Do you think ScoMo is a psychopath?

As part of World Psychopath Day, we’re taking a poll on how many people think Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, aka ScoMo, aka ProMo, aka Scotty From Marketing, might be a psychopath.

Of course, this doesn’t suggest he *is* clinically diagnosed as a psychopath, it’s just a measure of public opinion.

And don’t forget to buy a copy of my new book The Psychopath Epidemic, out now!

The Pandering Problem

Is it the duty of politicians to pander to the electorate like some kind of cut-rate Saturday night sex worker, dressing up in garish knock-off jewellery and offering to moan appropriately to the name of your mother or sister if that’s what a) gets you off and b) will make you vote for them and their party?

That seems to be the miserable judgment of politics that hordes of people have – they believe politicians should fabricate and obfuscate; they should say whatever they have to say in order to dupe the bovine electorate into thinking the party will blithely succumb to every demand of the voting masses, regardless of what the party’s actual values are or what their true vision is for their country.

Frankly – this view of politics is psychopathic. It comes from the exact same mindset that says “promise whatever you have to in order to get the sale, and don’t worry if you have no ability or intention to deliver”. It’s the normalisation of this kind of thinking that has brought us into the psychopath epidemic.

I’d argue that this kind of psychopathic thinking is what got the UK into their current situation in the first place – where a serious, thoughtful man of high integrity and a bold vision like Jeremy Corbyn could lose so badly to Boris Johnson, a snotty upper-class huckster carnie wearing a discarded Muppet on his head, who made a very nice living as a journalist, doing party tricks on a unicycle, lying about the EU in the media, while privately considering it just “chucking … rocks over the garden wall” and getting a “weird sense of power” from the resulting “amazing crash from the greenhouse”. If that’s the kind of person the UK wants leading them, then there’s not much a Jeremy Corbyn can do about it.

But just as the election result isn’t Corbyn’s doing or his fault, neither is it Boris’.

The idiocracy (as Mike Judge aptly called it in his film 15 years ago) that we are living in has many fathers and has been coming a long time. For 40 years (at least) we’ve witnessed the normalisation of psychopathic tendencies in our culture. The propaganda tactics of the tobacco industry and their highly-paid public relations court jesters have been institutionalised across society. The lies and misdirections fed to a population raised on Judge Judy and Avengers movies are manufactured by the some of the finest, inch-deep minds and funded by some of the most psychopathic.

If the people are now too stupid to vote for a party that articulates a genuine vision for a better future, that is a problem of the people, not the party. We get the government we deserve. We have allowed this to happen to ourselves. And every time one of argues that a politician or party should lie about what they really think, in order to win votes, we are perpetuating the problem.

When a political party panders to win votes, they end up diluting their message and their mission. It’s that kind of execrable behaviour that has budged the parties that used to represent the Left, first towards, and then over the centre line. They’ve ended up today with many economic policies that are to the right of where their opposition was in the 1970s. And while the Left has moved to the Right, the Right, in an effort to maintain a reasonable policy differential, has moved so far to the right they have fallen off the edge of the world, ending up with insane clown posse leaders like Trump, ScoMo and BoJo.

The wretched truth is that, over the last 40 years, the Left has all but disappeared. Outside of the extremely minor fringe attempts at stretching the Overton Window, the “Left” parties, and the people who support them, aren’t truly progressive. They have been systematically watered down by psychopaths and big money, to the point where someone like Hillary Clinton could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars giving blathering, obsequious speeches to the likes of Goldman Sachs, while her slobbering fan club (who think of themselves as “progressive Democrats”) didn’t bat an eyelid. These same people will argue that the likes of Corbyn, Sanders and AOC, indeed anyone left of centre, are “too progressive”. What they mean is that these candidates have a vision for the country that is outside of the Overton Window – beyond the limits of acceptable opinion as set by the elite in control of the corporate media. They will argue that it is better to get a watered down party elected because at least they won’t be as bad as the Right. But, of course, what that watered down party ends up achieving is, usually, little to nothing of a progressive agenda. Why? Because it isn’t a progressive party. It never intended to accomplish anything progressive. It might have sounded progressive, but it wasn’t really. It’s a Centrist party. And Centrists don’t want change. They just want maintenance. Keep things the way they are. Let the psychopaths keep being psychopaths. Don’t change anything that might disrupt the system.

Don’t we want our political leaders to, you know, actually lead? If they aren’t out there articulating and pushing for a genuine vision, what is left for them to do? They become the dutiful lapdogs of the corporate media and their financial backers – which, in many cases, are lead by outright psychopaths. All the people hear are the same tired arguments – that changing the system is too risky, that we should just tinker with the system, let’s not do anything over-ambitious. Of course, that’s exactly what the elite want – no change – because the current system is working in their favour. If you’re already rich, why would you want the system to change, unless it’s going to bring you even more wealth?

This same argument, by the way, goes for politicians on the Right. They should also articulate their true vision. Of course, their arguments are often more acceptable to the psychopaths, because they have been crafted by the elite, and therefore fit leisurely within the Overton Window, and, as such, are much simpler to sell to a docile public, who, like Pavlov’s Dog, have been conditioned for decades to only think within certain pre-defined lines.

Learning Value Investing

For the last six months I’ve been learning value investing from Tony Kynaston, who I think of as “Australia’s Warren Buffett”, on our QAV Podcast. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “value investing”, it’s the style of sharemarket investing made famous by Warren Buffett. It’s basically a discipline of identifying cheap stocks in companies that are actually performing quite well, but for some reason their shareprice has been beaten down by the market. This can happen for a number of reasons, sometimes involving emotion or just that the company isn’t sexy right now. The idea behind value investing is that you pick up those stocks while they are undervalued and figure that eventually the market will catch up. Tony has spent decades developing his own methodology for doing this analysis and that’s what we talk about on the podcast. We’ve had some pretty impressive folks on the show, including Alan Kohler and Roger Montgomery.

Last week I wrote a post about what I’ve learned about value investing during our first six months. It’s actually going through a phase of being unpopular at the moment, as low interest rates are helping to drive tech stocks through the roof, which leads to claims that value investing is dead. However, far smarter people than I, including Tony, Buffett, Charlie Munger and Roger Montgomery still think value investing is the best long-term strategy, so I’m sticking with it. Investing like Buffett, one of the most successful investors of all time, sounds like a good idea to me.

Plastic Sociopaths

Straws are a distraction: how the plastics industry successfully got you to blame yourself for pollution

“40 years of Reaganomic sociopathy has managed to convince hundreds of millions of otherwise sensible people that big, social problems are caused by their personal choices, and not (say) by rapacious corporations that corrupt the regulatory process in order to get away with literal and figurative murder.”

Copernicus, Free Will and You

Whenever I get into a conversation with someone about free will for the first time, they will usually end up saying something like this: “But I experience the world as if I have free will.”

They are, of course, wrong. They experience the world exactly the same as someone who doesn’t believe in free will (like, for example, me).

We both experience the same thing. What is different is the way we interpret what we experience.

Here’s a good analogy.

One thousand years ago, if you asked most people about the relationship between the Earth and the Sun, they would have told you that it was obvious: the Sun revolves around the Earth. If you tried to tell them that, in fact, the opposite was true, they would have laughed in your face.

“But I experience the Sun revolving around the Earth! It’s obvious that the Earth isn’t moving because we can’t feel it moving. We don’t experience it moving. But we look up into the sky and we can experience the Sun moving around the Earth. You dumbass.”

Of course, what they were actually experiencing was the Earth revolving around the Sun. They had the exact same experience as Copernicus when he published “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres” in 1543. What was different was how they interpreted that experience.

So it is with free will. We all experience the same thing. We walk around, decisions are made; actions are taken.

The difference is that some of us interpret those things as “the laws of physics”. And some of us interpret those things as “free will”. Same experience – incorrect interpretation.

The same is true with our relationship to the universe. Most people imagine themselves as being somehow separate from the rest of the world – in it but not of it, independent from it. Again – same experience, incorrect interpretation.

There is only the universe. It’s just one thing. One construct. We are not in the universe – we are the universe.

The atoms that you’re made of are the universe. The universe isn’t some kind of blank canvas that you’ve been painted on. The universe is both the canvas and the paint. The universe is the sum total of all of the matter and the energy and the anti-matter and everything else. It cannot be divided into universe and non-universe.

Most of the atoms that make up your body today were something else 20 years ago. And they will be something else 20 years from now. They continue. The universe continues. You are those atoms. There is nothing else.

You can only be the universe. Nothing else makes sense.

Don’t Trust Facebook With Your Business

I’ve always been paranoid about allowing other people to have any level of control over my business and today I got another lesson in why that’s a good policy.

For about 7 years I’ve run a Facebook group called “Cigars Australia Forum”. It was originally a standalone forum that I ran back when I was in the cigar business. Then, when the software behind the forum became too clumsy, I moved it over to Facebook. Just a bunch of 1000 (mostly) guys harmlessly comparing notes on cigars. Occasionally it got a little rowdy and I had to tell them to be nice. One a rare occasion I had to block a couple of people who were outright rude and nasty.

Yesterday, I got a message from Facebook that something about the group contravened their “community standards” – no details, just “your group has been disabled until you bring it into line with our standards”. This, of course, is coming from the company that let people like Cambridge Analytica have access to the personal data of millions of people. But I digress.

So I looked through their “community standards” page, couldn’t see anything that would my group would contravene, so I asked them to review the group and their decision.

Today I got a second notification from Facebook that the group, which had over 1000 members, has been permanently deleted. No explanation apart from “community standards”. Nobody to talk to. No way to protest or get clarification.

Now, luckily, I don’t care. This group had nothing to do with any business of mine or revenue source. I maintained it just as a service to Australia’s diminishing cigar appreciation community. But imagine if it was something important to my business or my brand and Facebook just decided to delete it? It could be devastating.

So that is why you should never trust Facebook, or Instagram (also part of Facebook) or Google or eBay or PayPal or Patreon or any other service provider with running the delivery platform for your business. If you can run it yourself, do it. If you can’t, make sure you have a backup plan if the service provider decides to pull the pin on you.

Capitalism Unleashed The Psychopaths

While psychopaths have probably always been around us, in feudalist societies it would have been much harder for them to rise to positions of wealth and power. Unless you were born into the nobility, it was pretty tough to get out of your class circumstances and engineer yourself into a place where you could rise above.

Think about it this way – if, as guys like Robert Hale suggest, about one percent of the population rank highly on the psychopath test – and, if this has always been true – then up until the Industrial Revolution, if you were born a psychopath but were not a member of the aristocracy or nobility, let’s say you were the son of a blacksmith, then what could you do? You didn’t have much chance of putting together an army or rising above your stations in terms of wealth creation opportunities. 

If you were a plebeian in the Roman Republic, your chances of rising to power were kept in check by the tools of the aristocracy – the Senate, the army and paid mobs. During the Roman Empire, a few plebs made it to become generals and even Emperors, but they were few and far between. A number of centurions of plebeian extraction were rewarded by Augustus after his civil war with Antony with property and suddenly found themselves as the nouveau riche and a seat in the Senate – but again, these stories were rare. 

Oh sure – if you were a Hun in the 5th century, you could brawl it out with some other guys to see who would be the king of the tribe, and go from there. But in the Middle Ages, these opportunities were scarce. You might be someone like Francesco Sforza who, in the early 1400s, managed to turn his father’s private army of mercantile soldiers into becoming the Duke of Milan by winning some battles and marrying his illegitimate daughter – but again, those stories are quite rare in the annals of history. 

For most of history, if you were born poor, for the most part, you stayed poor. 

So if 1% of the population were psychopaths, and 99% of the population were poor, that means 99% of the psychopaths were poor and, while they probably caused trouble for their immediate family and village, they never went further than that. 

However – then the Industrial Revolution came along and we entered the rise of capitalism. Now those 99% have a much better shot at unleashing their psychopathy on the world. They could get an education, get a job, and use their inherent psychopathy to climb the ladder of power inside an organisation – business, political, religious, academia or military. Suddenly, after 1000 years of being kept down in their villages, the psychopaths had a ladder to wealth and power unlike anything before. 

Studies show that most people who are born poor continue to stay poor, it’s true. But we live in a world where the psychopaths who are born poor, and have no qualms about fucking other people over in their march towards power – who care as much about committing an unethical act as you or I do about what we ate for breakfast a week ago – have an open playing field.
Capitalism has unleashed the psychopaths on the world.

Now our job is to figure out how to ring fence them and keep them in check before they destroy the planet and all of us on it. 

Cameron Reilly's Psychopath Hunters

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