What were the questions I thought about most this year?

As for background context, I’ve for years wondered why people get so bugged by each other on Twitter.  A second question is why political correctness — even if you think it is fully bad — occasions so much opposition compared to many other maladies.

Those paths of inquiry have led me to think more about socially neurotic people, and yes that is a pretty big percentage of humans.  By that designation I mean people who likely would score high on neuroticism on a five-factor personality test.  Here is one definition, useful but maybe not the most precise one:

Neuroticism can lead an individual to focus on, and to dwell on, the negative aspects of a situation, rather than the positives. They experience jealousy and become envious of other people when they feel that they are in an advantaged position over themselves. They may be prone to becoming frustrated, irate or angry as they struggle to cope with life stressors.

Is this kind of neuroticism even well-defined, or is it indirectly bundled with other positive traits, including positive affect toward some other set of external circumstances?  Or, to be blunt, are we ever justified in thinking that neurotic people are — ceteris paribus — simply worse than others?  Maybe neuroticism is a holdover from earlier times when life was more precarious and nowadays lingering neurotic traits are largely unjustified.  Alternatively, is neuroticism simply “another way of being”, deserving of respect the way we might treat another culture, even in the presence of some negative externalities?

How much are five-factor personality traits context-dependent rather than absolute?  Is anti-neuroticism neurotic, a kind of negative affect of its own?  Or is it a way of standing up for truth, justice, and the American way?

Are there positive social externalities from neuroticism, such as indirectly subsidizing movements for social justice?

Overall, I am coming to the conclusion that, even (especially?) if we are personally annoyed by neuroticism, it is more useful to view it in a broader and less negative context.

Most concretely, when should you seek out or at least not mind neurotic trading partners?  It’s that kind of question where the rubber hits the road.

These were perhaps my top questions for mental space, I may soon present you with some others.

Comments

So entire countries can be neurotic? Rankings please!

1 Canada oh Canada
2. france
3. canada -

And are people more “neurotic” today than, say, 30 years ago? I doubt it. It’s all about the memes. The first waves of urbanization thousands of years ago spread the first plagues, as the opportunities for human (physical) contact and communication grew. This spawned an intensified arms race between bacteria and viruses, on the one hand, and the immune systems of their hosts. Around 20 years ago, a new communications revolution was spawned by social media, which sharply increased the ease and speed with which memes could spread. Memes that inspire outrage have an evolutionary advantage in this new environment, generating rapid mimicry on vast scales. The political-correctness meme has been highly successful in this environment, first as a popular reaction to outrage—and flexible enough to be adopted even by the purveyors of politically correct memes themselves (without endangering entrenched pc memes)—then as a catalyst for outrage itself, replicating endlessly. We are meme machines, blindly programmed to replicate the fittest memes, those that spread most fiercely and hold us in deepest thrall, binding us to the flickering screens through which they travel as our thumbs do their bidding.

Or maybe neurotic people tend to make more money because they are less like to satisfice? Even if they have all the money they could ever need, they still want to make more as a way to beat the other guys who annoy them so much ...

Essentially yes. People low on neuroticism are probably just happier and yes more satisfied. Why keep striving when you have enough?

My experience is the opposite - neurotics are more risk adverse so don't take advantage of so many opportunities. Also their more negative emotions tend to make people shun them more, so they have smaller networks and less promotion. I had someone senior once who told me that that the mark of a future leader was someone who owned their mistakes rather than trying to pass them off onto others. So you see in many neurotic people the tendency to ascribe their own misfortunes too others - which means they never address the reasons for failure.

This is why I have some skepticism about the usefulness of the five-factors model: what do these personality traits really tell us about people? We can easily construct stories that say that neurotic people will be more likely to earn high incomes -- or that say they are less likely to earn high incomes.

There's also the question about how well these personality traits can be used to describe people in cultures other than the US or western cultures.

I imagine both of those questions have already been studied by psychologists -- but then we run into the lack of reproducibility of much social science research, so once again skepticism may be called for.

When deferring to psychologists and/or psychiatrists, perhaps count on the application of tacit neurotic criteria to any equations or verdicts deployed by neurotic psychologists and psychiatrists. (Therapists are not immune to neurotic thought and behavior by virtue of their professional training, correct?)

Additional recourse to skepticism may well be warranted when contemporary psychology and "social science" perspectives are at issue.

"This is why I have some skepticism about the usefulness of the five-factors model: what do these personality traits really tell us about people? We can easily construct stories that say that neurotic people will be more likely to earn high incomes -- or that say they are less likely to earn high incomes."

Isn't this an empirical question, though? Having defined the five-factor model and found it to be stable, additional questions about what those traits "mean" are, to simplify, a matter of scoring people on the model, getting data on the dependent variable you're interested in, and conducting a regression analysis.

As with many negative traits, you probably find high concentrations at both ends of the income spectrum.

That might be but doesn't seem to square with the characteristics for neuroticism I found. To list a few: awkward, testy, fearful, timid, unconfident, nervous, insecure.

Those traits are generally not what we find in the more successful. They tend not to engender loyalty, followers, the ability to get the get from others.

We foreigners still need a definition of the term "political correctness" Tyler. In my country it either means either bureaucratic waffle that avoids the possibility of anyone extracting a soundbite or quote that someone might find offensive. It usually does this by not saying much. Alternatively it means "I'm old and find young people disturbing yet strangely alluring since I can't get stop complaining about them".

The first definition doesn't seem to fit the way you use the term and if you are using the second definition I think it would be more honest just admit you are now officially old and cranky.

It means you're not allowed to talk about certain things because they might offend people, and if you do you will get mindlessly attacked.

Sounds terrible. Thank goodness we don't have that here.

pc is mostly group think and stupidbuzzwords
old and cranky is not neurotic
it is mostly fun

It means you aren't allowed to mention unflattering statistical realities about the Intersectional, at least not without explaining how they are the fault of the non-Intersectional (and even blaming it all on White Male Privilege might not be good enough to save you).

I am afraid I am now going to need a definition of Intersectional.

But it might be easier to just start again and use smaller words.

Nice troll.

You have access to Wikipedia. It explains it quite well, thanks.

Thank you for referring me to wikipedia. I do have access to that, even though that access isn't quite as good as I'd like. It took 13 seconds for the page to load because Australian internet isn't very good. Normally I just ask google to define words for me and in this case it wasn't able to do that. I will hit refresh before I read the article, as only the basic view came up.

Mr. Sailer: What literature would you recommend to someone who is looking to become better educated on the statistical realities you refer to? I am a student- I have access to academic literature.

Steve, I've looked at the wikipedia article on intersectionality and it says it:

"...attempts to identify how interlocking systems of power impact those who are most marginalized in society. Intersectionality considers that various forms of social stratification, such as class, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, creed, disability and gender, do not exist separately from each other but are interwoven together. "

So if political correctness, "..,means you aren't allowed to mention unflattering statistical realities about the Intersectional," as you described it, then translated into Australian that would mean -- people can 't speak facts about groups of people we would usually refer to as the underclass, proles, unemployed, prostitutes, bogans, indigenous, aboriginal, disabled, discouraged workers, illiterate, and so on, without being attacked. (Personally, I'd say it's probably better to use specific terms for clarity unless intersectionality is relevant.)

I can't say I have noticed this. I've mentioned facts about various groups mentioned above and found that generally people don't care. Not just in Australian settings, but in forums dominated by North Americans. People either agree, which often ends the need for further discussion, ignore the facts, or respond in a way that demonstrates they either refuse to or are unable to consider information I have provided.

People do attack on occasion, as insult me, but insults aren't much of an attack. I'm Australian, so no matter what people say to me I've heard worse from my grandmother. And these insults are generally just a one off thing. There's usually not more than one person flinging insults and they generally don't keep it up unless I pester them for details on exactly what I should insert where. So while people may disagree with me, actual attacks, which are limited to mere insults, rarely occur.

Of course, if you go to a cat fancier's page and ask for feedback on your plan to cull all house cats you may get more than one or two insults, (especially if my grandmother is there), but if you don't go looking for a fight, in my experience political correctness as you've described it doesn't exist.

Go to the campus of any US university and say black people commit violent crimes at a rate higher than whites and you will get an earful of politically correct invective.

If you can't physically visit, find a forum online.

Be careful, it's dangerous out there. :)

Sounds like I have to go looking for a fight to get people to pile up on me.

But don't worry about my safety. I am taking my ear plugs with me.

Being afraid of a word like intersectional is even funnier, when you get right down to it.

It just means that people appraise us on different axes. Obviously.

By "Appraise", you mean in the classical sense: Intersectionalism *values* people based on their different axes. That's why it's so pernicious.

Actually, not really, no.

It is just a word, and like all words even those with political weight, it has a distribution of interpretation.

If I remember the history correctly, the word was first used to describe axes of esteem vs prejudice. It morphed from there to "sets" of prejudice. And it more from there again to some claim that people without prejudice were being maligned.

You have to admit the construction "if I'm not being oppressed, I must be oppressed" is an odd one.

I think maybe you don't really know what it means in your own country

Well D, in Australia I've had one person use the term political correctness in conversation and, as they weren't using it in the Sir Humphrey Appleby sense, I asked them to provide a definition and they were unable to do so. I concluded that person wasn't worth talking to. We expect clarity in conversation here as every parting of the lips is an invitation for flies to explore one's gustatory apparatus.

If you have a definition I am interested in learning it.

If I recall correctly, Cleaver Greene once described himself as not politically correct. That captures it perfectly. Cleaver maybe a sympathetic character in some ways, but he has moral flaws, and it is quite a fig leaf to say he simply isn't following polite forms.

Cleaver Greene? After looking that up I have to admire the ABC for giving the character the most American name possible in order to do better in the US on Netflix or similar methods of distribution.

When you think about it, Trump is Greene, but:

1. Less funny

2. Less alcohol

3. Less self-awareness

(tweets today have some interesting economic theories, but I don't suppose we'll get into that)

Trump is an a-hole, not anyone I would like to sit next to and chat with. However, he batters the 'politically correct' mercilessly, and for that I love him. It has been so much fun to watch.

I just hope he doesn't drive the voters into the arms of the looney left (Democrats) - their big green social justice tax and spend intersectional policies will be the end of our republic. Two- hundred and thirty years has been a long run, but it have run out of gas.

And it is all your fault.

"... it may have run out of gas ..."

I think this captures the original nature of "political correctness":

'The term “politically correct” was coined in the late 1920s by the Soviets and their ideological allies around the world to describe why the views of certain of the party faithful needed correction to the party line.
The great example was the Spanish-French artist Pablo Picasso. Picasso, a commercial opportunist and a gifted and original artistic thinker, signed on to Communist causes from his sinecure in the West. It was always healthier and more convenient in the era of Josef Stalin be a Communist at a safe distance from the original source. No one wanted to risk joining the long line to the graveyard of Stalin’s domestic enemies, as his ideology zigged and zagged according to the needs of the Kremlin to keep a firm hold on power.
Stalin was determined to control every aspect of life. He didn’t know much about art, but he knew what he liked. He proclaimed “Soviet realism” as the only norm at the artists’s easel. Soviet realism was the art of the poster, usually of big-muscled men and women working on tractors or harvesting grain. The art was less inspired and refined as Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post covers, but realistic in the Rockwell way. Abstract art, which deviated from “photographic realism,” was taboo, and Soviet artists who dared to stray suffered for even attempting anything original.'

Its use in the current context is a little different. It describes an illegitimate debating technique where certain viewpoints are ruled racist, sexist, homophobic (sic), Islamaphobic (sic), etc. and cannot be allowed to spoken let alone debated. Of course, the charges of "ism" are impossible to rebut, since they involve a state of mind, which is not open to inspection.

Most Republican politicians cower when they are so charged - 'please don't beat me - I'm a good person'. But then came Trump and he did not shrink, but hit back - he calls an anchor baby an anchor baby. Since the usual slanders failed to work, our esteemed news organizations just repeated them louder. What else do they have?

'he calls an anchor baby an anchor baby'

Not only that, though he swore an oath to uphold the Constitution (apparently in front of the largest crowd in history), President Trump has claimed he has the authority to simply ignore the 14th Amendment using an executive order. 'In the Axios interview, Trump said he has discussed ending birthright citizenship with his legal counsel and believes it can be accomplished with executive action. “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said.

When told that view is disputed, Trump asserted: “You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

“It’s in the process. It’ll happen with an executive order,” he added, without offering a time frame.' https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-eyeing-executive-order-to-end-citizenship-for-children-of-noncitizens-born-on-us-soil/2018/10/30/66892050-dc29-11e8-b3f0-62607289efee_story.html?utm_term=.edb65a4b4bb2

However, calling Trump a buffoon seems to be something that our media is incapable of.

I'm inclined to believe that the 14th Amendment does require birthright citizenship, but, there do seem to be at least some well-informed people who disagree. With disagreements mostly swirling about the meaning (and perhaps historical context of) that "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" clause.

Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court remains the ultimate arbiter here, and it seems very unlikely that it would change long-established precedent here. This, however, remains an argument-from-authority and not an argument from principles, facts or logic.

And in any case, I'm sure it's easier (and more fun?) to just declare Pres. Trump a buffoon, for, what more need be said?

"and subject to the jurisdiction thereof"

This is not controversial, and not the sort of thing subject to executive order. An accredited ambassador to the U.S. is not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S., and the same applies to any child of that ambassador born on American soil. By extension, this includes all the citizens of that nation's diplomatic personnel residing in the U.S. Though more hypothetical, it also means that children born of military forces that have invaded the U.S. also do not acquire American citizenship.

'This, however, remains an argument-from-authority and not an argument from principles, facts or logic.'

The 14th Amendment is not actually all that hard to understand in terms of citizenship being granted to anyone born within the United States - 'Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.' And everyone within the U.S. (allowing for certain other exceptions beyond diplomats, such as NATO military personnel or monarchs) are most distinctly considered subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

You are either fibbing or not very clever. I will give you the benefit of the doubt.

Quit fibbing!

You and I and God all know the 14th Amendment was intended to secure citizenship for all blacks born in the US as a counter punch against those that were trying to deny former slaves their citizenship.

The 14th was not intended to provide stolen citizenship to non US citizens that defy our laws of citizenship, which the Constitution explicitly gives to Congress to define.

Just stop, ok?

I was vaguely curious about what the 14th amendment was so I looked it up. Here's section 1:

"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. "

If you try hard enough you can torture any meaning from any statement. This is called sophistry. When it comes to laws we ought reasonably restrict ourself to the plain sense of the words; legal documents do not contain allegories, parables. or hidden mystical gnosis. The plain sense of the 14th Amendment establishes birthright citizenship outside of very narrow exceptions.

This is true, but can be tricky for other amendments like the 2nd. For the 14th it does seem pretty clear.

If you are a textualist, I can't imagine you would disagree with this, or that the Fourteenth Amendment Citizenship clause means "if you are born on U.S. soil, you're an American citizen." But other modes of legal and constitutional analysis (living constitutionalism, Justice Breyer's purposivism, Ronald Dworkin's legal interpretivism) allow for the consideration of the "spirit" and "purpose" of laws and clauses, and under those analyses citizenship by dint of solely being born on U.S. soil is likely more suspect. For example, if the United States is hostile to Russia, and the Russian Ambassador's children happen to be born in the United States, or even something more bizarre where the Russian government starts funding plane trips to America for Russians to give birth, then return to Russia with dual-citizen Russian-Americans in tow to be raised and educated in Russia, this arguably doesn't match the spirit or purpose of the Citizenship Clause. Cheap international air travel and the ease of communication with those in the mother country may, under a living constitutionalist analysis, render birthright citizenship a nullity.

Trying to get originalists to bite on the living Constitution bait?

Devious, but no go.

1. What do you mean "our media", mein deutscher Freund?

2. I see plenty of media in the US correctly describing Trump as a buffoon.

"They may be prone to becoming frustrated, irate or angry as they struggle to cope with life stressors."

Reminds of that Transnational Pants guy who's always angry at Hillary even though she's not even relevant these days and also angry at Tyler believing he votes for the Democrats.

This checks out

Swing and a miss. No anger here -- I'm very happy with the drunk book tour lady!

I thank you for letting me live rent-free in your head, though.

That's not neurotic at all.

You doth protest too much.

No, thank you for letting me live in your head!

Uninhibited people are more likely to end up in jail and or bankrupt. Inhibited people are more likely to be law abiding and be financially sound but are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.

From my point of view uninhibited people get themselves into horrible messes but don't seem to suffer that much as a result. They either manage to get by or crash and then work their way up again without losing too much sleep over it. If I made the same stupid mistakes I see them making I would never forgive myself, but because I am aware of this I never make those kind of stupid mistakes in the first place.

My mistakes are more likely to be personal. Never putting yourself in a position where someone can take advantage of you is smart in business, but not so smart in your personal life. There caution can lose more than you save.

I have a severe phobia about the IRS. Justified?

No, it is a personal thing I picked up when very young, and it has less to do with the IRS than family issues. The IRS is just a transfer of aggression directed at my dad. It is as if my dad said, "don't blame me, blame the IRS" for some foul up. Transferring anger to the IRS is a family tradition going back to gramps who was the tax account for Standard Oil. But it is still neurotic, a transfer of aggression because there was no other outlet within the family.

So would a corporation do well hiring me as a tax accountant? No, a disaster would erupt, I would start a civil war on company funds. And that is what being neurotic is all about, take it from me.

seriously,
you don't think the irs is mebbe occasionaly
just a little itty bitty bit annoying?
that's not a phobia or aggression
that's normal
not psychopathology

did you hear the one about the guy from the irs
who told his boss at the irs

he was in the cia and had to have every Friday1 off for about twenty years
?
1 paid

Bueno puento con el irs
wtf es el horcajadas?
recordamos ese caso.
el hombre no estaba en realidad en la CIA

Tyler asks many good questions, but let's home in on the one where the rubber meets the road....

"Most concretely, when should you seek out or at least not mind neurotic trading partners?"

The short answer is when the personal conduct associated with the individual's neuroses does not lead to either dishonest or destructive behavior.

Consider the psychological personality markers that were associated with pseudoscientists like Diederik Stapel, Jan Hendrik Schön, or Haruko Obokata - while these cases might be considered to be extreme, they are also all examples of where lines were crossed where damage could have been averted much earlier, if not altogether, if their bad behaviors had been confronted as it became evident. For that matter, we can loop in the examples of extreme misconduct that launched the #MeToo movement. Or the Red Scare....

We have three years of experience in dealing with the dishonest and destructive aspects of neurotic behavior, where we've been forced to become familiar with the psychology associated with it. Here's the best guide we can offer for how to deal with it if you should ever encounter it. Our experience is that the tips in the guide can be effective with those who are not too far out on the extreme end of the spectrum, where you can develop an effective working relationship, but is not effective for those whose level of diagnosable neuroses might qualify as full-on personality disorders - the neurotic people you should avoid are the ones who either cannot or will not restrain their bad behaviors.

I read all the links about the pseudoscientists. Absolutely fascinating stuff, but to be honest, I don't really see how it connects much to neuroticism. It seems like someone who felt a lot of anxiety would be less likely to engage in fraud, because of greater fear of exposure and punishment, so perhaps those people could have used more neuroticism, not less.

That said, I'm not very familiar with this subject, so it's possible I'm way off.

It may boil down to the "fight" vs "flight" response to a stimulus. For most healthy people, the desire to minimize anxiety leads them to avoid conflict (flight), as would be very rational if they reasonably fear exposure and punishment if they engage in misconduct. These are people who may have some level of neuroticism, but who remain quite functional, where some aspects of their neuroses may lead to personal success (say a compulsion to pay closer attention to detail that can be a valuable skill in a wide range of professions).

Something very different happens in other cases (as with the pseudoscientists), where the response compulsively follows the "fight" path, where bad behavior begets more and more bad behavior (such as a dishonest smear campaign against whistleblowers exposing real misconduct, which is often done to cover up or to misdirect attention away from the misconduct). That's neither functional nor healthy behavior.

There's a whole lot of unsupported crypto-Christian normative assertions in here. Lying, cheating, and fighting, and then doubling down on it when faced with resistance, has worked for a lot of very famous and successful people both now and throughout history.

lying cheating and fighting does not actually work very well long term for people in the scientific community because science is science and therefore replicable and falsifiable

Let’s pose these questions to Woody Allen

I've noticed that the term 'political correctness' is often used by people who aren't used to the loose talk they engage in being called out. They see it as unnecessary policing, a curtailment of their freedom, and a tacit power grab by people they don't agree with.
Twitter is a perfect platform for angry mobs reacting to very little information, so it's natural that people who are enthusiastically vocal spend more time on it than (in Betrand Russell's phrase) "wiser people so full of doubts." This pushes the discourse towards the sort of pointless slapfights that use vague terms like 'political correctness.'

Hear hear. PC is really another word for politeness and tact evolving. Words that used to be ok over time become not ok, and some knuckleheads get bent out of shape that they can't say "Oriental"
or "fag" anymore.

Concern with PC is probably anti-correlated with what we'd call politeness and good manners in the old style. Social Justice Warrior-ism isn't actually stable and polite.

Possibly you're a bit too old to understand what's going on here; maybe there was a time when you could describe "PC" as being about playing the silly and endless game of not using whatever was was deemed to be a slur and instead using what was destined to with time become one. But it's the policing and control of ideas and the who has "permission" to express themselves a certain way, not swapping one synonym for another that has not yet acquired an ugly patina.

With regards to equating anti-PC with a "few knuckleheads" or neurotics, and with hatred, from a perspective of wanting Bush-era (both of them) conservatism to fail to resurge, almost nothing could be more useful. The Hidden Tribes report is pretty unequivocal that in their sample (https://hiddentribes.us/pdf/hidden_tribes_report.pdf) - "For instance, 82 percent of Americans agree that hate speech is a problem in America today, but 80 percent also view political correctness as an issue". Dislike of PC is the norm, and the only people who'll stand with you on it are the SJWs (that 10% of "Progessive Activists").

Every time one you guys supports or legitimizes PC, the message, that you offer no cultural or civilizational center other than a program of support for global business and an opiate of Christianity, sings all the sweeter.

This is mostly a pixel food fight. In the real world almost everyone lives their lives without giving these concepts a second thought.

No, people do, in fact, think about politics. Particularly when enormous amounts of entertainment is consumed, and its virtually all heavily politicised.

'I’ve for years wondered why people get so bugged by each other on Twitter'

And I have been wondering for years how anyone could care the least about twitter.

because it's fun, i.e. search for #teslaq

I score at the 99%ile for neuroticism. I work in financial risk management, which is probably a good fit. Neurotic people are sometimes right, or at least provide balance. Maybe the problem is at both extremes.

There was an article on "neuroticism" inked by Realclearscience yesterday. Is that why you're thinking of it?

The indented paragraph you quote claims that something called "neuroticism" CAUSES ("leads to") a bunch of traits for which the word "neuroticism" is simply a label.

"Neurosis" was a label applied by psychiatrists in 1900 to a supposed condition that in fact did not exist. The cases of "neurosis" described by Freud are hilarious fictions; the whole thing is a fraud comparable to the supposed recovered memories of Satanic sexual molestation that were a thing in (I believe) the early '80s.

Your suggestion that there's a category of "bad people" called "neurotics" who get angry about the ritual political denunciations to which they are subjected, and who should be shunned, reminds me of Salem 1693 on the one hand and of the Soviet Union 1953 on the other.

In part II of his annual Sidney Awards (today's NYT), David Brooks mentions essays published this year on tigers (he even includes a photo of a painting of a tiger), and gives an award to Brian Phillips for his essay, in which Phillips writes: “The arrival of a tiger, it’s true, is often preceded by moments of rising tension, because a tiger’s presence changes the jungle around it, and those changes are easier to detect. Birdcalls darken. Small deer call softly to each other. Herds do not run but drift into shapes that suggest some emerging group consciousness of an escape route.” Is that group neuroticism, or awareness of the danger presented by the tiger and the "group consciousness of an escape route".

Twitter is a short form list-serv forum. Those fora were fine as long as they were specific and limited, Twitter is neither. One of these days some journalistic endeavor will make a name for itself by not having anything to do with twitter.

With a direct conduit into the minds of lots of important and influential people, and knowing that most people have a tendency towards neuroticism or negative emotions, it is a stated strategy to attack people personally and specifically to influence their actions. This was used quite effectively by the alt-right; a large number of center right people were driven to take an extreme position because of the abuse showered on them on Twitter. I suspect much of the radical feminism with very extreme views are the result of the same thing. The extreme left is doing the same; much of the reaction to the Trans movement isn't full throated support, it is diving under the furniture to avoid the attacks and abuse.

So for someone normal, normal people having a measure of neuroticism or tendency towards negative emotions, Twitter either drives them to extremes or drives them away. For the first, encouragement to walk away, shut it off is worthwhile. Both for themselves and for the world. For the second, to find out what they think requires actual conversation. Imagine that.

I have a quiet Twitter account with about a hundred and fifty people I follow and the same number of (real or fake) followers. At that level, it is very calm. No trolls, and seldom any disagreement. It provides links to Long Reads at any time of day.

I'm sure it is different for high-profile people who attract insult, but I have noticed a few of them coming out recently to say that Twitter is now the best social medium. Or the best of the bad?

It only has block and mute, but those work pretty well. You can block people who you think are trolls, and you can subscribe-and-mute people who you agree with, but you regard as "a bit too much."

It's not about neuroticism, Tyler. Twitter is a mob, and the psychology of mobs is a richly studied topic of psychology.

"Why do people who are alone with their smartphones start behaving as though they were in an actual, physical mob?" is a much more precise and accurate question. I don't really think it's a question of how high a person scores on neuroticism.

'"Why do people who are alone with their smartphones start behaving as though they were in an actual, physical mob?" is a much more precise and accurate question.'

Not to mention one that leads to an answer that pleases any existing power structure, as such power structures fear actual mobs battering down the gates of the secret police headquarters, and not people who are not actually part of a mob.

I hope this becomes a continuing series.

I am completely un-surprised that you spent the year thinking "What the heck is wrong with.... everyone but me." It can't be easy when you figure out that the world's rejection of elitism was not a one-time event confined to the USA for one day in November 2016.

Happy New Year, Ty!!

Sure, where "elites" are anyone with a plan over half a page in length.

'the world's rejection of elitism'

Electing a billionaire as President of the United States of America is not what most people would consider a rejection of elitism. Particularly as this very stable genius, with the greatest temperament that anybody has, also has a natural instinct for science.

Not only is Tyler living rent-free in your head TPM, you are paying him to be there with every click.

>political correctness — even if you think it is fully bad — occasions so much opposition compared to many other maladies.

"Even if," huh?

PC is a wholly negative phenomenon, devoted entirely to idea of ending discussion and suppressing speech -- in order to advance leftism. It's one of life's purest joys that your side has been called out on the garbage that it is, and that it is so easily dismissed these days (with just 2 letters!).

I'm sure this drives you nuts. Usually the left controls the narrative, but you have lost this fight, and you cannot control PC being called out as PC.

Wow. What a bigot. I hope from now on that you're surrounded only by optimists. That the guy walking by your car is one. That the kid driving towards you is one. That the airplane mechanic who serviced the plane for your next trip is, too. What could go wrong? The WSJ recently had an article about GE's fall. The author attributed part of the problem to a demand from the CEO for consistent optimism from his direct reports. Perhaps you have the mental power to imagine what the trickle-down effect on an organization would be. But I doubt it.

As someone who has neurotic traits, I don't think it has anything to do with behavior on Twitter or the PC backlash.

That said, interesting points in neuroticism. But I feel it makes me more conscientious and responsible.

And is it possible to even have certain positive things, like comedy, without neuroticism? Think about most stand-up comics before answering.

The post raises 2 questions. First, how culturally vs biologically bound are the big 5 traits. For example, the higher rating for agreeableness in females must be somewhat caused by cultural norms. And cultural norms exert an influence over many lifetimes (culture changes slowly if it changes at all), and since these metrics are relatively new, it’s hard to get an answer. The second , I see the PC controversy as the early stages of Girardian memetic disorder. One hint is that the emotional heat generated is out of scale with the stakes of the debate. If Girard is right, then the only ways out of an ever downward vortex of envy and hate is either Christian caritas or scapegoating violence. Personally I’m trying to work for the former while expecting the later. All the recent shootings are just the early skirmishes.
Finally, PC crtitiques seem to come from the political right more frequently but there is a version of right wing PC that is usually ignored.

"All the recent shootings are just the early skirmishes"

Yes, just the trailer - the movie is coming.

You're kind of talking here about the general utility of negative emotional responses. Enormously broad topic.

Though in specific the way your frame 'neuroticism' and what you imagine it to be and mean is deeply bizarre, and seems mostly like a frustrated, irate response to your audience's general dislike of you as a person, more than anything much else.

neuroticism. political correctness.

Both can be very annoying, but both are small potatoes.

Why don't we talk about other human traits. Like our penchant for killing each other. We do it for fun. We do it for status. We do it for power. Whatever the daily reason, it is a trait that we must finally learn to deal with and accept as built into our genes.

And someday maybe even figure out how to make it less honorable and how to give it less stars.

A high predictor of job success is conscientiousness. This is not the same as anxiety, which is more of a neurotic trait. If you take care of stuff on time there is no reason to be anxious. I know neurotic people who are constantly afraid of things that will never happen. It is irritating as heck. This all has nothing to do with political correctness which hijacked most of the thread. PC is more of a group and moral orientation, attacking the heretics.

High neuroticism would be a desired trait in an honor culture. Quick to the draw or sword in response to a stressor would be indicative of a person willing to sacrifice all to a group threat. Could also be correlate with drug abuse due to violence being abhorrent to modern social mores.

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