Rod Dreher

Just up on the Templeton Foundation’s YouTube channel is a nine-part conversation between the eminent primatologist and psychologist Frans de Waal and Discover magazine’s Carl Zimmer about de Waal’s celebrated new book, “The Age of Empathy.” Note especially the final segment, in which de Waal talks about empathy’s “dark side.” He explains that a successful torturer has to have a certain capacity to understand what his victim is feeling in order to be good at his malign task. Similarly, says de Waal, Bernie Madoff, “who is probably a psychopath,” had to be exceptionally good at empathizing with his marks in order to swindle them so successfully.

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