Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Women and Men

>> Tuesday

Earnest people throughout history have expressed the goal of attaining peace on earth. Many methods have been proposed and tried, but not many of those ideas have been practical. But in an interview with Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, I heard her say something that made me think of one possible way to make some actual headway toward the goal of "peace on earth."

She said if more people knew about sociopaths, there would be less war in the world.

She was dead serious, and I think she may be right. We could bring about a more peaceful world by making an understanding of sociopaths widespread. Consider these facts:

1. According to the famous Milgram experiments, 65 percent of people follow the orders of an authority.

2. Sociopaths want to win. They seek control. They are excellent manipulators. They don't care who gets hurt. They don't care who lives or dies.

3. They sometimes make it to positions of power, sometimes even becoming the leader of a country. And they do what sociopaths do: They take advantage, they get away with whatever they can, and when they are in a position of strength, they sometimes invade or threaten other countries, causing war.

If more people knew the characteristics of a sociopath, more people would identify them for what they are before they gain too much authority and power. Fewer sociopaths would make it to positions of authority.

Result: Fewer wars.

There would be less horror and misery in the world.

The truth is, even though it is a common belief that "man is a violent species," we are not. But when sociopaths gain positions of supreme authority and start wars, 65 percent will obey authority, and most of the rest will be fooled and manipulated into supporting the cause (or locked up or executed).

The result is war. Most people who actually fight in wars feel terrible about what they experience. They don't want to kill or hurt other human beings. They feel they have to (to save their country, to save the people they love, to stop a dictator from taking over the world, to save their fellow soldiers in the battle, etc.).

But the point is, the only reason sociopaths are able to get away with as much as they do is because most people are so ignorant about sociopaths. Not very many people know about the existence of such a thing as "common, everyday sociopaths." And even if they do, they don't know the easily-identifiable characteristics of a sociopath. They don't know how to spot them.

If you do, you can share your knowledge with others. If you don't, you can learn about it here. Then you can share what you've learned far and wide and in every way you can. And urge everyone you know to help you spread the knowledge.

Ask people, "Did you know there are sociopaths among us?" Ask people of they know what a sociopath is. Ask people, "Did you know one in fifty people is a sociopath?" Ask these questions with people you know and talk about it. Most people don't know, and at the very least, it makes for interesting conversation. Ask people, "Did you know there is no known therapy for sociopaths? And in fact, therapy usually makes them worse because it helps them get better at manipulating people?" Ask people if they know how to spot a sociopath.

Learn about sociopaths and teach the others in your life about it. This will give you a long-range sense of purpose, which will raise your mood. But this simple thing could also change the course of history. You could help bring the cherished dream of humanity closer to reality.

Adam Khan is the author of Self-Help Stuff That Works and Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation White Hot


Jane 12:02 PM  

Before my recent encounter with a sociopath, I didn't think it could happen to me, but my experience taught me I had no idea what to look for. Sociopaths are typically charming individuals and you are their agenda. I was surprised, but elated, to read about them here. The more places we find to share what we learn to be true about sociopaths, the better educated everyone will be.

Adam Khan 3:15 AM  

Speaking of the surprisingly peaceful nature of human beings, I just came across this comment by primatologist Brian Hare:

"It's true humans have bigger brains and language, and so forth. But we would not have evolved the kind of intelligence we have — the kind that allows us to use our brains together, to build things, to be mentally flexible — if we hadn't had a shift in temperament." That is, we had to become more like bonobos and less like chimps, which are high-strung, fearful of strangers and generally intolerant of any chimp lower on the social hierarchy. "We had to lose all those traits in order to become who we are," Brian Hare adds. Controlling one's fears, paying attention to others, finding joy in working with others — that's the path to intelligence, he says, whether for dogs, apes or humans.


Fannie LeFlore 11:27 AM  

Adam -- I totally agree with your points and am glad to see your courageous stand in naming sociopaths as the primary source of much human suffering. Martha Stout's work is excellent in helping shine light on the common sociopaths in our midst. There are growing numbers of professionals and lay people in different fields who understand the disordered personality, but we are not cited much in mainstream media. I am a psychotherapist and writer/editor who previously worked with M. Scott Peck on one of his books, and Dr. Peck named the evil done by everyday sociopaths (those with character/personality disorders) in his book, "People of the Lie."

One problem is that so many people are afraid of conflict, so they will go along with a sociopath rather than support a decent human being who is trying to help human kind. The saying is very true that "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing." I've seen this play out many times when a good person attempts to challenge the wrongs of a sociopath, and the result is that other so-called good people end up siding with the sociopath. I think this happens because sociopaths seem so engaging and sincere and most people don't truly "get" the power and control dynamics inherent within the sociopathic personality and their anti-humanity agenda.Sociopaths think they are superior to everyone (despite evidence to the contrary), and enjoy the game of fooling others.

I share this quote attributed to Henry A. Kissinger: "The vision of a world community based on justice, not power, is the necessity of our age...."
This can happen when more people stop being charmed by sociopaths and their words, and look closely at their true agendas which focus on power and control of others at all costs. They keep people divided based on race, gender and other factors that stir conflict and chaos. These are major distractions that make those who are otherwise decent people afraid and suspicious of each other. How sad.

Rick 12:59 PM  

Hello Adam,
Last Sunday,February 5 on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network)Oprah reaired an interview with Tom Shadyac and his documentary "I am" ( On his website in his favorite quotes he is heavy into Ralph Waldo Emerson like you. Also another person who seems to express similar conclusions as you is a man named Rob Brezny ( who has a deep book called"Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia." Thanks for sharing, take what you can use and leave the rest.


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