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I’m O.K., You’re a Psychopath

Little essay from the NY Times reviewing – The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Cambridge cognitive scientist Simon Baron Cohen (his cousin is comic Sasha Braon Cohen) Cohen also discusses the same concepts here

If ever you wanted an example of the appalling nature capacity of the human race consider the following paragraph –

One of the traits on the checklist is “callous/lack of empathy.” This is the focus of another new book, The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty (Basic Books, $25.99), by Simon Baron-Cohen, a Cambridge psychologist best known for his research on autism. Baron-Cohen begins by telling how, at the age of 7, he learned that the Nazis turned Jews into lampshades and bars of soap, and he goes on to provide other examples of human savagery. To explain such atrocities, he offers an ambitious theory grounded in the concept of empathy, which he defines as “our ability to identify what someone else is thinking or feeling and to respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion.” For Baron-Cohen, evil is nothing more than “empathy erosion.”

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