“They hide among us.”
This apparently is a trait of the cunning psychopath, who, unwilling to publicise his appalling project in advance, selfishly chooses to keep it to himself… for the time being.
The paper claims that not only do they hide among us, but they do it “sometimes as the most successful people because they are ruthless and superficially charming.”
To give the reader a little shiver down the spine, and just before the compulsory image of Hannibal Lecter, they casually drop in the detail that statistically at least, and without realising it, chances are that you know at least one of them.
*Fade in eerie music*
Like all good thrillers, this story has a subplot, the protagonist of which is played here by that paper’s algorithm.
And like an innocent member of the public, going about his or her business and whistling a happy tune, they stumble across the madman’s project ahead of time and, well, you know how these encounters are traditionally resolved.
So the algorithm is processing away, dutifully searching for the right ad to place against the copy, muttering to itself, “ruthless…superficially charming…no regard for others…most successful people in society…” and by triangulating these psychological clues comes up with the name of…David Beckham!
There he is! Right there! With those fashionable tattoos poking out from beneath his shirt sleeves suddenly taking on a far more sinister significance.
Furthermore, in their scientific piecing together of what differentiates the psychopath and the sociopath, the paper solemnly announces that psychos are born and the other lot are made, a detail that the algorithm faithfully serves up as well.
Of course, anyone returning to the scene now will find the evidence removed and the page looking like butter wouldn’t melt.
Indeed, on repeatedly refreshing the page, the most common ad served in that slot is one for Heinz baby food.
Could there be a more innocent product?
Look behind the unnaturally calm facade, though, and Saint Peacock is prepared to wager that the old algorithm is stuffed into an oil drum with its head stoved in, resting at the bottom of a flooded quarry.
No further questions, your honour.