From time to time, you watch an educational video or read a book that changes the way you look at the world. Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky says that a book on chaos opened doors for him. Curt Stager’s “Deep Future” and “Your Atomic Self” were eye-openers for me.

My wife, Marsha, habitually asks friends what they are reading or watching on TV. She makes lists of books and movies that her friends say are worthwhile. You might do the same.

The other day my brother suggested I check out a book called “Inside the Criminal Mind,” so I did.

For years I have read of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Inspector Clouseau and James Bond, to name only a few of my personal heroes. But this was admittedly the first time I’d ever read anything that explained how the evil General Rancor could gleefully strap Barbara Dahl to the front of a rocket – or why so many master criminals could dream only of world domination.

No one knows why some people are born criminals. Please understand that when we speak of the criminal mind, we are not talking about folks who filch bread, sunglasses or even your pension. Nor are we talking about boys who give up petty crime at the age of 30 or our good friends who tell us stories that we know cannot be true.

Perhaps like you, for years I firmly believed that one’s environment and economic status were determining factors when it came to a life of crime. But this would not explain how five brothers brought up in poverty would enjoy a crime-free life while the sixth would have a criminal mind. One hundred years ago, the neo-Freudian thinker Alfred Adler pointed out that criminals are born criminal. Criminals do not think like we do. After studying criminals and interviewing them for years, the man who wrote this book came to the same conclusion that Adler did.

To the best of my knowledge, I’ve known only a few criminals. This is certainly because the cleverest criminal minds never do get caught. When it suits their needs, they can play the “respectability” game for years until they get what they want.

Below are some of the identifying features of criminal minds. When was the last time you had dealings with someone who would fit into the paradigm?

Teachers who have students who see requests or assignments as impositions might be dealing with a young criminal. Some are very bright and likable, with a very high opinion of themselves. They want excitement at any cost with no consideration of the consequences. Although criminals lack morality, ethics or simple humanity, they do know right from wrong. If their favorite crime were legal, they’d no longer do it because it wouldn’t be fun. They live for the rush of doing the forbidden.

Everything in the home belongs to a young criminal. He steals money from his parents and siblings and knows how to open the lock on his father’s liquor cabinet.

When taken to a counselor, the criminal child quickly turns the tables and points his finger at his parents. It’s always somebody else’s fault. A criminal wants to be seen as the victor, the tough guy, always the winner in a constant battle for power and control. He has an exaggerated view of his own importance.

Young criminals blackmail their parents with “If you don’t let me do what I want, I’ll do something that you won’t like.” The parents feel that they have failed if their child steals or enjoys smashing faces. A few despairing parents send their young criminals off to a private school or academy that will hopefully “straighten them out.”

A criminal loves to lie. With every other word, he presents you with his exaggerated view of himself. One would think that these obvious lies serve no purpose, for what is to be gained by lying? But the criminal gets a rush by thinking that he is deceiving others.

He sees the world as a game board over which he has total control. It is easier for him to win with negotiations because he never feels obligated to keep his promises. Believing that he is entitled to anything he wants, he takes what he wants and in the process exploits and laughs at hardworking and honest people.

In spite of all this, the criminal is not good at making responsible decisions. This doesn’t matter to him because he acts on impulse and is indifferent to consequences.

Please don’t ask yourself how Goldfinger, Professor Moriarty, General Rancor and countless other folks with criminal minds can find endless cadres of expendable people to aid them in their bloody pursuits of world domination and economic gain. If you do, you will soon come to the unpleasant conclusion that there are millions of people out there who honestly like them.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at his website:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/ MainePrivateRadio.html