Wednesday, July 28, 2021

64. Personality in the Post Nuclear Family — Demographic Doom Podcast Transcript

Below is the transcript for my Demographic Doom Podcast episode #64, released on 28 July 2021. The "home page" for this episode—with annotations, links, corrections and a place for comments—is the YouTube version (40 minutes). The audio version is housed at Podbean and is available on most major podcast platforms, including iTunes and Google Podcasts. The main website for this project is Twitter: @DemographicDoom. Glenn Campbell home page: See bottom for notes on this transcript and how it was generated.

I'm Glenn Campbell. I call myself a demographic philosopher. I'm looking at life and trying to predict the future through the lens of demography, or the study of human populations.

In this episode, I'm going to talk about personality—the personality of individuals—and how this relates to the post-nuclear family. The post-nuclear family, of course, is my hypothetical system for raising a bunch of kids by a bunch of adults. Instead of two adults raising two or three kids, I would have at least eight adults raising between 9 and 18 kids. So how does personality relate to this? Well, personality turns out to be the most vital issue for success or failure of this project, most importantly who you choose to be your parents. We have these eight people who somehow must cooperate in the long term on raising children, and it's all keyed on their individual personalities and whether their individual personalities are compatible with this system.

Although this this podcast is about demography and large numbers of people, I'm very cautious not to promote the post-nuclear family as a solution to any country's demographic problems. The reason is because the vast majority of adults in any society are simply not suited to this system. You can't take eight adults off the street, throw them together and expect them to cooperate on parenting. On the long term, it's just not going to work, and that's simply because there are so many defective adults out there. There are so many mental illnesses, so many self-destructive personalities out there, that you just can't pick people randomly. You have to be very selective. The whole success and failure of this operation depends on somebody making wise decisions about which personalities should be allowed to join this club.

There are also other aspects of personality. Personality is going to emerge in the children you raise. If they come from diverse genetic backgrounds, you're going to have a lot of diverse personalities—people who are capable of a lot of different things. Within your group of children, there could be toxic personalities. It’s entirely possible that one of your children, despite all your good efforts, turns out to be a bad egg in one way or another. 

We've also got to teach our children about personality, because if you come grow up in a very warm and functional family, and you go out into the real world, you're going to find there's a lot of dysfunctional people out there. In raising our children, we've got to prepare our them for the dysfunction and the downright evil that exists out there.

But we're going to start with a question of “What is personality?” A personality is a person's habitual way of interacting with the world. If you take a person and plop them down in some social situation, they're going to mold that social situation according to their personality. They're going to respond to that situation according to their personality.

For example, someone who is prone to addiction is going to find something to be addicted to, even if you take away one drug or another. If you take away their heroin, then they'll turn to alcohol. That is a factor of their personality, their style of operating, that they're susceptible to addiction, whereas [some] other personalities would have no interest in any kind of addictive substance.

So that's one simple example, but personality runs through everything a person does. Basically, it is assumed that once someone reaches adulthood—let's say their mid-20s—personality is pretty much fixed. It can evolve slowly over time, but you, from the outside, can't change someone's personality after they reach their 20s.

Personality is a product of both Nature and Nurture. There is experimental evidence showing that genes play a significant role in someone's long-term style, and this can be tested in identical twins. If you have identical twins raised apart, even though they have different life experiences, there are certain factors in their personality that are likely to be repeated. That's pretty clear evidence of a genetic component in personality. 

Yet of course early life experiences are also vital. The post-nuclear family has a lot of control over those early life experiences. the whole design of the family, the design of the child rearing unit, is intended to promote good personality styles—cooperative people, people who can follow rules.

When the fertility of the original founding parents runs out and you have to go looking in the world for egg and sperm, it would be irresponsible not to take into account the personalities of the people who produced those egg and sperm. If you've got one psychopath and they marry another psychopath, there's a good chance their children are going to have many of those same defects. If we can clearly identify personality traits, that would be a factor in deciding which sperm unites with which egg.

It's not so much that you're trying to build a master race or you're trying to promote genius. You're just trying to eliminate certain genetic factors that might contribute to a defective personality. Schizophrenia, for example, has a strong genetic component, and if both the mother and the father of an [embryo] have schizophrenia, there's a good chance the children are going to have schizophrenia, so that's something that we have to eliminate from our gene pool when deciding to have children. 

So how would we do this? How do we select for personalities? Well it turns out to be a lot easier than it seems. You've no doubt had toxic romantic relationships. You found yourself working for a toxic boss, and it kind of struck you out of the blue because you weren't prepared for it. Maybe you grew up in a rational environment without these toxic influences, and you just weren't prepared for them, so you might have ended up marrying a toxic personality—as I did some 20 years ago—and you have to learn the hard way how personalities work, how mental illness works. 

But that doesn't have to be. There's a lot of scientific and reproducible information on personalities and on mental illnesses, and if you pay attention to it, you can detect difficult personalities at a very early stage. If you're trying to form one of the first post-nuclear families, you're trying to pull together eight people, you can hire a clinical psychologist to review your candidates. This is just like reviewing candidates for an astronaut core or a Biospherian core. Remember my podcast about the Biospherians [Episode 58] who locked themselves in a greenhouse for two years. There can be a process by which you can detect personalities that are not going to work in the long run.

There's all sorts of systems for this. Probably the most popular personality evaluating system is called the MBTI. I think it's called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It's popular at parties. It's popular to take the test and see what kind of personality you are and talk about how this personality interacts with the world and interacts with others. It is not very scientifically reliable. Most [scientists] in the personality field kind of dismiss it. 

I kind of dismiss it, except for one thing—in that I’ve taken the test, and I’ve come up with a type. There are 16 types under this system and my type is called INTJ (I-N-T-J) and I'm supposedly a very rare personality type who's known by the shorthand as "The Architect". He's the mastermind. He's likes to work on abstract projects and isn't too influenced by social pressures. The more I read about this personality type, the more I realize it matches me to a “T”. Although I'm ready to dismiss the whole MBTI system—Boy!—they got me nailed as to what kind of personality I am. 

I'm the sort of personality who would work on a project for years without any social reinforcement—which is exactly what I’ve been doing in this Demographic Doom project. In my post-nuclear family, I'm working on it in total isolation. I don't give a damn whether anybody likes my system or praises me for it. It’s an abstract thing, and I'm looking at how to do it right, and that's characteristic of The Architect, the INTJ.

So I embrace that, but I reject pretty much everything else about the MBTI system, because I just don't understand it. For example, what is the difference between Intuitive and Sensory? I just don't get most of those criteria. I don't understand how this thing is arrived at—but it's actually a pretty good starting point, in that it takes a stab at classifying people according to their personality. I just think that there are better ways to classify people.

The more scientific and reproducible system is called the Big Five personality traits. We break down personality into only five major factors. These factors can be remembered by the acronym “OCEAN”— 

“O” stands for openness to experience: whether or not a person is open to new experiences or just wants to do things the same way they've always done.

“C” stands for “conscientiousness”: whether or not you are good at fulfilling your duty. [Do you] feel responsible to fulfill your duty or you just blow things off?

“E” refers to "extraversion", versus introversion. Are you a people person or are you more likely to turn inward, think about ideas and keep to yourself. It basically comes down to where you find your strength in the course of a day. Do you find your strength by being with a lot of people, or do you find your strength by being alone to recover from people? I would be more on the introversion scale. I enjoy people in small doses, but I come back to my own isolation when I want to return to center and find my strength.

The next one is “A” or “agreeableness”. How easy is this person to get along with? How agreeable are they? Obviously, a very agreeable person is going to be very flexible. They want to work with others. They want to see things move smoothly in social circumstances. Someone who is low in agreeableness is very difficult to get along with, is always creating new barriers and new dramas. So that's agreeableness.

“N” is “neuroticism”: how emotionally reactive you are to stimuli and how overreactive you are to some things. Someone who's high in neuroticism is going to be very picky. They're going to be very difficult to get along with because they have all sorts of [self-imposed] restrictions. They don't like this. They don't like that. They freak out about things. Someone who's low in neuroticism is pretty cool, pretty flexible and doesn't overreact to things. They still have emotions, but they have their emotions in check, and they can see things in perspective.

So those are the Five Factors and unlike the Myers-Briggs system, you can have value judgments about those factors. Obviously, openness to experience, conscientiousness, agreeableness and low neuroticism are good things. It's much better to be on those ends of the scale than on the other end of the scale.

Extraversion is a mixed bag. People should be somewhere in the middle of the extraversion scale. If they're totally extroverted, they're totally oriented to people, and they don't have much internal life. If they're totally introverted and not attuned to people, they don't get along very well socially.

So it's pretty easy now that we have this Five Factor model to look at a candidate for the parenthood core and say, “Okay, they're very neurotic. They're very reactive. They don’t take changes very well.” Obviously, they don't fit the criteria, and we have to reject them. If they're not open to experience, if they want to do things the same way over and over again, we need to reject them. 

Conscientiousness is absolutely essential for this system. People need to internalize the rules of this system and follow them even when no one is watching and no one enforcing them. Someone low in conscientiousness would obviously not be suitable for this system. 

Based on this Five Factor model alone, we can reject an awful lot of candidates for our post-nuclear family. A lot of adults, even if they want to participate, if they're on the wrong end of one of these scales, they have to be rejected.

There are many other systems for evaluating personality. Above all, you need to avoid evil personalities—people who are going to disrupt your system. These would be narcissists, psychopaths [and] people who are very low in self-esteem and have to react in various defective ways to protect it. 

One of the ways to measure this evil component in personality is called the Dark Triad of three personality traits. [A single person] can share multiple of these personality traits, and obviously when you're selecting parents for your system you don't want to be anywhere near any of these traits. 

So the three traits are “narcissism”—just thinking that you are better than everyone else and always seeking your own glory. 

The second factor is “psychopathy”—whether or not you really care about people. You might assume that everybody cares about everyone else, but as you gain experience in the world, you realize that some people just don't care about you. It causes them no pain to see you or some weak creature in pain. This has a very heavy genetic component. Many children are born with psychopathy. They simply do not care about other people, [but] of course it can also be encouraged by life circumstances. A child who is abused is more likely to grow up to be a psychopath.

The third Dark Triad personality trait is called Machiavellianism. It's basically the ability to execute a [nefarious] plan. Very often, it is a is a long-term plan to assert yourself and destroy your enemies. 

We've been able to talk about the Dark Triad more easily in public life because public life has got a few of them who are quite obvious. The most obvious possessor of evil traits is our recent president Donald Trump—clearly a narcissist who seeks his own glory above all else. And he's clearly a psychopath who cares about no one but himself. He would cause great pain to others without feeling any sort of empathy or pain himself.

The one thing that Donald Trump lacks is Machiavellianism. He's simply incapable of executing a long-term plan to destroy his enemies. Machiavelli himself would be embarrassed by Donald Trump, because Trump had all this power, and if he had been clever, he could have caused way more damage and created way more glory for himself if he had simply been able to follow a long-term plan. Trump obviously can't do this. He is 100% reactive, if someone insults him, he will react instantly to that insult by attacking that other person. Donald Trump's lack of Machiavellianism was the one thing that has saved our country.

Obviously if you're selecting a person for any kind of role in your life—be it the post-nuclear family or you're deciding who to employ or you're deciding who to be employed by or you're deciding on a romantic partner—you want to detect these evil traits as quickly as possible, and once you detect them, you've got to wall this person off from your life. That's the only way to do it, because like all personalities, these evil Dark Triad traits are already set by adulthood, and you cannot change them. All the love you can do devote to a narcissist is absolutely useless. It is just dumping resources away if you try to cure a narcissist or make them care, because they won't. So we've got to avoid these evil people.

Next, we can look at something called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which is fun reading. I've always enjoyed browsing this [book] looking for people I know. The main place to look in this big manual is the Personality Disorders. Anyone with any kind of identifiable personality disorder is not someone you need to be engaged with in any way. 

I don't remember what all the personality disorders are. There's Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There's Borderline Personality Disorder—which I have way too much experience with. Obviously, if someone fits in any way with these personality disorders, you've got to reject them and make sure they don't have any power in your life—because they are they are driven by internal forces that are going to sabotage any project that you involve them with.

So evaluating personalities is an absolutely vital skill of life regardless of whether you have any interest in my post-nuclear family. If you are a human living on Earth and you are pretty functional yourself, it is absolutely vital that you learn how to identify toxic personalities and defective personalities and find a way to wall yourself off from them. 

If you're going to be hiring someone, if you're going to be romantically involved with someone, or you're going to be choosing a boss, you've got to be keenly aware of personality traits and detect the signs early-on of a defective personality. That's an important life skill. You don't want to have to do it the hard way by actually marrying a narcissist. You want to be able to find ways to detect defective personalities and take remedial action as quickly as possible. 

In a certain sense, if you're trying to find eight adults who fit certain criteria, it might actually be easier than just trying to find, say, one romantic partner. If you find one romantic partner, you're willing to make a lot of excuses for that person, because your own emotional needs are driving you, whereas if you're trying to select eight people, you can be more detached and distant about it.

There are lots of different aspects of personality, but the very first thing you need to do is “out-select”. [This] is a filtration project process for detecting defective personalities. There could be a hundred criteria, a hundred kinds of defective personalities that you should be able to detect at an early stage. 

You can consult with certain clinical psychologists who can help you with this. Maybe someone can start a consulting practice where they advise post-nuclear families on candidates and whether they are suitable. If you're talking about assembling a group of eight people, and maybe doing it on multiple occasions, you can come up with systems for detecting defective personalities. Once you've eliminated these defective personalities—which might eliminate nine adults out of ten in society—then you're left with more subtle decisions about how well a person is going to support your system. 

Number One is that a candidate for parenthood has to be motivated. They have to believe in the post-nuclear family and believe it is a good investment—because they, personally, will be investing an awful lot in the system, just like parents do today. Parents make vast investments in their partners and in their children. If you join a post-nuclear family, you would also be being making a vast investment—just not quite as much [as traditional parents], since you're distributing the tasks of parenthood across multiple people. So after you've eliminated all the defective personalities, you're left with more subtle distinctions of whether or not these eight people are going to get along with each other.

Going back to my podcast about the Biosphere 2 project in the 1990s: There were eight sort of astronauts who entered this sealed greenhouse in the 1990s, and there were personality conflicts. In particular, there was the doctor of the team who had his own quirky personality and tried to enforce these Draconian dietary restrictions on everyone and really disrupted the whole team. For some reason, he got by their filters, because they were looking for so many different things and were probably not really tuned into personality. They chose at least one defective personality who was not suitable to the project, and it helped bring down the project. 

So that was the 1990s. I think in the 2020s, we're much better attuned. We have much better science of personality, and we can better detect defective personalities. I give Donald Trump some credit about this. Before Trump it was considered unethical for psychologists to [diagnose] public figures. It was a banishable offense if you tried to talk about the personality of a living President. That barrier has been smashed, and now psychologists are allowed to talk about public figures and their defective personalities. That's very helpful in advancing the science. I really think it is a science. There can be a science of personality and a science of selecting good people and deselecting toxic people. 

So you can see why I'm not promoting the post-nuclear family as a solution for [national] demographic woes. There simply aren't enough adults in [any] society that are suited to this kind of system. It's only a tiny fraction. Maybe one out of 100 or one out of 1000 adults have the right personality to join a group like this.

Furthermore, they have to want to join a group like this. They have to be motivated to do it, enough so that they're willing to make this long-term commitment to make it work. That further reduces your pool of parents for this system.

So in the end, I see only a handful of these systems really forming. Once these systems have proven themselves over the course of 20 years or so, then you might find them proliferating. Others might look at the system and say, “That's a good idea. I want to join with seven other people and do it myself." You can also take these families and split them in the process I call “mitosis”, where you take a family of 18 kids and you split it into two families of 9 kids. It's a system that will help you preserve the way of life and the qualities of life that you feel are important, that are important to your community. 

To do this, you have to be very selective about who you involve in your project. That's one aspect of why personality is important. The single most important factor in the success of this project is the adults who started it. 

But that's not the end of the personality game. You've also got to deal with the personalities of your children. I propose that this be a genetically diverse group. We have eggs and sperm from a lot of different parents that are involved in making your children, so in the end you're going to get a lot of different personalities out. There's going to be some kids who are really good at technical problems, other kids that are really good at nurturing and leading others. Some kids are going to be introverts. Some kids are going to be extroverts. Your family system has to be able to accommodate all of them, so it has to be flexible.

There have to be rules. There has to be structure, but the family also has to be able to adapt to the various different personalities that emerge, and that's why you've got to have active management in the post-nuclear family. You've got to have parents who are constantly monitoring things and seeing where individual children are going, and [who are] doing various things to accommodate those different personalities. 

Every child has to obey the rules. Regardless of their personality, they have to obey the rules of the house and the ethics of the house, but each child is going to do it in different ways. They’re going to take advantage of their opportunities in different ways. And the post-nuclear family has to adapt to those personality changes. Over time, that's going to change the nature of the whole family. If certain kinds of personalities emerge in this family, then over time, over the course of decades, it's going to change the nature of the family itself, so that different post-nuclear families have their own family personalities.

The other thing we've got to address with personality is that when our children go off into the world, they're going to encounter personalities they had no experience with in childhood. If this is a nice, warm, functional family, and your children go off into the world and get conventional jobs with the general population, they're going to start encountering these defective personalities, these people with mental disorders or the Dark Triad factors. We have to find some way, some sort of curriculum to train our children to detect these personalities, so they so that they don't get sucked into them and get victimized by them. If you grow up in a trusting environment, it's very easy to trust others to a fault, and we've got to prepare our children for this eventuality. 

And of course, we have to consider personality when we decide which egg is going to unite with which sperm. I'm careful not to call this Eugenics. Eugenics would be when you're trying to deliberately breed certain traits. You want to create a master race or some other ideal, and I don't think that's possible. What is possible, however, is out-selecting certain genetic traits that you know from the start are going to be problematic.

[For example] it may be possible to associate a certain specific gene with a higher prevalence of schizophrenia, so it would be irresponsible not to avoid reproducing that gene in your offspring. This is an area that is open to new technology. We're only on the very primitive end of learning about genetics and the influence of genetics on a child's personality. I only insist that there's going to be a limit to it, that you cannot breed "superior" children. What you can breed is "non-defective" children for things that are very clearly tied to certain genetic profiles. 

I still believe the most important thing in your group of children is genetic diversity—that you have a lot of different genes from a lot of different places, and that’s going to contribute to the overall health of your family. 

So even if you don't have any interest in the post-nuclear family, you've got to be aware of personalities. You've got to be continuously researching personalities. There's a lot of great YouTube videos on things like narcissism and psychopathy. Just search for those terms, and you'll get a lot of qualified psychologists talking about these systems.

Regardless of what you plan to do with your life, it's going to involve interacting with other people. It's going to involve selecting other people and the people you're going to be associated with and the people you want to wall yourself off from. It is vital to understand their personalities and how their minds work so that you can make good decisions in this regard. 

In fact, I think one of the most important tasks of life is being able to evaluate other people and decide how you're going to approach them. Either these are people who you know are going to be helpful to you, without great cost, or they are people like Donald Trump that you just want to get out of your life and wall off. Although you might not be able to put them in jail, you can create firewalls between you and these defective personalities, because the world is positively full of them. 

Take any population of random adults, and you've got a lot of really destructive and disruptive people, and your job as a human being is to detect these destructive people and find a way to wall yourself off from them and keep them from destroying your life, because they certainly will. The defective personalities are so sucked up in their own problems that they will very easily crash your dreams and crush you under their thumb if you give them any power to do so. 

To get started in this, I would go directly to YouTube, type in the word “narcissism” and listen to some psychologists talk about it. You very quickly realize, “Yeah, I know someone like that.” From there, you can branch off and learn about all the other personalities that you should be avoiding in your life.


Written, recorded and edited by Glenn Campbell. For annotations, links and corrections, see the description on the video version of this podcast. You can also leave comments there. See here for all my podcast scripts on this blog.

The transcript above is based on the automatically generated YouTube transcript, corrected by me based on my memory of what I said. In general, I make only the minimal changes necessary for clarity. I have not re-checked the transcript below against the actual broadcast. Editing consisted mainly of inserting punctuation and paragraphs, correcting grammar and removing repetitive words and phrases. More than the broadcast itself, this transcript is the authorized rendition of what I said. Passages in bold text are ones I consider particularly quotable. Items in [square brackets] are added words or minor grammatical corrections. Items in {curly brackets} are factual corrections or amplifications. —Glenn Campbell

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Transcript prepared at Beth Israel Hospital, Reisman 11 room 62, 15-16 August 2021