In a word, yes, assuming they had lots of help from the CIA to deliver their persuasion.
I would not have said this was possible five years ago. But in 2017, cognitive scientists know how to reprogram a human brain fairly effectively. They have weaponized what hypnotists have been doing for decades.
As luck would have it (sort of) we can test persuasion ideas at Guantanamo Bay without any cruelty whatsoever. There would be no hardcore “brainwashing,” just a series of pleasant experiences engineered to get a certain outcome.
The key to making all of this work is what businesses call A/B testing. The idea is that you rapidly test one approach after another until you get the best result.
I believe that current facial recognition technology can tell us how a subject is responding to a suggestion. When one approach works well, we don’t stop – we keep testing until we find the one that works best. And different approaches would work with different personality types. So we need a number of persuasion approaches. The A/B testing would be perpetual by design, so our results would improve over time. Once we can reliably reprogram the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, we take that weaponized persuasion to ISIS.
Regular readers of this blog have seen me discuss lots of examples of persuasion at work. But you haven’t seen anything yet. Your opinion of free will will evaporate in the next few years. I had that experience when I trained to be a hypnotist. Once you see a subject’s brain get reprogrammed in real time, you never believe in free will again. That’ll happen to you within five years – you will see examples of brains being reprogrammed right in front of you. The science on how to do it is super strong now. It will be everywhere. And it is totally legal. We used to call it “marketing” when it didn’t work that well. This new stuff is something else. It works so well it makes your ethical alarms go off.
I’ll make a prediction, just for fun: If President Trump orders the release of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners in 2-3 years, it won’t be as risky as you think.
You might enjoy reading my current book because I’m writing a new book and you never want to read the second book first.
Note: If you got here from the link in my tweet, I used “orange kitten” to thwart Twitter’s shadowban on me.
Back in 2014 B.T. (Before Trump), the headlines were all about income inequality. I don’t recall hearing much of anything about immigration in the news. Then candidate Trump – the Master Persuader – told us that immigration was a big problem. Almost instantly the media started treating it like the biggest issue in the world. The public followed. And when Trump won, do you know how the experts who had been wrong about 100% of everything for a year explained it? They said President Trump won because he picked policies that people liked.
Well, not exactly.
What happened is that candidate Trump persuaded us that immigration was a big problem. And in so doing, he pushed the issue of income inequality off the page. Do you remember the last time you saw CNN obsessing about income inequality? I thought it was the public’s biggest issue two years ago. Did it just sort of stop being one?
No, President Trump is in our heads. He told us what our priorities were and we accepted it, even if we hated his plans. Some people think is it a priority to get tougher on immigration, some think the opposite. But we all agree the issue is important.
If you had asked me in 2014 to list my country’s top 10 problems, immigration would not have been on the list. Now it’s usually at the top of the news. Trump did that. And by doing it he showed us a level of leadership that I have never seen in my lifetime. Even if you don’t like where he is leading us.
But here’s the interesting part. If you want to address income inequality, what is one of the best ways to do it? Answer: Limit immigration. That means higher wages for American citizens and lower profits for the top 1% who want cheap labor.
I saw a factoid yesterday that illegal immigration from Mexico is way down lately, presumably in anticipation of the Trump administration being tough. That’s an indicator of rising wages to come. I suppose the top 1% can pass along the higher costs to some extent. But the jobless guy who gets a job won’t be too unhappy that his food is 10% more expensive. He still comes out ahead. And if the employer gets a Trump tax cut, she doesn’t need to pass along as much of the higher wage expense to consumers.
Speaking of jobs, if Trump’s job-creation hype evolves from anecdotal to real, that’s a great way to reduce income inequality too. As I have often said, economies run on psychology, and Trump is a master of psychology. He proved that already by injecting enough optimism into the system that it goosed the stock market, and business confidence in general. That should translate into more investments and a better economy.
The Trump administration also recently tightened their connection to historically black colleges to see how they can help. The best way to reduce income inequality is to address the hardest cases first, to get the most bang for the buck. And the African-American community is coming from the deepest hole. We see no results there yet, but the move makes sense from the perspective of addressing income inequality.
The Trump administration remains skeptical of climate change alarmism for now. Aggressive remediation would cost jobs, which would make income inequality worse. So Trump is on the right side of climate change when it comes to income inequality. But what if climate change is the disaster that most scientists believe it will be? What does that do to income inequality?
Well, my best guess is that the disruption from warming would force the top 1% to hire lots of people to fix all the problems caused by the climate. We might need that sort of global challenge to create enough human jobs as the robots start taking all of the manufacturing work and more. None of this is completely predictable, but it is hard for me to see how the need to adjust to climate change creates fewer jobs.
As I said above, the main reason that income inequality is no longer a major headline is that Trump made us believe that other issues are more important. But the other reason that you no longer see liberals make the trend toward greater income inequality their flagship issue is funnier.
Trump is solving it.
If you are meeting your friend who is always late, you might like the WhenHub app because it lets you know how late they will be. You can get stuff done while waiting. And if your friend won’t use the WhenHub app, obviously you need better friends. But I don’t have an app for that.
I don’t know much about science, and even less about climate science. So as a practical matter, I like to side with the majority of scientists until they change their collective minds. They might be wrong, but their guess is probably better than mine.
That said, it is mind-boggling to me that the scientific community can’t make a case for climate science that sounds convincing, even to some of the people on their side, such as me. In other words, I think scientists are right (because I play the odds), but I am puzzled by why they can’t put together a convincing argument, whereas the skeptics can, and easily do. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
As a public service, and to save the planet, obviously, I will tell you what it would take to convince skeptics that climate science is a problem that we must fix. Please avoid the following persuasion mistakes.
1. Stop telling me the “models” (plural) are good. If you told me one specific model was good, that might sound convincing. But if climate scientists have multiple models, and they all point in the same general direction, something sounds fishy. If climate science is relatively “settled,” wouldn’t we all use the same models and assumptions?
And why can’t science tell me which one of the different models is the good one, so we can ignore the less-good ones? What’s up with that? If you can’t tell me which model is better than the others, why would I believe anything about them?
2. Stop telling me the climate models are excellent at hindcasting, meaning they work when you look at history. That is also true of financial models, and we know financial models can NOT predict the future. We also know that investment advisors like to show you their pure-luck past performance to scam you into thinking they can do it in the future. To put it bluntly, climate science is using the most well-known scam method (predicting the past) to gain credibility. That doesn’t mean climate models are scams. It only means scientists picked the least credible way to claim credibility. Were there no options for presenting their case in a credible way?
Just to be clear, hindcasting is a necessary check-off for knowing your models are rational and worthy of testing in the future. But it tells you nothing of their ability to predict the future. If scientists were honest about that point, they would be more credible.
3. Tell me what percentage of warming is caused by humans versus natural causes. If humans are 10% of the cause, I am not so worried. If we are 90%, you have my attention. And if you leave out the percentage caused by humans, I have to assume the omission is intentional. And why would you leave out the most important number if you were being straight with people? Sounds fishy.
There might be a good reason why science doesn’t know the percentage of human-made warming and still has a good reason for being alarmed. I just haven’t seen it, and I’ve been looking for it. Why would climate science ignore the only important fact for persuasion?
Today I saw an article saying humans are responsible for MORE than 100% of warming because the earth would otherwise be in a cooling state. No links provided. Credibility = zero.
4. Stop attacking some of the messengers for believing that our reality holds evidence of Intelligent Design. Climate science alarmists need to update their thinking to the “simulated universe” idea that makes a convincing case that we are a trillion times more likely to be a simulation than we are likely to be the first creatures who can create one. No God is required in that theory, and it is entirely compatible with accepted science. (Even if it is wrong.)
5. Skeptics produce charts of the earth’s temperature going up and down for ages before humans were industrialized. If you can’t explain-away that chart, I can’t hear anything else you say. I believe the climate alarmists are talking about the rate of increase, not the actual temperatures. But why do I never see their chart overlayed on the skeptics’ chart so we can see the difference? That seems like the obvious thing to do. In fact, climate alarmists should throw out everything but that one chart.
6. Stop telling me the arctic ice on one pole is decreasing if you are ignoring the increase on the other pole. Or tell me why the experts observing the ice increase are wrong. When you ignore the claim, it feels fishy.
7. When skeptics point out that the Earth has not warmed as predicted, don’t change the subject to sea levels. That sounds fishy.
8. Don’t let the skeptics talk last. The typical arc I see online is that Climate Scientists point out that temperatures are rising, then skeptics produce a chart saying the temperatures are always fluctuating, and have for as far as we can measure. If the real argument is about rate of change, stop telling me about record high temperatures as if they are proof of something.
9. Stop pointing to record warmth in one place when we’re also having record cold in others. How is one relevant and the other is not?
10. Don’t tell me how well your models predict the past. Tell me how many climate models have ever been created, since we started doing this sort of thing, and tell me how many have now been discarded because they didn’t predict correctly. If the answer is “All of the old ones failed and we were totally surprised because they were good at hindcasting,” then why would I trust the new ones?
11. When you claim the oceans have risen dramatically, you need to explain why insurance companies are ignoring this risk and why my local beaches look exactly the same to me. Also, when I Google this question, why are half of the top search results debunking the rise? How can I tell who is right? They all sound credible to me.
12. If you want me to believe warmer temperatures are bad, you need to produce a chart telling me how humankind thrived during various warmer and colder eras. Was warming usually good or usually bad?
You also need to convince me that economic models are accurate. Sure, we might have warming, but you have to run economic models to figure out how that affects things. And economic models are, as you know, usually worthless.
13. Stop conflating the basic science and the measurements with the models. Each has its own credibility. The basic science and even the measurements are credible. The models are less so. If you don’t make that distinction, I see the message as manipulation, not an honest transfer of knowledge.
14. If skeptics make you retreat to Pascal’s Wager as your main argument for aggressively responding the climate change, please understand that you lost the debate. The world is full of risks that might happen. We don’t treat all of them as real. And we can’t rank any of these risks to know how to allocate our capital to the best path. Should we put a trillion dollars into climate remediation or use that money for a missile defense system to better protect us from North Korea?
Anyway, to me it seems brutally wrong to call skeptics on climate science “anti-science” when all they want is for science to make its case in a way that doesn’t look exactly like a financial scam.* Is that asking a lot?
People ask me why I keep writing on this topic. My interest is the psychology around it, and the persuasion game on both sides. And it seems to me that climate scientists are the Hillary Clinton of scientists. They think facts and reason will persuade the public. Even though science knows that doesn’t generally work.
* Or a Chinese hoax. They look similar.
If you are taking the family someplace fun for spring break, you might enjoy having the WhenHub app because you need to know where everyone is at when you are in strange places.
The other day, President Trump declared that “President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”
Then the world went nuts.
Former CIA Director James Clapper denied that Trump was wiretapped, saying, “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,“
Yet we know General Flynn was in Trump Tower when his conversation with the Russian diplomat were recorded.
Does that means Flynn was “wiretapped”?
No. But it might mean the person on the other end was. And we already know he was.
Does it mean Trump Tower was “wiretapped”?
No. But it might mean that the person on the other end was. And we already know he was.
And what does “wiretapping” even mean in a world in which all communications are recorded routinely? if the government records you routinely, and then it decides to look at some of those records, with a court order or without, has any “wiretapping” happened? I don’t think so.
And what does it mean to say “Obama was tapping”? Does it mean he directly ordered it, or does he just have to wonder aloud how awesome it would be if someone did it? We expect presidents to have deniability about the spooky stuff because we watch television shows and that makes us smart.
I don’t have an opinion about what happened, or didn’t happen, with the wiretapping. But this story did make me laugh when I realized we find ourselves in the following fun situation:
1. President Trump is the world’s biggest liar (according to his foes).
2. President Trump now has direct access to more national secrets than any other living human being.
And that means fun.
This wiretapping situation shows us how much fun it will be. Six months ago, if Trump made a hard-to-believe claim about something that is also hard to verify, the country would assume he was lying, incorrect, or negotiating. Now, if he says something hard-to-believe, such as the recent wiretapping claim, you have to wonder if the President knows something you don’t. Because he knows a lot of somethings you don’t.
If history is our guide, this odd situation, in which the most famous “liar” in the world also has access to the world’s best secrets, will be more entertaining than dangerous. We’re seeing that entertainment now. Trump can make any claim about hard-to-verify situations and we’ll all have to wonder if he knows something we don’t.
I feel sorry for the people watching the other movie – the one in which President Trump is essentially Hitler. In my movie, he’s having a bumpy transition ride but generally doing the people’s work. My movie is more of a comedy. And you could not write a better comedy than one in which the biggest “liar” in the world is in charge of the biggest secrets in the world.
About North Korea
In other news, watch President Trump force China to put the clamps on North Korea’s missile program by making it clear we’ll handle it for them if they can’t take care of their own backyard. If the United States has to take care of China’s problem for them, it sure would be embarrassing for China. And persuasive.
I base my North Korea prediction on the assumption that by now President Trump has burrowed so far into the brains of the Chinese leadership that he’s already got functional control, Master Persuader style. They just don’t realize it.
If you are a television news producer, you will probably enjoy using the WhenHub app because it will show your invited guests on a map as they approach their various studios. No more worrying who will be late. Just send the guest one text with a link to ask them to temporarily show up on the map on their way to the studio. The geostreaming ends automatically soon after they reach their destination.
I will bet anyone $1 million dollars that I can come up with a climate forecast model that ignores C02 and still predicts the temperature 30 years from now to within half a degree. Does anyone want to take that bet?
Obviously there is a trick involved, so I won’t accept your bet for ethical reasons. But let’s see if you can figure out how I could win that bet every time.
I am 100% confident I can build a climate prediction model, using my current skill set, that will predict the measured temperature in 30 years to within half a degree.
Furthermore, you can pick whatever measurement type and place you want for the bet. My trick does not depend on doing anything clever with the measurement itself.
I can also build an accurate climate prediction model for any local geography. I can do it for the ocean or the air. And in each case, I have a 100% chance of getting the right answer to within half a degree.
Would you take the bet?
I’ll tell you the trick at the end. If you don’t understand how I plan to do it, you also won’t understand why this headline is hilarious nonsense.
I’ll give you another hint in the form of a thought experiment. What if you got an unsolicited email from a new investment company giving you a hot stock tip. You don’t invest because you have never heard of this company, but a month later, the stock they recommended is way up. Next month, you get another email from the same company, with another stock pick. That too goes up in the coming month. By the third time in a row that this company picks a winning stock, you start to think they must have a secret method. Let’s say the overall market was mixed, so getting three in a row is an achievement. Would you invest with this company?
How did the company get those three stocks right? They used a scam. It’s the same scam I’m playing on you right now with my $1 million bet.
The investment company sent out thousands of emails, and they had different stock recommendations in each. Some of the stocks ended up being winners, some losers. After a month, they see which of the thousands of emails had winning stock recommendations, then they only send their second email to that group. Then they repeat. By the third mailing, they might have reduced their population of “winners” from the original 10,000 recipients to just a dozen who, by chance, got three good stock recommendations in a row.
Now do you see how I could make a climate model that is right every time?
All I need to do is make a hundred different models, each producing output that is half a degree apart, until I have at least one model that fits every possible outcome. My models would look like this:
Model 1: Current Temp + .5 degrees
Model 2: Current Temp + 1 degree
Model 3: Current Temp + 1.5 degrees
And I’d include all the temperatures below the current temperature too, just in case we start to cool off. In 30 years, one of my prediction models will be correct by chance. I’ll throw away all the loser models and collect my $1 million bet.
Now keep all of that in your head and take a second look at this headline. Does this model still look impressive? I’m guessing there were quite a few prediction models in the past, and lots of them now too. One of them will be more accurate than the others in 30 years.
Does that really tell you anything?
My point here is that I don’t care how many climate models are accurate if you don’t tell me how many were wrong. If 99 out of 100 climate scientists create models that are wrong, and one gets it right, would you bet on that winning model to stay right in the future?
If you answered yes, I recommend letting someone else make investment decisions for you.
If polar bears used WhenHub, they would find it easier to meet up with other polar bears. But I don’t know where they would charge their phones.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Update: My Twitter traffic just dropped from 14 to 4.
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.
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.
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.
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.