On the Question of Learning Words…

… and Tools.

“It is important to understand that the Four Temperaments are not simply arbitrary collections of characteristics, but spring from an interaction of the two basic dimensions of human behavior: our communication and our action, our words and our deeds, or, simply, what we say and what we do.” — David West Keirsey

My father died on July 30th, 2013 and I intend to honor him, if I can, by writing a blog about him and his ideas every year.  First year,  Second Year, Third Year, Fourth Year.david_west_keirsey_young_man

David West Keirsey (August 31, 1921 – July 31, 2013)

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
and next year’s words await another voice.
— T.S. Eliot

He concentrated on them:  the use of words,

Bored with day labor, I returned to Junior College in September 1940 intending to become a high school English teacher. I became a scholar, one of three boys in the scholarship society in 1942. I took a course in word study. I have studied words ever since, even during the war, pasting lists of words on the bathroom mirror wherever I stayed. Why etymology (word signs) instead of linguistics (word sounds)? Because word sounds shorten with use becoming only remnants of what they were, while word signs are written and therefore remain the same. My interest was in what is written, not in what is spoken. — David West Keirsey, Turning Points, 2013.

and the use of tools.

THE WAR YEARS 1942-1945


The second turning point occurred when there came a sudden, drastic, and permanent change in my life. In May 1942 I was drafted. I quit school immediately and joined the Navy to become a fighter pilot. Why fighter pilot? Because as a child I had read every book I could find about the fighter pilots of the first world war, finally resorting to 5 cent pulp books, many well written (I have no idea why these planes and their pilots fascinated me). So when called to war I could not imagine my engaging in any other kind of warfare. Not that I wished to go to war. Far from it ─ I wished to pursue, not the enemy, but college studies. Even so, I found flight training fascinating but challenging and hazardous, many cadets failing to pass the frequent tests at each stage of training. — David West Keirsey, Turning Points, 2013.

“Find an important question, ask the question, and then answer it”
Deirdre McCloskey

He analyzed and compared them: words and tools.

He realized that other people, particularly in his role as a clinical psychologist that so called “psychiatrists” (medical doctors) used their “words” to obfuscate, intimidate, and/or control.

“In 1949 I interned at a fifty-inmate asylum for the so-called “insane”. There I met three “psychiatrists”. I was not only unimpressed with them, but appalled by them. They seemed ignorant of psychopathology and incompetent in psychotherapy. I and the other intern met with them each Saturday to discuss our findings on the inmates we had studied during the week. Each inmate that we had studied would appear before the three “psychiatrists” and the two interns. None of the three knew how to interview, glibly pronouncing each to be “schizophrenic.” Then came the weekly electro-convulsive “therapy”. All 50 inmates were in bed, 25 on one side of the room and 25 on the other side, each awaiting his turn to be zapped. This happened every Saturday for as long as each inmate was resident. Having studied the many varieties of madness since 1946 I was astonished that all inmates would be treated the same. Indeed, I was astonished that anyone would be so treated. But I did not find out how terrifying and damaging electro-shock can be until I read Mad in America in 2010—seven decades later!” — Turning Points, David West Keirsey, 2013.

Since then, Toxic Psychiatry has changed its word labels and catch phrases every couple of decades.  Old terms, such as, “manic-depressive” or “hyperkinesis” has been replaced with new words or phrases such as: “Bipolar”, “ADHD”, “ADD”, “Mental Illness”, “Chemical Imbalance”. And Psychiatrists had beginning in the 40s and 50s mainly switched their tools to brain disabling drugs, that is prescription pills (only prescribed by doctors), to fool and confuse their victims, asylum inmates. Dr. Keirsey saw, noted, and fought against the psychiatrists invading the schools starting in the 50s with their chemical drugs (uppers, downers, calmers): whose modern equivalents are branded pills which have names like: Ritalin, Zoloft, Xanax, to name a few. Unfortunately, chemical drugging in institutions by psychiatry in such places as the public schools, elderly care facilities, half way houses, county jails, prisons, “mental health” facilities, and even hospitals has become rampant.

He also learned the difference between teaching and training in the use of words and tools.

Growing up on a ranch I was isolated, so I lived in a dream world until I found my friends on football, basketball, track, and swimming teams. One of them still lives. Another, three years older than me, still living, was also a fighter pilot, flying P-38s and P-51s in England, he an ace, no less. A word or two about WWII pilots is in order. We did not talk about war during the war or after the war. Not one word. What’s to talk about? Girls, games, work, play, tools, words, adventures, ideas… anything but war. Why did we not talk about war? What’s to say? Who cares? It’d be like an auto mechanic talking to another about which wrench to use, or at home, telling his wife how he tightened the bolts on some auto part. Come on, fighting’s a job: you did your job, came back to base, and talked to the guys about anything that occurred to you, none of which was about your mission. The war ended in 1945 but was not mentioned by pilots until the 1980s when historians were writing books about the war. Even then the talk was about war in general, if at all, not about one’s particular part in the war. I never found out what any of my friends, even my best friends, did in the war, the war totally forgotten.

Yet the war changed my life. For one thing I learned that I was not a coward. I was almost killed several times during the war. These scrapes with death did not bother me in the least. I was never frightened simply because flight training and combat itself requires extreme concentration and precision. Fear is in anticipation of injury, death, or defeat, not in anticipation of hitting one’s target, some targets damn hard to hit.


Incidentally, it was during flight training that I learned the crucial difference between education and training. An educated person has acquired knowledge; a trained person has acquired skill. An effective person has acquired both.

In being trained to fly and shoot rockets and bullets and drop bombs I learned how to train others; not, mind you, to teach others, but to train them in how to take action effectively. I applied what I learned about training when I designed a counseling department in a large university in 1970. It was the largest department in the university with 400 graduate students flocking to the department from all over the nation, because it was the only place in the nation where one could be trained to do corrective intervention.  —  Turning Points, David West Keirsey, 2013.

Words, words, words!
First I get them from him,
and now I getting them from you!
Is that all you blighters can do?
-Liza Doolittle.


Words and Tools

A person’s “skill,” is the measure of his or her competence in performing tasks. It is related to the use of tools and words.  Observable Action.


Words and Tools: When Ideas have Sex

In Please Understand Me II, Dr. Keirsey introduced the idea of multiple Intellects. We all have Tactical, Logistical, Strategic, and Diplomatic Intellects—matching with the Artisan, Guardian, Rational, and Idealist Temperaments, respectively—but each of us develops those Intellects to different degrees during our lives. …  we should focus on visible things to determine people’s Temperament, “the intellect” may seem like exactly the kind of interior, invisible trait that Dr. Keirsey would avoid. Not so. Dr. Keirsey used the word “Intellect” in a way that measurably relates to our habits and skills.  In the Four Temperaments of Role Theory, one’s Intellect is the ability to enact a role efficiently. To be efficient requires both knowledge and skill—and it is definitely possible to measure a person’s level of skill or knowledge in a given field. Words and tools are the only ways we have to pursue our goals, and although it is impossible to measure a person’s ability to use all words and tools, one can certainly evaluate a person’s proficiency with certain words and tools—and how efficiently he or she can therefore move toward certain goals.

“Our Temperament inexorably inclines us toward using particular methods to achieve particular results.”

Practice, Skill, and Learning

If each of the Four Temperament’s Intellect has three parts and only one part is genetic in nature, it is worth considering the mechanisms by which the other two parts work. Skill and learning (and how those aspects of Intellect function) are especially relevant when one considers that the genetic part of Temperament is unobservable. If we want to judge others’ types, we can do so only by evaluating their skill and learning.

In fact, the invisibility of speed (as an aspect of Intellect) leads to an interesting phenomenon. Many observers of Temperament have noted that people tend to “settle in” to their Temperaments as they get older, even to the point of suggesting that self-administered tests of personality are not useful until people have reached full adulthood in their 20s. While I personally believe that a practiced counselor, given enough time to observe, can do a fair job of identifying the Temperament of even a young child, there is certainly truth to the argument that Temperament becomes more obvious with age. This phenomenon is due to the fact that skill and learning—the two observable, measurable metrics by which we must judge Temperament—start out at zero and increase as we practice. A baby is born with the ability to learn certain types of words and tools more quickly and easily (“speed”), but he or she has had no time to acquire any skill or learning. By the time a person grows old, his or her genetic tendencies have had enough time to win out against “nurture” (the influence of upbringing and environment) and manifest themselves as measurable, obvious specializations among the different Intellects.

Indeed, it takes much time and effort to become better—that is, more efficient—at anything. Mere occasional repetition does not lead to real improvement. In order for practice to produce permanently elevated skill or learning it must be intense, continued, and responsive. Intense practice involves the massing of one’s efforts: practicing for significant chunks of time and focusing hard during those times. Continued practice involves distributing such efforts by periodically returning to them over long spans of time. Responsive practice involves feedback; simply doing something without paying attention to its results or consequences will not lead to effective improvement, but being informed about cause and effect can let one make the adjustments and shifts required to develop mastery.

Because of these stringent requirements for the improvement of word-use and tool-use, our four different IQs (for the Tactical, Logistical, Strategic, and Diplomatic Intellects) cannot be equal. Of course, we can strengthen any of our less effective Intellects through practice, but our genetically-derived tendencies mean that some words and tools will simply take too much time and energy to improve. Additionally, trying to improve our “weak suits” will often seem boring and pointless. For capable people, it will usually seem wiser—and in fact be wiser—to let better-suited friends, family, or hired helpers take care of such parts of life while we help them (or pay them) with our own specialties.

Personology — David Keirsey, 2010.

On the word “madness”: (often called “mental illness”)

“I want people to understand that there is no such thing as madness.”

Other Architect Rationals include:  James MadisonSrinivasa RamanujanEmmy NoetherPaul DiracRobert RosenDavid KeirseyAlbert EinsteinLonnie AthensDavid Bohm

About Keirsey

Dr. David Mark Keirsey is a scientist that is interested in how and why the world works. The first half of his professional career was as a Computer Scientist, specializing in Artificial Intelligence. Notably, he was part of a team who created the software for the first operation of an autonomous cross-country robotic vehicle. In the current latter part of his career, he has broaden his interest to include all of science, mathematics, computation, and the history and future of the world. His plan is to write at least three books, two of which are tentatively called Mathematics Itself and Existence Itself. The third is a book on Leadership. Currently he is part of a web-based company, Keirsey.com to develop interactive team and human personality tools based on his father's best-selling work on human temperament. He is a Architect Rational in temperament.
This entry was posted in Architect, in memoriam, out of the box, Personality, Rational, Temperament Information and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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