re: Adam Ruins Everything – Why the Myers-Briggs Test Is Total B.S.

Adam Conover has made a video that supposedly shows that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is, quote, “total BS.”

The video makes the argument that the theory of Psychological Types should be discounted because it’s not scientific. But the main debunking move of the video is that the theory can’t be right because Myers and Briggs didn’t have the right credentials. Since science seeks to separate theories from the people making them, the video ends up doing what it faults Myers and Briggs for doing, that is, using non-scientific methodology to determine what is and isn’t scientific.

Furthermore, credentialed psychologists and M.D.s had their own take on quantifying Jung’s theories around the time Myers and Briggs developed theirs. These other theories have something going for them too, but Myers and Briggs’ version was just better, which is why it won out.

Thirdly, the quote from Jung which Adam presents is misleading. It’s dishonestly stitched together from two unrelated quotes so as to give a different impression from what Jung said. In the first part of the quote, Jung says that type is complicated and hard to make out, not that people don’t have a type. In the second part of the quote (taken from a completely different place in the book), he says that ignoring his greater theory of psychological development and orientation at the expense of just sticking labels on people is a childish parlor game. Not that typology is a childish parlor game.

Finally, Adam’s video doesn’t even begin to address the scientific studies on the Myers-Briggs. Those studies have repeatedly shown that while the MBTI has problems, it actually does measure four of the five dimensions of personality. In short, it has an acceptable level of validity, but no more than that. If science is your criterion, the MBTI is okay, but not great. It cannot be total BS, as Adam claims, since no scientific study has ever found this to be the case for the MBTI.

So in short, Adam Conover presents himself as sciency, but uses unscientific argumentation. He presents a fabricated quote from Jung that is stitched together from unrelated passages, and he doesn’t even enter into the matter of what the evidence on the scientific value of the Myers-Briggs actually shows.

His video is a re-hashing of an older uninformed article on Vox.com, even repeating certain passages from that source without attribution. We have previously answered the arguments from that piece, as well as other similar MBTI “debunkings.” To read these responses, check the links below.

Drake Baer’s Lazy Critique of the MBTI
Why Adam Grant’s Critique of the MBTI Is Useless
17 Reasons That Joseph Stromberg’s Critique of the MBTI Is Uninformed
Todd Essig’s Misconstrual of the MBTI
MBTI for Skeptics

2 Comments

  1. I was hoping you would respond to the Adam Ruins Everything Video. I found it highly inaccurate, uninformed, and irritating.

  2. Many people who claim to be “familiar” with Jung’s theory have only read the last hundred or so pages of Psychological Types, a book of some 600 pages. The first 500 pages deal with the empirical and historical basis upon which the theory is founded, and should be required reading for those who think the theory, and those works based on it, are unsound. As far as “unscientific” is concerned, well, so what? What counts as “scientific” generally means what one agrees with, and is really more of a diagnostic indicator than an objective analysis.

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