Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ronson Chapter 6 & 7 Summary/Response

The title for chapter seven, "The Right Sort of Madness", rightly lives up to its name for the description of the chapter. Ronson's friend, Adam Curtis, specifically points out that Ronson's actions suggest he is trying to find the right kind of madness (psychopathic trait) in Al Dunlap. Ronson denies this fact.  The rest of the chapter profiles a woman named Charlotte who booked participants for reality television shows which interviewed families and people with issues, such as Jerry Springer. She tells Ronson that she would look for certain traits in participants and found that if they were slightly "mad" they could be perfect for the show and the audience would be extremely entertained. This brought up several ethical issues where some participants were too "mad" and ended up hurting themselves. 

When you have a list dictating what is considered 'madness', it is easier to pick up and criticize others. It seems to me that Ronson has "seen the light" and whenever he detects a possible psychopath he puts them under a spotlight and scrutinizes their every move. During his interview of Al Dunlap, it felt as though Ronson would justify Dunlap's behavior when it didn't match up with the psychopath list. It was as if he picked and chose what traits he considered more prevalent to Dunlap's case of psychopathy in order to correlate to his hypothesis of whether or not psychopaths run society on a corporate level. When I first started reading about the psychopath checklist, I found myself guilty of evaluating different traits in people for possible matches. After awhile though I felt that it was wrong and found the list to be unethical. I think that Ronson is especially guilty of using the checklist in a way where he manipulates the variables in his favor in order to diagnose people as psychopaths. It may also give him a sense of power and feel superior to psychopaths because he can identify them. He uses this to his advantage as he pursues the idea of psychopaths running society. Ultimately though, I think that everyone has different traits of psychopathy that can be prevalent in our personalities. For example, how medical students will throw cadavers at each other jokingly. It's as if people can train their empathy to be like a light switch. Turning it off and on at their will.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Research Question: Blog Assignment #3

Does Social Networking cause a negative effect on the student population?

Considering this is a more recent topic of debate, I'm afraid it may be hard to find sources and/or studies about social networking. I feel as though social networking sites, particularly Facebook, have great effects on students (specifically in Middle School, High School, and college) compared to student populations in the past who didn't have access to such sites. I may end up finding a combination of good qualities and bad qualities that shape and mold the way students interact and function in their daily lives due to these websites. For example, I know for a fact that in my life Facebook is a considerable distraction to my homework and studying, but on the other hand I would feel completely disconnected if I didn't have one. I want to try to figure out what other negative impacts it may produce on younger populations because essentially they are the ones who have had it a majority of their life and do not know life without social networking websites. Since I only have ten pages to write, I probably will end up narrowing my topic further, but that will depend on what I find while researching. Social networking cites, the internet, and technology are continuously advancing, therefore the affects are always evolving. I'm interested to see what kind of information I find.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ronson Chapter 4 & 5

In chapter four of The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson meets with Bob Hare who invites him to his three day seminar on how to detect Psychopaths using his PCL-R checklist. At the seminar, Hare demonstrates his checklist to attendees using interviews and stories of psychopaths including Case Study H and Norman Mailer. He points out during them several items of the 20 that are on the list and concludes their behavior to be psychopathic. At first Ronson is skeptical of Hare's technique but towards the end of the seminar he is eventually convinced. Ronson now feels empowered to use it and motivated to detect psychopaths like Tony (who we met in the second chapter) and in the corporate and political world.

I find Hare's seminar on the PCL-R to be very convincing but I still feel skeptical myself of the checklist. All of his evidence makes sense but there is still something, possibly my conscience, that wants to think otherwise. Maybe it's because I'm anticipating some future event in the book to disregard his methods. Although, I do believe it is possible to be true because it makes sense when he describes the political, corporate, and criminal worlds disrupting society. When Ronson interviewed Toto, he proved himself to be very cunning and manipulative. At first I was with Ronson that he couldn't possibly be a psychopath but when he broke down Toto's wall of masking his madness it was impressive to see the checklist work.