Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
In 2011, Simon Baron-Cohen published “The Science of Evil: On empathy and the origins of cruelty.” That book discusses psychopathy in detail, and the organic reasons someone may lack empathy. Autism is probably the most common reason, but psychopathy - which Baron-Cohen convincingly argues can arise from congenital or traumatic reasons - is the scariest. Autistics generally don’t blend in, and often lack the social skills to progress in a corporation. Psychopaths can fit in, and often do. Worse, psychopaths, unlike autistics, may enjoy hurting people.
Dr. Robert D. Hare and Dr. Paul Babiak’s 2006 “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work” provides tools to identify psychopaths in the workplace. The common mythology is that psychopaths are compulsive serial killers, but that is definitely not the case. Bernie Madoff, the mastermind of the biggest Ponzi scheme uncovered in US history (in 2008), meets Hare and Babiak’s definition of a psychopath. Madoff ruined so many lives, including his own son’s (Mark Madoff committed suicide in 2010), but he has never been accused of even throwing a punch - much less pulling a trigger.
Hare and Babiak provide guidance on how to deal with psychopaths. The best recommendation is to just get away from the psychopath - as you would from any dangerous snake. That’s not always possible - the economy is terrible, a move may not be possible, and the psychopath may be your child’s parent - or your own parent.
Babiak is actually listed as the first author of “Snakes in Suits”, but Hare is actually one of the pioneers who identified psychopathy as a mental disorder. Hare developed ‘The Psychopathy Checklist’, which is widely used to diagnose criminal offenders.
“Snakes in Suits” is an interesting, thoughtful book, and a reminder that while most of us are “neuro-typical” (in Temple Grandin’s [author of 2013’s “The Autistic Brain] parlance), there are people who think differently and may never be able to empathize.
The narration was good, and kept me engaged.
One of the first books I listened to on Audible was Joe Mavarro and Marvin Karlins' "What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People" (2012). It was so long ago that I hadn't started writing reviews, but that was fortunate with this book. I've been using some of the techniques described in the book for 18 months, and they work. I wouldn't have known that when I finished the book.
I am a civil trial attorney, and I long relied on gut feeling and intuition when I picked a jury. In other words, just dumb look. This book gave me the ability to know, with some basis, whether a jury liked my client or the opposition, and whether I was effectively advocating my client's defense. Once, in a memory seared sharp, I completely torqued a juror off, which I realized by her flared nostrils and lips pursed together to nonexistence. I was able to dig out of that situation.
This isn't the key to picking a perfect jury, but it helps. It's like knowing a secret code.
I occasionally listen to the book to refresh my techniques. The book teaches how to speed read people, but learning the techniques takes a lot of time, patience, practice and feedback - when you can get it.
I'm giving the book an overall 4 because it is so useful, but it's a 3 on the story. Despite the exciting topic, it's pretty dry and academic. The narration is a three, too. It sounds more like a business seminar than a narration.
I want to mention that "What Every Body is Saying" and Pamela Meyer's "Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception" (2011) really builds on Navarro's techniques. Listen to them consecutively, and it's like a college psychology course.
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According to Pamela Meyer each person, on average, is subject to 200 lies - a day. I was astounded – I don’t see 200 people a day. Some days, I only see my family and my co-workers in the small branch office I work at.
Where are the lies? I started thinking about it: it happens when several of my Facebook friends ask to “Add my birthday.” They’ve been duped by an advertiser seeking personal information, and it gets passed along. The lies are in the ads I get to enlarge a certain body part. The products can’t work – I don’t even have the requisite body part. The lies are on CNN, Fox News, during interviews of people later found guilty of horrible crimes. And there are white lies I hear, when I ask my son or daughter how school was, and they say “fine” to deflect me from asking about an Algebra or Physics test they may have tanked. Sometimes, I’ll never find out things weren’t really “fine” – the test turned out well, and I’ll chalk the crankiness caused by stress for teenage hormones.
People lie, and Meyer’s book is a great guideline for realizing when that happens. I am a litigator, and I learned a lot of the techniques she outlines by years of experience. For example, if someone uses the phrase “To tell you the truth,” what comes out next usually isn’t the truth. It might have a little bit of truth, someplace, but it might be a complete fabrication. If someone smirks while testifying, they are lying and expect a judge or jury is too stupid to catch it.
I wish this book had been available 20 years ago.