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The Campaign Hallucinations Are Lifting

About half of the citizens of the United States think they elected a president who will “drain the swamp” in Washington DC and negotiate good trade deals for the public. But the other half believes they are living in 1930s Germany and the next Hitler just came to office. Those are very different movies, yet we all sit in the same theater at the same time. It’s trippy.

As I often say, the human brain didn’t evolve to give us a clear understanding of our reality because we don’t need it to survive as a species. All we need to do is survive long enough to procreate. As long as we can still make babies, it doesn’t matter that we are all experiencing different movies. You can be living in 1930s Germany in your movie and I can be living in 2016 trying to make America Great again, yet the population of humans is still growing. So living in different movies doesn’t matter as much as you’d think.

Immediately after the election was decided, protests against Trump popped up in several cities. Protesting makes perfect sense if you think Hitler just came to power in your country. You must stop Hitler!

But the days went by and the protests fizzled out. 

Huh?

If you REALLY believe Hitler just came to power in the United States, why would you stop protesting? What are you doing that is more important than stopping Hitler?????????

So why did the protests fizzle out? I find this question fascinating. So should you. Here are some explanations I can imagine:

1. Protesters decided that accepting Hitler as their leader was better than missing classes or skipping work. 

or…

2. Protesters have now seen enough counter-evidence to diminish their hallucination of living in 1930s Germany.

I think the better explanation is the second one. Look at how much counter-evidence is accumulating:

1. Anti-Trump Republicans are making peace and supporting Trump. Would they do that if they thought he was Hitler?

2. Foreign leaders show every sign of being willing and able to work with Trump. Wouldn’t they be yelling “Hitler!” if they thought he was one?

3. Trump continues to disavow White Nationalists when asked. Would Hitler do that?

4. Trump has moderated his more extreme views on immigration, waterboarding, and trying to jail Clinton. That doesn’t sound very Hitlerish.

5. Trump’s public demeanor has transformed from campaign mode to governing mode. He looks more serious now. 

6. A year ago it would have seemed ridiculous for a president to be tweeting provocative things several times a day. But now it looks almost normal. We even see the benefit of it because the media is a filter as much as a source of information.

7. Trump keeps meeting with people that opposed him, and both sides seem pleased with those meetings. That isn’t very Hitlerish.

8. Trump is non-interventionist. That doesn’t seem very Hitlerish.

9. Trump has done a better job of managing the county’s expectations and optimism than any prior president-elect. Consumer confidence and the stock market are up. It’s hard to dislike any of that.

10. Trump keeps demonstrating that he likes black people. Kanye West is the latest example. Football great Jim Brown also met with Trump and had good things to say. None of that makes sense if you think Trump is a racist.

11. Trump’s cabinet picks might not please everyone, but they are serious people for serious jobs. 

Every time Trump does something reasonable – and he is doing a lot of that now – the hallucination of living in 1930s Germany weakens. I’d say it’s about half gone already.

— WhenHub App —

People are telling me they love my startup’s new app for geostreaming your location to a friend/client/coworker as you approach your meeting spot. It’s like the Uber app without the Uber car. (And the geostreaming is temporary, for privacy.) Here are links:

WhenHub app for Apple: http://apple.co/2eLL3Oh

WhenHub app for Android: http://bit.ly/2fIb6L7

image

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Remind Me Why Russia is Our Adversary?

One way to look at the recent election in the United States is that Russia (allegedly) subverted our democratic process to ensure that Trump would win. The facts seem to point in that general direction, although we can’t know how much influence Russia really had.

Another way to look at the election is that Russia did a big favor for the American public by preventing Clinton from becoming president. That interpretation depends entirely on your opinion of Clinton. But it too fits the facts. One assumes Russia’s motives were to help Russia, not the United States. But we might have benefitted anyway.

Clinton saw Russia as an adversary. I confess my ignorance on this topic – and maybe you can set me straight in the comments – because I can’t think of any reason Russia and the United States should be considered natural enemies. Both countries want to defeat ISIS. Both countries want peace and prosperity. Neither claims ownership of any of the other’s territory. I see the prospect of good relations with Russia as a way to make some money for both countries and defeat ISIS too. That doesn’t seem so bad.

If Russia did interfere with our elections in a meaningful way, obviously that is a hole we need to plug. But this is an unusual situation because their alleged actions look more like the work of a sneaky ally than an enemy. The likely outcome of their alleged hacking is that we’ll have better relations with a major superpower and a better chance of defeating ISIS. 

One trick of persuasion that I have sometimes used involves treating an adversary like a friend until they turn into a friend. I’ve never seen it done on a country-to-country basis, but it works great in person. If you tell someone you are on their side, and you act that way, it is hard for them to keep you on the enemy list. I don’t know if this method of persuasion works for countries, but this is the perfect place to test it. 

Obviously this style of persuasion would not work in situations where there is something tangible at stake, such as competing claims for the same territory. But Russia and the United States have more interests in common than in conflict. In this particular case, Trump can change the frame from adversary to ally if he chooses to do so. And that would probably have the effect of making all parties act that way.

Speaking of persuasion, I noticed I sell more books when I include this photo.

See more Kristina Basham on Instagram here.

— WhenHub App —

I’m getting great feedback on my startup’s new app for geostreaming your location to a friend/client/coworker as you approach your meeting spot. It’s like the Uber app without the Uber car. Here are links:

WhenHub app for Apple: http://apple.co/2eLL3Oh

WhenHub app for Android: http://bit.ly/2fIb6L7

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More Start-Ups That Could Lower Healthcare Costs

I’ve been working with the UC Berkeley start-up ecosystem – the largest in the world – to help improve their odds of success. The stakes are high. Consider the healthcare field alone, and how much can be saved in terms of both lives and money. I included at the bottom of this post a snapshot of some start-ups coming out of that ecosystem. 

Now imagine how many more healthcare start-ups are popping up all over the country. That is a lot of stranded potential unless these innovations can make it to market. The hardest challenges are getting funding and, obviously, the FDA approval. That’s a tough road. I’m doing my part today to make that easier by giving them some attention here.

The path to market for these innovations might be a lot easier if Trump appoints someone like Jim O’Neill to head the FDA. O’Neill would like to speed up the approval process by using a more rational risk-management model. The opportunity for improvement is gigantic.

Here are just a few healthcare start-ups to give you an idea of the potential.

Healthcare Start-Ups out of UC Berkeley’s Ecosystem

Dot Labs Non-invasive diagnostic test for endometriosis. 

Stroll Health enables ambulatory clinicians to make personalized, value-based referrals. Stroll processes each patient through our intelligence algorithm using millions of healthcare data to show out-of-pocket costs for each location and service in real time. Physicians and patients select and electronically order through Stroll, and we follow through to make sure medically necessary care happens.  

Angilytics provides wearable sensors and data analytics for ultimate hypertension management. 

NestSense
Safety Solutions for managed dementia care 

SwiftMotion
Solutions to assess risks of occupational injuries. 

iTreatMD provides a point of care app that guides clinicians with a checklist to treat diseases, and
generates encounter notes for clinicians and personalized treatment plan for patients. 

ReThink Medical produces a remote patient physiologic monitor for predicting heart failure related
hospitalizations, enabling preventative interventions.  

First Derm is a mobile app that provides users with personalized dermatology information. 

Ava is on a mission to empower 360 million people with hearing loss to follow group conversations
again, using state-of-the-art mobile and speech technologies. We connect together devices in a room to
show the user who says what and when, in less than a second. 

KNOX Medical Diagnostics:
Mismanagement of asthma leads to hospitalizations and ED visits. Traditional at-home pulmonary
function tests are inaccurate. On-site tests are only available in specialized locations and not readily
accessible. KNOX has developed Spiritus, a reliable and convenient asthma management tool for
families, which includes a portable device that asthmatic kids breathe into to capture consistent
information regarding lung function. Parents can view and immediately act upon the results. Information
sent to the iOS app is saved to SaaS servers for physicians to track patients’ asthma severity in-between
office visits. 

BioInspira is a sensor platform startup. At BioInspira, we are advancing airborne chemicals and
pathogens detection for growing industrial and healthcare needs. Our first product is a bio-based natural
gas sensor that is 1000x more sensitive, 100x smaller and 100x lower in cost than current sensors. 

You can learn more about UC Berkeley-related start-ups at BerkeleyStartupNetwork.com. (Site is new, so some start-ups will not be listed yet.)

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Fake News Versus Misleading News

I’m watching the mainstream media have fits over so-called “fake news.” The theme they are pushing is that fake news stories are more damaging to society than normal news that includes the following:

1. True stories told out of context to intentionally mislead.

2. Biased reporting that the media doesn’t realize is biased.

3. Giving a spotlight to people who are lying.

4. Misleading by putting emphasis on some things and not others.

5. True stories too complicated for the public to understand.

6. True reports of sources that happen to be lying but we don’t know it. (That gives you the Iraq war, for example.)

7. Having boths sides represented when one side is clearly lying or wrong.

8. Simplification to the point of misleading.

9. Showing clear disdain for the opinions on one side but not the other.

I could go on. But I think you get the point. Most humans live the illusion that people can do a good job of sorting out truth from fiction if only they have good data. But that’s only true for trivial decisions with no emotional content. For any decision that matters, facts are irrelevant to decision-making. Humans choose their paths based on how they feel. Later they rationalize their decisions. The human mind doesn’t make decisions based on facts and reason. We only think we do. 

Does fake news matter in a world in which humans don’t use facts and reason to make decisions in the first place? Well, yes and no.

Obviously fake news can change people’s minds and influence the real world. If that influence causes people to act in some dangerous or suboptimal way, we can say the fake news was bad.

But what if the fake news is created with good intentions? For example, suppose you believed that Donald Trump would be the best president and you knew that facts and reason don’t change minds as well as fake news. In that situation you might create a fake news story that helps your candidate win, but you would be doing so in the interest of society.

In my worldview – that of a hypnotist and persuader – all news is persuasion, and it is presented for that purpose even if the presenters don’t think of it that way. According to this worldview, what matters is the effectiveness of the fake news and whether it is intended for the public good or just to generate click-ad revenue for the creator. Fake news is neither good nor bad. It is a tool of persuasion, just like mainstream news that can be either based on truth or not. In both cases what matters is how people are influenced. The underlying truth is generally beyond the public’s grasp. And it doesn’t matter most of the time.

if you live in the two-dimensional world where you still think truth and facts and reason matter to decisions, you probably think fake news is a problem. But in the 3rd dimension – where persuasion matters and reason is an illusion – fake news is a tool. And a tool can be used for good or evil.

You might like my book because that’s the kind of person you are.

— Are You Divorced? —

If you’re a divorced parent with shared custody of kids, you might love my start-up’s free app. It’s like the Uber app without the Uber car, for all those times you have to meet each other to exchange the kids. No more texting “Where are you” and asking about timing while one or both of you are driving. The app can even prompt you to use it at the right times based on your custody schedule.

And if you can’t get your ex to use the app, just have one of your kids that has a phone fire up the app while riding with the parent. Same result.

This is just one of thousands of uses for the WhenHub app. You’ll think of your own.

Here are links:

WhenHub app for Apple: http://apple.co/2eLL3Oh

WhenHub app for Android: http://bit.ly/2fIb6L7

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The Time That Reality Forked Right in Front of You

We’re living in one of the most interesting times in human history. We just witnessed reality forking into two separate paths right in front of us.

As regular readers of this blog know, my background in hypnosis and persuasion has erased my belief that some people can see reality for what it is and some cannot. My worldview is that the human brain did not evolve to understand reality on any deep level because we don’t need that ability to survive and reproduce. If your illusion keeps you alive, it’s good enough. And that brings me to today.

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States has effectively forked reality into two versions that are running in parallel. Clinton’s supporters believe they are living in a world that is a repeat of 1930s Germany, with Trump playing the part of Adolf Hitler. See this reaction for a typical example.

Meanwhile, the other half of the country believes we elected a highly-capable populist who will “drain the swamp” and bring a business approach to government along with greater prosperity.

So how do you know which reality is the real one? The fast answer is that you can’t know. As I said, the human brain did not evolve to understand reality. But just for fun and education, I’ll tell you the best way dig down to the next layer of truth: Look for the Cognitive Dissonance trigger.

In this case, Clinton supporters were persuaded to believe that Trump is OBVIOUSLY the next coming of Hitler. Or maybe worse because Trump is also rude and sexist. If that version of reality is true, Trump could not have been elected president. But he was. That’s the trigger for cognitive dissonance: two observations that don’t fit together.

How can it simultaneously be true that Trump is OBVIOUSLY the next Hitler while it is also true that half the country didn’t notice? There are at least three ways to explain-away this dissonance. Maybe…

  • Half the country are sexist, racist monsters too, so they like Trump.

or…

  • Half the country is stupid and can’t identify a Hitler that is right in front of them.

or…

  • Clinton supporters have been duped into believing something ridiculous about Trump.

Given this set-up, most normal human minds would assume the problem was with other people. That’s how cognitive dissonance works. We like to think we are rational while others are not. So you would expect in this situation that Clinton supporters would enter a type of dream state in which they interpret their reality as being surrounded by racist-sexist-stupid citizens who just elected a genocidal dictator. They have to enter this dream because the only alternative involves believing that they themselves are gullible and deluded. 

Trump supporters have no such trigger for cognitive dissonance in this particular case because their candidate won. Their worldview is consistent. They think Trump is the most capable candidate and enough people recognized that fact to make him president. Most of these people believe Trump is not a racist and they believe they are not racists either (or not much anyway). Nothing about a Trump-supporter’s experience would trigger cognitive dissonance. But Clinton supporters have a huge trigger for cognitive dissonance, so it is more likely they entered a new illusion in this particular case. 

For further evidence that the anti-Trumpers are living in an illusion, consider that the street protests against Trump fizzled out. That means the illusion of Trump-as-Hitler is already starting to fade. You also see it in the surging stock market and in the sharp uptick in citizen confidence in the economy. 

The Hitler illusion will continue to fade. But for now the citizens of the United States live in two separate realities. As a hypnotist, I doubt any of us can see reality for what it is. My worldview is that we were in one kind of illusion before and some of us moved to another. When it comes to understanding reality, the best we can do is pick a version that does a good job predicting.

My view of reality predicts that the Hitler illusion will wear off in time because Trump keeps refusing to do Hitler-like things. Check my prediction at the end of Trump’s term. I think you’ll see his popularity continue to improve from here.

My start-up, WhenHub, allows you to create visualizations of events over time. Here are a few of the visualization options. Below that is a timeline of my life that I am playing with, updating as I have time.

image

And here’s a timeline of some major events in my life. I left out the personal stuff. Expand the WhenCast to full screen to play. See icon on bottom right of the frame.

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Persuasion Reading List – Updated

check out the new Persuasion Reading List.

This is an example of a WhenCast – a visualization of events over time, created in the studio at WhenHub.com, my start-up. In this case I organized The Persuasion Reading List into a college course s…

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Watching Trump Create Money from Nothing

A new CNBC poll shows that optimism in the economy has surged since Trump got elected. That’s how Trump creates money from nothing. Literally.

The economy runs on optimism. The more you have, the better your economy will be, all other things being equal. And Trump just cranked up the optimism in a way that history has rarely seen. The stock market is up too, as you would expect when you have more optimism.

Optimistic business owners invest today because they expect tomorrow to be better. That investment creates jobs and stimulates the economy, creating a self-fulfilling path to prosperity. Individual companies can fail and succeed as usual, but the economy as a whole is likely to do well when optimism is high.

In the ancient world, the big problem was resources, not optimism. You didn’t always have access to raw materials, the right kind of labor, or markets. But in 2016 we can generally find anything we need and move anything to anywhere. The physical element of economics is largely solved. All that matters today is how we think about the economy. That’s the key element.

President Obama understood psychology and economics too. His cool, rational demeanor was the perfect leadership style to get us out of the 2009 downturn. He didn’t panic, so we didn’t either. And panic was the only thing that could have destroyed the world economy. We had all the resources and intelligence we needed. All we had to get right was the mood. And Obama delivered it. 

Today the economy is stronger. Trump’s brand of optimism is exactly the right fit for this situation. If we believe things will get better in a Trump administration – and apparently the public does believe that – the belief itself will make it happen.

The average citizen doesn’t understand economics. We don’t understand the Federal Reserve, currency fluctuations, trade deals, or much else in that field. But when we see Trump and Pence negotiate with Carrier and Ford to keep jobs, we understand that. When Trump says he will negotiate with Boeing to lower the cost of Air Force One, we get that.

Trump, the Master Persuader, is rewiring our brains in real time – while we are watching him do it. He wants us to be optimistic about the economy, so he finds the right buttons (Ford, Carrier, Boeing) and he pushes them. He looks for situations that have simplicity and a visual element. It is easy for people to imagine a Ford automobile, a Carrier air conditioner, a factory, a worker, an airplane, and Mexico. Every element of these stories is visual. That’s not an accident. That is technique.

And as I explained to you in a prior post, Trump and Pence are playing what I call the “New CEO Move.” That involves moving fast and decisively on day one to set the mood for the rest of their term. So far they have set the mood as aggressive negotiators on behalf of the country, clawing and fighting for every American job. That is persuasion perfection. I’m not a presidential historian, but I’ll bet Trump has handled the president-elect phase better than any prior president of the United States. And probably better than any leader-elect anywhere, at any time. Trump is managing our expectations directly. And he’s nailing it.

At the same time Trump and Pence are giving a master class in how to do the presidency right, their American critics are under the hallucination that we are living in some sort of 1930s Germany situation where Hitler just came to power. That delusion is the weapon of mass destruction left behind by the Clinton campaign that sold that version of reality to its followers. It was a dangerous strategy because the psychological “bomb” could only deactivate itself if Clinton won the election. Then she didn’t. So it falls to Trump to deactivate the delusion, which he has already started to do. Every time Trump acts sane, reasonable, and inclusive, the 1930s Germany delusion gets a bit weaker. A strong economy will weaken the Hitler hallucination as well. 

On Climate Change

Trump is also well on the way to changing the public’s thinking on climate change. Trump met with Al Gore, and he’s meeting with climate activist and actor Leonardo DiCaprio on the topic. Trump is looking for common ground and education on the topic, I assume, but he is almost certainly also looking for the persuasion buttons. And this is a hard one.

The simple, visual persuasion favors the climate alarmists. They can point to rising seas, super hurricanes, and droughts. We can imagine all of that stuff and it scares us. Fear plus a visual element make for the strongest persuasion.

On the other side of the debate there is no visual persuasion available. Normal weather is just normal. And since you can’t “prove a negative,” there is no way to prove human activity and C02 production will NOT be the tipping factor that ends civilization.

If you think many people believe in climate science predictions because of the science and the facts, you don’t know anything about human beings. We just observed an election in which facts and policies barely mattered at all. What matters is how we feel. Climate change is the same situation. All of the natural elements of persuasion are on one side. We can visualize bad weather and it scares us. The other side has nothing, persuasion-wise.

I’m not a scientist, so I can’t evaluate the claims of climate science. But I’m knowledgeable in persuasion, and I can tell you with a degree of certainty that the number of citizens that believe in climate science predictions of doom would be the same whether the science was valid or not, because the persuasion advantage points in that direction. If something is scary and you can visualize it, you treat it like it is real. Even if it isn’t.

Some say that the risk of climate change is unpredictable, and that’s reason enough to get serious about it. Maybe climate change will do nothing but help crops in some places. But maybe it will destroy civilization. Shouldn’t we take seriously any risk with that much downside?

Answer: No.

Because lots of risks have a worst-case scenario. And they all look terrible if you think about them long enough. It isn’t rational to make all of your major decisions based on the worst-case scenario for every situation.

My best guess from the perspective of a non-scientist observer is that human activity does change the atmosphere, but the climate prediction models are unlikely to be accurate because complicated models rarely are. Once you get more than three variables, and you have humans deciding which data to use and when to smooth it, you end up with nonsense. Climate science has more than a few variables. So I expect the models are nonsense, which is a separate issue from the underlying truth which could be anything. I don’t have any insight on the underlying truth of climate science. All I see is persuasion of various types.

Prediction: By the end of Trump’s term it will be considered common knowledge that we need to be aggressive in green energy for a variety of reasons, but the public will not trust the climate model predictions. We’ll get to a greener world for reasons of economics and strategy. We’ll never really know if we solved climate change problems at the same time.

And do you know what gets us to that greener world faster?

Answer: A strong economy.

You have never been safer.

You might like my book because of the strong visual persuasion I am using. 

image

See more Kristina Basham on Instagram here.

— WhenHub App —

I’m getting great feedback on my startup’s new app for geostreaming your location to a friend/client/coworker as you approach your meeting spot. It’s like the Uber app without the Uber car. Here are links:

WhenHub app for Apple: http://apple.co/2eLL3Oh

WhenHub app for Android: http://bit.ly/2fIb6L7

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How the Trump Administration Can Lower Healthcare Costs

For the past year I have been working with the UC Berkeley start-up ecosystem – the largest in the world – to help improve their efficiency. I seed-funded a project to build a website that connects entrepreneurs, advisors, and investors in the Berkeley area. But I’m also going to highlight in this blog some Berkeley start-ups that can substantially lower healthcare costs in the future. 

Today’s focus is on DeviceFarm, a start-up that cures toe fungus using a patent-pending combination of plasma gas and a special liquid concentrator. You can see more on their website, here.

Disclaimer: I recently invested in this company. This is not a solicitation for additional funding.

Toe fungus is mostly a cosmetic problem unless you have diabetes. But if you are diabetic, toe fungus greatly increases your odds of amputation. DeviceFarm estimates that an effective treatment for this condition could prevent 45,000 diabetic amputations per year at a collective savings of $1.7 billion in healthcare expenses. (Current treatments are relatively ineffective.)

Let me say this again. This little machine might (if the clinical trials work out) prevent up to 45,000 amputations per year. Forget about the cost savings for a minute. Just think about how big a deal that is to quality of life.

Now multiply that sort impact by the dozens of health-related start-ups out of UC Berkeley alone. Now consider all the other start-ups around the world and you can see how much “stranded” potential there is because the start-up world is fragmented and inefficient.

Now imagine a world in which the President of the United States is an entrepreneur at heart and one of his biggest challenges is to make healthcare affordable and available for all Americans. And now imagine that this president is the best salesman you have ever seen, and he wants to streamline the process of doing business in this country. 

See the opportunity?

I’ve seen scores of start-ups that will dramatically lower healthcare costs if their products get to market. All they need, in most cases, is a combination of investment, business advice, and some help getting through all the red tape. That’s the sort of help a Trump administration could provide without spending a dime. Trump knows how to put a spotlight on things, and the world’s attention follows.

I can imagine several ways to approach a solution. One way is for the Trump administration to encourage the creation of “strategic pools” of start-ups by category. One pool would involve start-ups that can lower healthcare costs for the benefit of all. Another pool might do the same for education, the military, and so on. Then the government could encourage investors to look at those start-ups first, as a patriotic service to the country.

You don’t want the government trying to pick winner and losers among start-ups, but the government can ensure that the ones with the most potential to help society get a fair look by private investors. 

As a service to the country, I’ll be spotlighting more UC Berkeley start-ups that can change the world if they get the right kind of attention. Once you see several of them in a row, you’ll understand how big the opportunity is. I’ll only be scratching the surface.

You might like my book because anything is possible except for the things that aren’t.

— WhenHub App —

Speaking of start-ups, I’m getting great feedback on my startup’s new app for geostreaming your location to a friend/client/coworker as you approach your meeting spot. It’s like the Uber app without the Uber car. Here are links:

WhenHub app for Apple: http://apple.co/2eLL3Oh

WhenHub app for Android: http://bit.ly/2fIb6L7

Read More →
Trump and the Secretary of State “Brand” Decision

The most important job opening that Trump has to fill – at least from a “brand” perspective – is Secretary of State. You can get away with hiring loyal supporters for less-visible cabinet positions, but you need to get the Secretary of State job right because it directly reflects on the brand of the presidency. And Trump knows branding.

If you look at the Secretary of State from a Master Persuader perspective, it’s hard to know who would do the best job among the candidates under discussion. They’re all highly-capable people. And their opinions are not so different, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the final consideration. The big differentiator is how the country will view Trump’s choice, and how that changes their impression of Trump’s brand as president. Let’s take a look at the candidates through that filter.

Giuliani probably has some foreign business interests that could be problematic once the mainstream media sinks their teeth into him. That doesn’t help Trump’s brand because Trump has the same type of foreign conflict-of-interest issues. You don’t want to add to the problem you already have.

Huntsman has good experience and he presents himself well. But he’s too handsome for the job. Brand-wise, Trump is better off surrounding himself with highly-capable people who don’t suck too much attention out of a room. You might think that isn’t important, but it is from a persuasion standpoint. I liked Trump’s pick of Pence because Pence is the boring, monochromatic version of Trump that makes Trump look like a star when they stand together. You need the same contrast for Secretary of State. 

Obama got the branding right with both Hillary Clinton and now John Kerry as Secretaries of State. Both Secretaries were respected players that have less rock star appeal than Obama himself. That is good branding. Obama got the contrast right, which you expect from a Master Persuader. Trump needs to do the same.

Romney has the same contrast problem as Huntsman. Romney is too tall and handsome. But I think ego will prevent Romney from accepting Trump as his boss. If Trump and Romney both wanted Romney as Secretary of State, it would already be done.

Petraeus had some legal problems in the past because he disclosed government secrets to his girlfriend. Although the crime itself is forgivable, and he paid the price, the topic would remind the public of Hillary Clinton’s email issues and be a stain on Trump’s brand.

Bolton would be the biggest brand mistake for Trump. Bolton is highly capable, but he gives off a scary vibe, and that is the worst branding mistake Trump could make. Half of the United States is already living under an illusion that Hitler just got elected President of the United States. If you add a war-loving white guy with a strange mustache to the illusion, you’re just making things worse. Trump’s biggest problem, brand-wise, is that so many people think he’s a crazy dictator who can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes. Bolton is the only candidate who makes that illusion worse. I don’t see Master Persuader Trump making a mistake of that size.

Rohrabacher would be an interesting choice. He fits Trump’s brand the best because he’s a pragmatic, straight-talking Republican. And if you see him standing next to Trump, you know which one of them is the president. The visual element matters more than you think, given that all the candidates are qualified.

I’m leaving out some candidates, but only because they didn’t seem interesting enough to help or hurt Trump’s brand. 

The Master Persuader filter can’t predict who Trump will pick as Secretary of State because there are lots of variables we can’t observe. For example, the vetting process might kick up scandals we don’t know about, and there’s the issue of how well the candidates can get along with Trump. So this isn’t a prediction blog today. I’m just showing you how the persuasion element matters to the decision.

You might like my book because of all the words in it.

— WhenHub App —

I’m getting great feedback on my startup’s new app for geostreaming your location to a friend as you approach your meeting spot? It’s like the Uber app without the Uber car. Here are links:

WhenHub app for Apple: http://apple.co/2eLL3Oh

WhenHub app for Android: http://bit.ly/2fIb6L7

Read More →
The Non-Expert Problem and Climate Change Science

Before I start, let me say as clearly as possible that I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change. If science says something is true – according to most scientists, and consistent with the scientific method – I accept their verdict. 

I realize that science can change its mind, of course. Saying something is “true” in a scientific sense always leaves open the option of later reassessing that view if new evidence comes to light. Something can be “true” according to science while simultaneously being completely wrong. Science allows that odd situation to exist, at least temporarily, while we crawl toward truth.

So when I say I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change, I’m endorsing the scientific consensus for the same reason I endorsed Hillary Clinton for the first part of the election – as a strategy to protect myself. I endorse the scientific consensus on climate change to protect my career and reputation. To do otherwise would be dumb, at least in my situation.

As regular readers of this blog already know, human brains did not evolve to understand reality in any deep way. If some of us survive and procreate, that’s good enough for evolution. It doesn’t matter that you live in a movie that says you will reincarnate after you die, while I live in a movie that says reality is a software simulation, and perhaps our mutual friend lives in a movie in which his prophet flew to heaven on a winged horse. Those are very different realities, but it doesn’t stop any of us from procreating.  This lesson about the subjective nature of reality is one we learned from watching Trump’s march to the election. As the world looked on, everything they thought they understood about Trump’s chances dissolved in front of them. And yet the world still worked fine.

This perceptual change in humanity is happening as I predicted it would a year before Trump won. I told you he would change more than politics. I said he would open a crack in reality so you could view it through a new filter. That transformation is well underway. I’ll widen the crack a bit more today.

If you have been involved in any climate change debates online or in person, you know they always take the following trajectory: Climate science believers state that all the evidence, and 98% of scientists, are on the same side. Then skeptics provide links to credible-sounding articles that say the science is bunk, and why. How the heck can you – a non-expert – judge who is right?

You probably are not a scientist, and that means you can’t independently evaluate any of the climate science claims. You didn’t do the data collection or the experiments yourself. You could try to assess the credibility of the scientists using your common sense and experience, but let’s face it – you aren’t good at that. So what do you do?

You probably default to trusting whatever the majority of scientists tell you. And the majority says climate science is real and we need to do something about it. But how reliable are experts, even when they are mostly on the same side?

Ask the majority of polling experts who said Trump had only a 2% chance of becoming president. Ask the experts who said the government’s historical “food pyramid” was good science. Ask the experts who used to say marijuana was a gateway drug. Ask the experts who used to say sexual orientation is just a choice. Ask the experts who said alcoholism is a moral failure and not a matter of genetics.

There are plenty of examples where the majority of experts were wrong. What you really want to know is whether climate change looks more like the sort of thing that turns out to be right or the sort of thing that turns out to be wrong. Let’s dig into that question.

It seems to me that a majority of experts could be wrong whenever you have a pattern that looks like this:

1. A theory has been “adjusted” in the past to maintain the conclusion even though the data has changed. For example, “Global warming” evolved to “climate change” because the models didn’t show universal warming.

2. Prediction models are complicated. When things are complicated you have more room for error. Climate science models are complicated.

3. The models require human judgement to decide how variables should be treated. This allows humans to “tune” the output to a desired end. This is the case with climate science models.

4. There is a severe social or economic penalty for having the “wrong” opinion in the field. As I already said, I agree with the consensus of climate scientists because saying otherwise in public would be social and career suicide for me even as a cartoonist. Imagine how much worse the pressure would be if science was my career. 

5. There are so many variables that can be measured – and so many that can be ignored – that you can produce any result you want by choosing what to measure and what to ignore. Our measurement sensors do not cover all locations on earth, from the upper atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean, so we have the option to use the measurements that fit our predictions while discounting the rest.

6. The argument from the other side looks disturbingly credible.

One of the things that always fascinated me about jury trials is that attorneys from both sides can sound so convincing even though the evidence points in only one direction. A defendant is either guilty or innocent, but good lawyers can make you see it either way. Climate science is similar. I’ve seen airtight arguments that say climate science is solid and true, and I’ve seen equally credible-looking arguments that say it is bunk. From my non-scientist perspective, I can’t tell the difference. Both sides look convincing to me.

As I have described in this blog before, I’m a trained hypnotist and I have studied the methods of persuasion for years. That gives me a bit of context that is different from the norm. In my experience, and based on my training, it is normal and routine for the “majority of experts” to be completely wrong about important stuff. But in the two-dimensional world where persuasion isn’t much of a thing, it probably looks to most of you that experts are usually right, especially when they are overwhelmingly on the same side and there is a mountain of confirming evidence.

We like to think we arrived at our decisions about climate science by using our common sense and good judgement to evaluate the credibility of experts. Some of you think you have superior sources of information as well. But both sides are wrong. No one is using reason, facts, or common sense to arrive at a decision about climate science. Here’s what you are using to arrive at your decision:

1. Fear

2. Unwarranted trust in experts

3. Pattern recognition

On the question of fear, if you believe that experts are good at predicting future doom, you are probably scared to death by climate change. But in my experience, any danger we humans see coming far in the future we always find a way to fix. We didn’t run out of food because of population growth. We didn’t run out of oil as predicted. We didn’t have a problem with the Year 2000 bug, and so on. I refer to this phenomenon as the Adams Law of Slow-Moving Disasters. When we see a disaster coming – as we do with climate science – we have an unbroken track record of avoiding doom. In the case of climate change danger, there are a number of technologies under development that can directly scrub the atmosphere if needed.

On the question of trusting experts, my frame of reference is the field of influence and persuasion. From my point of view – and given the examples of mass delusion that I have personally witnessed (including Trump’s election), I see experts as far less credible than most people assume.

And when it comes to pattern recognition, I see the climate science skeptics within the scientific community as being similar to Shy Trump Supporters. The fact that a majority of scientists agree with climate science either means the evidence is one-sided or the social/economic pressures are high. And as we can plainly see, the cost of disagreeing with climate science is unreasonably high if you are a scientist.

While it is true that a scientist can become famous and make a big difference by bucking conventional wisdom and proving a new theory, anything short of total certainty would make that a suicide mission. And climate science doesn’t provide the option of total certainty.

To put it another way, it would be easy for a physicist to buck the majority by showing that her math worked. Math is math. But if your science depends on human judgement to decide which measurements to include and which ones to “tune,” you don’t have that option. Being a rebel theoretical physicist is relatively easy if your numbers add up. But being a rebel climate scientist is just plain stupid. So don’t expect to see many of the latter. Scientists can often be wrong, but rarely are they stupid.

To strengthen my point today, and in celebration of my reopening of the blog commenting section, please provide your links to pro and con arguments about climate science. This might be the only place in the world you will see links to both sided. If you want to be amazed, see how persuasive BOTH sides of this debate are.

As I said above, I accept the consensus of climate science experts when they say that climate science is real and accurate. But I do that to protect my reputation and my income. I have no way to evaluate the work of scientists.

If you ask me how scared I am of climate changes ruining the planet, I have to say it is near the bottom of my worries. If science is right, and the danger is real, we’ll find ways to scrub the atmosphere as needed. We always find ways to avoid slow-moving dangers. And if the risk of climate change isn’t real, I will say I knew it all along because climate science matches all of the criteria for a mass hallucination by experts. 

You might like reading my book because experts agree it is amazing.

— WhenHub App —

I’m getting great feedback on my startup’s new app for geostreaming your location to a friend as you approach your meeting spot? It’s like the Uber app without the Uber car. Here are links:

WhenHub app for Apple: http://apple.co/2eLL3Oh

WhenHub app for Android: http://bit.ly/2fIb6L7

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A New Solution for the Hearing-Impaired

I’ve been observing and helping the UC Berkeley start-up ecosystem for the past year, and I’ve made several angel investments in that space. Berkeley has perhaps the largest start-up environment in the world, but it gets less attention than it deserves. I’ll try to fix that by spotlighting some of the more interesting start-ups that could potentially have a big impact on the quality of people’s lives. Today’s spotlight is on &AVA, a start-up that makes a life-changing product for the hearing impaired.

The product is a mobile app that works with a subscription service for real-time computer translation. If you go to dinner in a noisy restaurant, or a business meeting, for example, each attendee would have a copy of the app and keep their phone in front of them, in listening mode. When anyone speaks, the nearest phone translates and sends the text to each phone at the table. The hearing impaired person at the table can follow the conversation in the form of a live transcript on their own phone. This is life-altering for the hard-of-hearing. 

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I’ve seen the product work in demos and it is impressive. All the company needs at this point is more customers and more funding. If they can get to profitability it would mean an enormous improvement in the quality of life for millions of hearing-impaired people.

If you know any hearing impaired people, please share this post and the link to their website here. (Disclosure: I do not have any investment or other interest in this company but I haven’t ruled out investing in it later.)

You might also be interested in a new UC Berkeley website that points to all the important start ups and related resources in the UC Berkeley ecosystem. It’s called Berkeley Startup Network. The site is still beta, so expect the content to grow exponentially. I funded the prototype for this site to help UC Berkeley entrepreneurs find advice, education, and funding. The potential gains from this type of networking efficiency are enormous. The &AVA offering is just one of many examples of life-changing products coming out of Berkeley. I’m trying to help the Berkeley start-up ecosystem become more efficient for the benefit of civilization.

To put all of this in perspective, one Berkeley start-up has an inexpensive portable testing device for AIDS that could virtually eliminate transmission in some situations. Another startup would reduce the number of diabetes amputations by thousands. Another would eliminate one of the most common sources of hospital infections. And so on. So you can see how important these start-ups are to our future quality of life. I’ve decided to help in a variety of ways, including some blog posts about the most interesting start-ups.

I’ll also be telling you more about my own start-up, WhenHub, in the coming months.

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Trump and the Taiwan Call

By now you know that President Elect Trump took a call from the President of Taiwan and simultaneously lit on fire the underpants of the mainstream media and maybe the leadership of China too. 

Apparently taking a phone call from the president of Taiwan is a major diplomatic change from the so-called “One China Policy” that imagines Taiwan as a rogue province of China, not its own country. Reports are saying this call was planned, not a mistake on the Trump team’s side.

Was this a mistake by Trump?

If you look at this call through the filter of normal politics it is clearly a mistake. It provokes the Chinese leadership and gains nothing obvious in return. The media is reporting this event as exactly the sort of thing that leads to nuclear annihilation. This is the same mainstream media that got everything wrong about Trump for the past year.

But if you look at this situation through the filter of a Master Persuader, it makes perfect sense. Trump is “setting the table” for future negotiations with China. He just subtracted something from China’s brand that they value, and later he will negotiate with them to maybe give it back in some fashion. Probably in return for some trade concessions.

But what about the risk? Does it ever make sense to poke a nuclear power? In this case, probably yes. As I have said in this blog before, China’s leadership is both mature and competent. Many of them have engineering degrees. They understand what Trump is doing, and none of it is a path to war because neither side has any interest in war. None. Zero. 

I can imagine some scenarios in which China and the U.S. might dangerously escalate toward war, but one friendly call to a major trading partner isn’t one of the scenarios.

But why take that call now? Shouldn’t Trump have cleared this with Obama, or waited until he was President?

No. Because the Obama administration would have advised him not to do it. And waiting until January is the way old politics is done. This sort of bold, rapid action is evidently what Trump wants you to think is his brand as president. The Taiwan call is consistent with the New CEO Play that I described in this post. He’s setting the tone as bold, effective, and not waiting for red tape to slow him down.

Don’t worry about China going to war over a phone call. They understand Trump, in part because they read my blog too. And look at the brilliance of China’s diplomatic response. Their Foreign Minister labelled the phone call, “a shenanigan by the Taiwan side.“ That is exquisite diplomatic framing, Master Persuader-style. You can see why China and Trump respect each other; they both earned it.

Mutual respect is a safe place to be. Relax. Adults are in charge.

You might like reading my book because I won’t take a call from the President of Taiwan no matter how often she asks.

— WhenHub App —

Have you seen my startup’s new app for geostreaming your location to a friend as you approach your meeting spot? It’s like the Uber app without the Uber car. Here are links:

WhenHub app for Apple: http://apple.co/2eLL3Oh

WhenHub app for Android: http://bit.ly/2fIb6L7

The perfect gift for a reader of this blog is the Dilbert calendar, the #1 Best Seller on Amazon. Get it here:

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D*ck Pics Explained

One of the more puzzling questions in the modern world is why so many guys send pictures of their junk to innocent women who have asked for nothing of the sort. It’s rude, vulgar, and worst of all – it doesn’t work.

You would think that 100% of men would know that sending d*ck pictures to women – especially strangers – is a bad idea. I’ll untangle this ball of string for you using the Moist Robot Hypothesis.

The Moist Robot Hypothesis (from my book) says – among other things – that our bodies control our thoughts as much – or more – than our thoughts control our bodies. For example, science knows that being happy can make you smile, but we also know that forcing a smile can cause your brain to generate happiness chemistry. The body-mind connection is a two-way street. When you understand this idea, the world changes for you.

The Moist Robot Hypothesis also assumes that most, if not all, of our “decisions” are little more than rationalizations for our instinct to procreate in the most productive way. And by that I mean mating with people who have genetic advantages that would make the offspring successful. That’s why people are attracted to beauty, because it is a visual proxy for good health and good genes. For the same reason, women are naturally attracted to successful men that have talent, money, or some other sort of advantage. (Obviously these are generalizations and don’t apply to all.)

You see the reproductive instinct in just about everything we do. We pick cars that signal our success. We pick clothing and hairstyles that present us as suitable for mating. And so on.

But dick pics?

As you have learned by reading this blog for the past year, people can only be rational in limited situations in which there is no emotional content. Our sex drive is so strong that it largely eliminates the option for rational behavior. And as you know, the hornier you get, the stupider you are. Once a guy reaches a critical level of horniness, his rational brain shuts off and he becomes primal. And when he’s primal, he sometimes signals his availability for mating in the most basic way possible: He displays his junk in full preparedness. 

If you think the men doing this behavior are extra-dumb, or extra-rude, that might be true. But it is just as likely that such men are extra-horny. That gets you to the same decision no matter your IQ because the rational brain is shut down during maximum arousal.

It is also true – as far as I can tell from discussions with women over the years – that sometimes a dick pic actually results in dating and sex. I realize how hard that is to believe. But sometimes (maybe one time in 500) it actually works. You would think those odds would be enough to discourage even a man with a temporarily suspended intellect, but that view ignores the basic nature of men: We’re risk takers when it comes to reproduction.

Men are low value for reproduction because you only need one man to impregnate many. And so it seems that evolution has created men who will pursue super-longshot odds in the pursuit of sex. Dick pics fit that model.

If you’re a judgemental type of person, you see dick picks as the height of rudeness and inappropriate behavior. You think those men are pigs. From a legal and political perspective you might even see dick pics as a form of sexual assault. But if you start to see the world through the Moist Robot filter, what you see is normal men whose brains turned primal during arousal and they did the most primal thing that came naturally – they displayed their suitability for reproduction.

I’m not defending it. I’m just putting a different filter on it.

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