Re: Personality types (was: uncontrollable suffering)

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Nov 15 2001 - 15:58:39 MST

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > Probably around the same way that Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram look to
> > me: Darned silly. Which is the point I was trying to make with all
> > this. Any system of phrenology works about equally well, whether it's
> > Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, the AD&D alignment wheel, or White Wolf's
> > Nature/Demeanor system.
> I wouldn't place Myers-Briggs quite in the same camp with homeopathy,
> but I do agree that what it measures is pretty arbitrary. It does,
> however, clearly measure _something_, as evidenced by the fact that
> so many of use here are *NT*, and many other self-selected groups of
> people similarly have high correlations.

I didn't place it in the same category as homeopathy; I placed it in the
same category as phrenology. Homeopathy is just a null-op. If you took
the facets of personality and intelligence that phrenology allegedly
measured, you'd probably find high correlations there as well... though,
of course, no correlation between independent measures of such
characteristics and the alleged corresponding skull feature. If you took
some day's astrology column, removed the dates, and asked people to
self-select which was their personal prophecy, you might find correlations
there too, though I wouldn't expect them to be able to pick out the
allegedly "correct" prophecy at anything other than chance level. You can
probably find correlations with favorite television shows, character most
sympathized with on _Babylon 5_, eating habits, sleep cycles, and clothing

What I disagree with is the idea that this reflects any deep truths about
human nature, except for the obvious one: On any graph, people cluster.
If someone wants to pick out a nice, full-spectrum range of tests with a
hundred dimensions and test ten thousand people to study *clustering in
general*, good for them; that's real science. Even GAC would be a decent
project if it were billed as pure investigative science, rather than as
having something to do with AI, though then they'd have fewer

But as I see it, the only outcome of reducing the dimensions down to INTJ
is to let pontificators go on talk shows.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:19 MDT