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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Galileo Galilei (ILE): Personality Type Analysis


Galileo Galilei was an Italian philosopher, astronomer, scientist and mathematician; best remembered for his work in support of Copernicus' heliocentric theory of the solar system. Galileo also observed that the Milky way was in fact made up of millions of individual stars, discovered the phases of Venus and discovered the moons of Jupiter. For the sake of his life, Galileo recanted his views of the validity of the Copernican model in 1633, admitting that the earth did not spin on its own axis. It is unlikely that the recantation was sincere in any sense and nevertheless remained under house arrest.

I argue, at least what can be agreed upon by historians who can confirm this biographical information, provide some clues towards what Galileo's type might be. As a young man, Galileo was unsure what to pursue in terms of a long-term career, more specifically having to choose between becoming a Catholic priest or a doctor of medicine. He inevitably chose to study medicine at the University of Pisa, taking his father's advice about putting his practical knowledge to use. During his first few days on campus, Galileo's curiosity led him into an introductory mathematics lecture that captured his interest in such an awe-inspiring way, that he decided to change his career path again. Galileo's preference to maintain as many potential alternative careers to choose from and basing his decision to choose from one of these alternatives on pure interest, already points to I and S as World-Accepting quadra values, over F and T.

I would also add that Galileo believed that mathematics was far more interesting than medicine and that it played a more crucial role in developing our the understanding of the world. Writing many papers about the novelty and application of mathematics in his leisure, (i.e. analyzing the mechanical movement of a pendulum, the length of a lute string and its relationship to the note it produced) was really the main focus of much of Galileo's work earlier in his life, with a focus on tying the "object of interest" with its mathematical reasoning. That alone points to preference of L over P as a quadra value, which would point to Clarity-Seeking values and thus make Alpha Galileo's likely quadra.

Furthermore, Galileo was not alien to the philosophical side of life, holding the position that 'the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics'. Not only was he greatly influenced by Greek philosophy, but he also calculated that there was a metaphysical distinction between the primary and secondary qualities of bodies. He held the position that only the former is essential and inherent in objects, whereas the latter can exist - only if they can cause certain effects in the minds of the observers. That at least suggests T as a stronger function, along with substantial confidence in P his own ability to quickly learn through pedagogy without much strain or exertion. Everything previously discussed about Galileo would, without a doubt, provide reasoning for a Logical type with likely T7 and P8 in the Id.

Within two years of the invention of the telescope, Galileo shared his astronomical observations and concluded that the geocentric theory which held that the earth was at the center of the universe, was seriously flawed. Galileo's findings attracted such sharp criticism, to the point where he felt compelled to offer in his defense and reply to his critics in The Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina in 1615. In the letter, Galileo argues that scientific and theological matters should not be confused with each other. He firmly held the position that science could not cast doubts on religious doctrine, but inversely strengthen it. Nonetheless, his argument was overlooked by the Inquisition in 1616, but was publicly condemned by the Inquisition in 1633, when he was forced to recant his views.

Galileo's first approach in doing this was to gather public attention on an incorrect way of thinking about the planetary model of the solar system. In this way, he often caused quite a stir in advocating for his thoroughly researched model and wasn't afraid of publishing his own mathematical reasoning, especially if it got the point of what he was communicating across. It would be reasonable to say that was a person who Galileo did actively participate in the social scene of Italy back in the day, acted as a communicator of science, willingly went out of his way to reduce his work to where it made sense in layman's terms. Because of this attentiveness to free expression in communication, driven mission to go out of his way to educate the public without realizing that this information would be unintentionally inappropriate to the religious dogma at the time - points to a type with valued, but weak E, most likely E6.

(As a footnote that might be useful to support the previous argument, in his own lack of cautiousness in voicing his own views through free expression, whether if he truly didn't foresee this criticism or did foresee it but didn't mind having to defend it, still solidifies the idea of devalued T.)

Thus far what has been mentioned about Galileo Galilei provides reasoning for L+I in the Ego block, most likely I1 and L2 with the principles used in service of the grand theory. Along with S5 manifesting in fear of leaving his family and comfortable surroundings because he had to take a position at the Court of the Medici family. (This isn't as adequately expressed in more detailed accounts of his personal life). With this and the remaining E6, T7, and P8 explained in the articles above. In conclusion, I believe Galileo Galilei is a very good representative of the ILE type of information metabolism.

To learn more about ILE, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Pliny the Elder (LSE): Personality Type Analysis

Gaius Plinius Secundus, generally known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, historian, and naturalist, as well as a career army officer and civil servant of the Roman Empire who lived in the 1st century AD. All of his known books are lost except the Natural History, the oldest known encyclopedia. Details of his life are known mainly from Pliny's own remarks in that work, from the writings of his nephew and adopted son Pliny the Younger (IEI), who also left summaries of Pliny's other books, and from archaeological evidence. I argue that the available information suffices to make at least a reasonable case for his most likely Socionics type.

Pliny was born in Como, Italy, in the early years of the Emperor Tiberius (ILI), to a family of equestrian rank, that is, the junior aristocracy, below the senatorial rank. Pliny pursued throughout his life an equestrian public career, suggesting that he either lacked the means to rise to senatorial rank - as his adopted son eventually did - or that he found an equestrian career personally more rewarding. In any case, as a young man, now in the reign of the Emperor Claudius (ILI), Pliny first served as a military officer in several postings along the Rhine frontier with Germany. In what today is Xanten, Germany, Pliny wrote his first book, a small military manual, 'On the throwing of spears while on horseback'. Returning to Rome, where he worked as a lawyer for a while, he wrote his second book, more ambitious, a biography of his old commanding officer, 'Life of Pomponius Secundus', of great historical significance as the first biography in Roman literature we are aware of. He then wrote an even more ambitious book, ten times the length of the previous one, "History of the German Wars". Afterwards, in the politically dangerous later years of the Emperor Nero (SEI), Pliny kept a low profile, avoiding potentially political subjects, writing two rather safe books: a textbook on the teaching of rhetoric, "The Student", and "Problems in Grammar".

After the generalized revolt against Nero, with Nero's suicide, and one year of civil war that led to the ascension of the Emperor Vespasian, Pliny's star could rise again, especially as he was friendly with Vespasian's son, Titus. He began writing a serious book of contemporary history, 'A Continuation of the History of Aufidius Bassus', probably covering the period from Tiberius to Vespasian (ESE). However, he ordered that it should be only published after his death, so that people would not think he wrote it to flatter Vespasian and Titus (EIE), to whom he was close. In the new regime, Pliny's political career took off, with him appointed procurator (i.e. chief financial officer), in quick succession, in provinces in today's France, Spain and Tunisia. During those years he wrote his largest work, and the only one surviving today, his 'Natural History', making use of his personal observations in those many locations, which was probably published in the later years of Vespasian. At about this time he was appointed prefect (i.e. commander) of the fleet based at Misenum, at the bay of Naples, remaining there when Titus became emperor upon Vespasian's death.

Pliny's Natural History is the ancestor of all modern encyclopedias, aiming at summarizing all the scientific knowledge of the time: it contains chapters on astronomy, geography, zoology, botany, biology, geology, mining, medicine, agriculture, and art. Like modern authors - and unlike almost all ancient writers - Pliny actually references the authors of the books he consulted. The book reads, however, much more "chaotically" than a modern work as he interjects his own personal "on the ground" observations while summarizing the information from other books. The result is a book that contains a vast amount of "raw" information, much of it validated by direct observation, but in an often disorganized way. The whole book is of huge historical value; however, from a scientific point of view, it mixes reliable facts and descriptions with questionable ones, and even plain nonsense. Nevertheless the book was "the" encyclopedia during the Medieval period, its accuracy only beginning to be challenged in the Renaissance of the 15th century.

I argue that the information so far already gives clues to Pliny's Socionics type. First, for a man with literary ambitions, it is remarkable that all of his work was non-fiction: natural science, history, biography, grammar, a military manual. By contrast, his old commander, Pomponius Secundus, the subject of Pliny's biography, was a prestigious poet and author of tragedies, some written while he was in prison under Tiberius. Pliny's own adopted son. Pliny the Younger, also preferred to write poetry. The relevance of this is that Pliny the Elder's literary choices, exclusively non-fiction, suggest that these were the subjects he wanted to write about and found more congenial writing, which in itself, at face value, already points to P as stronger, and/or more valued, than E, that is, that Pliny the Elder was a Logical type or, if Ethical, at most one with P6.

I would add that the "on-the-ground" nature of the Natural History, plus its quirky way of looking at many different subjects, aiming at presenting as much detailed information, and direct observation as possible while being at the same time a rather cumbersome read, points to a P preference over L, that is, Pliny was far more concerned with providing information than categorize, organize or analyze it.  The strong focus on direct observation and the wide scope of subjects also point to S and I as quadra values, rather than F and T. The information so far, together, points to Delta as Pliny the Elder's likely quadra.

Going back to Pliny's life. While based at Misenum as commander of the fleet, the younger Pliny was living with him, and he left a description of Pliny the Elder's habits - essentially of a man who did not stop working, reading, and writing, a rather hyperactive man. At face value, this points more to an Energizer type. Finally. it was during that time, in 79 AD, when the famous eruption of the Vesuvius took place. From his position in Misenum, across the bay of Naples, Pliny was at first fascinated from a scientific point of view (he was familiar with volcanoes, like Mt. Etna) and intended to sail close to it on a small ship, But, made aware of the human disaster taking place, he assembled the available ships from the fleet and sailed towards the range of of the eruption on a rescue mission. That was completely unsuccessful as the fall-out from the eruption prevented the ships from getting close to Pompeii or Herculaneum, and the winds prevented them from sailing back, so they were trapped into sailing on to Stabiae on the Sorrentine Peninsula, where friends of his had a villa which was not being hit by the worst of the eruption. According to Pliny the Younger, while walking to get a closer look at the eruption, the elder Pliny just collapsed suddenly and died; his nephew attributed that to poisonous fumes, while modern historians suggest that a heart attack was more likely.

The events above reveal an interesting characteristic of Pliny's: that he would literally sail into a terrifying volcanic eruption, first out of scientific curiosity, then in order to attempt to rescue the locals, seemingly without realizing that he could be getting himself into a trap, not looking before he leaped. That is a trait pointing to a type with F stronger than T, and very weak T, probably T4.

Delta Energizer, with very weak T. and much more focused on P than E. I argue that the available information, however limited, consistently points to LSE as Pliny the Elder's likely type.

Sources: besides Wikipedia, an alternative summary of Pliny the Elder's life and works can be found in the Livius.org site. A full translation of his Natural History can be found here , and the letters of Pliny the Younger, including his eyewitness description of the eruption of the Vesuvius and his summary of his uncle's works, here .

To learn more about LSE, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Tiberius (ILI): Personality Type Analysis

Tiberius Claudius Nero, later Tiberius Julius Caesar, best known simply as Tiberius, was the second Roman Emperor, for 23 years, from 14 to 37. His reign is one of the best-documented of all, with many preserved speeches and letters, as well as observations from contemporaries and very detailed information on his personal decisions and preferences, providing material for his typing. His character and personality puzzled and fascinated contemporaries as well as historians, ancient and modern, and he is one of the most studied Roman Emperors. A prestigious Spanish physician, Gregorio Marañón, went as far as to analyse Tiberius’s psychology, in his classic “Tiberius: a Study in Resentment”, a book praised by Ronald Syme, the 20th century’s foremost Roman historian. I argue, therefore, that there is plenty of reliable material with which to deduce his Socionics type.

Tiberius belonged by birth to the ancient patrician clan Claudius, one of the most prestigious during the centuries of the Roman Republic. He was however born in the Republic’s final years, and his mother Livia divorced his father, when Tiberius was around four, to marry one of the men chiefly responsible for burying the Republic, the Triumvir Octavian, later known as the first emperor, Augustus (LIE). Tiberius grew up in the household of this stepfather, who promoted the politico-military careers of Tiberius and his younger brother Drusus. The brothers became the Empire’s foremost military commanders, chiefly responsible for the Empire’s expansion to the Danube and for expeditions across the Rhine, until Drusus’s death in 9 BC. Tiberius’s personal and political life then went through several ups and downs in the next few years, some of the downs arguably self-inflicted, including a period of political oblivion in retirement on the island of Rhodes. He bounced back, however, becoming Augustus’s adopted son (rather than merely stepson) and undisputed second man of the Empire, becoming Rome’s second emperor relatively smoothly upon Augustus’s death in 14.

Tiberius’s reign of twenty-three years was marked by never-ending political crises involving his own succession, since he was already fifty-five when becoming emperor. In a nutshell: his obvious likely successors, his adopted son (originally nephew) Germanicus, and then his own biological son Drusus, died within a few years of each other, in allegedly suspicious circumstances in Germanicus’s case. That led to a climate of political and personal bitterness between Tiberius and Germanicus’s widow, Agrippina, who hated Tiberius and suspected him of having had a hand on Germanicus’s death. Agrippina became the head of an informal “political party”, mostly a circle of people wanting to be in her good graces when Tiberius died, as her two elder sons were the likely successors. This left Agrippina vulnerable to suspicions that she was “conspiring” against Tiberius, made worse by her popularity (and Tiberius’s unpopularity) among Rome’s general population. This led Tiberius to relocate from Rome to the island of Capri, from where he continued to govern the Empire, and leaving Rome under the control of his trusted Praetorian Prefect, Sejanus. Sejanus launched an implacable political persecution of Agrippina’s circle, exploiting any chance to prosecute them for conspiracy or treason against Tiberius, the cowed Senate mostly agreeing to condemn them and Tiberius seldom interfering. This eventually led to Agrippina and her two elder sons being imprisoned by orders from Tiberius himself, leaving her youngest son Gaius (the future Emperor Caligula (EIE)) as the likeliest eventual successor, but with Sejanus the second most powerful man in the Empire. Suddenly, however, Tiberius, from Capri, launched a sort of undercover coup against Sejanus (he did not feel secure in his power to just dismiss him), whereby Sejanus was put under trial in the Senate by surprise, executed almost immediately (along with his immediate family) and with a bloody purge of those seen as Sejanus’s closest associates. After that, the remaining six years of Tiberius’s life and reign consisted essentially of him continuing to govern from Capri and the surroundings, never returning to Rome proper, until he died at the age of seventy-seven in 37, leading to the smooth ascension of Caligula as emperor, to the general relief of the Senate and the people of Rome (at least until they got to know Caligula better).

Let me finally move on to Tiberius’s most obvious personal traits, which were constant throughout his life. First, twice he chose voluntarily to move away from Rome, and even from people of his broader family and social circle, onto islands, first Rhodes, and then Capri. In both cases, by all accounts, he took along one very close friend of senatorial rank, as well as a limited entourage of Greek scholars of literature and astrology, his favourite subjects (besides the obvious servants, guards etc.). On Capri, as Emperor (and therefore with unlimited freedom of choice of what to do), he maintained the routine of scholarly discussions, very private dinners with a small circle, while governing the Empire by correspondence, and receiving – very selectively – Senators who asked to go see him, besides his trusted henchman, the Praetorian Prefect, Sejanus. His favourite villa on Capri, ruins of which can still be visited, the Villa Jovis, is of very difficult access upon a cliff, illustrating his desire for isolation.

This already points very clearly to man who would be called very introverted in the social sense, that is, a man who is clearly most comfortable in isolation, in the company of a very limited circle of individuals whom he likes or at least trusts. His style of governing the Empire also reflects this: at that early stage historically, being Roman Emperor meant governing with the help of the members of the Senatorial class, but in an atmosphere of sociability, with the Emperor having to know each Senator personally and judging how to manage their careers, rather like the CEO/HR manager of a large corporation, trying to keep as many as possible happy. Augustus excelled at that; Tiberius clearly hated it. He reacted in two ways: first, he kept the same provincial governors at their posts for many years, so minimising the “HR” part of his job (most famously the Prefect of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, for ten years); second, he outsourced a large part of that job to Sejanus, especially for more junior positions. In that, Tiberius’s style of governing is very similar to that of the later Emperor Antoninus Pius (SLI).

All ancient historians who described Tiberius, with basis on contemporary evidence, describe him as a man of very poor social skills, even as “the gloomiest of men” by Pliny the Elder (LSE). Further, although his predecessor, Augustus, behaved in public pretty much like a modern politician, seeking popularity among the general public by personal accessibility and populist gestures like giving, and attending, shows, races and the like, Tiberius had an aloof personality, seeming to disdain the seeking of general popularity, and he even reduced the number of shows and races in Rome to a minimum. Among his social near-equals, Tiberius was equally distant, with an inclination to sarcastic remarks mocking flattery and stupidity. When a delegation from the city of Troy came to see him to present their condolences on the death of his son Drusus – several months late – Tiberius replied, “and may I give you my condolences, gentlemen, on the death of Hector”. Further, most of his personal relationships ended in disaster in one way or the other: his marriage to his second wife, Julia, ended in mutual contempt and hatred; he was suspected (almost certainly wrongly) of conspiring to murder his own adopted son, Germanicus; he was unable, and perhaps unwilling, to address the poisonous relationship with his own step-daughter Agrippina, despite the catastrophic political consequences; and he placed his complete trust on Sejanus, a man who eventually betrayed him and whom he had to destroy through a scheme since he had made him too powerful. He also broke relations with his own mother, Livia. Nevertheless, Tiberius was known to have deep personal relations with a very limited number of individuals: his first wife, Vipsania, whom he had to divorce for political reasons (and which left him deeply depressed, by all accounts) and his brother Drusus. When he heard that his brother, based on the Rhine frontier (near where Mainz is today) was dying, Tiberius travelled there from Rome on horseback to see him, establishing a speed record that remained unbroken one hundred years later.

The above already points to a man with very weak E and R, but who values R far more, suggesting E4 or at most E3, and R5 or R6 most likely, already pointing to the Gamma or Delta quadras. Further, Tiberius’s approach to relationships was not generous but vindictive or resentful, with him able to hold grudges for decades, acting savagely on them. Once, in the Senate, already Emperor and secure in his position, he made a point of attacking one Marcus Lollius, dead by now, who had been his political enemy during his Rhodes years, while talking about a barely related matter. One story goes that, while in political oblivion on Rhodes, he applied to attend the lectures of a famous local teacher of rhetoric, who told him to try again in seven days; he might then have a vacancy. When, years later, the same teacher was in Rome and tried to pay his respects to the Emperor, Tiberius sent him a message, telling him to come back in seven years. Although his second wife Julia had been condemned to exile by her own father, Augustus, upon becoming emperor some twenty years after the event, Tiberius did not make her conditions of imprisonment easier, on the contrary, he made them harsher, although the opposite would have been even politically useful from a PR perspective. Because of those examples – and many more – Marañón described Tiberius as a man whose personal relationships were based on “resentment”, not “generosity” – except, again, to very few select individuals. That already makes Gamma a far likelier quadra than Delta, with R clearly blocked with F rather than I.

Despite the dark picture painted of Tiberius so far, from the point of view of the Empire as a whole he was a conscientious, capable, reasonable and benevolent ruler. He reversed Augustus’s policies of investing heavily on public works, causing maybe located “recessions” but compensating that by actually reducing taxes, while running a budget surplus throughout his reign. Tiberius explicitly ordered his provincial governors to not overtax the population; granted tax relief to regions hit by earthquake, and was responsive to the specific religious susceptibilities of the Jewish population in Judaea – Tiberius actually ordered Pilate to remove standards with his own image from the area near the Temple (where Pilate had placed them to show his loyalty to Tiberius), and eventually relieved Pilate of his position due to complaints by the locals. The historian Tacitus, who read all of Tiberius's speeches and preserved many of them, observed that Tiberius was not noted as an engaging or inspiring orator, but rather a master in weighing his words precisely, being as clear, or as obscure, as he wished. Among the speeches reproduced by Tacitus, there is one where Tiberius discourses at length, in the Senate, on the Empire’s macroeconomics, in response to a complaint, by some, on what were by comparison trivial economic matters, demonstrating clearly that Tiberius knew what he was talking about, and they didn’t. Finally, Tiberius's fiscal policies, added to archaic usury laws, led in 33 to a “financial crisis” comparable to modern ones; yet Tiberius reacted inventively by acting as a “central banker” and quickly solving the crisis.

With the exception of that small minority of the Roman elite caught in the political machinations of Sejanus and Tiberius, Tiberius’s policies as a ruler led to general peace and prosperity (in the context of the time), not necessarily because Tiberius was a kind or generous man, but because he was concerned with good and efficient government throughout, and he was justifiably confident in his own abilities to provide it. That provides evidence of a much stronger P than E, confirming what was already observed regarding his very weak and devalued E.

The information so far points to a Gamma of very low E and R, with confidence and strength in P. That already points to LIE or ILI. Looking at Tiberius’s F, though, what we see is this. Despite being able to successfully lead armies into battle, Tiberius was known as a very cautious commander – often too cautious for Augustus’s taste. His own personal inclinations, though, once he wasn’t under Augustus’s orders, were clearly towards low-level physical activity, preferring to govern from his desk. Even when toppling his own Praetorian Prefect – military and politically in a much weaker position than he – Tiberius still preferred an indirect approach based on cunning and strategy, rather than a more direct, confrontational approach. Finally, in the final years of his life, when he was based on Capri and the surrounding areas, Tiberius several times “tried” to visit Rome, on occasion getting close, but changing his mind at the last moment, once because of a supposed bad omen. All of that shows a man far more cautious, and indecisive, than decisive, pointing to F that seems weaker than even F6. It is also relevant that the man he chose to have as his most trusted sidekick was the famously tough-guy Sejanus, whom Tiberius called “partner of my labours”, and he often referred publicly to how laborious it was to govern on his own. This points to F5 rather than F6.

As with Integrating (i.e. “introverted”) lead functions generally, it is not easy to spot Tiberius's T1 directly, but hints to it can be seen in his confidence in strategic thinking, his focus on longer-term trends, and even his preferred activities for relaxation, as in discussing scholarly subjects and astrology.

What we have is maybe a somewhat depressing portrayal of man able and confident in ruling a huge empire efficiently and benevolently, and who longs for close personal relationships, but also extremely suspicious, vindictive, resentful, often indecisive, and very poor in public relations and social skills, seemingly indifferent to those even. The type that best fits what is known of Tiberius is ILI.

Sources:  as mentioned above, my  general impression of Tiberius’s psychology was first shaped by Gregorio Marañón’s Tiberius: A Study in Resentment, and the extensive ancient sources. The texts of the ancient historians,  Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Dio, can be found here,

To learn more about ILI, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Sam Harris (LIE): Personality Type Analysis

Samuel Benjamin "Sam" Harris is an author, philosopher and neuroscientist, known for being one of the 'Four Horsemen of New Atheism' alongside Christopher Hitchens (ESI), Richard Dawkins (LSE) and Daniel Dennett (ILE).

Sam Harris is commonly known for his writings on Atheism, including the award-winning The End of Faith (2004), where he criticised organised religion, and later responded to criticisms from Christians in America. In its place, he advocates a scientific approach to normative morality. More recently, Harris has turned his attention to Islam as a major focus of critique. He is also known for his irregular podcast Waking Up with Sam Harris, airing since 2013.

To get a good view of Sam Harris' type, it is important to first get a good sense of his values, the things that are of import to him, and that which he finds most repugnant. Throughout his work, a consistent theme is valuing an approach to knowledge and our ideas of truth, based on what can be demonstrated by empirical evidence. For Harris, "It's not so much religion per se, it's false certainty that worries me, and religion just has more than its fair share of false certainty or dogmatism. I'm really concerned when I see people pretending to know things they clearly cannot know."

Accompanying this ethos is the attitude that whatever views you currently have, you should be able to revise and update your positions based on new evidence or a better account of what is happening, and to abandon your position when you do not have factual claims to back it up:

"The real pressure is to be honest early enough.... to have your full intellectual and ethical commitment to not pretend to know something... If you are pretending to know things you don't know, you are vulnerable to embarrassment.... Most people's reflex is, the way to save face here, is to dig in, the way to save face is to hold on more tenaciously to this opinion which now is eroding in real time in a conversation, and whereas that's to lose face twice over. There's nothing more attractive really, except that you never see this, there's nothing more attractive to see someone being intellectually honest enough to notice that they're wrong as close to the moment that the audience does as possible, and to then disavow their false certainty."

This can similarly be seen with his evident impatience and irritation when he feels that the interlocutor is not of this attitude, as can be seen from his autopsy of a previous conversation with Omer Aziz:

"The true things he says are usually irrelevant, and the relevant things he says are usually false, and that is a toxic combination, ok, especially for me. That is my 'kryptonite', so you will hear me at my least patient, and I'm not proud of who I was in those moments, and you'll also hear a fair amount of despair from me at points. This is not the despair of someone who was worried they were losing a debate... I wasn't trying to have a debate, I was trying to have a truly honest conversation, and the despair you hear, especially at the end, was over the discovery that this just wasn't possible."

From these quotes, we can see that Sam Harris has clear Integrity-Seeking values, i.e. valuing P and R. He has a compulsion to form his opinions from factual evidence, to abandon or change opinions not supported by evidence, and to communicate in a manner that is factually honest, rather than exaggerated for greater rhetorical effect or altered to appear more certain, consistent or clear. Furthermore, when in conversation with types of people that he perceives to not share this attitude, he experiences a strong repulsion, and an almost naive dismay.

Despite his cool, matter-of-fact manner in interviews, we can also note from Harris' writings, a certain harshness in how he puts forward his opinions. It is quite clear that his view towards religious ideology is one of a compulsion to remove it in eventuality from society, saying that the creation of moral imperatives from empirical scientific study would "send religion to the scrap-heap". Similarly, in his recent criticism of Islam, he comes across as willing to up the stakes:

"It is time we admitted that we are not at war with terrorism. We are at war with Islam. This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims, but we are absolutely at war with the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. The only reason Muslim fundamentalism is a threat to us is because the fundamentals of Islam are a threat to us."

Additionally, much of Sam Harris' work in philosophy, influenced by his past-time of meditation, focuses on the idea that the self is an illusion:

"The illusion of free will... is itself an illusion. There is no illusion of free will. Thoughts and intentions simply arise. What else could they do? Now, some of you might think this sounds depressing, but it's actually incredibly freeing to see life this way. It does take something away from life: what it takes away from life is an egocentric view of life. We're not truly separate: we are linked to one another, we are linked to the world, we are linked to our past, and to history. And what we do actually matters because of that linkage, because of the permeability, because of the fact that we can't be the true locus of responsibility. That's what makes it all matter."

What we can see from these quotes is that Sam Harris identifies with the view that there is a grander purpose that supervenes on his 'egocentric' existence, from which he can derive personal responsibility to act for a greater good. Furthermore, these quotes show that while he feels that there is a moral imperative behind his actions, Harris is willing to say in clear terms what he is opposed to, and possesses the desire for his ideas and the progress of science to have a meaningful and final impact on reality, removing what he sees as wrong or evil from existence. This is all consistent with World-Rejecting values, i.e. someone valuing F and T.

The evidence so far establishes Sam Harris as being of the Gamma quadra. To work out what type makes most sense within that quadra, we must look into his strengths and weaknesses in terms of information metabolism.

It is perhaps most obvious that Harris would be a Researcher, that is, someone strong at Intuition and Logic, rather than a Socialite, i.e. strong at Sensation and Ethics. He is someone that is most at home in the realm of ideas and reasoning and as a flip-side, shows a certain naivety in his dealings with ideological opponents.

As was clear from debating with Omer Aziz, Harris was at first surprised and then dismayed at the willingness of Aziz to say things that he thought deliberately inaccurate and exaggerated, or else irrelevant but spun to look like a point of pertinence. Instead of being able to quickly size Aziz up as a person not to have bothered with, Harris went into the debate with a sincere desire to participate in the sharing of ideas and constructive critique. This clearly shows a weakness in his command of 'harsh judgment' R+F.

At the same time, F does not seem to be in an especially weak function for Harris. Outside the interpersonal naivety with which he approaches intellectual debate, Harris is obsessed with the themes of violence and self-defence. Graeme Wood's article in The Atlantic illuminates this upon being choked by Harris when sparring in his preferred martial art, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu (BJJ):

"Harris thinks about violence more than almost anyone else I have ever met. After our BJJ encounter, we went to a Korean restaurant on Beverly Boulevard, where he tried to explain his obsession with self-defense—including not just BJJ but also guns (he has several stashed strategically around his house) and physical force generally."

A need to foresee future acts of violence on his family, and the drive to protect himself with firearms, fits well with the resistant use of F seen with Gamma types. In addition, his interest in martial arts and testing methods of dispatching an enemy had him teaching Ninjitsu in university, and being fascinated by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

This evidence establishes F for Harris as sort of a hobby or aspiration that he has indulged in with great interest, and has devoted a great deal of his energy, all the while excelling in more Researcher typical fields and not coming across in conversation as an obvious 'tough guy'. This suggests a weak function, but not too weak, accompanied by an active attempt at growth. That is typical of F6.

Keeping this in mind, when we recall his naivety with F+R 'harsh judgment', it makes sense to say that R was in the truly weak position, best fitting R5.

It is perhaps most obvious that P plays a strong role in deciding Harris' motives, and its violation producing the strongest response in Harris. His conversation with Aziz shows, not merely the naive weakness of R5, but also how honest, matter-of-fact communication is so natural to him that he cannot understand why someone else would not be the same. This makes P1 most likely.

While it is clear that P is far stronger than R for Sam Harris, it is also notable that T plays a comparatively more balanced role with F6. After an intense martial-arts session, Harris draws on a quintessentially T-approach in his meditation, where he seeks to dispel the illusion of self and gain a sense of a greater responsibility in his life. This seems to naturally feed into his more F-like, 'at the helm' attempts to materialise that purpose with both his oral and written advocacy for Atheism, as well as his non-profit organisation, Project Reason. This rules out the 'too-much-thinking, too-little-action' paralysis of T1/F5. In addition, any mention of higher purpose is less consistent to Harris' rationale than his P-focused demand for factual honesty, constructing more pragmatic moral systems and dismantling false beliefs, making T2 a likely fit for Harris.

The more subdued elements to Sam Harris are also notable. Out of them, I seems the strongest, with Sam Harris showing a broad range of interests from neuroscience to theology to politics to philosophy to martial arts. Even after critiquing numerous world religions and holding Atheist positions, Harris is still willing and interested in exploring Indian spirituality, such as Advaita Vedanta Hindiuism and Gzongchen Buddhism. Indeed, his willingness to approach and converse with almost anyone who is willing to have an honest discussion shows that I plays a much stronger role than R for Harris, even if it is subdued. However, it is still notable that Harris draws from I in service of P+T, using a variety of different ideas and influences to feed a more targeted point about how people's actions can lead to the best outcomes in the long-term. This strongly suggests I8.

Additionally, while P evidently serves as a natural lens for Harris' views on morality, this culminates in a clear rejection of L. Harris seeks what can be factually supported and his critique of religious faith is attacking the idea that principles should be held to when they can lead to bad effects. This attitude is compounded with his own moral consequentialism, i.e. morality being judged by how much it contributes to outcomes, and thus is a rejection of moral deontology, i.e. morality is the adhering to certain rules or principles. In this regard, Harris uses L minimally in order to clearly frame his ideas with consistency, while intentionally seeking to undermine it as something that should be used for its own sake, and indeed, sees it as a major source of evil in the world. This fits well for L7.

As per job description, Sam Harris is an Atheist who is dedicated to changing people's minds about religious ideology and seeing that science can provide both a better account for information about our world and a better moral guidance. For this purpose, the use of E by Harris serves as a necessity for coming across as attractive enough to people that they will listen to his arguments. Even then, Harris is averse to exaggerating language and much prefers matter-of-fact communication. Although sometimes saying things that are controversial and perhaps harsh, Harris far less likely than figures such as David Starkey (ILI) to come across as obnoxious in conversation, and does seem to have an idea of what the audience will like to see of him, as is evident by his earlier quote, commenting on how "there's nothing more attractive...". This suggests that E is something he has some understanding of and can utilise when necessary, but much prefers the use of P. That is consistent with E3.

Finally, an attempt to review the use of S by Sam Harris comes up short, with no sign of vocabulary being found to express the pleasure, comfort or enjoyment of sensations (moreso S+E). At the beginning of an interview with Joe Rogan, Harris talks about his vegetarian diet, and how he went off meat due to being unable to morally justify eating it. He notes that he has persisted to a degree with his vegetarianism, despite noticing a certain "withering" in his health:

"I don't know that it's correlating with health... I am not the smartest vegetarian in the world in terms of how I prepare my food and how attentive I am to it, so the onus is somewhat on me, but I'm not totally sure it's the healthiest thing for me... I feel like my health is somewhat withering under this."

This is strong evidence for S as not merely a subdued function, but a very weak one. Even when taking a moral position on what food he eats, Harris is naturally negligent of his bodily needs and the attention to daily specifics that could better satisfy him while being a vegetarian. This is good evidence for S4.

From an in depth look into Sam Harris' values, as well as his strengths and weaknesses in information metabolism, one can identify the best fit of P1, T2, E3, S4, R5, F6, L7 and I8. This makes it almost certain that Sam Harris is an LIE.

To learn more about LIE, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sources

The Rubin Report: Sam Harris on Islam, the Left, Trump and Hillary
Autopsy on Omer Aziz
Morality: 'We can send religion to the scrap heap'
The Atheist Who Strangled Me (Graeme Wood, The Atlantic)
Joe Rogan Experience #804 - Sam Harris




Editor's Note: Why Sam Harris is NOT an INFJ

It has commonly been asserted by sites such as CelebrityTypes that Sam Harris would be an INFJ in the MBTI. This is, in my opinion, one of numerous unusual typings that I have seen from MBTI experts.

Like Socionics, MBTI claims to be a Jungian typology. As such, it should derive its cognitive function definitions from Jung. Looking at Jung's Psychological Types, we find the following description of the 'Extraverted Thinking type':

"In accordance with his definition, we must picture a, man whose constant aim -- in so far, of course, as he is a [p. 435] pure type -- is to bring his total life-activities into relation with intellectual conclusions, which in the last resort are always orientated by objective data, whether objective facts or generally valid ideas. This type of man gives the deciding voice-not merely for himself alone but also on behalf of his entourage-either to the actual objective reality or to its objectively orientated, intellectual formula. By this formula are good and evil measured, and beauty and ugliness determined."

The above would superbly describe Sam Harris' main approach to his life, intellectual pursuits and moral philosophy, as is evident from the argument for LIE given further above. However, an INFJ could not be more removed from Extraverted Thinking (Te) as a type, it being Introverted and Feeling, while not possessing Te in its four function stack (Ni> Fe> Ti> Se). In other words, either Sam Harris is not an INFJ, or MBTI has abandoned either internal consistency or its Jungian definitions.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Learning by Socionics Type

Disclaimer: Socionics is not yet a science, and this advice is more speculative based on an understanding of the types. 


Like other things, the sixteen types of Socionics vary in their ability to learn new information and how they prefer to learn that information. This can be understood from a variety of perspectives, including strengths/weaknesses, preferences and natural blind-spots of specific types.


Clubs

First, with learning it is important to know your natural strengths, i.e. what you naturally pick out and retain, compared to what easily slips through the net.
  • Researchers - Best at processing intellectual information. These types will be most comfortable with broad, general ideas. This is best suited to studying a theoretical or academic subject. Wherever possible, they will try to get the big picture of what they are studying, finding the pattern or trend, which they can easily understand in complexity. To handle more detailed elements of study, which may be more of a struggle, it may useful to consider what fits the trend, and what may be an exception. 
  • Socialites - Best at processing social information. These types will be most comfortable with experiences rooted in interpersonal interaction, and may struggle with scholarly learning on a theoretical subject. A good way around this is to convert the academic into the social. This can be done by mentally associating ideas with personal and physical characteristics. considering parts of a subject as being like family of people.
  • Humanitarians - Best at processing spiritual information. These types will be most comfortable with vague concepts like meaning or potential and will have most trouble with concrete, technical information. To get around this, it may be helpful to associate information with one's attitudes and emotions while studying, attributing the subjective experience to better remember the details and how things should be done.
  • Pragmatists - Best at processing practical information. These types will be most comfortable with technical manuals of information, giving direct advice on how to practise the information they are given. In order to better manage more intangible concepts in academic learning, it is important to convert the information into a more concrete or spatial form, associating things with actions and processes, rather than non-specific theory.


Quadras

Second, different types will have different attitudes towards data they learn:

  • Clarity-seeking - These types value Laws and will want to process information in a way where everything fits together in a single, cohesive system. As such, there will be a drive to tie different elements together and remove or consolidate exceptions to the structure being used. The important thing is that the knowledge accumulated can be explained in a clear, cohesive whole, with no part contradicting. Learning with graphs, charts and tables, or else, finite lists of bullet points, are most helpful
  • Integrity-seeking - These types value Pragmatism and will want to accurately process the facts as they are presented and will not forcibly try to draw the facts into one system, tolerating inconsistencies and exceptions to rules they are given. The important thing is that it is accurate and the knowledge taken from it works. Learning with access to all the relevant facts and finding a use for any information would be more helpful. 

Function Blind-spots

In terms of IM Elements (IMEs), the most important IME for learning is Pragmatism (P), which enables one to take in new factual information and update one's knowledge bases accordingly, based on what can be empirically observed to be true. This enables someone to learn new information and change or update on what they already know.

Another important IME is Laws (L), which enables one to go through a knowledge base and tie together elements to create a consistent, explanatory narrative. This enables someone to understand information presented to them and to make sense of it.

Considering these two IMEs, it's important to consider the deficits with certain Ethical types when it comes to learning. We know that in Model A, the 4th function, i.e. the Vulnerable function, is sort of a blind-spot, which cannot adequately process a certain IME. When P or L are in the 4th function, they may present barriers to learning and understanding in an academic sense.

In the case of P4  (SEI and IEI), one may find that the SEI or IEI is easily overwhelmed by new facts, and may take longer than others to parse through and learn more material. In the case of L4 (IEE and SEE), it might be easier for them to learn new material, but more difficult for them to work out the underlying structure of what they have learned, making their understanding more disjointed.

It is important to find ways past these issues, such as pairing up with a friend stronger in those areas, or else compensating with a pure P6 or L6 approach. We know that in Model A, the 6th function, i.e. the Mobilising function, is our area of aspiration, something we challenge ourselves to do better. If these types are able to work on developing these functions, they can buffer the shortcomings of their weak-point in familiar, controlled situations.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Gisele Bündchen (SEI): Personality Type Analysis

Gisele Caroline Bündchen is a now semi-retired Brazilian fashion model - a 'supermodel' -  and occasional actress and singer, now also active as a goodwill ambassador for the UN. Her career started at 14 when she was spotted at a shopping mall in São Paulo, having more or less continually progressed afterwards, her big break coming in 2000 when she got a US$ 25 million contract with Victoria's Secret. She now resides in Boston with her husband, football player Tom Brady, and their two children.

For analysing Gisele's type, the best information available is in the form of interviews, written or in video, and occasional remarks by those who know her, besides what is known of her preferred lifestyle choices. Although there is a considerable number of interviews with her in English, I have found that in most of them she gives pretty much the same answers to the same questions, never going very deep.
 I have however noticed that in the interviews she gives to the Brazilian media, in Portuguese, she seems far more open and willing to reveal more about herself. A very useful exception is a recent 55 min interview with Charlie Rose (EIE), which goes deeper than the other interviews in English I have found. In the Brazilian interviews she was more or less allowed to take the conversation where she wanted, with just a few questions by the interviewers; by contrast, Charlie Rose tended to keep the interview on track as per his agenda, with an inclination to 'help' her sometimes by completing her answers, which she tended to say "yeah" to and seldom contradict. This sometimes revealed more about Charlie Rose's type than hers, but anyway I think useful information for a Socionics analysis can be extracted from his interview as well as from the Brazilian media's.

Obviously, all the interviews focused on her career as a model, and why she decided to stop when she did, etc. She very often came to the subject of knowing her body, "listening" to her body - she said that her body was "telling" her that it was time to stop. She consistently shows extreme self-confidence in evaluating the sensations and the state of her body, not only regarding her work but also her pregnancy: in one of the interviews in Portuguese, she happily went into detailed descriptions of her child's delivery; the progress of her dilation while still walking, the circumstances of her water breaking, and the like. Although not getting into that kind of detail with Charlie Rose, she said that she herself insisted in having her first child in her bath at home, and persuaded her husband Tom Brady that that was safe by showing him videos of such deliveries, until he said something like, "do whatever you want, just don't make me watch another video of a woman giving birth". This general theme, of being confident in anything related to her body and its sensations, is one she comes back to very often in her interviews, spontaneously, confidently. This already suggests that S is a strong function, or at least certainly not a weak one, making S4, S5, and S3 very unlikely, with S6 just slightly more likely as far as that goes. 


One of the Brazilian interviewers noted that, in early pictures taken when she was socialising, she was very often smoking. Gisele explained that early in her career she had to share rooms with other young models, for whom drugs were "cool". She was never into drugs, she said, but in order not to seem "too uncool" and fit in a bit, she decided to "at least, smoke", even while knowing that it was not good for her; when she felt more socially secure, she said, she quit smoking, explaining, again, that she could feel the effects of smoking in her body. This again reinforces her strong S, which also seems to be in a Valued function, as well as at least a good awareness of E. In the Charlie Rose interview, there seemed to be some clashes between his apparent F valuing and her S valuing. He kept describing her as "competitive", which she rejected; when he made the point that both Tom Brady and herself were "competitive", she easily brushed that aside, saying that maybe he was a bit more competitive than she was due to his profession, she saw herself as being a "collaborative" person. She further added - also apparently to Rose's scepticism - that the chief quality she saw in Brady was that he was "kind and gentle" rather than anything else. The latter may be a contrived answer; nevertheless, I think the above evidence points strongly to a strong S type whose F is probably subdued rather than weak.


When explaining what she saw the reason for her success, she preferred to minimise the effect of her looks (which I will not consider as of Socionics importance) and focus on luck, but also on her "personality", as a friendly and cooperative person who above all "never complained". I would say that that points to a person confident in Ethics rather than Logic, which was also visible in the points made above. In all the interviews, without exception, her demeanour seems spontaneously friendly and happy, irradiating a positive emotional atmosphere, except when briefly coming to tears during the Charlie Rose interview when the death of her dog was mentioned. Later on, Rose suggested that she made a distinction between Gisele the fashion model and Gisele the "goofball and tomboy" (her words), between the private person and the public image. This is a natural point for an E type to make, but she reacted to that with some seemingly spontaneous enthusiasm, which to me reinforces the point that she has E rather an R as quadra value, while being strong in both. At some point - quoting her father - she said that the single most important thing in life is the quality of your relationships, which she said she agreed with. At face value this suggests the opposite, i.e. an R ego person, but I suggest that in isolation it is not inconsistent with an E quadra type type with also strong R.

As per the above, in all of her interviews the focus of the conversation was on S, E and R subjects. In the Charlie Rose interview she mentioned - briefly - her interests in astrology and numerology, as well as having looked at Buddhism. In one of the Brazilian interviews, she went into much more detail, talking about the variations of astrology schools and the like. I suggest that this points to valued L but as something she's not very confident in; in fact her L is only barely visible (and P seems not visible at all). According to Wikipedia she once caused some controversy by stating that women should be forced by law to breast-feed their children for 6 months at least - a point she quickly backed off from. I think this also points to the strong and valued S, with hints of L and F. Her I is also barely visible, but she showed some focus on it not only by her seemingly variable (but also limited) search for mystic systems to explain reality, but also in her genuine excitement when reacting to Rose saying that she was in a point in her life full of uncertainties, with endless possibilities. It seems that I is something she responds to positively but does not easily do on her own. From a broad-brush perspective, Gisele is obviously a person who, left to her own choices, spends her time surrounded by her children and by nature, occasionally devoting herself to interesting activities that might pop up now and then. This again points to a person of S and I as quadra values, that is Alpha or Delta.

I think the combination of S1, E2, L6, I5, P4 and R8 fits well what we can see of Gisele Bündchen, making her a SEI. Possible alternatives such as ESE or EII don't really work as well because of the absence of visible P3 and S8 for the former, and the comfort with (while dismissing) F points for the latter.

Sources: the full Charlie Rose interview is in his website (on YouTube there are only bits. The longest, most useful Brazilian videos are this and this.


To learn more about SEI, click here


If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.