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February 28, 2004 10:58 AM   Subscribe

"XD38" - Nexus Personality A site for multifaceted people who are technical and artistic, verbal and mechanical, rational and intuitive; who are interested in everything; who find themselves to be a kind of natural link between far-ranging, diverse areas of human endeavor.
posted by konolia (50 comments total)
Odd. Seems kinda like he's taking his own personality and branding it a "type."
posted by jonmc at 11:04 AM on February 28, 2004

XD38s are technical writers par excellence. (That's what I did for almost 15 years.)

aha! that's why there are so many wonderful computer books! i've marvelled at each new edition of windows for dummies, stood in awe before the shelves (shelves! what riches!) of introductions to java. now, at last it's clear - XD38s. what an untapped resource! we must act now, to rescue them from their dusty rooms and elevate them to the mighty positions they deserve. their time has truly come. say farewell to footnotes describing differences with previous versions of the operating system - we must set this awesome, nay, majestic reservoir of talent free.

technical writers, i say to you - rise up, throw off your chains. no more appendices copied from the online documentation! save us, please.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:09 AM on February 28, 2004

Sounds like he's describing what everyone I went to college with thought they were. And an awful lot of these characteristics would apply to most people, or at least a very large number of people.

"A lifelong hunger for something real"
Don't most people (at least at some point in their life) feel this way?

"Deep-seated confidence that one's own life has a meaning"
I'd think if people didn't have a feeling that their life meant something, there'd be a much higher suicide rate.

"Usually one or more of the following: attention-deficit disorder, intermittent depression or bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (not obsessive-compulsive personality, which is entirely different); migraines; certain types of stomach trouble related to the above conditions"
Because migraines and "intermittent depression" are really rare.
posted by catfood at 11:34 AM on February 28, 2004

Paging Mr. Caulfield...
posted by Vidiot at 11:46 AM on February 28, 2004

I read that page and kept saying "omg, that's me." I joined the yahoo group. I do feel that way. Ok he's a bit arrogant about some of the stuff, but I *do* feel most of the things he describes. I'm a female mechanical engineer who also went to photography school but makes a living managing IT projects. It doesn't make me a genius, but I do have a more diverse (than most people I meet) background in things artistic and geekily mechanical.

Mock if you will. I find this exciting. I'm going off to read posts from others like Mr. XD38....
posted by Red58 at 11:49 AM on February 28, 2004

Sweet! I rolled a 16 for Charisma!
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:18 PM on February 28, 2004

Sounds interesting. I've certainly met people who have a fluency in both technical and artistic matters that seems to transcend the usual either/or typecasting, but anyone reading this could quite easily fall victim to the Forer Effect.
posted by Paragon at 12:44 PM on February 28, 2004

::waves hands furiously::
Me! Me!! That's me!!!
Finally, someone's come up with an generalized categorization of people that I actually BELONG in... Great find, kony!

And yes, I appreciate the fact that it's being started by a self-proclaimed XD-38 showing off his good side, rather than clinical behaviorists acting like they've discovered a mutation...

(But that's not going to stop my plans to set up a sub-community for MeFi members on prescription psychiatric drugs that I'll call MediFilter.)
posted by wendell at 12:46 PM on February 28, 2004

Yes and no. I mean, I know all about the Forer Effect, and I still think there's the germ of something real here. Maybe not a whole new "personality type" (or it's more correct to say I believe there are six billion personality types), and certainly nothing in need of a doofy sci-fi designation.

But there are things in this description that are too specific and strike too close to home for me to dismiss it entirely:

- "They are vulnerable to alcohol, drugs, sex; reading, daydreaming, and getting too deep into science fiction and fantasy. They may drop these in disgust because of their desire to really EXPERIENCE reality, not just imagine it."

I mean, this is one of the main reasons I joined the Army: I got sick of watching my housemates watch "Aliens" or play PlayStation blow-em-ups, when the real thing was just an enlistment contract away.

- "How an XD38 deals with stress.

1. They don't repress.
2. They don't pass it along in "kick the cat" style.
3. In the natural state, they explode.
4. When they decide this is ethically unacceptable (or stylistically unacceptable, which is much the same in the XD38 mind), they use self-control..."

The bit about ethically unacceptable = stylistically unacceptable is *so* true.

I've never heard anyone articulate some of these things before, despite having hemmed and hawed over them for a long time, and I certainly don't believe that some of these attributes are vague and capable of being applied to anyone.

Like I say, I think there is some recognition here, it just needs to be debrided of the silliness around it.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:53 PM on February 28, 2004

I fit the description to a tee (ENT/FP, ADHD), but if he knew anything about his type, he'd know none of us would adopt his silly "XD38" label. Why should this guy get credit for something I've known about myself for years?

And I'm that charlatan he's talking about in the final paragraph. It's true. And I take lots of fanciful pictures of myself and think I'm God's gift to everything.
posted by Mach3avelli at 2:04 PM on February 28, 2004

I also felt a lot of it applied to me, and also felt it very likely that most people would feel a lot of it applied to them. As above, who doesn't think their life has some special meaning, etc? The feeling left brained around right brained people and vice-versa is something I definitely relate to, though. And the non-specialization element... (I'm an eternal dilletante)

On the other hand, he says this 'type' aren't philosophers or academics, and that's kind of the direction I'm headed. To be fair, though, I have had a huge amount of trepidation of going the "professional" route in an area that I think of as more of a personal obsession for all reflective humans, one that shouldn't be caught in specialist lingo. Oh yeah, the section on catching on to expert areas pretty quickly and explaining them in more lay-person style is something that also rang true for me.

So. I guess we have to wait for some posts from people who don't feel this description fit them at all, for the rest of us to feel validated in seeing a connection to our own personalities...
posted by mdn at 2:09 PM on February 28, 2004

Oh goodie. An excuse to talk about myself - my favorite topic! Is that an "XD38" thing ?

I had to do a quickie on the Forer effect and...... well, first of all, I don't think that I would have felt that Forer's stock "evaluation" (which everyone Forer gave to thought applied to them personally ) applied especially well to my personality though - of course - I knew the punchline in advance. But most of it was too vague, while some of it was way off the mark.

I do see a fair amount of "Forer Effect" characterization in the "XD38" description, but that doesn't, to me, invalidate the typology. I think the description needs some hard-headed editing. Supplemental research and material would lend this credence too. The broad spectrum, high aptitude personality is far from unknown in human history - Odysseus and the Greek ideal.....Leonardo.....Ben Franklin....( I need to add some women to this list ) there are many, many such examples. These types are certainly real.

As much as I hate to take on a label which makes me sound like a stereo component or the Pentagon's newest spy plane - the "XD38" description was generally so precise that it made me cringe, except....

3 points of the core description don't apply well to me at all, but I don't think they are essential. In fact, I think that they are dross and that the author needs a good editor. I probably do too - "reduce! reduce! ~ minimize!" - the AntiGoatse mantra. Anyway -

1) "Deep-seated confidence that one's own life has a meaning--often never mentioned to anyone for fear of sounding crazy or elitist". Ummm, my life has meaning, sure. And that holds for all beings. But I wouldn't assert that my life has special meaning, although my life IS special - to me.
2) "A lifelong hunger for something real; an appetite for underlying reality, taken straight and undiluted" - What's real? Are we talkin' mystical goals? - a sweaty, muscled, bodice-ripping lust for life's primal experiences? - an empirical assessment ? This seems vague to me, and many hunger for something "real" (however they define the "real")
3) "Almost always: Web-page contains their poetry and a striking, somewhat unusual picture of them, generally displayed with pride." - Well, no. But this characterization seems to me to be dross. Again : editor, please!! - I'm "protean, androgynous, and neotenous" . Well, it's kinda true, although I could reword that as "ill defined, ambivalent, and immature" (or something like that) Anyway......

Are XD38's types ? Or is the "type" merely the consequence - in terms of personality development - of too many aptitudes ?

There is much surrounding such types which the author leaves unexplored. For example - It would be reasonable to assume that the coupling of such broad range of aptitude with a certain level of intelligence would lead to an ability to detect meta-patterns. Trends, for example. Indeed, as one of these types, I do discern large scale patterns, developments, and trends far in advance of mass public recognition of these. And I have lots of ready answers to the world's problems as well. Big deal. It drives me crazy. I don't know if I am a typical XD38'er or not, but my intense interest in everything - and my restlessness - undermines my ability to secure a pulpit from which to project my opinions.

In my case, I can discount the Forer effect out of hand because I base my judgement of my own aptitudes on different criteria - some relatively objective (at least as objective as tests are) or results based (so - ummm, how does that "rebuilt" motor run anyway? ), and some by way of feedback from others ; when I learn a new skill and display it in public, I keep a sharp ear tuned for feedback - especially because I don't want to make others suffer. But I tend not to get much negative feedback, and when too much feedback ( "You're really good"...."Brilliant"...."How did you learn to do that?" (I taught myself) "Did you go to school for that", or from someone who knows me -"I don't understand why you didn't/don't go to school for that", or - "Do you do that for a living" ) piles up, I have to deduce a strong talent, one of - apparently - many. I have an absurd amount of least in a purely technical sense.

But there is an emotional aspect, or downside, to this : I do not have the "aptitude" (or whatever) to focus on any one skill, though writing for me is coming close at this point in my life. Aptitudes unrealized, unexpressed, or simply expressed in private are neither especially rewarding or helpful to the world at large and - in the end - a profusion of aptitude, of potential, is largely meaningless as such. It must be brought into the world and - even though I even have some savant-like aptitudes, even these are not fully formed. For example, I can improvise with considerable talent on the piano in at least two different keys. Give me another year - I'll master another few and - eventually - they'll interlock and I'll have the entire range. But maybe not ; I never spend long enough on playing, before moving along to some other interest, to make major breakthroughs (or to really sear them into my memory) or to dramatically expand my range or vocabulary - so I only have a limited number of thematic grooves at my disposal. But - nonetheless - I can walk into many public spaces and appropriate an available piano....and sound original and quite impressive, at least for an hour or so. Then I start to repeat themes and betray my limitations. For more than that - well, as with any skill, despite initial talent, hard work is nonetheless required to achieve mastery. "XD38" or not.

So I'm a bargain bin Leonardo, a Leonardo fruit slightly bruised and due to expire in two or three decades ( "warning : aptitudes must be consumed by product expiration "x" date." )

And so what? - Many aptitudes? Big deal. I haven't done any Sistine Chapels - merely a few scratchings and gestures here, a flurry of notes and rhythms there, a bit of paint, a sketch, a pile of words.....a jig....a sermon, a jeremiad, a prayer.....

But my visions... those, I keep mostly to myself.
posted by troutfishing at 3:18 PM on February 28, 2004

I always thought of myself as a sort of overloaded swiss army knife of a human - with an awful lot of disparate blades amid gadgets : so many so, in fact, that the damn thing is kind of clunky to use.

As one of these personality types (I'll invent my own name for it, thank you very much), I find that I have a Zelig like ability to breeze into most fields (which do not require years of specific technical training, such as research science) and quickly grasp the essential. So far, so good. But this is by the same token a curse - because it generates resentment among those who have done all the "homework", and because homework is, in any case, best not summarily bypassed. There is a good reason for it.

My father took an aptitude test once, in his late 30's or 40's, after leaving his first career. His career counselor counselor told him that, due to his uniformly high (across the board, really) career aptitude scores, he could do almost anything he set his mind to, but warned my father that he just needed to arbitrarily pick a career and stick with it or else - given that he was interested in almost everything, he was likely to become a bum.

Beyond a certain degree, intelligence - especially broad spectrum intelligence - becomes a curse and a dysfunction. In other words there are probably "sweet spots" both in human intelligence levels and aptitude ranges.

Those "blessed" by few aptitudes are given the gift of certainty and of focus. There is rarely a question. Too many aptitudes.... this condition could, perhaps, be expressed by the formulation that this is to be aware of everything that humans can be aware of (in relative terms) but all at once. As such, it is a cognitive and sensory overload.

And it is better to express ideas - however brilliant - within those approved contexts which lend institutional credibility. The world is full of cranks ( many of them XD38's, even ) and it would be very hard for most to parse the truly brilliant from the truly cranky without the aid of the institutional imprimatur and the approved podiums afforded by success within the 'professions'. There is much that is valid in these orthodoxies - but many "XD38' ers attempt - to their detriment - to operate apart from institutional frameworks.

Further, the formulation of solutions, at an analytic level, does not translate into their implementation. The solutions must be broadcast widely and - even so - the diffusion of new concepts within human cultures is, now even despite the internet, painfully slow. In the earlier preindustrial and pre-Gutenburg era, the diffusion of inventions (even highly useful ones ) typically took around one thousand years ( I heard this on good authority but will have verify that figure ) to diffuse and be fully implemented around the Globe. This happens much more quickly - almost instantly sometimes - now in some types of cases. But in others...... Take our biosphere. It has been known for probably 100 years now that plants emit oxygen and take up carbon, and a general appreciation of the larger pathways by which oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and various other elements are cycled around the Earth by plants and animals came soon after that. It now even generally agreed - Gaia Theory aside - that life is fundamentally intertwined with terran processes of weather, erosion, terraforming of a sort, the maintenance of the atmosphere....

But - outside of some fields within the hard sciences - aware of these fundamentals is scarce, even among soe scientists and certainly among the wider, non-scientist public.

Guess what : we live in a bounded, finite system which has certain - mostly unknown - boundary parameters which delineate it's resistance to stressors. Too much stress, and WHAM....systemic change. Further, everything in the system is actually interconnected. This fact is not merely a new age talking point. It is a demonstrable scientific fact.

These concepts, also, can be expressed more simply than I have done here. But how long before they diffuse widely enough....

Oh, I'm getting distracted. It's an XD38 thing.
posted by troutfishing at 3:25 PM on February 28, 2004

given that he was interested in almost everything, he was likely to become a bum.

*slaps forehead*

posted by jonmc at 3:35 PM on February 28, 2004

I don't think that I would have felt that Forer's stock "evaluation" (which everyone Forer gave to thought applied to them personally ) applied especially well to my personality though - of course - I knew the punchline in advance. But most of it was too vague, while some of it was way off the mark.

Of course you doubt it; you have hindsight bias. "In a host of experiments, psychologists describe some event (say, an election among Kerry, Edwards, and Howard Dean)—the outcome of which is unknown to the participants—and reveal the correct outcome (Kerry wins) to half the group. The participants are then asked to estimate the probability of various outcomes, and the informed group is specifically told to ignore the information they have received: that is, "What would you have guessed had you not known Kerry would win?" With incredible consistency, however, the informed people convince themselves that that's what they would have guessed anyway—that they knew it all along."
posted by gd779 at 3:43 PM on February 28, 2004

gd779 - I know about hindsight bias. But this experiment is not falsifiable.
posted by troutfishing at 3:47 PM on February 28, 2004

XD38s are a majorly interesting bunch of people

And so well spoken!

Sorry. But shouldn't a website for "technically literate & artistically creative people" be a little more, um, technically and artistically accomplished? And if you're going to try and label a group largely defined by their transcendance of labels, does it really have to sound like a pulp sci-fi spaceship?

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for polymaths. I'm all for cross-pollenating CP Snow's "Two Cultures". I'm even all for self-congratulatory mutual navel-gazing and hand-wringing about being misunderstood. I'm all for doing these things, not waxing bullet-point euphoric about them.

And while I'm at it, there's a real danger in over-emphasizing breadth at the expense of depth. I love exploring a wide variety of subjects and endeavors, but if you never pick a few to focus on, you don't really understand any of them, nor fully appreciate their interactions.
posted by freebird at 6:03 PM on February 28, 2004

I think that's called being a "Jack of all trades...Master of none!
posted by SweetIceT at 6:23 PM on February 28, 2004

[echoing catfood]
It does read like a horoscope though... The question to ask is: how many humans wouldn't see some part of themselves in that description? And how quick would they then be to discard the points that don't match up to their personality?
posted by talos at 6:48 PM on February 28, 2004

I've always considered myself more of a WD40 kinda guy.
posted by eatitlive at 7:48 PM on February 28, 2004

SweetIceT - Yup. So true, except : what of cross disciplinary mastery? This - in itself - is it's own type of mastery.

Journalists practice this, sure, and writers too.

talos - very few : all want to be cross disciplinary and multifaceted. But close to none of those who wish to be that realize the implications.

Also - this is close to the Greek arete : "The human qualities that engender excellence in the processes of art and science are, on the other hand, independent of history and they are, at least for human purposes, timeless, and a person manifesting such excellence possesses what the ancient Greeks termed arete.

The Greek concept of arete, which has so profoundly influenced paidiea, the concept of liberal education, means more than mere excellence. It refers to excellence that emerges from an heroic effort that fully integrates all the levels of consciousness within a person, and involves the maximal possible manifestation of one's special talents--self-actualization."

posted by troutfishing at 9:07 PM on February 28, 2004

as a former english major now working with and studying computers, i'll cop to identifying with parts of it.
don't see how it constitutes a valuable distinction to make though.
not any more so than the myers-briggs types at any rate.
posted by juv3nal at 9:16 PM on February 28, 2004

Well, it sure sounds like me, though I have no math ability, and there are various other quibbles.

But it also sounds like an Enneagram type 7 -- which I definitely am.

Others have trod this ground, in other words.
posted by digaman at 9:32 PM on February 28, 2004

what of cross disciplinary mastery? This - in itself - is it's own type of mastery

Yup, and I've used that argument to make myself feel better quite a lot. But I'm not sure that type of mastery can produce anything without a 'base' of deeper knowledge to avoid just being a dilettante with wide interests. There's understanding that only comes with really digging into something, no matter what it is.

I'd argue that journalists, while often working in a very interdisciplinary manner, still have a specialized expertise as well, relating to writing and researching and such. And while I'm stoked to hear mention of arete, remember that it was also often related to being really good at something too - battle or athletics usually, I think.

I'm trying to think of examples. One interesting motif I've noticed is that there's a LOT more science types who are very well-versed in the humanities/art than the converse. But I can't think of any examples of people who achieved great cross-hybridizations without first delving deeply into a particular area...any nominations?
posted by freebird at 11:00 PM on February 28, 2004

I'm not just a Nexus personality, but a Sexus and Plexus one, too. And don't you forget it, matey.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:10 PM on February 28, 2004

freebird - well, it can produce a lot of original ideas and observations, simply from the mental juxtaposition and recombining of disparate (often unexpected) elements, in cases where hitherto unnoticed connections are detected.

And an awful lot of scientific innovations and breakthroughs - perhaps more these days, but I'm not certain of that - are generated by generalists and outsiders ( per Kuhn ) in their fields. "Chaos Theory", for example. Further, there are quite a number of cross disciplinary scientific fields which have risen to prominence in the past few decades. As Kuhn noted, the specialties nibble away at bite-size problems, but true conceptual breakthroughs tend to involve synthesis of materials, concepts, and techniques from several or more different fields.

Further, there do exist - really - "specialties of non-specializing" which amount to professions that seek to understand whole systems.

As for journalists - well, they have their own specialized skills, yes. But as I noted above, a familiarity with a wide range of material is far from useless, "dilettante" accusations notwithstanding.
posted by troutfishing at 11:47 PM on February 28, 2004

Beyond a certain degree, intelligence - especially broad spectrum intelligence - becomes a curse and a dysfunction. In other words there are probably "sweet spots" both in human intelligence levels and aptitude ranges.

Those "blessed" by few aptitudes are given the gift of certainty and of focus. There is rarely a question. Too many aptitudes.... this condition could, perhaps, be expressed by the formulation that this is to be aware of everything that humans can be aware of (in relative terms) but all at once. As such, it is a cognitive and sensory overload.

Well, no. That may be your experience, but it is not mine.

*pauses, preens*

Unless you're talking specifically of someone with high intelligence, broad areas of aptitude, and a pre-existing if possibly mild psychological disability of some sort, I'd say you generalize too much here.

Which is kinda funny, given the topic.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:55 PM on February 28, 2004

Almost always: Web-page contains their poetry and a striking, somewhat unusual picture of them, generally displayed with pride.

I'm sorry, but I'm giggling now...
posted by taz at 2:06 AM on February 29, 2004

I felt the author was close to something here, without quite hitting the mark. Add me to the group that identifies with this.
I've got a degree in architecture, additional education in industrial design, and I have been working the last 10 years making software. I scored 99th percentile on both math and verbal on just about every standardized test I've taken. I'm borderline on the Meyers-Briggs for both E/I and P/J. I've had 3 careers in the last 14 years (architectural apprentice, multimedia designer, software architect) I can't ever seem to enjoy what I am doing because I am always aware of what I am passing up. The bit about alcohol was quite on target - I know I can easily get into trouble, but I have never slipped over the edge. I recently gave it up for a couple of months because I thought I was starting to lose the battle. I have a wife and child, and I have always provided for them well, but somehow I never feel that I am acting my age.
Like stavrosthewonderchicken, though, I wonder if this is about a personality type, or about a possibly mild mental illness, combined with a decent IQ and curious nature.
posted by bashos_frog at 3:20 AM on February 29, 2004

this has got to be the most self-indulgent thread since Miguel's last post.
posted by crunchland at 5:38 AM on February 29, 2004

See also : snakehandling lesbian mormon test-pilots!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:12 AM on February 29, 2004

andrew cooke:

I was also a technical writer for fifteen years. Now I work telephone tech support for DSL. It's more enjoyable work, actually, but the working conditions and the miserable pay sure make me wish I could get those chains thrown back on me. (I didn't choose to remove them, damn betcha.)

And yes, I would like some cheese to go with that whine, thankyouverymuch. :o)
posted by alumshubby at 7:08 AM on February 29, 2004

hmm. your isp just rejected my olive branch, alumshubby [because i send email from my own machine,on a cable modem, without a "fixed" address].
posted by andrew cooke at 8:57 AM on February 29, 2004

Stavros - Relax, y'all. I was speculatin' - don't pay it no mind. Last night, y'all see, I was aaall worked up. Happens now and again. God saw fit to bestow upon me a mercurial nature and so, y'see, that there was my neo aussberger's talkin'. Runs in the family. Tell 'ya a little story - back there in fin de siecle Vienna, th'fine doctor Aussberger labelled those kids'a his the "little professors" - obnoxious brats, these kids. Y'know they could go on and on and on about a topic, jus' like a professor in a lecture hall. And they were real, real, good, y'all see, as a group, but irritatin' as hell. 'Cause they were very, very smart, in an abstrsact sort a fashion - but they also had this here social deficit. 'Lot a th'time they just didn't get it - so take pity on the fools, and look at it like this : they were compensatin'. 'Course, who on God's good Earth wants to hang around with a know it all ? That's th' problem. Y'all have a nice day now, y'hear?

I always kinda wished I grew up in the South.....not really sure why though
posted by troutfishing at 10:13 AM on February 29, 2004

The obvious question is: do these traits not describe everyone (they are SO me)? Thanks for the link I'm signing up.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:43 AM on February 29, 2004

Everyone's an XD38.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:05 AM on February 29, 2004

(But I'm gonna be an indigo child. XD38 is just too common.)
posted by five fresh fish at 11:07 AM on February 29, 2004

do these traits not describe everyone

they do. what divides us - deeply, apparently - is the need to join a bloody group just because we're lucky enough to be both moderately intelligent and sufficiently wealthy to have the free time for indulge ourselves in hobbies.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:07 AM on February 29, 2004

I think those traits describe a ton of Mefites-in the real world, not so much. That's one reason I posted it.
posted by konolia at 11:34 AM on February 29, 2004

I am also going to go with the "describes many mefites" but not so many people in the real world.

I mean Mefi is an XD38's wet dream. A never-ending stream of wide topics to digest, think, and study about as shallow or as deep as you want, which is also the allure of the internet for XD38's.

But I have real life friends who would read this personality type and go, huh? Thats not me. These people are the same people who do not own computers or find the internet an interesting place. There are tons of sporty people I know who wouldn't think this described them either.
posted by jopreacher at 12:49 PM on February 29, 2004

People who do not own computers? You're kidding me!

I suppose you think there's a tooth fairy, too!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:29 PM on February 29, 2004

"I'm a female mechanical engineer who also went to photography school but makes a living managing IT projects."

I'm not picking on you Red, I'm just saying. Real intellectual diversity ranges farther. For instance: Bio-Chemical Engineer, Professional wrestler, Quilting Champion, and Endurance Rider... or Fly fisher, portrait painter, video game connoisseur, gymnast, war veteran.

Everybody wants to be different. More or less, everyone is the same. Generally, the weirdos know who they are from long experience, and there really aren't any groups of them. That's why they're weirdos.

"Nothing arouses suspicion quicker than genuine, all-round proficiency."
-- Francis Crawford of Lymond
posted by ewkpates at 8:10 AM on March 1, 2004

ack - this kinda reminds me of people I knew in college who suddenly discovered religion via the Celestine Prophecy.
posted by badstone at 10:24 AM on March 1, 2004

I haven't studied the "XD38" group at all....I doubt I'd participate much. I'm just very interested to learn how the genuine XD38'ers (I hate that name) manage their profile/affliction.

"Everybody wants to be different. More or less, everyone is the same." - Well, we're all homo sapiens and can all interbreed. We're all bilaterally symmetrical (save for genetic defects and maiming), we all have two eyes. We're all mortal and all have the same basic biological needs and get my drift. But there are considerable differences in human psychological makeup and inclination as well as in cognitive and physical capabilities.

Hence, the Bell Curve. Now I've worked a bit with retarded adults. They are not especially different from everyone else save for reduced cognitive ability. Between the extremes of the distribution curve, does - at any point - difference in degree become a difference in kind ? Well, not to a hypothetical alien. The unusually intelligent may feel fundamentally different... are they? Well, of course - yes, and no.

Everyone wants to be different - and everyone is. But - yes - most want a colorful and diverse life resume a mile long. Wild animal trainer! Demolitions Expert! Astronaut! Brilliant Artist! Philosopher! Mystic! Business tycoon! Acrobat! Sexiest human on Earth! US President! Everyone's buddy!

Leonardo Da Vinci is perhaps the most famous exemplar of this "XD38" type - few know that he was known for a time as the strongest man in Florence ( also, he was a vegetarian ) and once won Florence's yearly Aria-singing contest. He invented machinery, painted, drew, drafted......

Humans with a broad spectrum of high aptitudes and talents do exist. I don't think the personality type is necessarily as dysfunctional as the XD38 term originator suggests - this, I suspect, varies throughout different cultures and throughout history.

I suspect that XD38'ers are successfully adaptive as often, at least, as maladaptive. Indeed, many become known for one skill but their life stories, if written up by biographers, reveal a wide array of talents. Of course, most people have an array of talents. The XD38'ers - according to the definition - merely have a wider and more singular assortment of aptitudes.

But I am suspicious of a flocking together of self professed XD38'ers, for the crankiness quotient. The successfully adaptive individuals of this type do not need such self-validation, and I feel that it far too easy to assume a false mantle of distinction by mouthing the words......

"I am an XD38 !" - Well, if so, so what? Human potential - especially in the developing world - is routinely sacrificed, to be thrown in the boneyard of history. And all humans have unrealized abilities. But many in life - simply through pluck and determination - turn a weak hand of ability into startling success. As Woody Allen said (to quote loosely ) 50% of life is showing up. Many XD38'ers with astounding potential will amount to little.
posted by troutfishing at 1:02 PM on March 1, 2004

More ack - This guy is so freaking narcissistic and arrogant about his renaissance-iness that he's actually asked his parents to pay his rent rather than suffer through a job where his mad DaVinci skillz aren't recognized. I mean, he actually considers an important point to be explicitly and thoughtfully made that:

being good at X does not take away the need to meet minimum standards in Y where Y is things like keeping your word to the extent possible.
posted by badstone at 3:50 PM on March 1, 2004

Many XD38'ers with astounding potential will amount to little.

And ain't that the sum of it.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:37 PM on March 1, 2004

I, for one, welcome our new XD38 overlords.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:52 PM on March 1, 2004

What about our robot monkey overlords? Or our uber genius parrot overlords? It is a sign of the degeneration of our youth that overlords don't command the respect they once used to.
posted by ewkpates at 5:07 AM on March 2, 2004

"being good at X does not take away the need to meet minimum standards in Y where Y is things like keeping your word to the extent possible." Badstone, he's flexing his uncommonly high aptitudes in algebraic equations and logic.

*I erect a magnifient shrine to my awesome talents because - in the end - it's all about me*
posted by troutfishing at 6:48 AM on March 2, 2004

The homebound, parent supported author of the "XD38" website should be able to flex his analytic skills and devise a system which manages his distractability and - having done this - contrive a home based business of some sort which earn enough money to enable him to leave the parental fold.

XD38's are notably inventive, adaptable and self reliant, right? Like Ben Franklin?...
posted by troutfishing at 6:53 AM on March 2, 2004

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