Friday, November 11, 2005

The Sociopaths in The White House

The paper cited below is about the sociobiology of sociopaths and their social strategies. The media talks about culture wars. This isn't that. My theory is this: the Republican leadership at this time is made up of sociopaths, and given their prominence, they created an environment that made it attractive to the sociopath in each of us.

A sociopath is typically created by early childhood experiences plus genetic disposition in the case of primary sociopathy. The emergence of that personality feature is frequency dependent particularly in secondary sociopaths.

As Linda Mealy puts it, the sociopath becomes "apparent at a time when immediate environmental circumstances make an antisocial strategy more profitable than a prosocial one." and that is exactly what the strategies of the Republican and evangelical right have done: made cheating advantageous. Karl Rove is the exemplar.

What is fascinating about the sociopaths in charge at this time is how much emphasis they place on morality while pursuing immoral ends. That is almost the clinical definition of sociopathy at the extremes. America saw this once before during the administration of Nixon and Agnew.

I've been explaining this to my son who wants to know why things are as dark as they are and why we are seeing a sudden upsurge in student violence here in the South where the solid base of support for the Republican agenda is. I am noting smaller examples of it in behavior of some who now confronted with the evidence of the sociopathy of the administration are in deep denial and actively hostile toward anyone who was not historically supporting the hard line conservative position.

But the damage and concern are much greater and more insidious than what we do to ourselves. In effect, unless the moderates of both parties pull toward the center, we are poisoning our children for at least a decade much as we were poisoned in the late Sixties and early Seventies. The impact on our lives varied by environment (parents and other social advantages/disadvantages) but they are there.

We've seen this movie before. It is long, fatiguing and ends with the sound of children screaming followed by a terrible silence.


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{Steve Rapaport} said...

Oh my. Excellent post, Len.

I was familiar with Mealy's article, but had never before thought to apply it to the current sociopolitical climate. It works for me.

Thanks for a good insight.

len said...

I wish it weren't but wishing won't make it go away. The country has been manipulated unbelievably well by masters of information science, and in the spirit of it takes a thief to spot a con, an information scientist who understand the frequency and amplitude modulation aspects of network communications can quickly see what has been going on right in front of our eyes.

Unfortunately, that explanation is long and no one will read it. It takes time and a lot of examples.

Perhaps in another blog I should take this up. People need to understand these concepts a bit better to develop a nose for crap at light speed before it hits them face on.

Leaders are to the media what power amplifiers are to signal processing. Then it comes down to the frequency and amplitude of a signal and the number of hops it takes to a target before it degrades semantically and identifiably. The White House con was not that clever in the message content, but the use of the circuitry was masterful. I'll Karl Rove his propers on that.

Still, we need to understand these people for what they are: the merchants of mean. The more mean you see, the more mean you will see. It is a positive feedback loop in the most negative sense.

{Steve Rapaport} said...

You're right about how easy it is to see the information amplitude modulation. I wrote about it differently, in my controversial April 2003 article on Wikipedia here:

Rather than using signal-processing terms, I spoke of it in propaganda and attention terms, but it seems to me to come to the same thing.

len said...

Yes, the same metamodel for using value-laden statements to drive the behaviors. Think of attention given as a measure of the value assessed by the consumer in a producer/consumer model of message/ack pairs. In a network of untrusted or trusted communications, a message offered is acknowledged as received in a basic exchange, as understood in terms of the consumer's semantic assigned to signs/symbols of that type, and acted on in terms of the value assessed by the consumer.

To access the value (a sort of tunneling I suppose), the producer attempts to add stimulus to the message by modulating the amplitude (yell louder or use intense value-laden symbols/signs) or modulate the frequency (repeat them in some phase). To enhance credibility, use multiple sources to increase frequency within some phase (stay on message within a news cycle). This last technique is part of any good con because it is necessary to convince the mark that they can get something for nothing (can't cheat an honest man).

Also, try to access several resonating values within the cycles that reinforce each other (add power to signal) from multiple apparently independent sources where at least one or more of the sources are trusted partners (why the military spokesman, why the mob sends a close ally for a hit and so on). The risk is the levels of indirection required will introduce noise and predictability of outcomes begins to drop.

Network-based manipulation of large population behaviors is the basic semiotic technique for any marketing campaign. Analysis of the signal traffic and message analysis is part of any signals intelligence analysis effort. They did a good job of it once they had the single event pushed through the entire system at a very high power level: 9/11, but even that wouldn't have worked without the years of previous population preparation using the talk-radio and other media outlets in conjunction with the evangelical population stimulation. Gaslighting works. Or as my Dad once said, when you want to take a county dry, the bootleggers and the preachers work together.

len said...

I read the wikipedia articles. Yes, those are the techniques for determining the outcome by the content of the message. The network models are used to determine the effect on large populations. That is media manipulation. You are describing signal/sign/symbol manipulation that is then coupled with media manipulation. So design the message for the values then manipulate the network to ensure the message is received in the intended form and reinforced at appropriate frequencies.

Very strong bullsh*t filters are required to resist a well-financed and smartly designed campaign but this is really the essence of the value of values.


and The Chosen Few following The Value of Our Values.

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