Some people believe that the struggle between good and evil is nothing more than a struggle between knowledge and ignorance, and that good will always prevail because everyone is basically decent and all it takes to overcome the wickedness within them is to somehow educate them about the wrongness of their ways.

While we assume everyone has a conscience restraining them from evil, studies by Harvard psychologist Martha Stout, Ph.D., reveal that about four percent of the population has a sociopathic personality disorder.

In other words, one out of every 25 people is a psychopath - a person with no sense of concern for the well-being of others and no feelings of remorse, regardless of what sort of harmful or immoral action they undertake.

A psychopath is able to lie, steal, cheat and kill with no feelings of sorrow or regret. Sometimes their only motive is the thrill of inflicting pain. This gives the psychopath a competitive advantage over a normal person.

The high incidence of psychopath dysfunction has a profound disturbing effect on the rest of human society.

Violent psychopaths (batterers, child predators, rapists, murderers, serial killers, etc.) are easy to identify. Prisons are overpopulated with them. Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, the BTK Killer, the Green River Killer, the Boston Strangler, etc. were all serial killers who had no personal moral qualms about their actions.

However, there are also many psychopaths who are outwardly acceptable, intelligent and skillful at blending into ordinary society. These are the dangerous ones who are able to deceive and negatively influence others.

Political Ponerology, a term introduced by psychologist Andrew M Lobaczewski, Ph.D., is the science of the nature of evil for political purposes. This occurs when socially accepted psychopaths attain political leverage.

The only difference between an ordinary psychopath (a violent, impulsive bully with no conscience) and a socially accepted psychopath is social status, intellect, ambition and being in the right place at the right time.

Basically, successful (socially accepted) psychopathic individuals move into positions of power (in politics, business, military, etc.) and link up with others of similar ilk to form cohesive internal structures that have the ability to take over entire movements. They often rise to the top through cunning, deception and ruthlessness.

Psychopathic leaders spin their version of the truth (especially when they control the media) while distorting reality. Eager to please, people tend to be blindly loyal to their leaders and go along with the crowd. This leads to a "my country right or wrong" attitude where decent people perpetuate the evil of their psychopathic masters.

Hitler and the Nazis were a prime example of Political Ponerology. They introduced a scientific methodology (psychological propaganda) in Germany to rally the populace into a mass hypnotic frenzy of hate. France and England watched in horror as the Nazis marched across Europe; hesitating too long, then making concessions with Germany. The subsequent agreements with Hitler (a psychopath) were worthless, costing millions of lives.

Stalin (a psychopath) killed millions, Saddam Hussein (a psychopath) killed hundreds of thousands, etc.

Clearly, negotiating with a psychopath legitimizes the psychopath and furthers his stronghold over his people.

Appeasement doesn't work on a person without a conscience. All the energy spent by naive peace protesters is for naught. You can love your enemy all you want but if your enemy is incapable of love he will destroy you.

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Winston Churchill

The world is a cruel, violent place. Studies have determined the origin of evil is genetic. A small percentage of people are born without a conscience (psychopathic) and have a predisposition to commit evil acts on others.

This notion is difficult to accept. Ordinary people prefer to believe everyone on this planet would act as they would act. But ordinary people must contend with pure evil somewhere on this planet every day. It won't go away.

Evil people dwell among us. They enjoy inflicting pain on the rest of the world and are incapable of change.

Some of them rise to the top and gain control. It's our duty to recognize them and deal with them properly.

Life is simple. You just need to think for yourself, be kind to others, bathe regularly and oppose evil.

* * *

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He can be contacted at