A mastermind's limits

(Note- don't watch that with the sound on. The soundtrack is awful.)

Kathy Shaidle, a fellow "mastermind" type, has some rather interesting things to say about the INTJ who gives the the rest of us a really bad name:
I assure you it pained Hillary greatly to have to pretend she thought “wiping a server” had something to do with housework. And that after the birth of Chelsea, she thought, “Well, that’s my one kid I’ve had so I can say I had one and people will shut up now.” 
No INTJ actually believes it “takes a village to raise a child.” Raising children is at the bottom of our dream job list, but we sure as hell aren’t going to leave it to some goddamn village (sotto voice [sic]: “Full of idiots…”). Clinton’s book was, obviously, more wingtips on the beach. 
Obvious, that is, to me. To millions of others, too, of course, but learning that Hillary Clinton is basically my evil (in a different way) twin has been a revelation. 
Albeit a limited one. My mother (whose nickname for me was Ming the Merciless) used to watch the U.S. presidential elections and shake her head. “Why would anyone want that awful job?” 
I’d think, “Well, there’s the private plane,” but any rich person can get one, and Hillary probably owns a whole fleet. 
As a female INTJ, she’d be so much happier living in a lighthouse than in the White House. Wouldn’t it be great for America’s future if only she admitted that, too?
That is a fairly good start as an answer to the question: why is the Hilldebeast such an atrociously bad candidate for President of the United States of America?

As far as I can tell, the answer to this question actually breaks down into two parts:
  1. Why are INTJs in general so poorly suited to politics?
  2. Why is that INTJ, in particular, so corrupt and so dangerous even when her personality archetype is taken into account?
These parts need to be looked at separately, and then brought together, to come to any kind of holistic conclusion.

The INTJ's Kryptonite

To the Myers-Briggs "Rational" types, particularly the highly introverted ones (like me), the answer to that first part is actually fairly obvious.

People like me are most comfortable with elegant theories and difficult knotty technical problems- because these are things that have structure and order and purpose.

We are distinctly uncomfortable with the messy realities of dealing with people, who are unstructured and disordered and decidedly aimless in so many ways. Some of us are so bad at it, in fact, that we are at our happiest when we simply don't have to deal with anybody. This isn't exactly healthy or advisable in the long run, but some INTJs just don't have a choice in the matter; our natural dislike of people becomes so over-developed that we simply go full hermit.

The problem is that politics is, by definition and design, an inherently messy business, precisely because it involves dealing with people. It is very much a contact sport in which elegant theories always fall apart under the extreme stress exerted by inelegant humans. And there isn't a damn thing that can be done about it.

And so, "mastermind" types- like me- tend to perform extremely poorly indeed when we have to deal with politics. We simply are not equipped with the mental "software" needed to handle it, and many of us, myself included, go to sometimes extreme lengths to avoid having to deal with political nonsense, preferring instead to concentrate on simply "getting shit done" to the best of our ability.

That embedded character trait is why it is routine and normal for INTJs to regularly receive feedback that goes something like this: "Does an amazing job, delivers exceptional results with superb attention paid to detail, on time and budget if not significantly under both- but can also be a ROARING asshole to work with".

Every single performance review that I have ever received in the last ten years has been a variation on that theme.

The "asshole" part comes from the fact that, for us, every idea must be deconstructed down to its tiniest detail. Every brilliant flash of insight, every plan, every thought process, every goal, is subjected to a truly ruthless internal filter to see whether it "really works". The most extreme INTJs have been known to subject everyone and everything to levels of scrutiny that make a Marine Corps drill sergeant's inspection of a training platoon look lax by comparison.

And since we don't care who we offend in the process of arriving at the truth, it is quite routine for other people, particularly those with a more sensitive personality, to feel deeply uncomfortable if not outright sick in our presence. (It's not uncommon for some of us to take considerable pleasure in slapping down overly sensitive idiots in public.)

These are, by the way, sweeping generalisations that nonetheless are largely true. There are exceptions to these rules. The most famous is probably President Badass himself.

President Reagan has long been considered an inscrutable paradox by many outside observers. Here was a clear alpha male who dominated politics through his charisma, his strength of mind, and his sheer willpower- yet he had almost no truly close friends and seemed truly happy only when he was alone with his wife and family at his secluded ranch in the hills above Santa Barbara.

Despite his strongly introverted nature- which by the way any halfway decent reading of his own diaries will reveal- he was also a masterful politician. He was a sunny, smiling optimist who believed in the fundamental goodness and greatness of America with every fibre of his being. And he was able to forge consensus between the bitterest of rivals through sheer force of will.

He was very much the exception that proves the rule.

Returning to the question at hand, this combination of love of ideas, dislike of people, and inability to be "sensitive" to the feelings of others explains rather well why the Hilldebeast is such a poor choice for political office.

What it does not explain in any rational capacity is just why the hell it is that she holds to so many terrible ideas, and why she is such an immoral, corrupt, and loathsome character.

The root causes for this second problem are much harder to pin down. After all, INTJs are considered to be the personality type most dedicated to rationality; we operate by the axiom that if a theory or idea is logically sound and meshes with observed reality, it must, by definition, be true.

How is it, then, that INTJs like Shillary can simultaneously hold flatly contradictory positions that seem totally out of touch with both rationality and reality?

To take just one of many, many possible examples, how can the Hilldebeast argue on the one hand for completely open borders for everyone else, and yet demand fences and walls and gated communities for herself? She isn't stupid- her IQ is easily in the 130 range, probably higher. She might be crazy- she is a progressive, after all- but that is a rather poor answer, and not a particularly rigourous one.

You see this same trait time and again with famous INTJs in the real world. Karl Marx; Ayn Rand; Mark CuckZuckerberg, Paul Krugman, Christopher Hitchens, Friedrich Nietzsche, John Maynard Keynes- the list of "masterminds" who have come up with elegant-sounding theories that flatly contradict reality goes on, and on, and on.

If nothing else, that list should teach any interested observer that the personality type least suited to wield power and influence is Hillary Clinton's. (And mine, of course. The difference is, I know it. She doesn't.)

So why is it that so many of us "mastermind" types are so easily swayed by terrible ideas?

That comes down to the second major Achilles Heel of the INTJ type: the lack of a moral centre that inevitably leads to highly rational codes of behaviour built upon entirely false premises.

Why Masterminds Believe in Stupid Things

At first glance, there is a glaring and massive contradiction at work here. If INTJs are so rational- and for most of us, our devotion to rationality and truth is a point of pride- then how is it that so many of us can believe in such patently stupid ideas?

There are several possible good answers. The one that matches my own experiences the most closely is that INTJs who lack a strong moral centre from which their principles are derived, and- more importantly- who do not know or appreciate the limits of logic, will inevitably fall for some of the dumbest ideas ever to plague humanity.

This will happen because their rationality makes them so convinced of the superiority of their superficially brilliant ideas that they are unable to see the wood for the trees, and are unable to examine whether their conclusions are actually "moral" in any meaningful sense.

You can see this at work with two philosophies that are, on the surface, diametrically opposed to one another.

Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin are often given as examples of famous historical INTJs. Marx, in particular, was a very bad economist- we know this now, and indeed some of his peers knew it then too. His "labour theory of value" had such a poor intellectual basis, and was built on such shoddy reasoning, that one could shred it faster than a cat attacking a roll of toilet paper simply by resorting to basic kitchen analogies. In fact, Robert A. Heinlein did precisely that in the greatest military sci-fi novel ever written.

These were two men driven by ego, narcissism, and a supreme, overriding belief in the superiority of their own intellects. Neither of them had the humility or self-doubt imposed by having a clear moral centre; Lenin, in particular, had absolutely no problem with the idea of consigning millions to slavery and death in order that the socialist revolution might succeed. He had no problem turning his back on the idea of peaceful revolution the moment that it became clear that force would be needed in order to make the Bolshevik revolution succeed- all in the name of "the greater good", of course.

We all know- now- how that particular revolution ended.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism. Now, Rand's philosophy is, in theory, diametrically opposed to socialism in every way. Rand celebrated and elevated the individual above all else. But she also openly rejected any external source of morality, and therefore any restraint upon human excesses. She justified her considerable personal failings by claiming that she and a select few of her acolytes were "superior beings" and were therefore justified in breaking with laws, conventions, and basic human morality because they were just... better.

That didn't work out too well either.

In both cases, we see a clear pattern: the lack of any serious moral character and utter blindness to the very real limits of logic, coupled with extreme intellectual horsepower and a healthy contempt for the opinions of others.

Consider too my own example. I turned my back on God and organised religion in general at the age of 13, and for the next 15 years I identified openly as an atheist. I refused to tolerate any other point of view on religion because I knew that God simply couldn't exist. Science and rationality could explain everything- or so I naively thought at the time.

The problem was that I didn't know, and despite studying mathematics at a pretty high level did not appreciate, the limits of logic.

As I grew older, I began to realise that there was, in fact, room for both a loving and benevolent Creator and for rational physical laws that govern His creation. That realisation did not damage my ability to be rational- if anything, I have become even less tolerant of superstitious nonsense than I was in the past, and more curious about precisely how one can reconcile the Laws of God with the realities of the world around us.

Too many Rationals never reach that level of self-awareness and understanding. From everything that I have seen, the Hilldebeast is one of those unfortunates.

"The Vision of the Anointed"

Because she lacks a firm moral centre, she is blinded by her belief in the superiority of her ideas. She actually thinks that she can fool all of the people, all of the time.

And that is what makes her so terrifyingly dangerous. That is why she is utterly unsuited to wield ultimate executive authority.

She cannot understand the concept of limits to sovereign authority. To her, such an idea makes no sense- it would be a limitation upon her ability to impose her elegant ideas and plans onto an inelegant and messy reality.

Yet those limits are precisely what keep the rest of us safe from the predations of the government that she would presume to control.

The choice that Americans face in November is pretty simple. On the one hand, you have a man who, for all of his faults- and they are many- does appear to have some kind of moral centre and has shown no inclination whatsoever up to this point to bend reality to his will. On the other, you have a woman of unquestionably high intelligence, but of absolutely no moral virtue at all, who likely believes at her core that her ideas make complete sense- if only to her alone- and that the rest of the country simply needs to "get with the program" and fall in line.

I find that a very simple choice to make. Why do so many of you hesitate, or- worse- insist on voting for her anyway?


  1. Eduardo the Magnificent18 August 2016 at 23:15

    Hillary and others like her have fallen prey to the irrationality of rationality. From the linked address:

    "The ultimate proof of the irrationality of rationality lies at the end of World War II: rational systems undertaken to construct an ideal utopia for humankind have led, ironically, to our ability to develop the technology of the atomic bomb that makes the ultimate extinction of homo sapiens possible."



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