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Ron Colone: Matters of fact and personality type

Ron Colone: Matters of fact and personality type

From the What you need to know for Wednesday, September 23 series
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There’s a place “out in the country,” with farms and ranches and crops and animals — where the houses and fences and barns and buildings blend into the scenery to highlight the natural beauty of the hills and trees and fields and sky.

Imagine someone moving in and immediately constructing a big, bold, brightly-colored wall all around the perimeter of their large plot of land. When it’s finished, the new owner steps back to admire it, and says, “Isn’t it beautiful?” while the neighbor says, “Isn’t it ghastly?”

It happens all the time: People have differences of opinion about what looks good. We accept that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” when it comes to fashion and design, and art and music — provided we don’t think it reflects on us personally. But when it comes to politics, government, the president, or a vision for the country, forget about it.

Suddenly, it’s cut and dried, black and white, wrong and right, good, bad and ugly, with no ifs, ands or buts. Granted, that’s a generalization, but I think we sometimes forget that we don’t all have the same idea of what is good and beautiful.

In a recent study at the universities of California, Illinois and Buffalo, psychologists concluded that the goals we set for ourselves, and the views we hold pertaining to family, career, society, politics and religion are related to basic personality types and core impulses.

For example, a person who is driven by a strong sense of responsibility may think that the most important thing a parent can do is provide financially for their family, and therefore, that person works seven days a week, plus overtime, to make the money. A person with a more emotional predisposition may feel the most important thing for a parent is to be there for their kids, in person, at every school play, every baseball game, every dance recital, etc.

Not that they are mutually exclusive, but these are two different portraits of what a “good” parent looks like.

Maybe the core impulses that relate to personality “types” can help explain our divergent visions for America the Beautiful.

There has probably never been a time in the 12.5 billion-year history of this planet where we have not had ongoing natural disasters, so to think that our time is different and that we are suddenly witnessing divine intervention seems...

In expressing support or opposition for candidates, parties, platforms and how the government is doing its job, we often make mention of the Constitution, which has at its core and in its first paragraph, a desire to "form a more perfect union,” or in other words, to make the country better.

The problem is, we have different ideas of what’s better.

Some people think “the way things used to be” is better, or that it’s better not to give credence to or “normalize” the “weirdos” on the fringe. Some think it’s better for everyone to be treated equally under the law, and when we see instances of injustice, to speak out. Others think it’s better to not make waves, to not question authority, or, to love it or leave it.

According to researchers, these are subjective views based on our personality types.

"One such lesson that I have had to re-learn many times over, and which I thought I had a handle on until it reared its head again earlier this week, involves the relationship between mountains and molehills..."

While acknowledging that there are subjective differences, it’s important to note, too, that there are objective truths. For example, the western United States is on fire; that’s an objective truth. Also true, objectively, is that 6 million acres have burned, and that most of the fires were caused by humans, doing things like cutting the grass, letting a chain drag from the back of the truck, or setting off a pyrotechnic device at a gender-reveal party.

As for why the fires spread so fast and so far, well now, here’s where we start getting into subjective interpretations and explanations. Same thing with the virus, or the Post Office, or election interference, or so many things that have been said and written.

Beauty may be in the eye, but what if the truth is right in front of our noses? We owe it to ourselves to try and ascertain which are matters of fact and which are matters of taste and personality.

Coming out against environmental protections exposes you as someone who, at the core, is more concerned with money than with the health and welfare of people, animals and the natural world.

We have learned, and are learning, that certain words are hurtful to specific genders, sexual orientations or races, and so we are being asked to consider our word choices.

Ron Colone can be reached at


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