This long and rambling post was inspired by this comment from Consentingadult.
I have a suggestion: instead of criticizing Augusta (which in itself is perfectly valid), why don't you actually criticize one or more of your own writings? E.g. the ILE description in the article, where you said, amongst other things:
"I have known ILEs who were heads of research institutes, NGOs, language teaching schools, and consulting companies. Many more held various positions in all kinds of organizations where they had a great deal of independence. The common feature of all engaged ILEs seems to be that they are working on some far-reaching personal project that has yet to come to full fruition."
I would like to know: what was wrong about this, how did you fool yourself to arrive at such insights that you now claim cannot be true or valid?
I'll get to criticism of types eventually. I was hoping to start with information aspects, then move to functions and Model A, then to types and intertype relations.
If your question was not simply rhetorical (since I detect a bit of sarcasm), here is my response.
What's "wrong" about the ILE description
I described a subset of ILEs — those who are above-average, proactive, and highly engaged in the modern, growing economy. If I'd written something that described the under-average, reactive, and underengaged ILEs, or the subsistence farmer and hunter-gatherer ILEs equally as well as the more fortunate, modern ILEs, the resulting description would have been too abstract to "do any good."
One might argue that I've described the "greatest potential" that people of this type can attain to. I agree that that might be inspiring, and people want and need to be inspired. But it's not necessarily true that you can group people into 16 types and then expect that any of those people has the potential to achieve the level of success, fulfillment, or happiness of the most fortunate individuals of their type.
I described the ideal type, not the borderline, overly contradictory, or untypeable ILEs. This is a universal problem in socionics, and it comes from being unable to type all individuals in a population. If socionists can only type what they themselves can recognize, then they only describe the most recognizable types. Then other people will perpetuate the bias towards recognizable types and intertype relations.
I don't expect that socionics will ever overcome this problem because it is not sufficiently accurate to ever develop foolproof empirical tests. An "ILE" will always be "what I've defined as an ILE," and thus any description is as good as any other.
Why do I use the word "accurate?" Because I am convinced that no matter how you define and split the 16 types, the resulting intertype relations will not be close enough to those postulated by socionics to call the system "accurate." The reason socionics has a "lack of empiricism" problem is simply because it has an "accuracy" problem. If socionics were more accurate, the empirical data would be flowing in all around. For instance, the phenomenon of duality would be scrutinized and elucidated, and researchers would be studying it from multiple angles to learn more about how and why it happens.
The fact is, socionics duality as described by Augusta is a rare subset of dual relations, and when it happens between a man and a woman, there is a lot more going on that has nothing to do with socionics. And it doesn't necessarily happen just to duals. In my mind this is a fatal blow to the socionics model of the psyche, since duality was socionics' most powerful hypothesis.
How I managed to "fool myself"
A bigger question to ask is, "how did Augusta manage to fool herself?" I'll speculate about this further down.
In my case, my initial insights were simple and promising enough that I continued my study of socionics. I had only really deeply processed a small number of my personal relationships, but my insights were promising enough that I was hopeful that socionics could be applied generally, and not just in these specific cases. Of course, I based my understanding on my experiences of the most easily recognizable types and relationships in my environment.
At the moment I wrote the ILE description, my arsenal of experience had grown from a handful to maybe a couple hundred people of different types. However, my deeply processed personal experiences relating to each of them lagged behind. Based on my experiences so far, I was willing to take the system on faith to a degree. When eventually forced to face major contradictions, I began to systematically consider the less easily definable types and relations that I had been discounting and give them an equal place in my mind alongside the recognizable ones. After a while, I concluded that socionics was not accurate enough as it should be, considering the large amount of mental storage space required to house it. Furthermore, the things it could tell a person (less than I used to think) were of little use to me at this stage of life. This process provided some new insights that I now feel obligated to share with my socionics audience.
BiasesWhen one begins to get into socionics, one recognizes only a tiny sliver of types and intertype relations — those that most obviously fit descriptions and can thus be interpreted thoroughly from a socionics perspective. These "obvious fits" then form the foundation of one's understanding of socionics, giving the person a bias from day one that they will be unable to correct until much later, if ever. If a socionics aficionado recognizes the limitations and inaccuracies of socionics from the outset due to a more methodical and less exciteable personality, you can be sure that they will never become socionics writers!
Socionics is, in a way, worse off than astrology. With astrology you at least know when a person was born, making disagreement on their astrological type impossible. Then you can read a description and say, "well, that doesn't fit!" In socionics, if a person doesn't match their type description, then you've probably mistyped them. Keep switching types until you find the "best fit!"
Changing timesYes, this has been an absolutely normal way of thinking about psychological matters for eons, but the times are changing and this approach is losing popularity as science has more and more to say about things that people used to only be able to speculate about. More and more people are sensing this and jumping on the train of empirical psychology and neuroscience. This is one of the reasons socionics is, in my opinion, slowly dying out.
Speculation about AugustaI am quite certain that if Augusta were born today, she would not create socionics. She would read everything currently available on individual differences and go into psychology research or neuroscience. But she grew up before most of the really interesting research started being done, and was stuck in the Soviet Union where there was a official slant on psychology that downplayed personality differences. Thanks in part to typology, personality differences are now taken for granted.
Augusta created a system that allowed for much more healthy psychological variability than was commonly accepted at the time, but she was quite absolutist in her views on the types. For instance, she published a paper explaining why ILE is the best type to run a scientific research institute, ignoring other significant factors other than type. It seemed that she was proposing a new way of staffing posts and organizing society that could be implemented within the Soviet system.
Obviously, the zeitgeist has changed dramatically since then, even in the former Soviet Union. As I understand from my interaction with the socionics community in Kiev, in the late 1980s Augusta's interests drifted to other areas, and she became a less and less active participant of the socionics community, while continuing to occasionally voice her views on the subject. I was also told that she was in a rather unhappy marriage with an LSE (she was ILE), which could have contributed to her idealization of duality.
Was Augusta "fooled" by her own ideas? I suppose you could say so. She would have had the same problems with confirmation bias that any later student of socionics would have, alleviated by the process of discussing ideas and hypotheses with a group of associates. They noticed some fascinating new patterns, broke new ground, and made some mistakes that are easier to recognize decades later.
Watering down socionicsIf socionists were forced to type everyone and, particularly, to examine every single relationship among these people, and then to describe types and intertype relations using a strictly statistical method, I am certain that we would see a drastic watering-down of both type and relation descriptions. Socionics would lose its "teeth."
However, the more watered-down one's views on a subject are, the less motivated one is to propogate one's views. This is why the people who have built up the experience to help water down socionics usually can't be bothered to do so. I personally view this as my duty to society, but my motivation is much weaker than it was to promulgate classical socionics, which engaged my need for recognition, connection with others, and mental discovery. Now, the inspiration is just not there. There's no "vision" to be found by picking apart someone else's somewhat erroneous theory to a dwindling and disinterested audience. In fact, the main reason I am writing this post is probably to avoid doing my taxes.
From a kind of esoteric psychology perspective, it may be good to keep socionics classical, albeit full of illusions. People come through the system, receive rigorous training that excites them and fills them with energy, and they move on to do other things. But it's already too late; socionics is dying a long, slow death. Successive generations of socionists are less and less inspired and inspiring, career momentum and entropy are taking over, and there is just too much new and exciting information on personality and human interaction coming from research that takes a fundamentally different (empirical) approach than socionics.