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 and that under close study:

"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.


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.


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.


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.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Hillary Clinton (LSI): Personality Type Analysis

Hillary Rodham Clinton is an American lawyer, politician and occasional book author who possibly will serve as the 45th President of the United States.

A native of Illinois, Hillary met her future husband Bill Clinton (EIE) at Yale Law School. After graduating and working as a congressional counsel in a House committee investigating the Watergate scandal, she decided to move to Arkansas, Bill's home state, together with him and building up a professional career there, as a law professor at the University of Arkansas. They eventually got married and she later became a partner of the prestigious (in Arkansas) Rose Law Firm. During those years, probably it can be said, simplistically, that she was the stable breadwinner while Bill focused on his political career, somewhat shaky at first. Concisely, he was elected Arkansas Attorney General in 1976, then Governor in 1978. He lost his first attempt at re-election in 1980 (the term being then 2 years only), but managed to return as governor in 1982, being then continually re-elected Governor of Arkansas and remaining in that office until shortly after being elected US president in 1992, an office he occupied until January 2001. During those years, as Bill Clinton's wife, Hillary was therefore active as First Lady of Arkansas and then as First Lady of the US. In late 2000 Hillary was elected Senator for New York (a state with which she had had little or no previous personal or professional connection) and re-elected in 2006. In 2008 she ran for the nomination of the Democratic Party for the presidential elections, but despite being the favorite as first, she was in the end defeated by then Senator Barack Obama (IEI). Upon his becoming president, she was appointed as Secretary of State, in which position she served during his first term only, as apparently agreed early on. After a period in private activities, most recently she won the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election.

As a major public figure during so many years, there is obviously a vast amount of written and video information on Hillary Clinton. Yet it is probably fair to say that a lot of it is politicized, in the sense of being carefully calculated to promote her politically (such as her two books of memoirs as well her husband's), as well as most of her interviews as a political candidate. Conversely, many books and eyewitness reports by individuals who oppose her politically should also be taken with a pinch of salt. So for this Socionics analysis, I will focus on very early evidence, hopefully less 'tainted' with politics, then on general traits that seem consensual and consistent about her, as seen by her admirers and detractors alike.

The earliest and probably most important evidence is her 1969 commencement speech at Wellesley College when she was 21 - the very first student speaker there, elected apparently unanimously by the students. Given the circumstances of her life and of the technology at the time, and that she was addressing people who knew her well, it's probably fair to say that that speech is representative of her inner thoughts. She refers to herself and her fellow students as a collective; she focused on the fact that their generation still lacked "leadership and power", and is rather dismissive of the "empathy and sympathy" they have received (as being in the end meaningless). She focuses on politics being about "making the impossible, possible" and how the "inspiration" they had received from the 1960s decade (civil rights movement, space program, etc.) led to disappointed expectations when they arrived at college (meaning, implicitly, that it wasn't really a place for high-expectation dreams), even implying that she considered leaving at times; yet also saying that it was "tragic" when people have no optimistic vision of the future.

I would argue that this speech already strongly indicates that Hillary has F and T as quadra values - the focus on power, the frustration of the sense of powerlessness of her generation, the longing for inspiration towards very lofty goals. Her overall tone is slightly bitter, certainly not one to create comfortable S emotions among those present; on the contrary, I would guess that she intended it to be a bit uncomfortable. I would say that this already suffices to put Hillary squarely in the Beta or Gamma quadras.

Fast-forwarding, there is this interview of 1979, when she was about 32, and just recently after becoming Arkansas's first lady for the first time. The interview is mostly a series of "softballs", giving her a chance to give mostly politically and socially "neutral", even bland answers (like saying that Arkansas is the best place to be, etc.). Yet, at one point she gets more animated and digresses at some length, spontaneously, on the matter of the "image" the public, and people in general, may have of her and Bill, which will not be necessarily true, etc, but in the end it is something that is there and she has no control over it. In my view, this suggests that she acknowledges the public longer-term perception of someone, the "image", as something "real" and that she is aware of, even concerned about, but at the same time she feels sort of helpless about it as well. This is an indication of weak E+T, although probably valued, since she is aware and concerned about it. By comparison: I think an EIE, for instance, would either feel in control of her image and so not worry about it, or if worried, not mention it as a concern (as that would mean revealing too much). This would nevertheless point to the Beta quadra.

That is interesting looking at this April 1992 interview i.e. during Bill's first campaign for president. This video includes snapshots of public perceptions of her at the time, which consisted of her being "aggressive" and "ambitious" and even "the power behind the scenes" with the implication that Bill Clinton would be more like a figurehead. This is also reinforced in this other video of the the same year: the press took for granted that Bill was the man who "softened the edges" when talking about any subject, and Hillary was the one who "used a jackhammer". This is of course easily confirmed by looking at the videos themselves (and I daresay it's pretty obvious to anyone who has observed the  Clintons for any longer period). I would say that again points to Hillary having very weak E (certainly much weaker than her husband's) and an overall perception, I suggest justified, of having strong as well as valued F.

Without going into specific examples, I think this is obvious from her style when campaigning: she does not seem to enjoy the handshaking, ground work of campaigning in the sense of  talking to individuals - compare that to more natural politicians like Bill Clinton himself, George W. Bush (ESI), Barack Obama to some extent, or John McCain (ESI): McCain started his primary campaign in 2008 with little money, campaigning almost alone, driving across New Hampshire in a bus and sleeping in cheap motels, "having some fun" as his campaign manager put it - and managing to build up momentum to win the nomination. I daresay that such a feat would be totally beyond Hillary's inclinations and ability as a politician. Again, I think that points to not only weak E but also not strong R.

On her apparent areas of confidence: Hillary Clinton is much more comfortable in other kinds of environment, even hostile ones, such as answering detailed technical questions on her original health care plan during the early years of her husband's presidency ("Hillarycare"), besides the fact that that was the role she chose for herself, with Bill's agreement, which points to having confidence on L and P. Likewise, in her 2008 primary debates against Barack Obama, it is clear that she saw her "heavy artillery" in  argumentation as being a master of detail and spotter of supposed logical and factual inconsistencies, not trying to compete with Obama at the level of "passionate guide to a brighter future" (as Bill Clinton could easily do).

What we seem to have is someone of strong and valued F, very weak (but I think valued) E, valued and somewhat strong T, strong L and P, not strong R (but also not obviously weak as R4 either). All of that points to a Beta logical type, so LSI or even SLE. Her level of activity and energy, which seems more constant and low-key rather than "in your face" points to an integrator rather than energizer type. Her approach to E - cautious, "rehearsed", artificial, mechanical - also fits much better E5 rather than E6 of SLEs. So all points to LSI as Hillary Clinton's type. As is sometimes the case with integrator types, her L1 is not immediately apparent as such in isolation; her true deeper worldviews and ideologies are probably something she keeps private. Her L is more visible in her approach to argumentation.

Sources: besides the videos linked to above, there are of course countless others. The reference to John McCain in 2008 came from Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's book on that years election, "Game Change". My general impression of Hillary Clinton as a person was first shaped by Carl Bernstein's biography, "A Woman in Charge".

To learn more about LSI click here.

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

Monday, 29 August 2016

Alan Alda (IEE): Personality Type Analysis

Alan Alda is an American actor, screenwriter, director and science communicator, probably most famous for his role as Captain "Hawkeye" Pierce in the TV series M*A*S*H  (henceforth referred to as MASH).

What first tipped me off on Alda's type was precisely his impact on MASH. At first just one of many actors in the original cast, with several characters supposed to have more or less equal focus, gradually Alda's character Hawkeye moved to become the clear main focus of the show. At the same time, Alda himself evolved from just an actor hired to play a role to the person chiefly responsible for the the show's creative direction, by writing and directing increasingly more episodes and using his star power to steer the show in the direction he preferred. The impact of Alda's priorities is very obvious when comparing the show's seasons 1-3 to seasons 9-11, that is, from the period when his creative influence was small or negligible to the period when it was strongest (the "middle"seasons showing that trend more gradually). The first three seasons have a clear Alpha character (reflecting that of the motion picture on which the series was based), while the last three have an obvious Delta character. The Alpha period was marked by zany humour, as an anarchic comedy played clearly for laughs, where I would argue that the Beta characters and  institutions (the army itself and professional career military officers) were portrayed as ridiculous or downright insane (Col. Flagg), while the Gamma characters (Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan, caricatures of a LIE-ESI couple) were portrayed as humourless, selfish, stand-offish, overly ambitious careerists and unconcerned with anyone else. As Alda's influence made the Delta perspective wax, the show became a more "mature" one that focused on less obviously comedic characters (such as Klinger in his original conception) and situations; dealing more seriously with the war's impact on the psychology of the characters; looking far more sympathetically at the sole remaining Gamma character (Margaret Houlihan, an obvious ESI) and even introducing a sympathetic career army man as commanding officer  (Col. Potter), while retaining its skepticism (or lack of understanding) for the more obviously Beta traits of the army and characters. The character Hawkeye Pierce himself, I would argue, likewise shifted from being closest to an ILE to becoming more like an IEE. As this shift away from an Alpha perspective and towards a Delta one can be attributed almost entirely to the influence of Alda himself, that is already a good indicator of his quadra as Delta.

Looking more closely at Alan Alda as a person. MASH was set in the Korean War, but it was conceived, and initially aired, in the final years of the Vietnam War. It was often widely assumed at the time that despite  the Korean War setting, the series was actually meant as a thinly-veiled comment on the Vietnam War - which was indeed intended by the series's creators. Remarkably, Alan Alda has consistently claimed to have never been even aware of that interpretation, nor did he ever see the series as being "about" the Vietnam War in its goals. As far as he was concerned, the whole point was to make the audience empathize with the characters in that  difficult situation, imagining themselves there, rather than having any broader message, least of all one aimed at the political situation of the time, however subliminally. In fact, Alan Alda has stated in interviews that he deeply dislikes movies or TV shows that try to convey to the audience any kind of political message through the medium of entertainment or through a story. His preference is for productions that focus on the characters themselves and allow  the audience to experience other aspects of the human condition through those characters.

I would argue that the above points more clearly to Alan Alda having the Beta elements of E+T as well  as L  in subdued positions, while having the Delta elements of I + R in a stronger, even ego position. This is reinforced by Alda's press conference during the shooting of the very last MASH episode, where he talked easily of the complexity of his own mixed feelings about the end of the series, while saying that the most important thing for him had been the opportunity to explore his creativity in the context of personal relationships (I +R again) while retaining a matter-of-fact, rather unemotional manner throughout (consistent with P6). The same subjects and traits can be observed in Alda's other interviews done much more recently.

Finally, Alan Alda has become very interested in acting in a completely different area from his original one, as a science communicator, going into subjects with which he was totally unfamiliar for most of his life, like quantum mechanics. He has said that what motivated him, at first, was that he felt bad about himself whenever he noticed that he was making use of technology, even at a very simple level, yet had no idea of how any of that worked; claiming that he felt that he should know a bit about how things work. I see that as strongly pointing to mobilizing P, especially blocked with S (i.e. not so much broader knowledge but specifically about "small-scale", practical knowledge).

Although the above in itself would not rule out EII as Alda's type, his apparent functional ordering seems to fit the IEE's more; he has more of the restless energy when talking. more typical of energizers, and finally, during the whole 11 seasons of MASH, he commuted (i.e. flew) every week from his New Jersey home to Los Angeles. This seems to me to point away from the S6 of EIIs.

I think that the overall Delta perspective on other quadras and approach to storytelling, plus I+R in ego, subdued T+E, and P6 all fit Alan Alda very well, so his type is likely IEE.

Sources: besides the overall information on his life and my own observation of MASH's development, I have looked mainly at this interview and this one, and some others.

To learn more about IEE, click here.

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

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Antoninus Pius (SLI): Personality Type Analysis

Titus Fulvus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, best known more simply as Antoninus Pius, was the 15th Roman Emperor. Despite the fairly unusual length of his reign - almost 23 years, from 138 to 161 - the direct documentation on the period is very limited. Still, I argue that there is enough evidence, based on what documentation is available, and the overall events of Antoninus's reign and what we know of his policies, to allow for an estimate of  his type, at least from a broad-brush perspective.

Antoninus was born in a wealthy senatorial (i.e. aristocratic landowning) family in 86, during the politically tense years of the authoritarian Emperor Domitian, but he reached adulthood in the more politically relaxed years of the Emperor Trajan. He climbed apparently effortlessly the traditional steps of a Roman public career, that is quaestor, praetor and then consul, during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, who obviously showed Antoninus considerable favor: Antoninus was appointed to very prestigious posts, especially proconsul (i.e. governor) of the province of Asia (the western part of the Turkish peninsula), pretty much the most socially prestigious post for a man of his class. Even so, it was probably a surprise to everyone. including him, when the dying Hadrian suddenly adopted the then 51-year-old Antoninus as his son (and therefore successor), on condition that Antoninus in turn adopt as son his wife's nephew, the future Emperor Marcus Aurelius (EII), then 17. Today most historians tend to think that Hadrian saw the young Marcus as his ultimate successor from the start and Antoninus was chosen as a reliable place-holder for him. Antoninus became emperor upon Hadrian's death, just 4 months after his adoption.

Given the wide freedom to choose and implement policy, enjoyed by an emperor with such a long reign, especially in that period, we can already spot some hints to his Socionics type by looking at the overall features of his reign. Most emperors had chosen to spend considerable parts of their reigns away from Rome or even Italy, either in command of armies in periods of war (like Trajan), or in inspection of the provinces and frontiers while doing some "PR work" (like Hadrian). Antoninus, very unusually, spent the 23 years of his reign in Italy and most of that in Rome itself. Also unlike his immediate predecessors, Antoninus spent essentially no money on high-profile architectural projects in Rome, spending however considerable sums on infrastructure in the provinces, such as aqueducts and roads. Unlike most of his predecessors and successors, Antoninus preferred to avoid foreign wars; the military activities of his reign were fairly low-profile "tidying up" operations, the most visible one being the move of the northern frontier in Britain from Hadrian's Wall to the Antonine Wall (which extended roughly from Glasgow to Edinburgh).

Antoninus clearly saw himself more as a 'manager' than as a 'builder' or 'conqueror' or, like Hadrian, a promoter of the idea of empire in the provinces. Antoninus's consistent style of governing, over 23 years, consisted of staying in Rome, governing through subordinates and correspondence, avoiding spending money on war or high-profile building projects, while spending on more low-profile but useful works, while carefully building up a financial surplus. Also, as a "HR manager", Antoninus preferred to keep the same men as provincial governors over many years, rather than rotate them more often as had been a more common practice. Most unusual of all, Antoninus kept the same man in the very sensitive position of Praetorian Prefect (i.e. the commander of the only armed forces in Italy) for a record of 20 years, which was extremely unusual.

The available descriptions of Antoninus, including by his adopted son Marcus Aurelius, portray a man of extreme serenity, immune or indifferent to flattery, of a kindly disposition, who felt a duty to manage the empire carefully, introverted in the social sense, and who had the reputation of a bureaucratic, micro-managing, penny-pinching administrator (even Marcus Aurelius, who worshipped Antoninus, felt the need to defend him on that point in his writings). Marcus Aurelius also wrote that Antoninus lived an extremely temperate life in terms of eating, drinking, and sleeping, knowing perfectly how to take care of his health. So, a stay-at-home, low-profile, careful, penny-pinching "ruler of the known world" who as administrator doesn't care about grandiose public works but does care about aqueducts and roads, as well as saving money;  who prefers to avoid war and who, once knowing he can trust a man to do a job well, prefers to keep him on that job "forever", and who lives a temperate, spartan life - all of that already points, I would argue, to subdued or weak F and E, valued but probably weak R, lower I than S,  and valued P.

Taken as a whole, Antoninus's reign of 23 years can be called uneventful, some might unkindly say "boring", as very little happened and neither did Antoninus take any action to introduce wide-ranging change, as many of his predecessors had done. Antoninus did introduce a series of piecemeal, gradual legislation, all in the direction of what we could call greater humanity and benevolence: he essentially invented the principle of "presumed innocent" in Roman law; made the enfranchisement of slaves easier; introduced the principle of removing slaves from the property of masters who consistently treated them badly; and forbade the "outsourcing" of female slaves as prostitutes, etc. Antoninus was no "revolutionary" who intended to challenge the institution of slavery, but rather someone who thought that slaves should be treated with a minimum of humanity. This, I would argue, points to P over L as quadra value, in the sense that it was done piecemeal, ad hoc, rather than in a more structured, 'paradigm-shifting' way.

The major historical criticism of Antoninus Pius, as a ruler, was that his essential inactivity in foreign policy, over a period of 23 years, diminished the respect, even fear, that Rome's enemies across the Danube and in Parthia (Persia) had felt regarding the Empire since being crushed by Trajan's aggressive wars three generations before; Antoninus seemed oblivious to this danger, or actively decided to ignore it, with the result that immediately after his death in 161 at 74, both the Parthian Empire and Danubian tribes, sensing weakness, launched major military attacks against the empire, forcing Marcus Aurelius to spend most of his reign at war. I would argue that that hints again to subdued F as well as T in Antoninus - I would assume he did not intend to hand a 'ticking bomb' to Marcus Aurelius.

Finally, in an even more broad-brush analysis of Antoninus's reign, there is how he wanted the Roman Empire to be perceived. We have the Greek orator Aelius Aristides's "Roman Oration", delivered to Antoninus Pius himself, in which Aristides describes a peaceful Roman Empire ruled as if it was one single city, and now "the entire civilized world lays down the weapons that were its ancient burden and has turned to adornment and all glad thoughts, with the power to realize them - - You, better than anyone else, have proved the truth of the proverb: The earth is everyone's mother and our common fatherland". Etc etc. Assuming, reasonably, that Aristides knew what Antoninus wanted to hear, he painted his rule, a bit naively, as the realization of a Delta ideal.

Overall Delta values, with no visible focus on E. valued R but not obviously strong; devalued or even ignored F and T; apparent high focus on S and P, little visible I, and an overall impression of a cautious. serene, even passive man. I think the available information, however limited, overall suggests most consistently that Antoninus Pius was a SLI.

Sources: besides Wikipedia, which has a good summary of the overall evidence, the primary documentation is the Historia Augusta's "Life of Antoninus Pius". Marcus Aurelius's description of his adoptive father are in books 1 and 6 of his Meditations. All are available online. Aelius Aristides's Roman Oration is available in its entirety here .

To learn more about SLI click here.

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

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Donald Trump (SLE): Personality Type Analysis

Donald John Trump is an American businessman, real estate developer, book author, television show host and politician, who possibly will serve as the 45th President of the United States. He is the son of the late real-estate developer Fred Trump. Trump has a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, but even before graduating he was already working in his father's company.

Trump oversaw several high-profile real estate and building developments in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s, during a time when the city's economic future was dubious and investing there was far from being obviously wise. Trump's projects were often controversial, leading him to become increasingly a public figure, culminating with his construction of Trump Tower in 1983. That was controversial due to its (alleged) questionable taste; the - at the time - dubious business case for such a project in still-then depressed Manhattan; to the demolition of the Art Deco Bonwit Teller building that had previously stood there; and to Trump's increased use of his own name and brand to associate his projects with himself.

At the time Trump was in his thirties, and for an analysis of his type it is useful to take a look at how he came across in interviews of the time. Rather than the later, better known version, who is more inclined to rely on bombast, bragging, self-promotion and extravagant, controversial or even perhaps shocking remarks, the Donald Trump of the early 1980s appeared as a calm, rational, even modest man who showed little emotion or passion as he described in technical detail the reasoning behind his building projects and defended them against criticism, relying on factual, technical arguments (or seemingly so). At the time, Trump started to become identified with NYC's returning optimism since he (by luck or smarts) managed to invest there precisely at the right moment. His public image became that of not only a canny investor but also of a man who "believed in New York", and he explored that image in a virtuous (or vicious) circle whereby his business ventures became indelibly associated with his personality and vice-versa.

In 1987 Donald Trump published his first (and still most famous) book, The Art of the Deal. Actually penned by journalist Tony Schwartz, the book nevertheless is written in Trump's first-person voice and it seems clear that it reflects his own thoughts, words, and views (or at least the views the wanted the public to associate with him). In that book, Trump is still largely his 1980s persona: it is mostly his autobiography (focusing much more on his business ventures than his private life) along with his thoughts, and advice, on how to succeed in real-estate development. That book still reflected what seems to be his obviously deep understanding of that kind of business, as he describes in detail how he came to his decisions, but also with some more general principles: the notions that business deals are about knowing and using one's leverage (F); that intelligence and technical knowledge, or other talents, are less important than one's instinct about their own leverage, strengths, and weaknesses, and a belief that either a person has such instincts, or not (points to F as more valued than P). Further, at the time he was already professing his belief (that later became much more obvious) than even bad publicity is better than no publicity; that making extravagant claims about his objectives and goals, far more than he knows to be feasible, is very useful in building up his image (E blocked with T). He also wrote that another key to success was to always have several alternatives and fall-back positions when trying to strike a business deal, so as never to really lose (points to I). Finally, it is interesting that he seems skeptical of expert technical knowledge when making his big decisions; he prefers, as he says, to ask as many people what they think about a location (especially cab drivers), gradually forming an image of the situation in his mind until he's certain of what the best way forward is (this indicates L as more valued than P in my view).

I argue that the above is perfectly consistent with the core of the present-day Donald Trump, and already reflects some clear Socionics information. His early public persona clearly showed a man at ease with factual impersonal information when defending his business decisions, which was at first obviously a more comfortable "zone" than the appeal to his image. That strongly suggests that his P is in a stronger position than his E. Yet, his increased shift to focusing on E in public, as he got older, more famous and more successful, strongly suggests that E is a quadra value rather than P, which was already clear in The Art of the Deal: P is easy but taken for granted, while E is something he prefers to build up, aim at, and explore. His often-repeated belief that the single most important quality for business deals is to know one's (and others') "leverage", and that is further built up by one's "credibility" which is a consequence of success and the image of being successful, clearly points to F as quadra value and as a zone of great confidence. The above already points to Beta as Trump's quadra - having E and F as quadra values. His strong P points to a logical Beta type, while his focus on keeping several possibilities afloat at once, as well as his confidence in risk-taking and spotting real-estate potential before others shows a reasonable confidence in I. Finally, that Trump states all of that as self-evident truths points to L. All of that already points to SLE as Trump's type, a logical Beta with decent I focus.

"Present-day" Trump presents further evidence. He got into increasingly diverse business ventures that had sometimes little to do with his core business expertise, and were based exclusively on his image, starting with casinos, then into things like Trump Steaks, Trump the Game, finally culminating on the TV shows The Apprentice, Celebrity Apprentice and spin-offs thereof, as well as Miss Universe competitions and the like. I think it's fair to say that by the time of those TV shows he was spending at least as much time (if not far more) in this kind of image-and-celebrity business venture rather than on his originally core real-estate businesses. That again shows the shift from P+F (accumulating wealth through more "concrete" business ventures) to E+F (focusing on his image as a source of power and wealth, as well as probably an end in itself).

Finally, on Trump's most recent "incarnation" i.e. as presidential candidate. His tactics in the Republican primary debates consisted essentially of destroying his rivals through ridicule, by attaching to their images traits (real or not, that's irrelevant) based on perceived weaknesses and pounding on them relentlessly until they "stuck" (i.e. low-energy Jeb Bush (LIE), little Marco, lying Ted, etc). Winning a competition by ruthlessly destroying an adversary, even using what some might call 'low-belt' tactics. shows a focus and skill on F (especially as he himself seemed impervious to such attacks); and the focus on rivals' images - rather than their substance or record - shows again the focus on E, E+T in particular i.e. a broader, longer-term perception of an image, rather than more short-term emotional atmosphere.

Also interestingly, Trump's most notorious political promises are F focused: building a huge wall on the Mexican border (that is the materialization of F), being tough on external commercial rivals, foreign and internal enemies, etc. Whether he actually plans on doing any of that if elected president is less relevant than that he thinks that those promises are effective and plausible and will help him. In addition, the 'present' Donald Trump's focus on E as a political tool has been effective with many people, but they are also seen as over-the-top, or even repugnant, by as many more. This is consistent with E being in a valued function but not really strong (such as lead or creative).

Donald Trump is clearly a SLE and I think it's even difficult to plausibly argue for another Socionics type.

Sources: information on the present Donald Trump is almost infinite; his earlier incarnation can be found in older video interviews and in his first book "The Art of the Deal".

To learn more about SLE, click here.

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