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Conversation Killers

What percentage of humanity do you think was born jackasses, and what percentage was made that way?

Does the percentage change across cultures?

And to what degree is another person’s jackassery objectively knowable?



I suspect jackassery is almost completely determined by environment.

My gut response is that it’s about the same cross-culturally. But then when you compare extreme examples – is it really possible that Texas and Japan have the same percentage of assholes?

Jackassery is mostly in the eye of the beholder, I think. There must be some people out there who think Donald Trump just be tellin’ like it is.

Some context, maybe?

My sense is environment, too, and influence: those who are prone to it find jackasses who teach them the trade. I sometimes imagine that, way back in history, there is a patron saint of jackasses, even an originary one—were more of us descended from Israel, I’d put the blame squarely on Joseph. But I take your point culturally speaking: maybe non-Western cultures have a way of handling the jackasses that gives them humility? Perhaps that is how the Japanese came to work so much.

I must protest your claim about the Donald: at some point, either when you gain too much power or too much money or both, you lose your ability to be a jackass and become simply an asshole. His fans, on the other hand…