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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About Rod Dreher
Rod Dreher is director of publications at the John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropy that focuses on science, religion, economics and morality. A journalist with over 20 years of experience, Dreher has written for The Dallas Morning News, the New York Post, and other newspapers and journals. He is author of the book "Crunchy Cons." Archives of his previous Beliefnet blog, "Crunchy Con," can be found here. He and his family live in Philadelphia.