Duke: Hi, I’m Duke Thomas, the newest member of the Batfamily.
Tim: I see. What kind of a Bat hero are you?
Duke: What kind?
Bruce: Are your biological parents dead?
Duke: No, but -
Cass: How about abusive or neglectful?
Steph: Have you gone through any convoluted romantic drama?
Tim: Do you wear a cape and cowl?
Damian: A domino mask, then?
Steph: Were you tortured?
Dick: (excitedly) Kidnapped or enslaved?
Duke: No! Are you okay? Are you all getting therapy?
Jason, with Damian pretending to stab himself with his sword, Cass miming slitting her throat and smiling calmly and Dick clutching at his heart and gasping as if dying in the background: (brandishing a crowbar) Have you ever been murdered by a villain and subsequently revived? Bonus if your mother held some amount of the blame.
Duke: No! Good lord! Why would any mother do that to their kid?
Dick, suddenly dangling by his feet from the chandelier above: And I have to assume you enjoy doing daring acrobatics across the city skyline at lethal heights in spandex?
Duke: (backing away in confusion) However acrobatic you are, you shouldn’t be able to just appear up there…
Damian: Have you ever been trained by assassins?
Duke: You have?
Bruce, Dick, Jason, Cass, Tim and Damian: We all have!
Bruce: And now for the million-dollar question: do you have an unstoppable, unwavering drive to help people and deliver justice to prevent as many as possible feeling pain like you have, even - or especially - at the cost of your own wellbeing?
Duke: Oh, totally. I led an illegal teen vigilante movement for a while, making myself an enemy of both criminals and the law.
Everyone Else: He is a Bat!
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Hi mbti-notes, hope you are doing well. I am an INFP who is easily taken by persuasive people with questionable opinions. I was a part of an online forum about women prioritizing their wellbeing in relationships that quickly devolved into something ugly. I want to do better next time. When people speak with a lot of conviction, I am easily persuaded because I see the confidence that I lack. I will be utilizing the resources you have already linked on critical thinking. I need to be less gullible
I understand your sentiment because this issue is quite close to my heart. I always try to place truth as my highest ideal, so it pains me greatly to see myself or others be misled by false information. Part of my motivation for running this blog is to try to warn people against quick-fix ideas that end up doing them more harm than good. Critical thinking skills are more important than ever because we unfortunately now live in a social media world that allows misinformation and disinformation to spread like wildfire. There are too many opportunities for people to find information that engages them at the expense of information that is true.
Generally speaking, Fs tend to be trusting, especially when it comes to people they like or relate to. They need this trait because it is essential for relationships to thrive and love to blossom. Having healthy and happy relationships is one of the major factors that determines whether you will live a good quality of life.
However, every personality trait has its upsides and downsides. The downside of being trusting is that you might end up putting faith in people who don't deserve it. You can think of critical thinking as a form of self-defense training. It helps you spot threats and neutralize them quickly, before too much damage is done. This doesn't mean that you'll never get deceived or hurt. If someone is determined to take advantage of you, they will use all sorts of devious tactics. The most important thing is that you're able to detect them and protect yourself as soon as possible.
Do you understand why people often fall prey to false information? I would argue that the main reason is low self-awareness: they don't know themselves very well and aren't aware of what really motivates them. Most people are at low levels of ego development, which means that they are, by and large, unaware of being driven by underlying emotional issues.
You brought up a great example. One of your main underlying issues is that you lack confidence. Thus, your approach to people is often framed by this issue. You (unconsciously) seek out people who are able to lend you their confidence. You're definitely not alone there. Numerous studies have revealed how easily people are taken in by empty confidence and charisma in leaders. This is why psychopaths and narcissists achieve leadership positions more easily than the average person. The average person is usually more honest, in that the degree of confidence they exude matches their actual level of knowledge and capability. As an average person, you then assume that others are similarly honest. If they exude high confidence, they must know better than you... right? Oftentimes, the more confident someone appears to be, the more likely it is that they're trying to persuade you for ulterior motives rather than educate you for altruistic motives.
There are several aspects to tackling this problem of low self-awareness. Improve your emotional intelligence to make it more difficult for people to emotionally manipulate you. Improve your critical reasoning ability so that you know how to evaluate information on your own. Properly vet your sources of information.
1) Emotional Intelligence: What are your emotional vulnerabilities? We all have them but we are not all aware of them. For example: What sorts of things about people trigger your awe, envy, jealousy, admiration, resentment, self-loathing, etc? It's a lot harder for people to exploit your emotional vulnerabilities when you're fully aware of them and know to tread more carefully whenever they get triggered.
The consumer economy and the social media world run on emotional manipulation. What does that mean? There wouldn't be so many "influencers" out there if not for the masses of people wanting to feel something. There's pleasure in the engagement, the inspiration, the novelty, the shock, the outrage, the possession, the tribal validation, isn't there? If you're looking to get hooked by something, someone will use that opportunity to hook you for their own ends.
If someone is hitting hard on your emotional vulnerabilities (i.e. it seems as though they know exactly what to say to trigger a response in you), have a strategy for maintaining some emotional distance for awhile, in order to give yourself enough time to properly evaluate the person and what they are saying. It could be as simple as shutting off your device or walking away to clear your head.
For example, let's say you go to the store and the salesperson is using high pressure sales tactics on you. Politely tell them that they're making great points and you appreciate their help, but you need some time to mull it over. Leave the store, whip out your phone, and start doing research. You might soon discover that there's another store selling the same product for a lower price or that the product has gotten very poor reviews. Always give yourself the time and opportunity to seek out the truth.
I have a friend who loves to solicit my opinion on random things. However, I noticed that they'll never show any signs of agreement or disagreement when listening to my arguments. The conversation always ends with them saying that they need some time to think on it. They obviously place a lot of trust in me because they often seek out my input, but they don't automatically trust that everything I say is true or the full story, no matter how confident I appear to be. This brings me to the next point.
2) Critical Reasoning: One of the most important aspects of critical reasoning is making the effort to be as objective as you can, which is something FPs often struggle with. Objectivity means that you try to understand the whole picture, from every vantage point available to you. Objectivity means that you evaluate information impartially, from a position of someone who is disinterested (i.e. someone with no stakes in the matter either way). The reason objectivity is difficult is that when you get interested in something, you become emotionally invested in it, maybe you get your hopes up, and that can cloud your judgment.
One easy way to be more objective is to focus less on the person and focus purely on the content of their words. Whether you like, admire, or hate someone is irrelevant to the factuality of their statements. Evaluate the claims and statements for factuality in isolation, apart from who happened to utter them. Several of the books that I recommended on the resources page under critical thinking teach people how to evaluate information carefully, step by step.
When we like someone, we tend to assume that they are a good person, so we believe that they wouldn't intentionally mislead us. However, good people don't know everything and can still have false beliefs, right? When we hate someone, we tend to assume that they are a bad person, so we dismiss their words. However, bad people can still be in possession of some facts, can't they? In other words, moral character and intellectual knowledge are two different realms of existence. You can be morally good and intellectually ignorant at the same time. You can be morally bad but intellectually knowledgeable at the same time.
3) Vet Your Sources: You are human. Humans have limited time and energy for doing research. You can't know everything. You will make mistakes out of ignorance. Be forgiving of yourself. Throughout life, we sometimes have no choice but to rely on others and trust in their knowledge and expertise. What makes a source trustworthy? Here are some important points to consider:
- What is the source of their knowledge and expertise? Do they have the relevant educational and/or experiential qualifications? If they are a professional, do they have the requisite certificate, license, and/or other documentation that proves their qualifications? If you're not sure about these things, there are lots of forums online where you can ask questions to people who actually work in the field - use social media to your advantage. One sentence structure I always laugh at is "I'm not a scientist but..." Stop listening right then and there because they're basically telling you not to trust them!
- Is there a better source out there? Do you have a tendency to be loyal against your better judgment? When you're young and/or lack worldly experience, you're more easily taken in by interesting ideas and the charismatic people spouting them. However, once you've been around the block a few times, you start to see how ideas get recycled and regurgitated and repackaged. Truly new and revolutionary ideas are few and far between. Whatever idea you're enamored with, there are probably lots of people out there who are already familiar with it. Talk to those people to get a more realistic perspective on the matter (this is especially important for Ns to do). The idea may indeed be a good one, but that doesn't mean there isn't a darker side to it as well. One important thing that modern society has lost, to its great detriment, is respect for elders and their wisdom. With the hyperfocus on youth, we forget that there are people out there who've been there and done that, perhaps many times over. Tap into that treasure trove of information and you could save yourself quite a lot of heartache. In my teens, my parents always side-eyed me for making friends with older people, probably because they were afraid I would get groomed for abuse or something (a very valid concern!) Actually, I was only interested in learning from their experience.
- Are they principled in their dealings with people? Do they have a "code" or standards of conduct that they always follow? Do they make a strong effort to be objective, honest, fair, and well-rounded when they present information? What stake do they have in earning your trust? How do they stand to benefit from your trust? Are they completely transparent about the benefits they receive? When you enter a relationship with someone, even if it's a parasocial relationship, make sure that you understand what each party stands to gain and lose from the interaction. What are you being asked to give? Is it going to be a fair exchange?
Relationships, real-life or virtual, come and go and end for all kinds of reasons. Throughout it all, it's important to remember that being trusting is a virtue. If someone chooses to take advantage of your trust and exploit it for their own self-interest, THEY are in the wrong, not you. Don't blame the victim! All you wanted was to improve yourself and your life. Your intention is good.
In case it needs to be said, just because you've been burned before, doesn't mean that there aren't any trustworthy people out there. The world is full of good and bad and everything in between. The remedy to social threats isn't to become cynical and give up on trusting people, as this would just plunge you into a new form of hell where you've lost your humanity and live in paranoid isolation.
The remedy is to make sure that you take the time to really know someone well before placing too much trust in them. Don't let excitement override your better judgment. Also, Si types often approach trust and loyalty as "set it and forget it". Remember that trust should be earned over time and loyalty should be constantly negotiated throughout a relationship. You can and should revoke your trust and loyalty at any point a person shows you that they aren't deserving.
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