Newt’s Plan to Defeat ISIS

    Newt Gingrich has a plan to defeat ISIS by destroying the technology in ISIS-held territory. I described a similar approach in this post.

    The interesting part of this approach is that it frames the enemy as something from the past. This is more about persuasion than death. All we’d be doing is destroying the technology (and anyone standing near it) that did not originate within Islam. That seems fair to me.

    Read Newt’s idea and mine. Some version of this kind of thinking is the answer.

    If you think Newt’s idea is similar in some ways to mine, you should read my book. Everything in that book is similar to the way I write.

Trump’s Glide Path

    Is it my imagination, or has Trump been relatively non-controversial lately?

    Do you remember how Trump got lots of free publicity in the past year by saying approximately one outrageous and controversial thing each week, like clockwork? And do you remember how you thought his outrageous approach could never be a winning formula in the general election?

    I’ve been saying since last year that Trump’s path to victory is simple. All he needs to do is STOP saying controversial things for the last several months before election day to prove he can control himself. Plus, voters have short memories. So whatever Trump does in the coming months will be more important than whatever happened last year. And lately he’s been more presidential, at least by Trump standards.

    But here’s the fascinating part, at least to me. Trump’s consistency in being outrageous has created a situation in which we’re all expecting more of it. Now Trump is in a position to get man-bites-dog publicity (the best kind) simply by being non-controversial. And the longer he maintains this new approach, the more newsworthy it becomes. By late August you might be seeing headlines of this nature:




    Now consider what Clinton and Trump each need to accomplish – and quickly – in order to win in November. Clinton needs to prove she is not crooked, which is now impossible because the head of the FBI has publicly certified her as crooked. At least that’s how it looks to the public. The public heard the FBI say Clinton broke the law, followed by a decision to not prosecute. That taint won’t wash off by November. 

    Trump, on the other hand, simply has to NOT do crazy-racist-sounding things for a few months. If he stays presidential (mostly) from here on out, people will believe he can moderate his scary persona at will. That’s all he needs to prove.

    Clinton’s task of proving she is not crooked is literally impossible at this stage. But Trump’s task of NOT being outrageous for a few months is somewhat easy. He’s already doing it, and I don’t see him breaking a sweat.

    You also have to factor in the Gingrich effect. No matter who gets tapped for Vice President, Gingrich has already created intellectual cover for Trump. Were you worried that Trump is dumb and under-informed? You don’t have that concern about Gingrich, even if you dislike him. Gingrich solves for Trump’s perceived intellect gap with Clinton. Expect Gingrich to have a key role in Trump’s government.

    The new Quinnipiac poll shows Trump now leading in 4-out-of-5 battleground states. Most of the polling was done before the FBI announced its email server decision. Do you know what else was happening during that time to influence polls?

    Answer: Nothing

    In other words, Trump didn’t do anything outrageous for a few weeks. That’s all he needs to do from here on out – more nothing – to win in a landslide. The “Crooked Hillary” harpoon he landed a few months ago is bleeding her out. Trump’s glide path to victory involves picking his cabinet and acting serious for a few months. That’s all it will take. (Expect a few mini-outrages just for fun.)

    Speaking of glide paths, you might like my book, even though those thoughts are not connected.

When Persuasion Turns Deadly

    Some of you watched with amusement as I endorsed Hillary Clinton for my personal safety. What you might not know is that I was completely serious. I was getting a lot of direct and indirect death threats for writing about Trump’s powers of persuasion, and I made all of that go away by endorsing Clinton. People don’t care why I am on their side. They only care that I am. 

    You might have found it funny that I endorsed Clinton for my personal safety. But it was only funny by coincidence. I did it for personal safety, and apparently it is working. Where I live, in California, it is not safe to be seen as supportive of anything Trump says or does. So I fixed that.

    Again, I’m completely serious about the safety issue. Writing about Trump ended my speaking career, and has already reduced my income by about 40%, as far as I can tell. But I’m in less physical danger than I was. 

    If you didn’t believe me that I endorsed Clinton for my safety, perhaps the recent shooting of police officers changed your mind. That’s the sort of tragedy you expect to happen when Team Clinton frames the national debate as a race war. 

    Let me give you an example of how Clinton and her supporters in the media have pushed us to the brink of a race war. This article in the Washington Post tells us that although cops kill more whites than African-Americans, we still have a police racism problem because blacks are killed in greater proportion to their relative population. That’s all true, as far as I can tell.

    But what got left out?

    Well, for one thing, it doesn’t address the fact that most police shootings happen in high-crime areas (I assume). And high crime areas in the United States often have high concentrations of African-American citizens. If the police accidentally shoot someone in my neighborhood, the victim will almost certainly be white, Asian, or Indian, because that’s who lives here. But if police accidentally shoot someone in a predominantly African-American neighborhood with a high crime rate, the odds are high that it will be an African-American victim. Does that tell us anything about racism?

    To be clear, racism exists. What we don’t know is how it plays out in every scenario. Cherry-picked data doesn’t tell us anything useful. But it probably does get cops killed. 

    You also have to ask yourself how the environment influences the amount of resistance one shows to a police officer. If you grow up in a tough neighborhood, where you’ve learned to use aggression to resist all forms of bullying and abuse, you might not surrender to police as passively as people raised in a less violent world. Statistics don’t capture that sort of difference, if there is any.

    The backdrop to all of this racial tension is that Trump was winning the persuasion war by making citizens afraid of external threats from illegal immigrants and terrorists. That was a strong formula because people respond to fear.

    But Clinton’s team – including social media and the liberal-leaning mainstream media – responded by defining Trump as a literal Hitler. A Hitler-like leader in your own country is even scarier than external threats. Persuasion-wise, it is a winning formula for Team Clinton, even though the case is built on confirmation bias, not fact. (Trump has never mentioned race in a negative way.)

    So now we have a situation in which Team Clinton has scared citizens into thinking the threat to their lives is mostly domestic, coming from Trump, Trump supporters, and anyone who looks like them. People who are scared will act. And we see those actions now in terms of violence against police, violence against Trump supporters, and death threats to bloggers such as me. And we already have one attempted Trump assassination.

    So far, Trump has showed a willingness to annihilate any professional politician that gets in the way. And he’s annihilated professional reporters and news organizations that got in his way. And he’s tough on non-citizens. But Trump hasn’t tried to turn American citizens against each other. Clinton has, and successfully so. 

    You can blame Trump for Trump University, and for his uncivil language. You can blame Trump for lots of stuff. But the police shootings and the recent uptick in domestic racial violence are mostly Clinton’s doings to win the election. And it is working. Unless Trump finds a way to counter Clinton’s racial persuasion, he will lose in November.

    I expect Trump to go full-attack after the conventions. It would take the world’s greatest persuader to redefine Trump in a way that he can win the election. But as it turns out, Trump is probably the world’s greatest persuader. That’s why I predict he will win in a landslide. Unless someone kills him first.

    Speaking of landslides, my book has never been in one.

The Crook Versus the Racist

    Do you remember the detailed policy proposal that came out of the Clinton campaign last week?

    Neither do I.

    I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I’m just saying that if Clinton said something about her policies, I didn’t notice. The Clinton campaign has wisely ditched facts and reason for pure persuasion. And it is working.

    As you know, Trump has branded Clinton as “crooked.” And that branding has stuck. If you doubt it, watch ABC’s Martha Raddatz literally imagine the word “crooked” in a Trump tweet she is reading about Clinton.

    But while Trump has defined Clinton as crooked, the Clinton campaign has put together an impressive confirmation bias case that Trump is a racist. As I have described in prior posts, none of the “evidence” is real. Trump talks about other countries, illegal immigrants, and religion. He has no proposals about race. But the facts are not important to politics. Never have been, never will. What matters is that the Clinton side – including parts of the media – have branded Trump a racist, and it is sticking.

    Let me be perfectly clear about this: In a contest for the office of the Presidency of the United States in 2016, crooked beats racist every time. So if things stay the same, Clinton wins in November.

    Trump has made us afraid of immigration – and fear is a powerful persuader. But Clinton countered by making us afraid of Trump! Persuasion-wise, it was exactly the right play. It would be nearly impossible to make voters less afraid of terrorism while things are blowing up all over the world. But you can make voters more afraid of Trump, and that strategy is working for Clinton.

    Speaking of confirmation bias, this week we saw Trump retweet an image that included a Star of David symbol, or at least a six-sided star that looks a lot like one. An article at Breitbart mimicked my writing about Trump – while crediting me – and suggested that Trump cleverly made this “mistake” on purpose to enjoy the free publicity it generated. And while I appreciate the credit, that’s not how I saw it this time.

    My best guess is that Trump and his campaign didn’t notice that the image looks like the Star of David. I say that because I didn’t notice it the first time I saw it. To me, this situation looks more like an unfortunate oversight than either a sign of dog-whistle racism or a clever ploy to get free media. But that’s not now the public is seeing it.

    Thanks to the confirmation bias trap set by the Clinton team, Democrats are primed to see it as one more piece of circumstantial evidence that Trump is a racist.

    And thanks to the confirmation bias trap I set with my own writing about Trump’s persuasion tactics, Trump supporters are primed to see the tweet as a clever ploy to get free publicity. 

    But I’m reasonably certain Trump’s retweet of the offensive image was not intentional, either as a racist dog whistle or as a clever plan to get free advertising. The worst thing the Trump campaign could do is create more confirmation bias for the racist branding Clinton put on them. There isn’t the slightest chance someone on the Trump team thought tweeting a racist-looking image was a good tradeoff for all the free publicity.

    The Democratic convention is July 25-28. Until then, Trump’s team is probably holding back their best attacks. The last thing Trump wants is a stronger opponent to replace a weakened Clinton at the last minute. As soon as Clinton is locked-in at the convention, expect to see Trump bring out the big weapons. I assume he is saving the best attacks for then. That would be the smart play here.

    Trump needs to reframe this situation in August to win, because otherwise crooked will beat racist. So look for Trump to reframe things this way:

    Clinton has a race-first view of the world that is corrosive to society.

    Trump has an American-first view of the world that creates healthy competition with other countries.

    If Trump sells the reframe, he wins in a landslide. And if Clinton’s email scandal escalates, Trump also wins in a landslide. You might see both.

    Note: I endorsed Hillary Clinton – for my personal safety – because I live in California. It isn’t safe to be viewed as a Trump supporter where I live. My politics don’t align with either candidate, but backing Clinton reduces my odds of dying at the hands of my fellow citizens. (And yes, I am 100% serious. It just happens to be funny by coincidence.)

    If you think this blog post uses some words more than others, you might like my book

The Humiliation of the American Male in 2016

    Perhaps the biggest unreported story of this presidential election is the humiliation of the American male. Unless I’m blinded by confirmation bias – which is entirely possible – it seems to me that the humiliation of American men is now institutionalized in the media.

    Check out this commercial for dishwasher detergent. And take careful note of the American man’s v-neck sweater. That’s the uniform of a man who is owned by a woman. 

    You’re laughing because you know it’s true. How many of the married men reading this blog have received those same sweaters as “gifts” from women? Personally, I’ve received about 25 over the years. None from men. I received three of those sweaters so far this year. I throw them away. Nice try.

    Many of you can’t talk about this topic without being accused of sexism, losing your jobs, and being cast out of your social groups. But I can talk about it because I endorse Hillary Clinton for president. I did that for my personal safety, because I live in California, but still, I’m on the progressive side now. That gives me some extra freedom of speech.

    If you are following the election polls, you know that Clinton has greater support from women while Trump has greater support from men. Trump probably can’t win the presidency unless he gets massive voter turnout from American men. 

    Will that happen?

    The dishwasher soap commercial should give you a hint of how big that turnout might be. You might not notice the size of the coming tsunami because American men generally don’t voice their humiliation in public. That would just make it worse.

    But in the privacy of the polling booth, the men who don’t talk are free to act.

    You can criticize Donald Trump on many dimensions. You can say he’s not really a great businessman. You can say he’s offensive. You can say he lies. You can hate his position on issues. You can say he has insufficient policy details. And lots more. But I think we all agree that Melania never asks Donald to go back to the store because he’s too dumb to buy the right kind of soap on the first try.

    I predict you will see the largest male turnout of any presidential election in American history. 

    In the interest of completeness…

    In my opinion, Hillary Clinton has already done a great service to the country because – win or lose – she already effectively broke the glass ceiling on the most visible and important job in the nation. If she falls short of the presidency, few people will think it was because of gender discrimination against women. Clinton has been a strong role model for women and deserves massive credit for that.


    I’m sure women do have it worse than men in this country in lots of ways. But it isn’t a competition. My point is that the psychological state of American men in 2016 is one of persistent humiliation for simply being male. That sense of humiliation might be more imagined than real – which is not an important distinction – because either way it affects how people act.

    If you don’t like v-neck sweaters, you should read my book while not wearing one.

Why Gun Control Can’t Be Solved in the USA

    On average, Democrats (that’s my team*) use guns for shooting the innocent. We call that crime.

    On average, Republicans use guns for sporting purposes and self-defense.

    If you don’t believe me, you can check the statistics on the Internet that don’t exist. At least I couldn’t find any that looked credible. 

    But we do know that race and poverty are correlated. And we know that poverty and crime are correlated. And we know that race and political affiliation are correlated. Therefore, my team (Clinton) is more likely to use guns to shoot innocent people, whereas the other team (Trump) is more likely to use guns for sporting and defense.

    That’s a gross generalization. Obviously. Your town might be totally different. 

    So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. Psychologically, those are different risk profiles. And you can’t reconcile those interests, except on the margins. For example, both sides might agree that rocket launchers are a step too far. But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.”

    Let’s all take a deep breath and shake off the mental discomfort I just induced in half of my readers. You can quibble with my unsupported assumptions about gun use, but keep in mind that my point is about psychology and about big group averages. If Republicans think they need guns to protect against Democrats, that’s their reality. And if Democrats believe guns make the world more dangerous for themselves, that is their reality. And they can both be right. Your risk profile is different from mine.

    So let’s stop acting as if there is something like “common sense” gun control to be had if we all act reasonably. That’s not an option in this case because we all have different risk profiles when it comes to guns. My gun probably makes me safer, but perhaps yours makes you less safe. You can’t reconcile those interests.

    Our situation in the United States is that people with different risk profiles are voting for their self-interests as they see it. There is no compromise to be had in this situation unless you brainwash one side or the other to see their self-interest differently. And I don’t see anyone with persuasion skills trying to do that on either side.

    Fear always beats reason. So as long as Democrats are mostly using guns to shoot innocent people (intentionally or accidentally) and Republicans are mostly using guns for sport or self-defense, no compromise can be had.

    If we had a real government – the kind that works – we would acknowledge that gun violence is not one big problem with one big solution. It is millions of people with different risk profiles voting their self-interest as they see it.

    So stop acting like one side is stupid. Both sides of the gun issue are scared, and both have legitimate reasons to be that way. Neither side is “right.”

    *I endorsed Clinton for president for my personal safety. I write about Trump’s powers of persuasion and it is not safe to live in California if people think you support Trump in any way. Also, I’m rich, so I don’t want anything to change in this country. The rest of you might have a different risk profile.

    If you are in favor of common-sense gun control laws, you might like my book. But that would be more coincidence than causation because the book doesn’t mention guns. I don’t even know why I brought it up.

How to Un-Hypnotize a Rabid Anti-Trumper

    Regular readers of this blog know I’m a trained hypnotist. I’ve been studying the ways of persuasion – in all its forms – for decades. 

    My background in persuasion is the reason I recognized last summer that Trump would exceed most people’s expectations. He was pitch-perfect on persuasion technique. If you don’t study persuasion, Trump’s actions appear random and even dangerous. If you do know how persuasion works, you probably realize Trump is in a league of his own.

    You think I’m overstating the case for persuasion. Perhaps you think Trump is doing well for a variety of reasons that include his accurate reading of the Republican base.

    But Trump’s accurate reading of the Republican base is part of the art of persuasion. None of what you see in Trump’s election success so far is luck or coincidence. It is technique. If you’re not trained to see it, the method is invisible.

    For example, I have already used several persuasion techniques in the paragraphs above. If I were to see another writer use these same persuasion methods on me, I would recognize them. But most of you did not recognize the methods – at least not all of them – when I used them right in front of you.

    Persuasion hides in plain sight.

    Just for fun, I’ve un-hypnotized several rabid anti-Trumpers lately. It takes less than ten minutes, requires nothing but conversation, and you can probably pull it off just by reading how I did it. Here’s how.

    Un-Hypnotizing a Rabid Anti-Trumper

    When you encounter a rabid anti-Trumper, ask her what are the biggest concerns of a potential Trump presidency. 

    If “Supreme Court nominee” is one of the top objections, discontinue your persuasion for ethical reasons. This person has put some thought into the decision and has a legitimate opinion that is at least partly based on reason. I don’t recommend changing that person’s mind.

    But if a person’s main objections to Trump include any the following four reasons, I would consider it ethical to apply persuasion.

    Objection 1: Trump is a loose cannon who might offend other countries and maybe even start a nuclear war.

    Objection 2: Trump is terrible at business because he has several bankruptcies.

    Objection 3: Trump is a racist.

    Objection 4: Trump is anti-women and anti-LGBT

    If any of those four objections are behind an anti-Trumper’s opinion, you have ethical license to persuade, so long as you are sticking to facts and adding context. I’ll show you how to do that with each objection. 

    Objection 1: Trump is a loose cannon who might offend other countries and maybe even start a nuclear war.

    Persuasion: Trump has five decades of acting rational in business dealings, and getting along with people all over the world, including China and Russia. By now you would have heard stories of Trump being a loose cannon in his business dealings if such a thing had happened. We are hearing no stories of that nature. And people don’t suddenly change character at age 70. (That last sentence is the important one.)

    How risky is Trump? Consider that Trump has never had an alcoholic beverage. He was against the Iraq war. He doesn’t want boots on the ground in Syria. He wants a strong military to discourage war. Trump personally gains nothing from war, but he has a lot to lose, including every building with his name on it. 

    Putin already seems to like Trump. They are similar characters in terms of their persuasion talents. And it wouldn’t hurt to be on good terms with Russia while we go after ISIS. Trump seems to have that relationship covered.

    Trump has been negotiating with the Chinese for years, with no problems yet. And the Chinese leaders are not children. They got their positions by being great deal-makers, like Trump. They might not want to negotiate against Trump, but they aren’t afraid of his personality type. Trump often tells us that his first bid in any negotiation is super-aggressive. China knows it too. They are not naive. They can tell the difference between a negotiator and a madman.

    Objection 2: Trump is terrible at business, as proven by his several bankruptcies.

    Persuasion: Ask how many bankruptcies Trump has had. Most people say between 5-10. Then ask how many entities Trump has his name on. The answer is about 500. Then ask if that is a good performance for an entrepreneur who is often trying things in new fields.

    (Asking questions in that fashion is good persuasion technique. It removes the adversarial frame and gives the person a sense of coming to a new conclusion without pressure.)

    Then explain how licensing works. Trump puts his name on various products and he gets paid even if the product or company does poorly in the end. That’s an example of Trump taking the LEAST risk in a deal. The other parties take larger risks and frequently fail. Trump gets paid either way. All parties to the deals have lawyers who review everything. Trump isn’t taking advantage of people with his licensing deals. Licensees are knowingly accepting the riskier side of the deal because they also have the biggest potential upside.

    Trump doesn’t like risk. We see it in lots of ways. For example, Trump has never been in a physical fight. He asked his wives to sign prenups. He creates separate entities so some can go bankrupt without bringing down the rest. He licenses his name so he gets paid even if the company buying the license does not make a profit. And he diversifies his portfolio to reduce exposure to any one risk. 

    Based on everything we see, Trump consistently tries hard to avoid risk in everything he does. And people don’t change character at age 70. 

    The exceptions to Trump’s risk-avoidance include some of the provocative stuff he is saying during the campaign. That behavior looks risky to most observers, but it was exactly what got him the Republican nomination. Evidently, Trump takes risks when doing so makes sense.

    Objection 3: Trump is a racist.

    Trump has never mentioned race beyond pointing how how many African-Americans and Latinos support him. Ask your anti-Trumper to offer evidence otherwise. Then point out…

    Mexico is a country, not a race.

    Islam is open to all races.

    If the topic of Judge Curiel comes up, point out that all human beings are biased by their life experiences. Ask anti-Trumpers if they think Curiel would be comfortable at his next family gathering if his verdict favors Trump. (Notice the question form of persuasion again.)

    Acknowledge that Trump was offensive when he attacked the judge’s parental connections to Mexico. But note that it is also good persuasion and good legal strategy. It puts the judge in the tough spot of either siding with Trump or appearing biased if he does not.

    Then point out that only the Democrats are talking about race. And all of that race talk has been divisive. Trump has literally never said a negative thing about race during this election. 

    (Professional pundits will talk about Trump’s so-called “racist dog-whistles,” but normal voters do not mention it. They don’t know what it means.)

    Objection 3.1: But Trump wants to discriminate based on religion!

    Persuasion: Clarify to the subject of your persuasion that Trump only wants to discriminate against non-citizens. That is literally the job description of a president. 

    For context, point out that Islam is unique among religions in that it includes an order from God that Muslims should overthrow any government that is not compatible with Islam. Moderate Muslims around the world ignore that part of the religion, but refugees are coming from places where it is considered mandatory.

    I don’t think other religions have a mandatory requirement to overthrow the government. So comparisons to other religions are nonsense. And the job of the president includes knowing when to make exceptions. 

    If you think we can screen Muslim immigrants well enough to stop all of the terrorists and future revolutionaries, just think about any job in which you had coworkers. Remember how incompetent some of them were? Those are the types of people screening immigrants. Does that feel safe to you?

    Objection 4: Trump is anti-women and anti-LGBT


    Trump is the only candidate calling out Islam for its followers’ views on women and the LGBT community.

    Trump wants women to have the right to own guns to protect themselves. 

    Trump is the only candidate concerned about crimes against women that are perpetrated by illegal immigrants from Mexico.

    Trump has a long business record of promoting women to executive positions in his company. He was doing it years before it was fashionable.

    The women in his personal life – including his ex-wives – seem to like him. 

    Trump is offensive in the way he has talked about women. But keep in mind that Trump has offended nearly everyone at some point. 

    The way to know your persuasion is working is that your subject will change the topic instead of addressing your point. 


    You: Mexico is not a race.

    Subject: Well, Trump also had bankruptcies.

    Don’t allow the topic to change. Instead, say again whatever you said just before it did. Make each point about three times, with slightly different wording each time. After the third restatement of your point, without an objection from your subject, allow the topic to change. It means you won.

    Let me know how it works out.

    Note: I endorsed Hillary Clinton for my personal safety, because I live in California. But my political views do not align with any of the candidates for president.

    Personally, I would do better under a Clinton presidency. If Clinton gets elected, no one will blame me for anything she does in office. But if Trump wins, my blogging about his persuasion skills will make it look like my fault every time he does something you don’t like. I don’t need that trouble.

    Also, as a top one-percenter, I’m winning under the current system. Trump is the only candidate who has the persuasion skills to increase tax rates on the rich, so #imwithher, for selfish reasons.

    If you think this blog post has some persuasion in it, you should see my book

Persuasion Think-ahead

    As I have said several times in this blog, Trump often uses confirmation bias in his influence. He creates a mental framework for us to view our world and then waits for future events to fill in the details.

    For example:

    1. Trump knew his “Crooked Hillary” nickname would be reinforced by a continuous trickle of new revelations about Clinton’s misdeeds. We will hear more about Clinton’s email scandal, and more about foreign money buying influence, for example. True or not, the allegations will fit the “crooked” label and reinforce it.

    2. Trump’s “Lyin’ Ted” label was also a trap for confirmation bias. Every time you heard Cruz say something that you doubted, the Lyin’ Ted label jumped into your head.

    3. Trump knew there would be more radical Islamic terror attacks either here or abroad before election day. Every attack makes Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration from selected countries seem more reasonable and more prescient.

    One of the reasons this form of persuasion is so effective is that it allows people to talk themselves into your point of view over time. People don’t like it when you try to change their minds in person, and almost everyone will resist such an attempt. But if people believe they are evolving in their own thinking – totally independently – they give themselves permission to change.

    How powerful is this method of persuasion? I recently turned a Trump-hating Muslim into a Trump-liker in about two weeks. It took ten minutes of conversation in person, followed by two weeks of confirmation bias that happened on its own. That’s purely anecdotal, but consistent with what I expected from the persuasion method I used.

    Team Clinton is also using the confirmation bias persuasion technique with great success. They labelled Trump a racist and waited for confirmation bias to do the rest, which it has. Trump’s avoidance of politically correct speech guaranteed he would trigger cognitive dissonance about his views on race and gender.

    For example, when Trump suggested that Judge Curiel might be biased because of his life experience – the way 100% of all human beings are biased – Trump was labeled racist. As a legal strategy, what Trump did was aggressive but smart. Either Trump’s claim of judicial bias would influence the judge to overcompensate in favor of Trump, or it would undermine the Judge’s verdict if it went against Trump. Trump’s strategy was good persuasion, except for the part where confirmation bias makes it look racist as hell. 

    But consider this: If a man with African ancestors is born and raised in England, and later becomes a citizen of the United States, we might label him “English” as soon as we heard the accent. And no one would consider that a racial insult because England is a country, not a race.

    But when Trump referred to Judge Curiel as “Mexican” it sounded racist as hell, even though Mexico is a country not a race. That’s confirmation bias. You expected Trump to be a racist, so that is how you interpreted it. What he meant to say is that people are influenced by their associations, especially when their family members are involved. That part is totally reasonable. But the way you heard it (thanks to the news media) is that Trump was saying a judge is not qualified to do his job because of his race. But Trump never mentioned race. If you heard it as a race comment, that’s cognitive dissonance.

    Yes, I know Curiel was born in America. That doesn’t change my point. If the judge rules in favor of Trump, he might have a tense Thanksgiving with his relatives. Bias is a real thing. We all have it. Even judges.

    My view on Trump is that he is a nationalist who often talks about countries but not ethnicities. He rails against China, Iran, Mexico, and other countries. Personally, I have never heard Trump make a negative racial comment. But I have heard plenty of Trump statements that SOUND racist because of the way our minds conflate countries and ethnicities.

    On a related note, yesterday I used a Trump persuasion trick to get more clicks on a Tweet. See if you can identify the trick before I tell you about it below.


    The trick is that Islam isn’t a race. Islam is open to all races. I know that, but I still created a tweet that indicates I can’t tell the difference between a race and a religion.

    Result: People tweeted to inform me that Islam is not a race. 

    Key learning: Sometimes the mistake is the method.

    Bonus thought. When you pick a name for a baby, you should always think ahead to what kind of cruel nicknames it will inspire. Likewise, when picking a campaign theme, always think ahead to how it could be mocked.

    You can’t do much to mock “Make America Great Again.” But when the Clinton team came up with “I’m with her,” they should have seen this meme coming. 

    If you think Mexico is a country and not a race, you might like my book because it has nothing to do with this sentence.

Trump’s Muslim Immigration Proposal (Update)

    My mother often quoted an old-timey saying: “You can get used to hanging if you do it long enough.”

    That’s good homespun psychology. Humans will see nearly anything as normal if they are exposed to it long enough. I’m sure ISIS fighters feel they are acting in a normal way after committing several atrocities in a row. We humans can get used to anything. 

    Consider Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslim immigration until we figure out what is going on. Remember how radical that sounded months ago? Remember how – even if you liked the idea – it sounded outrageously racist, even though Islam is open to all races? To most American ears, Trump’s proposed immigration ban sounded inappropriate and far-fetched EVEN IF YOU LIKED IT.

    Time passes. 

    Innocent people die.

    And as humans do, we get used to whatever is in our environment, no matter how outrageous it once seemed. And we’ve all been living for months with the idea of Trump’s temporary Muslim immigration ban. We’re getting used to it.

    I just took this poll on Twitter. It is non-scientific (to the extreme), but I’ll bet the rest of the country is feeling the tug of Trump’s persuasion.

    Trump has at least five elements of persuasion working for him on this topic.

    1. Mindshare: Trump captured headlines on this topic months ago with his shocking idea of temporarily halting Muslim immigration. We can’t stop talking about it, especially after Orlando. We humans assign high importance to whatever we are forced to think about the most. And Trump owns your thoughts for this topic.

    2. Confirmation Bias Trigger: Trump knew there would be more terror attacks either here or abroad. And with each attack, your mind goes to Trump’s plan because it is the only DISTINCT and new plan you know about. You automatically start to frame the problem the way Trump framed it.

    3. Time: People can get used to any outrageous idea over time. Trump has time.

    4. Fear and Uncertainty: In times of fear and uncertainty, people gravitate toward the strongest personality with a clear plan. That is Trump. Clinton’s “more of the same” plan might be the best strategy, but it is unclear to voters HOW doing more of the same thing could get a better result.

    5. Anchor – High Opening Bid: Trump’s original idea was to temporarily ban ALL Muslim immigration. Based on his speech last night, he has moderated that to be a temporary ban on Muslims coming from countries where we know we have a special problem. Compared to his opening bid of a complete ban, our minds start to see this limited ban as relatively less outrageous.

    Note: I still endorse Hillary Clinton for my personal safety as a resident of California. It isn’t safe to do otherwise where I live.

    If you don’t like bad immigration policies, check out my book. It doesn’t have anything about immigration in it at all. But to be fair, that’s true of most good books.

The Robot Judge

    If you have been watching CNN, you know Anderson Cooper has been reporting about the discovery that a sitting judge is actually a robot. His name is Gonzalo Curiel and he is presiding over the Trump University case.

    Curiel looks human on the outside, and he has passed as human for decades. But Cooper made it clear in his interviews yesterday that while science understands that 100% of humans are biased about just about everything, this robot judge is not susceptible to being influenced by his life experiences. It sounds deeply implausible, but no one on CNN challenged Cooper’s implication that Judge Curiel is the only bias-free entity in the universe. Ergo, he must be a robot.

    Anyway, lots of folks on Twitter are asking me why Trump would accuse the robot judge of being “Mexican” when that is obviously a racist thing to say. Did Trump make a huge mistake, or is it some sort of clever persuasion thing?

    Let’s dig into that.

    For starters, it isn’t appropriate to label people – or robots – “Mexicans” if those people or robots are created in America. For example, I have an American friend with Italian heritage who often refers to herself as “Italian,” and obviously that is a case of self-racism. I find it offensive.

    This problem isn’t limited to my one friend. I also know an American who calls herself Croatian and another American who calls himself Indian. I can barely stand to be in the same room with those racists. Worse yet, they seem unclear about the distinction between their ethnicity and the country where their parents grew up. It isn’t the same thing, people!

    But right-and-wrong aside, is it a good legal strategy for Trump to sow doubts about the objectivity of the robot judge? It seems to me that the trial can go one of two ways.

    1. Trump wins in court, in which case, Trump wins.

    2. Trump loses in court, in which case, Trump says Democrats rigged the system to give him an unfair trial. We’re already primed to believe it.

    From a legal perspective, race is not a reason to remove a judge. I haven’t heard anyone argue otherwise. But from a persuasion perspective, Trump is setting the stage for whatever is to come. So yes, it is smart, albeit offensive.

    Some have asked why Trump’s legal team hasn’t asked for the judge to be replaced. My guess is that they want to keep him because they expect to lose the case and they plan to pin it on the judge. That’s how I would play it.

    The one small problem with Trump’s strategy of questioning the robot’s objectivity is that it creates one more point of confirmation bias that Trump is a racist. Here’s what we have so far:

    1. Trump wants to protect the melting pot that is America from the non-Americans who want to get into the country illegally. That’s the job of the President, and yet…it sounds a bit racist. That’s point-one of confirmation bias.

    2. Trump said immigrants from Mexico are rapists. Under normal circumstances, a listener would understand him to mean that the socioeconomic circumstances of being an immigrant are correlated with higher-than-average crime rates of all types. But because you think Trump is a racist, your cognitive dissonance turned it into an accusation that all Mexican men, women, children, and unborn babies are rapists. 

    To make things worse, Trump is pro-life. The implication is that Trump believes one-month-old fetuses from Mexico somehow escape the womb at night to do their raping. It sounds implausible, but once you know Trump is a racist who thinks every single Mexican is a rapist, you have to assume he was talking about the fetuses too. That’s a tell for confirmation bias.

    3. During one CNN interview Trump did not disavow the KKK in a clear and quick fashion that viewers expected. He did disavow the KKK and David Duke before the interview, and plenty of times afterwards. But that one time on live television he didn’t hear the question (he says) and he responded inadequately. It seems implausible that a candidate for president would intentionally avoid disavowing the KKK on live TV, but once you assume Trump is a racist, confirmation bias kicks in, and you assume he did just that.

    4. Trump suggested a temporary ban on Muslim immigration until we can figure out what’s going on. That sounds totally racist…unless you know that Islam is open to all ethnicities…and as practiced in many places is incompatible with the Constitution of the United States. And ISIS is trying to get terrorists into the country by posing as immigrants. Viewed in isolation, the ban on Muslim immigration is offensive and problematic. But viewed in context with all of the other confirmation bias about Trump, it turns into evidence of racism.

    5. And now Trump believes a judge might be biased because his parents grew up in Mexico. On one hand, every person in the world thinks that is a legitimate risk. On the other hand, when viewed in context of all of Trump’s other confirmation bias, it looks racist as hell.

    I’m probably leaving out a few points of confirmation bias. But you get the point. Once you see Trump as a probable racist, you see “evidence” everywhere, even if there is none. That’s confirmation bias.

    Judges have bias too. Except for the robot kind like Curiel.

    For new readers, I endorse Hillary Clinton, but only for my my personal safety. I don’t agree with any of the candidates on policies.

    If you like geometric shapes, you might like my book because is shaped like a rectangle.