02 October 2007

A foggy crystal ball

For my one required college speech class, I did a speech on Graphology. A few years prior in high school, I did a speech on telekinesis. In my estimation, both are forms of divination.

According to the New Advent webpage, divination is: "The seeking after knowledge of future or hidden things by inadequate means. The means being inadequate they must, therefore, the supplemented by some power which is represented all through history as coming from gods or evil spirits. Hence the word divination has a sinister signification. As prophecy is the lawful knowledge of the future divination, its superstitious counterpart, is the unlawful. As magic aims to do, divination aims to know."

Involvement in divination will earn you a trip to confession.

My cousin, the sister, is a Graphologist. I'm not quite sure these things are compatable. Maybe graphology is an extension of a form of psychology, but it also has some fortune-telling aspects to it. I don't know if I think it is a tool that should be used to predict future behaviors, because while we may have natural tendencies and inclinations, we have the will to choose a very different course of action. God could give us the grace to overcome a vice or strengthen a virtue.

I once filled out a job application that asked me for a sample of my handwriting. I strongly suspected they were going to analyze my handwriting and refused. The job wasn't worth it to me. I've also had companies want me to take the MMPI and I refused that too. I've taken the MMPI a few times. The first time was in college because I had a psychology minor and really wanted to find out what this monster test was like. Having taken it, I really didn't want this type of information in the hands of my employer or have my answers assessed by some unknown person, with their own personal biases, who may or may not be qualified to interpret the results.

From the Wiki site:
Graphology is based upon the following basic assertions:

When we write, the ego is active but it is not always active to the same degree. Its activity waxes and wanes; being at its highest level when an effort has to be made by the writer and at its lowest level when the motion of the writing organ has gained momentum and is driven by it.

When the action of writing is comparatively difficult, the writer uses those forms of letters which are simpler or more familiar.

The muscular movements involved in writing are under the direct influence of the central nervous system. The form of the resultant writing movement is modified further by the flexibly assembled coordinative structures in the hand, arm, and shoulder; which follow the principles of dynamical systems. The specific writing organ (mouth, foot, hand,crook of elbow) is irrelevant if it functions normally and is sufficiently adapted to its function.

The neurophysiological mechanisms which contribute to the written movement are related to conditions within the central nervous system and vary in accordance with them. The written strokes, therefore, reflect both transitory and long term changes in the central nervous system such as Parkinson's disease, or alcohol usage.
The movements and corresponding levels of muscular tension in writing are mostly outside of conscious control and subject to the ideomotor effect. Emotion, mental state, and biomechanical factors such as muscle stiffness and elasticity are reflected in a person's handwriting.

One must examine the handwriting or drawing movements by considering them as movements organized by the central nervous system and produced under biomechanical and dynamical constraints. Given these considerations, graphologists proceed to evaluate the pattern, form, movement, rhythm, quality, and consistency of the graphic stroke in terms of psychological interpretations. Such interpretations vary according to the graphological theory applied by the analyst.

Most schools of thought in graphology concur that a single graphological element can be a component of many different clusters, with each cluster having a different psychological interpretation. The significance of the cluster can be assessed accurately by tracing each component of the cluster back to their origins and adapting the meaning of the latter to the conditions of the milieu in which the form appears.

I'm not a psychologist, but it seems that graphology is based on limited observations, personal interpretations (theories), and deals with the mind which is influenced by so many factors that you can't develop a test that controls for everything, with the goal being to test for one specific attribute. At best it's a snap-shot in time, at worst it's something Father will tell you to do penance for.


:o) said...

I think it so sad that people look to these types of things for guidance instead of looking for the Truth.

You are right.. looking into those things requires a trip to the confessional.

Like the new look of your blog!

fertlmertl said...

I can't stand this kind of mumbo jumbo made up nonsensical hokey pokey faux science GARBAGE. It ranks up there with Biospiritual Focusing and Enneagrams. AAAAAAAHGHGHGHGHG!!!!

gemoftheocean said...

Well, I think from experience and what I've read that graphology is a snapshot, and is interesting IF it's done by someone who doesn't try and predict the future, and has studied for a while. When I was 14, my parents and I had a nice dinner when we were in Scottsdale, Az. many years ago. There was a graphologist there who did my parent's and my handwriting. He did not try to predict the future at all, but it was UNCANNY how correct he was about things he could not have known by observation or overhearing conversation. I'm not saying he was 100% correct in all observations, and he even stated he wouldn't be, but I would say there were a number of things he said that were dead on that made the 3 of us laugh. I would be suspect of any company wanting a handwriting sample however.

Tendencies of people to do things a certain way matched up against other people who tend to do "X" don't always match up.

I am HIGHLY suspicious of psychological tests particularly because they make a lot of underlying assumptions. Particularly when they force you to make a choice between a few options that are loaded either way. For instance, I missed the aptitude test in Jr. Year in HS and my friend Diana related how stupid it was:
They ask you:
1. Do you like working on your
own? or
2. in a group.

If you answer "alone" they can say:
"Ah-ha - she's a LONER, she doesn't like other people and can't socialize."
If you say "in a group"
they can say: "Ah-ha, she can't think for hersself, she's a slacker, she wants other people to pick up the load so she can kick it."

Can't win either way.

I don't know if you've read Richard Feynemann's books - but in one of them he relates the hysterically funny experience he had with one of the Army "psychologists" - who decided RF must be paranoid. He got labeled "4-F" [nutcase] because he truthfully answered the questions.

For instance the shrink asked him:
1. "Do people look at you?"

Feynmann, knowing he's not invisible says "yes."

2. "do you think people are looking at you now - observing you?"

Feynmann looks around the room, as there is scarcely anything in the room except this shrink at his desk, Richard, and other would be inductees waiting on the bench, says "yes as a matter of fact, a few of the guys ARE looking at me."

3. "Do people talk about you?"
"Yes." [it never occurs to the shrink to ask why - or figure out if it's well founded.]
Naturally Richard's mother talks about her Nobel Prize winning son....

This goes on and on -- the shrink NEVER bothering to look up, or clarify anything. Bozos.

I had a similar experience myself in college. I needed a few extra bucks and the psych department was parting with some shekels to students who could give them an hour or two of their time for $10 bucks an hour. (A good deal back then!)

Here's what they asked me before the experiment:
"Have you taken any psych classes?"

Me: No (true statement)

Then they put me in a room with ONE other person, and we were given a simple pencil/paper test and told "you've got 10 minutes to complete this." Not very long into it, the other person taking the "test" was being provocatively annoying. "I'm already on page 4 and you're still on page 2?" I immediately smelled a rat and figured "a-ha THIS person is in on it." She kept being an a-hole.

Then they ran a classic "This person who was such an a-hole is now attached to electricity and she is doing a task in another room, when we play "X" music, she is at a critical part of the task, if you like, you can give her a small electrical jolt so we can measure how much it affects their performance, although the longer the jolt, the more juice she gets. Or alternatively you can press this button to silence the ambient noise in the room so they can concentrate." Ha-ha -- my BS detector went off the scale. I knew about this study and figured they were testing ME to see if I'd really ZITZ this person with a good shock.

I decided to really screw with their plot points. Giving NICE MUSIC the whole time. SEVERAL times they asked me "this is the electric jolt, you know that, right?" ha-ha "yeah, sure" "I want to play the nice music so she doesn't get a shock."

Later, check in hand, as I had one foot out the door I say "thanks for the 15 bucks (or whatever it was) you might want to consider asking people if they've READ about psychology, even if they haven't taken a class."


Oh, and when I worked at General Dynamics a guy I knew was relating his experience in applying at the CIA. His academic skills passed with flying colors. His personal interview passed with flying colors, his references passed with flying colors (at this point 90% of applicants would have washed out.)
Then they had him do a shrink interview. He "passed" but decided the questions were so damn weird he didn't want to work there. Stuff like "Shower or bath?" "are you afraid of the dark?" "Would you rather be lost in a cave or the woods?" At this remove I can't remember the exact questions, but they were along these lines!

swissmiss said...

I'm not sure where Graphology fits on the scale of things. Does it have some merit...possibly. Can a fortune teller give you a similar analysis...probably. Yes, graphology studies patterns and makes predictions on these patterns, which may or may not be significant or correct for the majority of cases. There are even more involved types of graphology that I definitely think are verging on the occulty (the terminology used reads like a horoscope).

Feynman was nuts, but by all accounts he was fun to have at a party :) I think he would be one of the five people I'd like to have dinner with (or meet in Heaven, but I think he was an atheist)...as long as I had a good night's sleep the night before!

The psych questions you mention are all very typical of the MMPI. The MMPI tests for paranoia, hypochondria, etc. The way questions (sometimes) are worded leaves you with no good answer to pick from, but are all based on some deep-seated tendency.

The only things I remember from taking the MMPI are that I didn't have any paranoias or things along those lines, but I had a very strong sense of "If you want something done right, do it yourself." After all the time and energy I put into answering the hundreds of questions and all I got out of it was that, I felt like, "If I wanted the test scored correctly, I would've done it myself!"

If anyone is ever planning on taking the MMPI, it does have a truth or honesty scale in it. For example, if it asks you if you have ever stolen anything, you better answer yes (unless you never have). If it asks if you have ever lied, you better answer yes. If you fail the truth part of the test, the person scoring the test is going to look at you like you are the most dishonest person they have ever met. That's the first thing the person scoring or analyzing the test will tell you, is if you took the test honestly. Fortunately, I knew this beforehand and answered all the painful questions honestly. Personally, this should be something between you and your priest, not you and some psycho, I mean psychologist, hired by a propective employer to know.

Target used to use a scaled-down version of this in its application process and it went to court. Believe Target lost because it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

gemoftheocean said...

Yes, the RF books are quite fun. It was a pity he was an atheist. I especially enjoyed how he used to do safecracking in New Mexico as a hobby. And I loved his observations on the Challenger accident, learning Japanese and his experiences teaching Physics in Brazil. I thought his story about his 1st wife's death when he was working on the Manhattan project quite poignant. If memory serves they'd been childhood sweethearts.
I think he got his atheism from his dad.

Quite and interesting character.

sexy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.