Psychopathy and SDAPs

The third category we must be concerned with, psychopaths and sociopaths, are different from SDO and high RWA individuals in one major respect: While they generally will have no compunction about taking advantage of another person for their own gain, they generally lack the outgroup-specific prejudices that are characteristic of the other two types. It’s therefore a little harder to hypothesize an evolutionary advantage psychopaths bring to a group. The evolutionary advantage to individuals (and their genes), however, is much clearer: Via their ability to “game the system” a small number of psychopaths can do quite well in conventional society, a fact well documented in Dutton’s 2012 The Wisdom of Psychopaths.

The risk to the population when psychopaths rise into leadership positions is just as great as when Social Dominators and Authoritarians do, however. Individuals with high levels of one or more of these three characteristics (they are not mutually exclusive) will be classified here as SDAPs (Social Dominators, Authoritarians, and Psychopaths). Go ahead and pronounce it “stap”: no one will notice the unvoiced “D”. Fortunately where we put the dividing line between a SDAP and a Neurotypical based on their test scores is not important because Matchism is not about classifying people or changing their behavior. It’s about recognizing that these characteristics exist, that people behave differently depending on the levels, and that this behavior has major implications for the type of government that will allow our species to reach its goals: Putting an end to violence and creating a society with the level of freedom and support required for individuals to fully realize their potential.

Certainly it should be clear that, along with dictatorships, even representative government is doomed to failure because many of the people who rise to leadership positions are frequently unfit to take on these roles: They simply cannot be trusted to do what is in the best interests of The People because they lack a Neurotypical moral compass and capacity for rational thought. Even if they had the required characteristics originally, the Authoritarians in the population would gradually make it impossible for them to govern by corrupting them with money or raising one boogieman after another until the leadership takes the bait and starts an unjust war or begins persecuting some segment of their own population.

And the Neurotypicals, as is their nature, will stand by and watch it happen. Or, if they feel their safety or their resources are being threatened, they may even pitch in to help: Remember, Hitler was confirmed as dictator by an overwhelming majority (88%) of Germans in a national referendum on 19 August 1934. What they got via their democratic popular vote was exactly what they voted for: A textbook example of what Altemeyer labels in his 1996 The Authoritarian Specter as a Double-High, an Authoritarian Social Dominator, someone who has a double-helping of each of the negative qualities of these conditions (prejudice being only the most visible example in his case). This quote from Hermann Goring, founder of the Nazi’s Gestapo, in an interview with psychologist Gustave Gilbert during the Nuremburg war crimes trials shows that he well understood the process and used it extremely effectively in his efforts to bring Hitler to power:

Goring: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Goring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

If in fact it is SDAPs in government that are the source of aggression between races or nations, predictions of ever decreasing violence such as are made in Pinker’s 2011 The Better Angels of Our Nature are not only incorrect, but dangerously naive. Inexplicably Pinker does not even cite Altemeyer, nor even offer any discussion whatsoever of the dynamics of authoritarianism. He also neglects to even consider the possibility that the decrease in nation-scale violence since WWII may instead be the result of the rapid advancement of technology having temporarily relieved the human population of their fears of resource scarcity. Unfortunately, when threats of scarcity inevitably return, humans will follow their instincts and call for a return of authoritarian leaders, as they have in Russia, Ukraine, Syria, India, Egypt, and many other at-risk nations in recent years. If these leaders go on to start wars or begin persecuting a minority in their own population, the Neurotypicals will probably just consider this the price they have to pay to protect their security, even if that choice may lead to global conflict or even the extinction of the human species via nuclear or biological warfare.

But there is another alternative: Rather than continuing to allow SDAPs to lead us we must design government systems that will require Neurotypicals, which over the last few thousand years have been gradually but steadily marginalized by the hierarchy-oriented SDAPs, to regain their prehistoric role as the decisionmakers for the band (which, again, is now all of us). They can then ensure with their sheer numbers that all decisions will take into account what’s best for the entire band, which is something no individual leader or small leadership group can do alone, even if they were inclined to. As history and Altemeyer’s Global Change Game experiments show, even though Neurotypicals may be inclined to elect SDAP leaders and then defer to them in times of scarcity or conflict, if they are somehow forced to retain their decisionmaking power they end up making better decisions for the population as a whole than SDAP leaders, whose concern is limited to their own band/tribe/nation. While implementing a global decisionmaking process like this would have been an unreachable goal even a few decades ago, advancements in the social sciences and in computer and communication technology now finally support the development such a system.

Although this thought experiment is essentially a digression because it doesn’t really matter if the details can be proven, a million years of almost constant war by itself provides all the evidence we need to accept the two key facts it is based on: 1) That there are individual differences in the predisposition toward prejudice, aggression, and war, and 2) That the people with the highest levels of these predispositions are the least qualified to run a government in a post-tribal civilization and yet are the very people who are most likely to seek to serve in those governments. But as long as we’re digressing, we might as well explore a couple other areas while we’re out here.

Next: Thought Experiment Digressions