When Narcissists Kill

I just binge-watched some episodes of the television series Forensic Files. The purpose of that long-running series is to show how forensic science has been used to solve murder cases. However, nearly every episode also serves as a documentary about narcissism. Narcissism is an inflated self-esteem that leads people to expect admiration and special treatment. It is one of three bad personality traits (the Dark Triad) that often give rise to bad behaviors, including murder. The other two traits of the Dark Triad are psychopathy (callous disregard for other people’s feelings) and Machiavellianism (a desire to manipulate and control other people).

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Star Trek’s Real Mission: To Teach Us How Civilized Adults Make Decisions

In the opening credits to the original Star Trek series, Captain James T. Kirk tells us that the United Starship Enterprise’s five-year mission is “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” This implies that the main theme of the show is exploration. Yet the crew of the Enterprise often go to familiar places, including 20th century Earth. Nevertheless, every episode deals with another important theme: how civilized adults make good decisions, while uncivilized or immature people usually make bad ones.

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Why Ambitious People Should Watch Ricky Gervais in The Office

An ambitious person is someone who wants to rise socially. Ambitious people want the power, property, and prestige that go along with being in a higher social rank. Ricky Gervais’s character David Brent, from the BBC television series The Office and the movie Life on the Road, is ambitious. In The Office, Brent wanted other people to look up to him as a philosopher and an inspiring leader, to like him as a friend, and to laugh at his jokes. In Life on the Road, Brent pursues his dream of being a successful singer/songwriter. Yet Brent did a poor job as the manager of the sales office of a paper company, and his music career is going nowhere. Psychiatrists have a word to describe people who are trying to occupy a higher social rank than other people think they deserve: narcissist. By studying David Brent’s failures, you can figure out how to succeed. I explain this in more detail in my book Don’t Feed the Narcissists! The Mythology and Science of Mental Health.

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Don’t Let Narcissists Destroy Your Company From Within

Narcissists are people who have an inflated self-esteem. Narcissists feel that they are entitled to the power, prestige, and property that go along with high social rank. Unfortunately, they lack the intelligence, the social skills, and maybe even the work ethic to earn the rank that they desire, or to handle the responsibilities that go along with that rank. In a business setting, narcissists can create problems when they are promoted to a position that is higher than they can handle.

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The History of Black History Month

In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced that the second week in February should be “Negro History Week.” This week was chosen because African-Americans had long been celebrating the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14). Continue reading “The History of Black History Month”

Is #ScienceMarch Really Against Science?

Some scientists on Reddit have called for scientists and science advocates to organize a march on Washington (#ScienceMarch), with satellite marches elsewhere. The Web site objects to the Trump administration’s policies of slashing funding for scientific research and restricting scientists from communicating the results of taxpayer-funded research. Yet because the organizers have also spoken out against racism and sexism, they have been accused of being against science. But if you care about science, you must also care about scientists, even the black and female ones. And if you are a human being with a conscience, you must also think about how scientific work is being done, and how the results are being used.

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Happy Year of the Rooster!

The Chinese year of the rooster begins on January 28, 2017 and will end on February 15, 2018. The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, which means that it has months based on the phases of the moon but that it occasionally adds an extra month (intracalary month) to keep the calendar more or less in step with the seasons of the year.

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Can Donald Trump Read?

Donald Trump is a graduate of an Ivy League university. He gained national fame as the co-author, or at least the main character, of a best-selling book, The Art of the Deal. Yet Donald Trump did not write one word of that book. Moreover, it is likely that Donald Trump cannot read well. Neither could Nelson Rockefeller. Like Rockefeller, Trump was born into such a rich family that he could get by without learning to read and write. This would mean that he cannot read the executive orders he issues, or the legislation he signs into law. It also means that he cannot read intelligence briefings.

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Martin Luther King: I Have Been to the Mountaintop

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., died on April 4, 1968. Yet he still speaks to us, through his writings and through his recorded speeches. Here is a complete audio recording of his last speech, which is called his I Have Been to the Mountaintop speech, which he delivered the day before his death. He knew that his days were numbered, and he urged the rest of us to carry on.

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Why Is New Year’s Day on January 1?

How long is a year? On what day does a year begin? These are questions that people struggled with for thousands of years. To answer them, ancient people developed the classical liberal arts. The liberal arts curriculum included the Quadrivium, which were the four arts of number, space, and time:

  • Mathematics was the art of number.
  • Geometry was the art of number and space.
  • Music was the art of number and time.
  • Astronomy was the art of number, space, and time.

Astronomy helps you understand your place in the universe. It also enables you to figure out how long a year is. The choice of when they new year should start is arbitrary.

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