Psychopathy Checklist

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) is a diagnostic tool used to rate a person’s psychopathic or antisocial tendencies. People who are psychopathic prey ruthlessly on others using charm, deceit, violence or other methods that allow them to get with they want.

In broad terms, the symptoms of psychopathy include: lack of a conscience or sense of guilt, lack of empathy, egocentricity, pathological lying, repeated violations of social norms, disregard for the law, shallow emotions, and a history of victimizing others. The twenty traits assessed by the PCL-R score are therefore: Continue reading


On Work

“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”

– J.M. Barrie

Self-interests in Politics

Plantagenet: You’re very young. I don’t think you’ve thought about this very much.

Silverbridge: But I have sir, I have developed my own ideas. We’ve got to protect ourselves against those radicals and communists.

Plantagenet: Do your politics begin and end with your own self-interests? You’re advocating self-protection.

Silverbridge: Not only our own protection, sir, but that of our class. The people will look after themselves, but we are so few and they are so many that we will have quite enough to do.

Plantagenet: You would desert a family allegiance of centuries for such childish thinking as that?

Silverbridge: I know I’m a fool sir. Perhaps that’s why I’m a Tory. Well, the radicals are always saying that it must be a fool, so perhaps a fool ought to be a Conservative. I am very sorry if this upsets you father.

Plantagenet: I will not be upset sir, but I thought you had studied the conservative philosophy with some serious thought and consideration, but as it is…

– Lisemore, M. (Producer), David, H. and Wilson, R. (Directors). (1974). The Pallisers [Television Series]. United Kingdom: BBC

The Fallibility of Written Codes

‘The court considers it has obligation to add comment to its verdict. By the force of evidentiary conclusions you, Captain William Bligh, stand absolved of military misdeed. Yet officers of stainless record and seamen, voluntary all were moved to mutiny against you. Your methods, so far as this court can deserve showed what we shall cautiously term an excess of zeal. We cannot condemn zeal. We cannot rebuke an officer who has administered discipline according to the Articles of War, but the Articles are fallible, as any articles are bound to be. No code can cover all contingencies. We cannot put justice aboard our ships in books. Justice and decency are carried in the heart of the captain or they be not aboard. It is for this reason that the Admiralty has always sought to appoint its officers from the ranks of gentlemen. The court regrets to note that the appointment of Captain William Bligh was, in that respect, a failure. Court is dissolved.’

– Rosenberg. A. (Producer), Milestone. L. (Director). (1962). Mutiny on the Bounty [Motion Picture]. United States: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Embracing the Preposterous

‘Clearly, it is time we learned to meet our emotional needs without embracing the preposterous. We must find ways to invoke the power of ritual and to mark those transitions in every human life that demand profundity— birth, marriage, death—without lying to ourselves about the nature of reality. Only then will the practice of raising our children to believe that they are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish be widely recognized as the ludicrous obscenity that it is. And only then will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.

I have no doubt that your acceptance of Christ coincided with some very positive changes in your life. Perhaps you now love other people in a way that you never imagined possible. You may even experience feelings of bliss while praying. I do not wish to denigrate any of these experiences. I would point out, however, that billions of other human beings, in every time and place, have had similar experiences—but they had them while thinking about Krishna, or Allah, or the Buddha, while making art or music, or while contemplating the beauty of Nature. There is no question that it is possible for people to have profoundly transformative experiences. And there is no question that it is possible for them to misinterpret these experiences, and to further delude themselves about the nature of reality.

You are, of course, right to believe that there is more to life than simply understanding the structure and contents of the universe. But this does not make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about its structure and contents any more respectable.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 28-29

Cargo Cult Science

‘In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head to headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas–he’s the controller–and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.

Now it behoves me, of course, to tell you what they’re missing. But it would be just about as difficult to explain to the South Sea islanders how they have to arrange things so that they get some wealth in their system. It is not something simple like telling them how to improve the shapes of the earphones. But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school–we never say explicitly what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.’

– Feynman. R. (1974) Cargo Cult Science (a Caltech commencement address; also featured in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!)


What is a friend exactly? After some deliberation, it turns out to be very difficult to provide an uncontentious analysis. Because of its many different conceptions and dimensions, the full value of the word ‘friend’ is surprisingly hard to capture. To that end, below is a list of quotations to help sketch a definition of the word ‘friend’.

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
– Elbert Hubbard

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
– Aristotle

“To like and dislike the same things, that is indeed true friendship.”
– Catiline‎

“A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
– Anaïs Nin

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”
– Linda Grayson

“Friendship is Love without his wings!”
– Lord Byron

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
– C.S. Lewis

See more: Approximations