Friday, September 21, 2007

Imaging Entanglement

How a conventional tool of material science — neutron beams produced at particle accelerators and nuclear reactors — can be used to produce images of the ghostly entangled states of the quantum world.

Thank you to RocketRoo for this post:

This press release from University College London, shows a computer-generated image based on neutron-beam scattering of (anti-ferro)magnetically aligned electron spins which are entangled. So, now we have the complementary set as far is this blog is concerned: imaging with entanglement (e.g., quantum ghost imaging with photons), and imaging of entanglement (with neutrons).

Aside: The astute reader may be wondering how neutrons (which are electrically neutral by definition) can be used to image entangled electrons that are negatively charged. How can there be any interaction between these particles; a necessary condition for imaging anything?

Although electrically neutral (as is an atom that is not ionized), the neutron is a baryon and therefore composed of 3 quarks (see, 1 of which (the 'up' quark) has +2/3 the magnitude of the electron charge and the other 2 quarks ('down' quarks) have 1/3 the electron charge. If the neutron comes close enough to an electron the individual charges will begin to influence each other and cause scattering.

It's also blog-worthy that just last week it was reported that the neutron has a negative charge both in its inner core and its outer region with a positive charge sandwiched in between to make the particle electrically neutral. Previously, Fermi had proposed in 1947 (pre-quark model) that the neutron core was postitive with the outer region negative.

Credits: RocketRoo

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mini review. In sheep's clothing

This is my fourth mini review in the 301.7—terrorism @ home series. In this post I review a practical booklet that can help you if you or somebody for whom you care feels terrorized by somebody in their ecosystem.

In my first three mini reviews in this series I got you acquainted with books intending to build awareness: The sociopath next door, Without conscience, and Snakes in suits. These books started by informing you that 1% of the population is a psychopath and 4% are sociopaths, hence each day you come across a psychopath and four sociopaths. After stating that they are gaining more and more acceptance in society — for example in business, where the transitioning companies have become psychopath friendly — they present composite case studies to illustrate the havoc they wreak.

However, they mostly build awareness, they are not practical guides (except for hiring, in Snakes in suits). In fact, they show how difficult these people are to diagnose and tell you to never ever label anyone a sociopath or psychopath. Their only advice is to steer clear from them.

In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative PeopleThis is where Dr. George K. Simon's little booklet In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and dealing with manipulative people comes in. In short, it teaches how to recognize manipulators, label them, and deal with them by being assertive.

Again, it is important to understand the concepts of personality, which derives from the Greek word persona for mask, and character, which refers to those aspects of an individual's personality that reflect the extent to which he or she has developed and maintained personal integrity and a commitment to responsible social conduct.

Dr. Simon explains how the society of the Victorian era was repressive and caused many people to become neurotic, in response to which Freud et al. developed psychology as a technique to help people overcome neurosis. In the meantime — among others through the influence of such thought leaders as Ayn Rand and her 1957 Atlas shrugged — society has become more and more permissive, but the field of psychology is still hanging on to the premises of the Victorian era. The mission of his book is to help correct this situation.

The book explains how personality traits form a multidimensional space, one dimension in it being the axis of neurosis. When this axis is extended in the opposite direction, it reaches the psychopath syndrome. Dr. Simon teaches that when you consider just this portion of the axis, you do not have to use the term "psychopath", just the general trait, and therefore you can label people on this portion of the axis. This also frees you from having to make a formal diagnosis, you just recognize a general trait.

Dr. Simon uses terms like manipulators, covert-agressive personalities, and disordered character, which are all terms you can use informally to label people. Aggression refers to the forceful energy we all spend in our daily bids to survive, advance ourselves, secure the things we believe will bring us some kind of pleasure, and remove obstacles to those ends [p.5]. When we do not fight aggressively, we are assertive, and when we do not fight, we are neurotic. This is the axis, and Dr. Simon wants to help us staying in the healthy neutral assertive location. In short, if a person is making himself miserable, he is probably neurotic, and if he makes everyone else miserable, he is probably character-disordered

neurotic personality axis

The tactics of manipulation are explained by exposing the powerful deception techniques manipulators use. Dr. Simon shows how hard it is to think clearly when someone has you emotionally on the run, and therefore even harder to recognize the tactics for what they really are. He writes: Severely disturbed covert aggressives are capable of masking a considerable degree of ruthlessness and power-thirstyness under a deceptively civil and even alluring social façade […], but even though a covert aggressive personality can be a lot more than just a manipulator, habitual manipulators are most always covert-aggressive personalities. The primary characteristic of covert-aggressive personalities is that they value winning over everything.

While the book's first part is about understanding manipulative personalities, the second part is about dealing effectively with manipulative people. Dr. Simon teaches you that to guard against victimization, you must:

  • be free of potentially harmful misconceptions about human nature and behavior
  • know how to correctly assess the character of others
  • have high self-awareness, especially regarding those aspects of your own character that might increase your vulnerability to manipulation
  • recognize and correctly label the tactics of manipulation and respond to them appropriately
  • avoid fighting losing battles

If you are dealing with a person who rarely gives you a straight answer to a straight question, is always making excuses for doing hurtful things, tries to make you feel guilty, or uses any of the other tactics to throw you on the defensive and get their way, you can assume you are dealing with a person who — no matter what else he may be — is covertly aggressive.

Dr. Simon concludes [p. 142]: In many arenas of life today — political, legal, corporate, athletic, personal relationships, etc. — we have become a nation of unscrupulous, undisciplined fighters, and we are greatly damaging ourselves and our society in the process. More than ever, we need to recover a guiding set of principles about how we must conduct the daily battle to survive, prosper, and succeed.

This mini review is somewhat out of line with this blog on research. I will make up for it in the next and final post in this series on 301.7—terrorism @ home with a review of current research on psychopaths.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Positronium molecules

RocketRoo has contributed another interesting comment to the post on non-local realism of last April. A long time has past since then, and as this comment is more of a new post than a comment, I am taking the liberty to repost it here.

UC Riverside physicists have apparently created the first observed diatomic positronium molecule.

I suppose if I write Pi = (e+e-) for positronium [has to be capital pi, since lower case 'pi' is a meson = (quark-antiquark) pair], then what they have seen is Pi2. Their formal paper has appeared in the Sept. 13 issue of Nature.

This is interesting for another reason having to do with entanglement and coherence; the subjects of this blog thread.

Positronium is basically unstable, and when it decays by falling into itself (like falling down a set of quantum stairs) it usually gives off 1,2,3,… photons (depending on the number of stairs). The most common decay channel is 2 photons. John Wheeler (he of the so-called "delayed-choice" interferometer, amongst other things) suggested in c.1945 that these photons should have complemetary polarizations. In fact, they were the first entangled photons produced in the lab c.1949 by Wu and Shaknov at Columbia Univ. In today's lingo, they are type-II entangled.

Because of the annihilation energy involved, however, these are gamma-ray photons. So, we have the odd situation where it is "easier" to produce entangled gamma-photons than coherent gamma-photons! That's where the Pi2 comes in. The diatomic form occurs on a silica (sand) substrate. One goal is to get enough of these groupings on the substrate to form a BEC (see Chaotic light sources comments). That, it seems, would allow one to have more than one source emitting simultaneously and therefore phase-coherently. Voilà! The gamma-ray laser.

From this I can't tell how what the binding orbitals are, how the diatoms bind to the substrate or what temperatures apply. Perhaps someone who takes a look at the Nature paper when it comes out, can report on that.

Credits: RocketRoo

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Retinoid metabolism in the eye

Our regular reader RocketRoo has recently contributed an interesting comment to the post on non-local realism of last April. A long time has past since then, and as this comment is more of a two-post than a comment, I am taking the liberty to repost it here. This is the second part:


The arrangement of the retina is like connecting a bunch of CCDs such that all the connecting wires lie in front between the light source and the detectors. (See, and for more background).

The metabolism behind photo-detection in the eye involves a kind of charge-discharge cycle, similar to the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) cycle used in bioluminescence (photo-production vs. photo-detection) e.g., fireflies. The chemical energy barrier is lowered via the clever use of enzymes (luciferase in the case of the firefly) . In vision chemistry, the enzyme is lecithin:retinol acyltransferase (aka LRAT). (See for an animation).

Vitamin A and retinene, the carotenoid precursors of rhodopsin, occur in a variety of molecular shapes, cis-trans isomers of one another. For the synthesis of rhodopsin a specific cis isomer of vitamin A is needed. Ordinary crystalline vitamin A, as also the commercial synthetic product, both primarily all-trans, are ineffective. Vitamin A is an isomer aka all-trans-retinol. The -ol ending means the molecule overall acts like an alcohol. It is synthesized in the human body from precursor compounds like beta-carotene (a carotenoid), which is why carrots are suggested to improve night vision. The major role for vitamin A in the eye is to provide the chromophore of the visual pigment, the molecule responsible for the detection of incoming photons.

For more details on cis/trans isomers, see The cis-trans conversion in rhodopsin occurs in picoseconds! (see

Esterification is the process of combining an alcohol with an acid. An ester can be thought of as the organic analog of a salt. An inorganic salt is formed by reacting a base (e.g., sodium hydroxide) with an acid (e.g., sulfuric acid) to produce sodium sulphate and water. In biological systems, the acid is often a carboxylic acid (e.g., vinegar: acetic acid) and the base is replaced by an alcohol (in the organic chemistry sense). The esterification of ethanol (common "alcohol") and acetic acid produces ethyl acetate, which gives certain wines their fruity aroma.

The visual pigment is composed of a chromophore, 11-cis-retinal (the corresponding aldehyde), covalently linked to a protein, opsin, and is concentrated in the outer parts of the rod and cone photoreceptors; the cells responsible for the conversion of light to an electrical signal. Light isomerizes the rhodopsin retinyl chromophore into an all-trans configuration. The chromophore is released and reduced in the rod to form all-trans-retinol. All-trans-retinol is transported to the retinal pigment epithelial cells, where it is esterified by LRAT. All-trans-retinyl esters are stored in the retinosomes and/or utilized for production of 11-cis-retinol through enzymatic hydrolysis and isomerization. Oxidation of 11-cis-retinol to retinal, the subsequent transport to rod outer segments, and binding to opsin complete the cycle.

Credits: RocketRoo

Links mentioned in the comments:

Two-Photon Microscopy

Our regular reader RocketRoo has recently contributed an interesting comment to the post on non-local realism of last April. A long time has past since then, and as this comment is more of a two-post than a comment, I am taking the liberty to repost it here. This is the first part:

A very interesting example of non-local realism appears in the paper entitled, "Two-Photon Microscopy: Shedding Light on the Chemistry of Vision," (Biochemistry 2007, v46, 9674-9684) . Since it is written by chemists, the going is a little tough in parts, so here are some way-points for the interested reader:


Fluorescence typically involves single photon production from a particular atomic transition in either inorganic or organic materials. TPEM relies on dual simultaneous photo-production. The key point is that, unlike ordinary fluorescence microscopy, TPEM enables 3-D imaging of living tissues and has the potential to allow noninvasive study of biochemical processes in vivo. For more details, see

The TPEM effect was predicted in 1930 by Max Born's (female) student, Maria Göppert-Mayer.

TPEM circumvents the high phototoxicity and the limited penetration depth of UV light. In addition, imaging using two-photon excitation sidesteps the need for expensive optics optimized for UV excitation and suffers less from chromatic aberration problems.

Phototoxicity and fluorophore bleaching can sometimes present a significant problem for confocal microscopy, as the intense light is shone repeatedly through the specimen. Since 1990, TPEM has revolutionized the (in vivo) study of biological structure and function by exciting fluorophores in biological specimens through the simultaneous absorption of two IR photons. This is achieved by focusing an infrared laser beam (700—1100 nm) on the specimen, so that the high concentration of photons at the focal plane substantially increases the probability of the simultaneous absorption of two photons by a molecule of the fluorophore. In TPEM, the requirement of a high infrared light intensity necessitates the use of a laser (e.g., Ti:Saph). The near-IR and red (600-700 nm) regions are considered to be the “optical window” of cells and tissues.

A variant of TPEM called Second harmonic Imaging Microscopy (SHIM). SHIM refers to the induction of a nonlinear polarization by the incident light that results in the production of photons at half the wavelength. This effect seems remarkably similar to the production of type-II entangled photons by spontaneous down-conversion. (See non-local realism discussion above).

Collagen and elastin emit enough fluorescence to provide suitable contrast for imaging. In the case of the eye, SHIM imaging has been used to investigate the organization of the collagen in the cornea and the sclera.

Credits: RocketRoo

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Selfhood and video collaboration

The sense of being outside of one's physical body (an out-of-body experience) has generally fallen within the realms of neurological dysfunction, either organic or pharmacologically aided, or of paranormal phenomena. The advent of virtual reality has offered a noninvasive and reproducible approach to inducing out-of-body experiences in normal subjects. Head-mounted displays were used to demonstrate that subjects would reliably report the sensation of inhabiting a virtual body, from which vantage point they would be looking at themselves. In addition, they reacted autonomically in response to harm directed at their virtual body and displaced their bodily sense of self toward their doppelganger and away from their physical body.

Fourteen years ago I had the opportunity to experience most virtual reality (VR) systems developed by various companies here in the Silicon Valley. The displays in the goggles or helmets were very crude, with low resolution and washed out colors. The refresh rate was very low and lagged behind my motions by a second or so. Finally, the machines running the models were able to compute only primitive scenes. The result was that the systems made me sick and I had to get out.

I also had the chance to try out the system in Canon's Artlab in Roppongi, which was using an SGI Reality Engine for each eye and a third system to manage the model. It still took me a while to get used and I had to grab for the handrail.

So much for 1993.

Today, one of HP's most spectacular products is the Halo Collaboration Studio, also called HP's Time Machine by the marketing people. The key feature is that it creates an illusion of telepresence by mirroring the two studios. Because travel has become so painful and concomitantly companies have slashed travel budgets, there is a strong demand for high quality video collaboration systems.

Where are we today? VR systems have gotten so good that they can be used to create out-of-body experiences. Science magazine of 24 August 2007 has two articles and a perspective on the state of current research. The illusory self-localization to a position outside one's body shows that bodily self-consciousness and selfhood can be dissociated from one's physical body position.

However, we are still far from teleporting our selfhood across the Internet.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Mini review. Snakes in suits

This is the third review in this series I am calling 301.7—terrorism @ home, and as promised it is about the workplace. In the previous two reviews we visited The sociopath next door and Without conscience. In science, the Nineties were the decade of the brain, and so much progress was made—think for example functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)—Dr. Hare's latest book, written with Dr. Babiak, gives us a much more precise picture of the psychopath than Without conscience. Yet, there is still no other cure than capital punishment while concomitantly we have made our organizations more inviting for psychopaths.

Snakes in Suits book coverSnakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work should be required reading for all executives, but everybody who did not drop out of society should also study it slowly and carefully. You get your money's worth when you buy this book, because you get actually two books: an updated version of the relevant content of Without conscience and a manager's guide on how to avoid that your organization becomes another Enron (Drs. Bobiak and Hare quote this pearl from Enron's 1998 annual report: "We do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment. Ruthlessness, callousness, and arrogance don't belong here.")

Let's start with the research in psychopathy. Although as I mentioned above there is still no cure other than capital punishment, there are now many hundreds of researchers working in this field, compared to a few academics and forensic psychiatrists when Cleckley wrote The Mask of Sanity. There is now even a Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy (SSSP).

Yet, there is still confusion even in the name of this personality disorder. Although the terms psychopathy, sociopathy, and antisocial personality disorder are still used interchangeably, this latest book now makes the following distinction:

A personality disorder described by the personality traits and behaviors that form the basis of Snakes in Suits. Psychopaths are without conscience and incapable of empathy, guilt, or loyalty to anyone but themselves.
This is not a formal psychiatric condition. It refers to patterns of attitudes and behaviors that are considered antisocial and criminal by society at large, but are seen as normal or necessary by the subculture or social environment in which they developed. Sociopaths may have a well-developed conscience and a normal capacity for empathy, guilt, and loyalty, but their sense of right and wrong is based on the norms and expectations of their subculture or group. Many criminals might be described as sociopaths.
Antisocial personality disorder (APD)
This is a broad diagnostic category found in the DSM. Antisocial and criminal behaviors play a major role in its definition, and, in this sense, APD is similar to sociopathy. Some of those with APD are psychopaths, but many are not. The difference between psychopathy and APD is that the former includes personality traits such as lack of empathy, grandiosity, and shallow emotion that are not necessary for diagnosis of APD. APD is three to four times more common than psychopathy in the general population and in prisons. The prevalence of those we would describe as sociopathic is unknown but likely is considerably higher than that of APD.

The new results include that the number of psychopaths in the normal population is about 1%, and in the prison population they make up about 15%. When we do the math, the number of APDs is 4%. The important new number is that among high-potential executives psychopaths make up 3.5%. The average PCL: SV (see below) score for corporate psychopaths was 19 (out of a top score of 24), which is well within the research range for psychopathy. In evaluating these findings, it is important to note that scores of at this level indicate the presence of enough psychopathic features to be problematic for the organization (p. 193).

If you think these numbers are small, consider that they are responsible for at least half of the persistent serious and violent crimes committed in North America. As for executives, the authors bring up Enron, who was able to infiltrate and manipulate the top levels in government, caused billions of damages to California's utility users, and financially ruined thousands of workers in the collapse of the company.

PCL:SVOn a more positive note, the authors report and an improved version of the Psychopathy Checklist called PCL-R, and more importantly on a new Screening Version PCL: SV, which allows the quick scoring of subcriminal psychopaths by evaluating the domains and traits of the psychopath:

The person is:
  • superficial
  • grandiose
  • deceitful
The person:
  • lacks remorse
  • lacks empathy
  • doesn't accept responsibility
The person:
  • is impulsive
  • lacks goals
  • is irresponsible
The person has a history of
  • poor behavioral controls
  • adolescent antisocial behavior
  • adult antisocial behavior

The authors insist that scoring each item requires professional qualifications, adherence to the scoring instructions in the PCL: SV Manual, and access to extensive interview and collateral information. In particular, these traits are partially very similar to those with narcissistic personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder; aggressive or malignant narcissism being particularly difficult to distinguish from psychopathy. So, never ever call somebody a psychopath, because you have no way to know.

This is a bummer, because hopefully there will never be a law requiring psychopaths to wear a bell, yet they can kill us, or at least destroy our lives. Since this blog is on visual perception, if you think you might be a victim of a psychopath, your best bet may be to walk down the hall to a colleague with an fMRI machine and collaborate on an experiment. As these renderings from the paper Limbic abnormalities in affective processing by criminal psychopaths as revealed by functional magnetic resonance imaging [if this link fails, search the paper from the Library's site to get the full text] illustrate, psychopathy is easy to make out: the neural areas in which criminal psychopaths showed significantly less affect-related activity than noncriminal control subjects for the comparison of all affective phases versus all neutral phases from the random-effects analysis. Regions include (top left) posterior cingulate, caudal and rostral anterior cingulate, and ventral striatum (top right), right amygdala/hippocampus. Also shown are the regions in which criminal psychopaths showed greater affect-related activity than noncriminal control subjects and criminal nonpsychopaths. These regions include bilateral inferior frontal gyrus.

fMRI of a psychopath

Alternatively, if you do psychophysics, you can also rig up a fake color naming experiment where you present the suspect with words made of random characters and ask the subject to hit a key when the random characters form a valid word. In the set of valid words, intermix color names with emotional words like rape, sex, love, mother, etc. Probit analysis will quickly tell you if the reaction time is the same for all words (you are probably dealing with a psychopath), or takes longer for the emotional words (the subject is likely not a psychopath).

The authors write that the number of people with psychopathic personalities suggests that most of us will come across at least one psychopath during a typical day (p. 37). Their skills make them difficult to detect, because first, they are motivated to, and have talent for, "reading people" and sizing them up quickly. They identify a person's likes and dislikes, motives, needs, weak spots, and vulnerabilities. We all have "buttons" that can be pushed, and psychopaths, more than most people, are always ready to push them. Second, many psychopaths come across as having excellent oral communications skills. In many cases these skills are more apparent than real because of their readiness to jump right into a conversation without the social inhibitions that hamper most people, especially scientists. In the great card game of life, psychopaths know what cards you hold, and they do cheat.

Snakes in Suits also has several references to new research showing that psychopathy has a strong hereditary component. It runs in families and psychopathic parents will certainly nurture the condition in their evil offspring. Not only is psychopathy a package (syndrome, see below), but psychopaths come in packages.

Even when the authors tell us not to jump to conclusions and label somebody as a psychopath, do not hesitate to use your skills as a scientist to unmask them and to use the mechanisms in your organization to exterminate them. For example, here in HP we have the Rules of Business Conduct (brochure) as an effective tool to keep our work environment psychopath-free.

In my view, the weakest point of Snakes in Suits is that it tells us to just stay away from psychopaths. As I argued in a previous post on research in transition, it is our duty towards the organization for which we work, and as members of the scientific elite of society, to have a zero tolerance attitude against psychopaths and to get them locked up. Do not just climb on the armoire and listen through the ceiling what the pyromanics are doing in the attic, as Biederman did!

Psychological "autopsies" have shown that even if family members, close friends, and associates had noticed that all was not right with these individuals, they would not necessarily have appreciated the potential significance of the information and might not have known how to act on it. Therefore, do not hesitate and read Snakes in Suits now to educate yourself before it is too late and your life is jeopardy.

If you chicken out, be prepared for the psychopath at work to take you through three phases: assessment, manipulation, and abandonment. In the first phase, upon hiring, the psychopath will seek out the pawns he or she can use to do their work. They also build connections to executive management (see p. 123) to hit their detractors from above when the shit hits the fan. In the manipulation phase, psychopaths use their uninhibited social skills to create chaos in the organization. In the last phase—abandonment—once you are no longer useful, you will just get dumped like an old rag.

How does the psychopath get you in a fatal bond? You have three selves. The first is you inner or private personality, all the good and bad you subjectively know about yourself. The second is your public self or persona, how you want others to see you. The third is your reputation—how others see you. The psychopath is a master in getting you to fully disclose your persona and will create a mask, your simulated persona he or she will put on to create the psychopathic bond. In the abandonment phase, the psychopath will fully destroy your reputation. No kidding!

The authors describe (p. 132) how the employees most at risk of being manipulated into covering for psychopaths, actually carrying out their workload in exchange for things that are not readily apparent at the time, are highly skilled specialists with poor social skills. The latter prevents them from having a successful career and the high skills allow them to cover for the psychopath with little effort. All the psychopath has to do, is to give them the little attention and praise of their work they are not getting from their managers.

In a chapter titled Darkness and Chaos, Drs. Babiak and Hare review how organizations have changed in the past 50 years. From the 1940s to the 1970s, the relation between organization and employees was based on a "psychological contract." During the late 1970s, teamwork replaced traditional command-and-control hierarchies, and employees were entrusted with the decisions affecting their own work and group decisions about needed business improvements often took precedence Then change became a key method to run a business (see also my first post on research in transition).

However, in the 1980s and the 1990s, the rate of change accelerated too quickly and there were too many changes at once. The "psychological contract" was challenged, and it gave way eventually to a world where the employee-employer relationship was seen as a transitory one rather than a long-term partnership.

Since the turn of the century the rate of change has increased exponentially, so that organizations now find themselves in a constant state of transitioning (p. 159). Organizations are now characterized by unclear, outdated, unenforceable, or nonexistent work rules and policies; inconsistent risk taking; greater tolerance for controversial, perhaps even abusive, behaviors; and antiquated measurement systems and communication networks. The leader's job becomes increasingly complex but far less well defined—itself a frustrating thing. Traditional strategic planning, organizing, and motivating skills are of limited use.

Today, employees are treated as individual contributors, responsible for their own career advancement, and organizations act rewarding them with large salaries for innovative, fast-paced problem solving—as well as the chance to continue to work on new, exciting projects. The symbiosis of employees with entrepreneurial talents and the transitioning organization can lead to the constant reinventing, rebuilding, and reenergizing that both need for survival and growth. If well managed, the results can be impressive.

The gist of the book is, that while the old "psychological contract" was a deterrent for psychopaths and relegated them into the penal system, the transitioning organizations have become psychopath friendly, a bonanza for the psychopath. Rapid business growth, increased downsizing, frequent reorganizations, mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures have inadvertently increased the number of attractive employment opportunities for individuals with psychopathic personalities—without the need for them to correct or change their psychopathic attitudes and behaviors (p.164).

These "entrepreneurial pretenders" capitalize on the lessened reliance on rules and policies and the increased need for free-form decision making that characterize organizations in a chaotic state. Because a leader's ability to get people to do things is often of more importance than his or her technical capabilities to perform work tasks, pretenders lacking in real work expertise are not disadvantaged; their talents are assumed and their phony or exaggerated backgrounds often accepted at face value.

The authors have identified three main "psychopathic styles" in these pretenders. The classic style consists of those with a high score on each of the psychopathy dimensions (see table above): interpersonal, affective, lifestyle, and antisocial. They exhibit virtually all the features that define psychopathy.

The manipulative style consists of those with a high score on the interpersonal and affective dimensions, and somewhat lower scores on the lifestyle and antisocial dimensions. They manipulate, deceive, and charm but are less impulsive and antisocial than the other types. They are talkers more than doers.

The macho style consists of those with a high score on the affective, lifestyle, and antisocial dimensions, and a low score on the interpersonal dimension. They are aggressive, bullying, and abrasive individuals, less charming and manipulative than the other types. They are doers more than talkers.

A cynical reader may state that in their dysfunctionality these psychopaths may actually have value for the transitioning organization. However, Drs. Babiak and Hare warn that we can safely say that those who believe that "psychopathy is good" clearly have not had much exposure to the real thing. The problem is that you cannot choose which psychopathic traits you want and ignore the others; psychopathy is a syndrome, that is, a package of related traits and behaviors that form the total personality of the individual. Unfortunately for business, the "good" traits often conceal the existence of the "bad" when it comes to a psychopath (p. 194).

Moreover, visionary thinking, the ability to conceptualize the future of the organization, is a complex skill requiring a broad perspective, the ability to integrate multiple points of view, and a talent for looking into the future—that is, to think strategically. Psychopaths are not good at establishing and working towards long-term strategic objectives; they are much more opportunistic. They can weave compelling stories about situations and events of which they know very little into superbly believable visions of the future.

Snakes in Suits contains comprehensive tips on interviewing job candidates. Even for those trained in the study of psychopaths, one of the problems that researchers who interview psychopaths face is losing control of the interview. Psychopaths avoid answering direct questions, but rather introduce topics into the conversation that are interesting to the interviewer. Before you know it, you are the one being interviewed and your plan is derailed. You lose sight of what the interview was about in the first place (p. 223).

Many individuals believe that they are good at telling if someone is lying or not. Few of us can really tell. Even those who are trained to detect lying and deception are not particularly good at it (p. 231).

The book concludes with explicit practical tips on what to do when you find a psychopath in your organization. Study them before you have that dooming encounter.

Interwoven in the book is a play presenting a comprehensive case study. It might be tempting to read it ahead of the book's meat, but I was glad I refrained, because the play has a surprise ending you can only appreciate is you have learned about psychopaths during your diligent study of the book.

Links mentioned in the comments: