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Updike got a lot of mileage out of the inferiority of fraternity jocks.

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Jul 27, 2022·edited Jul 27, 2022

I doubt the normie/NT phenomenon is caused by imagining an anti-Forer outgroup. I'd say instead that anti-Forer-ness is a property you apply to your outgroup. While I personally am not exactly what you'd call a jock, I happened to flit between a fairly diverse array of social groups (including athletes). All of them had people I could easily imagine agreeing to most or all of these statements.

Edit to add: In other words, I think it's a mix of your last two guesses. (i.e. they do talk about interiority, but perhaps not as much and in different terms, and also your social circle overlaps much more with the people on 4chan/Tumblr than with these hypothetical jocks).

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Given the broad success of Forer statements, I doubt that extroverts or jocks are really exempt. In particular, I don't think that jocks pride themselves less on being independent thinkers. Every one of them firmly believes that they chase leather balls/lift heavy objects in new and superior ways that no one else has ever thought of before. And all that sweating and grunting in the gym comes precisely because they are self-critical: they know they're not quite strong enough yet, and just a little more training will definitely get them there.

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I can't be alone in thinking most of those statements don't apply to me.

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What’s a ‘sexual adjustment?’

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The insight about Forer statements is like half of an internal dialogue that I've been having since I was a child. Multiple times per day, I reflexively find myself wondering some version of "WHY ME?!? Why did I have to be this abnormal, introspective, bullied nerd, rather than one of the confident jocks or socially-adept normies? Why should I have so much trouble in life with basic tasks that everyone else seems to take for granted, from driving to dating to raising kids? Why should I be second-guessing myself constantly and dwelling on my inadequacies? Why should I be obsessing over anonymous criticisms on social media, rather than laughing them off? Why should I be asking these very questions right now, rather than doing normal-person stuff?" Then I reflect, or perhaps friends and family reassure me, that EVERYONE feels exactly the same way -- like they're totally misunderstood, like they struggle with tasks that are trivial for others, etc. etc. Phew, I should rest easy then!

The trouble is, then I remember a large pile of objectively verifiable evidence that I ACTUALLY AM extremely atypical in various respects. And that evidence destroys the reassuring narrative, leaving only the question of whether the good ways in which I'm atypical sufficiently outweigh or counteract the bad ways.

In the end, then, I'm left in this wildly unsatisfying position of believing ideas that I can't "will to be universal laws," ideas that I'd surely criticize if I saw them in others. "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Just because you're insecure, doesn't mean they're not sneering at you. Just because you agree with Forer statements, doesn't mean they're not unusually true for you." :-)

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I disagreed with a lot of those statements (4, 8, 10, 11, 13, and on the fence about 1, 6, and 7), but felt they apply more to other people.

Am aspie.

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These statements also make good horoscopes or fortune cookie messages (lottery numbers optional).

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The core argument here doesn't seem credible. Of course you can recast Forer Statements as updates and affirmations, and perhaps that's helpful for many people. The part that doesn't seem credible is the suggestion that "this is how things are for more or less everyone." That suggestion seems not to take into account human variability. Think about the variety of personalities, as measured by, say, the Five Factor Model. (It doesn't matter if you don't like the FFM; that's not relevant to my point). One can easily imagine high-N (Neuroticism) persons responding very differently to Forer Statements from low-N persons. So, it could be that the story Scott is telling is true only for a particular slice of the population.

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Jul 27, 2022·edited Jul 27, 2022

Having read cards, palms, handwriting and a few other things for people (I highly recommend the experience as a way to develop empathy, just please be careful not to harm people and avoid judging them when they open up), Jocks will tell you that they are self-critical, pride themselves as independent thinkers, etc. Once you make clear that it is a safe space to open up, pretty much all people will show you a rich interior life.

One way some people create new forer statement is to bet on the universality of the human experience and describe others with things that are specific about *themselves*. It is not perfect but it works quite well.

Also, I would be careful as to the practical efficacy of Forer statements: people will tell you that the statements apply to them but it takes a bit of work to have them feel that they are not vague.

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I am an astrologer. Let's do some real mantic chicanery and prediction markets. First three demonstrations of collapse of logic for any assertion here at https://www.ayurastro.com/articles/text-similarities-in-descriptions-of-pairs-of-events-depend-on-similarities-in-their-astrology-charts#/ will get $100 each. Proof of converse is not needed, just a critical sentence or two or three pointing out an artifact or fallacy in my thinking or whatever.

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Jul 27, 2022·edited Jul 27, 2022

Hmmm to rate then on a 1-10:

1: 9

2: 3

3: 4

4: 8

5: 6

6: 7

7: 3

8: 2

9: 9

10: 9

11: 9

12: 9

13: 8

So for what it is worth I started out feeling like it didn't particularly apply to me, and ended feeling very strongly like it applied to me? Also I am inebriated, so the answers are perhaps slightly more frank and/or wrong than normal.

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I don't think you have to omit the first Forer statement. Indeed, I suspect what is going on is that everyone defines the class of people they compare themselves to by excluding those they see as too weird or unusual to be part of their social circle. Sadly, we dismiss the people who are too weird from consideration entirely when we evaluate these statements (perhaps bc it's not comforting to know we're less weird/awkward than someone we see as too weird for us to like).

Indeed, frat boys are desperately concerned with being seen as normal. That's why they are so vulnerable to peer pressure and how ppl who are nice friendly and respectful on their own become asshole giving each other high fives about tricking some girl into sleeping with them.

It's just that their social circle is very conformist and doesn't really include all the people much weirder than they are.


Note: here I mean stereotypical frat guys. There are certainly frats and frat guys who this isn't true of but the stereotypical ones also exist.

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I'd add that I suspect the real axis on which people vary in term of how normie they are isn't whether they have these worries or if they think they are weird: it's how often they think about these kinds of concerns.

It's like wondering if there is no "meaning" of life and nothing matters. It's a worry that you only really spend time on when your feeling depressed. Similarly, you just don't dwell much on any of these statements except in a negative fashion. So that's why everyone can end up feeling like their unusually concerned about recieving the admiration and respect of others and needing safety. The times when you are feeling admired and safe you just don't think about the issue. The times you do think about it tend to be exactly those times where you look around and see a bunch of ppl who look like they don't have those concerns.

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Most Forer statements are probably optimised for the slice of population that seeks out astrologers, psychics, and -cough- social psychologists. I'd hazard: people who are currently dissatisfied with their life, have free time, are more neurotic than average, and more women. Not normies per se, but probably the type of person psychological study samples tend to skew towards, not exactly uncommon.

There are probably a few other selection factors, which make it easier to zero-shot-infer the innermost thoughts of such people than any random person.

It could be fun to come up with Forer statements for other preselected groups, such as aspiring rationalists. If only to deflate the intuition of invulnerability to this effect that some people might get if they read this specific list of statements.

I'd bet good scammers would have a slightly different tailored list to talk to successful businesspeople (e.g., stuff about succeeding through hard work where others lucked out).

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After reading this post, I sort of mindlessly opened Facebook. Someone who, in high school, had been an extremely stereotypical jock (not a bad guy necessarily, just very normie and by reputation dull yet successful with women) had committed suicide :(

Makes the whole thing about “everyone has some self-doubt” hit rather different.

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I wonder if the Forer statements have stronger effect on liberals versus conservatives. It seems to me that conservatives are more likely to have dogmatic or rigid systems of thinking that may supercede the Forer statements.

Here are some conservative conversions of the Forer statements (off the top of my head)

1. If you do these Mitzvahs other people will like and admire you.

2. God will be critical of you.

3. You reap what you sow.

4. Focus on your strength. Weakness is for the weak.

5. Your sexual adjustment... What sexual adjustment?

6. Disciplined and self-controlled outside means that you're disciplined and self-controlled inside.

7. Always look forward. Don't waste time on regrets.

8. Tradition!!! (Sung like in Fiddler on the roof)

9. You pride yourself in knowing the sacred texts: bible, constitution, etc.

10. Your personal business is your private property.

11. There's just one you.

12. If you work hard enough, you can do anything.

13. Security is one of your major goals in life. (Fine, we keep lucky 13 as it is.)

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I think if you rephrase the statements to be less flowery and circumspect, it’s obvious almost everyone would agree.

1. You would like people to like you.

(Well, duh, we’re a social species)

2. You tend to criticize yourself.

(You can’t be very functional without weighing options, second guessing, recognize mistakes and faux pas, etc.)

3. You feel you could achieve more

(People compare themselves to others and feel others have achieved more, so feel they could/should achieve more)

4. You are a functional human being, despite there being ways in which you could be more likeable (1), make fewer mistakes (2), achieve more (3), etc. if you were a somewhat different person

5. Figuring out sex was difficult, confusing and not always fun

6. You have many doubts and worries, but don’t usually share them

7. That’s just 2 and 6 combined

8a. You don’t like rules when they prevent you from doing what you want to do.

8b. You don’t like it when things are exactly the same every day

9. You think you know how to figure out what is true

10. There are things about you that you don’t usually share with others (combines 1, 2, 4)

11. Sometimes you like people and sometimes you don’t. That can depend on the people or on your state of mind.

12. You have dreams

13. It would be very nice if you wouldn’t have to worry about having safe access to food, shelter and things you like for the rest of your life, so you often think about that and try to do things to make that happen

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First thought was that we all get to be two people: semi-anonymous "neurodivergents" with unusual needs and anxieties, bravely confiding in one another for internet points, and irl normal folks projecting more assuredness than we actually have.

The thing is, that doesn't really match with my experience. I'm much much more open with friends and family than I am with strangers online, and they're sometimes embarrassingly comfortable reveling in their "non-conformity" with me - where "non-conformity" means "performing exaggerated queerness and mental disorder just like everyone else we ever speak to, but weird in comparison to some imagined other."

I've always been terrified of making assumptions about how the outgroup is less reflective/less thoughtful/less intelligent/more "normie"/happier/whatever than me and my friends because it seems such an easy trap to fall into.

But constantly I find I've way way overcorrected. I'm constantly shocked when I go to discuss politics with a new person only to realize that they think presidents make laws, for instance. Or make an offhand statement about how motivating mortality can be and realize the other person doesn't think about that kind of thing. Worst is the assumption that others are basically aware that their actions have consequences to strangers, only to discover the thought never crossed their minds.

Even as I write this I think it makes me sound like a completely out of touch egotist. If someone else said they were just smarter and more aware than others I'd write them off instantly. And my instinct is to fall back to the fundamental attribution fallacy and assume that I'm reading "doesn't think exactly like me" as "is ignorant and stupid."

But on the other hand, the Occam's Razor answer to "who thinks about this stuff more" is "people who talk and write about it more and hang out in communities where it is discussed."

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Jul 27, 2022·edited Jul 27, 2022

When you think about it, this is also the real moral of The Man Who Was Thursday (which I won't spoil as it's really good), so slowly realising that on the inside people are basically alright and similar to you once you get to know them goes back to at least 1908.

I'm not 100% sure this is right though - I personally don't think any of these apply to me (maybe 9? "pride myself on" seems a bit of a stretch though), but I think I've encountered a subset of circa 10% of the population whom they capture perfectly (Mark from Peep Show is the obvious trope example - I used to have a flatmate whose thoughts I suspected were just like that).

I'm not a psychologist, but eyeballing these aren't they all just neuroticism?

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In my thinking on this topic I tend to go with other sources of data to try and corroborate my views developed through lived experience. And by and large my conceptualisation is that the closer you are to the normie or neurotypical person who is well integrated into their own broader culture, the fewer psychological problems they will have, with the reverse also being true of more distant people having more problems.

In some ways this is a filtering mechanism which allows for the mainstream culture of normies to be even more mentally healthy on average as they tend to shed/exclude people with problems.

I think this does indeed lead to a lesser state or scale of interiority for normies. This space of internal reflection requires you to first see a clown mirror reflection of yourself in what your society tells you vs how you feel. They can look like hollow shells or NPCs or as though they were filled with sawdust or whatever to the atypicals...but the normies see us as navel gazing neurotic freaks obsessed with ourselves while not being productive...or as losers, even if an atypical does eek out a lot of money.

For the person who sees a normal reflection of their normie internal self in every social mirror they come across and who feels represented and included in their society, there is no need to spend soo soo much time inside one's interior mental space exploring concepts of identity and where they fit in. They'll do some of this, they are still human after all, but after a brief inspection in their formative years they will indeed reach their final form and be happy with who they are. On average.

In short, if you've never been confused or confronted about your identity, then you'll spend little to no time thinking about it. The capacity is there, but it simply isn't a useful thing for them to do. They're too focused on winning at life with all those clear rules which include them at every step of the way. Their wants, desires, goals, and life never seem to run into contradictions.

In terms of data you can look at almost any artificial sub-group and you will find higher rates of mental illness, often much higher rates. The further you are from the central culture, the less of a natural culture exists. This leads to higher rates of neuroticism and anti-social behaviour almost by definition because if you DID fit in ,then you wouldn't be having problems in the first place.

This just seems incredibly self-evidently true to me as I almost never come across contradictory information. What I consider horror stories about domestic abuse or people behaviour in truly awful ways towards each other tend to come out of sub-communities far more often. Normies would have run away and quickly excluded them. Not to say normies or those striving for their idea of normalcy never have any problems or ever feel like frauds, they definitely do at times.

And would do if you dropped them into a different culture where they were not acting normally - hence why travelling and travelogues are such popular ways of seeing your own culture for the first time for normies. I never needed to travel to know everyone around me was an unrepentant asshole or whatever angsty line teenage boys say online these days while they hate the world...a world which doesn't accept them or have a clear path for them to win at life.

Once most normies get past high school or perhaps college when they first get into alcohol abuse, they tend to lead more orderly lives. High school was great practice for them to learn what to do and they found that they fit in and could readily conform and did not run into any issues preventing them from conforming. They actually LIKE the backyard BBQs and talking about sports or going shopping or whatever things normies do.

If the main culture is French and you are French that's fine by and large in terms of how you are and what you want to do. If you're part of an imported culture such as Moroccan then you can live in your own ethnic community, this is what I mean by a natural community. Membership is non-negotiable and it has a home country with hundreds or thousands of years or more worth of continuity feeding into it.

Now if you're in the 'gay' community or whatever acronym setup you want to use or in the 'goth' community or in the 'larping and cosplay' community or the 'hippie/new age' community or the 'rationalist' community or 'angry gamer' community of skinny unattractive angry manboys (too harsh?) - then the rates of mental illness or non-'normal' identities are far higher in each of those groups. Why wouldn't they be?

My thoughts are that people who feel weird find interests and people in those groups have to deal with slimmer demographic pickings along with their own baggage. So you end up with much much higher rates of tolerance of abnormal and disruptive behaviour in those artificial sub-communities. If your town of 100,000 people has some 200 or 500 people loosely affiliated with a given sub-community then rejection or exclusion isn't as easy of an option so tolerances have to be higher in order to maintain cohesion. But if you're looking for poker nights and fight nights watching boxing and one guy is a prick or too annoying, he can be excluded since there are so many other guys from the firm you could invite instead. I'm not sure why I've made my normie such a dude-bro, but whatever, I'm describing a caricature for simplicity.

Ideas around acceptance of cheating or polyamory or physical abuse or dressing strangely in public or accepting someone in the group will probably have a panic attack or two at any given party or whatever that might draw negative attention from the central culture - while these behaviours are more often accepted as the cost of doing business when constructing artificial communities. Since all your potential members are people looking for acceptance they cannot otherwise find in the broader culture.

All those sensitive or weird or abused kids who ran off crying in high school had to go somewhere and it generally wasn't into the nearest fraternity or fire department. It was to the chess club or the cynical snarky gamer artificial community.

Which leads to the generally larger interiority and 'realness' to atypical people who had to hand craft, bed, borrow, and steal their identity rather than simply be born into it. There is a cultural birthing process and developmental process and a large number of people need to be able to pass through that crucible intact in order for that society to continue to exist. But boundaries must be drawn and for those who fall off the main path, a smart society finds ways to accept and allow for sub-communities to form as sink holes for such people.

And like those 'nerdy types' who came up with computers instead of fucking and going to church useful resources are sometimes generated for the broader culture to benefit from. But many are cast aside and in a darwinian process if they cannot be normal and they cannot be useful...they they simply cannot be. Harsh, but potentially quite true.

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”Most people have a lot of doubts about what they’re dong”

Hehe, Freudian typo?

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*Kept having the urge to skip down to the comment box and write "fundamental attribution error!", glad that base got covered.

*I notice that there's a lot of overlap in the Venn diagram of "Forer statements" and "fortune cookie fortunes". From now on I will call them Forer cookies.

*"sexual adjustment" is a weird euphemism; do Experienced Adults thus have "well-adjusted sexualities"?

*Meta-Forer statement: "Actually, your mind is very typical."

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And if you can't relate to any of the statements, you are the curious chaotic chordate that is rarely cognizant of its own existence via earnestness to understand everything outside of it

Jk, that's just another to add to the list

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"We can go through the list of Forer statements above, and rephrase each one as a useful potential update you can make to your model of the world:"


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"[S]ome extroverted jock in a fraternity is less likely to say they’re self-critical, or pride themselves as an independent thinker."

I feel that "in a fraternity" is doing too much work here. The jock doesn't only exist in the fraternity and if you met the same person in a different context, they might well be more reflective. The jock is compelled by his context to present himself in a certain way; what makes the nerd a nerd is his failure or refusal to respond to those contextual cues.

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I use the "10% would understand" rule where I imagine ~10% of people align almost perfectly with me along the one axis I currently care about (however weird). It has two massive benefits:

1. I am not alone.

2. ~90% are different; how and why?

It catches so many mental pitfalls early; it's been a real boon to find it. And it's technically correct, you can almost always find ±.05 around your position on any axis.

Singing in the shower, pineapple on pizza, kinks, ... applies to everything!

It is morally neutral, however; you can excuse things with it. Don't and you'll be fine.

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I enjoyed this perspective flip, quite novel.

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We see others' outsides but not their insides; we see our own insides but not our outsides.

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Hot take: (many) jocks don't identify with these Forer statements because they already have people's respect/authority over people. A lot of these statements, like desiring admiration from others, bring self critical etc, are a direct result of not naturally having people's admiration from an early age.

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I was struck by how few of the Forer statements describe me:

1. You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. -- Admire ... maybe; like ... no.

2. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. -- Not really. There are plenty of other people being critical of me, and I listen to what they say and frequently adjust when they are right, but I definitely don't beat myself up with self-criticism.

3. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. -- Not that I'm aware of.

4. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. -- No, I have various personality weaknesses, but haven't been able (or perhaps have been unwilling) to compensate for them, and thus I pay the price for them. C'est la vie.

5. Your sexual adjustment has presented problems for you. -- No

6. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. -- No, I'm rather carefree on the inside. It's perhaps tied to my not being worried about being disciplined and self-controlled on the outside.

7. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. -- No. I'm too interested in the outside world to pay much attention to my own feelings or worry much about my decisions.

8. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. -- Not really. This statement is phrased in such a way -- "a certain amount" -- so that everybody agrees with it, but, realistically, it's less true for me than most people.

9. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. -- Yes. That I would agree with.

10. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. -- No. Or maybe I have indeed been unwise in saying what I think, but I don't worry much about it.

11. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. -- In person/in real time, I'm almost always introverted, but I'm also highly affable: e.g., I'm a pleasant but less than scintillating dinner guest. In person, I'm very polite and nice. Online/in async, however, I'm extroverted. In the arena, I care more about figuring out the truth than about the feelings of other combatants in the arena.

12. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. -- No, I probably should have had bigger aspirations.

13. Security is one of your major goals in life. -- No

Granted, if I were 23 rather than 63, I'd probably agree with more of these Forer statements. But not all that many.

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Semi-minor nitpick about:

> 2. Most people are more critical of themselves than you previously thought.

The more direct interpretation is "Most people *see themselves* as more critical of themselves than you previously thought". Which is a completely different story. In fact, my intuition is that there should be some sort of Dunning-Krueger kind of thing going on there. Those that are very self-critical doubt if they are critical enough, while those that are less so would have no mechanism to realize when they aren't.

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Responses so far suggest another Forer statement:

14. These statements apply to most people, but they aren't a good fit for myself.

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These just don't seem to work with me- a big chunk of these statements instantly struck me as not describing me at all, or as screamingly obvious 'this applies to everyone" statements. I'm curious what other rationalist-adjacent people thought. I have come across the idea before, but it seems that rational people would see through these instantly, regardless of familiarity with the concept. This is my reaction:

1. You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. (Seems pretty universal, I make little effort for strangers to admire me, but I like compliments from my peers)

2. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. (I feel like I'm average here)

3. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. (This feels true, probably more for me than most, feels top 20%)

4. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. (Not really, I feel particularly bad at compensating for my weaknesses)

5. Your sexual adjustment has presented problems for you. (Not really, feels quite smooth in retrospect. I might have answered differently when I was 19.)

6. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. (Not at all. No-one would ever mistake me for being disciplined and self-controlled on the outside; I'm not particularly insecure either)

7. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. (Obviously applies to everyone)

8. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. (Obviously applies to everyone, everyone likes 'certain amounts' of change)

9. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. (I'm probably more of an independent thinker than most, but 99% of the time, I accept others' statements without satisfactory proof (Wife: I saw Matteo at work today; Me: Photos or it didn't happen))

10. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. (I'm more revealing of myself than most, and it generally doesn't cause problems)

11. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. (I probably am in the middle of the I/E spectrum, but I can't imagine anyone thinking that this is 'unusually accurate')

12. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. (Haha, oh my god, that is soooo me!)

13. Security is one of your major goals in life. (No, not really, I'm more risk-seeking.)

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This makes me think of "ADHD TikTok", a space on TikTok with short videos about ADHD such as "5 signs of ADHD I wish I had known about sooner", but then the symptoms are problems any teen might experience:

- losing track of time

- mood swings

- sensitivity to rejection or criticism

- social anxiety

- ...

(see "adhd symptoms" searched on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/search?q=adhd%20symptoms)

Like Forer statements, "ADHD symptoms" are generically true for most teens, but are something they might not perceive in others. Self-diagnosing with ADHD is then also great because you now are part of a community (at least on TikTok) that is open to these issues, talks about them, and strategies for coping with them, albeit with advice blowing in the wind of algorithmic recommendations.

(disclosure: have not explored this space of videos deeply myself, so this is a surface-level take)

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Jul 27, 2022·edited Jul 27, 2022

Effective communication since there are a limit to the ways we think.

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Oh Dear, If I confess to being a Jock Normie (No fraternities at the state uni I went to.) can I still hang out here?

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Is there a meta Forer effect? I certainly understand the effect and how it applies to my life, but my reaction to it seems opposite of what is portrayed here. I don't think of other people as "normal" and myself as "different"; I continue to consider myself extremely "normie" despite all of the evidence that would point otherwise. Is this wishful thinking? Am I not being honest with myself?

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"Sexual adjustment" sounds like a medical procedure.

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> When I read these, I feel like most of the time I can think “Ah yes, this is a Forer Effect, good thing I caught myself before I believed it”, and then for one or two of them I think “No, I am just literally objectively in the top 10% of the population on that trait.”

A third update you might be able to make is that if a Forer statement doesn't feel especially true for you ("no I'm about average in how much I crave security"), you're probably actually below average for it,

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I was married to a “normie” for over ten years (it didn’t last). I did have the benefit of an intimate view into his mind in the way spouses do. There was very little interiority. Thoughts and feelings were expressed out into the world almost at their inception, either verbally or physically. He is athletic, and as much of his expression was physical as it was verbal. It took a long time for him to understand what it means for a person to have a deep inner life with extensive verbalization within their own mind. I speculate that a lot of this is due to reading as a child - I was an avid reader from an early age thanks to erudite parents, and he came from a family culture of no reading whatsoever. I should add that he is wildly successful professionally/financially, has become self aware through his adulthood of the deficiencies of being a normie, and has some regrets about what the culture of education in his childhood has cost him. In other words, in middle age he does not present as the cartoon jock of his college years.

All of this is to say that a normie experiences the anxiety and insecurity of the Forer statements but processes them as bad feelings to release on a basketball court (or in destructive ways like domestic violence) rather than thinking them into self-defeating statements inside their own minds.

Just another anecdote to add to the long list of them in these comments.

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"Is this use of “normie” / “neurotypical” what happens when a bunch of people talk to each other, realize that they all agree Forer statements apply to themselves, and imagine an anti-Forer outgroup?"

I've always assumed it had the opposite origin. When I read a bunch of Forer statements, I mostly think, "Nah, that doesn't sound particularly like me;" but when I read the diagnostic criteria for various autism spectrum conditions, I think "yeah, that sounds exactly like me;" (or sometimes, "What? How is that a symptom of anything? Doesn't everyone feel this way?" For instance, it's inconceivable to me that there are people who walk around all day with tags still on their clothes without finding those tags extremely irritating.) and when I've been friends with other people who identified as being autistic in some way (whether or not they were diagnosed), most of them also had similar perspectives, and decided that these were just the diagnostic criteria for normie-hood.

But I think you've edited many of these to describe me a lot better than the typical Forer ones (in ways that I know many people who identify with the Forer statements disagree with). For instance, "Most people feel like they use logic and think critically more than other people do," doesn't seem like it conserves the meaning of, "You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof," to me. I very much think that I use logic and think critically more than most other people do; but I think one of the consequences of that is that I've learned it's better to primarily follow best practices than to constantly reinvent the wheel, and that the scientific consensus is more likely to be right than my intuitions. Whereas, I have many relatives who are offended by logic who pride themselves as being independent thinkers. (Not offended by what logic says, offended by logic itself. They often say things like "Don't try to bring logic into this," in anger, and mock other people for thinking too much and being too "robotic" in their approach to problem solving or truth-seek.) "You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof," is perfectly consistent with, "You intuitively know the difference between what is true at face value and what is absurd, and refuse to be brainwashed or persuaded otherwise," which in the world I come from is perfectly consistent with, "You are a young earth creationist, who routinely mocks the idea of evolution in conversation."

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This is a very, very good post.

Like some other commenters, I strongly doubt that the hypothetical extroverted jock in a fraternity is free from these sorts of interior claims. Perhaps there is some question of degree, but nobody compares themselves to the global population. They compare themselves to their local status hierarchy, and all of these issues will apply. I distinctly recall going to my twentieth high school reunion and chatting (often for the first time in any meaningful way) with some of the "cool kids." I was surprised to discover that they carried around many of the same psychic wounds from adolescence as everyone else. They felt misunderstood, mistreated, forced to play a role they didn't choose and didn't want.

I also disagree that a need for being liked and admired is a normie trait. Again, this stuff seems very localized. A "non-normie" can carry around enormous amounts of disdain for the (perceived) mainstream and still crave the approval of his fellow goths, punks, militia members, antifa listerv, rationalists, avant garde theater troupe, lesbian commune, whatever.

Finally, I'm a little surprised to see skepticism that a jock would pride himself as an independent thinker. Doesn't *everyone* think of themselves as an independent thinker? Every redpilled incel, every Fox News watcher, every New York Times reader, every vaccine skeptic -- literally everyone seems to think that their opinions are founded on a unique capacity for analytic insight, and that everyone who disagrees is virtue signaling/brainwashed/compromised/an idiot.

Long story short, I suspect that Scott is describing something both true and fairly universal.

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The theory makes sense to me but I would submit that statement 9 basically works the opposite way. So people pretend to be more confident/stable/happy (most statements) as well as more independent-thinking (statement 9) than they really are. In the first case, one is fooled by others more than one manages to fool oneself. But in the second, where hidden (from self) motives come into play, many manage to fool themselves completely.

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A decent number of people (I would say about 15% of the population) simply don't have an interior monologue and just behave as society expects them (as least while they are being observed). If society tells them it's good to be "antiracist" and "bash the fash" they will do so unquestioningly, and if society instead tells them it's good to put the Jews in death camps, they'll do that too. I call these people "NPCs" and I don't consider them to have any moral value, because they genuinely don't. They would cheerfully kill me if society told them it was the "right" thing to do, so I view them with justified contempt and treat them as expendable tools that I can feel free to use up and discard in order to achieve my goals.

You may ask what makes me morally superior to those people. The answer is that I have a morality built on logic and reasoning. None of my moral values beliefs came to me simply because that's what society TOLD me, instead I actively reasoned my way to them. This also makes me highly resistant to societal brainwashing. When other people try to force their own values on me through peer pressure or social bullying (such as Cancel Culture), my emotional response isn't "Oh, I should go along with this trend just to fit in, because that's what a 'good' person would do," it's "I should support some political movements to kill these obnoxious jerks who are trying to force their r-slurred value system onto me." For example in 2016 I supported MAGA because I was very tired of liberals trying to force their race essentialism on me and I decided that Lefties needed to started getting killed until they learned to respect viewpoint diversity. I didn't predict Covid with 100% accuracy, but it wasn't too hard to figure put that a pandemic was coming soon and that somebody like Trump defunding the CDC would have bad outcomes. That's why my self-published book mentions viruses extensively even though it was written several months before Covid.

This doesn't mean I'm stubborn and unreasonable: I can be PERSUADED into changing my values. I just can't be PRESSURED into it. The best you can do with pressure is make me PRETEND to change my values, but then I will resent the people doing that and make plans to get revenge on them at the earliest possible opportunity.

In conclusion, I believe Scott is seriously underestimating the differences between the neurotypicals and neurodiverse people. It's not just a matter of perception or Forer statements. There can be vast differences between the neurotypical and neurodiverse mind.

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Jul 27, 2022·edited Jul 27, 2022

> All of this is implicitly comparative - since there’s no objective measure for how disciplined you should be, “disciplined” implicitly means “more disciplined than other people”.

This isn't right; history is full of objective measurements of how much discipline you should exercise, things like "make sure you have enough food to get through the winter". If you're suffering predictable effects of lack of discipline, you're not disciplined enough.

Assuming circumstances are somewhat stable, these tend to get codified by society into a set of rules of thumb that everyone should follow, but interpreting your personal "discipline" as how well you adhere to the local behavioral code just makes it a *more* objective question whether you're "disciplined enough". (Which is, after all, the point of having a behavioral code.)

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Seems like many are conflating interiority with neuroticism. It doesn't take much to see that most everyone has extensive interiority; just go read Studs Terkel or any other journalist who likes to interview "normal people".

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Jul 27, 2022·edited Jul 27, 2022

This was a really great blog post. A future classic, in my opinion .

I’ve often noticed that the more you get to know someone the more deep, interesting and sympathetic you find them. All the selfish, stupid jerks I meet are strangers. While my close friends and family are people trying their best and occasionally failing for understandable reasons. (Obviously there are some just genuinely terrible people out there, but in general I think this is true).

The more you know someone, the more you can see they are like yourself and the more you can see Forer statements applying to them too.

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At least half of those (the extrapolated statements from the original Forer ones) are things that people think they are supposed to say about themselves in order to sound introspective and deep.

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Jul 28, 2022·edited Jul 28, 2022

I started using normie as a derogatory term for people who cannot ever think-outside-the-box, especially when they get confused and annoyed when someone doesn't want to live the same kind of pathetic wage-slave life they do.

This probably sounds offensive, but that reflects how repulsive I find a typical life of selling your best ~30 years of health to some company to help make their billionaire stockholders richer.

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Jocks have an internal monologue: https://abstrusegoose.com/260

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Generally when I see the term “normie” I can rest assured the person deploying it is deficient usually along some social dimension that occurred by way of a developmental trajectory fail.

And they are really pissed off about it.

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For your own sake and mine, get the fuck off of 4chan. It's filling your brain with garbage, and then that garbage filters out to your readership.

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Am I the only one who had never heard the term "sexual adjustment" until this post?

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"I had to omit the first Forer statement, the one about seeking the admiration of others, because that does sound like a normie trait"

Sure, but it's by no means exclusively a normie trait, I think the real difference is the extent to which one seeks validation from some real or imagined specific subgroup vs. a real or imagined general circle of peers or society at large.

Then there is also the ubiquitous soi-disant non-conformist's "I don't care what other people think about me (and I care very much that other people know this)".

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I'm a special normie snowflake because I would answer "no" to 7 out of the 13 questions and "yes" to only 6.

I would have answered more of them with "yes" in my teens and twenties. At 37 now, I'm more self-assured.

In addition to age, some of the changes in my answers might be attributable to being a stay-at-home parent now: I'm my own boss at doing what I love and I interact with a chosen set of friends, rather than worrying about job performance and interacting with random co-workers.

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> […] which is how astrologers get you[…]

Yeah, on that: this last year I went looking for an online IQ test, found one, started it, and quit when it felt like too much work.

Then I poked around the same site, found a short “personality” test, it told me that I was very empathetic for a man, that I was more neurotic than most men, and that I was extremely lazy.

So, one more test, I saw the Zodiac Signs Personality Test


and took it.

The quiz guessed my birthdate “Zodiac sign”.

So I guess three possibilities;

1. There was a one-in-twelve random chance and the quiz hit it

2. Growing up in the 1970’s with a hippie Mom I unconsciously absorbed what traits my “Zodiac sign” has and that made my answers match my “sign”

3. There’s something to the malarkey

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