Now that Jordan Peterson is out of vogue, it seems like the appropriate time for someone in the 3rd percentile for Agreeableness to buy his overpriced Kool-Aid. I’ve been wondering for a while if it’s any use, and if so how much use for $30 and a 5-hour time investment.
Unfortunately, it appears no one has successfully posted the Self-Authoring program writing prompts online for free. Though I’m strongly of the opinion that creative work should NOT be compensated, I’ll admit that it may be for the best here since most people probably wouldn’t put in any effort if they hadn’t paid $30 for the privilege. As in self-directed behavior research,
People do not fail at self-modification because the techniques don’t work; they fail because they don’t use the techniques (Gould & Clum, 1993). For example, in one study a manual was developed for people who have a strong fear of open places–agoraphobia (Holden, O’Brien, Barlow, Stetson, & Infantino, 1983). The manual described the techniques that subjects could use to lessen their agoraphobia. The subjects in one group were simply given the manual and invited to change themselves, but the manual was not effective because the subjects did not use the techniques suggested. Similarly, when therapists gave their depressed patients homework assignments involving self-modification, the only patients who improved were those who actually did the homework (Neimmeyer & Feixas, 1990).
These results are not surprising: If you want to develop a skill, you have to practice it, and if you don’t practice, you should not be surprised if you don’t learn the skill.
(You can argue this point with a fatalist all you want, they are epistemically closed to comprehension that there’s more to basketball than the genetics for height. My motto, on the other hand, is “outperform your genetics”.)
I looked through some reviews and this one addresses my unspoken questions the most precisely:
To be honest, I didn’t expect the self authoring program to be very useful – not because I thought it would be junk, but because I’ve already spent the last year navel-gazing like crazy (lots of reading and thinking and writing). I’d already put in place lots of systems to guide me through life, with highly specific goals, and lists and spreadsheets coming out my ears.
With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to finish with a list of actionable things to do. I also have a much clearer sense of where I’ve come from, and where I’m going.
What’s the Secret Sauce?
As far as I can tell, there is none. The questions and exercises are simple, and nothing you couldn’t have come up with yourself. What matters is the act of writing. I already knew this, in the sense that this is how I crystallise my thoughts about complicated things. But it would never have occurred to me to sit down and write about myself at length. It would feel a bit weird, or self-indulgent. To have someone not only give you permission, but hold your hand through a logical progression of exercises with a clear endpoint – that’s why it works.
-Richard Meadows on Reddit
Self authoring review: Is the program worthwhile?
From the rest of the review, it sounds like this program is not merely a retread of better self-improvement programs or goal-setting exercises like Brian Tracy’s. There is (by reputation) real depth in this process of clarifying what exactly you want and why, whereas most self-help programs assume you already mostly know what you want and it’s just a matter of writing it down as a SMART goal and a plan.
As I pointed out to MM, his rant about the importance of choosing the correct thing to do before doing anything should have been the intro and chapter one of the GUToW, versus the tired old “get angry get good” bit. There’s a real deficiency in the books out there on this subject of knowing yourself (try googling “knowing yourself for dummies” to see what I mean). Everybody agrees you need to know yourself, but there are far fewer books than there are for much less important subjects like phrenology. I know because I’ve tried to compile lists of resources for both subjects.
For my part, I think we should start judging ourselves by using the same empirical benchmarks as we would for judging other people- in order of importance: Trustworthiness, IQ, dark tetrad traits and autism quotient traits, racial and family background, Seligman’s resilience metrics, Fussell’s classes, religiosity, Haidt’s moral axes, actual religion/ideology, the Big 5- before consulting insights from the privileged perspective of a subjective internal observer. Incidentally:
IQ: Approximately 140
Dark tetrad traits: Very low
Autism quotient traits: Very high
Racial background: German Irish
Family background: Standard Midwesterners
Resilience: High (may post questionnaire later)
Fussell class: A mix of lower-middle background and upper-middle taste
Haidt’s moral axes: Very libertarian by nature, i.e. balanced except being overly fond of fairness under the law and averse to cheating (low ethnocentrism, anti-double standards, special pleading, etc.)
Actual religion/ideology: Protestant, Ethnocentric One-nation Toryism (until the next thing)
Big 5: Extremely open, introverted, and disagreeable, average conscientiousness, moderately low neuroticism, high honesty-humility in HEXACO (Ref: https://aeolipera.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/big-5-breakdown/, https://aeolipera.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/hexaco-results/, https://aeolipera.wordpress.com/2020/04/04/melontalk/#comment-41821)