Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

ialdabaoth comments on Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag - Less Wrong

35 Post author: Raemon 03 April 2017 06:37PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (97)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: ialdabaoth 06 April 2017 01:42:03AM 0 points [-]

Okay, so if I understand correctly, tthe objection is that 'sociopath' has a specific clinical definition, which nowadays is called Antisocial Personality Disorder. Then again, "moron", "idiot", "imbecile" and "retard" used to have specific clinical definitions, too.

But even if we allow that to be stretched a little into a colloquialism, someone who is incapable of human empathy, narcissistic, Machiavellian, and perhaps a bit sadistic.

The problem is that Rao and Chapman both want 'sociopath' to mean something broader - specifically, someone who out-competes everyone else, and who is willing to win at social games even if it destroys the social environment they're competing within. And this seems to mutate one step further, such that "sociopath" essentially becomes synonymous with "winner".

The sad truth is, this isn't just a euphemistic treadmill. This is a reasonably accurate description of reality. Actual, clinical narcissistic sociopaths, with higher-than-average intelligence and willpower, have pretty much taken over Western culture over the past 50 years. Such that by the 21st century, the entire playing field is dominated by their strategies. If you aren't a sociopath, you probably aren't winning. It's unusual to be a non-sociopath and win. Which means that if someone's winning, it's very risky to assume that they'll give a shit about you.

Which ALSO means that if you intend to win, you'd better learn to not give a shit about people.

(This means that, sadly, many of the sociopaths that enter the winner's circle didn't start off that way.)

Comment author: Viliam 06 April 2017 01:06:56PM *  4 points [-]

This is an empirical statement, which should be either confirmed or disconfirmed by observing reality, not established by changing the vocabulary.

As far as I know, sociopaths by the clinical definition make about 1-4% of population. Those who don't have above-average intelligence probably quickly end up in prison. Therefore the smart sociopaths make maybe 0.1% of the population... I am not going to argue about the exact number here, just saying that it is a small number, therefore any definition of "winning" that applies to a large fraction of population must, for mathematical reasons, also include people who are not clinical sociopaths. Now the rest of this debate depends on how narrowly you would define "winning".

Comment author: FourFire 10 April 2017 08:30:48AM *  1 point [-]

I think ialdabaoth's claim is valid if, when measured, the most politically and culturally powerful quintile of the world population proves to be more than 1-4% clinical psychopaths.

I am assuming the top quintile of world population is what is meant by winners: people who control a disproportionate amount of the world's resources, and by proxy, people.

The USA has the world's largest prison population, of ~2.2MIllion and a total population of ~316 Million (both 2013)

If we were to expect an even distribution of Psychopathy across the bellcurve of intelligence then there should be between ~1.58 Mn and ~6.32Mn Psychopaths in the US prison system. Furthermore, we should expect 35.5Mn to 142Mn worldwide prison population of 100% <100IQ psychopaths.

However it is a mere 10.3Mn (all 2013 statistics)

This indicates that at least 70%, and perhaps as many as 92% of <100IQ Psychopaths are going free worldwide, this of course does not indicate that these individuals aren't simply part of the exploited lower classes. It also says nothing about the remaining population of >100IQ Psychopaths, presumably of equal size.

There is much hubub around some tabloid 'research' along the lines of "21%of leadership positions filled by psychopaths" However I can't be bothered to validate the source so I won't claim this is true.

This leaves me with a rather weaker position than I expected before writing this but you should draw your own conclusions.

Comment author: Viliam 10 April 2017 09:02:15AM 0 points [-]

I believe that clinical psychopaths will be overrepresented among: the ruling elite, prison population, and probably also victims of drug abuse. But given their relatively low base rate, there is a chance to win at life (or get to prison) without being one of them.

Comment author: FourFire 12 April 2017 10:07:56PM *  1 point [-]

My steelmanning of Ialdaboath's claim isn't that it is impossible to succeed without being a psychopath. (Though I would definitely agree that his perspective is rather dreary and pessimistic) It is that the paths to success in society have been distorted by psychopaths into requiring one to express psychopathic traits in order to succeed a lot more of the time than would be the case in absence of psychopaths within the ruling elite.

Comment author: ialdabaoth 13 April 2017 12:33:34AM 0 points [-]

Yes, although I'd say it slightly more strongly: the paths to success have been distorted by psychopaths - and by our outright worship of them - into requiring one to express psychopathic traits in order to succeed, so much so that society's various commons are - in general - being drained more quickly than they're being replenished. Moreso, most of these so-called "successful" traits aren't even seen as psychopathic anymore; they're seen as "alluringly confident" or whatever.

Comment author: Lumifer 13 April 2017 02:45:51PM 1 point [-]

paths to success have been distorted by psychopaths

At which point in time and in which societies the paths were NOT "distorted"? When and where was the Golden Pre-Psychopath Age?

Comment author: Lumifer 10 April 2017 02:29:36PM 1 point [-]

I believe that clinical psychopaths will be overrepresented among: the ruling elite, prison population, and probably also victims of drug abuse.

...cops and prison guards as well.

Comment author: Lumifer 06 April 2017 03:18:30PM *  3 points [-]

This is a reasonably accurate description of reality.

Would you like to show some data in support of that statement? Because my reality doesn't look like this at all.

Comment author: ChristianKl 11 April 2017 11:21:44AM 2 points [-]

Having deep long-term relationships is useful in Western society to gather power. Committing to a realistic long-term vision and working towards it is also useful for success.

Clinical sociopaths have trouble with both.