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Free College (online)

At the moment, the in-person college experience is superior to taking classes online. Today, online teaching is mostly simple videos of people talking and pointing at things. But that advantage of in-person college over online classes won’t last forever. The in-person experience will stay largely as it is, but online lessons will evolve indefinitely toward better techniques, more content, and more scientifically-proven methods. Best practices will propagate quickly online.

Only three things are missing to make this vision of universal free online college a reality:

1. You need an open online platform on which anyone can post a lesson plan, and anyone else can use it or improve it.

2. You need a law that says copyrights are suspended for the online education platform (only), so anyone can copy and improve the work that came before.

3. You need some form of accreditation.

The government can take care of the copyright and accreditation issues if it chooses to do so. And my startup accidentally built an online education platform that you can use today. We didn’t build it for that purpose, but it does the job. People are already creating and sharing class lessons on it.

We don’t yet have a feature for voting on the best class lessons, but that’s coming at some point.

Some of my regular readers know that in 2012 I blogged about trying to “sell an idea” that would change the world. This was the idea. We didn’t build our startup to do this function. It happened by accident when we built a platform that can do literally thousands of things that involve creating and sharing content in a time-ordered way. Creating class lessons just happened to be one of the things it does. I didn’t even realize it until it was up and running.

Whenhub might not become the ultimate online education platform. But it does a good job of showing the potential. I mocked up an example Whencast below to show how easy it is to create a lesson plan and share it. Just go to Whenhub.com, sign up for free, clone this template, and add your own content.

Notice that I used artificial dates just to keep the lessons in order. And I added to the first lesson a photo, video, text, and a link, just as examples. 

If the country wants free college for everyone, this is the disruptive path it will probably have to take. In ten years, I can’t imagine a scenario in which physical colleges are still competitive with online options, on price or performance.

A physical college is largely limited to using the professors it has. But an online system such as Whenhub can improve forever. It isn’t even a fair contest in the long run.

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Dopamine Puppets

Note: Twitter is hiding my tweets about politics from my followers, so I use the code word “kittens” in those tweets to beat their censorship bot.

Here’s a funny article by David Wong of Cracked that talks about the dopamine high we sometimes get from outrage. The gist of it is that the brain gets some sort of chemical payoff from outrage, and we seek it when we’re otherwise bored with life. Politics serves up lots of outrage opportunities. That’s why we are drawn to it – for the high.

We rationalize that we are fighting the good fight and making the world better. But mostly it just feels good to get worked up about issues and share the experience with like-minded dopamine addicts.

The Dopamine Puppet idea is compatible with what I call the Persuasion Filter. This view on life says we do things for chemical rewards and we rationalize those choices after the fact as being totally reasonable. Our sense of reason is an illusion when it comes to most of our actions. 

We do use reason to narrow our options. For example, you don’t try to marry a dead person, and you don’t try to get a job with a company that no longer exists. But our final decisions are generally based on some sort of feeling, not logic. 

If what I describe is an accurate view of the world, one way to reduce all the protests and outrage is to provide alternative sources of dopamine. I have in the past referred to this as my Pleasure Unit concept. The idea is that humans need a minimum level of pleasure in life, and we will do almost anything to get it. If we don’t have socially-acceptable sources of pleasure, we can easily turn to crime, risky behavior, drugs, or anything else that can give us a buzz. We might even go so far as to hallucinate that Hitler became President of the United States just so we can be outraged about it.

This filter on life suggests that the best way to bring the country together is to provide alternative sources of dopamine. Honest debate never changes anything. Facts never change anything. Reason has left the building. If we want unity, it will require new sources of dopamine to replace the outrage-induced kind.

When I was younger and dumber I thought I could transform unhappy people into happy people by giving them whatever they wanted, or fixing whatever they thought was broken. This approach worked approximately zero times. Once a dopamine addict’s alleged problem is fixed, the addict still needs the next high. So they magnify small problems into big ones just to feel something. Or they create a problem where there was none. 

If you want unity in the country, don’t think in terms of facts and policies and honest debate on the topics. That stuff never got anyone high. What you need is new sources of dopamine so people are less attracted to outrage.

If my hypothesis is correct, I predict that you will see less passion in the protests over the summer because the dopamine addicts will be enjoying the warm weather pleasures of sunlight, greater activity, tanned bodies, and probably more sex. Those pleasures will partially replace their winter outrage. 

If my dopamine-replacement idea has merit, the people who exercise several times a week would have less political outrage than those who do not. The fitness addicts are getting their dopamine high from another source. They don’t need outrage.

Do you remember all of those muscular anti-Trump protesters who came straight from the gym?

Neither do I.

But that could be confirmation bias on my part.

Are you an event producer or coordinator? You might be curious about WhenHub because it is the best way to communicate schedules to crew, talent, and attendees. And the WhenHub app is a great way to locate the talent and the crew during the event. Never lose your keynote speaker again.

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President Trump’s Speech Last Night

I didn’t see President Trump’s entire speech last night. I’m catching up this morning. Looks to me as if it was a base-clearing home run. Even Democrats are having trouble criticizing it. Surveys are positive. Stock market is up. CNN’s most credible anti-Trumper, Van Jones, said Trump was presidential, in a good way. Don Lemon got triggered into cognitive dissonance, hypothesizing that Trump’s presidential words don’t match his off-stage personality. In other words, it was a speech.

Trump pulled a Khan maneuver. You remember when Clinton invited the Khan family to talk about their fallen hero son while criticizing Trump. Trump fell for that trap by responding to it, which allowed his critics to frame him as disrespectful to a Gold Star family.

Last night, President Trump returned the favor. He wrapped part of his message around honoring a fallen hero. You can’t criticize any part of that without seeming disrespectful. And persuasion-wise, saying Ryan Owen’s memory is “etched into eternity” is one of the great presidential lines of all time. Simple and perfect. And thanks to President Trump’s speech, Ryan Owen’s name is in fact etched into eternity. The President predicted it, then he literally made it happen, right in front of us, without taking the focus off of Ryan. That’s as good as it gets.

Trump did a High Ground Maneuver by referring to many of the criticisms of his administration as “trivial.” Now the people who keep making such criticisms are defining themselves to be in the unimportant part of the conversation. That is super-strong persuasion that I think most people missed. It’s a trap. Wait for more “trivial” criticisms, with the President’s supporters calling them out as they happen. It will make the critics look small and unimportant.

Trump apparently opened his speech (I missed that part) by speaking out against some recent hate crimes in the United States. By putting that topic first, he made it a top priority, if only in our minds. That was the not-Hitler moment the world was hoping to see. I told you in prior posts and tweets that by this summer Trump would move the national consciousness from the illusion that he is Hitler to the opinion that his administration is not competent. By the end of the year, the critics will be saying some version of this: “Okay, he gets a lot done, and he isn’t Hitler, but we still don’t like it.” That story arc looks as if it accelerated last night, but I expect lots more Hitler talk before summer. Last night was big for the President, but only a first step toward improving his brand.

Other fresh news tells us the Trump Administration is going to work more closely with black colleges to help them succeed. That isn’t quite the plan I blogged about, in which the country moves toward free college for all and puts African-Americans in the first wave because you get the most bang for the buck by helping first the communities that need it most. This was good pre-suasion from Trump ahead of the speech because it put observers in a non-Hitler frame of mind.

Persuasion-wise, if your opponents are hitting you with the professionally-engineered pre-suasion of “dark” as the label for everything you say, the best response is to do something positive for African-Americans. Then let your critics call your plans “dark.” How’s that sound to your ear? 

if Trump maintains a constructive engagement with the black community, and continues to talk about unity, while his critics call him “dark,” who wins the persuasion? Trump’s critics might accidentally turn him into the third black president. (Counting Bill Clinton as first.) That’s obviously a big stretch, but you didn’t think he would get elected president either. Four years is a lot of time for a Master Persuader.

You might love the WhenHub app because it’s the best way for a small group of friends or coworkers to geostream their swarming to a meet-up. You can tap a person’s photo icon on the map and send a text or place call. Know where everyone is on their approach and how long you have to wait. Tracking is optional for every person and automatically ends soon after you all arrive. 

See more here.

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Nothing to See Here, Folks

I recently tweeted a link to my blog post that is unflattering to the proponents of climate science. I have 138,000 Twitter followers. My traffic from Twitter to my blog in a recent minute was only 14 people, while overall traffic from other sources was its usual robust self. For non-controversial topics, my Twitter-driven traffic for a tweet to my blog would be 200-300 per minute in the half-hour after a tweet. On this topic, it hovered between 10-14.

As many others have documented, Twitter throttles back the tweets of people who hold political views they don’t like.

Most of you have freedom of speech. I have it too, in a Constitutional sense. But in terms of social media – the dominant form of political communication in our culture – I have about 5-10% as much freedom of speech as other people.

In my case, that’s all I need.

It just takes longer.

And I do like a challenge.

That’s why I am building my own podcasting studio in my home. I’ll be spreading my creative content across multiple platforms to try and claw-back my freedom of speech. 

For my new YouTube livestreaming and playbacks, see the link in my Twitter bio which is this: bit.ly/2lYiCRo

I’m also doing livestreaming on Periscope at @ScottAdamsSays. And I’ll be doing more live content on Facebook soon as well.

The live-streaming video stuff is all beta-quality production values as I work through the learning curve. I’m doing most of the research and tech myself as part of building my talent stack. (Plus, it’s crazy fun.)

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Update: My Twitter traffic just dropped from 14 to 4. 

Also, blah, blah WhenHub because.

#Whenhub #podcast #shadowban

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Tucker Carlson Induces Cognitive Dissonance in Bill Nye the Science Guy over Climate Change

Here is the best (and weirdest) example of cognitive dissonance you will ever see. The set-up is that Bill Nye, an engineer by training, and a proponent of science, is defending climate science on Tucker’s show. 

The first weird thing is that Bill Nye starts by talking about cognitive dissonance being the only reason that anyone would be skeptical of global warming. But he seems to not understand the concept of cognitive dissonance because he believes only the other side could be experiencing it. The nature of cognitive dissonance is that you don’t know you’re in it when you’re in it. It is only obvious to observers. If Nye had been objective, he would have noted two equal possibilities: Either the skeptics are experiencing cognitive dissonance or the proponents of climate science are experiencing it. But whoever is in it can’t know. It is only obvious to the other side. That’s how it works.

Yes, I do the same thing all the time. I call out my critics for being in cognitive dissonance and act as if the problem couldn’t be on my end. But in my case, the context is usually that I’m teaching you how to spot it. And I also talk about the specific triggers and “tells” so you can check my work. This video has a clear trigger and an enormous tell. Best example you will ever see. 

The set-up for the trigger is that Nye’s self-image is that of a rational supporter of science with a command of the facts about climate science. He has made a career recently of defending science, and climate science in particular. Nye’s ego depends on being consistent with his pro-science, rational stance. That’s who he is.

Tucker then asked Nye a simple question about climate science. He asked how much of the warming is caused by human activity. Nye’s entire ego depended on knowing whether human activity is contributing to climate change in a big way, a medium way, or a small way. Tucker wanted some details. How much difference do humans make? After all, Nye had said this was settled science. Tucker just wanted to know what that settled science said.

Nye didn’t know. And by not knowing that simple answer about the percentage of human contribution to warming – the only issue that really mattered to the topic – he proved in public that his opinions on science are not based on facts or knowledge. Nye tried and tried to dodge the question, but Tucker was relentless. That was the trigger. Nye could plainly see, thanks to Tucker’s simple question, that his belief in science was just a belief, because he didn’t actually know the science. When your self-image and ego get annihilated on live television, you can’t simply admit you have been ridiculous all along. Your brain can’t let you do that to yourself. So instead, it concocts weird hallucinations to force-glue your observations into some sort of semi-coherent movie in which you are not totally and thoroughly wrong. That semi-coherent movie will look like a form of insanity to observers.

Look for Nye to go totally mental in the last minute of the clip, changing the topic to political leaks for no apparent reason. That’s your tell. His brain just sort of broke right in front of you.

People do and say dumb things all the time, and it isn’t always cognitive dissonance. That’s why you look for the trigger to make sure the “tell” was what you thought it was. 

To be fair, spotting cognitive dissonance is more like bird-watching than science. Sometimes you misidentify a bird. But this example is like an ostrich sitting on your lap. Hard to miss. Enjoy.

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

Are you and your friends swarming to the same party or meeting spot? Use WhenHub to see everyone approaching on a map. It totally changes the experience.

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Television is Training Me to Not Watch Television

Way back in olden times when there were only a few television channels, I enjoyed watching television. I was happy with it most of the time. But in recent years, my television has trained me to stop watching it. 

My cable company now offers hundreds of options. That means I can’t find a show within five minutes of searching, and my patience no longer lasts five minutes. My smart phone trained me to have a far shorter attention span than television demands. Mindlessly searching for TV shows among the hundreds of options feels like putting my brain in jail.

If you add one person to the room with me, the odds of finding a mutually-acceptable show that neither of us have already watched approaches zero. But I look anyway, failing at every stage.

Science tells us that people get anxious and unhappy when they have too many choices. I can feel this happening to me in real time. I have trouble finding a show to watch because I know there is such a high likelihood that a better show is available if I just keep looking a bit longer. My experience of watching television has turned from consuming to hunting…and hunting…and hunting. Until I give up in frustration or run out of time.

On top of that, my cable company has many amazing features and options in their menu labyrinth. They also offer voice commands. Put all of that amazingness together and the end result is that it takes three attempts to do every step of a multi-step process. The voice control works about 30% of the time. I take the wrong menu path about 50% of the time because there are so many options that look similar in function. Without exaggeration, I end up cursing at my television almost every time I use the remote.

My default viewing pattern for the past several months is to watch only cable news shows plus one music channel that I can tolerate. But the cable news networks are making their money from the following types of commercials:

  • Pharmaceutical products that put dozens of side-effect symptoms in my head and make me feel as if I might have those exact problems.
  • Pet rescue commercials that make me incredibly sad because I am not a sociopath.
  • Security products that remind me of the risks of great bodily harm that comes from sitting around at home minding my own business.
  • I can’t watch any of those commercials without feeling bad. And that bad feeling is associated with the news channel that carries those commercials. If you associate a bad feeling with a good product for long enough, the good product will become intolerable.

    I see no hope of television surviving in the long run if they stick with their current business model of training their customers to hate the entire television experience.

    On the plus side, Netflix has a good user experience. I can see why they are doing well.

    Wait until you see all the cool things we’re going to be doing with WhenHub.

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    The Climate Science Debate Illusion

    Today I declare the climate science “debate” to be mostly an illusion. 

    You think you live in a world in which there are climate science skeptics on one side of the debate, and climate scientists, plus their believers, on the other side. And you think they are talking about the same thing. 

    That isn’t what’s happening. It’s mostly an illusion.

    I mean this literally. You perceive a debate, but that is mostly a shared hallucination.

    Most of you think there are two competing opinions on climate science and the two camps are arguing about the scientific details. There is a some of that happening. But for the most part, the two sides are literally imagining they are debating each other. They are actually talking about related but different things.

    As a perfect example, I give you this fresh tweet history from Rex Tillerson and Chelsea Clinton.

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    If it is not immediately obvious to you that Chelsea and Rex are on different topics – and not in disagreement over one topic – you are experiencing an illusion. I’ll give you a minute to see if you can work your way out of it on your own. Look at the two tweets and see why they are not the same topic. 

    Okay, that’s enough time. Back to me.

    Rex is talking about climate models that predict the future. Chelsea is talking about the scientific method. Those two things are not the same topic. Scientists would not claim that their models are “science.” They are simply tools that scientists built. Rex is talking about tools. Chelsea is talking about the scientific method. You can’t reach agreement if you aren’t even on the same topic.

    Chelsea’s tweet exchange is representative of the debate illusion around the country. It goes like this:

    Believer: Climate scientists are correct because the scientific method is reliable over time, thanks to peer review. The experts are overwhelmingly on the same side.

    Skeptic: The prediction models are not credible because prediction models with that much complexity are rarely correct.

    Believer: You troglodyte! You know nothing of science! The scientific method is credible!

    See what happened? The believer was discussing science and the skeptic was NOT discussing science. These are different conversations. The prediction models are designed by scientists, but they are not “science” per se, any more than a microscope is “science.” Both are just tools that scientists use.

    If you are a climate skeptic, and you want to make your case in the strongest possible way, start by agreeing with all of the “science” of climate science. Make sure you specify that your skepticism is outside the scientific realm, and limited to the prediction models that are not science. 

    That will explode some heads. (I’ve tested this.)

    I should pause here to tell any new readers of this blog that I don’t know the truth about climate science, and I don’t have any way of knowing whether the models are accurate or not. My interest in this debate is to get both sides out of their illusions. The science is not the models, and the models are not science. You can trust the science and still question the prediction models without being a troglodyte.

    For the sake of completeness, some skeptics also point to alternative hypotheses for warming, including orbital variations and solar flares. That is a genuine case of science versus science. And at the moment, the scientific community has a strong preference for the Co2 explanation. 

    Now that I’ve outlined the illusion, watch how often you see it play out. It’s the sort of thing you don’t notice until you are first alerted to it. Now you’ll start to notice how often the Chelseas of the world conflate the science of climate change with the prediction models as if they have similar credibility. 

    On a related topic, do you know why climate scientists have not succeeded in selling their views to the climate skeptics? Part of the problem is that their communication on this topic ignores everything science has learned about how to change people’s minds. The climate scientists should talk to some cognitive scientists.

    To put this in simpler terms, if a climate scientist believes minds can be changed with facts and logic, the scientist is ignoring decades of cognitive science.

    Update: Here’s an example of how scientists can use science to communicate about climate science.

    You might like WhenHub because the temperature of Earth is influenced by many variables.

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    Snapchat’s Future

    Note: This is not investment advice. Never take investment advice from cartoonists. 

    I have been following the story of Snapchat’s upcoming IPO. Experts say it will be one of the biggest IPOs of all time. But it also might be one of the biggest scams you will ever see in the investment world.

    The first thing you need to know is that Instagram recently added a feature called “Stories” that is essentially Snapchat’s entire service in the form of one feature on Instagram. Snapchat’s biggest competitor is eating Snapchat’s lunch as we speak. Snapchat reports slowing growth.

    Secondly, I have seen a pair of Snapchat’s new eye-glasses product and it kept me interested for nearly five seconds. I put the odds of success for that product at zero.

    If  you read the linked article from above, you can see that the value of the IPO depends on Snapchat inventing new products in the future. And those new products in the future would have to be worth more than what Snapchat has done so far. To me, investing in the Snapchat IPO looks like seed-funding a startup that doesn’t yet have an idea what it wants to do. That’s the sort of thing that experienced investors simply don’t do.

    But an IPO is not limited to experienced investors. The ignorant public will have a chance to put money into Snapchat while irrationally believing that its past predicts its future. In other words, Snapchat’s future depends almost entirely on the public being ignorant of the second rule of investing: Past performance does not predict future returns.

    As I mentioned at the top, you should never make investment decisions based on what cartoonists say. But if I’m being honest here, the Snapchat IPO doesn’t look like an “investment” at all. To me it looks like a massive scam playing out in public. It’s all completely legal because they disclose everything important. And the IPO will probably work out fine because the stock-buying public has a good feeling about the company and absolutely no understanding of what a good investment looks like.

    Again, don’t take investment advice from cartoonists. Let’s call this a prediction, and a new test of what I call the Persuasion Filter. My filter says that Snapchat’s value is supported by nothing but a public illusion that the past predicts the future. If you remove that illusion, I don’t see anything of value. At least not something that an experienced investor would bother with.

    I wish Snapchat well. I hope they innovate and succeed. Obviously they have tons of talent. 

    And always remember the second rule of investing: Past performance does not predict future returns. You might also want to remember the first rule of investing: Don’t listen to investment advice from cartoonists.

    Have you used my startup’s Whenhub app yet for keeping track of the family on vacation? Never lose your kids at the ski resort again.

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    Scariest Thing You Will See Today

    I can’t tell if this secret video is real, but it purports to show a scientist proposing to develop a military-grade virus that would eliminate extreme religious thoughts in people as a way to end terrorism.

    The scary part is that it would probably work. 

    We know which parts of the brain deal with religious thoughts, and apparently we know how to make a virus that would mess with those parts of the brain.

    Free will is an illusion, obviously. Otherwise scientists couldn’t change someone’s religion with a virus. But they can.

    Science keeps discovering new buttons on the user interface for humans. Many of us are already chemical cyborgs, with personalities that come from big pharma and not our own DNA. 

    By the way, what most defines you as an individual? It isn’t your body, because your cells have died and been replaced many times, yet you are the same person. And you aren’t the sum of your knowledge, because that has changed since you were a baby, yet you are the same person. I would argue that the thing that most defines an individual is their preferences. And pharmaceuticals can change your entire set of preferences in a few hours. Just look at someone who is going on Adderall for the first time, and needs it. They have a different personality profile – literally different preferences – on the drug.

    If the video I linked to is real, apparently scientists know how to create a virus that will eliminate your religious preferences. If you think the virus would only work on the terrorists, you’re wrong. I’m guessing that the Department of Defense decided against using the virus approach because it might have eliminated Christianity as well as every other religion as a side-effect. It didn’t sound as if they were working on a vaccine for this virus. That means everyone would get it eventually.

    For more on the topic of the user interface for human beings, see my book about programming the moist robot that is you.

    If you are meeting friends for lunch, know see everyone is along the route with the WhenHub app.

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    Persuasion Advice for African-Americans

    President Obama’s presidency did a lot to diminish racial bias simply because he was a black president who – in the opinion of many, including me – did a good job. As a role model, he was exceptional. But all the factors that made him a great role model are the same factors that prevented him from doing much for the African-American community. It would have looked like favoritism if he had focused too much in that area. The resistance from the right would have been ferocious. And it would have ruined Obama’s brand. People loved Obama in part because he didn’t focus on his race. The country needed that.

    Now we have President Trump. You might not realize it yet, but this is an extraordinary opportunity for the African-American community to make some gains. In the standard 2D view of the world, Trump is a typical Republican who you expect to do little or nothing for minority interests. But in the 3D world of persuasion, the door of opportunity for African-Americans just swung wide open. If that is still invisible to you, let me draw a picture.

    President Obama didn’t need to deliver any special improvements to the African-American community. His existence was the change. But Trump is in a deep “Hitler hole” that his opponents dug for him. He needs a way out.

    And that opens the door.

    If the African-American community has a specific set of proposals that Trump can sell to Republicans, this is the time to do it. He needs the black community more than they need him. That’s the perfect negotiating situation. 

    The African-American community is mostly aligned with the anti-Trumpers of every type. Their interests are getting lost in the noise. What they need is a simple, bold plan that they can sell to the President, and he can sell to the country. Remember, President Trump needs the help. This is the perfect time to negotiate.

    I’ll give you an example of what such a plan might look like, just for discussion purposes. This is only an example so you can see what sort of scope I’m talking about.

    Suppose some organized group of African-Americans puts together a slavery reparations plan that focuses on free college education as the compensation. The plan would call for universal free college (to get all the liberals onboard) but specify that any such plan has to be phased in over a decade for practical reasons. And that means someone has to go first. Why not start with African-Americans who are also below a certain economic level?

    Republicans like the idea of free college too. They just don’t know how the country could pay for it. I think technology will eventually solve the college expense problem by making online schooling more effective. But instead of waiting until something changes, it would be useful to have a phased plan to get us moving in the right direction. You have to start small, and one way to do that is by starting with college-bound African-Americans. 

    Keep in mind that we have to start with one group or another. I can’t imagine turning a switch and making college free for everyone at the same time. And if someone has to go first, there is no real way to avoid discrimination. If you limit free college to the poor, the middle-class gets screwed, and so forth.

    I think Trump could argue that offering free college to the demographic group with the most social friction is also the best path for long-term economic prosperity. In simple terms, helping one white male make 20% more income might be less valuable to society than putting one black male into the productive workforce. Republicans need to hear an economic argument, and I think there is one in this case.

    This hypothetical plan of offering free college for African-Americans would work best if paired with student loan relief of some kind that applies to everyone. That would take some of the sting out of the “fairness” critics. And it also needs to be wrapped in a larger plan to get to free college for all, eventually.

    President Obama would have had zero chance of selling a plan like the one I just described. It would have looked super-racist coming from a black president. But if Trump tries to sell this sort of plan, it would solve his biggest brand problem because it wouldn’t look Hitlerish in the least.

    The big obstacle with this idea, as you will eagerly tell me, is that even Trump can’t sell the idea of free college for African-Americans. Someone needs to pay for it, and Republicans don’t like that part. But remember, you didn’t think Trump could sell himself into the presidency either. My advice to African-American voters is to challenge the president with a specific plan. See what he can do.

    You might be surprised. 

    African-Americans have negotiating leverage right now because President Trump needs a win. Bring him a constructive plan and see what happens.

    Have you seen my startup, WhenHub? You might like it because it’s the best way to tell stories with time.

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    De-hypnotizing a Climate Science Zombie

    I recently stumbled upon a way to nudge anti-Trump zombies off the idea that 97% of climate scientists agree with each other and Trump is on the wrong side. I’m not arguing about the accuracy of the estimate because I have nothing to compare it to. I’m only concerned that people are trusting the fate of the planet to that estimate without knowing how it was derived.

    I started with a quote from this article by Lawrence Solomon. He says…

    “…a much heralded claim that 97 per cent of scientists believed the planet was overheating came from a 2008 master’s thesis by a student at the University of Illinois who obtained her results by conducting a survey of 10,257 earth scientists, then discarding the views of all but 77 of them. Of those 77 scientists, 75 thought humans contributed to climate change.  The ratio 75/77 produced the 97-per-cent figure that global warming activists then touted.”

    I assume the student discarded from the study the scientists who were least-involved with climate science. That seems entirely sensible, right? But I don’t know that to be the case.

    But then I asked my test subject if it would be important to know the opinions of scientists in general, even if they were not directly involved in climate science. If, for example, 60% of scientists in general were skeptical of climate science, wouldn’t you want to know that? I assume scientists are better-equipped to judge other scientists, even in unrelated fields, at least compared to the public at large.

    Next, I asked my test subject if he agreed with the following statement:

    “The claim that 97% of scientists agree on climate science MIGHT be true, but I would need to know more about how it was derived to judge its credibility.”

    He agreed it was fair.

    And keep in mind that the question that generated the 97% figure was limited to whether human activity contributes to warming. Even the critics agree with that statement. Where they differ is on the predictive accuracy of the models.

    Summarizing, the problems with the 97% estimate are:

    1. Human-caused warming is the part upon which both sides AGREE. Humans “contribute” to warming. The disagreement is on how much, and whether it matters. That wasn’t asked.

    2. We don’t know what non-climate-scientists think of the climate models. That would add to our understanding of the topic in a big way.

    3. We don’t know how reliable the 97% estimate is because we don’t know enough about the methodology. And it hasn’t been repeated as far as I know.

    Try this approach with climate science zombies near you and see if you can nudge them off the 97% figure. Let me know how it goes.

    You might enjoy my book because 97% of climate scientists agree that it has nothing to do with climate science.

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    Trump and Sweden

    You can see me discussing Trump’s puzzling comments about Sweden in this Youtube video.

    I don’t have the technology all worked out yet (it’s a system, not a goal) but you’ll get my point.

    This is the direction I’m heading for 2017. Short Youtube videos on recent events.

    Twitter shadowbans me so I can’t depend on that platform for the long run. We’ll see how Google and Youtube treat me.

    My general YouTube link will be here: bit.ly/2lYiCRo

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