Will We Need Sociopaths in a World Without Crisis?

One of my most popular articles ever on Thought Distiller was called “Are Sociopaths Good for Society?” and I think the time has come to dig into another angle on the topic of sociopathy. Last time, I determined that sociopaths (at least the higher-functioning ones) are genuinely good for society. This time around, I’m thinking…

Gaslighting, Conformity, and Lies

The phrase “gaslighting” has come up more and more often after Donald Trump’s election and inauguration. But where does that term come from? What does it really mean? And how does it work in our daily lives? The term “gaslighting” traces its origin to a 1944 film starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, aptly titled Gaslight.…

MAYA: Most Advanced Yet Acceptable

First off, I’d like to wish you a happy new year! Here’s hoping 2017 treats you well; may you find what you seek. To start this year off, I’m following up on last year’s “familiar with a twist” piece. As it so happens, an industrial designer named Raymond Loewy came up with a theory surrounding…

The Success Myth

As Mark Twain once said in a letter to Helen Keller: “It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite —…

The Birth Lottery: Your Success Depends On Other People

Many people acknowledge that their success, at least in the traditional sense of upward economic mobility, is not of their own making. But most don’t realize how strong an impact external variables have on children’s outcomes. In most cases, birth and early childhood circumstances (i.e. the birth lottery), not intrinsic traits, are the leading forward…

Not All Truth Is Created Equal

Most people, whether on a day-to-day basis or in the grand scheme of things, are searching for some form of truth. That could range from the mundane (why do chicken nuggets exist?) to the profound (why are we here?). Regardless of the scope of one’s questions, some methods of working through those questions lead us…

The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Knowing Our Own Limits

Perhaps the biggest of my weekly indulgences is watching TV whenever I find the time. Of the few shows I’m committed to, I’m very fond of NBC’s The Blacklist, which focuses on the as yet unknown relationship between wanted criminal Raymond Reddington (James Spader) and rookie FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). During the fourth season’s…

The Doctor-Surgeon Spectrum: A Theory of Tradeoffs

While commuting every day, I’ve found myself with a lot of time to philosophize about the connection between work and value. Why is it that, in extremely similar professions, we sometimes see a huge difference in pay? For example, consider a doctor and a surgeon. Both spend years getting educated. Both are medical professionals who complete…

Are Sociopaths Good for Society?

The title of this post suggests an insane line of inquiry, which makes it perfectly appropriate for Thought Distiller. Whether sociopaths can be pro-social or benevolent has a huge impact on society. This is the pivotal question here: (a) are sociopaths capable of social good, broadly defined, and (b) if so, are they better at doing…

Here’s Why Depression Incidence Will Increase

Depression is one of the most powerful forces in the human mind. It makes us less productive, less social, and even less human. It practically represents anti-life because it traps you in a box in which you can no longer express yourself adequately. It can be a confusing, frightening, soul-sucking ordeal. And despite our best efforts, our…