Mealey Response 3

From: Danhall Anna (
Date: Mon Jun 01 1998 - 21:15:58 BST

> ...human sneakers will thrive if they selectively sort themselves into the
> most easily exploitable environments.

Persumably societies evolve to make exploitation more difficult. Is there any
evidence through history that societies have changed in this way?

> ...we are a social creature. This one fact ... sets up conditions of
> cooperation, and therefore, an exploitable niche for cheaters.

Does the fact that humans rely on cooperation mean that our socities must be
open to exploitationr? Can a cooperative society exist that cannot be
exploited? Does the fact that such a society does not exist mean that

(a) Such societies cannot exist, or
(b) Societies are better off being open to exploitation?

> Another way cheaters can maintain their numbers is by offering something in
> return for the costs they impose. Bailey, Lykken and Wilson suggest that
> agressive individuals might be tolerated because they make the best warriors.

First, aggressive individuals will not necessarily make the best warriors (I
think there are many other cooperative skills that are also necessary).
Second, what have aggressive individuals got to do with sociopaths? Surely,
a sociopath would make an awful warrior because he would not feel any sense of
duty, or comradeship. Also, if sociopaths made better warriors wouldn't we
expect to find more sociopaths in war-like cultures?

It is difficult to think what benefits a sociopath would bring to
a society, unless it was some sort of pruning of the weak and vunerable.

> ...the frequency of primary sociopathy should be fairly similar (and
> minimal) across cultures, while the frequency of secondary sociopaths should
> float in relation to cultural variables.

Could it not be possible that the niche for sociopaths could be filled by
secondary sociopaths, leading to the eventual extinction of primary
sociopaths? It seems to me that primary sociopathy has no selective
advantage over secondary sociopathy. The only excpetion might be if
societies exist that do not contain the necessary environmental conditions
to foster secondary sociopaths, in which case the primary sociopaths have
the niche to themselves.

Anna Danhall

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