How to Muck Up Everything, Optimally!

Ian Mitroff
5 min readMay 25, 2022

I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. Please follow me to never miss an article.

Given that we’re already doing an extraordinary job of “mucking everything up,” we don’t need a treatise on how to do it, certainly not on how to do it better. What we do need is a better understanding of how and why we currently manage to muck things up.

To begin with, the sad truth of the matter is that there is no one way of screwing things up, let alone doing it optimally. There are in fact multiple ways. The best (worst?) way is by all of them working together thereby reinforcing their most harmful aspects, thus making things absoulety dreadful. That’s precisely what we’re adept at doing.

To help frame the discussion, I want to make use of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator or MBPTI for short. In doing so, I want to focus on the four primary Personality Types: Sensing Thinking or ST; Intuitive Thinking or NT; Intuitive Feeling or NF; and Sensing Feeling or SF.

The primary concern of STs is breaking any and all problems and issues down into their “basic constituent parts” and then gathering precise, detailed Data on each of the parts. STs also strive to apply or build the best single Theory that will “explain the situation.”

The primary concern of NTs is the Big Picture. Namely, since problems and issues never exist in isolation, what are all of the others to which they ‘re connected? How do our attempts in defining a particular problem or issue affect the definitions of all the others that it affects and is affected by? And even more, how do the definitions affect the solutions, if there are any? After all, before one can “solve a problem,” one first has to “define what the problem is.” And if they are not solvable, is coping the best we can do? If so, what are the appropriate ways of coping?

The primary concern of NFs is also the Big Picture. But whereas it’s primarily a Technical Picture for NTs, it’s a Social Picture for NFs. Namely, who are all the Parties who will affect and be affected by the major problems and issues impacting a Community as a whole? Who stands to be helped versus harmed? How can the Community be mobilized to make things better? After…

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