Why attempts to diagnose Jake Paul as a sociopath are even worse than doing it with Trump

Is Jake Paul a sociopath? That question is asked almost immediately in the first episode of Shane Dawson’s new documentary series. For the past 50 years, psychology’s best practices have suggested that we’re all better off without such speculation, let alone from a prominent YouTube creator. That has in no way deterred Dawson, who devoted an eight-part series to the question.

Dawson attempts to reassure his audience through disclaimers and by responding to critics. But on a platform where influencers are often viewed as more trustworthy than traditional news sources, and where conspiracy and misinformation nevertheless run rampant, unofficial diagnoses like this have become more potentially harmful than ever.

Nearly half a century ago,…

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