Surrounded by psychopaths and idiots. How to defend yourself

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Who should you fear most: the psychopaths trying to manipulate you or the idiots clogging your social media feeds with crazy conspiracy theories. These two books will help you decide.

According to one book, there's a psychopath around every corner trying to con you into doing their bidding. So does that make you a fool? Only if you believe this bizarre theory without asking any questions, say the authors of our other book of the week, The Psychology of Stupidity.

Surrounded by Psychopaths

Or, How To Stop Being Exploited By Others

By Thomas Erikson

Vermilion

Watch out - there’s a psychopath around every corner planning how they’re going to manipulate you.

According to the author, who’s a Swedish behavioural expert, psychopaths aren’t nearly as rare as we’re led to believe. “According to the latest scientific findings, they comprise between 2-4 percent of the population. That’s a significant number of people,” he writes. “Just think about it: if you were a shepherd with one thousand sheep and you heard that there were two wolves in the vicinity, what would you like to know more about? The sheep . . . or the wolves?”

But Erikson uses the term psychopath rather loosely to encompass anyone who makes use of charm and manipulation to get their way. Based on that definition just about everyone you know should be viewed with suspicion.

In the book he not only gives tips about how to spot these people but also a complete rundown of the tricks they will use on different personality types to get what they want.

There’s also not just one run-of-the-mill psychopath. They come in many shapes and colours – they can be charming or domineering or passive aggressive. But they all have one thing in common: to exploit you. Erikson details the techniques they use- from gaslighting to love bombing to punishing you with a dose of the silent treatment – and suggests how you should respond.

You may start thinking that Erikson is a tad paranoid, but I guarantee that by the time you reach the end you’ll be taking a good hard look at friend, family and colleagues and trying to spot any tell-tale signs of psychopathic tendencies.

 

 


 

The Psychology of Stupidity

Edited by Jean-François Marmion

Macmillan

 

Stupidity! It's all around us - from friends who share way-out conspiracy theories on Facebook and then defend them to the hilt to idiots who months into Covid are still debating the necessity of wearing face masks. But what to do about it? The problem is that stupidity comes in many shapes and forms.

In this fascinating book some of the world’s leading psychologists and thinkers try to explain stupidity in all its forms. From morons to idiots to *ssholes – they’re all here. Depressingly, according to one of the writers, thanks to the internet and social networks we’re now drowning in stupidity.

This book explains that in order to confront it you first need to understand it. It covers topics such as:

  •      Why smart people sometimes believe in utter nonsense
  •      Why trying to debate with fools is futile
  •      How our lazy brains sometimes trick us into making the wrong decision
  •      Why we find meaning in coincidences
  •      And most importantly: why the stupidest people don’t think they’re stupid and why the worst stupidity of all is thinking that you’re smart. In a nutshell: if you think you're immune, you're probably the biggest fool in the room
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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