You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
"At one major investment bank for which I worked, we used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles." (relatedly via)
The subject of this week's This American Life, Schenectady, NY schools facilities director Steven Raucci was tried and convicted last year on arson and weapons charges after six years in which Raucci routinely exercised his power as union head, manager and close associate of the district heads to sexually harass, threaten and intimidate coworkers, including using explosives on enemies' cars and homes. Much of the district's investigative report is redacted.
A new article in the New Yorker discusses the work of Dr. Kent Kiehl, one of the world’s leading investigators in psychopathy. While Kiehl's research focusses on violent psychopaths, not all psychopaths are violent, or even criminal. At least one psychiatrist contends that the definition of a psychopath - first described by researcher Robert Hare and made manifest in his Hare Psychopathy Checklist (previously) - is more accurately attributed to narcissism.