Michael Welner for Pacific Standard

August 25, 2015 5:39 am

For the last decade, forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner has led a curious, self-funded effort to create something he calls the Depravity Standard, a crowd-sourced instrument for objectively scoring the level of evil associated with humanity’s most twisted crimes. But can a scientist really define the outer edges of our morality?

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Many thanks to Creative Director Taylor Le

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner, who has interviewed some of the most high-profile criminals of the past two decades, is working to standardize and quantify human evil.

Dr. Michael Welner in his office.

The survey version of the Depravity Standard contains 25 aggravating factors, which respondents rate on a scale from one to 100. Armed with the data, Welner hopes to create an algorithm to inform sentencing decisions.

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