# With thoughts that kill: What if one person had that power?

The year is 1970, and the hooded man sits in the very back of an abandoned building with a mysterious object in his hands.

A month ago, he had a name, a life, wishes, dreams, and aspirations. Then everything changed when he stumbled across a struggle between four-dimensional creatures during a hiatus in the mountains, and one of them dropped an artifact and left it there.

It contained a set of instructions that changed its language based on the reader as it was woven of handwavium and the ink was processed from a liquid form of lalalaicanthearyouium.

Think of an entity's given name while holding the artifact and looking at an image of any form of the entity or the entity itself and that entity will perish. Use the dials on the artifact to control how the entity will die and that person will die immediately.

He looks at a photo. We see a flicker of... someone. A terrorist? Or is it a Prime Minister?

With this artifact, a real life Death Note, how can this man maximise his influence over society and how could he keep getting away with it without being identified?

Some things we know:

• He acts based off what he believes is best for humanity. He'll kill a serial killer or terrorist on the loose but he'll also remove a person from power if he thinks it's best.
• He's a middle-aged American.
• The instructions are true to the letter. Without a person's name and image, it doesn't work, and the effect is immediate without possibility of delay.
• He is not wealthy at all. Yet.
• No one has caught on to a pattern, but if he's not careful and doesn't take the necessary steps, they're able to with some Sherlock Holmes finesse.

• He wants to build up control over the world and help push it along to a better state of technology, peace, and all around good enough to impress aliens.
• For the sake of this question, many people would not be happy with his decisions. Say a pattern emerges and people of perfectly good health are dropping dead. People start realising that it's only when a person's name is publicly released or available and that person's face has shown up in newspaper clippings or on television. Who knows who's next on the chopping block? And if they do detect him, his methods still take life away. It's not by the book.
• Good answers require that he a) maximise his chance of remaining undetected or not captured (remember, it starts from 1970) but also maximise his influence over the world.
• To the person who silently voted to close, this is not idea generation. See "How to hide from the world that you are a 'Groundhogger'" and "A most subtle magic." This question is of the same nature. The question itself also states the metric for a good answer - how to get away with being identified. Could you please comment and state your reasoning so I can make any necessary edits? – The Anathema Feb 2 '16 at 15:42
• I always love to push the bounds of things like this: what if he was to look at a painting of a man or woman whom we all feel is inside of us? An everyman picture of sorts. – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Feb 2 '16 at 15:43
• The rules of idea generation are always tricky to navigate, and not all who vote to close share exactly the same opinions. I wouldn't worry about it until you get closer to being closed. If a question gets 5 votes to close without anyone bothering to say why, then a problem has arisen (and help from a Mod might be called for) – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Feb 2 '16 at 15:44
• It might be a little bit broad, not knowing who he is or his intentions. There are a lot of ways to influence society with this device. But we could better say how he will influence society if we know his intentions. I wouldn't close this question, it seems valid, but it's just a heads up. Your answers won't be too specific. – Xandar The Zenon Feb 2 '16 at 15:45
• Related and related. – Trang Oul Feb 2 '16 at 15:46

In classic detective fashion, let's look at means, motive and opportunity for any patterns that could be used to track down the hooded man and how he could prevent or delay discovery.

## Means

This one is fairly obvious. People are going to notice a string of people dying to "sudden cranial explosion syndrome". On the other hand, stating "Person X will die of natural causes" will delay the discovery of any pattern for a very long time. A long list of diseases (heart failure and cancer being the most common in the 70s) may work equally well.

Note: It's hard to even say it, but the hooded man should experiment a bit on random unimportant people. If "X gets hit by a train" causes that to immediately happen inside X's corner office on the 42nd floor, that's going to complicate things. Also, can bystanders be affected?

## Motive

"Who stands to gain from person X's death?" is the second way to discovery. If the hooded man's competitors for a promotion all drop dead inside a week, even the densest investigators are going to question him. They might also drop dead, but this just escalates the situation until a SWAT team of masked and nameless people busts down the door and kills the hooded man.

If the hooded man is motivated by personal gain, he has to be very careful to only use the artifact a minimal number of times (and this already assumes he is immoral enough to use it at all) and preferably in an indirect way. Rather than killing of a competitor, he might have the competitor's boss's corporate sponsor over in the head office meet with a traffic accident.

If the hooded man wants to affect the world at large, the risk is very low as long as he targets well-known (bad) people in far away places that have no personal link back to him. Unfortunately, any successor may be worse and if a string of people dies, smart investigators may start to establish a pattern. If they all die during CNN breaking news broadcasts, including a few only shown in the US, the authorities might start laying a trap.

## Opportunity

In this rather unique situation, the opportunity merely consists of having a picture or a name of the target person.

Actually, a picture is pretty much required, because many people may share a name. If our hooded man tries to "fix" North Korea by killing Kim Il Sung, another few hundred people of the same name will drop dead if he doesn't use a picture. That is so unexpected that intelligence agencies all over the world will be on the lookout for any more occurrences. Each accidental multi-kill will draw the net closer.

On the other hand, getting pictures of the intended targets would not be nearly as easy in the 70s as we've come to expect in the age of Facebook and Instagram. Newspapers would be the primary source, as back then even borrowing the wrong book from a library would arouse suspicions. Having a picture of Kim Il Sung would be enough to be branded a communist spy, let alone collecting a whole bunch.

Discovery could be delayed by handling and possessing the pictures for as short a time as possible. Don't cut them out of newspapers, keep all newspapers if you have to, not only the issues/pages with persons of interest. Burn any separate pictures asap and above all, don't keep a diary of all the evil things visited on the victims.