Aggregating the best in libertarian news daily from a number of leading sites:
The Beacon, FEE, Laissez-Faire, Lew Rockwell, Personal Liberty,
Reason, Scott Adams & Sex & The State. See our Sources

Why the New Healthcare Bill Will Be a Loser

People accuse me of imagining that everything President Trump does is brilliant (persuasion-wise) no matter what he does. But I expect the next version of the Republican healthcare bill to be a complete failure. That’s because Republicans seem deeply committed to a losing path, thanks to what might be called the Contrast Problem. 

Contrast is the driving principle behind all decisions. You have to know how your options differ, and by how much, or else you have no basis for a decision. President Obama solved for the contrast problem by designing Obamacare to cover more people than before. The rest of the details – especially the costs – were hard to predict, so our brains flushed that noise and focused on the greater number of people covered. 

Everyone knew Obamacare would need future tuning to get it right. That gave us mental permission to focus on the good parts we understood – the greater coverage – and hope the other details would get worked out later. President Obama nailed the Contrast Problem like the Master Persuader he is.

That was then.

Now, President Trump and the Republicans have the “going second” problem. The public will compare their proposed bill with Obamacare and conclude that the one metric they understand – the number of people covered – does not compare favorably with Obamacare. The contrast is fatal.

We know Paul Ryan will do his wonkish best to tell us about all the amazing advantages of this new bill. And we know the public won’t understand any of it. But they sure will know it doesn’t cover as many people. Done. Bury it.

During the campaign, candidate Trump made some references to taking care of everyone. It sounded like universal coverage, but no one thought he meant it. 

He did mean it. 

He meant it because he understands the contrast problem.  Any Obamacare replacement needs to cover more people than Obamacare, or else it is dead on arrival. Any skilled persuader would see that. 

Paul Ryan doesn’t see the Contrast Problem as important, evidently. 

I think most trained persuaders would agree that the one-and-only path to a successful replacement of Obamacare should include AT A MINIMUM a plan to reach greater coverage. And the only way to get there is by goosing innovation in the healthcare field. We can’t tax our way to full healthcare coverage. We need to lower the costs. And President Trump also needs to solve the Contrast Problem.

To that end, I suggest creating a special low-cost (or free) plan for low income people who are willing to accept a bit more risk. If the plan is robust enough, it could provide a path to greater patient coverage compared to Obamacare and solve the contrast problem. As a mental exercise only, the plan might have the following elements:

1. Online doctors for 90% of routine cases.

2. Require big pharma to provide free meds for people in this plan as a condition of selling in the United States. The low-income people covered would be the ones who would not otherwise buy these drugs, so the companies would only lose the cost of the materials themselves, which is trivial.

3. Recruit and approve special doctors for this plan who are by law exempt from any malpractice suits so long as they provide reasons for their decisions. This would allow them to avoid some red tape and also use new and inexpensive medical technology before full FDA approval – but only for the new stuff that common sense tells the doctors would not be especially dangerous. I’m not talking about pills and internal medicine. I’m talking about medical devices, mostly. It would be up to the doctor to decide when it was safe to risk using the new methods.

4. Patients agree to wear health monitors – the newest prototypes – and to share their medical information (anonymously) for the greater benefit of society. This would allow early detection and treatment. Perhaps the low-cost insurance could be free to those who walk 10,000 steps a day, or something of that nature.

5. Shine a government light on any medical technology or systems improvements that would lower cost, to guarantee that the good ones are known to doctors and investors. (Then stay out of the way.)

This is just a starter concept for what a special low-cost plan (with slightly higher risks) might look like. The main point is that you could cobble together a low-cost plan if you had some government muscle behind it to clear out the useless regulations and to focus energy in the right places.

If President Trump presents us with a healthcare plan that doesn’t cover as many people as Obamacare, but will cover more people eventually, that’s a winning contrast.

Otherwise, the bill will die on the Contrast hill. And that’s the direction we’re heading.

As I’ve said before, America can’t make a strong claim to greatness if we can’t do healthcare right. So let’s do it right. Or at least have a plan to get there.

You might enjoy reading my book because it will keep you healthy. 

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
Russia Hacked our Election! (So what?)

I see a consensus forming that Russia attempted to influence our election with fake news and other social media shenanigans. 

But why?

If you start with the assumption that Russia is an enemy of the United States, you probably assume they do bad things to us simply to weaken our power and effectiveness. For example, this article hypothesizes that Russia’s intention was to breed distrust between whoever became president and our intelligence services. I guess that hypothesis sort-of-almost makes sense. But I wouldn’t say it passes my personal sniff test.

Then there’s the more popular theory that the Russians were colluding with the Trump campaign because Putin thought he could somehow control President Trump via blackmail, or business ties, or something else we’re imagining. I guess that could be true. Sort of. But that doesn’t pass my sniff test either.

Then there’s the hypothesis that Russia was messing with our democratic system to weaken the country by sowing distrust about the election process, or possibly by electing a president they believed would be less effective. But I have a hard time believing the Russians thought Trump would be ineffective. Maybe they just thought he would be divisive, and perhaps they thought that’s good for Russia in some way.

I suppose any one of the versions of reality I described could be true. But my brain has to work hard to make sense of any of those explanations. The pieces fit, but only when I hammer them. That raises a red flag for confirmation bias. 

Just for fun, let’s compare the standard explanations for Russia’s alleged influence on the election with two other hypotheses.

Hackers and Misdirection

As Putin accurately pointed out in a recent interview, hackers can make their attacks seem to come from other sources, including Russia. I assume there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Trump-supporting Americans with the skills to hack poorly-secured servers. Even if you assume Putin wanted to hack American servers, he would have needed to get in line to do it. Given all the American hackers who opposed Hillary Clinton, there is perhaps a one-in-a-hundred chance Putin’s hackers (if they exist) got to the DNC and Clinton’s servers before the hordes of non-Russian hackers did it. So even if Putin tried, the odds are low that his team got to the good stuff first. 

But that’s just the hacking allegation. The “influence” goes further than that, including fake news and other social media shenanigans.

Fake News and Social Media Shenanigans

Let’s say Russia did attempt to influence American voters to support Trump. The first question I have to ask is this: Aren’t all the big countries trying to influence elections in all the other countries, all the time? If Russia did try to influence an American election, wouldn’t that be business as usual? Do we imagine the United States is NOT trying to influence foreign elections through our own fake news and social media manipulations? I always assumed we do that sort of thing. I base that assumption on the following observation about human beings:

If the payoff for bad behavior is high, and the odds of getting caught and punished are low, bad behavior happens every time.

That describes the situation with influencing foreign elections. The payoff is high (potentially) and one assumes the major intelligence agencies know how to avoid getting fingered. Whenever you have this sort of situation, you always have mischief. 

But let’s get back to Russia’s presumed payoff for somehow destabilizing the United States. I think we need to check that assumption because Putin seems like a smart guy. It’s hard for me to believe he thinks he would come out ahead by destabilizing the world’s most important military and economic power. And that is doubly true when you are teaming with that country to fight ISIS, put a cap on North Korea, and keep the economy chugging along. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in 2017 in which Russia gains by poking America with a sharp stick. The probable outcome seems more bad than good. Who wants a pissed-off nuclear superpower looking in your direction? It doesn’t pass the sniff test. If Putin were an idiot, I could see him wanting to cause this sort of trouble just because he was dumb.

Putin isn’t dumb.

Global Democracy Hypothesis

I’d like to introduce a new hypothesis to explain why Russia might have wanted to influence American elections: They believed a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a disaster to the world, including Russia.

We’ve been brainwashed by the media and our own government to believe Russia always acts against our interests. I think it would be more accurate to assume Russia always acts in its own best interest, and that can sometimes be in conflict with our interests.

But not always. 

There is no rule that says Russia’s best interests have to diverge from America’s. For example, both countries want to defeat ISIS. Both countries prefer a non-nuclear North Korea. Both countries prefer robust trade. And so on.

As a thought experiment, imagine the United States watching some other country’s election process while believing one of the main candidates would be a disaster for the world, including the United States. Would our intelligence services try to influence that election, even if it was a NATO country?

Of course they would. At least I hope so. 

But something much larger than government-on-government influence is happening, and I’d like to call that out in this post. We keep talking about physical border security, but what about influence security? Any country with widespread Internet access is susceptible to the same kind of fake news and other social media influence that we suspect Russia of doing. And every citizen can play this game. For example, if I were highly motivated to influence an election in Great Britain, I’m sure I could move a few thousand votes in any direction I chose. Could it be said in that case that America is trying to manipulate a foreign election? Yes, unambiguously so. And I believe it is totally legal, even if I use fake news as my persuasion.

From 2017 onward, the democratic process in any country is open to “voting” by the entire world. The foreign “votes” will come in the form of social media influence on the local voters. There is no practical way to stop any of that from happening. And that means political power will migrate from the traditional triumvirate of politicians, rich people, and the media, to individual persuaders who are good at it. In 2017 and beyond, the best persuaders in the world will be influencing democratic elections in every country. And those persuaders will be from anywhere on the globe. Borders can’t stop persuasion.

While you were watching the news coverage about physical borders between countries, and physical immigration, the democratic process in each country became global. We can (and do) influence politics across borders now, bigly. And fake news is part of the soup, unfortunately.

Did Putin or other Russian nationals try to influence American elections? I assume so. I also assume America has done the same – in terms of influence on their local politics – to Russia, and to every one of our allies. 

And if we aren’t doing that sort of thing, why the hell not? Voting is open across borders now. We would be wise to vote in those other countries. That’s what Russia did. Allegedly.

You might enjoy reading my book because Russia. (See video review here)

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
The Comey Fog

Ex-FBI Director Comey released a statement ahead of his appearance before Congress, and it has heads spinning. I’ll tell you how things look through what I call the Persuasion Filter.

There are several related stories swirling around the news that involve Russia, Trump, Trump’s campaign staff, and Comey. All together, the stories are beyond the capacity of the human brain to hold the details and keep them from automatically conflating in our minds and becoming more soup than individual ingredients. When you have this level of complexity, humans reflexively default to using bias over reason. Our capacity for reason isn’t up to the job in this case because all the Russia-Comey-Trump stuff has started to run together in our minds. We would happily use our limited powers of reason in this situation if we could, but the complexity of it all makes that a dream beyond our grasp.

Could a trained lawyer sort out this complexity and at least tell you whether or not a law has been broken? Apparently not. Otherwise the lawyers on both sides would agree. They don’t.

So what we are seeing is a super-clean example of what I call two movies on one screen. The anti-Trump media and citizens are peering into the Comey fog and seeing some serious Trump-related wrongdoing that is impeachable at the very least, and treasonous at worst. Meanwhile, Trump supporters are looking at the SAME FACTS and seeing nothing illegal except for some leaking by anti-Trumpers.

Now add to the Comey fog the recent news of how President Trump worded his conversations. The nation will be word-thinking like crazy today, trying to figure out whether “honest” and “hope” mean something. That’s just enough ambiguity to create confirmation bias in literally every observer. (Including me, of course.) We’re all seeing what we want to see at this point.

I’m not a lawyer, and I’m as biased as the rest of you on this topic. But for what it’s worth, I’ll tell you what I’m seeing through my filter.

“Honest Loyalty”

Comey reports that Trump asked him during a private meeting for “loyalty.” Comey promised “honesty” instead. When Trump pressed the point a second time, Comey said he would give “honest loyalty.” Trump agreed that “honest loyalty” is what he wanted. The way you interpret this conversation depends on whether you think Trump or his associates are guilty of anything. If you think Trump is guilty of a crime, the conversation sounds like a Mafia-style threat. But if you believe Trump and his associates are innocent of any crimes, you probably see honesty and loyalty as the same thing in this situation. Innocent people want law enforcement to be honest. For the FBI to act otherwise would be disloyal to both the Constitution and any citizens involved in the investigation. In the context of an investigation of an innocent citizen, honesty and loyalty from law enforcement are the same thing.

“Hope you can let it go”

Regarding the FBI investigation of Flynn, if you think there was wrongdoing by Flynn, Trump’s expression of hope that the FBI can “let it go” sounds like a gangster sending a threat. But if you believe Flynn was innocent of everything but lying to Pence (for which he was fired) then you see it as entirely reasonable that Flynn’s friend (Trump) would “hope” Comey could “let it go.” The alternative would be hoping that Flynn was harmed for no reason, and the government continued to be distracted over nonsense. Does anyone hope for that outcome?

I won’t defend what President Trump said or did on this issue. Clearly it was problematic because we’re discussing it instead of something more useful. But I don’t see a broken law.

Persuading Comey

Was President Trump trying to persuade Comey in any of their private conversations? Of course he was. In a political context, all conversations are about persuasion. Comey was trying to persuade Trump that Comey was a competent and capable player with no bias. Trump was expressing his preferences from a power position, which is persuasive by its nature. 

Persuasion isn’t inherently good or bad. Persuasion is a tool. It’s goodness or badness depends on the context of its use. If you believe Trump knows he and his associates were innocent of any wrongdoing, and you observe that the investigations are making the government less effective, it feels entirely legitimate for the President to persuade in a direction that is a benefit for all citizens. No one wants to waste time, money, or energy on a useless investigation. But if you think there is some wrongdoing yet uncovered, presidential persuasion would be wildly inappropriate in this case, even if technically legal.

I haven’t seen evidence of any crimes on the Trump side, so my filter sees a president trying to remove some obstacles that are not serving him or the American public. That kind of persuasion doesn’t feel wrong to me. 

If new information emerges, I’m happy to update my opinion.

You might enjoy reading my book because I it is chock-full of honest loyalty. 

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
Solar Panels on the Wall?

Axios is reporting that President Trump suggested putting solar panels on the new Wall with Mexico. The article wonders where the idea came from:

Where this idea might come from: A proposal to cover the wall with solar panels was among those submitted when the U.S. requested designs earlier this year, according to the AP. Companies winning contracts and asked to build prototypes may be announced this month.

That’s one place it might have come from. But I consider it an obvious idea, which means the President might have come up with it himself. And when I say “obvious,” I mean it is obvious to people who understand the power of persuasion.

Case in point, consider this quote from my blog post in November of 2015, about a year before the first Wall bids were submitted.

Now let’s keep thinking big about what this “wall” actually is. I can imagine a bullet train operating inside the wall, with shops and entertainment on each side, at least within the gateway city. I can imagine solar panels all along the top. I can imagine condos built into the wall. You can add more ideas. The point is that “wall” is thinking small. Think gateway city.

You can see the rest of that blog post here.

Many readers of this blog have wondered about the spooky accuracy of my Trump-related predictions for the past 2 years. Some have wondered on social media if I was somehow causing things to happen or just doing a good (or lucky) job of predicting. I’d like to propose a third option: People who understand persuasion think alike. 

Putting solar panels on the wall is persuasion. It isn’t construction. It isn’t politics. It isn’t border security. It isn’t climate protection. It is pure persuasion. If that isn’t already obvious to you, consider how hard it would be for critics to argue against a green energy project, even if that is just an add-on feature to the wall. It changes the frame.

My hypothesis is that people who understand persuasion are likely to come to similar conclusions about things, and those conclusions will not agree with 98% of the public. Want more evidence of that? Take a look at linguist and persuasion expert George Lakoff’s take on President Trump’s Twitter strategy. You’ll see it is similar to what I’ve been telling you for a few years now. That’s not a coincidence. Lakoff is looking at the situation through what I call the Persuasion Filter, same as me.

We all have our own filters, informed by our training and life experiences. People who only know politics see only politics. People who are trained only in economics will tell you to follow the money. And trained persuaders will tell you persuasion is usually the predictive variable. 

When you see experienced “persuaders” agree on a topic, it doesn’t mean one of them got the idea from another. It probably means there was one obvious persuasion-related play and those with training recognized it at the same time.

You might enjoy reading my book because it is almost summer.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
Most Problems are Information Problems

I have a hypothesis that nearly all solvable problems in the modern world are information problems in disguise. For example, unemployment is largely (but not entirely) a problem of people not knowing where to find jobs, as opposed to no jobs existing. I could give you lots of other examples where information would solve a major problem, but today I want to focus on one: Stopping terrorism.

Terrorism is an information problem in the sense that if we knew where to find the terrorists, we could stop them. But it is also an information problem in a few other ways. Take this example:


Imagine having the information about which Imams in Britain WOULD do a funeral prayer for a terrorist who murdered British citizens. Call me an optimist, but I think that information would help the British public sort things out.

We’re almost there.

You might enjoy reading my book because most problems are information problems.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
Helping the Terrorists Recruit

There is more terrorism in the news, this time in London. So how do the British politicians respond?

They do a recruitment ad for more terrorists.

They start by giving the terrorists cool labels, such as “Islamic extremists.” Do you know what sounds like an awesome club for an angry young Muslim to join? I’m thinking “Islamic Extremist” sound about right. That branding should be great for recruitment.

The media also helps terror recruitment with their wall-to-wall news about the terrorists’ successes. Every time they mention the body count, the bad guys cheer.

A better approach for the media, if they want to be helpful, might involve inviting a continuous line of Muslim scholars and critics  to talk about how these “gullible losers” were duped by ISIS to kill themselves and spend eternity in Hell. And we need lots of visual and other persuasion about Hell. I want Photoshopped images of the terrorists burning for eternity. I want descriptions of the smells, tastes, and sounds they are experiencing, so the next “lone wolf” has something to contrast with the 72 virgin story. Let’s put some doubt into that mix. Fear is a good persuader.

I also wonder why the families of terrorists are not being flooded with condolence messages from Muslim clerics saying they are sorry about their kid burning in Hell for eternity. Be sincere about it. Include some digital representation of Hell in those cards and letters.

Change the frame.

You might enjoy reading my book in the safety of your home because traveling is dangerous.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
An Example of Cognitive Dissonance

What the heck is “climate denial”? Is that even a thing?

I mentioned on Periscope the other day that I created a Sunday comic as a cognitive dissonance trap. I wanted to see if I could make an argument about the reliability of ECONOMIC models and dupe irrational people into labelling me a climate denier. 

As you can see below, the experiment worked as planned. Notice the excerpt below leaves out the part of the comic that mentions ECONOMIC models.

I know many of you don’t believe I planned this as a cognitive dissonance trap. But I did. If I do something like this again, I’ll call it out for you in advance so you can follow the experiment.

My hypothesis (to myself) was that i could make a public argument about the reliability of ECONOMIC models, and partisans on the climate debate would not be able to see the word ECONOMIC on the page. Literally.

If you see the word ECONOMIC in the comic (twice), you probably can’t find anything objectionable about the point of it. Both sides of the debate would agree that you need an economic model to make a decision. And both sides would agree that no such credible model exists. 

Science tries to tell you what is true, as best it can. Economics tells you how one true thing COMPARES to another true thing on cost. Those are very different models. For example, science might tell you the sea level will rise by three inches. But you need an economic model to decide whether spending money to address that problem is better than spending money to fix other problems. If you leave out the other options for spending your limited money, you have done no decision-making analysis whatsoever.

No scientist would disagree with what I just said. Likewise, no scientist who sees the word “ECONOMIC” in my comic would find anything with which to disagree. The only way you can disagree with the comic is to (literally) hallucinate that it says something other than what it says. And that’s what happened. As I predicted.

The trigger for cognitive dissonance is this:

1. Climate scientists are 100% sure they are right.

2. My comic explains that no credible decision-making models (economic models) exist. 

3. Climate scientists reading my comic realize they haven’t done the work necessary to make their case to the public because science is only the first step. Economics is the tool you need for policy-setting and decision-making. And the economics of climate change – which would necessarily compare all spending options for our limited money – haven’t been modeled in any credible way. 

4. Given this set-up, a climate scientist would either need to admit that his or her career-defining opinions about climate policy are incomplete (at best), or the scientist must spontaneously generate an illusion that masks the words ECONOMIC in my comic. In other words, climate alarmists experiencing a state of cognitive dissonance can read that comic ten times and not remember seeing the word ECONOMIC when done. I mean that literally. The word ECONOMIC will be mentally invisible to anyone in this cognitive dissonance trap.

Try showing this comic to a climate alarmist friend and see how well the trap works. Look for your friend to fight like a wounded weasel to avoid talking about ECONOMIC models. And watch how quickly you get labelled a “climate denier.”

As if that is even a thing.


You might enjoy reading my book because science.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
Betting on Climate Change

Did you notice the stock market rising sharply after President Trump announced he would pull out of the Paris Climate Accord and – according to CNN – destroy the entire planet? Markets are irrational, but still, it’s hard to reconcile a decision to destroy civilization with a rise in investor confidence.

What should I make of the fact so many citizens say global warming is an existential danger while the people who have money are (apparently) betting against it? How does that make sense?

One way it makes sense is that markets move for lots of different reasons. But in my experience, a sharp move in the markets timed to a political action is like an instant vote of thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the decision. Apparently, leaving the Paris Accord was a thumbs-up for investors.

And so I give you this hypothesis: There is social pressure to say you side with the majority of climate scientists. To do otherwise would make many people feel like ignoramuses. So they craft their personalities around a belief in climate change doom because they are people who respect science. It fits their identity preference.

Until you ask them to invest their money.

Then people bet against it.

Here I’m not talking about every person. I’m talking about a tendency for some members of a group to be frictionless-only members. As soon as you give them friction – such as a financial risk – some (not all) climate alarmists might become climate skeptics. 

That’s just a hypothesis. 

Another hypothesis is that markets are short-sighted. But how much short-term benefit does the entire economy get from leaving the Paris Accords? I haven’t seen the argument for it helping directly in the next quarter or two, except in terms of optimism for the long-term.

And yet another hypothesis is that the people who have extra money to invest have a different view of climate risks than people who don’t have money. And that could be because the investor class is either smarter or dumber on this topic, on average, than non-investors. 

All of this makes me wonder why there isn’t a more robust betting market for climate change predictions. Folks could bet on sea level changes and temperature averages using some agreed standard for measurement. That way, the climate alarmists can hedge against the economic catastrophe they see coming, at least for their own families. Given the certainty of climate scientists, I would think the people betting on their side would be making easy money. Those winnings could help offset the higher expenses caused by climate disruption. 

Apparently, bad versions of the betting market idea already exist, or did exist at one time. I’m sure you’ll tell me about others. But the lack of a big-time betting market in this space tells me there wouldn’t be enough bets on one side of the topic to make a market.

I wonder which side that would be.

Disclosure: My current view on climate science is that the climate scientists are probably right on the basic science, and their climate models are probably directionally right too. But no one has created a credible economic model around climate change. Until you have a long-term economic model that you can trust, you have no way to know what to do about climate change or when to do it. The climate science models don’t tell you any of that. They aren’t designed for that. If you want to make rational decisions about climate change economic risks, you need credible long-term economic models, not climate models.

On a related note, there’s no such thing as a credible long-term economic model. It isn’t a thing.

You might enjoy reading my book because the alternative is drowning in iceberg water and polar bear tears.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
The Kathy Griffin Controversy

Comedian Kathy Griffin got into some hot water for a staged photo of herself holding a realistic-looking severed head that looks like President Trump. I won’t reproduce the photo here. It is disturbing. People asked me what it all means in terms of persuasion, if anything. I’ll tell you.

Disclosure: Kathy Griffin played the voice of the Alice in my old Dilbert TV show on UPN. I like Kathy, both personally and professionally. I’m a fan. Feel free to factor in my bias when you read this post.

The fascinating part of the story is that Griffin and at least one photographer thought this photo would be provocative but within bounds. The Internet quickly informed them they were wrong. Griffin issued a video apology that some people judge to be insincere. But it looked 100% sincere to me.

I have been telling you since before the inauguration that the country was going to split into two movies on one screen. Some of us are watching a new president do his best to make America great. But half the country is watching a disaster movie in which we unknowingly elected a Hitler-monster to destroy civilization. The Kathy Griffin situation illustrates the two-movie idea perfectly. For Kathy and her associates at the photoshoot, this photo was intentionally provocative, but in a silly way. In their movie, beheading the Hitler-monster is a widely-approved fantasy. Perfectly acceptable. Nothing to see here.

Then they published the photo.

And learned there was another movie on the same screen.

You and I get to live in the movies in our heads until your script and mine come into conflict. That’s what happened with the Griffin photo. The photo showed us with disturbing clarity that we are not experiencing the same movie. In some of our movies, Griffin literally took the side of ISIS (EviLosers) against the Commander in Chief of the United States. But in Kathy’s movie, a comedian made a provocative joke, as she often does. That’s all.

Obviously I support Griffin’s right to produce provocative and sometimes offensive art. That is part of her job. And I also respect her rapid and thorough apology. To feel otherwise about Kathy would make me one of the overly-sensitive folks I have been mocking for years. You don’t get to turn me into that person. But you can go full-snowflake on this topic if you like.

The takeaway here should not be so much about Griffin. The takeaway is that a room full of people involved in the photoshoot did not see this as a huge problem from the start. They were living a different movie. If you judge this situation to be an error of taste, judgement, intelligence, or morality, you are missing the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that the country is living two movies at the same time, and Griffin was acting “normal” in one of them. 

Persuasion-wise, Griffin’s photo was so over-the-line that I assume it ruined the movie for a lot of people following the anti-Trump script. The audience in Griffin’s movie just had a mirror held up to them. If they liked what they saw, they will stay in their seats. If they don’t like being the villains in their own movie, they might change the channel.

History might record this as the beginning of Trump’s rise in popularity. I have been predicting you will see the rise in the polls by year end.

Do you consider Kathy Griffin’s disturbing photo to be “art”? That’s a purely subjective evaluation. But Griffin did turn most Trump supporters into hypocrites by making them complain about political correctness.

If that isn’t art, you don’t know art.

You might enjoy reading my book because of all the art that isn’t in it.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →

By now, most of you know President Trump tweeted an unfinished message including a funny typo with the nonsense word “covfefe” late last night. He kept the tweet posted for hours while the Internet had its fun.

My hypothesis is President Trump was composing a tweet and got interrupted. Maybe he stuck his phone in his pocket and “pocket-tweeted” the typo. In any event, it was clearly accidental, as well as delightfully human.

The magic of the tweet is that covfefe is an astonishingly funny word. You couldn’t invent a funnier word if you assembled a panel of humorists and experts. But as I say, it was an accident. I also often say, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

President Trump apparently decided to leave his typo-tweet live for hours, as the Internet went wild with delight. If you are a Twitter user, you saw some of the best humor of the year happen late last night and this morning. 

The typo was just a mistake. But the President’s decision (I assume) to keep it posted for hours was a smart move. In movie terms, he created what writers call a “trap door” in the script. The trap door is the laugh that gives you some relief in a scary or dramatic movie. The country needed a laugh. Trump saw the opportunity created by the typo and wrote it into the script. Nicely done.

You might enjoy reading my book because covfefe.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
Going After the Families of Terrorists

During the presidential campaign, President Trump famously suggested going after the families of terrorists. That would be strong persuasion. The downside is that it is also a war crime. So Trump backed off on “going after the families.”

Or did he?

On his overseas trip, Trump demanded that the Palestinians stop paying the families of dead terrorists. The president is literally “going after the families” without firing a shot.

President Trump is also “going after the families” by branding ISIS as Evil Losers. You might be proud of your son for being a Jihadist, but the Evil Loser brand isn’t bringing anything good to the family name.

Let me give you a little thought experiment. Suppose our military found a terrorist bomb-maker who supplied bombs and training to terrorists but never did a terrorist act himself. Would we be within our military, legal, and ethical boundaries to kill that bomb-maker with a drone attack?

I think all of you just said yes.

In the context of a suicide bomber, the “bomb” is two parts. One part is the human being, and the other is the mechanical/chemical bomb. The bomb-maker made the mechanical/chemical part. But the family of the terrorist might have created the rest of the bomb, at least in some cases.

So here’s the thought experiment. In the specific case where a family radicalized their own kid, and also accepted payment after the suicide attack, is that really different from being a “bomb-maker”? After all, the kid is an important part of the bomb. 

In some cases, if not most, the family has no real control over the actions of an adult child radicalized on his own. If you attack that family, you are committing a war crime for sure. That would be evil. And it would be hard to determine how much the family did to radicalize the kid.

Realistically, there is no practical way to go after the “bomb-maker” families without accidentally killing some innocent people who were minding their own business. To avoid that situation, you would need some clear, objective standard for deciding which families are “bomb-makers.” One such standard might included the family accepting the money AND making a public statement supporting their terrorist kid’s actions. 

You probably don’t want to attack a family simply because they accepted free money when offered. In a poor region, people don’t say no to free money. But if the family also makes a public statement in favor of terrorism, they are literally attempting to create more (human) bombs by popularizing the concept. 

I’m not in favor of Americans committing war crimes. But I’m okay with killing bomb-makers. Apparently I can’t have both. 

You might enjoy reading my book because it has nothing to do with my blog topic today.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
The Time I Nudged Climate Scientists into Debunking their Own Models

If you have been reading this blog and following me on Periscope, you know I announced I was going to use my own powers of persuasion to nudge climate scientists into doing a better job of communicating their side of things. The climate models are the least-credible thing scientists do, and yet scientists have been using their models as their featured evidence. No matter which side you are on with the climate change debate, you don’t want either side using their weakest argument. You want both sides to do their best so we can accurately judge who has the strongest thinking. To that end, I framed the “climate models” as being necessarily incomplete because you really need economic models to decide how to react to climate change, not scientific models. And long-term economic models have zero credibility. Even scientists would agree on that point.

Evidently I applied enough persuasion to generate this video that attempts to debunk my debunking of climate models. But it does so by…devaluing their own models. That’s what I was trying to do too. We’re on the same page.

Watch the clip for the Absurd Absolute tell for cognitive dissonance that happens at ten seconds in. The scientist defines the opposition argument with the absurd absolutes “anything” and  “everything.” Whenever you see your opposition create a strawman argument with absurd absolutes, it means you won the debate. You only see this behavior when the opposition has no response to your real argument; they have to transform it into an absurd absolute in order to have any response at all.

I told you I was going to rewire this global debate exactly this way. I did this as a demonstration of the power of persuasion. 

Now, do you still think President Trump’s branding of the Losers is just name-calling?

It isn’t. 

You might enjoy reading my book because of persuasion.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
Goodbye ISIS, Hello Losers

President Trump just gave ISIS its new name: Losers. (Short for Evil Losers).

If you think that’s no big deal, you’re wrong. It’s a big deal. This is – literally – weapons-grade persuasion from the most powerful Master Persuader of our time.

As I have taught you in this blog, President Trump’s clever nicknames for people are not random. They are deeply engineered for visual impact and future confirmation bias.

In this case, the visuals will be provided by future terror attacks. That reinforces the “evil” part, obviously. But more importantly, the Losers will be doing nothing but losing on the battlefield from now until “annihilation.” They are surrounded, and the clock is ticking. Oh, and the press isn’t allowed to watch the final battles. In other words, we won’t need to build new holding cells on Guantanamo Bay this time. No press means no prisoners, if you know what I mean. (American soldiers won’t be shooting the prisoners. We have allies for that sort of thing.)

As you know, “annihilation” of the Losers in Loserdom won’t stop the loser’s ideas from spreading. You still have to kill the ideas. And that takes persuasion, not bullets. President Trump just mapped out the persuasion solution: Evil Losers.

Quickly, name one other way you could label/insult the Losers that would be as powerful as the word Loser. You can’t do it with any other name or insult that is also repeatable in polite company.

What kinds of people join the Losers? Mostly young males. And you know what brand young males do not want on them? Right: Losers.

If you call them monsters, they like it. If you call them ISIS or ISIL they put it on a flag and wave it around. If you call them non-Muslim, it just rolls off their backs because they have Korans and stuff. Almost any other “brand” you can imagine is either inert or beneficial to Loser recruitment.

Loser is different. No one joins the Loser movement. Try at home, with your family or friends, to concoct a more effective brand poisoning than Loser. You probably can’t. Remember, your brand has to fit with future confirmation evidence. The Losers on the battlefield will continue to be losing, so the brand is engineered to get stickier over time. Your alternative idea for a brand solution has to have that quality of future confirmation too. Good luck finding a better persuasion brand.

This is not accidental. President Trump does (laugh if you will) have the best words, at least for this sort of thing. He’s proven it over and over. Just ask Jeb, Ted, and HIllary. 

As a mental experiment, imagine the CEOs of the major browser companies, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the open source products getting together to stop the spread of Loser propaganda. They could collectively decide to program their browsers to auto-convert ISIS or Al-Quaeda or other cool terror names to Evil Losers. If all the browser products agree, that’s all your teenager in Europe will see as he tries to self-radicalize. That would, in time, end recruitment for Losers.

An hour ago you believed there was no way to stop the spread of the ideas behind terrorism. I just told you how to do it by the end of the week. While I don’t expect the browser companies to take my suggestion, I do expect some of you will realize for the first time how winnable the war of ideas is.

So long as your Commander in Chief is also a Master Persuader.

Otherwise you’re out of luck.

America, as it turns out, has lots of luck left in it.

You haven’t seen anything yet. We’re just getting started.

You might enjoy reading my book because you are a winner.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →
Time to End Presidential Press Briefings?

Personally, I enjoy watching Sean Spicer spar with the press. It’s good entertainment. But press briefings don’t make sense in 2017. And they certainly don’t make sense for a Trump presidency. I’ll tell you why.

The role of press briefings is to create two complementary illusions. The first illusion is that the administration is providing new and useful information. That rarely happens. And when it does, it could have been done more easily in the form of a press release in response to a written inquiry. A written response can be faster than a press briefing because it doesn’t depend on a scheduled meeting time in the future.

The second illusion created by the press briefings is that “news” is being manufactured in that room. The reality is that artisanal “gotcha” moments are lovingly crafted by the press. That means the so-called news from press briefings is generally fake news, and that would be true no matter the administration in power.

It can be super-expensive for a news organization to do investigative journalism. It might take months to do the research and it can result in no story at all. But the gotcha questions at a press briefing are cheap, and they are the incubators of fake news that feed the media machine. That’s good for the press, but the public doesn’t need any of that, except for entertainment. 

The other big reason for eliminating press briefings is the uniqueness of President Trump. No surrogate can speak for our current president and expect to stay consistent and accurate. The president’s persuasion system involves a lot of flexibility with the facts, as well as moving people’s attention and energy where he needs it. Realistically, no surrogate can hope to match what President Trump does, or even to stay consistent with it. And as long as the president is willing to do lots of on-camera interviews, the press should get plenty of easy-to-mine news right from the source. No press briefing needed.

Imagine, instead of press briefings, the White House creates a web page to handle questions from the press. The page would give special question-asking privileges to the legitimate press, along with follow-up privileges as needed. And answers could be provided all day long, as questions arise. Some of the answers can be in the form of video clips, for easy sharing. Perhaps even the questions from reporters could be in video form. The public could weigh in on both the questions and the answers.

This system would provide faster and more precise answers from the White House. The only downsides are the press would have fewer gotcha stories, and their correspondents would have less camera time. But I think they can get over that.

You might enjoy reading my book because press briefings and communication.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

Read More →