Jordan Peterson’s Partners in Crime | Dr. Daniel Higgins & Dr. Robert O. Pihl | EP 328 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Jordan Peterson’s Partners in Crime | Dr. Daniel Higgins & Dr. Robert O. Pihl | EP 328".

1970-01-08T11:36:21.000Z

Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.


Introduction

Coming up (00:00)

If you have a big five personality assessment on somebody before you interview them, it would be very useful. If you're about to interview somebody who is high in extroversion, you need to know that during that interview, you're going to have an inflated view of their competence because you will automatically conflate confidence with competence. If somebody is high in neuroticism, it's good to know that in advance. They might not appear very confident. They might require a certain amount of coaxing to come out of their shell. They might be nervous. It would be useful to have a tool to know that in advance so you can essentially counteract the hardwiring that you have as an interviewer. You talked about brutal selection methods and people might react to that. I would say, well, here's something for people to think about. Hire stupidly and put people in positions where not only do they fail painfully over a long period of time, but they compromise the performance of everyone around them while doing so.


Discussion On Alcoholism, Teaching And Testing

Intro (01:00)

It isn't whether it's brutal or not. It's like which form of brutality do you prefer? I would prefer the preventive brutality approach rather than the consequential brutality approach. Hello, everyone. I recently had the wherewithal and the honor and the privilege to discuss the business and research and personal arrangements that I've had with a couple of my closest compatriots, Dr. Robert O. Peel, my former graduate advisor at McGill University, and my former student, Dr. Daniel M. Higgins, who graduated from MIT and under my supervision from Harvard. We walked through our business professional and personal relationships as they've unfolded through many ups and downs. Over the last 30 years, I wanted to bring them into the picture because I have worked with them so closely. I've worked with them particularly on two projects that I wanted to also draw attention to as they form the basis for much of the discussion that's to follow this clip. One is self-authoring.com, self-authoring as in SELF, authoring as in writing, self-authoring.com, and it contains a number of programs, past, present and future authoring, that help people write out the narrative of their life, their biography, their virtues and faults in the present and then a vision for the future. That's a very useful program as you do live out a story and it's a good idea to know what story you've been living out and know where you want to go in the future. That's self-authoring.com. The other project that we developed on the commercial front, so that's publicly accessible, is understandmyself.com. Understandmyself provides a very thorough description of the fundamental elements of human personality, the five major traits, extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness, differentiated into 10 different aspects. So it gives you a relatively simple shorthand for your personality, but also a differentiated view of who you are. And so if you take that test, which doesn't take very long, about 20 minutes or so, then you get a detailed description of your basic temperament. But also if you have a partner and your partner takes the test, then you can join the test together and get a separate printout, a separate report, that details your comparative similarities and differences. And this is extremely useful. When you establish an intimate relationship with someone, there is some utility in your differences and some utility in your similarities. And there's some additional utility in understanding what those are, because you need to understand who your partner is and you need to understand when they're different from you, that they're actually different, and that there can be value in that. So understand myself.com can help you understand who you are. It can help you understand who your partner is and it can understand how you differ and what you might do about that. And so well with that, we'll move onward to the discussion itself. So that self-authoring.com, past, present and future, biographical writing and the development of the vision and understand myself.com, which helps you understand your personality and maybe understand your personality and relationship to the person who's close to you. So thank you all for your time and attention and onward to the discussion.


Colleagues advised Dr. Pihl against Peterson (05:08)

So today I have two people to talk to who I've known for many, many years. First Dr. Robert Peel, who was my graduate supervisor at McGill from 1985 to 1992, and with whom I've had a friendship and business relationship ever since. Very intense and multi-dimensional relationship, both on the intellectual, well on the intellectual front, the personal front and the business front. And so we're going to talk a little bit about that today. And also Dr. Daniel Higgins, who was a student of mine at Harvard after getting his engineering training at Trinity and at MIT and who also got involved with Bob on the business front. And helped me develop, helped me and Bob develop some of the measurement devices that we've been attempting to use in the corporate world and more successfully using in the private sphere. And so I thought it would be, well, fun for me, but also hopefully for my two guests and for everyone listening to just walk through what we learned as we've worked together over the last few years. I've worked together over the last 30 years on the scientific front and the business front. I started working with Bob in 1985. I wrote him a weird letter when I was applying for my graduate training. I finished my PhD or my bachelor's degree in psychology. My second update really to my first bachelor's degree concentrating on psychology and decided I wanted to go to clinical work. And I wrote him a, everyone I applied to a letter that actually told people what I was like, which I'm sure scared off a hell of a lot more people than it attracted. But for some reason it seemed to twig Bob's interest and he called me one day. I really wanted to go to Montreal to study and asked me if I wanted to come down and study alcoholism. I actually had a compatriot in common. The man I had met in Fairview years ago, the town I grew up in, happened to be a student of Bob's and when the letter showed up on his desk, he asked this person, Dave Ross, if he knew who I was. And luckily I got a positive review, which was quite the surprise. So I really enjoyed working with Bob. What do you remember from the beginning of those days Bob? Well, first of all, I remember the letter and I remember that colleagues advised me that I should not select you as a graduate student. But it was exactly the non-traditional nature of what you wrote and the deep thought that was implicit in your statements that drew me to it. And that along with a basic instinct to be a risk-taker was the reason why I accepted you as a student. I spent a lot of time thinking about that letter because it was a calculated risk. I think I wrote, if I remember, and I can actually remember some of this, I think I wrote that I like to drink copious amounts of red wine and could type like a mad dog. And I knew that wasn't exactly standard graduate school application letter language. But you know, I thought, first of all, I also indicated in a letter that there were some deep things that I wanted to pursue, you know, that I was interested in assessing the nature of human malevolence and that I had broad philosophical and psychological interest. So there was a real serious part and there was a real, I would say, well, comedic part in some sense and provocative. And I thought, look, I'm going to be working with someone for a long time and I want to find someone who actually wants to work with me. And so it was a calculated risk, like the one you took, I guess, when you accepted me. And it's funny, you know, because people have had that kind of reaction to me, I would say ever since, which is that some people like you are quite happy with the opportunity to work with me. And other people think, you know, that they should keep me at a distance with a stick. And I think maybe it's not obvious that the people in the latter camp are wrong.


Researching alcoholism (09:43)

Anyways, yeah, so you called me up and asked me if I wanted to do some work on alcoholism, which wasn't really the specific field that I had evinsed a tremendous amount of interest in, although it was interested in motivation. We started to work on motivation for drug and alcohol abuse and on anti-social behavior pretty much right away. Why do you think our collaboration was so successful? Oh, well, it comes down to who you are and how many degrees of freedom you're allowed and the nature of the challenge. And challenges in front of you, Jordan, are produced great rewards. So I think it's as simple as that. Well, for me, I was really thrilled that I had the opportunity to come to McGill. I really wanted to come to Montreal. And then you were an ideal supervisor for me because you were very practically oriented, right? You had a great administrative hand. You had a thriving and unbelievably productive lab. How many papers have you published, Bob? I honestly don't know, Jordan. A hundred and a half, two hundred, something like that.


Marks of a good teacher (11:00)

Yeah, I think it's more than that, Bob. So, yeah, so Bob's lab was famous for its productivity, I would say, and also for the morale of its graduate students. I mean, one of the things that was really remarkable about you and often in distinction to other graduate supervisors is that you were very generous with credit, you know, and you gave your students a tremendous amount of freedom. And you really helped all of us through the various administrative hurdles, you know, clearing the ethics hurdles for our research and then encouraging us both simultaneously on the career development and the intellectual development front, which is a very thin line ethically, right? Because obviously, to be a successful academic, there is kind of a marketing element. You have to publish, you have to meet people, you have to communicate, but at the same time you're supposed to be assiduously pursuing mathematically grounded truth in so far, say, as you're a good statistician. Those often come into conflict and you are very, very good at letting all of us know. I mean, you've produced a lot of very successful graduate students, Sherry Stewart and Patricia Conrad and John Segan and Peter Finn, a lot of very successful academics. And you did an extremely good job of helping us know that it was our moral obligation to stick with the data no matter what, but at the same time to develop our careers. And for me, also the fact that you had an unbelievably encyclopedic knowledge of the relevant psychiatric and psychological research was, that was extremely useful. It made our discussions extremely fruitful because I could talk about more philosophically oriented issues and you could immediately bring that down, well, bring it down, move laterally into the scientific realm and help introduce me into the appropriate biological and psychiatric literature. The current administration's New Year's goals are to tax, spend, and turn a blind eye to inflation. 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That is just provide them with what they need to do what they're interested in. Secondly, if they have really good ideas, don't ask the bureaucrats. Just do it. Yeah, well, you know, as we work together, that got more and more difficulty. We could tell even back then that the university was starting to close in on its researchers. When I first started working with you, the ethics committees, the so-called ethics committees, were kind of an encumbrance whose dictates you had to please, but could in some real sense dispense with quite rapidly while attempting to stay in the proper ethical domain. But as we continued to work together, the constraints that were placed on our research became more and more onerous. And that's a process that's just continued and accelerated since then. But you could really see it coming back even in the late '80s. Yeah, no, it's true. I'm somewhat happy that I'm not there now, given the kinds of constraints that researchers have to go through. Yeah, well, it's so odd, because as we got more and more efficient at running studies, and this happened a lot when I was working with Daniel too, got more and more efficient at running studies and designing them partly as a consequence of being able to use computational power. And so we could do studies much faster. The bureaucratic impediments to doing studies multiplied to such a degree that it became more and more difficult to do them, because there were so many hurdles that had to be leapt over before you could even begin the process of an investigation. And so it's really hard on people who are quick-minded and sharp, because their orientation is to do interesting things as rapidly as possible, and then to be confronted continually with a bureaucracy that works on counter-purposes to that certainly ensures, at least to some degree, that anybody who's fast and sharp just wants to get the hell out of there. Yeah. Because you said, "This is so cool. One of your management principles," and this is a good thing to pursue on the front of the joint, relationship between scientific endeavor and entrepreneurial endeavor, you said your management principle was to hire really good people, students, let's say, and then get the hell out of their way. And one of the things I really admired about you and never stopped admiring you for, and you were a great model in this regard, was that your students had areas of expertise always that you didn't share. Like SIGAF, for example, was a near professional musician. You tended to take in a lot of students who had non-traditional backgrounds in some sense in relationship to psychology. And I never ever saw you, what would you say, engaging in a turf war for intellectual preeminence with any of your students, if they were operating in an area of expertise that wasn't your area of expertise. You were always able to maintain a calm authority and never be threatened by the fact that you were willing and capable of bringing people around you, who knew some things you didn't know.


Reality vs. conceptual ideas (18:00)

And that is a great management principle. Well, less a principle and more a realization that they were all brighter than me. Yeah, well, that remains to be determined. So we started working on alcoholism. That was really useful for me because alcohol, unlike most other drugs, doesn't really target a specific brain area or set of neurological receptors. It flows through the brain like water. And one of the consequences for me was that that meant that I really had to delve deeply into biological neuroscience, because alcohol essentially affected every physiological and neurophysiological system in the body. And so part of what I learned to do at McGill, apart from developing a certain degree of statistical expertise, not my forte, by the way, was to delve deeply into the biological literature. And you were very interested in biological psychiatry, so that was extremely helpful. Yeah. Remember that paper we did on genetics for the U.S. Congress? Yeah. I was amazed at how quickly you were able to grasp that literature. And that was a very nice piece of work. Yeah, well, it was one of the things that was great for me at McGill. You know, there's this idea in psychology of construct validation. And the idea is, you know, how do you determine if something that's abstract, a psychological concept, let's say, like neuroticism or self-esteem, how do you know if that's real rather than just sort of a metaphor or a linguistic placeholder? And one of the answers to that is, well, it's real if it's a pattern that makes itself manifest across a variety of different modes of measurement. And I had been reading a lot of psychoanalytic material and mythology when I came to McGill, which definitely put me in a minority. And then as a consequence of having the biological frontier opened up, especially with people like Jeffrey Gray, I started to see parallels between the deep biological literature, the hard neuroscience work and animal experimental work that was done on rat brain functioning and on the neurochemical front, I could start to see real deep parallels between that and the mythological material that I had been reading. And that was really what I started writing my first book when I was at McGill Maps of Meaning and pursued that a lot while I was working with you sort of as a side project. But it was an attempt to integrate all the biology I was learning about with the mythology. We were also studying anti-social behavior at that point, and this sort of segues into my relationship with Daniel, and we'll get to that or our interrelationship. So Bob and I were working with the sons of male alcoholics who also had an extensive family history of alcoholism, a very specific population. It eventually became essentially impossible as the dictates came down from above that half our research subjects had to be female, which was a real problem for our research enterprise because we were actually researching a particular kind of primarily male psychopathology, and our subjects had to be young men who weren't alcoholic, who did drink, who had alcoholic fathers, who had to have an alcoholic father, another close, and at least another close alcoholic relative male, and not an alcoholic mother because that would have exposed them in principle to fetal alcohol syndrome. And we were looking at the biological basis of the proclivity of alcoholism, and we're interested in the role of disinhibition in that, right?


Why an interest in antisocial behavior? (22:00)

You might say, well, one of the reasons people might drink is because they're biochemically responsive to alcohol in some manner that's either directly rewarding like cocaine or anxiety reducing like valium and barbituates, but another possible hypothesis is they're just not very good at impulse control. And so an impulse would be a biological impetus that wants short-term gratification like lust or hunger or thirst or the desire to breathe for that matter, and obviously you have to abide by those dictates or you die, but if you only fall prey to them, then you're impulsive, and that disregulates your medium to long-term survival. So we're interested in impulsivity. Bob and I started to investigate the neuropsychological literature. A lot of people at McGill were working on the assessment of so-called prefrontal cognitive ability and had developed a lot of practical tests for brain damaged people to see what focal cognitive deficits they had as a consequence of their neurological condition or their brain surgery, and we started to apply that to the analysis of antisocial behavior, right? And Jossa Gant was very much involved in that. So what got you interested, Bob, in the realm of antisocial behavior? Well, alcohol and aggression, the relationship, if you want to really understand aggression, understand the relationship between alcohol and aggression because alcohol is involved in half of murders, rapes, and general assaults, most situations of violence. And so it was a question of what is alcohol doing to the brain that, in fact, is increasing that propensity. So as we were turning to sons of alcoholics and the problem of alcoholism, it became the same kind of question of was there a difficulty in producing inhibitory behavior as these individuals also tended to have a series of cognitive deficits as measured in terms of oscolastic performance and psychological tests. And so that's where you started looking at the Montreal Neurological Institute and the measures that they were using to measure, for example, frontal lobe functioning as its importance in generally controlling social behavior. Right, well, that was the first paper I published with Jennifer Rothflysch and Phil Zilazo, right?


Alcoholism and aggression (25:00)

We put together a neuropsychological battery and then we had people who were drunk at two doses of alcohol, and we used high doses of alcohol in our lab, which was one of the things that made it rather unique. We looked at the specific patterns of neuropsychological deficits that alcohol produced, and alcohol doesn't interfere with things like vocabulary understanding or color perception, but it has a walloping effect on the ability to move information from short-term storage into long-term storage, even at relatively moderate doses, and it really interferes with complex motor coordination, although it doesn't suppress, let's say, it doesn't shorten, it doesn't lengthen reaction time per se, simple reaction time and had no effect on at all. That's right, so we started building a neuropsychological battery, first of all, to see what the nature of the overlap between criminal and aggressive behavior and the proclivity to alcoholism was, but also trying to investigate why alcohol made people aggressive, because it is one of the few drugs, and your research was part of what had demonstrated this, that alcohol actually does make people more aggressive. I remember a study we discussed that you devised where people were put into a bus aggression task, and I think where they were asked to administer electrical shocks of a certain duration and intensity to their competitors in a game-like scenario, low levels of shock, and they weren't actually shocking a real person, that was a sham. But one of the hypothesis was that people who were drunk just didn't know what they were doing, so if I remember correctly, you had the drunks, the people who were alcohol intoxicated, right down or otherwise record the level of shocks that they were administering and the duration to make that conscious, and what happened was that actually made the drunk people more aggressive rather than less, so it wasn't merely a matter of alcohol-induced stupidity, it was, there was real facilitation of aggression that seemed to be associated with something like disinhibition. Indeed, we even tried to pay them not to be aggressive, and found out that that works very well with people who generally have higher IQs, but not with individuals with lower IQs. Yeah, well, you know, the thing is people in their real life in some sense are paid not to be aggressive when they're drunk, the way you get paid to not be aggressive while you're drunk is by not getting in trouble, and that certainly doesn't stop people. It's worth just dwelling for a moment on the statistic that Bob cited, you know, we did a lot of reviews of the relationship between alcohol and aggression, and I think you could make a pretty strong case that almost all sexual assault and almost all, and a tremendous amount of general interpersonal violence would just vanish if people weren't overly alcohol-intoxicated. There's a massive relationship between drunkenness. What, half the people who commit murders are severely intoxicated, and half of the victims of violent crimes are severely alcohol-intoxicated. Right, it's... Indeed. It's always been amazing to me that when we talk about sexual assault on campus, you know, we talk a lot about sexism and toxic masculinity and not very much about the fact that it's almost all alcohol-fueled. At least half of it is, George. Yes, right, right, at least half of it is. So we were also, you and I were also talking at that point about entrepreneurial ideas, you know, because I guess we both had a bit of an entrepreneurial bent, and one of the things that was always noodling away at us was whether there was anything that we could do that might constitute the grounds for the construction of a business. And I remember we talked about the possibility of investigating treatment for hangovers on the pharmaceutical front and went down that rabbit hole for a while, but we never really, at McGill, we never really settled on an entrepreneurial idea. I think one of the ideas that we had discussed, too, was to start a consulting business to help people who had health problems do an objective review of the scientific literature bearing on their particular health problem, and that's still a good idea, although we never did do it. And well, anyways, after I was at McGill, and I think Bob and I wrote 15 papers together, which was something of a record at that point for a graduate student and advisor collaborator, I was thrilled to receive an appointment to Harvard, which was quite, yeah, that was quite the event. And I went down and started pursuing the same line of research in some sense that I was pursuing with you, but it had become increasingly difficult, the National Institute for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, which in principle was designed to facilitate research, kept making it impossible to bring people into the lab and actually give them reasonable doses of alcohol.


Dr Peterson’s Harvard Years, enter Dr. Higgins (30:00)

I mean, I remember by the time you and I were done our research, we were having to keep our damn subjects in the lab for like six or seven hours after we got them drunk. The NIAA required that we bring their alcohol, blood alcohol level down. I think their eventual recommendation was either 0.04 or 0.02, half of legal intoxication. They wouldn't allow us, for example, to send them home in a cab. And nobody wanted to sit in our damn lab and sober up miserably for six hours, you know, while staring at a wall. And it made it pretty much impossible to bring people in repeated times because the experience became too onerous. And there was all sorts of other restrictions that were emerging that made it impossible for us to do what we had been doing. And we got a long way on analyzing the effects of alcohol, associating it with opiate reinforcement and starting to investigate potential biochemical treatments like naltrexone for alcoholism. And we did it on a shoestring budget too, which was also an interesting thing to do. Now, so I went to Harvard and I wasn't making a lot of money. I had to teach a lot of extra classes. My wife couldn't work because she didn't have a green card. And I was just kind of existing on the threshold of survivability, you know, in a comfortable sense. But I didn't even have magazine subscriptions when I was a junior professor at Harvard. And I drove this old rust bucket of a car that was barely holding together. And I remember I phoned up the dean at one day and I said, you know, I don't know what your policy here is at Harvard, but you guys hired me to do research, but I have to do a lot of overload teaching just to be able to survive here because it's relatively expensive. Like, what the hell is the rationale for this? I was probably slightly more polite than that. And he said, well, most of our people consult. And I thought, well, that's not true because junior professors don't have time to consult. So that's just not true. But okay, if that's the damn game, then what the hell do I know that might have some economic value? And I thought we had talked at that point about starting to use our neuropsych battery, which we had started to computerize on broader fronts, right? We used it to investigate alcohol and then antisocial personality. And then I thought, you know, maybe we could see if this battery of neuropsychological tests would predict corporate and academic performance. And so I called you and that's when, and we had to talk about, you know, potentially putting together a company that would be designed to do exactly that. And we did, like the late 1990s. Yeah, and that's when Daniel showed up. And so Daniel, you had done your engineering training at Trinity and then at MIT. So let's walk us through a little bit about your academic and intellectual background. I did civil engineering at Trinity College in Dublin and then I came over to the US and I found it was incredibly difficult to find a job just to go through the mechanics of it. So I thought, well, maybe I'll just go to graduate school instead. Sadly, it was as shallow as that. No, it probably wasn't. But I went to MIT and I did a degree, a master's degree in civil engineering. But at the time, it would have been around 1991, 92, 93, the use of computers, computer technology was getting cheaper. And so it was more pervasive. And so obviously, while I'm there, I'm not going to be busting concrete beams or cubes. I'm going to be looking at what the current computer technology is, AI and so on and so forth. People were much more optimistic about AI in the early 90s than they were in the late 90s. And so I had been doing computer programming and then I went over to take some classes at Harvard with you. I think it would have been 1995. I may have been in your first personality psychology class or your second. I'm not quite sure. And we started programming the neuropsych stuff. The work that you guys had done and the Johnson Seghan had done in Montreal had used a paper and pencil version of the psych tests. And those psych tests were modified from people with clinical issues and with experimental animals. So it was an interesting transformation of using something to detect clinical differences to detect individual differences. And at the time, the idea of a prefrontal cognitive ability really didn't, as far as I know, it didn't really exist. People spoke about executive function, but they didn't speak about it in individual differences terms.


The power of computerized testing (36:05)

They spoke about it more in a sort of a global, like what would happen if executive function did or didn't exist. And so we were using, we computerized the types of tests that you'd been using with the sons of male alcoholics. And that Johnson Seghan had been using with, I believe, impulsive children, if I remember correctly. And then we did the, I think it was 1997. You were teaching the personality class and we did the online computerized personality lab. Right, right. And that was early web days. And so we did that. We had, I guess. We did like 100 experiments at once. It was really something. That's right. That's right. Was it Netscape? What was the first browser? It was pretty much right after Netscape came out. It was fairly early. In computer days, it was when Pearl was the way that you would do, Pearl CGI programming was the way you were doing. You do web stuff. And so we essentially set up a bunch of experiments. My wife, Alice Lee, and I programmed them. And all the kids in the class took them. It was like, I think probably about 140. And they divided up into groups of five to do the analysis. So we did a soup to not set of, as you said, maybe 15, 20 different experimental questions. Yeah. Well, it was, this battery of tests that I had developed with Segah and Bob. It took like a lot of it required gadgets and lights and boxes. And it was very mechanical. It also took about nine to 11 hours for a trained neuropsychologist to administer the test battery. But when we computerized it, we got the whole damn thing down to 90 minutes. And so then we were interested in, we thought, well, we could use this test battery to assess psychopathology impulsivity. But then could we use it to assess normative or even excellent performance? And Daniel and I and Bob started to investigate the possibility of using prefrontal cognitive ability tests to assess academic prowess at Harvard and at the University of Toronto, as it eventually turned out. And we also started to move into the corporate world. And so that was part of an entrepreneurial vision at that point as well because we thought, well, I had started studying papers that were produced by God. Now, I'm not going to be able to remember, unfortunately, the names of the people who produced the initial equations relating increased accuracy of selection to economic outcomes. Hunter and Schmidt. Hunter and Schmidt, yeah, absolutely crucial papers showing that. So one of the things we learn for everyone watching and listening is that a tiny minority of extremely high performers produce almost all the economic outcome of a given endeavor. So it's actually the square root of the number of people involved in a given endeavor to half the work. And it's like the 80/20 rule is almost a very small minority of your customers produce all your profits, a small minority of your workers produce all your productive outcome, a small minority of creative people produce almost all the creative output, a small number of criminals commit almost all the crimes. And so what that means is that if you can tilt your selection methods, your hiring methods, towards the upper end, even a small amount, and thereby increase the number of extremely top performers that you have in your organization, the economic payoff to that is unbelievably dramatic. So I think Schmidt and Hunter estimated at that point that if the U.S. bureaucracy, the government bureaucracy, switched to accurate assessment for hiring, which they're actually bound to do by law, they would save an amount each year equivalent to total American corporate profits. And I read that and I thought, "Oh my God, if we can develop a new way of assessing ability that's accurate, we should be able to go to corporations and say, look, for a relatively small amount of money, we can radically increase the productivity of your employees." And I thought we could just make a statistical case that the payoff for that would be so great that people would literally be to pass to our door. And so that was a very naive presumption. Now, you were put right in the center of this because in order to pursue this for your PhD, you decided to come and do a PhD in psychology, you had to master the neuropsychological literature, you had to master the literature on IQ testing, because one question that came up was, well, was there a difference between prefrontal cortical ability, let's say the ability, cognitive abilities that are dependent on the forward part of the brain, the part that abstracts action before it's implemented? What was the relationship between that and IQ? And most of the neuropsychologists regarded IQ tests as these dusty, ancient technologies that had been superseded and just assumed that what they were measuring was something separate, but that had never really been rigorously tested. And then you also had to become a master of the relevant literature on personality, because personality traits like conscientiousness are also useful at predicting performance. And so why don't you talk a little bit about the development of your thesis and also the fact that you wrote your thesis at the same time that the bell curve came out, and that was quite the political nightmare, all things considered. So why don't you walk through what you did for your PhD research and your thesis? Well, we sort of hit a perfect storm in a way, because Hernstein and Murray's bell curve had just been published, which was the most vilified book of the '90s, if you like. And Hernstein and Murray were both at Harvard, although Hernstein had just passed away. And we had been, the neuropsych guys had been speculating on the way the brain works under normal circumstances, based on research that they had done with clinical populations. And they essentially completely ignored the statistical methods that are required to talk about individual differences in cognitive ability and individual differences in outcomes, differences across situations.


Being the Pariahs: opportunity, and exploitation (43:00)

And so in some ways we caught a certain amount of flack from the neuropsych guys because we weren't cutting up monkeys, which seems okay to me. But they weren't interested in the IQ stuff because the intelligence research had was tainted in psychology, which was very strange because it was the most well developed from a scientific perspective and has been area of psychology. And the tools that people used throughout psychology, personality psychology, for example, were developed by the early intelligence researchers. Charles Spearman developed a factor analysis, and it was later enhanced by a gentleman from the UK, I've forgotten his name. But in Thurston, Thurston, and so it was very weird for somebody coming into psychology from engineering to look at the situation and see, well, the most rigorous research programs that I can see in this, this is probably going to irritate experimental psychologists a bit, I don't know how else to put it, were despised, the area that those things, that was essentially despised. And a lot of academics in psychology were trying to figure out how to essentially throw stones at intelligence research, even though it would be like that meme where it's like nobody, nothing, and then Jerome Kagan IQ tests are biased.


The price you pay for integrity (45:00)

It was that opportunistic, just to come out and make a statement against that. So suddenly I found myself, and you did also, being with the pariahs, we didn't even know that there was such a situation. Yeah, it was really weird, because we were driven to 100%, we were driven by two things. First of all, we had an entrepreneurial curiosity about this, but Bob and you and I were driven, I would say apart from that, 100% by nothing but the desire to try to find accurate predictors of measurable performance academically and industrially. There was no, not only was there no political agenda, as you said, we didn't even know a political agenda existed in some real sense till you started writing your thesis and the bell curve issue blew up. And we were also interesting, people might find this interesting. So the neuropsychologists had really claimed that what they were measuring with their specific tests was something completely independent of IQ, or at least importantly independent of IQ. And then as we delved into the IQ research, and you took the forefront on this endeavor, Daniel, we realized that all cognitive measures converge to a single factor, and that really means all. It means you can't come up with the, go ahead Daniel. If you're speculating about the higher cognitive functions, like Alexandra Luria's, the higher cognitive functions of man, and if you're working in that tradition, and you want to speculate about that in intact humans, you're like two questions away from G, essentially. You're like, well, how does this manifest itself in the real world? Well, it manifests itself in individual differences between performance. Okay, and what do those things have in common? A lot. They're all, they're all positively correlated with each other. Right. You're at G, you bake, congratulations. It's 1904, you've just rediscovered the G factor. But no, we're not going to ask that second question. We're just, we're not even going to ask the first question, we're just going to speculate about how important things are going to be. How important things like executive function are without saying, well, can it be formalized, measured, and does it, does it spread? Are there individual differences? And then once you ask those questions, it is incumbent upon you to explain why it is different than the G factor. Right, right. Well, that was hard on us too, because we had already put years into working out the proposition that these prefrontal cognitive problems that we had, that the prefrontal cognitive tests were in fact assessing something interestingly different. Right. And then when we did, go ahead. I pushed the prefrontal cognitive ability as a construct, measure it by the, by the neuropsych test that we had essentially stolen from the neuropsych guys and the animal research guys. And developed into an individual difference construct, and I pushed that as far as I could as an independent construct from G. And when I wrote up my dissertation, I, I, and the paper, the one that we published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, essentially I didn't collapse it and I pushed it as hard as I could. But after coming away from that, I, I would not sit down with anyone and tell them that prefrontal cognitive ability was independent of G because it had a different heritage. Yeah, well, this is a good indication of the kind of price you can pay for scientific rigor. I mean, Bob and I have put six years into the development of this prefrontal cognitive battery, and there was some utility in it predicting disinhibition. And then you and I put in years developing the battery itself. And then our discovery was we didn't know enough about the psychometrics of intelligence to be doing what we were doing. And that there was no escaping from the black hole of fluid intelligence in some real sense. I mean, we did get evidence that the battery had incremental predictive validity in relationship to predicting grades at Harvard and the University of Toronto and also on the corporate front. But what that meant at best in all likelihood was that perhaps we had expanded the domain of cognitive measurement to some degree and to areas that hadn't been precisely evaluated. Although it might have just been that it was just a secondary consequence of additional testing. With the start of the new year upon us, what better time than now to start building a habit of prayer?


The debate over IQ testing (50:00)

Just like physical exercise, daily spiritual exercise is critical to your well-being, especially in a world where attacks on faith and religion are happening all around us every day. Hello, the number one Christian prayer app in the US and the number one Catholic app in the world helps you maintain a daily prayer routine. It's filled with studies, meditations and reflections including the number one Christian podcast, The Bible in a Year. Download the app for free at hallow.com/jordan. You can set prayer reminders, invite others to pray with you and track your progress along the way. Make this year your year for spiritual growth and peace. Get an exclusive three-month free trial at hallow.com/jordan. That's hallow.com/jordan. For our G measure of G, we only use the Raven's progressive matrix. The block, the fluid intelligence components, like three of them, of the waste. So a real intelligence researcher like Ian Drury, for example, is that that's his name, isn't it? Ian Drury, he would say you haven't tapped G at all. You've only taken two or three subtests and he would basically want to find the whole thing. But anyways, one of the things that you said at the time was every psych experiment should use IQ tests. And that would have been, if that sort of maxim had been used from the start, we probably wouldn't have been as naive as we were about getting away from it. That's not to say that executive function and prefrontal cognitive ability are reducible to some magical construct in the sky, G. It's just to say that in psychological research, things just don't fall along the nice little neat theoretical lines that you build your career around. That they're messy. Right. Yeah, well, what I concluded at that time was that every psychological experiment run that involves analysis of the differences between people should buy, what would you call, universal fiat be required to use both IQ tests and likely personality tests because we have these basic constructs, general cognitive ability, which is a walloping measure, and also pretty decent measures of temperamental proclivity. And they're really basic the same way the elements in the table of the elements are basic physically. And we shouldn't be talking about any other constructs in psychology until we can be absolutely sure that we're not just re measuring constructs that have already been discovered. And that is kind of disheartening on the psychological front because both IQ and the big five, I mean, you can argue exactly about the parameters of the big five still, but fundamentally, there are such black holes that they tend to suck in every other bit of research and invalidate it in some sense. I mean, I remember we looked at the self esteem literature, for example, and concluded pretty rapidly that self esteem was nothing but low neuroticism with a bit of extra version thrown in. And there was no need for the self esteem construct at all. And I mean, that just obliterates the careers in some real sense of the people who are proposing these alternative constructs as real. The other thing that happened to Daniel, what we were at when we were working together was that the multiple intelligence and practical intelligence people, especially at the Harvard School of Education under Gardener, were beating their drum extremely loudly and Gardener was proclaiming that what had always been regarded as talents. There's multiple talents, let's say, although they might be united to some degree by G, that he proposed renaming talents, intelligence, and then pursuing this multiple intelligence idea, which was really just a political scheme right from the beginning, because he never developed a single instrument of measurement. And that was scandalous from our perspective too. It's like, what the hell are you doing? You're talking about multiple intelligences in the face of all this documentation that intelligence is actually a unitary construct, and you can't measure it at all. And now you're putting this forward as the basis for some kind of educational doctrine. That was also politically shocking. Well, the Gardener had written a book on the emergence of cognitive neuroscience.


Industrial Performance And Commodification Of Research

Abstraction and questioning (55:00)

And in that book, I don't recall the title of the book, he identified faculties in the mind that the neuropsychologists had, that cognitive neuroscience had uncovered. And then that was a successful book. His next book after that was "Frames of Mind," which is multiple intelligences book. And I think that what he essentially did was, there's a very weird thing amongst academic psychologists. I've always found this striking. The people that they value the most are the people who are the most intelligent. You can see this in the way they interact with their students. They're unaware of it many times, but it's quite noticeable. But then, as I said, they don't like the whole idea. There's a presumption that I think it might be, if I may be a bit Freudian about it, there might be an unconscious recognition that they are conflating intelligence with value as a human. Right, with moral virtue. With moral virtue. Just with value. And that leads them to see this conflation everywhere, even though other people aren't doing it. I personally don't consider people to be more valuable if they have a higher IQ score. But I think that there may be some sort of guilt at the bottom behind that. I never really understood it. So what Gardner did was he plucked the construct, intelligence, out of the psychometric realm. And in the psychometric realm, intelligence and IQ are very clearly understood. They are very clear procedures for having these phenomena appear as construct in your statistical analysis toolset. To put it as precisely as I can. But he just took that and said, if I remember correctly, it was something along the lines of reducing the sort of prospect of a young person down to one number. And IQ score is unreasonably cruel. He offered. And he said, what Gardner didn't do, and he should have done, and I would criticize him ethically on this one, is he didn't explain that he was using a well-defined individual difference psychometric construct. And he was tearing that from that domain and essentially appropriating the term for his own rebranding of the faculties. Without carrying through with the required research that would be necessary. You want to call your frames of mind intelligences? You've got to show me the tools that will produce the spread of variance so that you can use it as an individual differences construct in your statistical analysis for your research project. He never did that. He just skipped that. No, he just hand waved it away. He said, well, I'm not interested in measurement. It's like, well, then you should shut the hell up about intelligence and you should not pollute the entire educational psychology literature with your preposterous propositions multiplying a construct that's already extremely well understood technically and muddying up the waters like unforgivably in some real sense. And Stephen J. Gould did the same thing when he talked about the mismeasure of man and I'd started to understand with my limited statistical and mathematical ability, started to understand factor analysis and the sorts of things that we were pursuing more and more mathematically deeply. And I thought, well, Stephen J. Gould is criticizing the hypothetically abstract construct of intelligence. It's like, well, what's the abstract construct here? Well, it's a single factor. Oh, he's criticizing the idea that the average of a group of numbers is real. Because really, what it boils down to, just so everybody who's listening knows, if you take a hundred questions, any questions that require abstraction to answer. And so that could be formally and verbally say or pictorially in some kind of abstraction. If you ask a hundred people a hundred questions and you sum up their answers and you rank order the people in terms of their accuracy, you've already produced what's essentially a test of general cognitive ability. And so, IQ in some sense is the rank ordering of people in relationship to their ability to ask, to answer abstract questions or to learn abstract concepts, corrected for age.


Predicting industrial performance (59:50)

That's all it is. And it's a unitary factor. And so the idea that this is some sort of statistical abstraction that doesn't really exist is the same claim that the average or the sum of a group of numbers isn't real. And any, that's preposterous scientifically. I thought Gould's book was pretty dishonest. He used the maxim that correlation does not imply causation, which, you know, of course correlation implies causation. What it doesn't do is it doesn't elucidate the causal mechanism. Right. It doesn't prove causation. And so essentially he jumped from there to the idea that because this statistical regularity, you couldn't point to a brain area that people had illegitimately rarefied it. So, all right. So on the entrepreneurial front, and this is where things got, well, interesting and more complicated for all of us. At the same time, Daniel, that we were working together on the scientific front, we started talking about the possibility of doing this commercially. And so we built a battery that assessed people on the neuropsychological front and had a personality test built into it. And you tested it at Harvard and the University of Toronto, and Bob and I went on the road to find companies that would allow us to test it in the real world. And that was very tricky. Now Bob had a brother-in-law who ran a factory in Milwaukee, Hatco, and we went to Hatco and we talked to the people there and said, look, we're interested in predicting industrial performance. Will you allow us to conduct a study in your institution? Bob, do you want to pick up the story there? Sure, well, on numerous occasions we went and we applied the battery of tests to all the managers, basically, that the entire staff. And it was a mid-size corporation, and we went back, what we did is to validate it, is we wanted to look at our test results relative to the ratings that the entire staff. And we wanted to make sure that the internal ratings of the corporation, which are done twice a year, I believe. And so we, over a two-year period, it was that Jordan and I went and tested individuals, went through all the data, collected the data, and passed it on to Daniel. And I think it was brilliant thesis, bringing together the neuropsychological literature, the IQ literature, the personality literature, and then laying out these three extremely difficult studies. It was hard to do the studies at Harvard. These were practical real-world studies. It was difficult to do them at the University of Toronto. It was difficult to do them on the industrial front. And you published that paper. As you said, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, it's a very highly ranked journal. And I remember the reviewers of your thesis, even though they weren't necessarily politically aligned with this research protocol, let's say, were uniformly, extremely positive with regard to their comments on the quality of the thesis. I remember that a couple of them had told me afterwards that that was one of the best thesis they had ever read. And it was something we had very much thought about and still do talk about from time to time making into a book. One of the things that was so lovely about working with you, Daniel, and something I like about engineers is that you virtually never said anything. You hadn't researched right to the damn bottom. And if you're a computer engineer, you have to build something from the code level up and it has to work. And one of the things I really liked about you as a graduate student was that I knew if you didn't say a lot, I had students who were a lot more than a student. I had students who were a lot noisier than you. But if you ever said something, I knew perfectly well that you had bloody well investigated it right down to its atoms. And you knew the entire logical sequence of ideation that produced that conclusion. Remember, for example, you referred to John Galton, a fair bit in your thesis, and you actually went back into the original writings and familiarized yourself with Galton in a manner that was, well, that distinguished you completely for many. I'd ever met who talked about Galton at all. Your thesis was really a masterpiece of depth and courage and clear thinking. And so, anyways, we started -- I had a side question for you. Why the hell did you switch from engineering to psychology? Like you came over to Harvard and took my class, and I don't remember exactly. Did you start working with me when you were still an undergraduate as an undergraduate project?


Commodifying research (01:05:01)

Why did you come over and start working with me? I mean, you were a perfectly qualified engineer on the computational front. You had an immense potential career set out in front of you. Well, I had been reading Carl Jung and Signet Freud and Alfred Adler and stuff like that. And I had taken -- I outed it at a psych horse at MIT. So, I went over there to take your personality psychology class. And then I went up and talked to you afterwards and said, this is interesting. What do you -- shall we do something together? And you said, yeah, sure. Why don't you construct this instrument to help us, I believe, code reactions of people who are in an alcohol experiment with the computer. And then it just went on from there. Then we did the first version of the neurocognitive battery. Then before we went to Hatco, et cetera, we did it to make it more intuitive and easier to use. You remember this summer in -- I think it was 1998. You and Alice and I were in Porter Square working on that, stuffing ourselves with pastries in the mid-morning. Good times. And that was just at the dawn of the point where all this stuff became possible on the computational front. So, it was exciting, too, to learn how to do all that. Right. Oh, just to clarify something, it wasn't the people at the JPSP said that the paper -- that the submission was well-written. It was the people at Harvard that gave the positive feedback. I don't think you should be smurching the people at JPSP by suggesting that they thought there was anything particularly special about my paper. Right. No, no, it was the reviewers of the thesis at Harvard. Yes. Right. So, we started then, Bob and I -- once your paper came out, we could calculate the economic return that would be available to companies if they used our test battery. So, basically, what we showed was that on the managerial front, if you were scored highly on the neuropsychological assessment, which is something like an elaborated assessment or -- no, something like a variant assessment of fluid intelligence, and you were high in conscientiousness, that you were much more likely to be a successful manager, and that what predicted on the line worker front was more purely just conscientiousness. And that was in accordance with the relevant industrial organizational literature, which we also had to master at the same time, right, because we were trying to find out what were valid predictors of industrial performance and to calculate the economic returns on that. And we armed ourselves with a set of scientific facts. So, what Bob and I and you decided to do was to go out into the corporate world and try to sell these tests.


The Debbie effect, dealing with HR (01:08:00)

And the pitch was, we can assess your new employees within about an hour and a half. We can tell you who's going to be a good manager, statistically more likely. We can identify a pool of people who are statistically more likely to be high performers as managers and as line workers using slightly different measurement techniques. And the economic payoff of that is going to be like 500 times as much as it costs you to do the testing per year over the hypothetical five-year period of their career. And we used that five-year period because people tend to switch jobs. And so, in our naivety, we presume that if we could go out into the corporate world and say, "Look, here's something that you could do that is really inexpensive that will generate a lot of money that people would just fall all over themselves to do it." And so, Bob, you and I went on the corporate road for, God, five years, do you think? Trying to sell these damn tests. And what was the consequence? Zero. Experience and traveler points. Pretty much. Right. I recall our trips to Chicago, Phoenix. We even went to a National Football League team and tried to sell them the test. And they were very interested. Right. Well, they were using IQ tests, eh? Yeah. But the big problem with them was they figured they would have difficulty getting the players to sit down and actually invest an hour and a half at any one time.


Consensus over logic, fallacy of the masses (01:09:45)

Right. Right. Right. Yeah. Well, it turns out that the better quarterbacks tend to have better general cognitive ability, tend to have higher IQs. Yeah. So that was also our first encounter, Bob, with the realities of human resources. And we used to joke, Bob and I met a tremendous number of women employed in HR named Debbie. And they always got in our way, like we would attempt to lay out the case that we could evaluate people on the basis of their capacity to learn and that that was an element of merit. And the debbies weren't very happy with that idea because they like to presume that you could train anybody to do anything at all. And there was no such thing as individual differences. And well, we probably talked to 300 companies, something like that, mostly at the middle management level. And what did we learn? We learned talking to middle managers is absolutely pointless if you're trying to do anything entrepreneurial. What we learned that if you're a middle manager, go ahead, Bob. We were devified. Yes, exactly, exactly. And I think that's been replaced by the epithet Karen now. And so other people obviously encountered more Karens, but we encountered a lot of debbies. And so, while we learned that talking to middle managers about anything entrepreneurial wasn't going to fly. And the reason for that was that most people in middle management are not risk-takers at all. And so if you go to them and you say, look, we've got this new thing that could have a spectacular outcome. All they hear is, I could get in a lot of trouble if that goes wrong. And the only question they really want to have answered is, who else is using this? And that was so interesting sociologically because I didn't realize at that point how much people relied on consensus to make their judgments instead of logic. Like, as naive scientists, we assumed that if we just went out the business world armed with our statistical arguments, we could demonstrate, incontrovertibly, the economic utility of this approach. But then we assumed that people were motivated by economic utility, that they would be rewarded for taking a risk, that they would understand the technical arguments and that that would guide their decision-making. And every single one of those presumptions was wrong. Yeah. So we didn't sell any of those tests. Not really. Not till we started working with the Founder Institute. And that was like 10 years later. Well, and the experience I had trying to demonstrate to pharmacists and to pharmacies, we did studies with pharmacies who made medication errors, serious errors, and were able to demonstrate that on this battery of tests, those individuals who made the errors compared to a control group of pharmacists scored significantly poorly, particularly in something like working memory, because they just weren't able to keep a lot of things in their head at the one time. And a pharmacist's job is one which is very dependent on being able to keep in mind that they're filling a prescription at the same time that they have to deal with the customer at the same time that there's a phone call.


Testing for business acumen (01:13:00)

There's all of these situations that are occurring. Anyway, our tests were really appropriate in being able to raise red flags about individuals who were going to have trouble. And so we even talked to large pharmaceutical chains at the directors of personnel level. And the issue is they didn't like our tests A, because of the time, and B, because there was no face validity. Right, right. They didn't look like, yeah, yeah. They didn't look like what a pharmacist was doing. Right, right, right. Yeah, and so that, as Bob pointed out, that's known as face validity. The test looks like it's doing what it says to be doing, and lots of accurate psychological tests don't have that quality. So we also started to understand more about the political landscape on the corporate front in America, and also why innovative technologies are difficult to get adopted. I mean, first of all, if you're going to go out and sell something to a corporation, you have to actually talk to the people who can make decisions, and that is not an easy thing to do, and that's almost never middle management. And before people think that I'm down on middle managers, I should also point out that they have every reason to be larry of risk. So I remember one company that we dealt with, they were growing by like 100 employees a month. They couldn't keep up, and they really needed a technology to screen their applicants before interviews, and our technology was perfectly situated to manage this. But we wanted to charge them, I think it was $30 a test or something, and I think they had a budget of $5, and we said, look, we just can't do it for $5. There's just no utility in this whatsoever for us, and we already demonstrated that you'll get like a 500 to 1 return on investment at the price we are charging, why the hell wouldn't you do it? And they said, well, look, we get evaluated on how much we spend per test, and some other part of the company will be rewarded if there's more productive people. So we bear all the responsibility for the risk and get none of the reward for the outcome. And I thought, well, oh my God, that's fatal. And so many companies are set up like that. Like, you're not going to get your HR people to be incentivized to hire better employees if they get punished for taking risks when they're assessing them. And so, well, we learned a lot about how the corporate world functioned. And also, I learned, for example, why people, when they're making business deals, go play golf, for example. And the reason for that is a lot of the way that people in business evaluate one another for the possibility of working together is on the basis of personal trust and compatibility. Like, they're not doing a technical analysis of the utility of their processes. Hardly anyone thinks like that, right? Some scientists think like that some of the time. But other people use all sorts of interpersonal heuristics that we were in some ways unaware of when we were overestimating the degree to which pure logic could be used as a sales technique. In any case, Bob and I went all over the US and Canada for a long time, a long, long time, learning about the culture of business, feeling like complete bumbling fools, because of course we didn't really have any business experience at that point. And then, well, then two things happened. I made contact with Adeo Ressey at the Founder Institute in California, and Adeo was trying to set up business schools for budding entrepreneurs all over the world, and he really wanted to predict entrepreneurial ability. And so we ran a study with him that we never published. It was a private study for us showing that we could actually predict entrepreneurial performance with quite a high degree of accuracy. And then we started testing people all over the world with a modified version of our neuropsychological battery, a much simplified version that concentrated more on fluid intelligence than on hypothetical prefrontal ability. And we tested tens of thousands of people for Adeo quite successfully, and that kept exam core going. Now, that was hard on the business front-a, because we pulled Daniel into the business, and we tried to fund his research through grants, and we threw some private funding at him, although we didn't have a lot of money, and weren't generating any capital. And at that time, the universities were really pushing on professors to commodify their research. Why can't the universities produce more businesses? And we went out and tried to produce a business, and what we learned was that's a hell of a lot harder than you think, because the product is only about 5% of the problem. Sales and marketing are more like 95% of the problem. And we also learned that the people who were pushing this idea that scientists should produce more businesses were people who'd never discovered anything scientifically and had no idea how difficult that was, and who had never produced a business and who had no idea how difficult that was, and then had absolutely no idea whatsoever about how difficult it was to jointly do something scientific and entrepreneurial. And the reason for that, in part, is those are very different domains. Like marketing and sales is such a big part of the industrial domain of activities compared to the scientific. You have to understand marketing and sales deeply to be successful as an entrepreneur. And also, we also ran into a fair bit of friction that was often very emotionally demanding, because we had in some sense a conflict of interest, especially in relationship to Daniel, because we were trying to move ahead your scientific career, and we were trying to produce a business enterprise at the same time, and it wasn't easy at all to keep the ethical line straight. You know, how much to pay you, how much we should be concentrating on your scientific career. Now, you had got somewhat disenchanted with the idea of a scientific career, but we're very interested in pursuing the development of this battery. And at the same time, just to make the story a bit more complex, a lot of the managers we were talking to, they would dispense with any interest in the predictive tests for the reasons we already described.


Improving Yourself Through Selfauthoring

Selfauthoring, a breakdown for your betterment (01:19:40)

But they kept asking us the same question, which was, well, you say we should hire better people, but we have a lot of troublesome people that we've already hired, and we need to know what to do with them. And our answer always was, well, we don't know what to do with your troublesome people, and the managerial literature says you should spend all the time with your best performers, not your worst. And so, we don't know what to do about that. Maybe there's nothing that can be done, but we got asked that like 200 times. And so, we went into the literature to see if we could find any evidence that there were broad-scale psychological interventions that might help poorer performers. And we settled on the development of what became the self-authoring battery. And we learned that from two different literatures, James Pennebaker spearheaded one of them, and then Lachum and Late, Latham and Lach, Gary Latham did that in the goal-setting domain in the Industrial Organizational Psychology. We found out that if you had people write about complex, about the complexities of their life, autobiographically, or in relationship to their future, that they would perform better industrially, and their mental and physical health would improve. So, we started working with Adale to predict creative competence, and that gave us a bit of capital. And then we started to develop the -- I think that was the right order. We started to develop the self-authoring tests. And our goal was to produce tests that were scientifically validatable, that were inexpensive, that were scalable, that would do no harm, and that had demonstrated validity in terms of improving performance and mental health. And so, Daniel, you want to walk through the self-authoring suite a little bit? Yeah, the self-authoring suite is essentially a series of writing exercises, future authoring, past authoring, and present authoring. And starting with -- I like to start with the future authoring because it gives you the most bang for your buck. And essentially, it's a series of writing exercises where you're asked to think about what you want out of life, in concrete -- in more concrete detail than you do typically, and to work out some processes to elaborate on that vision of an ideal future, and then to actually break up the steps that would be required in order for you to start making motion towards that, and then to look at the impediments and things that can help you to execute those plans. And so, the future authoring is a good way to get people motivated.


Retooling and bureaucratic idiocy (01:23:00)

And I think maybe you might talk in some detail about the study that we did at college, because you're a little bit more familiar with the details of that than I am. We'll be back in one moment. First, we wanted to give you a sneak peek at Jordan's new documentary, "Logos in Literacy." I was very much struck by how the translation of the biblical writings jump-started the development of literacy across the entire world. illiteracy was the norm. The past is home was the first school, and every morning it would begin with singing. The Christian faith is a singing religion. Probably 80% of scripture memorization today exists only because of what is sung. This is amazing. Here we have a Gutenberg Bible printed on the press of Johann Gutenberg. Science and religion are opposing forces in the world, but historically that has not been the case. Now the book is available to everyone. From Shakespeare to modern education and medicine and science to civilization itself. It is the most influential book in all history, and hopefully people can walk away with at least a sense of that. Yeah, well we did three studies. You and I and Bob did all these studies, and so Bob had a student who was working at McGill, who was interested in, potentially in the prediction of performance, and so we set out to see if we allowed students, or encouraged students to write about their future, to make a plan to develop a vision for six dimensions of their future, intimate relationships, job career education, care of mental and physical health, use of time outside of work, regulation of response to temptations, friendship networks, development of friendship networks to develop a coherent plan for those domains. In relatively constrained circumstances, I think we have people write for 90 minutes, or write about what they had done the previous two weeks for 90 minutes, and then we evaluated first at McGill. We evaluated the impact of a goal setting program on academic performance, and we found that we decreased the dropout rate, and these are fairly highly selected students at McGill, because it's a selective university. We drop their dropout rate substantially, and we increase their academic performance by 35%, and you'd expect that universities would just jump all over that.


Understand Yourself: sales and feedback (01:25:40)

It's like that's a walloping improvement in performance, and although they didn't, that's for sure. And then we did some work with Michaela Shepers in the Netherlands at the business school there, and ran another series of studies over a couple of years, showing that we got exactly the same results for undergraduate business schools, but that the results were even more pronounced for men who were underperforming, men in general were underperforming, and even more specifically for minority men. So it was this weird intervention. Most interventions, psychological interventions, help people who aren't doing well do somewhat better, but at the same time they help people who are doing well do even better. But this intervention had this paradoxical effect where it really raised the bottom part of the performance distribution, and the culminating study in that sequence of studies we did at Mohawk College, and we had kids come in for their orientation day, and write for 90 minutes about their future, or write about what they did for the past two weeks, and we dropped their dropout rate 50% the first year, and that was mostly, and it worked best for the men who had the lowest grades in high school and for minority men again. And so we thought, well, this is just a no-brainer. People are going to eat this up like mad because, well, why wouldn't you want a intervention that's dirt cheap that reduces dropout by 50%, and particularly targets minority men? Like what a deal for everyone, regardless of your politics. And we worked with Mohawk for what, 10 months afterwards, retooling our damn software to fit their bureaucratic idiocy, and at the end of that, which was a lot of trouble for us, they just dropped it. Yeah, that was hilarious. I really thought that was very funny. Yeah, yeah, well, and also very telling, man. It's like we gave you a tool that was dirt cheap that took no time, that had no negative side effects, that doubled the performance of your incoming students, and then, and we offered it to you with almost no difficulty, and retooled it for your bureaucracy. And we did the study in your institution, and we published it, and yet at the end of this whole process, you basically told us that you weren't interested.


Re-living pain to work through it (01:28:00)

It's like, yeah, you're bloody well not interested. That's why you have such a high dropout rate among young men, because you don't give a damn, and that's pretty much the situation in universities writ large. So what we decided to do, Bob, what we decided to do instead was just to sell this program to individuals, and we just stopped talking to corporations and large institutions altogether. And that was way better. Like we have a pretty steady sales record now. We also produced a personality test called UnderstandMyself.com that enables people to go and do a big five personality analysis, gives them a detailed report on their personality, and also they can pair up with a partner, an intimate partner, say, and they can go do the test and get their own report, and they can get a joint report detailing out their similarities and their differences. And what, Daniel, how many self-authoring programs are we selling a day, and how many UnderstandMyself programs are we selling a day on average now about? I'm not sure. I can tell you that in aggregate, we've probably done about 600,000, 500,000 to 600,000 UnderstandMyself users, and possibly maybe 400,000 self-authoring. But I could be wrong on that one. Right. So it's a couple hundred a day anyways on a regular basis, say. And the feedback we've been getting from people with regards to understand myself is very positive. People find the provision of accurate personality information about themselves extremely useful, and also on the partner front, because we only launched that. What about how long ago did we put the couple's version of the personality test up? I think it was 2020. 2021, maybe. Right. Right. So that hasn't been going that long. And people, Tammy and I did that and did a podcast about it. And even though we know each other well, and we designed, you know, a designed at least part of the damn test, I still found doing it with her quite revealing. And it helped us understand each other better. The wonderful thing... Go ahead, Daniel. The wonderful thing about the UnderstandMyself process is that it gives our users what you could call immediately actionable insight into what they're like and how they respond to various situations. And it doesn't require the same amount of time commitment as the self-authoring. So it's actually quite a pleasant experience. And I won't say that for, let's say, the past-authoring. The people who get the most value from the past-authoring don't enjoy doing it. They sometimes even get angry at us for asking them to do it. But the UnderstandMyself is immediately helpful and I think it's immediately rewarding as well. Right. Well, the past-authoring, you know, there's a good dictum from clinical psychology that it's better to voluntarily face your demons, let's say, or the dragons, right? You put yourself in the zone of proximal development by adopting a voluntary stance of confrontation with complexity and threat. And one of the things we ask people in the past-authoring exercise to do is to divide their life into sections, epochs, and then to write about the more emotionally compelling experiences, right, both negative and positive.


Shifting strategies: applying what you’ve learned (01:31:45)

And yeah, that's quite difficult. And it does upset people. I mean, the research literature indicated most of this generated by Pennabaker and the people who followed in his footsteps basically showed that if you do an autobiographical exercise like that, which is akin in some sense to both confession and to psychotherapy, is that the immediate consequences are negative because reliving those upsetting experiences is upsetting and can put you into a bit of a spin. But the medium to long-term consequences are very positive, both on the performance and on the mental and physical health front. And so you can think of self-author all of those of you who are watching and listening. You can think of this self-authoring.com set of exercises, the self-authoring suite as what would you say as it's in some sense do it yourself, well, redemption, but certainly do it yourself psychotherapy. And, you know, maybe it couldn't substitute for extremely high-quality psychotherapy conducted by someone who really knows what he or she is doing, but it's a pretty damn good home activity if you want to set your life straight. And I mean, I think the response we've had from the individuals who've been using it, well, you deal with that more because you've handled customer complaints and comments for years. Like, I have lots of people in my lectures who come up to me and tell me how helpful the understand myself program was, but also the self-authoring program, fewer people because it's more difficult, but people often respond to the self-authoring program in a manner that indicates, you know, that it's changed their life. And I used the programs, we developed the programs for my maps of meaning course at the U of T, right? When we were first walking through the paper in pencil versions, I had students write autobiographies and then also write out a plan for the future and I could watch the impact that it had on them. It's really something to be able to develop a vision for the future. And it's really, go ahead. If any users are watching this, and, you know, I would say with the self-authoring suite, because we all have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of energy. And so if you're not sure that you can do the full thing, do the future authoring and do it badly and push through it to the very end. If you're doing the past authoring and you think you can only do a little bit at a time, do a little bit at a time and then walk away from it and come back to it, reread it. Take your time over that one. They're really quite different. I don't think people should approach them the same way. Push the future authoring through to the end. And then you can redo it again later if you want to. But with the past authoring, if it's difficult, just do a little bit, set it aside. Come back to it again later. It'll be waiting for you when you're ready. Yeah, right. Don't bite off more than you can chew. There's no need to. There's no need to. Yeah. And so, yeah. So, well, we were pretty happy with the way the self-authoring and the understand myself, tests have rolled out because we were able to fulfill our vision. We should talk a little bit, guys, about some of the problems that we've encountered trying to keep our relationship intact over this 30-year period. I mean, we hit a lot of situations. I mean, it's been a pleasure overall in a real intellectual adventure and a personal adventure and rewarding in 15 different ways. But, man, we hit some pretty brutal points of conflict over the years, too, especially when we were trying to bring new people into the endeavor and also to retool our financial agreements, hey? Because, Daniel, you sort of started out as a junior partner in some sense. And then, well, as our enterprise developed, and you developed the technology of the platform and plenty of the underlying ideas, your role grew. And then we had to retool our financial arrangements to take that into account.


Tech incubators: scams and hype (01:36:00)

And that was, every time we've had to address our constitutional agreement, and let's say, that's caused really weeks and even months of a fair bit of emotional turmoil for all of us. And it's not an easy thing to figure out exactly what's fair and to be able to maintain that across time. What are your memories of those processes, Daniel? The process of me and Sidiousley taking over the whole company? Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly that. Generally speaking, we had to go through these... One of the things that I didn't want to happen was I didn't want to be involved in a failed company. And my intuition was that if we took on funding from outside and we tried to grow the way companies tend to do, that we would be dead in six months if we didn't have something happening, something significant happening on sales. And I was always attracted to the small business model rather than the big shot, venture capital story. And so that basically required us to do the work ourselves. And I guess what happened was when we first started, I think there was kind of like a basic presumption was that we would be sort of doing this the way most businesses do it. They get funding, they hire people, they pay them, and so on. But approaching it as a small business thing, where all of the partners are doing the work, the partners that are doing the most work exclusively on it are the ones that are taking on the most risk if you think of the opportunity cost. And so that basically required, you know, rene, over time recognizing that and then deciding that it would, A, the first thing was, is it right for us to try this small business approach or we do things ourselves or should we do the funding route? And then B, what's required in order to make it so that everybody involved is going to be sufficiently represented as a player, if you like, based on their risk. And I think it took, it was difficult, I think, because a good deal of the stuff that happens, neither you nor Bob would see it happening. You would be giving a lecture and I would be pounding my head against the keyboard because I can't find out what this ridiculous bug is or whatever the case may be. And so it wasn't easy for everyone to see exactly what was going on. I had a pretty good idea what was happening because just about a lot of the stuff outside of the sales things, which I wasn't part of, was happening through me. And a lot of the renegotiations happened after we had decided that the rubber chicken route of going to conferences and so on wasn't going to work. So that was it. And I think that it was, a lot of that was basically, I suppose you could say it was driven by a certain aggressiveness on my part. I thought it was necessary and I tried not to be too aggressive about it. And essentially you guys graciously kind of acquiescing to my requests in a way. I think it was more like honesty on your part in two ways, hey? So the first honesty, and this was really interesting, you know, I'm probably more market and sales oriented. Bob probably is too than you.


Corporations Vs Individuals And Hiring Methods

Integrity of purpose (01:40:02)

And I mean, that's kind of how it's laid itself out in the company. And so we would be more expansive, we had a more expansive proclivity on the sales and growth front. And Bob and I learned this too, because we did consider going down the venture capital route. And so that route is something like, well, you have an idea and you test it and you get a lot of funding from family and friends and so forth. And then you're ready to launch your idea broadly into the world. And so you bring in venture capital, you hire a whole bunch of people, you try to build your company into something that has a very staggering sort of valuation, and then maybe you go public and you cash out and you have your margaritas and you sit on the beach in Guadalupe, if there's a beach there, for the rest of your life. And that's your vision. And you are very much opposed to that practically. But I think there was an ethical element too. And Bob and I got quite deeply into the whole venture capitalist and tech incubator scene, both in the US and Canada. And what I realized eventually was that it was almost all scam, that mostly what these so-called tech incubator companies were doing was hype. Now, I'm ambivalent about that because I have some real respect for marketing in salespeople. Where you have to communicate about your product and push it forward. But the degenerate element of that is the kind of narcissism, right? And we got tangled up a couple of times with tech incubators who were working with some of the junior people that we tried to work with who filled their heads with visions of a $400 million initial public offering and this immense amount of wealth and failed entirely to educate them about the fact that if you really wanted to start a business, you should go out and find some damn customers because that's the hardest part of a business. And you were very good at continually insisting that we didn't do that, that we kept our vision, I wouldn't say small, but not grandiose. And you were also extremely good at letting us know when the financial arrangement we had worked out was no longer sufficiently motivating for you to be wholeheartedly committed to this project. And I would say of the three of us, I mean, you've staked your life on our business enterprise to a larger degree than either Bob or I have by a substantial margin.


Customers: corporations vs. individuals (01:42:16)

And, you know, we needed to know when you needed to be properly compensated for that. So I don't think that was aggression. Bob, what do you think about like, what did you see as the major challenges in keeping our enterprise going and our relationship over the last 30 years and why do you think we're able to do it successfully? Well, I think we basically listened to Daniel and understood what the issue was. And we need to be anchored to reality. And Daniel was that anchor and the anchor wasn't being sufficiently rewarded. Yeah, well, you were the one in some sense that paid the most price for that technically because as Daniel's role in the company grew proportionately, your ownership of the company shrank proportionally, mind it to some degree, but not as much as yours did. And so, you know, I mentioned at the beginning of the conversation that one of the reasons I really enjoyed working with you and thought it was such a privilege out McGill was that you were very, very fair and judicious in your distribution of rewards and credits. And you know, you showed that same rather largeness of spirit, let's say, when we had to undergo these renegotiations and well, that's obviously worked out very well for everybody that we've been able to serve with these programs, but also for the three of us because this is especially over the last four or five years, this has turned into a very robust and reliable business. And so Daniel, I don't think it was aggression. That's not how I look at it. Like, I really think it was a form of the same kind of rigorous honesty that you've brought to the programming enterprise because you've produced an unbelievably reliable system. Like, I don't think we haven't lost any data and I don't think we've ever been offline except when the Microsoft servers crashed. And so you brought that integrity of purpose to your intellectual endeavor on the academic front of engineering, but also to your, you had an unerring eye for what the difficult but appropriate path forward was on the business front. And so that's been extremely useful. And luckily, as Bob pointed out, we had enough sense to pay attention to that and to adjust when that was necessary. And it got very challenging again when things kind of blew up around me and I got sick because you ended up, both of you ended up dealing not with me so much as with my proxies. And, well, that put another. And we also didn't really know what to do with the fact that I had come to such broad public attention at that point too. And how to reconfigure our business. Bob and I just decided that we were going to take advantage of it. Just that we have meetings where we talk, "Hey, Bob, have you contacted Jordan lately?" Because, you know, we want to make sure that he's still thinks we are his friend. We want to be able to provide these guys coattails. Well, you know, when you were talking about the VC thing, you know, occasionally a very large window, birds will often try to fly through the window and they hit the window in fall. Well, watching you and Bob trying to sell exam court was a little bit like that. And so whenever somebody said, "Oh, hey, this is a big, let's do a business plan, let's do this, let's do that." And you take a look at the sales situation, it wasn't very difficult to see. Like, what would be different about these people? Why wouldn't these also be birds bouncing off a glass window? And I didn't see it.


When you become the employee (01:46:20)

And it wasn't easy to, it wasn't difficult. All I had to do was say, well, all I had to do was basically trust that you guys gave it a good go. And then just looking at these other situations, it was a very easy calculation to make. You know, we're going to be dead in six months because they're not going to have any more success making sales. Then we have to figure out a very low-cost way of keeping this alive until we figure out what the formula is. And then we did figure out what the formula is. Largely, you did an experiment. I don't remember exactly when it was, but you just basically put the self-authoring suite online. You put together a website with a very simple PayPal button, and that gave us a proof of concept. And from that point forward, it was just like, "Oh, we'll just deal with end users, they're great." They come to us, they want to use it, they love it. Sometimes they complain to us about the self-authoring suite being a little bit more painful than they were expecting. But there was no more of this trying to deal with a corporate structure and being bounced back down to HR and then booted out the door. But we were able to do that because a lot of the businesses, they have no issue at all. And this is also, this is more of a function of the size of the business. They will waste your time without giving it a second thought. And so once we started going to end users, it was better.


The user experience, the power in reciprocity (01:48:02)

Well, we were on the threshold of large business deals several times. Like we had a contract pending with a very large organization in New York for the self-authoring suite. And it was literally on the CEO's desk for signature. And thank God it didn't go through because we would have ended up as employees of this company. And we didn't charge nearly enough money for what we wanted to do in our ignorance. And the CEO resigned that day and that had taken us like a year of work to organize that deal. And it just evaporated. And that happened to us. Like we did have some sales successes in nine out of ten of the initial stages, you know. But that was another thing about the complexity of dealing with corporations is that you think you want to land a big fish. And there's a lot of money in that, but it takes a lot of time. And there's such churn and turnover in corporations that you can end up talking to someone for like a year. And then all of a sudden they're not there anymore. And that happened a lot. And that was certainly a reason why selling to individuals was better. I think our new market is great. You encounter these people all the time. It's so rewarding to provide these services for them. I get this through the emails that we get. But you also meet people at your events. And I don't think that we would have done better if we were working in the corporate world than working with end users. No, and it would have been way more annoying. Like one of the things everybody listening should understand is that if you make a deal ever with anyone who has more money than you, don't be so sure that you're not now an employee. Because you think, "Well, I'd like to land a big company and they'd be my client." It's like, "Yeah, if the company's a lot bigger than you, they're not your client. You are now their minion." And maybe you want that, right? Because you have to have a job. But don't ever be convinced that there aren't major strings that come along with that. One of the things I really liked about you and also about working with you, Bob, too, on the entrepreneurial front was that I think all three of us were free enough of delusion to understand pretty immediately on the industrial and corporate front that the only thing that really mattered, the only thing that was truly real, was the in-hand existence of paying customers. That's the fundamental metric. It's like, "I don't care about how your idea sounds. I don't care about the background of your team, etc. I don't care about your vision of the future." Those things are all relevant to some degree. But what I do care about is, have you even been able to find one person who will give you money for what you're producing? And we did keep that in mind, and that is why we eventually turned to private users. Yeah, people who want to improve themselves or help themselves versus companies when we were asking someone to help other people who may not have particularly wanted to be helped, you know, have everybody in the department do the future authoring program. I remember being in school well enough to know that I wouldn't have liked that very much. Right, right. Yeah, well, that's the advantage to dealing with these individuals. Like you said, that's a voluntary association. And they like it, and they want to do it for themselves as well. Each one of them is a mini victory. Right, right. Yeah, well, and it's a lovely thing. I mean, one of the things that Bob and I talked about a long time ago, and then obviously with you too, is, you know, we were interested right from the beginning in working on the entrepreneurial front, partly just because of the challenge of learning how to do it. And what Bob knows, we learned plenty by going through the difficulties of banging ourselves against multiple sheets of glass window and breaking our necks over and over and over. I mean, our vision was to produce widely distributable psychological interventions at low cost with low overhead that would not hurt anyone and that would do people good. And I think that we have managed that to a large degree, like the research we've done on these interventions and measures has been very solid. And it's certainly the case that the hundreds of thousands of people who've used our technologies now have, many of them have set their lives on much more productive pathways. And that's a pretty damn good thing to be able to participate in and also to have profited from. And, you know, one thing people who are a bit skeptical about capitalism might be asking is, well, why the hell didn't you just give away this all for free?


The next phase of The Selfauthoring Program (01:53:00)

How do we know this isn't greed? And we spent a lot of time talking about the right price, say, and it took us a long time to figure out what our self-authoring program was worth. It's like, well, if this is going to change your life, how much is it worth? And the answer to that was, well, it's worth about what people will pay for it, because that's the actual accurate number. And we sell it at quite a low cost. I mean, it's not the sort of thing that anybody in the developed world is going to have to strain themselves particularly to afford. But we decided not to distribute it for free. And we've never produced anything for free. We've always worked within a for-profit model. And for me, the advantage of that was twofold. It's like we had to produce the kind of products that people would actually pay for. So that was one way of demonstrating their attractiveness and value. And then the other thing, of course, is because we've been able to generate some capital as a consequence of doing this on a for-profit basis, we're not beholden to any outside stakeholders, governmental or private, and we have enough capital so that we can produce additional ventures. And Daniel, you're working on some on a refitting, for example, of our predictive battery. Do you want to maybe we'll just wrap up with that? Do you want to just end with a brief description of where you're headed, where we're headed in the future? Sure, but let me just add to what you're saying. The people who are users when they come, and they pay for the assessments, I wouldn't ask them to do it for free because I think that robs them of their agency. When they pay for it, they can accept it or reject it. And if they don't like it, they can ask for their money back. And in my experience, I don't think people want free. I think that's a delusion of the computer age, the internet age. But I could be wrong about that. No, I think that's right. I mean, it's the case often that if I do offer content for free, say that people clamor to be involved in some manner that allows them to reciprocate. That's the thing is people have a powerful drive for reciprocity. And so if you offer something to someone for free, well, first of all, it begs the question, who the hell's the product here? Like, is it really free? And second, it doesn't allow people to discharge their moral burden, because people don't have to be beholden to us for having done them a favor. And the reason for that is because they paid us. And as far as we're concerned, that's a perfectly equal and desirable trade. Yeah, it's respectful. Yeah. Yeah. So basically what I'm working on now, and I suppose it'll probably be something like, sometimes hopefully over the next 12 years, 12 months, 12 years is a classic Freudian slip there. That's definitely Freudian.


The right way to hire (01:56:03)

But it's to make it so that my target audience for this is small businesses. If large corporations want to use it, it's fine. As long as they don't expect to call me on the phone, because I don't want to go down that rabbit hole again. My target is small businesses, because we have a lot of small business users that use, understand myself and self-author, and they use it informally. They just go there on their own, they purchase it, they distribute it to their people. It's all voluntary. There's no hard sale or anything like that. And so what I want to do is I want to streamline it to make it easier for small businesses and organizations like churches and so on and so forth to be able to purchase the, understand myself and self-authoring for their members or their employees, whatever the case may be. But also, I'm going to use that platform to essentially bring the harder edge. We didn't talk about selection that much. We alluded to it. The fastest and easiest way to improve, let's say, your workforce is to use brutal selection practices. And everybody understood that until about five minutes ago. That's why Harvard and Yale used to have brutal selection processes. Most people wouldn't, their application isn't red. And so these ones, so the assessment things, I'd like to be able to bring those back to general use to make them easier to use so that people can use a little bit of selection when they're hiring people. So that, you know, to avoid the situation, okay, so we never discussed this, but one of the least effective ways of determining the, let's say cognitive ability is important for jobs that are highly complex. And so it becomes more, this becomes more of an issue if you're talking about highly complex jobs. But one of the tools that a lot of people use to determine whether or not someone's a suitable fit is an interview. And the Hunter-Inchmitt research was quite plain that interviews are not very useful unless they're highly structured interviews or even if they include some work sample. And so this is to provide people with an auxiliary of the, to their whole hiring process, which may or may not include cognitive ability, but will include the big five personality assessment. You know, also, and, and so the idea then is to make these tools available for people to use at low cost with low commitment. And hopefully the advice that we'll have for them will be use these tools to bias your decision processes. Don't use them to make your decisions. Just have this, just have these in the back of your head while you're talking to people. There's a lot you can derive from it. For example, if you, if you have a big five personality assessment on somebody before you interview them, it's very, it would be very useful.


The Future Of Peterson University

Peterson University, upcoming lectures (01:59:23)

If you're about to interview somebody who's high in extraversion, you need to know that during that interview, you're going to have an inflated view of their competence. Because you will automatically conflate confidence with competence. So it's good to know before you go in there whether or not you're dealing with somebody's highly extraverted. If they're highly extroverted, they're going to present better compared to others. And in the, in the opposite direction, if somebody is high in neuroticism, it's good to know that in advance. They might not appear very confident. They might require a certain amount of coaxing to come out of their shell. They might be nervous. It would be useful to have a tool to know that in advance so you can essentially counteract the hard wiring that you have as an interviewer. To be bamboozled by the brilliant and to, to, to discard people who don't present themselves in a forceful way. Right. Well, and you talked about brutal selection methods and people might react to that. And I would say, well, here's something for people to think about. Here's something brutal. Hire stupidly and put people in positions where not only do they fail painfully over a long period of time, but they compromise the performance of everyone around them. Well, doing so. Now that's brutal. And it's a lot more brutal than making an appropriate hiring decision to begin with. And so it isn't whether it's brutal or not. It's like which form of brutality do you prefer? And I would prefer the preventive brutality approach rather than the consequential brutality approach. Well, I think the, I think what I brutal is probably a, to wasn't a, wasn't a good choice of words, but I think that it's essentially, if you're using, the opposite would be to have a therapeutic view. That you can essentially change people and you can convert them into something that they're not. For example, and let's just keep it in the personality realm, you might have a highly agreeable person, somebody who's very high in compassion. And that person has been hired by a law firm, let's say. And all of a sudden this person has to go into situations where they have to act in a very disagreeable way. And, you know, the therapeutic way would be to presume that that person will change over time and they can over time. But it might be better to, depending on your perspective, to look for people who are low integrableness, if you want to hire lawyers, particularly if they're going to do it. And you're doing, yeah, aggressive, aggressive legal action. So putting, but putting the wrong person in the wrong place, particularly in a complex environment where things are interconnected. Like, for example, in software they compare the most productive workers to the least productive workers and they try to work out, you know, you can speculate on what would be a factor of productivity. And as one person said, the factor is infinite because not only will an unproductive worker not produce, they can actually introduce bugs and errors into the system that takes more capable people time to undo so they can have a negative impact on the overall situation. Yeah, well, the management literature that I reviewed, and that was back in the 90s indicated that 60% of managers had negative net value to a given corporate enterprise, 60%. Right, so it's not just zero, it's worse than zero. And you also do, let me just add this, you do much less damage to somebody by not hiring them if they're not appropriate, then you do by letting them in and then terminating them after six months or 12 months. Right, right, right. So you pay the eventual price for inaccuracy in your determinations, no matter how compassionate that motivation might be. Everybody has to pay the price at the end, even you, boss man. Yeah, yeah, well, yeah, no doubt. Bob, you're going to come down to Miami and lecture for Peterson Academy. And so that's at least part of what's on your horizon. When are you doing that? Mid February. Oh, good. And what are you going to do a series of lectures on abnormal psychology? Is that the plan? Yep, it is. Excellent, excellent. Yeah, and so for everyone watching and listening, this is part of this Peterson Academy initiative, which is an attempt to produce something approximating an online university, at least at the bachelor of arts level. And Bob is one of our stellar lectures lined up to work for this academy. Bob was an excellent graduate student advisor, but I should also point out that he's an extremely popular undergraduate lecturer. He lectured about abnormal psychology, which of course is very interesting field, although any bad lecturer can make any field dull and uninteresting, even abnormal psychology. But Bob was a stellar lecturer at McGill and witty and urbane and challenging and provocative. And we're very happy to have him have the opportunity to bring those lectures to a much broader audience, we hope, with the Peterson Academy. And so it's a great pleasure talking to both of you guys today. We covered a lot of the ground that we've covered in the last three decades. And so that was very entertaining. It's been a privilege to work with both of you and quite the honor to have been able to produce a thriving enterprise, despite the difficulties that has, in fact, resulted in helping, perhaps tens of thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands of people. I mean, that really was a fulfillment of our initial vision, right? Because I remember we established these principles at the beginning of our collaboration, right? Is that we were going to produce valid psychological interventions and assessment methods, low cost, widely distributed, scalable, inexpensive and do no harm. And that we're also going to stay relatively minimal on the employee front, which we have because there's basically us three and the person that you've hired part time to do customer service. And so it really looks like, although it took a long time for it to unfold and to work, it looks like we did hit the target that we had eventually set and so and continue to do that. And so I'm going to talk to Daniel and Bob a little bit more on the Daily Wire Plus platform about how their interest in their respective fields developed. And so for those of you who are watching and listening that might be interested in that, you'll have to refer to the Daily Wire Plus platform for that. I'd like to thank them for facilitating this conversation and to everyone watching and listening for your time and attention. Wish everybody happy new year and to say once again, thank you, you too, for the conversation. Thanks, Jordan. Great ride. All right, so, ciao everybody. Yeah, yeah, so nice to be able to sit and talk to you guys. And well, we'll finish this up on the Daily Wire Plus platform. Bye to everybody watching and listening. Hello everyone. I would encourage you to continue listening to my conversation with my guest on dailywireplus.com.


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