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Medicine Science

Psychopaths Have Brain Structure Abnormality 438

Posted by kdawson
from the probably-a-funny-bump-on-the-head-too dept.
mmmscience writes "A group of scientists has identified a structure in the brain of psychopaths that is abnormal when compared with controls. The change is found in the uncinate fasciculus, a bridge of white matter that connects the amygdala (emotion/aggression brain region) and the orbitofrontal cortex (decision making region). Interestingly, the greater the abnormality in the region, the more severe the levels of sociopathy in a subject. The results were published as 'Altered connections on the road to psychopathy' in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. A researcher on the team suggests the finding could have considerable implications in the world of criminal justice, where such scans could one day be presented as evidence in a trial." The study's results have not yet been replicated by other researchers.
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Psychopaths Have Brain Structure Abnormality

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  • by Smoke2Joints (915787) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:54PM (#28951581) Homepage

    Sometimes they occur together, but this is not always the case.

    • by Life2Short (593815) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @12:11AM (#28951715)
      Not sure where you got that from. The difference in terms can be traced back to different theoretical perspectives on the same set of symptoms. Over time, the pendulum has shifted back and forth regarding whether the symptoms were the responsibility of the individual or the social environment the individual was raised in. If you think antisocial personality disorder is the result of individual choices or some sort of illness, you may be more likely to use the term psychopath. If you think that the symptoms are the result of a person's social environment, you may be more likely to use sociopath. The terms themselves do not denote two recognized different disorders. Check out DSM for definition of Antisocial Personality Disorder, or there's always Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        You're looking at symptoms. The terms denote different causes. Semantically, they are different words with different meanings. The parent was technically correct.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by 644bd346996 (1012333)
          They're hypothesized causes. You can't make any valid claims about the correlation between causes when you can't actually test for either one, so while it may be true that conflating the two terms is improper, the OP still managed to be wrong, too.
      • by electrons_are_brave (1344423) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:53AM (#28952319)
        "Psychopath" was a term introduced in 1888 by German Psychiatrist Koch. It just meant someone with a psychopathology (i.e. a mental illness not otherwise named - a very broad category.

        It's meaning was dramatically narrowed in 1928 when the psychologist Partridge redefined it to mean people who were anti-social, egocentric, manipulative etc. In 1930, Partridge further proposed that it be replaced with the term "sociopathy". He later proposed that that the two terms could be used to disctinguih between people who had a genetic disorder (psychopath) or an environmentally produced disorder (sociopath).

        (From: The psychopath By Hugues Hervé, John C. Yuille).

        The terms aren't used diagnostically, at least not where I am. In my neck of the woods, it's "narcisistic personality disorder" for those who have no criminal activity and "antisocial personality disorder" for those who do. Which I find very much a 19th Century way of looking at it - a diagnosis based on a moral distinction.

        • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @03:47AM (#28953109)

          The terms aren't used diagnostically, at least not where I am. In my neck of the woods, it's "narcisistic personality disorder" for those who have no criminal activity and "antisocial personality disorder" for those who do.

          Incorrect. They are related disorders, but the criteria is not the same. From wikipedia, which lists the DSM-IVTR:

          APD - 3 or more of the following

          1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
                2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
                3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;
                4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
                5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
                6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
                7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

          NPD - A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

          1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
                2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love (megalomania)
                3. Believes they are "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also "special" or of high status
                4. Requires excessive admiration
                5. Has a sense of entitlement
                6. Is interpersonally exploitative
                7. Lacks empathy
                8. Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
                9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

          Note that the DSM-IVTR, more appropriately, is not the be-all end-all of diagnosing but is more of a guidebook and a way to standardize diagnoses. Notice that criminal activity is not necessarily a factor in rendering either diagnosis. Next time, inform yourself before spreading misinformation. NPD is characterized more by a self-centeredness, APD is characterized more by a willingness to hurt or use others for personal gain. These are not the same things.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mcgrew (92797)

          Too bad psychology hasn't progressed to a true science.

          it's "narcisistic personality disorder" for those who have no criminal activity and "antisocial personality disorder" for those who do.

          So as soon as someone with narcisistic personality disorder smokes a joint he automatically becomes someone with antisocial personality disorder, even though someone with narcisistic personality disorder who takes a drink isn't? Someone with antisocial personality disorder who drank in 1930 automatically became someone w

          • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @03:45PM (#28961973) Homepage Journal

            Lots of laws themselves are antisocial; the Jim Crow laws in the US in the early 20th century, for example. As Spock's dad would scream when he's got the Vulcan alzheimer's, "ILLOGICAL! ILLOGICAL! ILLOGICAL! *sob*"

            There's a distinction in the English system between "mala prohibita" and "mala in se". The first is laws like 'smoking a joint is wrong'. The second is 'killing your neighbor is wrong'. The second were the laws that made Common Law.

            When the phrase "ignorance of the law is no defence" was coined it referred to "in se" crime, and I can't find the original quote at the moment, but it went on to explain that nobody could possibly be expected to know all of the prohibita law (which is orders of more difficult today).

  • Cause or effect? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rival (14861) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:55PM (#28951585) Homepage Journal

    Given the brain's ability to mold itself with use, I wonder whether this abnormality is a contributing factor of the psychopathic behavior, or a result of it?

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)
      Or, since you were wondering about the brain, did YOU give the brain the ability to mold itself?
    • by syousef (465911)

      Given the brain's ability to mold itself with use, I wonder whether this abnormality is a contributing factor of the psychopathic behavior, or a result of it?

      Really? I guess it's just me but what I wonder is whether psychopath brains taste better to zombies, or normal ones?.....BRRRAAAIIINNNSSSSZZZZ

    • Re:Cause or effect? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:16AM (#28952157) Journal

      BEGIN RANT

      Our legal system is based on the concept of choice; when you commit a crime, you are assumed to be making a conscious choice, and the fact of your doing it proves the choice that you made, and thus your guilt. The laws themselves read this way: part of the definition of a crime in California is that you must INTENTIONALLY perform the illegal act, but this is almost meaningless since it's assumed that you mean to do what you do.

      However, it's my belief that ultimately, there is no real choice. We are a product of our biology, genetics, epi-genetics, and experiences.We make choices based on the combination of these factors, and if it were, in fact, possible to account for all the minute variables in these factors, our decisions could be predicted in virtually every case.

      The more science news I read, the more firm this conclusion, and this is no exception. And the logic is real simple: if genetics didn't make us who we are, then dogs could talk and trade stocks. But they can't, because they are dogs, and they are dogs because of their genetics, epi-genetics, and biology. Their behavior as such a dog is modified by their experiences. (dogs that are beaten as puppies behave quite differently than those that are loved, even if neither trade stocks)

      So, at what point do we decide that the "temporary insanity" defense breaks down completely? If I speed because of my sum biology + experience, then can't it be argued that I really don't have a choice in speeding? (and yes, I do tend towards "lead foot", if you know what I mean) It's not anytime soon, but it's there, and if current trends continue, that point *will* be reached.

      When/if the singularity happens, and our personnae can be loaded as a self-morphing program into a computer, can't it be clearly demonstrated that the program does exactly what its structure dictates? Are we going to find MS Word guilty of having Clippy pop up in annoying ways, or do we just accept that it's the way it's constructed and thus has no real choice in the matter?

      We pretend that people have a choice, even as we accept that paedophiles will always be paedophiles, rapists will always be rapists, criminals will always have criminal tendencies, and that there is no true cure for any of these. Isn't that an admission that there is no choice, even if our very legal foundation is predicated upon its existence?

      END RANT.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        BEGIN RANT

        Our legal system is based on the concept of choice; when you commit a crime, you are assumed to be making a conscious choice, and the fact of your doing it proves the choice that you made, and thus your guilt. The laws themselves read this way: part of the definition of a crime in California is that you must INTENTIONALLY perform the illegal act, but this is almost meaningless since it's assumed that you mean to do what you do.

        However, it's my belief that ultimately, there is no real choice. We are a product of our biology, genetics, epi-genetics, and experiences.We make choices based on the combination of these factors, and if it were, in fact, possible to account for all the minute variables in these factors, our decisions could be predicted in virtually every case.

        Well, in which case the jury was predestined to convict, the police were predestined to lay the charges, and the legislators were predestined to pass the law, so who is this rant possibly aimed at? Nobody, I guess ... it was just predestined to happen.

      • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @02:05AM (#28952375)
        The philosophical questions surrounding free will are older than dirt. From a utilitarian perspective, perhaps it doesn't much matter; what does matter is determining when the carrot and stick may have some effect, and when they won't. Paying people increases the chance of them "choosing" to work, so we do it. Punishing 6 month olds for pooping their diapers doesn't deter them (they don't have the mental or physical capacity for potty training) so we don't do that. A belief in determinism doesn't change the situation.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by timeOday (582209)
          One additional observation - any test for "crazy" that's solid enough to preclude punishment for a crime is also solid enough to imprison those who fail the test even if they have not yet comitted any crime.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            One additional observation - any test for "crazy" that's solid enough to preclude punishment for a crime is also solid enough to imprison those who fail the test even if they have not yet comitted any crime.

            Important distinction -- Psychopath != Dangerous Murderer -- Many, many psychopaths end up in business and politics and use their extreme lack of empathy to make billions of dollars (or start wars and enact Patriot Acts) instead of carving up prostitutes. Mind you, I find these A-holes to be every bit as evil as Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer, but they are still not going to be violating the law.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        There are two sides to the human mind, the thinking side, and the instinctive side. If we act purely on instinct, you are right that we do not have a choice. We are biologically wired a certain way, and hence, when presented with a situation, we will react predictably. On the other hand, this viewpoint ignores the thinking side. The thinking side of the human mind considers the action, weighs the consequences, and then decides whether to follow through.

        A pedophile does not have to abuse children, just as a

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by LKM (227954)

          "The thinking side of the human mind considers the action, weighs the consequences, and then decides whether to follow through."

          This is probably but an illusion, a trick our brain plays on us. It is very likely that we make a decision first, and then rationalize that decision, cheating ourselves into thinking that we actually consciously weighted the consequences before making the decision. There are experiments which show that humans come to a decision long before their brain actually thinks they do.

      • by speedtux (1307149) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @04:23AM (#28953367)

        If I speed because of my sum biology + experience, then can't it be argued that I really don't have a choice in speeding?

        But you do have a choice. There is nothing physically preventing you from acting differently and you logically understand the consequences of your actions, both the harm you cause others, and the punishment you will face. That's all that free will and choice means. If you're biologically inclined to make choices that are bad for you or others, well, so be it; you just have to live with the consequences, which may include incarceration or execution.

        Purely from a practical point of view, people who are biologically destined to be sociopaths with a propensity to cause harm to others are exactly the kind of people we need to remove from society. Whether you call that "punishment" or "treatmnet" really doesn't make a big difference.

  • by bigjarom (950328)
    I don't have the reference handy but I once came across a study showing that incarcerated psychopaths who undergo treatment for the condition are statistically more likely to demonstrate a greater degree of psychopathy in the future than are those who do not undergo treatment.
    Any psychiatrists out there want to back me up?
    • by Shakrai (717556)

      I don't have the reference handy but I once came across a study showing that incarcerated psychopaths who undergo treatment for the condition are statistically more likely to demonstrate a greater degree of psychopathy in the future than are those who do not undergo treatment.
      Any psychiatrists out there want to back me up?

      Where's Dr. Melfi when you need her?

    • by Bobb9000 (796960) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @12:51AM (#28952007)
      I'm not a psychiatrist, but I believe you may be thinking of this study and its precursors [nih.gov]: Rice, M. (1997). Violent offender research and implications for the criminal justice system. American Psychologist, 52(4), 414-423. At least, a number of sources seem to cite to it for this claim, which is actually very interesting. One explanation was that the therapy served to increase the subjects' sense of self-worth and confidence, which made them even more dangerous. For them, only medication seemed to do any good. If the research the article describes can add more options, that seems to me like a good thing.
  • A much larger study is going to be needed to see if having this deformity is (a) unique to psychopaths, and (b) always present in them. If that's the case, great. A screening can be done early. If not, it sounds like a pretty scary way to lock people up in advance of them doing anything (which itself is a very very bad idea).

    • My immediate thought, exactly (except for the added punctuation):

      Aw fuck, that's gonna mess alot of shit up for a long time, if not for the rest of forever

      For real, the implications of putting people in jail before they commit a crime is fucked up even if we can see the damn future. [Citation: Minority Report]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @12:19AM (#28951773)

      Since TFA doesn't give numbers, then the trap is fairly obvious. The public will read it as follows:

      • Convicted "psychopaths" have an identifiable abnormality in their brain.
      • "Normal" people don't have this abnormality.
      • Therefore, anyone with this abnormality is (or will be) a convicted psychopath....thus leading to a real life Future Crimes Office.

      The real questions (and I'm sure that defense attorneys will pile on this one), are "How many people with this abnormality do not end up convicted of violent crimes?" and "How many people convicted of violent crimes do not have this abnormality?"

      Not everyone with a fskced-up brain is dangerous, and not everyone with a "normal" brain is safe. I would argue that your average human being is fairly dangerous as a single unit....and that danger goes up exponentially as the group size increases. Mob justice, anyone?

      • Mob justice, anyone?

        Only if the mob is composed of lunatics

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ShakaUVM (157947)

        # Convicted "psychopaths" have an identifiable abnormality in their brain.
        # "Normal" people don't have this abnormality.

        Actually, about 5% of people have the reduced neural ability to empathize with others. Most of them live normal lives because they buy into society, even if they don't personally feel other people are "real" or deserving of respect. A lot of these people can live very successful lives as businessmen or government workers.

        On the issue of correlation and causation - correlation is not causat

    • On the contrary, it may serve as an effective way to help prosecutors/psychologists/courts/etc understand a physiological relationship between a psychopath's brain and his/her actions that we want him/her held responsible for.... and the decisions for the consequences of... say... a dog that barks because dogs bark, or a dog that deliberately hacked an iPhone for use in terrorist plots...

      bad analogy, I"m sorry, I read a lot of slashdot..

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slashqwerty (1099091)
      When I was in school 10 years ago they taught us that Psychopathy is the deprecated term for Antisocial Personality Disorder [wikipedia.org] (APD). People with APD have a different physiological response to pain, lying, and suffering than the general population. Research has linked it with both genetic and environmental factors. It's quite possible, even likely, that law-abiding people have the same physiological characteristics as Psychopaths but were raised in an environment which countered those characteristics.

      Th
    • Let's write a very inflammatory post. Suppose, as you did, that this deformity is a perfect predictor of sociopaths, and is a cause (not a consequence) of their behaviour; that is, suppose we discover that sociopaths are born. Suppose also that we can precisely determine whether a foetus has this deformity.

      What if governments mandate abortion of sociopathic foetuses? I am not really sure about the issue. On one hand, if a sociopath is born, we are pretty sure they are going to make people suffer or outright

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @12:03AM (#28951647) Homepage

    Perhaps one thing that might restore sanity to the world is a bit of screening for this characteristic and perhaps some surgical corrections.

    Yeah, I know that would never happen... "these" particular sociopaths are our leaders and our heroes. We shouldn't identify them with negatives should we... so let's continue supporting our sociopathic world leadership as we always have.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hax4bux (209237)

      Ha, that was my first thought as well.

      You could brand it as a "leadership" test.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @12:03AM (#28951649) Homepage

    The summary mentions use of such scans in court cases. Frankly, that worries me a fair bit. Saying to a jury "look, this guy's brain shows that he's likely to kill people, so he's probably the murderer" is worrisome. It is all the more worrisome because of the implied argument that the individual should be locked up anyways. There's also the additional issue that when there are brain differences detected with MRI and similar methods they are often at a large-scale statistical level and there might be a substantial fraction of normal people whose brain structure looks close to that of a psychopath. I can't access the original study, so I can't tell.

    This does also bring up the standard issues of free will and such. At minimum, if someone commits heinous crimes due to brain problems it makes it ethically problematic to engage in essentially punitive imprisonment.

    • by MrShaggy (683273)

      I think the idea is simple,just like DNA. But instead of guilt/innocence its more along the lines of the infamous insanity defense. I think that once the lawyers understand the tech, then they could expedite the trials for the ones really need to be hospitalized. Then the courts can get on to the really important stuff. Like the RIAA!

    • To me, it seems more likely that we'll be seeing such scans used by the defense. "My client is a victim here, too. A victim of his chromosomes".
    • by bmo (77928)

      XYY defense:

      http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/XYY+Chromosomal+Abnormality+Defense [thefreedictionary.com]

      I suspect that this will have all the same weight in a courtroom: little to none.

      --
      BMO

    • by joocemann (1273720) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @12:42AM (#28951947)

      Do you know that 2% of the regular population has antisocial disorder? Do you know that 70% of prison inmates have it? .... a little factoid I like to share when I talk about dogs that bark, birds that fly, and genetically differentiable humans that do things differently.

      But my point is to ask you... what do we do with them? So we confirm they're a psychopath, we acknowledge its bad to really 'punish' them because it was unavoiadble.... but then what? I guess the answer is a nice cushy white box with 3 hots and a cot...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by UncleMidriff (935137)
        The brain is a physical thing, and the brain is what makes us do stuff, like think or act. I'm relatively certain that if we stick around long enough, we'll figure out what parts of the brain cause anyone to do anything, and thus every action, from eating cereal to stabbing puppies, will be subject to a "I couldn't help myself" kind of defense. That's fine with me, but we still need to figure out what to do with the people who "choose" to skip breakfast in order to stab more puppies.

        Certainly, we can s
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by twostix (1277166)

        How ridiculous.

        I just read the definition of "Antisocial Disorder" and I have known at least a dozen people who fit three or more points in the "criteria", hell at some stage *I* probably did. One or two have had minor legal problems but for the most part they get on. The single thread that joins all the people who spring to mind is that *all* of them grew up without a father figure and they never properly got past adolescence. Which of course I see is not even touched on in the research into the area (rat

    • Look, the prosecutor rarely WANTS this, it is often the defender who makes claims of mental illness to get his client off. Personally I never understood that. if you would come to me with two cases, one who murdered simply for say a wad of cash and another because the voices told him too, guess which one would be first to fry? You can reason with a cold blooded killer, a psycho...

      And not all psycho's are criminals so we still have free will. We humans are wired for more things then you probably realize, do

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sjames (1099)

        And not all psycho's are criminals so we still have free will. We humans are wired for more things then you probably realize, doesn't mean we have to listen to it. Our body needs to breathe, but we can drown ourselves. Our body hates pain, but people put themselves on fire out of protest. We need to eat, yet some starve themselves to death. If we can be heroes against our nature then we can at least expect others to remain normal against their nature.

        Starving oneself to death is hard, but the effort required lasts only tens of days. Imagine trying to maintain that level of will for the remainder of your natural life (that is, you won't die). Even anorexics routinely give in to the urge to eat. People who drown themselves do so by setting up conditione where they will be unable to avoid drowning later. If you just stick your head under water in the sink, you WILL save yourself. Now imagine drowning yourself by simply sticking your head in a sinkfull of w

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      a) Showing that the defendant is a psychopath does little to prove he killed anyone
      b) Why always see the bad side of things? It could be used to back up pleading insanity.

      Either way, having a way to diagnose a psychopath from a physical trait is something great, but of course Slashdotters wouldn't let that get in the way of their usual doomsaying.

  • Test Bank CEOs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @12:05AM (#28951665) Homepage

    There's a hypothesis that CEOs are disproportionately selected for sociopathy. If that is true, particularly in the case of banks (which are too big to fail -- ie: they have a taxpayer sponsored safety net), then we have a vested interest in finding out if the hypothesis is true.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=sociopath+executive [google.com]

    Given the lack of remorse, the ease with which they claim entitlement in the face of their own catastrophic failure, and that we have been left holding the tab, it seems that a concrete test like this might be reasonable.

    Just a thought.

    • by netfool (623800)
      ...so what if some, a lot, or all CEOs happen to be sociopaths? 1) It shouldn't matter if anyone is a sociopath as long as they do not break any laws. 2) How would you actually go about getting people people to take this so called concrete test? Would someone have to take this test in order to start their own company? 3) If they are deemed a sociopath, then what? That's not illegal. This is a slippery slope my friend.
      • Re:Test Bank CEOs (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Bob9113 (14996) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:56AM (#28952329) Homepage

        1) It shouldn't matter if anyone is a sociopath as long as they do not break any laws.

        That is an interesting hypothesis, but I do not concur. Our economic system, the free market, relies on good faith intent to operate efficiently. Not an intent to be good, mind you, but an intent to faithfully fulfill the agreements into which one enters. If one enters into such agreements in bad faith, it results in either distorted transactions, the inefficiency of court proceedings, or both. The law is neither a cost efficient tool for guiding the free market nor a precisely targeted one.

        The goal of the free market, and its free hand, is to minimize the need for government interference by leveraging one inherent aspect of humanity; greed. That is a worthy objective because the law is known to be a blunt weapon, guided as it is by masses, influence peddlers, and politicians. Actors in bad faith can distort the legal system, and its use is costly even when it reaches the correct conclusion.

        The solution to the dilemma between bad faith actors and inefficient laws in the free market is to allow corporations which are directed by actors in bad faith to fail. Perfect information, losses incurred from treating with a company that fails, and the stigma of failing the stockholders takes care of the rest. It might be considered a brutal system in some regards, but it is widely held as being relatively efficient -- when it is allowed to correct itself.

        Enter the practice of not allowing banks to fail. When we engage in such inhibition of the free market, it loses its ability to correct actors in bad faith. Then we have a problem.

        So, there are at least two options; find a way to make it tolerable to let banks fail so the free market can correct bad faith actors, or find a way to prevent actors in bad faith from running banks. A third path is to allow actors in bad faith to take advantage of such a system, and suffer the consequences as we did last Fall. Yet another is to establish that there are no actors in bad faith running banks.

        I'm not suggesting which of those solutions is the right answer, nor that those are the only possible answers. All I'm trying to do is to establish a serious and complicated problem one must solve in developing and maintaining a healthy free market economy.

        • Re:Test Bank CEOs (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dunkelfalke (91624) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @04:04AM (#28953225)

          There is no such thing as a healthy free market because greed is an antagonist of good faith.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by radtea (464814)

            There is no such thing as a healthy free market because greed is an antagonist of good faith.

            Adam Smith called. He'd like to know he has a 200 year old valid argument for you, if you could be bothered to learn something about economics, ethics and human behaviour rather than just making stuff up.

    • by Renraku (518261)

      You have to admit, at least some people have been forced into an early death as the result of such failures.

      "I realize that you're thirty minutes away from pension and health insurance for the rest of your days, but I need another payment for my boat. Get the fuck out."

    • not only will all interenet threads eventually end up talking about Nazis...... they will end up talking about the recession...

    • by bjackson1 (953136)
      I hate to quote a previous post, but
      Psychopath != Sociopath
  • examines whether or not the brain was always abnormal before the person exhibited the behavior of a psychopath.
  • Well that certainly explains why Mike Harris closed down all those mental hospitals. All the seriously ill mental patients were all holding office.

  • Scan every single world/religious/business/military leader.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @12:16AM (#28951757)

    A researcher on the team suggests the finding could have considerable implications in the world of criminal justice, where such scans could one day be presented as evidence in a trial.

    My response:

    "There is a tendency... today to explain human behavior, to remove purpose - motive - from serious consideration. We tend to accept the notion that mechanical, not purposive, causation accounts for the things people do. Joe Sinister is a criminal because his parents beat him or because of a chemical imbalance in his brain or because of a genetic disorder that removed the function we call conscience... These explanations of human behavior may be accurate... but the issue of accuracy is, in fact, quite irrelevant to human societies. A human community that uses mechanical causation to account for human behavior cannot survive, because it cannot hold its members accountable for their behavior. That is, no matter how you account for the origin of a human behavior, a community must continue to judge the perpetrator on the basis of his intent, as near as that intent can be understood (or guessed, or assumed). That is why parents inevitably ask their children the unanswerable question: Why did you do that? Terrible as that question is, it at least puts the responsibility back on the child's head and forces the child to ask himself the question that society absolutely requires him to answer: Why do I do the things I do? And how, by changing my motives, can I change my behavior?... We must believe in motives for human behavior, or we cannot maintain community life."
    ~ Orson Scott Card, from the Introduction to "Cruel Miracles".

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kzieli (1355557)
      Its simple enough. Eventually we will find the biological basis of every opinion you hold. Then we will find how to correct any abnormalities. Once we have done that their will be an end to crime, an end to decent. Oh yes elections won't be necessary either as the clinical records of your last brain scan will clearly indicate who your preferred candidate is. And if you don't like it we will change your mind : )
    • So "your" response is just to parrot someone else's prose? That makes it not your response.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Darth Cider (320236)

      When Wilder Penfield discovered that stimulating a subject's brain cells with an electrode would elicit a particular thought, action, memory or feeling - and in a repeatable fashion, if the same cells were stimulated again and again - a secondary discovery was made, one that is not well known. The subjects always thought that they had willed those thoughts, actions, memories and feelings into existence. They were unaware that any agency other than their own volition was responsible, even though they were we

    • by eggstasy (458692)

      Why should anyone be "accountable" if there is no such thing as "free will" and it's been clearly demonstrated that the brain makes its own decisions long before they reach your awareness? (source: study cited in malcolm gladwell's books)

      One does not conciously choose to have poor impulse control and be verbally or even physically agressive or obese or frivolous in their spending. It is not a moral or character flaw. A simple pill can easily correct it within weeks. It's good to take responsibility away fro

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by radtea (464814)

      That is why parents inevitably ask their children the unanswerable question: Why did you do that?

      No, parents ask that question because their job is to inform the moral character of their children. This is completely different from the role of the state, which is to violently enforce acceptable norms of behaviour.

      People who fail to distinguish the role of the parent from the role of the state, and the structure of the state from the structure of the family, are almost always dangerous ideologues bent on tot

  • This is scary as heck. And you think it's a pain in the backside having to take your shoes off at the airport now. "Sir, please place your head in the scanner..." Clang! "hey, how come that metal ring just tightened around my neck?" scary stuff... jp
  • Scan everyone involved with the design, construction, sales, and use of the scanner...
  • Psychology (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oldhack (1037484)

    If the results can be replicated, maybe, just maybe, "psychopath" can actually be defined with some degree with concreteness, with physiological distinction. It'd be a big step for the pseudo science toward becoming less of quackery.

    But I doubt it.

  • Igor: Abby something...
    Dr. Frankenstein: Abby what?
    Igor: Normal. Abby Normal.
  • ...no mention of "Ballmer" in this story anywhere.

  • Double standards? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @03:18AM (#28952901)

    When dogs go mad and bite kids, we don't investigate wether they had a bad upbringing, disease, or bad genes. They are put to sleep.
    When men do the same, society excuses them on these same grounds? I'm not saying that they should be executed, I'm just wondering why we make that big a distinction between sentient creatures.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Psyborgue (699890)
      Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baronâ(TM)s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth.

"Our vision is to speed up time, eventually eliminating it." -- Alex Schure

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