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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Teachers vs. Wall Streeters

Every now and then you'll hear of a gathering characterized as "high-powered." What does that mean, exactly?

The people at such a gathering undoubtedly see themselves as a group of tough, dynamic, brilliant, worldly, and successful individuals.

I've met some of them, and they were generally aggressive and workaholic and ambitious and tough (in the sense of being ruthless). But while a small handful of them were extraordinarily smart, most weren't.

The fuel that powered them was not extra IQ points, but narcissism -- and sometimes sociopathy. So their personalities were suffused with ego and a sense of entitlement.

If you want a sense of what they're like, think Donald Trump. They weren't necessarily articulate, or creative, or insightful. But their egos were monstrous nonetheless. Their basic attitude was: admire and lavish praise on me, my beautiful wife, my magnificent house, and my riches.

If you didn't, they resented you. And if you crossed them, or even gently teased them, they would come after you three times as hard. (Think of Trump and how he goes after everyone who criticizes him.)

Wall Streeters don't measure their intelligence by IQ tests. They measure it by their bank accounts. So most of them think they're brilliant, even when they aren't.

More recently, I've gotten to know a few school teachers. As far as intelligence goes, I'd put them at least on a par with the average Wall Streeter.

Most teachers remember their own school years fondly, otherwise they wouldn't be attracted to the field. And no one in the bottom half of his class would have found school a positively reinforcing environment.

Teachers generally aren't narcissistic personalities, so lack boundless self-confidence. And because they don't see themselves as world-beaters, they want a steady income and retirement benefits.

From what I've seen, teachers tend to be nice people from nice families, who went through life being relatively nice.

None absolutely love their jobs. Some may have started out teaching because they liked children, or enjoyed working with teenagers, or had a passion for imparting knowledge. But after being on the job for a while -- and especially after seeing that their passion is nontransferable -- most can't wait to get away from the kids.

Most teachers have, in a sense, settled.

I've never met one who didn't love to travel -- they take advantage of those three months off. And most enjoy reading, which requires a certain calm self-sufficiency. (Again, think of Trump, who  reportedly doesn't even have the patience to read the daily briefings that are standard fare for most Presidents.)

Teachers are dependable, if a little boring. (A teacher is not going to be your first choice as wingman at a night club.) 

Nor do they have scintillatingly irreverent senses of humor.

You'll almost never hear about a teacher who's "larger than life." But neither will you hear about one who "sucks all the oxygen out of the room."

You rarely see a high testosterone teacher. It's easy to imagine Jeb Bush teaching high school history. Donald Trump, not so much.

And, most low testosterone environs are bastions of liberalism. Teachers may also lean left because of the teacher's union, and their government paychecks. And most are simply too nice -- and timid -- to step outside the bounds of political correctness into the dangerous environs of truth telling.

Teaching, especially up through junior high school, is primarily a female occupation, and most of those teachers are part of the "nice white lady" contingent who voted for Obama. They are easily brainwashed.

Still though, teachers are, on average, as smart as Wall Streeters. At least as smart: I've never met a teacher I'd call downright dumb, and I did meet several Wall Streeters I'd classify that way.

The teachers just aren't as "high-powered."

Personally, I far prefer the company of those toward the higher end of the IQ scale, and the lower end of the narcissism scale. 

9 comments:

Not Dave said...

My wife is a teacher, elementary. What I see is they are basically neutered and must remain in the box. Gone are the days when a kid could get corporeally punished for bad behavior in school. Depending on the district it can be a very PC environment.

You are correct with low testosterone environs being bastions for liberalism. That's why they flock to government jobs with no risk, artisans and yes, educators. My wife is not a liberal but is a moderate so that makes her a conservative in the eyes of her peers.

Anonymous said...

How do you know you don't see many high-testosterone teachers? Without testing their blood, it's not something you would know. You can't tell someone's T levels by looking at them or by watching their behaviour. I have higher T levels than most men (I've had many blood tests over years), and yet I'm a rather unassuming geek. Whilst T is psychoactive (I am more assertive than when I had low T), it doesn't affect personality to the extent of turning an introvert into an extrovert, or turning someone with high anxiety/inhibitions to having low ones. There are other chemicals at play here, such as acetylcholine, dopamine, GABA, oxytocin, etc. Testosterone is pretty irrelevant to personality: if there is anyone qualified to make this statement, it's someone who has spent their life with dramatically varying T levels, like I have.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
Your situation is unique and you can't generalize from it. Taking testosterone supplements once one is fully grown is not the same as having had a certain level one's entire life. When people are suffused with testosterone while growing up it affects all sorts of things, like the pitch of the voice, the amount of muscle (and the amount of fat), bone structure in the face (why men have stronger jawlines), and the shoulders-to-hips ratio. It also has an effect on the personality, how aggressive one is, how dominant one is, and how egotistical one is. All of these effects vary between individuals, of course, and will also vary depending on upbringing and nutrition. And you'll see weird variations, for instance Mike Tyson, with his abnormally strong musculature and high-pitched voice. But generally a high voice goes along with a more slender build, and a less aggressive personality, etc. These things correlate, if not perfectly.

Of course you can't know exactly what someone's testosterone level is unless you measure it, and even then, levels vary from day to day depending on a host of conditions. Still, you can get a sense from being around someone. If it had no effect, men wouldn't differ from women, in all sorts of ways.

jova said...

good insights about wall street. I worked on Wall Street for 20 years, 12 years at Goldman Sachs. The Goldman guys were definitely smarter than at the other firms, but the guys who had more success were not the most intelligent at the firm, but were just better at networking and more aggressive.

Anonymous said...

Testosterone has affected my pitch of voice (I can sing basso profondo), my muscles are a lot bigger than before even though I don't exercise and the shoulder-to-hip ration has altered. My skin is a lot rougher than before. (I have a very chiselled jawline, but that was natural.) Many studies have been done into (human and non-human) adults varying their T levels, and it's been found to affect behaviour and even skills - so, no, I'm not just generalising from my own situation. I cried a lot before starting T (once every 3-4 months or so) and now I barely ever cry (once every few years, and only when really upsetting things happen). It doesn't seem to make a difference whether the T was started during adolescence or adulthood: it's the same chemical and has the same effects. It doesn't change the personality to the extent of turning someone shy into a Trump-esque narcissist. It will probably make them more assertive, as it has done with me, but I'm still fundamentally the same introverted person. If it was testosterone alone, and not other chemicals, that caused egotism and domineering personalities, why are there so many meek men and aggressive women? (RE what you wrote about Hillary Clinton's behaviour towards her bodyguards: I couldn't yell or swear at people like that - it's just not in me, whatever my T levels).

Of course T has psychological effects (it's why gender differences exist amongst all mammals). What I meant was that you can't tell *amongst men* who has high T and who has low. For all you know, that scrawny mathematician might have higher T than that bulky professional wrestler.

I'm far more interested in the effects of acetylcholine, dopamine and oxytocin on personality. It's likely that teachers have way more acetylcholine receptors and Wall Streeters more dopamine ones (see 'Quiet' by Susan Cain). There's also a link between oxytocin and how people socialise. I read something about autistics having an abnormal response to oxytocin, causing their lack of charm - which might mean that sociopaths (and narcissists) have abnormal responses to oxytocin too, but in the opposite way. It's a hypothesis I just made up, but I think it's plausible, seeing as autistics and sociopaths are viewed by many (including Baron-Cohen) as polar opposites.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Java --
Thank you. I remembered that you had worked on Wall Street, but hadn't realized you'd worked at GS. I spent exactly 12 years there too. I'd say there was a positive correlation between being smart and making partner at the firm, but there was a far stronger correlation between being sociopathic and making partner.

John Craig said...

Gethin --
I don't know what your voice registered at before, but if it's gone down two octaves, that's rare. There are plenty of women athletes who take artificial male hormones of some sort and it doesn't affect their voice quite that much. Also, you shoulder to hips ratio may have changed, but that would be a function of muscle gain and fat loss. I was talking about the skeleton; forensic scientists can always tell a female skeleton from a male one, just from the proportions.

Yes, testosterone seems to make a big difference in how much people cry.

But while testosterone can change personality, it can't really change *character.* That's more a function of upbringing. That's why Hillary Clinton can yell at her bodyguards and even if you were in that situation, you wouldn't.

those other hormones you mention I have very little knowledge of. (I have exactly zero knowledge of acetylcholine and dopamine.)

Shaun F said...

John - I would agree that the days of high testosterone teachers have gone. The sandbox the Ministry of Education has built, won't allow for those types.

When I was still in high school thirty years ago - things were different. We had Aldo Roy who competed in the 1976 Olympics in weightlifting and taught economics. He's use expression like "Boom Boom Boom and the business went tits up." to illustrate more salient economic principles.

We also had a teacher that followed Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and he brought videos in to help us "better understand things."

We also had a chemistry teacher who hit me over the head with a bunsen burner. I had it coming. My friend who sat beside me got put in a headlock and dragged out of his chair. He had it coming.

We had an english teacher that threw a stapler at a student. I was in the class at the time.

High School was irresponsible fun.

Good luck with the heat wave, and install the air conditioning!

John Craig said...

Shaun --
Those definitely sound like quite manly, or at least volatile, types, at least three out of four of them do.

When I was in ninth grade in boarding school in Japan in 1968, I had a history teacher who was pretty macho, he was also the track coach and a big weight lifter (though certainly not a competitive one like Aldo Roy). It would have been possible to just see him as a little bit of a bully, but soon after I left that school I heard that he had, too, to become a combat photographer in Viet Nam, which is actually as dangerous as being in combat.

I looked him up at one point in the early 90's, he was living in western Massachusetts at the time, and was just as I'd remembered him.

You're right, though, these guys wouldn't pass muster now.