reality is weirder than you think

Tag: personality

Knowing Thyself

It’s funny, that what you can admit so readily to yourself becomes irritating when someone else points it out in you.

Kind of like how you can make fun of your brother to his face, but the minute someone else does, you’re all up in theirs.

I took a personality inventory over the weekend, and–when I think about it objectively–it really wasn’t much of a surprise.

But it’s never fun being told you’re not that agreeable.

Even though

  • Your favorite part of music is the counterpoint
  • You do your best work after you hit the “forget you” mentality
  • There are few people in the world you call friends
  • You’re fine with having contrary opinions in a group
  • Trolls and tricksters are reliably your favorite characters
  • You say “no” straight up (most of the time) instead of deflecting

I also consider myself incredibly polite, but I have to acknowledge that I have to work hard at it.

It’s also a distinct possibility that my low agreeableness is what allows me to be interested in art and creativity, but also fairly right-leaning in my thinking.

There are plusses and there are minuses.

(It makes dating extra difficult, though.)



Faculty dreams

I started reading The Four Cultures of the Academy for work, but I’m finishing it because the author is incredibly insightful. It’s the kind of book that rings so true that it’s funny.

I haven’t had this much fun reading a book since Antifragile. Like Nassim Taleb, author William H. Berquist puts words to many of the things that I’ve already observed, but arranges them in a useful way and explains them with more insight, experience, and technical knowledge than I have. It both affirms my confirmation bias while providing useful information–the best kind of book.

This is one of my favorite passages. See if you can guess what this story reveals about the rank the male faculty on the hierarchy.

Our protagonist–the ideal scientist or scholar–usually dwells on some lofty plane. Subsidized by family wealth or secure in a university appointment, he (rarely a woman) seems to be oblivious to the more mundane matters of finance. Personal relationships have a low priority, though the professor may be seduced at the end of the film or novel by an attractive laboratory assistant, reporter, alumna, or daughter of the university president. His requisite apparel is either a white lab coat or a herringbone jacket. He invariably smokes a pipe and partakes of an afternoon sherry. The scientist or scholar is often a former college athlete (the Rhodes Scholar model) but is not physically active only when an emergency occurs (about two-thirds of the way through the novel or movie). His physical prowess emerges only when the monster is invading, when fieldwork is required, or when our protagonist wants to show that he is still an all-American fellow by participating in a pick-up football game being played on the grass in front of the laboratory or library. Our modern-day equivalent to the scholar-athlete is Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones.

The scientist-scholar’s work is usually performed in solitude with one or two young proteges who provide appropriate respect and encouragement. Neither our protagonist nor his assistants are very interested in the ethical implications of their work until late in the movie or novel. They are concerned with the ultimate impact of their research on the welfare of mankind but are shortsighted about its immediate implications. The work in itself is a breakthrough–always on the frontiers of knowledge. In Thomas Kuhn’s terminology, this research is never in the realm of “normal science,” but is always in the realm of revolution and new-paradigm construction.

The research or scholarship is, of course, always successful. Very little attention is given to problems of dissemination; the new knowledge is immediately available to the entire world. only early on in the novel or movie is there resistance to the dissemination of our protagonist’s findings. By the end of the movie or novel, the scientist or scholar often shifts attention from his own work to broader social or religious concerns. The quest continues.

Let’s see…introspective? Check. Unusual? Yes; often cultivated deliberately. Unattractive? Generally on the left side of the bell curve. Bitter? Often.

$10 says the seductress is a redhead.

This is such prototypical version of Gamma: A Love Story (the title that I give all the different flavors of gamma fantasies in media) that it almost hurts. And yet, it really is the backbone of the dream of the research faculty. Everybody wants to be the secret king of research. Everybody wants to get the girl without having a clue. Everybody wants to never deal with money again in their lives.

And risk…don’t even get me started on the risk tolerance of faculty.

This book was written in 1992 so I’d like to say that things have changed since then…but I don’t think they have. The type of person that self-selects for a faculty role exhibits almost exactly the same characteristics of a gamma on the hierarchy.

Remember that the next time you ask why universities don’t just stand up to their students.


Faculty or Baby Boomers?

If you’re in the higher education racket, you deal with faculty. Period.

Maybe, if you play your cards right, you can get out of dealing with students, but you can never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever escape the faculty.

If you can work successfully with faculty, I’m pretty sure you can work with anybody. (Although I’ve heard that surgeons are pretty bad too.)

The thing is, most individual faculty members are perfectly lovely people. If you talk with any one of them one-on-one, even the old crotchety ones, they come across as decent people with good motives.

As a group? Entirely different story. They are so difficult to work with. Recalcitrant, paranoid, constantly complaining without being willing to take action to change things.

For a long time, I thought about why they always seemed to be this way. Was it the low risk tolerance? The innate leftism that was bred into most of them, leading to a hugely r-selected population? The self-selecting for introverted personalities who prefer “facts” to action?

All of those are true, I think, to some extent.

But I didn’t realize until Stefan Molyneux’s most recent call-in show that there might be more nuance to my observations of faculty than I previously thought.

You see, one of Stefan’s guests was a Baby Boomer (trigger warning for the background image), out to disprove all of his negatively-biased conclusions about her generation.

Naturally, she failed at her own aims and succeeded only at reinforcing the Boomer stereotype. (Of COURSE it’s all about me!)

This was when I realized–what if it’s not just faculty, but Boomer Faculty who present such a difficulty to work with. Many of the same hallmarks are there–the entitlement, the inability to see themselves as part of a larger group or trend or demographic, th

Perhaps this is why there is such a divide between senior faculty and junior faculty. Between the Boomers and Gen X.

Most of my favorite faculty were and are Gen X.

Anyway, I don’t have any grand conclusions to this line of thinking at this point, so I’ll let this post drop with a very unsatisfying THUD, but I’ll be exploring it more as I slowly wade into the waters of a new project.

Photo of the week: I hate dating edition

Today’s photo of the week is brought to you by Tinder.

Yes, Tinder, the app where horny boys and girls (and the occasional sane person) go to be picky and judgmental.

As a new person in a new town with no friends, I don’t have much to do in the evenings, so I’ve been on Tinder a bit more often than usual.

And sometimes, when I forget that I need to swipe left on 99.99999999% of guys, I get absolutely inundated with messages.

Basically the digital version of this:

Girl, just chilling in a big ol’ sweater, surrounded by guys who are all contemplating swooping in for the kill but who are juuuust beta enough to not do anything about it.

Jack further comments “she’s a hostage.”

Honestly, that’s how Tinder feels most of the time. You start a conversation with a guy thinking he might be interesting, but it turns out that all he wants to do is send you Ron Burgundy gifs and talk about how good you look in that outfit in your profile pic. But it’s not just one guy, it’s five or six or ten guys at a time.

Which, it’s Tinder, so what do you expect really.

The point is, it’s the online equivalent of being trapped talking to a drunk, handsy guy at a bar. There’s not a great way to extract yourself from the situation without “being a bitch,” yet the longer you stay, the more miserable you become.

This is why I don’t date much, why I’m still single, and why I mostly prefer my own company — I have yet to find a romantic high that is worth the slog.

Mostly I’m waiting for that red pill guy to come along, and the depressing reality is that the world is full of normies.


A few weeks ago I splurged, and in a fit of “I can do anything business is so great” feel-good rays, I bought the Strengths Finder book and assessment.

Funnily enough (#NoCoincidences), it was one of the books waiting in my new office, along with Mere Christianity.

I took the quiz under the influence of a strategic-project high, so I suspect the results are a bit more skewed to the heady intellectual side (or maybe I’m just more out of touch than I thought).

Anyhow, I’m hoping that writing them out will help me leverage these to bend my new job to my will and to fit my strengths, but also to put them to work accomplishing my other goals.

Here are my strengths:

  1. Strategic
  2. Learner
  3. Intellection
  4. Analytical
  5. Ideation

In my normal overthinking style, I have a rebuttal. It occurs to me that my instinctual reaction to this list is basically…this list.

  1. I certainly don’t feel strategic (but that really doesn’t mean anything)
  2. This is true. I love to learn. I live to learn.
  3. …guilty. I live in my head.
  4. I think I’m fairly analytical, but I’m not as data-oriented as, say, most data analysts. I believe that data should inform, but not dictate. The logic, however, must be sound.

Maybe it’s not so wrong after all?

That said, it’s still just another filter on truth, and not Truth itself. A list of “strengths” is not the same as the mind, body, and spirit of me.

Clearly, to give my brain something to chew on, I need to get back into reading old books and keeping up on news. Finding an intellectual group of friends with which to have conversations would not, then, be an indulgence, but an essential opportunity for growth and development.

That awkward moment when you recognize yourself

in a particularly unflattering passage about Gamma males in Vox Day’s new book.

Bear in mind that the socio-sexual hierarchy only describes men. I’m a woman. However, I know how this goes:

The Gamma believes that if he admits to the truth of his own feelings, he will lose. This is why he is always creating the impression that something is off about him, because it is. Even more than with the social hierarchy, the Gamma is at war with himself and with his feelings. This is why they often appear to be living in a delusion bubble of their own creation, and why they so often idolize Spock and human reason. They like to think they are beyond all human emotions, because they find their own emotions to be painful for the reasons that were described above.

Vox also provides a path out of Gamma-ness: “Face your demons. Face your fears. Look into the mirror and admit the truth.”

I remember being in my late teens and wishing desperately that I could be a robot so that I would not have emotions to contend with. As I’ve grown (realizing that Spock is in fact a fictional character and emotions aren’t going anywhere) and gone through various types of emotionally-charged situations since then, I’ve also figured out that each time I encounter a new emotion, I have to 1) take the time to figure out what the emotion is, 2) pinpoint the cause of the emotion, 3) construct a mental model that will help me process the emotion, and then 4) do the processing.

It often feels like I have 3 more steps to attend to, where more emotionally mature people intuitively know steps 1 – 3 and can skip directly to step 4 without much strum und drang. Meanwhile, there’s me over in the corner, sobbing, trying to put a name to what I’m feeling because I have no earthly clue what it is. I have to approach it from the side, using logic to examine my own actions and compare myself against others who have gone through similar circumstances (or fictional examples, which is perhaps more problematic but easier to pinpoint due to the stylized nature of most fiction writing).

Eventually I figure it out, and process out the emotions, and all returns to equilibrium.

As I’ve grown into adulthood, processing emotions has become slightly easier, and I expect that it will become still easier over time now that I have a few heuristics built up. I still have problems identifying how I feel about certain things, especially new experiences, because I have no prior emotional framework for that sort of thing. I’ve learned to not war with the fact that I have feelings. I try to acknowledge my feelings — but I do often have a very difficult time admitting those feelings to others.

So I don’t lose by having feelings, just by showing them in public.

Does that make me a Gamma? No.

Is it a little bit embarrassing? Yes.

Not gonna lie, it’s a little bit disconcerting to see one of my biggest personality struggles pinpointed so directly in a description of men who are the most odious to deal with in real life. That association is not flattering to my ego. (LOL)

Personality metrics have been helpful in understand the origin of my inadequacies in processing emotions. Now, I know that the Meyers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) is often derided as being unscientific, but I find that it is incredibly useful as a heuristic, both to understand other people (why they act differently) and myself.

Every time I take the test, my results indicate INTP, as do more of the internet population as would seem likely since INTPs are allegedly a mere 3% of the population (although the INxx types tend to self-select into the online world). I suspect that a high percentage of internet Gammas would also test this way. The one(s) I knew in college certainly did.

Following the theory laid out by Isabel Briggs Meyers, each function can be laid out in an “order of operations” of sorts, like so:

  • Dominant Introverted Thinking
  • Auxiliary Extraverted Intuition
  • Tertiary Introverted Perceiving
  • Shadow Extraverted Feeling

Poor little feeling down there at the end. The theory comes with a warning that often, when someone is forced to react based on a “shadow” function, their actions will come across as crude and childish — not up to that person’s normal standards of thinking or behavior. I certainly see evidence of that in my own naive approach to emotions.

Briggs goes on to remark specifically on feeling in certain personality types:

The least-developed process of the introverted thinkers inevitably is extraverted feeling. They are not apt to know, unless told, what matters emotionally to another person, but they can and should act on the principle that people do care about having their merits appreciated and their point of view respectfully considered. Both the working life and the personal life of the introverted thinkers will go better if they take the trouble to do two simple things: say an appreciative word when praise is honestly due, and mention the points on which they agree with another person before they bring up the points on which they disagree.

I had the great fortune of being raised by an ENFJ mother, for whom feelings are a big part of life, and have worked quite a few jobs doing customer service, which has forced me to empathize with others and consider that other points of view include feelings.

For those introverted thinkers who have not spent time in an environment that invited (or forced) them to consider life outside their own heads, this may be a big reason why they are inadequate at dealing with — and therefore dismissive of — feelings.

KILL ME HEAL ME appreciation post

Of all the Korean dramas I’ve watched (which admittedly isn’t that many) Kill me, Heal Me is perhaps my favorite. I’m indulging in a re-watch right now, because I need something comforting at the end of my work days (and am ready for a good cry).

I’ll do a longer post when I’m done to dissect the plotlines, which are interestingly interwoven and complex even if they do roam rather far into soap opera territory. But that’s part and parcel with Korean dramas — if you can’t get down with the melodrama, find something else to watch.

Once you get past the first episode, which is a bit more ambitious than the production crew can pull off — beware scenes set in “America” and the weirdest club crowd I’ve ever seen — the production is above average if a bit cheesy. (BUT WHAT IS A KOREAN DRAMA WITHOUT A LITTLE CHEESE?)

By nature of its story (a man with dissociative identity disorder must sort himself out), the drama lives and dies on the ability of its actors. Fortunately for us, the actors are more than worthy of the work.

It is a testament to the quality of the writing that KMHM can keep emotional coherence while simultaneously careening from gonzo humor to deeply moving pathos. The emotional tenor of the story takes its cues from the personalities embedded within the main character, but instead of taking a dispassionate view of its subject, this drama pushes forward until aspects of each personality infuse the drama.

I also appreciate the contrast between the main heroine, who is loud and played by an actress who is great at physical comedy, and the two main personalities of the hero — one mild, one intense. The juxtaposition of styles keeps the drama from veering too far into seriousness, and keeps it off-balance. The hero and heroine don’t seem to be a good match at first, but grow together over time.

It’s rare that you can find fanvids of great quality from one single drama, both a tear-jerky MV (top) and a laugh-out-loud crackvid (bottom).

Also the costumes are great.

Watch it!

People who naturally write in passive voice

Hello, Dear Reader:

It is the weekend. (What is a week end?) As such, I would like to sit down and ramble at you a little more than usual. A weekly column of sorts. A letter, perhaps.

We may never reach such lofty heights as the Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Romans, but that is entirely beside the point.

The point is for me to take some of the thoughts that I have been batting around in my head, and try to arrange them in somewhat of a readable order without bending myself in knots trying to write a perfect essay. (Because if that were to happen, I would never publish anything and that would entirely defeat the purpose of having a blog, now would it.)

This week I have been thinking about people who reflexively, or naturally, or compulsively write in the passive voice.  Continue reading

© 2018 Batfort

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑