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Author Topic: Should politicians have personality disorder tests?  (Read 10851 times)

Paul Anderson

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Paul Anderson  asked the Naked Scientists:

Hi Chris and team,

Can science be used in improving social problems in society, as opposed to inventing cars and finding a cure for cancers?
 
If all budding politicians and leaders in business had to undergo personality disorder tests before they could stand for office, might we have a bit more peace in the world?

I have a theory about people who rush past me on the motorway in red sports cars. I imagine them as rugby fanatics, either players or couch potatoes, who are self-centred and probably smoke and drink.
 
I suggest that violent sports such as rugby teach individuals to be pushy and self centred, aggressive, etc. And then society wonders why we are having more violence in the society, babies being killed, family violence, dairy shopkeepers being shot, etc. Admittedly drugs such as P, etc, are wrecking our society.
 
Is aggression genetic, either directly or indirectly? If an individual is considered a weakling in society, presumably there is genetics behind it. If the individual then decides to "pure the Aryan race" or whatever, and then tries to assert a position of power in some way, can we blame genetic directly or indirectly?  It might be an unfair accusation. I fall over and hit my head on a hard lump of clay. Do I ban cups and saucers because they are made of clay?!

Sorry I am rambling a bit, but I hope you can see something of value to discuss in the above.
 
Regards
 
Paul
 
NZ

What do you think?


 

Offline that mad man

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #1 on: 06/09/2008 18:22:26 »
Dr.David Owen (Lord Owen) an ex British politician and tagged as a serial resigner has come up with many theories about this and has written a number of books on the subject.

A book about what he calls the "Hubris" syndrome, a mental disorder common to Politicians in power and also one about mental illness in the heads of government.

Some of his ideas on this seem to make sense. The problem is, in order for them to be tested they would have to vote and pass a law that allows that to happen to them. I somehow don't think that will happen.

 

Offline Bored chemist

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #2 on: 06/09/2008 18:30:11 »
Many people would think that a desire to "rule the world" was a sign of mental health problems. It also seems to be a requirement for any aspiring politician.
 

Offline Counterpoints

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #3 on: 06/09/2008 19:57:51 »
We'd have to question the validity of such tests.  Because a test says someone has an "aggressive" personality, what does that mean?  Could it just be that he or she is assertive? Or that the questions weren't well formulated?  Also, who's to say the politicians would answer these tests honestly? 

 

Offline LeeE

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #4 on: 07/09/2008 11:57:31 »
Polytrickians should be limited to two elections.  Experience doesn't seem to improve their performance, so I can't see that it would make things any worse than they already are.  At the same time, it would limit the damage that any single one of them could do and reduce the amount of time they have to build their contempt for the people they're supposed to be serving.
 

Offline stevewillie

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #5 on: 13/09/2008 20:45:08 »
Why limit it to politicians? I think police officers and military personnel are screened already in many countries and you can judge the success of that for yourselves. But you could include teachers, university professors (few would pass),physicians, lawyers, judges  and so on. Where does it stop? Maybe even naked scientists should be screened.   
 

blakestyger

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #6 on: 17/09/2008 17:18:19 »
There does seem to be something causal here - when you think about it most of the problems with food are caused by farmers, problems with the legal system are caused by lawyers and governmental problems are caused by politicians. There are bound to be others...
 

Offline backgroundwhitenoise

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #7 on: 20/09/2008 04:12:43 »
Well I know a few things about the mental health profession, and it is a common idea that sadistic psychopaths become more charismatic and eliquint over time, i also noticed that in many countrys there is a minimum age for heads of government...

I also know that there is a section of the CIA that judges the mental stability of world leaders and other important people. They are trained to interpret the minds of their subject with ought ever meeting them, and knowing only what they can read about their subject. This was started in 1941 aimed at predicting future movements of Adolf Hitler. The group decided that because of how his father mistreated him, he started to care (way to much) about his mother, when she died shortly afterwards he went through sever emotional turmoil. Well where I'm going with this is those teams create very accurate picture of the mental health of their subjects (the 1940's team predicted some of Hitler's moves at the end of the war months before he had), and these teams are in work today, some have profiled Osama Biladen before 2001, so chances are any major political leader has already been profiled
 

Offline stevewillie

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #8 on: 22/09/2008 20:50:58 »
It's fairly easy for a person with a personality disorder to pass a test. It's often clear what the "right" answer is if you want to pass such as:

Do you usually park your shopping cart next to another in a narrow aisle?

When you go to a restaurant, do you always try to find a seat in a corner facing the door?

When the restaurant is crowded, does the sound of all those people chewing their food make you uncomfortable?

I think you can get the idea. (Actually, the "wrong" answer to the last two questions could indicate something worse than a personality disorder, but they get elected too.)




 
« Last Edit: 22/09/2008 21:00:27 by stevewillie »
 

paul.fr

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #9 on: 22/09/2008 21:15:19 »

When the restaurant is crowded, does the sound of all those people chewing their food make you uncomfortable?

 

Yes! But more irate than uncomfortable.
 

Offline stevewillie

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #10 on: 22/09/2008 22:22:59 »

When the restaurant is crowded, does the sound of all those people chewing their food make you uncomfortable?

 

Yes! But more irate than uncomfortable.

Yes, but I think you missed the point. Normal people can't hear people chewing (unless they're very close or very rude), especially against the noise of conversation et al in a crowded restaurant. A 'yes' to this question indicates a very disturbed person.
 

paul.fr

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #11 on: 23/09/2008 17:08:21 »

When the restaurant is crowded, does the sound of all those people chewing their food make you uncomfortable?

 

Yes! But more irate than uncomfortable.

Yes, but I think you missed the point. Normal people can't hear people chewing (unless they're very close or very rude), especially against the noise of conversation et al in a crowded restaurant. A 'yes' to this question indicates a very disturbed person.

What are you trying to say?
 

Offline stevewillie

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #12 on: 23/09/2008 21:47:08 »
I'm saying you misunderstood the question. This is another aspect of the problem with personality tests. I don't think you actually hear (nor does anyone actually hear) people chewing their food in a crowded restaurant. You would need very special equipment capable of picking up amplifying a very specific set of low frequency sounds while filtering out all others. The human ear can't do that, nor does any hearing aid that I know do that. However, someone might misunderstand the question and check "yes" leading to a false test result. It happens all the time. People who claim to "hear" people chewing in this circumstance are not hearing in the usual sense. They believe they are hearing something that is not in fact is coming through their auditory pathways. It's not like hearing 'voices'that aren't there either. It's more situational, often based on some fixation, like thinking people are staring when they're not. I think you fell into the kind of unintentional trap that often exists in these kinds of tests. You probably thought of a large group lip-smacking slobs eating their food in silence. That would make me irate too.
« Last Edit: 24/09/2008 05:20:51 by stevewillie »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #13 on: 24/09/2008 19:48:03 »
Is there any real evidence that these tests work?
By "work" I mean tell us more than we could judge for ourselves by listening to what they say and the way they say it and/ or seeing them on TV?
I know that what they say will partly be a result of their scriptwriters and even plain dishonesty but, as has been pointed out above, the response to a personallity test can be a lie anyway. Even if they are honest then, judging from the exchange above, the answer is often "it depends" which won't tell you anything.
 

Offline stevewillie

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #14 on: 24/09/2008 20:47:27 »
Is there any real evidence that these tests work?
By "work" I mean tell us more than we could judge for ourselves by listening to what they say and the way they say it and/ or seeing them on TV?
I know that what they say will partly be a result of their scriptwriters and even plain dishonesty but, as has been pointed out above, the response to a personality test can be a lie anyway. Even if they are honest then, judging from the exchange above, the answer is often "it depends" which won't tell you anything.

It's been a while since I've had anything to do with so called personality inventories. Also, it's very difficult to get good follow-up to evaluate a correlation matrix. These matrices can be analyzed statistically. A true positive means the test predicted a personality disorder (PD)correctly. A false positive means that the test predicted PD incorrectly (they 'convicted' an innocent person.) A true negative means the test correctly predicted no PD. A false negative means the future ax murderer goes free. Things may be better today, but I doubt it. Follow up is very difficult in these kinds of studies, unless of course, the ax murderer strikes. I very much doubt these tests can reasonably be evaluated with any degree of rigor unless you live a very regimented authoritarian society. Prison populations have been used. Guess what? They showed a lot of people had PD. (I went into some detail re the correlation matrix for others that might read this.)

For people in the public eye, we can observe their ongoing behavior. In that sense, I agree that we can make judgements when they campaign for office and that's probably as good as any personality test result.
« Last Edit: 24/09/2008 23:47:51 by stevewillie »
 

Offline stevewillie

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #15 on: 24/09/2008 21:02:18 »

When the restaurant is crowded, does the sound of all those people chewing their food make you uncomfortable?

 

Yes! But more irate than uncomfortable.

Paul,

Got your reply on John Law's chemistry question. You've been faking me out, haven't you?  And what about the birds eating vomit? Got me into that one too.
« Last Edit: 24/09/2008 21:06:22 by stevewillie »
 

paul.fr

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #16 on: 26/09/2008 22:39:26 »

Paul,

Got your reply on John Law's chemistry question. You've been faking me out, haven't you?  And what about the birds eating vomit? Got me into that one too.

Ha Ha, yes. But the replies you gave made for an interesting topic, so you see, i may have just been being silly but without that sillyness the topic would not have been as informative as it now is.
 

Offline stevewillie

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #17 on: 26/09/2008 23:32:09 »

Paul,

Got your reply on John Law's chemistry question. You've been faking me out, haven't you?  And what about the birds eating vomit? Got me into that one too.

Ha Ha, yes. But the replies you gave made for an interesting topic, so you see, i may have just been being silly but without that sillyness the topic would not have been as informative as it now is.

Yes. I've been going around to pet stores seeing if there's any interest a new cheap nutritious bird food.
 

Offline Louise

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #18 on: 14/03/2010 04:43:18 »
Sounds like a fantastic idea to me. Unfortunately, then you might not find anyone crazy enough to run. ;)
 

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Should politicians have personality disorder tests?
« Reply #18 on: 14/03/2010 04:43:18 »

 

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