Friday, February 22, 2013

Definitely Not About Kant's Categorical Imperative

Item: Near my work is a children's/dog play park. Parking is across the street. The state of Illinois put in a crosswalk with flashing lights for pedestrian access to and from the park. The crosswalk is not the shortest path to the park. Hardly anyone uses it. Fifty feet away from the official crosswalk is a well-worn muddy Indian path that people have created to move from parking to park. I would submit that the crosswalk is to the Indian path as a categorical classification is to real life metaphor.

Example: Astrology, either Chinese or Western. I don't buy it, but it doesn't mean the idea of fixed archetypes, or a mixture of same to describe the character and conduct of humanity at large isn't a fun thing to play with. Twelve aspects enough? Mix and match, use a percentage system, and the number of descriptors for personality become very large. Not infinite, but large enough to rationalize just about any description.

Example: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I was fortunate enough not to have to take this examination, although it is big in business, like so many quick-and-easy scams that management likes to rely, like all those golf aids and crutches designed to improve your game.

Example: (and a new one on me) The Process Therapy Model. Taibi Kahler's six personality types with adaptations. This one is a darling of government, NASA more specifically. I quote a relevant passage from Automate This by Christopher Steiner:

  1. Emotions-driven people. They try to form relationships and learn about the person they're speaking with before diving into the issue at hand. Women comprise three-quarters of this group, which makes up 30 percent of the total population. Tight situations makes this group dramatic and overreactive.
  2. Thoughts-based people. This group tends to do away with pleasantries and go straight for the facts. A rigid form of pragmatism drives most of the decisions they make. Under pressure, they tend to be humorless, pedantic, and controlling.
  3. Actions-driven people. Most used-car salesmen would come under this umbrella. They crave progress and action, even in tiny chunks. They're always pushing, prodding, and looking for an angle. Many in this group can be charming. Pressure can drive actions-driven people to irrational, impulsive, and vengeful behavior.
  4. Reflections-driven people. This group can be calm and imaginative. They often think more about what could be than working with what already is. These people, when they're interested in something, can drift off for hours while they dig into the new subject. Applying this knowledge to a real-world project, however, is a weakness.
  5. Opinions-driven people. The language used by this group is stocked with imperatives and absolutes. They tend to see one side of a situation and will stick to their views even when refuted with proof. More than 70 percent of politicians are opinions-driven people, but the group constitutes only 10 percent of the population as a whole. People from this group can also be tireless workers, who will persistently grind away on a problem until it is solved. Under pressure, their opinions can become weaknesses; they can grow judgmental, suspicious, and sensitive.
  6. Reactions-based people. Kahler called this group rebels, but the modern set of standards - and those on which personality-deciphering bots are built- refer to them as reactions people. This group is spontaneous, creative, and playful. They react strongly to things: "I love that!" or "that sucks!" Many innovators come from this group. Under pressure, they can be stubborn, negative, and blameful.
You will notice none of Kahler's categorical personalities works well under pressure.

In case you are wondering, I consider myself mostly number 6, and personality-deciphering bot concurred. But Kahler himself says, although personalities may be dominated by one category, they are a mixture of all of them. Again, in case you are wondering, no but I don't buy into this much. After all, a Cosmo-magazine-style questionnaire can't really be all that useful in determining behavior.

But I got to wonder about politicians. What selective pressures result in so many douchebags ending up in political office. Or rather, what selective standards within politics result in so many douchebags ending up there?

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