Stereotyping by Pointy-Headed Psychologists

There’s something mildly annoying and intrusive about having ourselves tagged and numbered by some damned academian somewhere as a particular personality type.  But when my good friend, Rich, sent me this link along with the question, “Does this remind you of anyone you know?” I clicked it.

“INTJs are strong individualists who seek new angles or novel ways of looking at things. They enjoy coming to new understandings. They tend to be insightful and mentally quick; however, this mental quickness may not always be outwardly apparent to others since they keep a great deal to themselves. They are very determined people who trust their vision of the possibilities, regardless of what others think. They may even be considered the most independent of all of the sixteen personality types. INTJs are at their best in quietly and firmly developing their ideas, theories, and principles.”
  —Sandra Krebs Hirsch[15]

If I were the kind of person who allowed himself to get pissed off about things other people do and say this would really piss me off.  In the first place, I don’t even believe in psychologists and psychology.  What the hell do they know about anything?

Secondly, wrapping people up into a nice little package and putting a colorful bow on it, sending it out as though it were a gift for anyone who wants to claim he knows something about people and the way they think is an invitation for more of that sort of insufferable thinking-behavior disguised as learning.

Thirdly, the way institutional science is forever confusing itself with engineering without ever pondering the consequences, next thing you know there’ll be all manner of psychologists getting themselves government grants to devise ways to profile their homespun stereotypes so’s some branch of government with an opinion about a particular type can identify them for their own purposes.

For instance, every day you can read about physicists at CERN and other labs patting themselves on the back and saying, “Oh yeah, we’re creating baby black holes. They just vanish.  No danger of  one of them getting away and gulping up the planet earth.”    As though they know what the hell a microscopic black hole is doing, or likely to do in orbit.  Heck, maybe it was just in a slower orbit and got left behind until the next time earth comes around Old Sol to pass through and grow a little every pass.

Think about it.  Those Manhattan Project guys developing the atomic bomb consisted of a significant portion of whom thought testing that device might set fire to the atmosphere.  They got out-voted, not because anyone knew it wouldn’t, but because most believed it was a low probability.

How’s that for some exercise in risk-taking judgement?  “Hey, let’s put it to a vote.  How many think there’s a big chance if we detonate this thing it will destroy all life on the planet by setting fire to the atmosphere?”

40 PhD physicists raise their hands.

“Okay, how many don’t think there’s a very big chance it will?

60 PhD physicists raise their hands.

“Cool!  Let’s run with it!”

And the majority turned out to be right.  Whoopee!  Now, generations of scientists later all over the world consortium of pointee-heads in laboratories and behind desks at universities can hold that up as an example of how to measure risks they’re taking without ever getting outside their closed circles of wisdom and knowledge.

But I’ve digressed.  Back to these grant-prostitutes calling themselves psychologists.

You and everyone else can be assured there are graduate students somewhere creating a box to hold all your personality traits, figuring out the buttons to push to produce a particular behavior from you.  What words, images, sounds will inspire you to buy a particular type of product, vote a particular way, choose a direction for your life.  The grad students just do the work, but some hotshot pointee-headed prof will give a paper about it when the National Association of Prostitute Psychologists meets next spring and position himself for more grant money.

But you can be equally assured that cop shops and the ilk have hired them out to help them see what else is in the box they have you in.  Yeah, you’re all these things, so you’re also probably a serial killer, terrorist, baby-raper, or someone who just doesn’t have any damned use for authority figures.

You’ll be damned lucky if they don’t outlaw you sometime because some hired-hand grad student working for a grant-hack prof put the wrong thing in your box.

Here’s an example.  A gentle, harmless personality box.  But just listen to what else is in there to light up the eyes of the cop shops.  But I suppose old John Denver’s probably not concerned about it. 

Old Jules

The John Denver Show (BBC), 1973 – Poems, Prayers and Promises

10 responses to “Stereotyping by Pointy-Headed Psychologists

  1. Blame the printing press – Gutenberg’s invention democratized knowledge but also created the capacity for control and standardization. Now with the internet who knows where it will go. Where once quirky personalities were simply incorporated into society now there is the pressure to be normal and pills to take if you don’t. People are categorized, measured and diagnosed to determine if they are ‘normal’ or need ‘treatment.’ I don’t so much mind labels as where that kind of thinking leads. Not just the cops, but teachers (‘Billy doesn’t sit still in class, you need to look into medication) and even ourselves (“I don’t feel happy, maybe I need to take a pill…”) A brave new world.

  2. I learned how to construct some of those personality inventories and the scales they are supposed to measure. I learned how easy it was to cheat them, and how the lack of an answer that actually reflects your choice is proof the tests have failed utterly in accomplishing anything useful, largely because the pointy-headed idiot writing it can’t imagine his scales not covering actual human variations.

  3. I’ve always felt that pigeon holes fit pigeons the best.

  4. A professor once reminded his class, two scientists confronted with almost any problem can be relied upon to produce three opinions.

    Thanks, Old Jules, for your blog site, “interesting, if not unusual” reading…

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