Everything is impossibly complicated

Posts tagged ‘INFJ’

BBC’s Sherlock Holmes: Myers-Briggs Typing

We’re currently watching BBC’s Sherlock Holmes and enjoying it immensely. The character of Sherlock is so well done that it keeps you captivated for the entire show, just as the books did in my teens. Of course, such a striking character is just begging to be typed in our favorite non-scientific personality system, the Myers-Briggs system. (The fact that it’s non-scientific isn’t of great concern; it merely means that it’s not repeatable when used on real people, but that doesn’t reduce the usefulness of its categories for self- and other-analysis in a general sense.)

I’ve seen claims that Sherlock is a primary Ti user. Until the episode The Hounds of Baskerville, I could see this argument, because we didn’t know exactly how Sherlock’s thinking process worked. But in the Baskerville episode, his thinking process is shown clearly (when he’s trying to put together Liberty, In, and Hound), and it’s not introverted thinking–which would be a logical process deriving one thing from another to get to a sound conclusion–but rather introverted intuition, trying many possibilities until everything converges into one answer.

There are arguments that his logical explanations for his uncanny knowledge preclude him from using introverted intuition. However, this is mixing up the external presentation (his explanations) and the internal process (how he comes to his conclusions). Ni-dominants can’t describe the actual thought process that leads to their conclusions, because it’s something more akin to crystallization, where an atom falls into its natural position in a lattice and you just know. So after many years of living this reality, they develop the ability to explain themselves through their secondary, extraverted function, which helps them come up with an alternative path one could use to get to the same conclusion, using objectively accepted frameworks. It’s a mistake to confuse the external presentation of the thought process with the actual internal thought process.

In fact, the clearly ordered, logical explanations that Sherlock offers are actually evidence that he’s using Te, not Ti. Ti is very logical and orderly internally, but externally Ti dominants aren’t nearly so ordered. Having had long conversations with a couple INTPs, you quickly realize that A) they talk a lot when you get them on a topic of interest, and B) they never get right to the point. They either wander off on one tangent after another, never to return, or they travel all over the world to finally come back and conclude their point, which has now been firmly founded on an exploration of every possibility and how it all fits together. Sherlock doesn’t worry about other possibilities (to any great extent). He has his conclusion and his explanation is concise, giving the impression that it’s the only possible path you can take.

I’ve also seen arguments about Sherlock’s turbulent emotions, which are offered as evidence that he uses Fe. This again is contradicted by experience with INTPs and ENTPs. xNTPs have a personableness to them–they’re friendly, though with some social awkwardness. INTPs are much more self conscious and awkward, but still have a noticeable warmth to them. ENTPs are actually compellingly warm if you are the focus of their interest at all–you’ll only realize that they aren’t Fe primary when someone they aren’t interested in starts talking about something they don’t care about–they’ll suddenly just drop out of the conversation entirely. Sherlock isn’t warm at all, but you clearly get the sense over time that he’s good. It takes some time to realize it because it’s internal, an internal value system, or Fi. The turbulence fits quite well with this, because he has no problem being emotionally turbulent around strangers–something that Fe users won’t easily do. Fe can be turbulent, but only with those who are close. Strangers will generally enjoy the warmth of Fe from those who have it.

Finally, there’s the question of Se, which clearly plays a big role. I’ve seen him typed as ESTP because of the role Se plays for him. I think that’s a compelling argument, but after thinking about it I don’t see him with Ti or Fe, and I can see both Te and Fi. Further, I’m not concerned about the fact that he feels a need to experience the case in order to understand it, because I’ve seen that same process with an INFJ: intuition leads to a vision, but the vision has to be experienced to really understand it. It shouldn’t be surprising, really, because dominant Ni is fed by the inferior Se in order to have the material to make its convergent vision from. This is clearly how Sherlock uses Se. However, he does seem to use Se much more strongly than you’d expect for someone with inferior Se, and I’d argue that that is the fantasy about Sherlock’s character, that’s what makes him fiction. There’s no one (or at least, almost no one) who is truly like Sherlock in the real world, and that’s because real people with inferior Se almost never have it developed like he does. That’s his magic.

So in case it’s not obvious already, I think Sherlock is clearly an INTJ, although a fantastical version of it.

Smörgåsbord (June 17, 2016)

I thought it’d be fun to do a semi-regular summary of some of the interesting articles I come across (inspired by Challies’ A La Carte). Here are the articles I’ve appreciated recently:


The Sounds of Fundamentalism: OMG! This Man is Looking at Porn by Dawn Hawkins

This article illustrates one of the methods used by anti-porn crusaders to shut down free speech. Without exaggeration, this person (Dawn Hawkins) saw a man looking at porn on a plane with his iPad and she reports him since “it was probably child pornography.” No concern for truth, just trying to demonize her target using any plausible accusation she could grasp.


INFJ: Least Likely to be Who You Think They Are

Amusing and intersting article on the INFJ type of the Myers-Briggs personality system. Most articles on INFJs are like unique this, tortured soul that, beautiful unicorn blah blah blah. This article paints a more realistic (and occasionaly sarcastic) picture of the INFJ, while offering some useful insights (particularly for the INFJ’s relationship with logical thinking). [Note: I know Myers-Briggs isn’t scientific. That doesn’t make it useless; it just limits how seriously one should take it.]


The Democratic Party derailed Bernie: How the establishment has worked to discredit Sanders’ movement

Reveals that much of the online hullabaloo about “Bernie Bros” and other denigrating terms for Bernie supporters has been driven by the pro-Clinton Super PAC. This won’t be surprising to anyone who’s been the target of pro-Hillary troll attacks, but it’s good to have the whole story laid out in one place. And it contains a good take-away for everyone on any side of an issue, a quote by Glenn Greenwald (which can be true even for non-self-centered people):

Self-centered people always think their own group is free of trolls because they’re never targeted by them.


Democrats Embrace Secretive, Flawed Terror Watchlist in Fight Against Gun Violence

As unfortunately is usual, the Democrats have reacted to social problems in the wrong way, and are pushing for policies that will increase centralized power and make it easier to strip liberties from those who are disliked by the powers that be.


Sacramento Baptist preacher praises Orlando shooter, says all LGBT should be mass murdered

Per the quote from Greenwald above, it’s good for us to remember that it’s not only some members of Islam that call for violence against LGBT people (and others), but that there are Christians that do too. Our goal as Americans should be to oppose violence from anyone, instead of trying to stereotype one group as a shortcut while giving our own group a pass.


Parenting Is Now Officially Impossible

GREAT article from Time about how cruel and ruthless many on the Internet are towards parents who make mistakes. I can’t help but wonder what percentage of these outraged people actually have kids. Once a person has kids, you discover how impressively difficult it is to keep them out of harm’s way 100% of the time, yet people who want to “shoot the mother” of the child who fell into the gorilla’s pen (for example) seem to have little understanding of this. Maybe people who don’t have kids shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion on how to raise kids.


Doable Homemade Doughnuts

We’ve tried to make donuts at home on several occasions, but they never came out great. This recipe for apple cider donuts was delicious and easy to follow!


Do You Suffer from Memory Blindness?

How sure are you that your memories are accurate? Do you think your memories can be manipulated by another person? This fascinating article describes how it’s possible to manipulate the memories of other people (and the implications for law enforcement).


Can Neuroscience Understand Donkey Kong, Let Alone a Brain?

An intriguing examination of the current methods of neuroscience as applied to a simple CPU. It turns out that applying those methods to a CPU tells us very little about the higher-order behavior of the CPU. When you see what kinds of conclusions about the CPU result from these methods, you gain a greater appreciation for how to weight the results that come out of neuroscience today.

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