Monday, September 19, 2005

Mathematics and Sociology

According to this article at Tim Worstall's excellent little boudoir, I would appear to be a functional psychopath.

Given that the test in question is staggeringly simple*, I suspect that this is just sociologists being jealous of those who have invested the time and effort to get a proper degree.

* You are invited to gamble £1 against the toss of a coin. If you guess correctly, you win £2.50; if not you forfeit your £1. You can choose not to play. Now in my book, I would play every time for winnings of anything over £2 against odds of exactly 2 to 1, no?


Devil's Kitchen said...

That makes two of us...

The question is: is either of us actually a psychopath?


James Hamilton said...

No, you're not. The research paper discussed by The Times doesn't mention psychopathy; that's a journalistic interpretation. Psychopath's don't suppress their emotion: what sets them apart is that emotion showed by other people fails to spark an empathic response. They can see other people's emotions; they can understand what other people are feeling; they don't care, and consequently have little or no moral compunction in manipulating or damaging others for their own gain.

Lots of bloggers seem to be recognising themselves in the experiment and in the research paper, but I doubt very much if that means we're all brain damaged or mentally ill.

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...


"but I doubt very much if that means we're all brain damaged or mentally ill."

but it is hardly evidence to the contrary.

However, it is to the Grauniad that Tim refers (so it must be true...)

The last line of this could not be more clear:
'According to the researchers those who made a mint by controlling their emotions are "functional psychopaths".'

Here is the original article at Stanford.

So it really does look like the Sociologists (actually it's the marketing people, but it's basically the same thing) don't like anyone who has the capability for mental arithmetic beyond that of my five year old....

Toodle Pip!