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Monday 21 July 2014

UNCracked Monday: Personality Types, Brain Functions, Paradigms and Politics

So for today, first of all, there's a fun little test you can do, based on a fairly old code for personality types from Jungian Psychology, the Myers-Briggs Types:

Now, the typical list of the MBTI types are like what you see in the middle boxes above; e.g., "you are innovative, independent, strategic, etc. etc.".  In other words, about as useful as the standard newspaper horoscope.

But someone decided to come up with a really awesome concept: how the MBTI explains exactly what kind of really awful person you are:

For the record, the RPGPundit is a "Smug Rabblerouser" (by default, see below!).

But this is only half of the  Monday fun; because this whole thing got me to thinking about how actually so much of everything from U.S. Politics to Internet Hobby Wars can be chalked up to the radically different fundamental world views of these different types.  There are things which are just basic reality to an INTJ-type that make no sense at all to a INFP type, or vice-versa.  There may be some actual biological element to these differences, which researchers think explains some of the basic differences between Conservatives and 'Liberals' in U.S. politics.

The link above is from "Mother Jones" so no surprise that it takes a slightly pro-left tact; but what the research itself shows is fascinating: self-described Republicans (conservatives) use the Amygdala, which is the part of the brain that assesses external threats/risks, when making decisions.  Democrats (liberals) use the Insula, the part that monitors one's internal feelings.
What this actually explains is both Conservatives' paranoia, and Liberals' tendency to envision fantastical utopias that have little grounding in reality.  Conservatives base their choices on what is actually going on in front of them, attempting to perceive the risks/rewards involved; liberals, on the other hand, base their choices on their 'feels'.

The good news in all this is that you can change your paradigm. If you get what's going on you can make the choice to treat your 'type' as more of a default than a binding trap that limits how you experience the world.   Magicians and mystics have been doing this since forever; shit, that's where Jung got all his #1 hits from.


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Classic Series Rhodesian + C&D's Crowley's Best


  1. G'Day Pundie,
    You have hit on something close to the nerve there. MBTIs are functionally the same as horoscopes. As if there are only 12/16 types of people in the world. Using them as a cushion to rest on allows people to excuse the most base of behaviours. It is only because I am a Scorpio/ESFJ that I did it. It's not really my fault. Bullshit on that.
    Anything from the current state of neuroscience has to be taken with a grain of salt so big it could cover Uyuni 3 times over. Neuroscientist are not sharing their raw data, this goes against basic science prinicples. First off they are not collecting enough data to draw statistically valid conclusions. Second reading of the scans is closer to reading Rorschach blotches than reading a multimeter. It requires heaps of subjectivity and different practitioners will draw different conclusions from the same scan. It is only 1 or 2 cm away from phrenology.

  2. ISTJ is my score. Damn I am a asshole boss. Though this would explain why I don't like social justice warriors, but often enough I hate some corporations. Mainly I am not thinking about their (the people) feelings, but their well being. I get piss off when companies don't take care of their nasty shit and through neglect end up fucking everyone else over.

    There was a toxic spill a while back that pretty much ruin the water supply for thousands of people. Was a state emergency. The water was not safe to drink and could end up killing people. Thankfully no one died that I know of. What really piss me off is that people were defending the company despite the fact it was proven that the company did not follow safety regulations by neglecting to take care of any thing. The toxins were doomed to leak out into the river and their complete lack of care almost killed people. If they simply done their job right none of this would had happen.

  3. I'm an INFJ...

    Personally I prefer the Political Compass's bi-axial view on politics, i.e. the fact that Left ("Liberal") vs. Right ("Conservative") does not fully describe the whole political spectrum. The combination is Left (prefers non-market solutions) vs. Right (prefers market solutions) combined with Libertarian (prefers freedom and dislikes state authority) vs. Authoritarian (prefers order and likes state authority). On this chart I'm quite deep in the Left/Libertarian quarter.

    The big argument (Conservatives vs. Liberals) in U.S. politics is typically an argument between authoritarians - i.e. should the state enforce traditional moral values (conservatives) or should it dole out welfare to those it sees as needy (liberals).

    I wonder how this intersects with your theory of political views vs. personality types. I noticed that all, or most, politicians on your chart are/were authoritarian... I wonder how various libertarians and anarchists would fit on it...

  4. I'm not sure how left-leaning it is. Seems it castigates across the board. As a more liberal sort, I was cracking up when I got to my type. Very funny, but also on target (" Funny because it's true").

  5. Well, in this and other articles they seemed quick to claim the evidence proves that Republicans make their choices out of a sense of threat from what's different; but nowhere point out that the same study has shown Democrats apparently make their choices by pulling ideas out of their ass based on 'feelings', rather than examining the situation as it really is.

  6. What a load of horseshit. You could just as easily say that conservatives base their judgements on their fears, which leads them to make fantasyland policies, while liberals have the self-awareness to be genuinely objective. I mean, c'mon. Conservatives like to present themselves as objective and rational, but that's just their propaganda. If you're stupid enough to fall for that, you're really dumb.

    In practice, this rule-of-thumb that conservatives are incompetent fantasists generally proves correct. It's hard to think of an economy which conservatives haven't royally fucked up. Modern technocratic liberals, on the other hand (i.e. the Democratic party) seem by far the most practical and sensible group in modern politics and the economy generally performs pretty well under their stewardship. Post-war economies run by technocratic centrist liberals have always vastly outperformed those run by authoritarians (i.e. fear-driven conservatives) of either the Communist or American conservative variety.

    And if you seriously think libertarianism isn't the goofiest, appeal-to-emotion ideology out there, you're huffing paint.

  7. Lucien: that's exactly what the article tried to imply, that Republicans are just paranoid fear-mongers. It conveniently ignored the fact that Democrats are fantasists.

    Conservatives aren't generally 'fantasists'; they are, if anything 'nightmarists'. They don't see a situation and try to dream up how it could be better; they look at a situation and think of how it could all go horribly wrong. Thus, they err on the side of not wanting anything to change, because it could get worse.
    Progressives consistently err on the other side, assuming that change should happen easily and envisioning pat solutions. They like to say things like "well, we should just switch to solar power", ignoring practical issues like how to do that without having 5 billion people die of starvation.
    I'll note that "modern technocratic liberals" tend to be the ones that "progressives" constantly accuse of having 'betrayed the cause'; again because they're actually trying to deal with facts on the ground, rather than airy-fairy ideals.

    But this is beside my point; what I'm talking about has to do with the fundamental understanding of things: there are people out there (which apparently, in theory, line up with Conservatives if you believe the data in the article; I'm not sure it's so clear cut) for whom what matters most is looking at the FACTS on the ground.
    There are other people for whom what matters more than facts is their FEELINGS about something.

    This explains a lot of the ideological conflicts great and small in just about everything from vaccination to gay rights to arguments about RPGs; and note that in not all of them are the 'feelings' side the progressives. Hence why I don't think it's absolutely clear-cut.

    1. Of course, some, but not all, Conservatives are dreamers, at least where foreign policy is concerned. I'm talking of the Neo-Conservatives and their dream of a world-wide America - that is, that the American political, social and economic systems are absolutely superior to any other system and work better than any system regardless of culture, social structure, or existing political system. The belief is that all people in the world are Americans - and that the only thing keeping them from forming a U.S.-style political system is the local tyrant, so kick the tyrant out, and you'll have a full American-style democracy in no time. This has led to disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan, as those societies, unlike the relatively homogeneous U.S. society, are highly tribal and/or sectarian; a strong man on top stops the various sects and tribes from killing each other; remove him and replace him by a Western-type democracy, and you'll have a free-for-all murder spree in no time. Essentially they've ignored the whole historical process which led to the development of Western democracy, and decided that the end result is applicable anywhere - without the underlying process of social change leading to it (which could take decades for the very least).

      But you can argue, of course, that Neo-Conservatism combines conservative policies at home with liberal/progressivist policies abroad. Many conservatives are, after all, non-interventionists...

  8. I think that neo-conservatism is a weird ideology that was born from a conservative understanding of the relative value of western civilization, combined with a situation where Imperialism is seen as completely invalid under any circumstances. So it tried to be a "magic solution" of bringing western values to nations all at once without any process to allow those values to be inculcated, and just praying it would all stick (because of, yes, a near-utopian belief in "american exceptionalism").