Jon Ronson: The Psychopath Test

Obviously I’m a bit biased because Jon is my Super Best Friend, but his new book looks like it’s going to be fabulous. You can get a feel for it in this video, in which Jon discusses his interactions with psychopaths while his stories are reenacted by those Japanese news animations that are all the rage these days.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Sounds like he’s using “psychopath” where I would use “sociopath”. But then, that’s not really my field.

  2. Love his cadences. I think I remember this story from This American Life – the Tony\Broadmoor part of it anyway.

  3. I can’t say I much care for the way he seems to equate psycopathy with badness. It is not impossible to to be a good person even if one cannot empathize. We exist.

  4. As I heard the characteristics of a psychopath (or sociopath), I started to wonder, is my oldest kid a psychopath? Is my father a psychopath? Maybe it’s genetic?

    I have thought of this before and didn’t like where this was I was really pleased with Jon’s concluding statements about labeling.

    My kid and my dad are a lot alike: superintelligent, a little self aggrandizing, highly motivated to succeed, somewhat insensitive, not really empathetic but smart enough to learn how to try. I love them both so much and if my dad is any example, my son will have a very successful career, contribute much to society and have a large extended family that loves him very much.

  5. Really enjoyed this blog post.
    Psychopaths and sociopaths are now both classified as having Anti-Social Personality Disorder. Previously being a psychopath was considered an innate quality whereas the sociopath diagnosis was a result of environmental factors.

  6. Why is having a painting of one’s self in a house that may be borrowed to clients 50 weeks a year an inflated sense of self worth?

    Why is lying to avoid punishment abnormal to the point of psychosis?

    The weak arguments in this video indicates to me a weak basis for a book.

  7. I finished the video, but I’ve also taken math lessons. Behavior that is consistently 2.5 standard deviations from the norm is not found in almost everyone. He just sees it because it’s what he’s looking for. Unless his book is about confirmation bias, he is making a weak argument.

  8. @slxpluvs: The book IS about that. I thought the video made it quite clear that Jon learns more about psychopaths by talking to both psychiatrists and diagnosed psychopaths and he explores the ways in which it’s easy to find traits to back a diagnosis you’ve already made.

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