Thursday, November 3, 2011

Aiming a Bit High.

In chapter nine of The Psychopath Test, Ronson focuses on the ways in which the wrong diagnosis of a person's mental state can turn out so wrongly. He begins by meeting with Bob Hare at Heathrow. During his visit, the two discuss the psychopath checklist and Ronson questions Hare as to whether or not Hare believes his checklist is dangerous in the hands of the wrong person.
With this new curiosity as to the dangerous/misleading aspect of the checklist Ronson meets with Paul Britton. Britton is (or was) a criminal profiler, known to track down the worst of the worst, until his failure in the case of Robert Napper and Colin Stagg and the murder of a young woman. In this case, Britton and his team deceived Stagg, the innocent man, into revealing a side of himself which really wasn't him. Their undercover agent wrote sexually violent letters to Colin, trying to get him to confess to the murder of the young girl. He would not, as he hadn't committed the crime in the first place. They ended up creating a honey trap, only seeing what they wanted to see, and not the truth, and arresting Stagg. Colin then spent months in custody while Napper remained free to kill again, but this time a mother and her daughter.
In further discussion with Ronson, Britton goes on to say that Robert Napper was at the scene of the crime and Colin Stagg was not. However, both had been at the park, which Britton objects to saying, they weren't there at the same time. From this, you can see how even though Britton was wrong in his diagnosis, he like so many others will not admit their wrong doing.
This week's reading was filled with intriguing information to me. Chapter eight, where the discussion of conspiracy theorists, particularly how far Dave Shayler went because "he was right," amazed me. I never realized how big of a problem and profound an impact they had on society. It's heartbreaking that Rachel Nickell's entire life was destroyed by the bombing, and then to have people say she isn't real and not believe her story when she witnessed it?! That's so sad. Ronson's epiphany as to how much the media and exploitation of those crazier than us is utilized to make us feel better about ourselves is so true too. I'd never thought about that before. In this reading I was surprised to see that Ronson was actually truly questioning the fact of the danger of amateur psychopath profilers. He even asks Hare! This is key too, because of the way in which the false accusation of Colin Stagg led to more disaster and the death of others. Ronson is starting to see the picture from all sides now, I believe.

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