For the first post of the year i’m going to cover a couple of things that i briefly skipped past in the last post of 2017 : things that i was working on towards the end of the year but nothing, or at least very little, to do with boats.
Last year in a non-boats/sailing blog i mentioned the work of Canadian psychology professor Dr Jordan Petersen. At the time i had started to follow JBP’s filmed lecture series about personality, i will post a link below but basically there are 3 years worth of this course all filmed and all freely available on youtube. Although i had been peripherally aware of some of Petersen’s work before 2016 it was in that year that he became either famous or notorious depending on your standpoint for his stance on refusing to use required pronouns in speech. Now i’m pretty simplistic when it comes to gender except that i have also had a good look at how psychological traits do differ between men and women, and yes i realise that there are greater differences inside the genders that between them but i will come back to that later. To me then there are basically male and female and then a very few not quite either, i do also accept that there are people on both sides identifying as opposite or different to their biological birth sex. The fierce arguments that JBP seems to have got embroiled in have largely been to do with the very strange world of identity politics : i won’t try to describe that any further here but may post some links below. Just to say also that JBP isn’t the only sensible academic to be in the fight and that more recently Bret Weinstein has had his 15 minutes of notoriety during a situation of total anarchy at Evergreen state college. To bring that whole thing up to date i will definitely post a link to the extraordinary attempted bullying and silencing of teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd at Wilfred Laurier university.
Interview with Dave Rubin : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpFUvfAvKs4
Anyways lets get back to JBP and for me at least some more relevant material. Following the psychology lectures series Petersen has gone on to start an entire lecture series about the psychological significance of the bible stores starting right at genesis, and i am slowly going through those a couple a week : each lecture is 2 hours or longer !. I don’t want to say much about these lectures right now because i have only really dipped in and out of mainly out-take clips so far and only just recently watched a couple all the way through. What i will say though is that JBP has so far successfully and totally challenged many of my inadequate positions and assumptions…..and that takes some doing ! Its almost impossible to give you even a flavour of one of his lectures because he does rather bounce around a whole load of things simultanoeusly : the lecture i have been watching this morning for example starts with Jacob and Esau but along the way visits Yggdrasil (Nordic tradition) Shamanism and psychedelic substances.
JBP bible lecture (Jacobs ladder) :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9JtQN_GoVI&t=7680s
(Image of Yggdrasil by Fulgurer)
I did say right at the beginning of this blog that although its mainly about boats, sailing and the sea it can also include any of the weird stuff that i think about, thus you will occasionally get anything from tanks, the garden, fitness (not very at the moment) bushcraft and camping, risk and stuff like this. The link here is that i had to begin to learn some of the basics of psychology when i first had to study risks and clinical safety in my last job, in fact for the last 2 years in that job aside from learning about pain its just about all i did in my spare time.
This year Petersen released 2 pieces of work into the public domain which i have signed-on for and am working on and he is also currently talking about the purely online university which might start to appear in module form next year and which i will definitely sign up for if i can. My main effort today though will be to talk about the 2 pieces of work that are currently available and that i spent some time on in the autumn last year ie self authoring and the new version of the ‘Big 5’ psychometric traits test.
Firstly then : self authoring.
There are 3 parts to this : past, present and future authoring and of those i am working on past and future so i can’t comment on the present authoring . Why i chose to work on past and future authoring is that at nearly 60 i have a considerable past, parts of which i would like to come to terms with and future authoring because also at nearly 60 i need a cohesive plan for the next stage of my life.
The idea of past authoring at its most basic is that of a self-written biography , the process is to consider your life as a series of ‘epochs’ and to write about 6 or 7 significant events from each epoch and to then think about them : notably what effects or influences those events had and maybe still do have. There is some element here for some people in maybe coming to terms with old events that still have strong emotions attached to them and if i have this correct that is getting pretty close to PTSD like problems. Where i am at with this is slightly stalled in that i successfully completed the first stage of writing up each event, in fact i had the problem of wanting to write too much….but then found that because of other work i am doing in the same line that i needed to delve deeper into some of those events before going much further. A small example from my blog here is my essay ‘SDKFZ 234/4’ which takes a very simple event but explores some of the ways in which that one small thing shaped me for years afterwards and even right up to today. The parallel work i have been doing in my basic study of psychology leads me to think of some of these events from those new perspectives, an example here being the work of Carl Jung thus ideas such as the ‘shadow’ self, archetypes , the personal and collective unconscious and so on. I can well imagine now some readers dismissing any of that as ‘just theory’, well it may be except that it might be ‘just theory’ in the same way that general relativity , evolution and quantum mechanics are….but that Jung gives us a language to even begin to describe these crucial ideas.
While my past-authoring is going slowly in fits and starts as, right now, i pick at the scabs of religion, i did the future authoring ‘quick and dirty’ to get a working plan in place for the next few years. Where the idea of past-authoring is an autobiography and resolution future authoring is all about working out what an ideal future might look like and crucially what its exact opposite would also look like….carrot and stick if you like. The process of future authoring is to first consider what areas are most important eg life at work, relationships, health and so on, prioritise them and then create a plan to make that idea situation more likely to happen. Part of the process asks for example a time-line for starting something, knowing how you are achieving (or not) that thing and what things might get in the way, even to what might be a ‘plan B’ for essential changes. There is some element there of ‘SMART’ goals which more readers will be familiar with.
An easy example from my future-authored plan is of course my fitness. I know what my ideal state of fitness would be over the next year, equally i know what the exact opposite would be. I know what i need to do in considerable detail and i know what things are likely to get in the way, i know what resources to throw at the problem and i can measure progress (or its opposite) and hey ! from less than 10 press-ups when i started to cranking-out 300 in a session for the first time a few weeks ago isn’t ‘just theory’.
Self authoring website here : https://www.selfauthoring.com/
OCEAN….or CANOE ?
Its handy being both an OCEAN yachtmaster (phew….finally mentioned boats) and a CANOE-ist because both words relate to the ‘Big 5’ personality traits of pyschometric testing. Briefly then the Big 5 traits are : conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness and extraversion. If i have this right then some of these go right back to Sigmund Freud whom i believe came up the idea of people either being extraverts (outgoing and sociable) or its opposite, introverted ie inward looking. The more complete list (Big 5) of personality traits has been around for about 30 years but the work that JBP and his lab have done has been to further break down the 5 traits into 2 factors each which seems to add a greater degree of accuracy and subtlety to the basic idea.
The traits themselves aren’t either-or, rather they are a spectrum from one extreme end of a trait tom its opposite and where any person could be described as being somewhere along that spectrum. Just as an example i have always known that i am quite introverted and been described as such by other people. When i did the new online test i was moderately unsurprised to find out just how introverted i actually am !
What Dr Petersen has done is to release a new version of the Big 5 personality traits test but that has the addition of the 2 factors per trait and this is in the form of a test that is taken online and furnishes a detailed report about the significance to the individual of where they are , measureably, on each trait. The test is in the form of a questionnaire (100 questions) with the basic requirement being to answer those questions as honestly as possible and at a time when you are in a ‘neutral’ state ie not tired, hungry or in an emotionally charged state.
Just to run with one of the Big 5 traits then and how that trait breaks down into 2 separate factors i will describe how it works with trait agreeableness. Trait agreeableness might be thought of as ‘niceness’ except that it isn’t quite although ‘nice’ people are usually agreeable and ‘not nice’ (unpleasant) people are usually disagreeable. What JBP and his co-workers has done in this case is to split trait agreeable into 2 factors : compassion and politeness……and to me they are very different things. As it works out in my own results i am very high in compassion but almost diametrically low in politeness ! which in modern ‘txtspk’ parlance gave me a ‘lol’ moment because it is absolutely true !.
Test website here : https://www.understandmyself.com/
JBP interview with ‘Transliminal’ : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFt8mc1KG34&t=15s