Virginia Is for Psychos

I don’t know how good the social science is, but this is too good to pass up. A study by Ryan H. Murphy, an economics professor at Southern Methodist University, has ranked the 48 contiguous U.S. states by “psychopathy,” or anti-social behavior.

It is disconcerting to see the Old Dominion ranking No. 10 on the list. Are Virginians that whacko? Perhaps so — and I have a theory to explain it. Murphy eliminated Washington, D.C., from the ranking because its standardized score was off the carts — almost twice as high as the highest-ranking state, Connecticut. My theory is that psychopathic behavior in D.C. spills over into the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Please note that Maryland is ranked No. 11, right behind Virginia. I hypothesize that the Old Dominion’s score was diluted by regions of state that are sociologically similar to neighboring North Carolina, West Virginia, and Tennessee, among the least psycho states in the country. If we could isolate Northern Virginia, we would find that it is almost as loco as D.C.

Treading where Murphy dared not go, I have correlated each state’s psychopathology “Z score” with its vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Clearly, there is correlation between psychopathy and voting for Hillary! The R² suggests that 27% of the variability between states can be explained by the relationship between the two variables. Haha!

Hey, don’t look at me. It’s not my data. I’m just plotting the correlation.

OK, OK, I’m peddling junk science. There may be other explanations. Except for the outlier of Wyoming, there appears to be a strong correlation between urban states and the presence of anti-social traits in the population. Urban centers are more transient than small towns and rural areas. People are more anonymous and have weaker social bonds. For entirely distinct reasons, urban areas also lean left politically. The correlation is between psychopathy and urbanism, not psychopathy and liberalism.

If we could show that the psychopaths, not the urban populations where they live, vote for Democrats, we might on to something. Until then, I’m just playfully engaging in the same kind of nonsense as social scientists who purport to show that liberals are smarter, better informed or otherwise more virtuous than conservatives.

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10 responses to “Virginia Is for Psychos”

  1. CrazyJD Avatar


    Do you know if the basis for this data is the Hare Psychopathy checklist?

  2. Anyone who drives in Northern Virginia would agree with the study. Only, I would rank MD slightly higher (worse than) VA. It’s the MD drivers who cross the River into Virginia (because MD refuses to build any new roads into DC), then cut you off on your own Virginia commuter routes! Psychopathy is the least of my reactions.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      I spend time in both states and the people from Maryland just can’t drive worth a hill of beans. Do they teach driver’s ed? There are two speed for Maryland drivers – 20 mph below the speed limit or 30 mph above the speed limit.

  3. djrippert Avatar


    This column pissed me off so much I punched out the windows in my house. My hands are so cut up I can barely type and it will be weeks before I can start choking miscreants again. Ugh!

  4. Interesting correlation, but a better measure would be the size and statistical significance of the slope, not simply the overall R-squared. That is, does the trend line you highlighted have a statistically significant non-zero slope? You can’t eyeball it to tell because any line can look steep or flat simply by changing the unit of measurement.
    Also, there is one observation in the top right that appears to be an outlier. I am not in favor of eliminating outliers for no reason, but outliers sometimes indicate a measurement error, a coding error, etc. Worth looking in to.
    Can you send me your raw data so I can play with this? Cheers, Jonathan

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if I totally misused the data. Like I said, I was peddling junk science for my amusement. Unfortunately, I did not save the raw data — I didn’t think it was worth saving.

      The outlier in the top right was Washington, D.C.

  5. Okay, I see that the outlier is the District, which you dealt with.
    Still, can you send your data so I can play with this? Thanks!

  6. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd


    What percentage of our citizens display “psychopathy,” or anti-social behavior?


    All citizens to the extent that they disagree with, think, or act in a manner, contrary to modern day Progressive theory, belief, ideology, and/or practice.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Earlier I spoke about the book What is the Matter with Kansas, calling it “surely among the most important (and evil) books written in the past 20 years. Its importance arose NOT out of the fact that it was a good book at telling us about its purported subject. Rather it tells us much about the political movement that it inflamed to the point of now destroying itself, the party of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and of those late night talk show hosts, comedians, and Hollywood types spewing out vitriol and poison. And the hatred pumped onto our society daily by mainstream and social media.”

      Last evening I reread the first 76 pages of that hugely influential and popular book “What Happened to Kansas.” Here are the last two paragraphs of the first chapter, characterizing Republican’s generally the kings of anti-social behavior or “psychopathy.” Read and decide for yourself.

      “My aim is to examine the backlash (among Republican’s) from top to bottom—its theorists, its elected officials, and its foot soldiers—and to understand the species of derangement that has brought so many ordinary people to such a self-damaging political extreme. I will do so by focusing on a place where the political shift (to the right) has been dramatic: my home state of Kansas, a reliable hotbed of leftist reform movements a hundred years ago that today ranks among the nation’s most eager audiences for bearers of backlash buncombe. The state’s story, like the long history of the backlash itself, is not one that will reassure the optimistic or silence the cynical. And yet if we are to understand the forces that have pulled us so far to the right, it is to Kansas that we must turn our attention. The high priests of conservatism like to comfort themselves by insisting that it is the free market, that wise and benevolent god, that has ordained all the economic measures they have pressed on America and the world over the last few decades. But in truth it is the carefully cultivated derangement of places like Kansas that has propelled their movement along. It is culture war that gets the goods.

      From the air-conditioned heights of a suburban office complex this may look like a new age of reason, with the Web sites singing each to each, with a mall down the way that every week has miraculously anticipated our subtly shifting tastes, with a global economy whose rich rewards just keep flowing, and with a long parade of rust-free Infinitis purring down the streets of beautifully manicured planned communities. But on closer inspection the country seems more like a panorama of madness and delusion worthy of Hieronymous Bosch: of sturdy blue-collar patriots reciting the Pledge while they strangle their own life chances; of small farmers proudly voting themselves off the land; of devoted family men carefully seeing to it that their children will never be able to afford college or proper health care; of working-class guys in mid-western cities cheering as they deliver up a landslide for a candidate whose policies will end their way of life, will transform their region into a “rust belt,” will strike people like them blows from which they will never recover.” END QUOTE with words in parenthesis added.)

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