Checklist: A Measure of Evil

Hilary Pryor
Victoria • 2005 • 45 min. • Beta SP
Produced by Hilary Pryor and Verna Hall  /  Written by Hilary Pryor and Verna Hall

“When a psychopath commits a violent act, they’re not doing it because they’re malicious or malevolent or evil. They’re doing it because they don’t give a damn.”

What if there was a test that could detect a psychopath before they committed a crime? Checklist: A Measure of Evil examines the characteristics of a psychopath and introduces us to the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R) created by Dr. Robert Hare, Professor Emeritus of Psychology UBC which claims to be just such a test. By Dr. Hare’s estimate 1% of the population are psychopaths – i.e. there are 300,000 psychopaths in Canada alone - but not all of these people are in prison. They could just as easily sit in the office cubicle next to yours.

Dr. Hare’s Checklist is regarded as the best single predictor of recidivism ever created and now Hare and colleagues have devised the B-scan to help businesses to keep their corridors psychopath-free.

But how well do these tests really work? Are they fair? Dr. Stephen Hart, a former student of Dr. Hare, has concerns: “The problem comes when people believe that you can take these kinds of numbers and turn them into a prediction about the future.”

And Dr. Tan Dineen expresses her concern that the PCL-R and its business version, the B-Scan, is an element of the “Psychology Industry” rather than a product of good, critical science.

“The ethical complexity of this topic is what first grabbed my attention,” says director Hilary Pryor. “How do we find a balance between personal freedoms and public security? How do we protect the public from predatory violence while still upholding the rights of the individual?”

The debate continues in this fascinating documentary - a compassionate and objective view of the complex problem of the psychopath in society.

Copyrigh t© 1998-2007 Tana Dineen,