A response to Wayne Grudem’s Trump article

I’m writing this article mostly for conservative Christians to read, and I promise I won’t pull you into a conversation about libertarianism. I’m not trying to convert you, I just want to try to clarify issues that I’m sure have caused you a lot of frustration and confusion, and I want to shake up some presuppositions that cloud current issues in politics. I’ve seen this article floating around a little bit and thought I should respond to it, because I think its reasoning is flawed and its arguments contribute to the problems in American politics today.


I’ve commented a bit in the recent past about American civil religion, which I think is bad for the church and bad for the country, and that ties in quite a bit with the article here. Most of what I’m going to say will sound rather harsh, but I’ll try to smooth it out at the end, because I see where Grudem is coming from and I sympathize with large portions of the population who have lost their voice and feel the need to compromise and support a candidate they don’t actually like. This happens every election cycle, but it seems worse in recent memory than it did in the past. I could be wrong about that, I’ve only been old enough to vote in the last three presidential elections, so my experiential scope is a bit limited.  I’m writing this assuming you at least skimmed Grudem’s article.

For the most part, it sounds like Grudem’s argument is that Trump is a Republican candidate and that Clinton and the liberals are bad. Never mind that Clinton is really more of an establishment candidate than a proper democratic candidate. She’s not much more liberal than Mitt Romney was, and besides John McCain’s angry face and aggressively pro-war positions she is more or less in the same political ballpark as the candidates Republicans have run for the last two election cycles. She’s part of the moderate centrist establishment bloc that dominates the beltway, and once you’ve made a few connections in that crowd, you’re guaranteed a lifelong career in political circles, regardless of who is in office. To this type of politician, it’s less about positions than it is about power, and I expect Clinton would be a better president than Obama has been for the last 8 years. She has more connections to the status quo and is less politically idealistic than he is, so she would be a much more smooth continuation of the current system than Trump would be. She wouldn’t shake things up as much, and stability is good for the system. This is, I believe, the root of what Trump has leverage against as a candidate. Trump is a populist who has gathered together a base of voters who don’t trust the establishment and feel ignored. The establishment has arranged itself in a way that allows them to largely ignore the voters on a large number of issues while remaining in power and pretending to care about the issues the rest of us get wound up about. Back to the article…

 Grudem is essentially giving the reader permission to vote for someone they are uncertain they can support because they think he’s an immoral pick. He is trying to calm their fears that they’re doing a bad thing. I’m uncertain what Grudem’s role is in the spiritual hierarchy of heaven, but I expect that his opinion doesn’t affect whether voting for Trump is morally acceptable or not. The real problem is that we’ve been trained as Americans to vote for the lesser of two evils every four years, but this year it’s really hard to see which of the two evils is lesser. Grudem is trying to assuage the fears of moral culpability that come with supporting this year’s Republican candidate, because we’ve come to believe the lie that Christians have to be conservatives, and that conservatives have to support the Republican Party at all costs. This has been a generally psychologically comfortable place to stand for a lot of Christians over the years, and it makes it a lot easier to vote for a lesser of two evils if you can talk yourself into believing that your guy is at least a conservative Christian, even if he’s not the one you preferred out of the batch of options you started with. This year, though, voting for the lesser of two evils has gotten a lot more difficult. This should be a sign that the system hasn’t been working for a while (at least it hasn’t been working for the voters), and that we’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The square peg here is simply voting for your party because they’re your party and they claim to support (more or less) your own political and moral views. The round hole is that the government can’t fix everything, but politicians are more than happy to promise you that it can. They’ll say anything they can to get your votes. They aren’t all bad, I do have a few names I trust out there, but by and large it’s a winner’s game, and if a politician doesn’t play the game, they don’t stay in power.

 Grudem starts by saying that Trump isn’t really as bad as the media has made him out to be. To some degree, I expect that’s true, but I think Trump is probably one of the few people with the gall to run for office who is a wild enough character that the media doesn’t have to exaggerate stories about him to make him look bad. I don’t agree that Trump isn’t racist or misogynistic, just this week I saw another video of Trump from the past where he made inappropriate comments to a woman on his TV show. Trump’s business record is littered with examples of him screwing people over to save himself money, and he supports eminent domain for private benefit, where the government can confiscate private property for another private entity for the perceived public good. He’s had 6 bankruptcies in 18 years, which is either a sign that he’s not as good of a businessman as he claims to be, or that he’s good at moving money around and strategically declaring bankruptcy to keep from having to pay off debts. He’s an egotistical populist moderate fascist who is somehow effective at talking a dissatisfied middle-class nominally-Christian crowd into believing only the good things he says and can “change his mind” whenever his opinions don’t get him more support. Grudem seems to put a lot of hope in a president Trump’s Supreme Court appointees to sway abortion rulings to the conservative side, but Trump’s own positions on abortion are wildly inconsistent over time (just do a quick web search for “Trump abortion” and see what you can find), and I’m not convinced he really has much to say on the subject beyond what gets his base wound up.

What we’re left with really is an insubstantial blowhard who can whip energy into a crowd of people who know the system hasn’t represented them for a while. I can appreciate the desire for government accountability and representation, I don’t believe Trump has anything to offer America besides a chance to vent frustration. Trump is a protest vote against a crooked system, but I have no expectation that Trump wouldn’t use his newfound political connections to benefit himself, his family, and his friends. He has never portrayed himself as principled businessman who refuses to take advantage of the system, there’s no reason to expect he’ll suddenly have a desire to reform the system instead of using it to bring himself more wealth and power. I don’t trust him on his policy positions and as a person I think he’s a disgusting thug. Grudem’s argument can be summarized as “it’s okay to vote for the lesser of two evils as long as you agree enough with what you think your candidate might do to improve the country.” That’s a defensible enough position in the short term, but it’s the kind of nearsighted thinking that got us into our current political mess, and it’s a pretty poor way to justify a candidate that should, by all rights, appall us if we were willing to look at the system as a whole and what kinds of garbage it produces.

The psuedo-Christian American civil religion that conservatives espouse is bad for Christianity and it’s bad for America. Think about this for a second: have you ever seen Jesus portrayed with any flag except an American flag? What does it mean to be a “Christian nation” that is flying drones over countries we’re not even with war with and bombing targets because we suspect terrorists live there? Is this what Jesus would do? These civilian deaths are the only picture of the American Jesus many people in these countries will ever see. Moreover, our ideas of a “Christian nation” are the kind of thinking that more or less makes it mandatory for our politicians, particularly presidential candidates, lie about being a Christian so we can talk ourselves into supporting them. It’s the kind of thinking that makes us construct religious justification for supporting our wars overseas and trying to exert moral control over domestic issues, claiming that Jesus is on our side of any policy debate. Heaven help us if we elected somebody honest about not believing instead of the loudmouthed warmonger braggart who recently claimed conversion to evangelical Christianity. If anybody believes he’s not just lying to try to excite the evangelical voting block, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. In fact, I would venture to guess that of the 4 most viable candidates for the presidency right now, there might only be atheists. I don’t know anything about Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s religious views, but she claims to be Jewish. Do you believe Clinton is a Christian? I expect she’s playing the same pandering game Trump is with his religious declaration. Gary Johnson is admittedly an atheist, so at least he’s not lying about it. If you can’t vote for an atheist, you had better hope that, as a conservative Christian, you can vote for a Jewish eco-socialist who is critical of the Israeli government, because Stein is your only option.

I guess what Grudem really means, then, is that you shouldn’t feel bad about voting for a conservative if you’re a conservative. I guess if you believe Trump represents your positions, then vote for him, I don’t have a problem with that. I think Trump is a horrible person and would make a horrible president. I think Clinton is a more conservative option than Trump is, and there are noteworthy conservatives who have backed her since Trump became the Republican nominee. Christian conservatives are faced with a difficult situation, because conservatism is growing less and less Christian, and conservatives in general have a hard time voting for someone who doesn’t hold the same moral perspectives as them. If you’re having trouble with knowing where this leaves you as a voter, there are a few points I’d like you to give some thought to.

You don’t need Wayne Grudem’s permission to vote for whoever you want. Your choice is between you and God. Some Christians don’t believe voting is morally good at all, so consider that option as well. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t consider Grudem’s points if you haven’t decided yet, but I don’t think it’s wise to take comfort in his reassurances that it’s okay to vote for Trump. Whether it’s okay or not is not up to him, and I think his arguments are pretty weak at best. Voting for the lesser of two evils still puts evil in office, and that’s how the system stays operating and as broken and corrupt as it is.

If you don’t live in a swing state, your vote doesn’t really matter. Here in Minnesota, Clinton will win. It doesn’t matter if I vote for her or Trump or Johnson or Stein, Clinton will win. Minnesota hasn’t gone to a Republican since 1972, and Trump isn’t popular here. Barring some major shakeup, Clinton will win. That means that if you vote for Trump in Minnesota, you didn’t get anything out of your vote for the lesser evil, you still lost. I would encourage you to consider voting for a third party in this case, since at least bringing bigger vote numbers to minor parties will shake up the system a bit more than continuing to support major parties you aren’t comfortable with.

If there’s ever been a good time to stop voting on party lines, it’s now. Learn what candidates will be on the ballot in your area and figure out what they believe. If you don’t stand by their positions, it might be a better idea to not vote at all. If a Republican you don’t like wins, that just gives the Republicans more momentum in running more candidates like that in the future. If enough Democrats win, that might help mobilize change in the GOP and maybe you’ll get to see somebody in the future you support more. Consider running for state and local offices yourself if you can’t find someone you stand behind. Consider voting for third party candidates, even if only to shake up the system.

This is a pet project of mine, but learn about alternative voting systems, like ranked choice voting. FairVote Minnesota is an organization here that is trying to encourage voting systems that break a bit of the strangle hold that the Republicans and Democrats have on political office. This system would let voters rank the available candidate options instead of only choosing one option. For example, you could have ranked your Republican primary choices as Rubio, Cruz, Carson, Kasich, and then no vote after that. If Rubio didn’t pull enough support to stay in it your vote would be transferred to the next option on your list, so that you might at least get your second option. It’s not a fix for all of our problems, but it would be a good step in the right direction. It’s a system that is useful at many levels of government, and it’s at least worth learning about (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEvAYKhYNs8). The system doesn’t have to work the way it does, and things could be better.

Lastly I would encourage you to ask yourself what a Christian vote looks like. Sit down with a list of your positions and ask yourself why you hold the position you do. Learn about the arguments for and against that position. Play devil’s advocate and see if you can make an argument against a position you hold. Learn what policy positions the candidates hold and see where your vote would go if you were able to vote for someone you actually support instead of voting for the lesser of evils. The Republican party is changing at the least and some claim it is dying. I expect it is only transforming into something a bit different from what we’ve known in the recent past, which may or may not be to your liking. It’s a great time to give some extra thought to what you believe politically and why. Furthermore, think about whether your position is properly a Christian position or if you’ve been suckered into following party lines because you didn’t have a firm opinion of your own. I grew up as a conservative Republican and now stray towards the agorist/minarchist camp, while voting for whichever candidate I can find that is the most libertarian option. I decided that as a Christian, I can’t support the vast majority of military actions, and I don’t think it’s right to try to force other people to follow my moral beliefs. It took me a long time to get to that position, but I’m much more comfortable here than I was in my beliefs before. It’s not an easy thing to deeply examine your own positions, and it can be pretty uncomfortable, but I think we can agree that politics right now are already pretty uncomfortable. At least the discomfort that comes from self-examination is productive.


You’re not as rational as you think you are

I found this article the other day and thought I would share it: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/your-brain-is-primed-to-reach-false-conclusions/

A short summary of the article: humans often mistake correlation for causation. We assume that if two things happen in quick succession or according to a sort of pattern that we expected, they must be connected to each other. We also tend to be biased in favor of information we’ve already seen and accepted, and biased against data that disagrees with that information we’ve accepted, regardless of which information is correct.

It’s interesting to see clear examples of how irrational humans can be and not realize it. It’s rather concerning to see this illustration of how we double down on our bad logic. The implications are pretty huge, and I’m not really sure of any way around it. I don’t imagine any of us are exempt from this sort of behavior, at least not completely. I imagine some people have a greater propensity for this sort of bias than others, but, in general, this is how human brains work. Even experts, like the doctors discussed in the article, are prone to this “illusion of causality,” and these are the sorts of people we count on to be able to help us make decisions we’re not equipped to make on our own. I’m not suggesting that doctors aren’t reliable, but it is worth keeping in mind that even experts are human and can harbor biases, even simple misunderstandings based on correlation, not causation.

One thing we can take from this information is that effective messaging should keep this in mind. The article ends with this: “If you want someone to accept information that contradicts what they already know, you have to find a story they can buy into. That requires bridging the narrative they’ve already constructed to a new one that is both true and allows them to remain the kind of person they believe themselves to be.” It isn’t enough to present someone with new information. It isn’t enough to explain to them that how they came to their conclusion is wrong. It’s also not enough to explain your opinion or facts or arguments. I imagine this is a large part of why internet arguments never get anywhere, people are biased towards the information they already have and have accepted. Effective messaging isn’t about simply arguing your point better. In fact, it might have nothing to do with arguing your point or even what your point is in the first place. We’re far less rational than we like to think, which is why so much of political messaging is about grabbing people’s emotions or appealing to their identity (as an American, a worker, a taxpayer, a victim, etc).

On Experts

A friend shared an article with me on how contemporary culture is leading to a devaluation of experts (http://thefederalist.com/2014/01/17/the-death-of-expertise/). It’s a good article, and I think it makes some good points, but I had a few thoughts to share on it.

It’s true that experts should know more about their subject than the average person. Depending on the subject, though, that knowledge might be highly subjective or controversial. Even experts are still human, and bring their own biases into a discussion. While more technical subjects tend to be more cut-and-dry, there are still opposing camps when it comes to philosophy and approach. This leads to a pretty basic issue with relying on experts.

The problem is that experts can disagree on things. In such a case, they can’t both be correct, so appealing to the knowledge and wisdom of experts doesn’t necessarily get you closer to a solution. Thomas Sowell and Paul Krugman, for example, disagree on economics. They are both experts. They are both more likely to be right than I am on such matters, but they can’t both be right when they disagree. In fact, they might both be wrong, but other viewpoints might be excluded from the debate for any number of reasons.

If A and B are opposing points supported by experts, and someone comes along with C, they might be excluded for not being an expert even if they’re right. Even if they are an expert, they might lose some status for suggesting C if both A and B are the widely accepted viewpoints, regardless of which of the three is correct. C might not be a very big camp of opinion, or it might be based on new information that hasn’t been involved in previous discussions. By the time C emerges as a position, people involved in the A vs B debate may already be committed through spending of finances and effort. As humans, their egos may be committed to remaining in camp A or B, entire careers may depend on their stance on this issue. And this is all aside from what is actually true, assuming of course that C is the correct position. There might not be enough information to say whether A or B or C is correct, and it could even be that there isn’t a correct answer. Maybe A, B, and C are all just perspectives or opinions, and there’s no factual “correct” answer to the situation.

I guess what I’m saying is that science is not a democracy. Facts are facts regardless of layman or expert opinion. Experts are likely to have a better understanding of the situation and may be quite a bit more likely to come to the correct position based on fact, but as humans we’re all fallible and we might all be wrong until something proves to us that what we thought was true isn’t true. Science is a great system, and it can lead us to some amazing discoveries and move humanity forward. At times, though it seems things would go much more smoothly without humans involved.

The Spread of Ignorance

A friend shared this article with me today (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160105-the-man-who-studies-the-spread-of-ignorance) and I figured I had a few thoughts to share on the topic. The article is a good read and I think there are a few really good points made there. It does seem to slanted slightly leftward, but the discerning reader can recognize that and move past it. There are examples of this sort of thing going both ways.

One point I thought to be worth making is that another factor that appears to contribute to the spread of ignorance, but isn’t ignorance so much as a general mistrust of disseminated information. This factor is that organizations have agendas, even if they’re organizations you’re inclined to agree with. As an I recall a conversation in college about global warming where I told the other party that I was willing to accept information about global warming if I could be convinced it was true, but it was too hard to trust any information I got because both sides manipulate the public. I’m willing to be convinced, but I don’t want to be manipulated. Manipulation of information is such a fruitful endeavor that it’s not enough to have truth on your side of an argument, even people with correct information have to spin it to get traction. I’m still a skeptic on several parts of the global warming debate, and it’s largely because I’m a libertarian. I have my own views, and it seems that everyone who is wound up about saving the earth from global warming only proposes big government solutions that adds further regulatory/legal/tax burdens on people and gives more power to the government. That seems like a conflict of interest to me. That wouldn’t be enough on its own, but when it’s added to a lack of good answers to some questions I have along with general political manipulation, I just can’t buy into the whole thing. It reminds me of a blog post by Scott Adams about feminism and fair pay (http://blog.dilbert.com/post/114055529676/my-verdict-on-gender-bias-in-the-workplace). He determined in his post that women are treated more or less equally in the situations he discusses, but this is largely because feminists have stretched the truth. By exaggerating the actual inequality, activists have gotten peoples’ attention and gotten things changed. He concluded that therefore, although women are fairly treated in most of the categories he examined, he said it was acceptable for activists to lie about the truth of the matter because that led to an acceptable outcome that otherwise probably wouldn’t have been reached for a long time. It’s a very complicated problem to deal with.

Another complication is missed in the article, which gives the great example of Obama’s birth certificate. Many people speculated that Obama withheld his birth certificate for such a long time because it got some of his detractors to spread the rumor that he was not born in the US. Nobody switched sides to oppose Obama over the birth certificate issue, so he really lost nothing by not releasing it. When he finally got around to releasing his birth certificate, everybody who had latched onto this thing and made a bunch of noise about it for years looked stupid and was called a racist conspiracy theorist. This flip side of the spread of bad information makes things complicated as well, it can actually benefit both parties in a conflict.

The spread of some ignorance is intentional and strategic, but other times, it’s just a general mistrust of institutions or people we’ve already been given reason not to trust or whose values and interests don’t align with our own. There isn’t a clear-cut solution to this, and it’s difficult to tell what is false information and what is legitimate skepticism or conflicting information. We can’t simply assume trust in any party on an issue, because then we’re just favoring our pre-established bias and assuming the false narrative is on the other side. This is all rather vexing.

a guest post i wrote elsewhere

I don’t know if anyone actually reads this blog, but I figured I should cross-post this to my blog in case anyone cares to read what I wrote on my roommate Jeff’s blog back in March. I believe the original question I was addressing is something along the lines of “how do you properly write a dystopian story,” or something roughly equivalent to that.



80 signs you’re an INTJ

I came across this list a while back on buzzfeed (http://www.buzzfeed.com/newu1671/80-signs-youre-an-intj-cz0z)

I thought I’d repost it here, but with my own comments on the entries. “80 signs you’re an INTJ”

1. You feel like an alien visiting a distant planet

80 Signs You're An INTJ

it’s equal parts amusing and disenchanting.

This is rather vague, but okay…

2. You didn’t have to look up disenchanting just now

80 Signs You're An INTJ

because you read the same way alcoholics binge and verbosity is a given.

Did anybody have to look that up though? “Disenchanting” isn’t exactly a strange word, I use it occasionally.

3. Meta-judging

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Either you get it or you don’t.

This list is starting out with some pretty weak entries. Yes, we tend to judge things. It’s a good thing, as long as we get used to being disappointed. Most of life isn’t all that exciting or useful. 

4. The prospect of research gets you excited

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Bring the knowledge!

Hah. Yes. I love to dig into things to learn tiny little details. 

5. Delusional people bring out your misanthropy

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I refuse to believe anything which could make you bliss out so will end well.

Even just happy people make me misanthropic sometimes. 

6. You come across as aloof on first meeting

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or every meeting.

I really am working at this, I’ve learned the usefulness of trying to appear friendly upon first meeting someone. It’s a useful tool. People are more willing to cooperate with you and feel more comfortable around you if you appear friendly. They also listen better.

7. Since appeals to emotion leave you cold

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Why should I invest in this with feelings? Give me reasons, dammit!

I’m not immune to emotional manipulation, but it doesn’t motivate me. The best you’ll get out of this is making me feel bad. 

8. You have a secret rebellious streak

80 Signs You're An INTJ

enticed by possibility. Blame the N.

I mostly resist rebellion, it causes problems. I don’t really have much to rebel from. I do what I want because I want to. It just so happens that what I want to do is not all that rebellious most of the time. Still, I don’t like being told what to do. 

9. You have immutable principles

80 Signs You're An INTJ

owing to your somewhat broader perspective.

This is rather vague, but I think the point being made is that there’s a unity of principle between my values and viewpoints, and that’s definitely true.

10. You’re blunt when you respect someone

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and sharper when you do not.

This one is really more complicated than stated here. I tend to not be sharp with people I don’t care about, I mostly just leave them alone. Being sharp doesn’t do any good and I’ve grown tired of those sorts of interactions.

11. You habitually converse in layers of sarcasm, lofty reference and riddle

You habitually converse in layers of sarcasm, lofty reference and riddle

to duly note whom appreciates it.

If you’ve spent any time with me, particularly if my roommate Jeff is around, you know this is true. 

12. Your pet peeve in others is incompetency

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and you abhor the phrase ‘pet peeve’.
You can be cruel to those you perceive as imbeciles or willfully ignorant.

I have long stated that the phrase “pet peeve” is my pet peeve. And, yes, incompetence is extremely frustrating. I think willful ignorance is worse, though, because such a person is actually putting effort into retaining ignorance. 

13. You keep expectations low and downgrade accordingly

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Yes, non-INTJs, you read that correctly.

Very true. Also, I don’t know how well that gif fits this entry in the list, but that is a wonderful gif.

14. Your pragmatism can be scary to sensualists

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“What do you mean, how?”

I don’t know about this, I haven’t discussed it with anyone. I don’t really see the point.

15. When you decide on a course you are unwavering

80 Signs You're An INTJ

To the point of insanity.

This can actually be a great weakness, and explains why I’m so bad at chess. It’s terribly difficult to put together a good approach to something you don’t entirely (or at least mostly) understand, and when it begins to fail, I don’t find myself to be very good at improvising because I don’t know why it failed. This is another reason INTJs tend to be information sponges, particularly on topics that we find important or interesting. We try to amass a large body of knowledge and understanding so that we can approach things more effectively.

16. You are hasty in doling out consequences

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Perhaps too hasty.

Actually I usually find myself not hasty enough. I think that’s the nice Midwestern upbringing in me. I do often think about doling out consequences very hastily.

17. You have a low tolerance for the norm

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Learn to deal a bit.

We learn to entertain ourselves.

18. You experiment with social taboos to see what will happen

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Curb that shit. Don’t tell me you can’t, liar.

This is not always a good thing. Entertaining, sure, but not everyone appreciates having social norms messed around with. 

19. At least try to be less smug about the fallout

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Visibly smug?

I take great pleasure in watching people reap the consequences of their actions. Sometimes I think the best part about being a libertarian is that we haven’t had a chance to see our ideas fail, whereas there are so many great examples of communist/socialist/fascist states failing. It’s fun to watch. But only from a distance.

20. Disrupting formal groups for personal amusement isn’t good for your career

80 Signs You're An INTJ

You’re going to ignore that, aren’t you?

Sometimes self-amusement is more important.

21. Suffice to say you’re a bad influence

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From the perspective of the other guy.

Yes it’s true, I can be a really bad influence if I want to be. Particularly when I’m bored. I’ve carefully cultivated a set of personal guidelines to help me be a better influence on people. Too much information or explanation can cause problems for some people, and then they don’t do what I want.

22. Your truly losing an argument is the stuff of legend

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Riddle me this: Why do people start them regardless? You enjoy them as a learning process and your pride won’t allow you to back down.

I must admit, I hate losing arguments enough that I’ve mostly stopped arguing, because I get impatient or frustrated and then lose interest, and I don’t want the other person to think they’ve won just because I don’t care anymore.

23. “Technically-“

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Watch them run out of good points and make with the insults.
I must go upright and vital and speak the rude truth in all ways. ~ Emerson

Haha, yes, we do have a bad habit of correcting minor things that people say, even if we’re not arguing. Eventually I’ve learned that it doesn’t help anything and it’s easier to just let people be wrong most of the time. 

24. Finding a point of agreement in a discussion is buried treasure for you

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Mutual recognition feels!

The gif says it all, that’s really quite perfect. 

25. This systematic approach gives you an uncanny ability to resolve conflicts

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I’m pretty sure that Lucius Malfoy isn’t an INTJ, but it’s true that we are good at resolving conflicts. We also don’t like to be in conflict in the first place, so this is a good trait combination. Unfortunately, lots of other parts of the INTJ personality can easily cause conflict with other people. I do suppose this gives us some extra practice.

26. You almost never use it for that

80 Signs You're An INTJ

AU fun ftw.
Non-INTJ translation: I wonder what would happen if I didn’t intervene?

Hahaha, perfect. “I wonder what would happen if I didn’t intervene?” So great. 

27. Your history is kinda mysterious

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and it’s bloody staying that way.

So true. I’m a very private person. I like to keep personal information to myself. Particularly emotions and inner conflicts. And yes, those are two different things, most of my conflicts are informational and logistical, not emotional.

28. At parties

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Weirdly, especially when you love those present.

This is me all the time, particularly in groups of people I don’t know.

29. But you can rock a corner

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The better to watch you in.

Find a quiet corner and just watch

30. Small talk is an endurance sport

80 Signs You're An INTJ

This is why we avoid meeting new people.

I’m getting better, it takes practice. But yes, it’s rather draining and tedious. I’d rather talk about real things. 

31. “What have you been reading?”

80 Signs You're An INTJ

The entire list?

This is a lot bigger question than it seems.

32. You never look embarassing somehow

80 Signs You're An INTJ

even falling over or silly dancing look like a knowing injoke.

Is it savoir faire? Sprezzatura? Éclat?

This isn’t true. I dislike dancing, and I try to avoid being noticed in general.

33. Your thinking face looks angry

80 Signs You're An INTJ
It’s true, I’m sure I look angry. 

34. Your angry face looks serene

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I don’t think my angry face looks “serene,” I think it probably looks about the same as no expression at all. Inside, though, there’s a lot going on.

35. You have an incredibly long fuse with a bomb at the end

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Must I at length the Sword of Justice draw?
Oh curst Effects of necessary Law!
How ill my Fear they by my Mercy scan,
Beware the Fu
ry of a Patient Man. ~ John Dryden


36. Consequently, people find you hard to read

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I suppose that’s true. I guess I don’t really know.

37. Your business face ensures no one tries to fuck with you

80 Signs You're An INTJ

The word evil has been applied to it at least once.

Not sure about this one either

38. You snatch victory from the jaws of defeat

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I can’t think of when I’ve done this, but it does sound rather nice.

39. You can pass for charismatic

80 Signs You're An INTJ

It eventually wears down with your patience.

Haha yes, it is tiresome and usually not worth the effort, but I can fake charisma when I need to. If I seem friendly and conversational, I’m either hitting on you, I’ve had a ton of caffeine, or I’m faking it.

40. You obsessively admire and respect true intelligence

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and search for elements of their method to incorporate into your own plans.

Yes. We learn practical tools (social, intellectual, conversational, etc) and look to apply them as needed to achieve our desired results.

41. You are forthright in conceding your expertise

80 Signs You're An INTJ

which can make you appear arrogant but if asked respectfully, you’re equally forthright in conceding knowledge gaps.

We tend to know what we’re good at and what we’re not good at. 

42. You demand respect for your expertise

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Attempts to humiliate you by insisting you pass impromptu interrogation will result in abrupt humiliating and instructive traumatizing of the crude idiot.

I’m not sure quite why this seems so personally insulting, but we to tend to be rather prideful when we’re doubted about something that we actually know a lot about. I think it’s because we value competence and knowledge so much, we treasure what we’ve mastered.

43. How do you make an INTJ enemy?

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Underestimate them.

80 Signs You're An INTJ

INTJs can become ruthlessly Machiavellian when they feel their intellect is unappreciated, their loved ones are threatened or wronged.

On one hand, I’m rather glad to not have made any enemies I’d have to destroy. On the other hand, I think I would rather enjoy it. Plotting the demise of people I’m angry at helps me calm down.

44. You are a quick thinker and find slowing down for other’s benefit tedious

80 Signs You're An INTJ

yet going through the motions make you appear mercurial and irritated.

I put up with this a lot better when I know that I’ll benefit from the other person understanding what I’m trying to explain

45. There are times …

80 Signs You're An INTJ

with irrational protocols…

80 Signs You're An INTJ

with self-contradictors…

80 Signs You're An INTJ

with misinformed moralizers…

80 Signs You're An INTJ

with politically-motivated scientism fans…

80 Signs You're An INTJ

with magical thinkers…

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and people who cannot see the consequences of their ideas

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Their evidence-denying hypocrisy makes you shut down, cut them off and retreat somewhere you can recover from the contaminating force of their stupidity in peace. To an untrained eye, this makes you the bad guy.

80 Signs You're An INTJ

46. People ask your advice constantly

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I think the limiting factor in this is that most people won’t ask advice unless they feel like they are close enough to me to be comfortable asking me what I think. I don’t usually mind either way, I can put together an opinion on just about anything, even if I don’t know the person. 

47. The things you predict constantly come true

80 Signs You're An INTJ

because they ignored you.

Haha yeahhhhh…

48. You treat these people with contempt forever after

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I’m more forgiving and understanding than this stereotype 

49. Your mind is an endless source of entertainment

80 Signs You're An INTJ

My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
 ~ Sir Edward Dyer

You should hang out in my mind sometime, it’s a pretty interesting place

50. You have a slightly addictive personality

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I don’t really know, you’d have to ask my friends

51. You have numerous creative outlets

80 Signs You're An INTJ

At least one work is a parody.


52. Your close friends know to steer you away from bookshops

80 Signs You're An INTJ
Nonsense. My friends love book stores too.

53. You believe rationality is the key to the universe

80 Signs You're An INTJ
It’s rather inescapable 

54. You perceive the world as a sequence of interlocking systems

80 Signs You're An INTJ

each with its own delicious rules

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and you devour details when calculating something specific

80 Signs You're An INTJ

55. You are a natural-born optimizer

80 Signs You're An INTJ
a.k.a. engineer

56. You’re on a quest to tinker with and transform the world

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Been shifting around all the variables and yup, we should just make you Master of the Universe.

Like I said, engineer

57. You pull off daring moves

80 Signs You're An INTJ
Not really. I’m not a big risk taker. 

58. You know Life is a game of strategy

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and spoiler: even when you win, you die.

I don’t understand how this gif applies

59. You give up blending

80 Signs You're An INTJ

when you realize the people you’re emulating are equally clueless.

Blending can be a useful tool though

60. You perceive the profundity of the mundane

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and can dredge the truth from completely contrary sources of information.

I’ve long spoken to certain people about the beauty of the mundane

61. Your sense of fun seems bizarre to outsiders

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I would probably lick that window too. The fox is on to something.

62. You have apathy where offense usually is

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Why waste the energy?

This is a developed trait, we INTJs are rather egotistical in our own ways, and can take great offense in certain seemingly surprising circumstances.

63. You apply your brains to lazy ends

80 Signs You're An INTJ
This is part of the appeal of optimizing. We relish leisure, so we help to enable it in our own lives.

64. When you like something you observe it

80 Signs You're An INTJ

This may have disturbing consequences if you like a person.

This definitely has disturbing consequences if I like a person. I stare a lot. I’m sorry. This entry is the one that made me think I should add my comments to this list in the first place. Anything that grabs my attention merits studious observation. This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m attracted to the people I stare at, sometimes there’s just something that intrigues me. More often than not, I think they look like someone else I know. But I do definitely stare at people I find attractive or intriguing.

65. You avoid deepening relationships without good reason

80 Signs You're An INTJ

This concerns well-meaning non-INTJ friends.

Relationships involve a lot of risk and have a pretty big personal cost to me, I tend to keep everyone at a safe distance.

66. Being in love terrifies you

80 Signs You're An INTJ

You have more red flags than a bull tamer.

It’s a dangerous game, still not sure if there’s much benefit to it

67. As does the merest prospect of emotional dependence

80 Signs You're An INTJ
This is rather terrifying, to be honest. It’s hard to imagine being comfortable letting someone have that kind of power over me. 

68. Your sensitive disposition is constantly on the lookout for rejection

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Sincere flattery is greatly appreciated and repaid in kind with interest.

I am really sensitive to rejection. I also don’t take complements well and generally ignore them entirely. Few people and few kinds of complements actually get through to me. I think, in the end, the things that do get through would probably surprise most people.

69. You become formal and polite when hurt in public

80 Signs You're An INTJ

shrinking back into your mind’s sanctuary to tend your wounds.
You never let it show.

I do fall back on formality when I’m in an uncomfortable situation. 

70. You go quiet and become hesitant when hurt in private

80 Signs You're An INTJ

trying to deduce the superior course of reaction.
Your pride will stubbornly refuse to allow other proof of injury and redouble efforts to push away the offending person, never to be forgiven again.

Yes. Very true. 

71. When you trust someone, silence is golden

80 Signs You're An INTJ

We don’t need to talk the entire time.
If you promise to keep a secret, you will take it to your grave.

We are extremely loyal, to a fault, and we keep secrets well. Tell me all your secrets.

72. Your closest friends have passed a list of secret tests

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I don’t think I could even actually explain what these tests have been.

73. Your close friends = Friends who have seen you cry

80 Signs You're An INTJ
There aren’t too many of these. Count yourself among the privileged few.

74. Duty is something you sign up for or rebel against

80 Signs You're An INTJ

There is no middle ground. Intensely devoted or intensely repulsed.

We like to make our own allegiances. If you try to make a decision like this for me, don’t be surprised if I simply ignore your decision and let you deal with things on your own.  

75. You resent being controlled above all else

80 Signs You're An INTJ
Just like the previous entry. We hate being manipulated, tricked, or coerced. We can make our own decisions and value autonomy over almost anything else.

76. You’re overjoyed to find precise answers

80 Signs You're An INTJ
The desire for precise answers can cause a lot of problems when it comes to interpersonal issues.

77. When INTJs find a perfect solution

80 Signs You're An INTJ
It’s such a beautiful thing

78. You relish having the last word or lasting impression

80 Signs You're An INTJ

79. You’re difficult to impress

80 Signs You're An INTJ

It surprises you when it happens.

Yes. Good gif to accompany this entry.

80. You enjoyed the INTJ-indulgent length of this list

80 Signs You're An INTJ

You have the strong temptation to fact-check/correct

80 Signs You're An INTJ

I don’t mind.

It was a good length, any fewer would have felt vague and incomplete. This was nice.

bit of a refocus

Inspired by my roommate Jeff, I think I’ll start posting some ramblings on here about the novel I’m writing. I think it will help for me to have a bit of a blank slate beside the actual writing to throw ideas out and form coherent thoughts about the novel that are external to the novel itself. 

I’m not going to bother explain the whole novel here because I don’t think anyone will bother to read this blog anyway, but here’s the gist of it: near-future post-apocalyptic story where most of the population is gone and everyone left is fighting to survive, my protagonist is a kid  of about 10-12 years of age living out on his own. That’s all I’ll share now because I don’t feel like saying a lot. 

I recently retooled my antagonist and I think he’ll work a lot better this way. He was going to be a bit of a mastermind and manipulator, but I think what I’ve changed him into is a lot better fit to the story and a better contrast to the protagonist. He’s now a more pitiful character, sort of a cross between Peter Keating from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and Cersei Lannister from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, particularly around the time of books 4 and 5. The antagonist, who I still haven’t come up with a good name for, is going to be a weak and scared character who feels entitled to things he hasn’t earned and doesn’t deserve. He sees himself as a victim and he is willing to do just about anything to serve his own ends, which doesn’t work out so well for him by the end, as we shall see. 

Anyway, that’s enough for now, I’m just stalling on the actual writing. Stay tuned.