Catastrophe looms over Antarctica; why you should release your inner psychopath


The Adelie penguin is being threatened by climate change. (iStockphoto/iStockphoto)
December 3, 2012
Ecology
Antarctica faces new threat
“Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land,” by James B. McClintock

Antarctica’s extreme conditions make the continent virtually uninhabitable for humans; it’s easy to imagine that nothing can survive there. Yet despite the bitter cold and months-long darkness, wildlife not only survives but thrives amid the great expanse of snow and ice. These indigenous species now face a new threat: climate change. In “Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land,” marine ecologist and Antarctica expert James B. McClintock examines the impact of increasing snowfalls, melting ice and ocean acidification on the continent’s ecology. According to McClintock, Adelie penguins have been nearly wiped out, and king crab that once prowled the deep seafloor are moving into more-shallow waters, a migration the author describes as “devastating” for the fragile Antarctic shelf. McClintock also details his numerous visits to Antarctica and offers a vivid portrait of the wildlife — including baleen whales, leopard seals, giant squid and predatory worms — that remains.

Neuroscience
‘We all go a little mad sometimes’
“The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success,” Scientific American/FSG

In the 1960 film “Psycho,” Anthony Perkins’s character, Norman, spoke one of the most memorable movie lines of all time: “We all go a little mad sometimes.” According to a new book by psychologist Kevin Dutton, the Hitchcockian villain may have been more right than anyone realized. “The Wisdom of Psychopaths” looks inside the lives and into the brain scans of psychopaths to reveal that this population is made up of more than just serial killers, rapists and terrorists. The book presents the theory that everyone possesses psychopathic tendencies: fearlessness, confidence, focus and ruthlessness. Some people use these characteristics to become successful businessmen and doctors, while others follow the same instincts to pursue lives of crime. He examines ways that people can incorporate some psychopathic qualities into their everyday lives to prompt productive behaviors. “Of course, it’s in no way my intention to glamorize the actions of psychopaths,” he writes. “But there’s evidence to suggest that psychopathy, in small doses at least, is personality with a tan — and that it can have surprising benefits.”

Maggie Fazeli Fard

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