These excerpts are from my book on personality types: 16 Kinds of Crazy: The Sixteen Personalities.
I think, therefore I am. Rationality encompasses my entire being. I know no other way to be. To understand me, you need to know how deductive reasoning works. It uses a set of facts or data to figure out other facts by drawing specific conclusions based on logical premises. I use premises as propositions used to build an argument, based on judgments about them as true or untrue. It lets me form an assumption, based on what I know.
If two facts are correct, it’s reasonable to form a hypothesis on a related piece of information. This approach uses prior knowledge and rationality to determine a missing piece of information.
This form of logic follows a set of rules or procedures. To avoid errors that might compromise my theories and lead to inaccurate reasoning, I scrutinize all incoming data for logical consistency and truth before accepting it. If a starting premise is wrong, I view anything that results from it as bad. Therefore, whatever I believe must come from a rational foundation. I test all my ideas, beliefs, and formulas to determine their truthfulness.
Weighing them objectively requires forming a system of proven logical truths to assess all incoming information against. I question and challenge everything to determine its wisdom. I want to accept nothing without rational principles behind it. It’s better to assume everyone is operating off unproven statements. Before I accept any new information, I evaluate everything for logical reliability.
To ensure my competence, I want to know the value, meaning, and purpose of whatever I encounter. This means constructing an internal system against which I test all incoming information. Is this full of contradictions? How does it measure up to the truth? I reject anything that falls apart when compared to reality.
I accomplish this by taking time to comprehend how everything works and the principles of how systems operate, from formulas to air compressors. Whatever knowledge I learn, I incorporate into an inner framework of understanding. It forms rules in my mind about how things connect, what purpose they serve, what they have in common, and sets realistic limits by which to measure all incoming information. Impersonal analysis lets me make sense of everything around me.
Taking Things Apart
Part of this process includes experimentation and trying things. I test for causal reactions, through action or improvising. If I want to know how something works, I take it apart to see how all the components fit together and determine their exact purpose. I must first understand the pieces for the greater whole to make sense, whether it involves a biplane wing or a math equation.
Let’s look at it this way. You can get in a car and drive it, or take the time to understand how it functions. Knowing what it’s doing and why makes you smarter in useful ways. Being aware of how an engine operates makes it a simple process to fix one, whether it belongs in a convertible or in a lawn mower. The engine converts gasoline and air into energy. This fuels the pistons moving up and down inside the cylinders. It turns a crankshaft connected to your car’s external operating mechanism, causing it to move forward. Having a basic knowledge of how an engine operates lets me form a reasonable assumption about how another one works. It’s a firm logical principle to build on when dealing with a broken engine.
This is how a good mechanic can assess what’s wrong with your car just by listening to it. They know what the engine sounds like under normal circumstances, and how it sounds when something is wrong. Dealing with thousands of engines has taught them rapid identification. Only a few problems make that noise. It’s fast and efficient. If the car won’t start, it’s one of these two things.It eliminates wasting time. One of them must be right.
The same principles apply to computer codes and anything else that relies on an internal structure to function. If I take the time to learn it from the inside out, to find out what a bad line of code or a missing screw does, I will know what’s wrong based on how a problem presents itself. Then, it’s easy to correct.
If I don’t know what the problem is or what might fix it, I work through solutions one at a time, until I find what works. This process is better done alone. That lets me think and access what knowledge I possess on the subject. To be accurate, I work slowly through a mechanism, figure out what each component does, and understand its individual importance to the greater whole. Before I start a task, I learn the processes involved and settle things in my mind. I need to find the meaning of the object or system or how it fits together. I can’t rush this process. I care about understanding more than implementation; that comes after I know the rules and what knowledge I can transfer to other projects. Knowing the core of something reveals its consistent truth and shows me how it remains stable in a changing environment. Everything I learn is a potential building block to count on in the future.
I study things until they click into place and fill me with insight. I search for a rational truth that brings everything else into focus. Whatever I learn gives me insight into other parts of my life.
Knowing how something functions leaves room for innovation and creative thinking. Everything that makes your life easier came from this process. Someone took what they knew and applied it to an invention. To make it work, they had to understand the many components required for it to function. Creating it involved trial and error, repeated attempts, and failures, before they found the right mechanism to operate a car, run a computer, or light a room.
They had patience to study things, get to know them from the inside out, or tinker with them to make them work in new ways. Unless the internal construction is right, an invention won’t work. There’s always a solution. If I keep working at it long enough, and testing it, I’ll find it through a process of elimination.
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ISTP: The Adventurer
I want to understand how things work. What surrounds me? What is its structure? How does it function? Knowing these things tells me what I can do with it. This helps me to adapt. I can use it to adjust to a situation. If I construct a deck, it’s helpful to know what beams will bear the most weight and how to build it so it won’t collapse. If I fall off a roof, it’s nice to know how to roll my body to avoid a concussion.
When I wanted to learn how to make a gate, I thought about its working mechanisms and did it. Figuring out how heavy it should be, where the hinges went, and how to engineer it to close itself involved my hands as much as my mind. I learned more about rebuilding a carburetor by taking it apart than by reading about it. It’s not enough for me to hear about things. I must do them. My body knows what to do. I trust it to adapt and improvise.
Mechanical things are easy for me to figure out and take apart. Examining something in three dimensions gives me a better, fuller understanding of how its parts all move together to create a functioning process. Seeing how things work fascinates me. I find the engine room in the movie Titanic cool. It shows how a ship operates off coal to create the heat needed to rotate the pistons that power the steering mechanism and drive them forward.
I learn by doing. Show me how, then stand aside. Leave the rest up to my body. It never guides me wrong. Putting my hands into a machine tells me how it operates and gives me a feel for its gears. Interacting with physical reality teaches me my body’s limitations. No one taught me how to ride a dirt bike. I took the jumps myself. After a few falls, I figured out how to adjust my balance in midair for the landing. The same goes for driving a car. Diving taught me how to breathe through an oxygen tank. When learning tricks on a skateboard, I learned from my failures and by trying new positions.
Experimenting gives me how each move feels in my body. You can’t tell me that leaning too far one way means falling off, but a quick shift the other way will save me. I need to discover it for myself. Every reaction teaches me another law of reality. Over time, steady practice based on correcting my previous mistakes will improve my results. My body has learned what to do.
If I can’t get practical experience by doing it, I’ll find out how others did it or study material representations of it to grasp how it operates and the components that cause it to function. If I want to learn about sex, I have it or watch a movie about it. The biological way sex happens interests me. I want to know what’s going on in both bodies and the mechanics of it. This doesn’t decrease the “romanticism” of it for me; it increases my understanding of it.
There’s no knowledge like firsthand experience. Don’t give me a book about marine life, sign me up for a scuba diving class. What I see, hear, feel, taste and touch outweighs whatever I can imagine. Dealing with reality is how I improvise and learn.
I want to take a skydiving class, run marathons, climb mountains, or swim with sharks. I prefer to design a stereo system and wire it in myself. Don’t show me a photo of a steam engine; let me pull a cord to blow its horn! I adore glass-sided display cases that show me how a racecar engine, a printing press, or a music box operates. Leave me there to figure out how it works. There’s nothing better than admiring a piece of equipment, unless it involves fixing a machine, learning about them, rebuilding a car and taking it for a drive, or souping up the engine to figure out how to give it more torque. I can tinker with a project for years, only to discover the result gives me less pleasure than the process did. The challenge was everything! Proud of my triumph, I start on a new project.
Learning how physical objects work increases my range of skills. I want to learn everything. Show me how a suspension bridge fits together, how to pour a foundation, or what makes up the internal structure of an active volcano. Let me create a base code, rewire an electrical circuit, or pull the catch off a fishing line.
Experiences are the stuff of life. I need to feel the earth move under me when I ride my motorcycle, hear lions roar on a safari, see different shades of lavender on a reef, or taste a blast of fresh mountain air in my jeep after a storm. I want a wide variety of sensations! Let’s go to Paris this year instead of Greece, take a donkey ride down the Grand Canyon, try out the zip line, or camp overnight to get free tickets into the music festival!
My bodily experiences are all amplified. My sensory awareness is constant. I know how I react to everything by feeling it through my body. The vibrations of loud music reach me through the concrete long before I hear it. The way my nose wrinkles at the stench of cigarette smoke behind a shopping center differs from how I react to a wet dog. A well-done steak looks a certain way. I don’t need to cut into it. I know it’s perfect by the texture.
Life has a continual flow of sensations. Taste and touch are ways to take it to the next level. I want to touch my lover, pet my cat, and run all the way home to feel the burn in my legs. I notice what others don’t, because I tune into the world. It’s part of me.
Focusing on something leads to my total immersion into it. The world disappears. I don’t get distracted. I lose track of time. It has my full attention, in a mental and physical sense. I enter a zone where the environment and I are one. I don’t know where I end and the surfboard begins.
There’s no need for me to reflect on my experiences or consider their implications. It’s enough just to be there and live it. Abstract knowledge and theories don’t interest me. I prefer things to be real and to learn firsthand. I thrive in environments that let me react in real time.
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INTP: The Innovator
“Thought experiments” allow us to explore impossible situations to predict their implications or outcomes. It creates a hypothetical scenario to explore concepts through extensive thought. Since it doesn’t exist in reality, we can’t conduct an actual experiment, so we do it in the mind. If finding empirical evidence is impossible, a thought experiment helps solve a problem on a theoretical level.
Many times, thought experiments are rhetorical. No real answer exists. Their purpose is to encourage speculation or strengthen our logical thinking by forcing us to confront questions we can’t easily answer. It reveals that we don’t know everything and can’t know everything. Mental experiences let us make logical decisions, foster ideas, and move beyond the facts into what is possible.
That’s how my brain works. I think in thought experiments. I live and function in two realms, the domain of facts and in my imaginative projection, which deals in theoretical reasoning. Look at Albert Einstein. He devoted his life to thought experiments. His ability to conceptualize scientific details made him a wonderful innovator. His thought experiment about what would happen if you could catch up to a beam of light as it moved lead him to the theory of relativity. He theorized how time and space are relative; all motion is relative to its frame of reference. The laws of physics are the same everywhere. A ball dropped inside a rocket ship falls at the same rate as one dropped in your kitchen. The speed of light is steady regardless of who measures it or how fast it’s moving.
His imagining of a free-falling elevator helped him theorize on and understand gravity, then realize how gravity and acceleration are the same. He also speculated on how matter shapes time and space, which is the basis for his theory of general relativity.
This changed everything we thought we knew about the universe. Einstein moved away from Isaac Newton’s theory of the universe as one-dimensional; he said our universe has four dimensions, all influenced by the bending and curves of the gravitational pull. His theories later proved true, when humanity evolved enough to explore space and discover supernovas, black holes, and the solar system. Einstein visualized a conclusion and then searched for the mathematics to best describe it. He elevated thought experiments into a way to study complex problems through three-dimensional thinking. Just like me.
I live for this level of conceptual reasoning. My thoughts, ideas, and the connections I form define me. Experiences matter to me less than cultivating my inner web of knowledge. Theorizing on the meaning behind events, how they connect, and what thoughts they bring to my attention is one of my passions.
Linking Unrelated Topics
What’s possible interests me more than what exists. My focus lies on finding connections and building theories. My mind is a web of connected concepts. It’s so abstract, it’s hard for me to simplify my words to suit your understanding or come up with examples. Everything exists for me on an imaginary plain. It doesn’t need to be real or tangible to bear thinking about.
I think in concepts, not tangible images, through words, pictures, or a network of information. If an idea makes sense to me, in my eagerness to communicate it, I may not notice my vagueness in explaining it. You not following my thought process frustrates me.
You may not see how my thoughts shifted to a certain path. To you, this subject has nothing to do with that one, but for me, it all bleeds together. I see how one thing impacts another and where it undermines a logical process. I care about the abstract potential of the universe, how everything connects, and what’s possible that hasn’t happened yet. Proposing and exploring theories for my intellectual enjoyment and understanding excites me. Theories and ideas occupy many hours of deep contemplation.
My speculations stem from an interest in how things, people, theories, concepts, philosophies, etc., work, and whether they are rational. There’s no point in considering a theory that comes from a weak investigation. I’ll find a different one based on a stronger foundation. Before I explore any idea, I determine its soundness. I may not share my conclusion for years. Charles Darwin worked on his theory of evolution for over two decades, collecting evidence to support his hypothesis before he presented it. He conducted a thought experiment, formed a theory, and found proof to support it. Sounds familiar.
My mind has a constant stream of shifting thoughts. It knows how to connect dissimilar things to find a common truth—like Einstein figuring out gravity and acceleration are the same thing. Patterns form in my mind and give me a solution, a hypothesis, or a theory. This is hard to translate in to practical examples, but my ability to easily grasp abstract concepts and fill in the blanks lets me understand vague, technical language and information. I can produce a dense but detailed analysis of any area of interest, from advanced mathematics to physics or science. The mysteries of the universe, economics, astronomy, chemistry, philosophy, math, physics, etc., draw my attention and are effortless to grasp.
My mind wanders into mental distractions, away from the world and its activities. I don’t notice what’s going on around me or hear the rest of a sentence if a phrase or a word sparks an interesting idea. I follow all my thoughts to their end in case they yield an interesting perspective or insight. Tangible reality only exists as a starting point for forming theories, premises, and predictions.
Ideas take form inside my mind, including their inner workings; I see its potential, what it looks like, and how to build it. I’m a natural inventor. My finest work happens in solitude where I test ideas from a logical viewpoint, think my way through them, build an inner framework of understanding, and then form a working premise. I flesh out ideas or seek evidence to support conclusions with hypothetical reasoning or practical experimentation.
Taking concepts and ideas apart to understand them before I use them is time-consuming. I test everything through analysis to see if it’s logical before I explore whatever thoughts, ideas, or concepts build around it. I don’t want to get lost in a process built on a bad foundation, so I can’t let anything go undigested. A concept must withstand analysis before I trust it.
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