A Writer's Room of Requirement

A home for the many random insights that cross my mind from time to time.

Archive for the tag “Ni”

Which types escape the Matrix?


When faced with the incredibly realistic but ultimately false reality of The Matrix which cognitive functions would prove most useful in detecting the machines’ simulation?  Certainly not all functions were created equal in this regard.  Certain types have to prove more difficult to subdue.  Who bucks the simulation of this logical world?

To recognize the Matrix I would want the ability to think imaginatively, to see beyond what my senses tell me.  The machines own my senses now.  I need alternative means of perception.

It would also help if I had values and abilities that the machines themselves can’t emulate.  If they can’t feel what I feel, then that makes me far more difficult to predict.  They have more difficulty cutting my perceptions off before I can realize them.  They will always have a superior logic.  They possess flawless objective processes.  But as a mammal, I will always have more capacity for unique emotion.  I must fight them on the battlefield where I have the advantage.

With this rubric in mind, I outlined the eight cognitive functions from most potentially helpful to least:


Introverted Feeling (Fi) – No matter how long they study, the machines will never truly understand the depths of a man’s heart.  They will never find a way to emulate the connection the Fi type feels with their fellow man.  Of all the types, the Fi types possess the strongest sense of empathy.  Through the observation of so many cues of body language and speech, they begin to feel what someone else feels.  No matter how accurate the Matrix becomes, the simulation always puts a thin film, a slight barrier, between the full interaction of two human beings.  The Matrix places a wisp of haze in front of the feeler’s empathy.  With such a perfectly crafted world, these slight, constant inconsistencies mean all the difference.  The Fi type never feels as fully connected to humanity as they should.  Maybe that explains why so many great Fi artists  – Kurt Cobain, Heath Ledger, Jimi Hendrix – come to tragic ends.  They just finally escaped the Matrix.

Extraverted Intuition (Ne) – No cognitive function possesses a higher capacity for imagination.  The Ne types constantly scan their environment – on an almost subconscious level – for any and all connections between all things.  This form of intuition loves to follow each and every rabbit trail that springs to life in the mind’s eye.  This gives the user two advantages in fighting the Matrix.  First, the Ne types, more than any other, notice the inconsistencies in their reality.  They stands apart as the great satirists and revolutionaries like Machiavelli, Mark Twain, and Stephen Colbert.  This constant examination of their reality could potentially lead them to notice the machines pulling the puppet strings behind their reality.

The Ne type also has the imagination to create a world different from their own, a world where these puppet masters don’t exist or don’t hold any power over their human slaves.  Ne types don’t just imagine a better world, they seek to engineer one.  No matter how well the machines prepare, they can never fully plan for every permutation of an idea that can occur to these scatter brained geniuses.


Introverted Intuition (Ni) – Like their Ne brethren, Ni types possess a strong imagination.  They have an ability to plan for the future that borders on precognition.  They see all of the possible outcomes in a situation and can plan for the most likely ones.  They could entertain the idea of a world dominated by machines and a false reality.  However, because they direct their perception inward, it leaves them rather divorced from their external world.  As such, why should they care whether they live in a “real” world or one dominated by the simulation of an artificial intelligence.  As long as they remain free to read their books or organize that reality in a sensible manner, they could care less about their supposed slavery.  The Ni might see the Matrix, but will they do anything about it?


Introverted Thinking (Ti) – Introverted thinking helps the user solve puzzles.  It provides a logical framework from which they can experiment with their external world.  In solving most problems – such as defeating your robot overlord – this kind of sharp, focused mind comes in handy.  Unfortunately for the Ti type in this universe, their enemy will always have a superior logic.  Like pitting the school chess champion against a grand master, the human simply has no chance.  The Ti type could potentially notice a logical inconsistency in the Matrix but the machines will probably always stay one step ahead.

Introverted Sensing (Si) – The machines have co-opted humanity’s five senses to an alarmingly accurate degree.  Thus, the Si type only notices the Matrix if they witness the machines change something.  They have such a sharp memory that they would pick up on any alterations made by the Agents or the Matrix’s over-arching program long before anyone else would.  However, the Si type probably goes their entire life without ever encountering such a change.  They still have long odds of noticing an event that has long odds of occurring in the first place.  The Si type lacks any agency in noticing the simulation.

Extraverted Thinking (Te) – Like the Ti type, the Te type uses a strong logic in an attempt to order their world.  I’ve already shown how hard a thinking mammal has it against a purely logical machine.  And like the Si type, the chances of a Te type noticing the Matrix rely purely on circumstances.  Te will only see proof of the Matrix when they try to order their external world and that world doesn’t react in a logical manner.  In other words, for an extraverted thinker to see the Matrix, they have to find a bug in an expertly crafted game.  The machines just don’t make those kinds of mistakes very often.

Completely Useless

Extraverted Feeling  (Fe) – The Fe type seeks the harmony and growth of all people in their tight-knit community.  They have no incentive to seek out the Matrix because the extraverted feeler can accomplish these aims within the confines of the simulation.  In fact, the Matrix actively uses community harmony to keep their subjects in line.  Morpheus tells us that you can feel the Matrix “when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes.”  The Fe type may even aid the machines in working against those searching for proof of the Matrix.  They believe that such “terrorists” pose a threat to the harmony of society with their dangerous ideas.

Extraverted Sensing (Se) – Above all else, the Matrix seeks to corrupt our senses.  We see what they want us to see, hear what they want us to hear, etc.  Se type leans heavily and completely on those very senses.  Above all others, they find it the most difficult to extract themselves from the Matrix’s sticky web.  They think they see more than all others, but they are clearly the most blind.

neo stops

I  won’t bore you with the details, but I assigned a point total to each function and then weighted the impact of that function depending on where if falls in the stack of a given personality type.  I came to the following ranking for the most likely type to escape the Matrix.

Rank Type Functions
1. INFP Fi, Ne, Si, Te
2. ENFP Ne, Fi, Te, Si
3. ISFP Fi, Se, Ni, Te
4. ENTP Ne, Ti, Fe, Si
5. INTJ Ni, Te, Fi, Se
6. INTP Ti, Ne, Si, Fe
7. INFJ Ni, Fe, Ti, Se
8. ENTJ Te, Ni, Se, Fi
9. ESFP Se, Fi, Te, Ni
10. ISTJ Si, Te, Fi, Ne
11. ESTJ Te, Si, Ne, Fi
12. ENFJ Fe, Ni, Se, Ti
13. ISTP Ti, Se, Ni, Fe
14. ESFJ Fe, Si, Ne, Ti
15. ISFJ Si, Fe, Ti, Ne
16. ESTP Se, Ti, Fe, Ni

Why more Sensing Types than Intuitive Types?

Every estimate I’ve seen on the number of Sensing (S) Types and Intuitive (N) types places S types in the majority.  The strength of that majority varies, but I’ve read estimates that range from a 55/45 spilt up to a 75/25 split in favor of the more grounded types.  Why?  What societal and evolutionary pressures leave my N brethren and I outnumbered?

Socially, a single visionary can come up with a great idea, but it often takes an army of workers to make it a reality.  For instance, to erect a building, it takes anywhere from a handful to hundreds of workers to lay the foundation, stand up the frame, insert electrical and plumbing, hang sheetrock for walls, paint those walls, and any other number of tasks.  Each of those teams needs a leader, someone who can make the trains run on time, who makes sure that the craftsman have the material and tools they need.  Most of all, the leader needs to make sure the craftsmen get paid on time.  The building only needs one architect.


When breaking those careers down, SPs make the best craftsmen.  So right off the bat, we need a large number of hands-on S types to get the job done.  Leadership, the foremen and bean counters, attracts a number of xSTJs.  Their introverted sensing (Si) function remembers all of the minute details – they forget nothing  – and their extroverted thinking (Te) has no qualms reminding everyone else.  One or two xNTJs might sit at the top of the leadership hierarchy with their long term vision, and an INTP would make a great architect, but the job of building needs an overwhelming majority of sensing types.

This relationship seems to work across a variety organizations.  The educational theory or counseling tactic proposed by the xNFJ professor or priest gets used by any number of xSFJ teachers, sunday school leaders, and childcare workers.  It only takes one xNFP Joan of Arc or John Lennon or Gandhi to start a revolution that affects millions.  The invention created by the xNTP in his basement gets reproduced and used everywhere.  Dwight Eisenhower (ENTJ) plans the Normandy Invasion of D-Day, but he needs troops on the ground to make it happen.  One intuitive idea needs many hands.

Over the many years of human society, as we have moved more and more towards specialization, the S/N balance has evolved to fit the needs of society.  Perhaps we have more N types now as society adjusts to ever increasing complexity in the human experience.  We need more ideas.  Or perhaps we have fewer N types now as an intuitive idea can reach farther across nations than ever before.  Regardless, it would make sense that it remains a fluid thing.  A person successfully filling their niche will have more opportunities to mate and have a greater chance of keeping their offspring viable.  Over time, society will adapt to the problems it faces.

Of course a far older and more resilient factor might affect the N/S balance in humanity.  As with any species, the threat of predation and other dangers that we have faced along our evolutionary path has certainly directed our development.  Maybe N types just get eaten more than S types.

As an intuitive, I know just how oblivious I am to the actual reality around me sometimes.  When our perception relies so much on the possibility of a person, object, or environment, we can sometimes neglect to see that object for what it actually is.  This perception comes in handy for pushing the human race forward.  Less so when trying to notice the lion creeping up on you in the tall grass.

lion in grass

The extroverted sensing (Se) types constantly scan their environment for anything interesting.  The movement of the lion makes them take notice immediately.  If the lion pounces, they can easily dispatch it with their superior athleticism and well-practiced weapon skills.

The routine and memory of the Si often keeps them safe from the lion.  They never leave home without food, water, and their weapon.  They take the same route to and from the watering hole every day.  They remember the location of every blade of grass.  They soon notice the unusual void in the swaying grasses that hints at the lion and they cautiously return to their cave without disturbing the beast.

The intuitive types have more difficulty.  The extroverted intuitive (Ne) follows the trends.  They notice the migration patterns of the lion pride and try to avoid traveling during the pride’s most active times.  Still, that does nothing to save them from the outliers.  And what happens if they read the trends incorrectly?  I liken it to a quarterback reading defenses and throwing blind.  If he gets his pre-snap read right, he could complete pass after pass.  He just throws to a likely open man.  What happens when he reads the defense incorrectly?  What happens if he has a miscommunication with his receiver and the receiver takes a different route?  Well then you see the ball spiral perfectly into the hands of the safety with a receiver nowhere in sight.

The introverted intutitve (Ni) type has no chance.  The symbolic savannah in their mind’s eye has no lions, but try telling that to Leo.  On a related note, INFJs are the rarest type.

lion eating

Leo gets to know an INFJ gazelle

Other reasons likely account for the disparity between N and S types in the American population, but we can’t begin to tell that story or understand the nature of humanity in general without looking at the societal and environmental pressures on our physiology.


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