06 April 2009

Evil Genes: Barbara Oakley to Speak at Montana Tech in Butte

"Bad to the Bone: Horrors!–Can Our Genes Help Make Us Act Badly?"
by Barbara Oakley

Library Auditorium, Montana Tech--Monday, April 6th, at 7:00 PM

Ever wonder about the "successfully sinister," Machiavellian people in your life? Here are some pithy quotations from the book Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend by Barbara Oakley. It’s an excellent read, and recommended highly for anyone that must deal with manipulative people.

· “[Machiavellians are] capable of great sympathy and comforting but often may lack true empathy”

· This lack of empathy is shown by being “oblivious to the hurt they cause others”

· Machiavellians employ a phenomenon called splitting: “[the Machiavellian] swings between idealizing and devaluing people” (they pit people against one another in part by dividing them into “white hats” and “black hats”)

· Machiavellians employ the phenomenon of “Gaslighting…deny another’s perceptions, memory, or very sanity,” in part by “changing the facts to fit their feelings.”

· “[Machiavellians] set the emotional tone, perhaps through mirroring and emotional contagion, for their followers and those around them.”

· “At the professional level, they can beguile and mislead…as they set subordinates, colleagues, and superiors at each other’s throats.”

· “[Machiavellians succeed through their] extraordinary ability to stack any deck in their favor, their relentless need for control, and their self-serving ruthlessness…”

· “the Machiavellian can play a cutthroat game of backbiting, back scratching, building a personal power base, reporting falsely rosy pictures of their work, demonizing adversaries, and siphoning assets…”

· “[For supervisors and co-workers] it is often much easier to simply ignore, evade, justify, or silence the speech of anyone who does speak out than to constructively act [to curb the Machiavellian].” There is “a tendency for those in power…to ignore the message.”

If you have ever experienced this type of person, don’t miss this talk!
From Barbara Oakley's flier:

This is a great opportunity to enjoy an outside the box look at interdisciplinary connections between psychology and many different fields, including history, sociology, politics, and biology. Professor Barbara Oakley uses neuroscience and evolutionary theory--as well as an unusually adventurous background that has earned her the nickname of a "female Indiana Jones," to knit together disparate pieces of research that point toward answers to one of the most compelling questions today--why do some people intentionally inflect emotional and physical pain on others?
What Others Have Said about Evil Genes:
“A fascinating scientific and personal exploration of the roots of evil, filled with human insight and telling detail.”
—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor, Harvard University, and author of The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Stuff of Thought
About the Speaker
As a recent Vice President of the IEEE-Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, as well as a Fellow in the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, Dr. Oakley has worked hard to help build a public understanding of the bioengineering profession. Her research work involves investigations of the complex relationship between neurocircuitry and social behavior. Her recent best-selling book: Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend, was researched over a period of six years, and lauded by a number of top-ranked psychiatrists, psychologists, and neuroscientists from institutions such as Harvard, Columbia, Berkeley, and King's College, London.


troutbirder said...

Hmmm. Very interesting. I will look for this book my next trip to Barnes and Noble. Some years ago a man who fit the profile exactly, instituted a reign of terror over our school district. After a two year long struggle, the help of some brave friends and a few of those Machiavellian manuevers on my part, he was driven from our temple of learning.

Deedee said...

Fascinating. You always have such interesting things to recommend. This sounds like a great read.

EcoRover said...

Troutbirder, the frustration is that even when we can identify the Machiavellians or successfully sinister, we cannot always control them. Maybe we can hire you as a consultant on this!

Hi Deedee, I was always sceptical of "genetic determinism," but this book convinced me.