Monday, October 17, 2011

Blog4: Chapter 6 Summary

In chapter 6, Ronson visits Shutuba, Mississippi. During the visit Ronson hears about Al Dunlap. He finds out that Dunlap was the last CEO of Sunbeam and managed to shut down the plant, virtually destroying the small town of Shutuba. Ronson finds out that Dunlap fired many employees to much of his enjoyment while working at Sunbeam. Interested, Ronson decides to visit Dunlap in Florida to see if he is truly a psychopath.Upon arriving, Ronson sees various sculptures of predator animals and once inside, finds large portraits of Dunlap everywhere. Dunlap begins chatting until Ronson questions Dunlap on his characteristics and how he could possibly be a psychopath. Dunlap answers all of Ronson's questions, addressing many of the checklist characteristics as a way to progress past others and making them into positives for himself. After the interview, Ronson talks to Bob Hare about the experience and then goes on to talk to an anonymous man named "Jack."

The comment Adam Curtis made to Ronson in chapter 7 struck interest in me. Curtis tells Ronson that all journalists create stories out of fragments, traveling the world in search for the 'gems.' Curtis says that Ronson is merely searching for the 'gems' to fulfill his research and that these gems invariably turn out to be madness. On the last sentence of the paragraph Curtis asks, "Forget psychopathic CEOs. My question is, what does all this say about our sanity?" I believe this is an interesting question because referring back to previous chapters, Ronson has been traveling all over talking to specific people in search for these 'gems' and mentally diagnosing who he believes is a psychopath from Hare's Checklist. This in itself is ironic that someone out to research on other people's mental health passively results in the shift of their own sanity and rationality. In my opinion, ever since Ronson saw Hare's Checklist, I feel that he has been going out in the world labeling anyone with any kind of psychopathic characteristic as not specifically a psychopath, but passively leaving it to consideration. This makes me wonder about Ronson's sanity in himself.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blog3: Research Topic

Should the United States adopt universal health care?

I decided to pick this topic because I am still puzzled as to why the U.S doesn't feel the need to change it's healthcare system despite knowing that the current system is not working as well as we would like. I am interested to know why the U.S does not want to model some of the leading country's successful healthcare systems since it would seem obvious that if you're number 1, then you must be doing something right. I would begin my research by first seeing the systems of the top 10 highest ranked countries for health care and then branch that information off into how it is able to connect with the U.S and its current situation. Some subquestions that might show up from researching this include: how well can the U.S integrate universal health? Is the choice of universal health care influenced by the population and their beliefs? I feel that this topic would be interesting to research and see arguments for both incorporating and rejecting it and drawing a concrete conclusion on the stance of universal health care in America.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blog2: Chapter 4 Summary

In chapter four, Ronson comes into contact with an influential psychologist named Bob Hare. Justice departments and parole boards have accepted Hare's belief that psychopaths are incurable and the energy spend on trying to cure them should be put into his PCL-R Checklist to root them all out. Ronson describes Hare's break through experiment and how it concluded that psychopaths lack a functioning amyglada in the  brain, making them unable to anticipate the future or feel unpleasantness. After this, Ronson attends Hare's conference where he begins honing his skills to identify psychopaths. He begins realizing his skill after reading Hare's Psychopath Checklist and watching various patients respond to a researcher in a controlled room. Ronson continues identifying psychopathic qualities through examples of various psychopaths that were thought to be able to function in society, only to end up killing someone again. Ronson ends the chapter by pondering about psychopathic CEOs and psychopathic politicians. Hare tells him that its easy to identify psychopaths in prisons, but to root out CEOs and politicians, "..could change forever the way people see the world."(Ronson, p118)

"You have to feel sorry for psychopaths, right? If it's all because of their amygdalae? It's not their fault?"
- "Why should we feel sorry for them? They don't give a shit about us."(Ronson, p110)

This quote ignited the question that I've been wondering for some time since we started this book. If psychopaths are the way they are because it's in their nature to be, is it truly their fault? In my own opinion, I don't believe it is. The fact that they are literally missing a function in their brain goes to show that they not like the rest of us. The complex problem of this however, is that unlike someone that is missing half of their brain, psychopaths are able to compensate for their dysfunction and appear perfectly normal on the outside. The matter is made more complex by asking, what do you do with someone like that? It is immoral to lock someone up for life because of the way they were born. However; this would prove the best results. Speaking theoretically, identifying psychopaths and locking all of them up would improve the world. I am not saying I am in favor of that, but in terms of raw numbers, I believe that would improve overall safety statistics and concerns. On the other hand, not only is there a whole different issue of correctly identifying psychopaths, but doing that would completely contradict all the principles of modern society. So the question stands, what do we do? Lock them all up before they cause chaos, or treat them like everyone, letting them pull the strings of the world? Based on how our society is structured today, I don't think there even is a right answer.