February 2005 Archives

My friend Moof left a comment on my last post:
If you’ve ever taken the Kiersey temperament sorter, I’d be curious to know what result you’ve got; I’d guess something like an ENFJ.
My response was going to be:
Actually, really, really close. I come up as an ENTJ. Tangent: I have this really strong dislike for a lot of these temperament sorters and personality tests and whatnot. I think I mentioned this to you back when I was taking the Asperger's / autism tests. Simply, the wording of the questions, if not meticulously careful, can completely change the result from test to test. Seemingly equivalent (in the predictive sense): "Do you prefer the company of others to a quiet evening alone?" and "Are you more comfortable when not surrounded by people?" The E/I model gets its ass kicked here, because you'd expect that someone who answers "no" to the first to answer "yes" to the second. But the thing that these tests don't seem to get is that a "no" answer to "Do you prefer the company of others to a quiet evening alone?" is not the equivalent of a yes answer to "Do you prefer a quiet evening alone to the company of others?" Some people (me, for example) are equally comfortable and happy in a crowd or with a good book. My answer to the first question would be: no. My answer to the second would be: no.
And all of that is true. Putting my money where my mouth is, though, I thought I'd take a test again, since I got that back on April 3, 2002. (I kept it in a private post in my Livejournal, which is what I used back then.) For a little background, the Keirsey and Meyers-Briggs tests measure a person on four scales: Introverted to Extroverted, iNtuitive to Sensing, Thinking to Feeling, and Perceiving to Judging. So I went to the Keirsey Temperament site and took the assessment. Now, their site isn't the best place to take it; they only give you your major type. In other words, out of the four scales, they only give you the iNtuitive to Sensing scale and the Thinking to Feeling scale (if you're an iNtuitive) or the Perceiving to Judging scale (if you're a Sensing). My ENTJ falls under the NT, or Rational, major type. So knock me over with a breeze when it tells me that my major type is SP, or Artisan. Since it wouldn't give me much information about my scores at all, I decided to go on and try the test at Humanetrics. The results there were far more detailed: it said I am a moderately expressed extrovert (44%), a distinctively expressed intuitive personality (75%), a slightly expressed thinking personality (12%) and a slightly expressed perceiving personality (22%). That would make me an ENTP. In fairness, my Perceiving-Judging flops around a lot. I don't really see a dichotomy between perceiving the world and making judgements about it - in fact, I think that that part of the scale is perhaps the most flawed, because I don't think you can make really good judgements without observation, being percecptive. Same with my Thinking-Feeling: it's all over the map, because I don't see a huge divide between what I think and how I feel. More, I don't think that thinking a lot you have to be an unfeeling bastard; I don't think that crying at sad movies makes you any less thoughtful. And my Extroverted-Introverted has tested at both, at times, depending on my mood. Sometimes I'm just freaking sick of people, and I closet myself away and don't talk to anyone much for weeks. And other times, I want nothing more than engaging interaction with the fantastic friends I have. The only thing I've been really consistent on is the iNtuitive-Sensing bit (other than that test at Keirsey.com, anyway). That's probably because I like to synthesize and combine information and experience too much to attribute an inordinate amount of significance to the events of right here, right now. (I do think that here and now is important, of course. I'm a practical person, whatever any test might say about me.) (As a tangent to the tangent, that part of my personality drives my forensics [public speaking, not criminal] coach insane, as I want to do speeches and pieces with over-arching themes and trends rather than the immediacy of dead bodies. I like to think about big, important, seemingly constant problems. Especially the kind that get ignored because of band-aids that a lot of people eventually resign themselves to calling "solutions".) So, anyway. The results of tests like these are so entirely all over the map - I think there are much more interesting scales on which to plot peoples' personalities, for one, and I also think that if these tests are going to be successful at telling you anything about anyone, the questions need fixed in a hurry. As an amusing exercise, I'd like to illustrate exactly why these questions suck so badly. From the test on Keirsey.com (you have to pick one or the other on these).
1. Do you tend to: say right out what's on your mind keep your ears open
Um... yes?
3. Do you tend to be more: speculative than factual factual than speculative
I tend to speculate a lot about factual information, so what do I answer here? I refuse to speculate about things I know nothing about: like, at work, we were discussing the Scott Petereson trial, and everyone in the room said they thought he was guilty. I said I had no opinion. Why? I'm not a juror on the case. I'd seen a lot of the evidence on TV - they were on the 24-hour news channels all day, every day at work - but I was sure I wasn't getting all of it, and that I was certainly getting a sensationalized view of what I was getting. On the other hand, I can't just sit there and not speculate about the possible significance of the information I do have. I like to write; what-ifs and imagination are the bread and butter of keeping myself entertained and lively. So again - what do I answer there?
5. Are you more likely to trust: your conceptions your experiences
Yes? Aren't my conceptions formed in huge part by my experiences? And from the other side, aren't my experiences both chosen based on and colored by my conceptions?
7. Which appeals to you more: consistency of thought harmonious relationships
Oh. My. God. Whatever genius thought up that question is, dollars to doughnuts, a divorcee. How in the hell are you supposed to have harmonious relationships with people who are wildly inconsistent? You'd wind up in constant arguments about stuff you both thought you agreed on. I think harmonious relationships are partly an outgrowth of consistency of thought on the part of all involved parties. I chose that because it's the primary - the relationships follow.
8. Are you more often: a cool-headed person a warm-hearted person
I still don't see the dichotomy here. I think I'm pretty damn cool-headed, but I've also been called one of the most empathetic people other people have ever met. I enjoy taking apart a problem logically, but I listen and play counselor to my friends all the time, with tact and care and warmth. I've had more than one person tell me they appreciated my level-headedness when they needed help making a tough decision, but you can't give someone purely logical advice without connecting with them, which takes warmth. So... um... answer?
9. Do you think of yourself as a: tough-minded person tender-hearted person
Yes? See #8.
17. Are you more: introspective than observant observant than introspective
I like to think. I like to observe. I like them both in equal measure. I find it exciting to think about what I've observed. I find it exciting to observe things that I've thought about. Is that so weird? I love seeing my ideas confirmed, and I love getting new information to think about. I can't have one without the other.
20. Are you more inclined to feel: down to earth somewhat removed
Sometimes I feel so down to earth it makes me feel somewhat removed.
22. If you must disappoint someone are you usually: frank and straightforward warm and considerate
One of these days, I'm going to get around to explaining my ideas about utility, but this question actually lets me show them in action: It is right to be frank and straightforward with someone you have to disappoint, if you care about them at all. It's useful to do so in a warm and considerate way. There's no utility in being so cold and factual that you alienate someone you're trying to be honest with, but consideration without honesty is equally stupid. So why not both?
27. Do you tend to choose: rather carefully somewhat impulsively
This is exactly the problem I was talking about in the rant about instinct, understanding and meandering. I usually make choices quickly, but that doesn't mean they're not made carefully.
28. Is it preferable mostly to: make sure things are arranged just let things happen naturally
Without context, this is impossible to answer. I'm not tyrannical about my life or the world around me. I don't mind handling things as they come. Some things require arrangement, though, and others are better if you just let them be.
32. Facts: speak for themselves illustrate principles
Call me crazy, here, but... don't they do both?
34. Do you prize in yourself: a vivid imagination a strong hold on reality
Absolutely! I'd say that those are two of the things I value the most about myself.
36. In a heated discussion do you: stick to your guns look for common ground
Again with the utility thing. What's the point of having a discussion long enough for it to get "heated" if you're not going to look for common ground? But at the same time, my guns tend to be really fundamental principles. I look for common ground because conversations can be filtered that way: Either we agree on basic principles, and
  • one of us is misapplying them
  • one of us is missing context, or information specific to the discussion
  • the argument is trivial, and both of our conclusions are equally tenable based on the same basic principles
Or, we disagree on basic principles, and
  • it's worth my time to try to show the validity of my basic principles, in which case, I do and go back to the "we agree on basic principles", or
  • it's not, and I walk away from the conversation.
...I could go on, but it's pretty much all the same from then on. Anyway, the point is: if you're trying to ask interesting questions about people and the way they handle life, the universe and everything, these are not the questions you are looking for. In fact, they're not even the scales you're looking for. Maybe one of these days I'll get around to writing something that asks the kind of questions I'd like answered about personalities.
The latest from Joe Klein at TIME pisses me off a lot. Joe shows a startling lack of insight into the process of forming coherent policy. Sample:
It should come as no great revelation that George W. Bush is a wantonly decisive President. He decides Ariel Sharon is good and Yasser Arafat is evil, even though seasoned diplomats tell him it is not wise to make such sweeping judgments. He decides that Social Security needs to be transformed and that private investment accounts are the way to do it, even though the experts say there is no great crisis and his way won't solve anything. He decides to invade Iraq, with minimal contingency planning. He decides to cut taxes drastically and then to spend an outlandish sum on a Medicare prescription-drug benefit. His presidency has been exhilarating and nerve-racking, imprudent and visionary—and now we learn that it is another thing as well: it is a prime example of the latest fad.
I'm not a Bush apologist. The shit that he gets wrong, I will call him out on. The stuff he gets right, I'll applaud. What Klein (and quoted Gladwell) call the "blink", the fast, seemingly instinctive decision, is something they really don't understand at all. A friend of mine bitched during a heated argument a couple of years ago that when we argue I have a quick answer for just about everything. It gets to the point where it pisses him off; he says it seems like I've prepared ahead of time, have rehearsed arguing with him. But the fact is - and I've told him this - I don't prepare for arguments. Not explicitly. But that doesn't mean I'm unprepared. In all of that downtime (ha!) between classes and (formerly) working and the gajillions of things I do, I do a lot of something perhaps not everyone does: thinking. I don't have to rehearse and memorize responses to each and every question that anyone could ever ask me. I start with fundamentals, layer on some general categoricals, and from there, it's usually pretty damn easy to figure out what my stance would be on just about anything. So easy, in fact, that it might strike some as instinctive. Instinct, though, is a dangerous animal. It's completely contextual, with no fundamental core or direction. But they look the same, outwardly. How, then, do we tell when someone is basing decisions on synthesis of strong core understandings, as opposed to instinct? Simple: consistency. Seemingly instinctive behavior that is more or less entirely consistent probably isn't coming from no-where. Recognize, Klein. That deliberation and so-called expertise you admire so much in Kerry is just compassless meandering - the lack of central ideals masquerading as attentiveness. As the tag-line for American Beauty says: Look closer.

Probe #1

| | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (0)
When trying to model how you think someone might perform at a given task, how much attention do you give to what they have professional experience with in the past?

Test Woes

| | Comments (6) | TrackBacks (1)
I know that you all are wondering: what on earth is Erica up to that's distracting her from the truly important things in her life (like her blog)? Glad you asked! Apparently, taking 20 credit hours in one semester is a really, really bad idea. Like, land-war-in-Asia bad. I'd get started on the general evil that is [insert one of my classes here], but I'd actually rather not get into that, as I do have to get to bed and get up for my 8:00 am class. So instead, I'll relate something I've noticed in a class I like. Namely, calculus. Now, I know what you're thinking. "Oh my god!" you're thinking, "she just said she likes calculus?!" It's true. Calculus is something that evil math nerds who desperately need a self-esteem boost try to pass off as really difficult to make themselves feel better. It's not easy as in, 2 + 2 = 4 easy, but hey, what is? But I've noticed a tendency during my tests, one that fellow students in high school complained of and I never really understood until recently. Basically, I'll be sitting there, and I'll look at a problem. Five minutes later, after having... sat there, and looked at it for five minutes, I insert my index finger between my lips, and move up and down repeatedly. This, in spite of the fact that I know how to do the damn problems. For example, one problem on my math test from this morning asked me to prove the following: Derivative Proof (equation) Which says, in English, that the derivative of the sum of two functions equals the sum of the derivatives of two functions. I stared at this problem. And then I stared at this problem. And then, I said "fuck it," because I needed to do the rest of the test before I wasted a third of my time on one problem. The stupid thing is, I did know how to do this problem. I realized what I should have done thirty minutes later, in my car. You just have to use the formal definition of a limit: The formal definition of a derivative Plain English version: The derivative of function f with respect to x is the limit of the difference between the function with an eeeeeeensy bit added to x and the function of x, all over that eensy number, as that eensy number approaches zero (hey, I said it was eensy, didn't I?) Then, you can actually fill get from one side to the other, like so: The solution to the derivative proof Basically, I just tossed the left side into that definition, rearranged using some standard algebra tricks, and came out with (last line) what I'd have gotten if I stuck the right side into that definition. (The f'(x) thing is the same as that d/dx f(x) bit - just a different way of writing it, called prime notation.) Now that you've all had your yawn inspiring Erica goodness for the day, I'm going to bed - secure in the knowledge that I have correctly done the problem - even if I won't be getting any points for it.

Congrats, Wil!

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
\n"; for ($i = 0; $i < count($arr_xml['URL']); $i++) { if( isset($arr_xml['PostID'][$i]) && $arr_xml['PostID'][$i] > 0 ) continue; echo "
  • ".$arr_xml['BeforeText'][$i]." ".$arr_xml['Text'][$i]." ".$arr_xml['AfterText'][$i]."
  • \n"; } echo ""; } } function tla_updateLocalXML($url, $file, $time_out) { if($handle = fopen($file, "a")){ fwrite($handle, "\n"); fclose($handle); } if($xml = file_get_contents_tla($url, $time_out)) { $xml = substr($xml, strpos($xml,'(.*?)', '"'); $n = 0; while (isset($out[$n])) { $retarr[$out[$n][1]][] = str_replace($search_ar, $replace_ar,html_entity_decode(strip_tags($out[$n][0]))); $n++; } return $retarr; } tla_ads(); ?>

    About this Archive

    This page is an archive of entries from February 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

    January 2005 is the previous archive.

    March 2005 is the next archive.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.