at the same time! Is that possible?

Best wishes

Peter

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Lawrence B Crowell wrote on May. 9, 2014 @ 19:57 GMT
I am not an expert in this subject by any means, but it is of some interest. In particular I have had some dealing with sociopathic personalities.

I don’t have references at hand, but they could be looked up. There are two sets of studies being done on this. The first is with fMRI which illustrates that people considered psychopaths, usually prisoners and the like, have different brain functions. In particular the frontal lobe involved with executive decisions interacts with the amygdale that is involved with emotional responses. There appears to be limited interaction which confers an emotional basis to an executive decision. The neural pathway between the frontal lobes and the amygdala is regulated by the neuropeptide called monoamine oxidase (MAO). It is now known that certain violent tendencies that fall into the spectrum of the psychopathic disorder are associated with a certain mutation of the gene that expresses the MAO. This is being called the warrior gene.

It may well be that a range of genetic differences have different MAO induced interactions between the frontal lobes and the amygdala. This may account for the spectrum of sociopathic personality disorders. Some sociopaths are functional people who are productive and yet have a flat emotional affect with other people. Others are raging psychopaths who end up as serial killers or who lead cults on some sort of doomsday quest.

LC

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George Gantz wrote on May. 15, 2014 @ 14:52 GMT
Armin -

Thanks! I enjoyed your essay and invite you to review mine: The Tip of the Spear, which tackles similar questions from an evolutionary perspective.

Your assessment of the two sociological paths - creating a shared moral culture necessary for a prosperous spocoiety; and of patho-selection - provide two very stark alternatives. There is also the third path (the one you seem to argue for) - don't try to steer.

Of these three, I would vote (with all my strength, my heart and my free will) for the prosperous path, and I think the vast majority of humans would as well (having been bred for altruism - as noted in my essay). Of course, part of the shared moral culture will be vigilance in opposing the forces of patho-selection (isn't this the fundamental narrative of good versus evil in human mythology?).

I certainly hope our future is closer to the prosperous path than the pathological one!

Cheers - George

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Ross Cevenst wrote on May. 28, 2014 @ 12:05 GMT
Hi Armin,

An excellent essay exploring a number of interesting topics. I feel that your first section is a very eloquent description of a set of values that almost feels like the classical set of Western liberal values of a free, prosperous and partially decentralised society. These seem to be fading a little in favour of a harsher conservativism of the right and a highly emotive social liberalism on the left. It's sad to think, that if you are right, we are forgetting the values that right now we might desperately need to help us to choose worthy leaders and noble goals.

Your discussion of Lobaczewski's theories is very interesting. I make a very brief reference to something similar in my own entry, but I find here you explore it in much more depth. I don't thnk that all the troubles and ills of our society stem from our being in this unfortunate stage of Lobaczewski's cycle, but such considerations certainly get little consideration in our current political rhetoric, despite all the corruption scandals on the nightly news. So thanks for bringing it to the forefront in your essay!

I'd love for you to take a look at my own entry. It's a very different format (I've drawn quite a bit on science fiction), but I think in some ways it shares some of the values referenced in your essay (as does my website). I think ratings close in a day or so, so if you have a chance to rate my entry I'd be ecstatic!

Good luck with your essay!

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jun. 1, 2014 @ 21:41 GMT
Armin,

When you ask, "Is Steering Humanity a Good Idea?", I believe you are saying not by an elite few, as your empirical evidence proves. It sounds as though you have read "The Wisdom of Psychopaths," since it describes CEOs, politicians, spies, and business leaders in general as functional psychopaths as opposed to dysfunctional serial killers like Ted Bundy and Charles Manson.

I believe most of us recognize that the elite few should not steer our future. They have -- with our help -- made a mess of that. I speak of the "common good" as opposed to the cult of individualism and the self-interest that drives it. My looking beyond has visions beyond orthodox science and my looking within the neural universe of the brain.

I'm interested in your thoughts on my essay: http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2008

High marks for yours.

Jim

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Janko Kokosar wrote on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 18:09 GMT
Dear Armin Shirazi

It is a clearly written essay about people who decide about us. It is interesting that extreme psychopathic leaders do not lead long time. Hitler's leadership lasted 12 years. An exception was Stalin with leadership of 30 years. But people need clear instruments to find such people and to remove them. It is hoped that MRI and other brain technics will help at this in the future. Some psychologists on police are very successful at predictions of profiles of mass murderers and so on. They also finely describe reasons, why they became what they are, for instance childhood with a lot of violence. I hope that this science will additionally make progress, thus that also psychopaths on important positions will be find and deposed. But, I miss still more solid science of human behaviour and character, because everything begins in brains. Thus, it should be explained why brains of psychopaths are different, and why brains of schizophrenics are different and this as much as possible. Because, a lot of injustices on this field are happening. People, who are normal, are in psychiatry, or that their state is not so bad, as they are treated.

But, although it is very bad to have a psychopath as a leader, it is still better as anarchy. One leading man can be controlled, but a lot of hidden ones cannot be.

My essay

Best regards

Janko Kokosar

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