In Chapter 9 of The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson begins to finally realize the true dangers of Bob Hare's psychopath checklist, as well as its relation to criminal profiling. As Hare and Ronson meet in a crowded hotel and stop in the bar for a few drinks. Ronson commented to Hare about how thinks the PCL-R could be misused as the whole world could become like witch-finders, and Hare agrees that he fears it is being misused. After meeting with Hare that night, Ronson decides to look for a man named Paul Britton, a criminal profiler. Britton's job was to assess the crimes and come up with the type of person who would commit such a crime. Britton was great at what he did, often perfectly profiling and catching many of the murderers in the crimes he assessed. But then in 1992, Britton profiled correctly, but it lead the police to the wrong killer, Colin Stagg, a man who fit the profile even better than the actually killer did. Both the police and Britton tried to force Stagg into a confession, through use of an undercover officer. Stagg was eventually arrested and later released as they caught the right killer, Robert Napper. After such a horrible guess, Britton lost his reputation.
I found these two chapters to be very difficult to follow. I was happy to see, however, that Ronson is beginning to realize how hazardous it can be to just go around labeling people as psychopaths. In chapter 8, I think it was obvious that David Shayler had some kind of mental illness, but I don't necessarily think that he is a psychopath. In chapter 9, I was upset to read how they "honey-trapped" Stagg. Even as Stagg persisted that he was not the killer, they tried to lure a confession out of him. It is not fair to put someone through that kind of trauma just because you believe they fit the description of a killer. I find this to be very disturbing as it happens all the time in the news. I don't know how the criminal justice systems so easily can lock up innocent people for 25+ years for crimes they didn't even commit.