Ambigamy

Insights for the deeply romantic and deeply skeptical

What Is Your FA Q?

Measuring your Fallibility Quotient

IQ measures conceptual intelligence.  EQ measures general emotional intelligence and while thought and emotion seem to encompass all of human capacity it’s often useful to hone in on a particular skill, whether innate or learned that is highly correlated with success. 

FA Q or Fallibility Quotient is awareness of one’s fallibility.  Unlike IQ and EQ, FA Q is reverse-measured which is to say people with high FA Qs are highly likely to dismiss, dispel, deflect, deny or otherwise disregard evidence of fallibility (Failure As Indicated Likely or FAILs).  

Interestingly enough, a high FA Q is often evidenced by subjects shouting “FA Q!” at whomever brings such evidence of fallibility, which some researchers interpret as meaning, “My FA Q is very high so don’t mess with me.”

MEASUREMENT

Several factors go into measuring subjects’ FA Q including:

How quickly do subjects explain why FAIL’s are not their fault?

How frequently do subjects explain why FAIL’s are not their fault?

How persistently do subjects explain why FAIL’s are not their fault?

How long do subjects hold a grudge against those who supply evidence of FAIL’s

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People with FA Qs of 100, the highest possible score, never are heard to consider or say a discouraging word about their own FAIL’s. They always have an explanation for why the FAIL is someone else’s problem, most often the person who supplies evidence of the FAIL.

Many researchers both Democratic and Republican are concerned about high scores in epidemic proportions among Republicans in the past decade and speculate that this epidemic is caused by the prevalence of many leaders within the party whose FA Q is 100.

ETIOLOGY

There is much speculation as to what causes unhealthily high FA Qs. Here are some known contributors:

Chip on shoulder: Years of abuse and discouragement lead some subjects to retaliate, their fragile self-respect requiring vigilant and constant defense.

Ideological zeal:  Subjects who claim to have “once been lost but now found” often identify with an ideology that, having once solved their problems, they now embrace as solving all problems. They consider themselves “realized” meaning FAIL-proof forever more.

Guru envy and emulation: Subjects enchanted by charismatic leaders with FA Q’s of 100, often seek the vicarious thrill of emulating such leaders.

Lower education: Lack of education may contribute to a High FA Q.  When subjects lack language skills more articulate than those required for shouting “FA Q” their loss of words leaves them with options but flailing self-defense against all challenges.

Higher education: Paradoxically, and contrary to conventional wisdom, the first effect of education is to increase subject’s FA Q’s. Subjects use learned language arts first and foremost in self-defense, and learned critical thinking skills first and foremost to attack challengers. The higher subject’s degree of education the more they tend to become know-it-alls, resistant to all evidence of fallibility. 

IQ: Still, the less subjects are able to integrate complex, subtle, intricate and paradoxical thought, the more drawn they are to simple solutions and the more they depend on their high FA Q to protect against evidence of real world complexity.  F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” This is true of IQ generally, but of FA Q also. Those who cannot contemplate the opposed ideas that a FAIL is their fault and not their fault invariable default toward the latter interpretation.

FAIL-survival efficacy: Subjects who have admitted to fallibility and survived to tell the tale, indeed to learn from their mistakes may be more willing to repeat the experience of receptivity to FAIL’s. Still, some subjects feel that in having once admitted to fallibility they should not be required to repeat the experience, a syndrome knows as “I once was lost but now I’m blind.”

Hypocrissisy Syndrome: Subtler treatment of Narcissism Spectrum Disorders has given rise to a new diagnostic category. A hypocrisissy is someone who can't or won't fight fair on substance and so lurches desperately to defend himself with indefensibly hypocritical arguments. When we're not desperate we might take a moment to think "can I accuse her of that without being a hypocrite?" When we're desperate we don't take that moment, we shoot first and then, if called a hypocrite desperately shoot again.  More than we notice hypocrisy is a function of desperation, and desperation a function of both circumstance and temperament, and of temperament most of all that of a sissy, someone who feels his desperation too quickly and so lurches toward hypocrisy.

Many other personality traits and environmental factors contribute to a High FA Q. Surprisingly FA Q can be especially high among the poorest and wealthiest cohorts, which some researchers speculate explains the epidemic rise in FA Q among present day Republicans.

FA Q TESTS

Tests are still in the development phase and of uncertain validity and reliability.  Some measures are naturalistic and quantitative, for example having a subject’s friends and associates keep track of when if ever the subject has admitted to possibly making a mistake.  

Another testing method measures the subject’s agreement with pop psychology aphorisms that proudly promote rejection of all feedback such as:

When people undermine your dreams, predict your doom or criticize you, remember they’re telling you their story, not yours. 

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

Jeremy Sherman is an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision making.

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