TED Talk: Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality

What makes you, you? Psychologists like to talk about our traits, or defined characteristics that make us who we are. But Brian Little is more interested in moments when we transcend those traits — sometimes because our culture demands it of us, and sometimes because we demand it of ourselves. Join Little as he dissects the surprising differences between introverts and extroverts and explains why your personality may be more malleable than you think.

The Big Five personality test is well regarded in psychology compared to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Little spends quite a bit of time on the trait present in both: Extraversion and Introversion.

My favorite quote: “Introverts prefer contextually complex, contingent, weasel-word sentences. More or less. As it were. Not to put too fine a point on it… like that.”

If the above does not work, then try Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality

TED Talk: Beware neuro-bunk

In reading a recent article about the issue with #MeToo (a viral campaign where women posted about their experience with sexual harassment or abuse), I also read the Nature article by Dr. Molly Crockett Moral outrage in the digital age. It also led me to watch the below fascinating TED Talk.

If the above fails to load, then try Beware neuro-bunk. A guide to all the articles mentioned in the talk.

TED Talk: The surprising habits of original thinkers

I loved Adam Grant’s book, Originals. The below video is essentially the TL;DR version.

How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”

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Total Eclipse

 

Total Eclipse over Greenville, SC
Total Eclipse over Greenville, SC

A friend invited others to her parent’s house inside the totality. It was fantastic placement very near the center of totality, so we got to see it for a couple minutes rather than a few seconds just inside totality. [Photo album]

I experienced the annular eclipses in 1984 and 1994. I was a kid at the time, so my recollection is fuzzy. We also were not in the path, so it got dimmer but not… this.

The sky was BLACK. Night BLACK. Eerily unnerving BLACK. I felt like a quark inside a nearly infinite universe. And then the light returned.

It hands down is the most spectacular moment I have ever experienced. I understand how peoples found this event so terrifying. I understand the physics and have a hard time believing it. I now get why people become eclipse chasers. I could become a junkie for wanting to experience this again and again.

It would be amazing to see the next one in the USA April 8, 2024. It goes over Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, and Maine.

We expected traffic getting there and returning home to be horrendous with the interstates, highways, and roads swamped with people. From what I heard, traffic on I-85 was really bad in places, since that was the direct route from Atlanta to Greenville. And it was pretty bad up in the mountains.

Balance Theory

Found it especially weird that podcasts advertising Zip Recruiter tend to talk about how they found people to work for them without using Zip Recruiter. We are supposed to believe that even though they did not use it, we should not leave it to chance to find a good employee like they did.

These bothered me for months until I heard it again while reading about Heider’s Balance Theory. (It came up in a discussion with a friend earlier today.) The idea of it is Person likes Other person but has neutral or negative impression of X. This imbalance creates a cognitive dissonance which is resolved by creating a favorable view of X. Person disliking Other person could create a negative view of X. Essentially celebrity endorsements exploit this function of our brains.

Basically, Zip Recruiter paid Malcolm Gladwell to talk about this product on Revisionist History in order to create a cognitive dissonance where I would get a favorable view of their product. Me (Person) liking Malcolm Gladwell (Other) should create a favorable impression of Zip Recruiter (X).

This effect can backfire. If I dislike Zip Recruiter more than I like Gladwell, then I might come to dislike him because of this.

WIRED and Ad Blockers

I get it,  the site makes its money off the ads. I rarely read their articles anymore. When I see something interesting, it surprises me that I do not read it anymore, so I click the link. Then they interrupt me reading to complain about having the ad blocker enabled. Trying to be a good person, I change the settings to allow the ads like they want.

Here is the kicker, though, they interrupt me again to say “Thank you.” That… That makes me so angry that I revert the settings to block the ads and close the tab. At that point I remember why I no longer read the site. I came to read not get prevented from reading. Just let me read.

Unwritten Rules

A while ago, a baseball player coworker and I had a conversation about the unwritten rules of baseball. These are expected sportsmanship behaviors. When players are perceived to violate these moral guidelines, the other team may result in retaliation. Teams can end up in brawls on the field over the escalations started by someone violating an unwritten rule.

Apparently I left the impression that baseball is the only sport with unwritten rules. He sent me the unwritten rules of the gym.

Soccer has them too. In futbol (soccer),

  1. If a player is injured, then the other team should put the ball out of play or give the ball back to the team with the injured player when it restarts.
  2. Players who score against a former team return to the center circle to restart without celebrating.
  3. Offer a hand to help an opponent stand up.

There are unwritten rules everywhere. And we are expected to abide by these social conventions or we are jerks who deserve to be snubbed or attacked for failing to be a decent person. This like…

  1. Let others out of an elevator or train before you get in.
  2. Leave a one urinal buffer zone.
  3. Texting in the presence of company.

The problem I have with unwritten rules is the passive-aggressive escalation and retaliation aspect. Rules exist to set the expectations of behavior. Writing them down ensures everyone knows what are the expectations of behavior. The authorities (referee, police, HR) can punish people for failing to abide by them. Leaving them unwritten just means one party can take advantage and the aggrieved party breaking written rules in retaliation to feel even more upset they got unjustly punished.

Intellectual humility

Adam Grant pointed to How ‘Intellectual Humility’ Can Make You a Better Person which I found intriguing.

We all have a tendency to overestimate how much we know — which, in turn, means that we often cling stubbornly to our beliefs while tuning out opinions different from our own. We generally believe we’re better or more correct than everyone else, or at least better than most people — a psychological quirk that’s as true for politics and religion as it is for things like fashion and lifestyles. And in a time when it seems like we’re all more convinced than ever of our own rightness, social scientists have begun to look more closely at an antidote: a concept called intellectual humility… which has to do with understanding the limits of one’s knowledge. It’s a state of openness to new ideas, a willingness to be receptive to new sources of evidence, and it comes with significant benefits: People with intellectual humility are both better learners and better able to engage in civil discourse. Google’s VP in charge of hiring, Laszlo Bock, has claimed it as one of the top qualities he looks for in a candidate: Without intellectual humility, he has said, “you are unable to learn.”

I wonder how my wanting to explain things tied in with my Imposter Syndrome derails the above overestimations. There is a thing in the back of my head looking to find fault in myself. So in going to explain something and realizing my weaknesses, my confirmation bias is to think, “Of course, I don’t understand it as well as I ought.”

Let Me Explain; Let Me Sum Up

There is a great quote from The Princess Bride

Westley: Who are you? Are we enemies? Why am I on this wall? Where is Buttercup?
Inigo Montoya: Let me explain.
[pause]
Inigo Montoya: No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Buttercup is marry Humperdinck in little less than half an hour. So all we have to do is get in, break up the wedding, steal the princess, make our escape… after I kill Count Rugen.

It is what I thought of while reading Mike Caufield’s The Power of Explaining to Others.

I like discussions about things because in talking about it, I have to…

  1. Judge how much the other person knows.
  2. Judge how much I know.
  3. Figure out the best way to provide additional value.

In going through this, I figure out that what I know is usually less than I originally thought. Which makes me more curious, so I will seek more information. Many of my times getting lost down the rabbit hole of the Internet is trying to clean up the holes of my understanding from some recent conversation. There is an obsession to better know things, so I found it interesting that my habit of explaining books, articles, or whatever is on my mind ties to well into countering false information.

The conclusion to Gotcha Jerks Part II

Not long ago, it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling for a very conservative coworker to call me the only liberal he knows that he can discuss things. We disagree, but we respect each other enough to discuss things. I am not hurt by our disagreements. And as much as he tries to act radical, I suspect a lot of it is poker bluff acting.

My motivation in talking with him is in part understanding what I do and do not know. He provides a perspective I normally probably would not see. He uses keywords I can search for to find more about those views. And… He is not seeking to convince me (nor I him) to the “right” side. We just talk to explain what we know to better understand. So, I hope in explaining to me, he is getting the same benefit I am.