The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

It’s the New Astrology, or Something

Posted on | June 2, 2013 | 19 Comments

The belief that we have found the Rosetta Stone of human personality — the one factor that lets us analyze others as “types” — is not new, but the study of temperament isn’t very interesting to us sanguine/cholerics.


There is an old joke that all people can be divided into two broad categories, the largest of which is “Arrogant Assholes Who Think All People Can Be Divided Into Two Broad Categories.”

Few people will endorse a schema of human traits that does not flatter them personally. The belief that we possess Special Insight into the personalities of others is always enormously flattering — “We are so wise!” — and the natural desire to think well of ourselves is the subject of two books that I frequently recommend:

  1. The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy by Thomas Sowell; and
  2. The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminished Expectations, by Christopher Lasch.

Now, it must be remarked that Lasch was both a man of the Left and a Freudian, so you will find certain obsolete analyses and expressions of unfortunate prejudice in his book. Nevertheless, his insight into how the post-1960s culture reflected of a society-wide tendency toward narcissistic traits was right on target — and Lasch’s work was praised by many conservatives at the time.

Sowell’s excellence scarcely needs recommending to any conservative reader, but if you’ve never read The Vision of the Anointed, or if it has been a few years since you read it, please try this: Read Sowell and Lasch back-to-back and cross-reference their insights.

People with damaged egos have a desperate need to feel good about themselves and, over the past half-century, changes in American society have left a lot of ego-damaged people floating around out there, seeking personal validation through politics, the way people once sought validation in cult religions and astrology.

“Hey, baby — let me guess: Scorpio, right?”

You’ve got about an 8% chance of being right on a hustle like that and if she says, “No, I’m a Leo,” your next line is obvious: “Really? But I’m guessing you’ve probably got a Scorpio moon, right?” Given that most people have never done a full chart, she’s got no idea, but if she is into astrology — and back in the ’70s, it was a big thing — she’s going to be intrigued by your pretended insight.

Of course, the whole point of that line is to find out if she’s into astrology, because chicks who are into astrology are easy.

Did anybody else notice John Edwards’s baby-mama Rielle Hunter was all into that kind of foolish “New Age” stuff? Bingo.

On the one hand, such ready-made belief systems — whether it’s astrology or Marxism or birth-order analysis — are just a hustle.

On the other hand, although the fashionable nonsense changes from decade to decade, the type of personality who buys into fashionable nonsense remains fairly consistent. So if you’re into the Latest Thing (whatever that thing may be) you have thereby classified yourself as the type of person who is always into the Latest Thing.

Think about that, OK?


19 Responses to “It’s the New Astrology, or Something”

  1. ThomasD
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

    That picture might make more sense if it had a caption.

    Say ‘Oldest Child: “I wonder if this thing will bounce?”‘

    Which conveniently explains the blank stare of middle-child as well…

  2. AGoyAndHisBlog
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

    RSM, you may have missed one book that has enormous implications for the ideological dichotomy currently dragging our Republic down the drain: Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind”. Haidt is also a “man of the left” whose fundamental thesis is that the ideologies espoused by the left aren’t well-suited to supporting lasting, flourishing societies.

    Yeah, I was shocked too.

    It is not written for self-described “conservatives” but, rather, IMHO written to reveal to the left – in language palatable to the leftist – its own closeted inconsistencies and moral adolescence. That said, I strongly believe conservatives should read Haidt’s work, along with the other papers he’s written about his ongoing research, and start leveraging the insights that research provides.

    More on this at the links below:

  3. JeffS
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

    It’s not the new astrology, it’s stereotyping justified by leftie ditzes with silly diplomas.

    But….if we must divide people into two broad categories, I recommend this split.

    And, for the record, I am a middle child who appreciated his younger sibling. Until said sibling grew up and started to punch back. 😀

  4. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

    Crack Emcee has been a voice in the wilderness on New Age BS for a long time. But he lived in France with a new age (now ex) wife, which is like an advance degree on the subject.

  5. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

    Almost ever great accomplishment in the world was done by a first born. Everyone knows that.

  6. BobBelvedere
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

    RT @smitty_one_each: TOM It’s the New Astrology, or Something #TCOT

  7. robertstacymccain
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 7:05 pm

    Oh, I forgot to explain the reason you ask if she’s a Scorpio: They’re supposed to be the sexiest sign. If astrology is true, you’ve got about a 1-in-12 shot at picking up a nympho.

    Or, so it was back in the day.

    Your mileage may vary.

  8. Finrod Felagund
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

    Is that just for girls or for guys as well? (he says, having been born in mid-November)

  9. ThomasD
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

    Been down the Scorpio road more than once…

    Married one, the rest are history (there can be only one.)

    Wanna see the scars?

  10. Cube
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 9:20 pm

    Regarding @TimTime’s comment, I prefer Seven of Nine myself.

  11. Bob Belvedere
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

    They are, indeed, sexy, but they’re also nucking futz.

  12. Finrod Felagund
    June 3rd, 2013 @ 1:31 am

    Here’s a silly game to play: what holiday is closest to 9 months before you were born?

    For me, Valentine’s Day. For my girlfriend: Halloween. For my ex-wife: New Year’s.

  13. K-Bob
    June 3rd, 2013 @ 4:03 am

    I’ve seen a few things come true about birth order, but nothing of any magnitude of importance. With the possible exception that if you treat one child like “the baby” all their life, that will come back to bite you.

    But predicting anything about their success in life based on birth order has a lot more to do with parents forcing the issue than anything else.

  14. darthlevin
    June 3rd, 2013 @ 7:41 am

    Mine is April Fools’ Day. This says more about my parents than I ever cared to imagine. Pass the brain-bleach, stat.

  15. » One hole per pigeon
    June 3rd, 2013 @ 7:56 am

    […] Robert Stacy McCain retells an old joke: […]

  16. Scribe of Slog (McGehee)
    June 3rd, 2013 @ 9:34 am

    I’m more interested in the two categories of broads.

  17. Scribe of Slog (McGehee)
    June 3rd, 2013 @ 9:38 am

    I once knew a pair of twin sisters, born in June, with very different personalities. I suggested the younger (by minutes) one must have been born with Scorpio rising because she had gotten all the sexy mannerisms.

    It didn’t help me get anywhere with her, so now I know astrology is bunk.

  18. Scribe of Slog (McGehee)
    June 3rd, 2013 @ 9:39 am

    St. Patrick’s Day. My mother was Irish on both sides and my dad thought he was.

  19. Scribe of Slog (McGehee)
    June 3rd, 2013 @ 9:40 am

    Have them far enough apart, they’re all first-born.