We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Myers-Briggs Personality Pluralism

Greater harmony, productivity, and general happiness to be had from better study of differences between neural breeds of Homo Sapiens (hardwired brain differences resulting in diverse personalities and modes of function).

The year is 2009 and it has been over a century since popular consciousness has widely accepted the fact that humans are just another type of animal. Curiously, even as humans are increasingly accepting of political and cultural pluralism, there is still insufficient focus on how pluralism in general arises from differences in breeds of humans. Populous mammals like dogs and cats have a number of breeds that cluster by physiological external differences like size and internal neural differences like aggressiveness, friendliness, and task specialization. Humans of course are no different (even if their neural computers are able to run remarkably advanced virtual simulation and symbol manipulation programs).

The implications stand to improve the psychological quality of life and raise consciousness for billions of people. Although short sighted knee jerk idiots may think implications will automatically cause a return to forced eugenics (as practiced by countries like Sweden, USA, and Germany in the first half of the 20th century) or measurement of skulls to filter potential criminals, such proclamations point more to the pessimistic nature of those who make them. Scientific inquiry and further development of concepts known to be true have historically brought more net positives (raised the living standard of the human herd by allowing them to live longer and do less labor through technology) than net negatives such as destructive wars (brought on more by non-democratic political arrangements than technology used to wage them). Advancing study of implications from humanity being comprised of numerous unequally distributed breeds is worth the risks. Treatment of different breeds and self esteem of individuals within each breed stand to improve if there is strong emphasis that each breed is logically as important as the other in its social usefulness (although social usefulness should never be the only or even main criteria in social sciences or policy).

Right now we have a world where the German Shepards, the Pitbulls, the Poodles, the Border Collies, and the Golden Retrievers are all rightfully treated the same but they suffer from the problem of more numerous breeds (as well as the most vicious/cunning ones) determining what breed is the universal ideal for a human. Each person judges all others based on what the one judging is good at physiologically. A very empathic person judges others based on empathy. A conservative one judges the rest on how good of a conservative they are. Same applies to all the others be they a partying hedonist, an introverted scientist, an artist, an athlete, or a social butterfly with highly developed taste buds ("how can others eat that crap!?").

This is a very natural problem to have for humanity. Since every person subconsciously wants to expand personal power in all directions, for thousands of years, the strongest or more numerous breeds have tended to not just make their personalities and ideas into universal law for others but to actually buy into their own lies that everybody else should strive to be like the rulers. Even societies with caste systems were not immune as seen by India's inegalitarian caste valuation (warriors over farmers) and transformation from a caste system with social mobility to the entrenched stagnant system we now mentally associate it with.

A previous article touched on how Myers-Briggs personality test is a good quick way to get a glimpse of what neural breed a person is, how numerical predominance of some breeds helps preserve status quo, and how the differences in neural architecture split and unite people a lot more than externally visible characteristics like skin and hair color. If we use a typology system like Myers-Briggs, it soon becomes obvious that although breeds can form natural dominant coalitions (SJs) and (SPs), there will still be a lot of socially tangible differences within each coalition. That is enough to pose a serious problem not just for rare breeds like INTJs but common ones as well.

That problem is depressed self esteem from comparison of one self to those breeds that thrive in whatever socioeconomic system exists at the time (and whose mode of being are widely emulated for this reason) and from feeling alone and excluded since no breed exceeds 15% numerically. Whether it is an athlete, an artist, or a scientist, they are always outnumbered which leads to wishing that everybody else (or themselves) was different. Even within dominant pro status quo coalitions of SJs and SPs, a difference, between an ISTJ and an ESFJ for example, can be so great as to make them not get along well at all. This problem is heightened for NF and NT coalitions. Depression and various neurotic behavior thus results on a large scale. When a person says that nobody understands them, the case often is that vast majority (90%+ people) really don't fundamentally understand them. How can a German Shepherd understand a Chiwawa and vice versa? Only mutts provide the imperfect understanding bridge.

The often failed emulation of the most able to "make it" (or seen as more able) may be a more serious threat to the health of people's ego, their self respect, and their pride. Just as an emotionally cold and aggressive person may feel distressed when living in a hippie ENFP/INFP/INFJ/ISFP commune, a naturally empathic and kind Golden Retriever will feel distressed and alone in a society that values warrior Pitbulls. Similarly, when the types who make it in United States financial sector (children of the rich, psychopaths, and some of the more cunning SPs and NTs), a vast social pressure is created to pound in square pegs in round holes and be more like what is deemed "successful". It is no different than if soldiers were in charge and we all had to admire wars and go to bootcamps to be seen as having the right stuff.

As for psychopaths, their natural ability to blend in (so they can live off the herd better) makes them strong candidates to make it in any system. A super inegalitarian monetarist imperial system like our own is an extra juicy jungle to thrive in. Proportionally to psychopaths' population (1% for the true clinical ones and up to 6% for the subclinical ones), they are overrepresented on Wall Street and in prison (8% and 20% respectively for clinical ones).

Subclinical psychopaths can just be some breeds (ESTP/ENTP/ENTJ/INTJ backgrounds seem like good general prerequisites) whose T function and lack of empathy is so high as to make them exploit the herd (rather than improving it as has been the trait most admired in leadership by history) without a second thought. In fact it may be unfair to even have the concept of a "psychopath" as it represents just another breed of human that is adept at preying on fellow humans with elaborate disguises. Psychological pathology after all, represents mental "sickness" and mental "sickness" is just majority's flawed way to single out and focus on fringe breeds and individuals whose backgrounds make it extra difficult for them to make it. Not one breed is logically and generally more normal/abnormal or maladaptive/adaptive than the other since "normal" and "adaptive" is the bell curve average for a particular society.

Understanding these physiological differences can allow people to have more pride in who they are and develop towards a truly pluralistic and more compassionate society. Human breed science doesn't have to be a nightmare world. People like Foucault, Rousseau, and Kaczynski have made strong and effective arguments on how the more technologically advanced society becomes the less free we are. We need to understand these concerns and consequences of progress in social sciences but we can't turn the clock back since luddite solutions are not just impractical but inhumane.

Understanding that there are different breeds of Homo Sapiens (with often different needs and modes of thought) can allow society to:

1) Treat, help, and nurture each type better so as to make healthier hyperspecialized types. We can have healthier and better artists, cops, scientists, etc.
2) Treat, help, and nurture mutts better so as to have better ambassadors and communicators between the strongly specialized breeds
3) Develop better science as to which breeds work best with each other so as to prevent, mediate, and solve social conflicts
4) Help identify and isolate predatory humans better so as to lessen their abuses, reduce the number of their victims, and integrate them into society more productively
5) Strengthen proportional representation democracy and bring more harmony to the herd while preventing unhealthy caste structures from reemerging
6) Increase efficiency, productivity, and general happiness of society by allowing individuals to make full use of their strengths and be more proud of their neural architecture

Lets fully embrace what science has been telling us so we can graze on this planet with less confusion. A confused herd will make a poor recipient for when the singularity arrives. Lets end with a pro-mutt quote to balance the article and emphasize perils of too much specialization.

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

-Robert A. Heinlein

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