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Blowing Your Mind — as Promised

    About a year ago I told you that Donald Trump would change far more than politics. I predicted that he would change your understanding of the human condition and your role in reality.

    Back then, I couldn’t explain what I meant. You didn’t have the mental framework to hold this new idea – unless you were a trained hypnotist or a cognitive scientist. The ideas were too radical. 

    Until now. 

    I saw this situation developing last year. The Master Persuader opened a crack in the universe so we mortals could – for the first time – understand the nature of reality. At the end of this short blog post I will link to an article that will blow your mind.

    But first I will describe the mental framework you need to accept this new vision of reality. The framework goes like this:

    1. Smart, well-informed people disagree on nearly all major issues. So being smart and well-informed doesn’t help you grasp reality as much as you would hope. If it did, all of the smart, well-informed people would agree. They don’t.

    2. Trump says lots of things that don’t pass the fact-checkers’ tests. His supporters don’t care because facts don’t influence decisions. Humans decide first, then rationalize their irrational choices with cherry-picked data. You see this all the time with the people who disagree with your brilliance. Just remember that they see the same irrationality in you that you see in them.

    3. So-called “news” outlets are literally inventing news and peddling it as truth.

    4. We learned that voters don’t actually pick the Democratic candidate. The party picks the candidate. Democracy in the United States is largely an illusion.

    5. Every candidate looks good until we learn more about that person’s past. Then every candidate looks terrible. But is it possible that only terrible people run for president and get to the final rounds?

    6. We all noticed – this year more than ever – that political polls are skewed by bias. 

    7. You watched as I used the Master Persuader filter to accurately predict the outcome of the presidential election up to this point. In so doing, I ignored forecasts from all the “experts.” I also ignored policies, experience, and facts. None of those things help you predict the future.

    8. Many of you have started reading from my Persuasion Reading List, and by now you understand that humans are not rational creatures. We are creatures who believe we are rational.

    Now you are ready. 

    Read this to forever alter your understanding of reality.

    Welcome to the third dimension. The Master Persuader has been waiting for you.

    You might love my book because it tells you how to use this new understanding of your reality to achieve happiness and success.

The Dark and Rotten Election

    Yesterday I told you why Clinton’s label of “dark” for Trump’s convention speech was such a well-designed linguistic kill shot. It is so good, in fact, that I speculated it was designed by the Godzilla of persuasion – who I did not name. 

    Dark is a fresh, unusual word (for politics). And it lets you fill in the details with whatever scares you the most about Trump while conveying a general tone of evil and negativity. Dark is no common insult. It originated from a master persuader. 

    Don’t believe me?

    Doubt me if you will.

    Then read this.

    Meanwhile, Trump was trying out his new linguistic kill shot by calling his opponent Hillary Rotten Clinton. Her actual name is Hillary Rodham Clinton, so it works as a play on words, and that helps memory retention, which is a persuasion trick. But it’s more than a clever play on words.

    Rotten – like dark – is a fresh, unusual word (for politics). And it is general enough that people can fill in their own details with whatever they find to be rotten about Clinton. If you think Clinton looks unhealthy, perhaps she is rotting from the inside. And if you think the primaries were rigged for Clinton, that sounds like a rotten situation. Likewise, Clinton’s email problems sound rotten. 

    Rotten cleverly incorporates all of Trump’s best labels for Clinton, including “crooked” and “no stamina.” And it put Trump back in the news cycle during the Democratic National Convention.

    Both rotten and dark are labels that work as accumulative confirmation bias traps. Watch how many times Trump does something that you could interpret as dark, and how many times Clinton does something you could interpret as rotten. The labels will pick up strength over time.

    If you’re new to persuasion, Trump and Clinton probably appear to be two adults hurling random insults at each other. But once you see under the hood, you realize these insults are anything but random. They are the work of Master Persuaders, operating at the highest level. 

    Godzilla, meet King Kong. 

    If you think policies are more important than persuasion, or vice-versa, you might love my book.

Hypnotizing My Dog, Snickers

    I often write about the importance of context. Watch how important context is to my dog, Snickers. 

    And yes, humans are almost as easily influenced by context. They just don’t realize it.

    If you like this video, there is no reason to believe you would also love my book and recommend it to everyone you know. And remember to check out the larger Persuasion Reading List I put together for you.

How to Beat ISIS with a Hoax

    How do you kill the ideas that motivate ISIS?

    You can’t do it with reason. You can’t do it with force alone. But you might be able to do it with a hoax. I’ll explain.

    In a prior post I explained why ridiculous rumors travel faster than truth, and the more ridiculous, the better. The simple explanation is that truth is usually boring. If you want people to be interested, you need a big lie. You need something so wrong that people think it must be right. The wrongness – the thing that makes the rumor clearly untrue – is the same thing that drives its telling and retelling. We are drawn to the wrongness of it.

    Case in point, last week I compared the ISIS system – in which rape is used as a recruitment tool – to our civilized system of mutual consent. Predictably, that morphed into “cartoonist favors rape” and Twitter lost its shit. (It was a good weekend for my blog traffic.) Why did people believe I came out in favor of rape? They believed it because it is unbelievable. They tweet it because it is unbelievable. They get mad because they don’t want to live in a world with people who display such unbelievable behavior. Rarely do they stop to consider that unbelievable things are usually false. Our brains tell us exactly the opposite – that the story is so crazy it must be true.

    So let’s use that phenomenon and a few more to design a Hoax Kill Shot for ISIS. We shall use the following facts and tools of influence in our design.

    1. We will design the rumor to be unbelievable (to make it believable)

    2. The hoax will quickly be detected, but it won’t matter.

    3. Focus attention where we want it.

    4. Over time, truth becomes whatever people hear the most.

    5. 20% of any large group believes just about any damned thing.

    6. Appeal to ego and emotion, not logic.

    7. Visual imagery that you can’t get out of your head.

    The hoax would take the form of a fake video of a meeting involving high-level ISIS leaders. I assume ISIS fighters do not know what the leaders of other units look like. And the video would not name the ISIS fighting unit, so it would be hard to verify its authenticity in a war zone.

    The video would appear to be taken on a smartphone by one of the other ISIS leaders in a war-battered room somewhere in Syria. In the fake video, actors pretend to be ISIS leaders bragging about how they take advantage of the young, stupid recruits. The conversation might include various leaders saying such things as…

    – Hahahaha! We send idiots to slaughter so we can enjoy their sisters and mothers. Only winners get to spread their genes.

    – We are collaborating with Israel and have been since the start. There is a secret pact for land-sharing once Assad is defeated.

    – Behind closed doors the leaders mock the suicide bombers as being both gullible and defective in some mental or physical sense. The leaders might say they select suicide bombers on these criteria plus the attractiveness of any wives and sisters the bomber leaves behind.

    – The fake ISIS leaders would use an insulting word (in Arabic) to refer to their gullible cannon-fodder recruits and their even more defective suicide bomb volunteers. The insult needs to be engineered to have Trumplike stickiness.

    – The leaders would brag about spiking the drugs that all ISIS fighters take before battle with some sort of sperm-killing chemical developed by Israel to prevent surviving fighters from someday procreating.

    That’s the general idea. You want the recruits to doubt the sincerity of their leaders. Teens are good at doubting authority. That comes naturally, so it shouldn’t be hard to generate suspicion.

    By now you are saying this hoax would be quickly uncovered, and you would be right. But it won’t matter. The goal is to convince about 20% of ISIS recruits that the video is true. And you can convince 20% of any group to believe any damned thing. All you need to do is try. 

    Let’s say 80% of ISIS folks believe the video is fake. That still leave enough gullible people to cripple a movement. 20% is enough to keep the rumor alive and damage the reputation of the cause. Add bombing to the mix and you can realistically blunt 30-40% of the movement. That should be enough to reduce the problem from World War III to a major inconvenience.

    The reason the hoax would work is that it causes the bad guys to focus on it. From day one, the bad guys would be debating whether it is real, and if not, who exactly made it. The point is to make them TALK about it, even if what they say is how fake it looks. We want their attention, not their reasoning skills. Over time, the things you focus on the most become the most important in your mind. 

    It won’t matter that the vast majority of ISIS knows the video is fake. The rumors will take on their own life and start to acquire their own circumstantial evidence. For 20% of the bad guys, all they will know is that they heard something from somebody and now their personal observations are fitting that theory. Sure enough, they observe that the leaders are spreading their genetic material and the suicide bombers are not. There is just enough truth to the rumors to make them worthy of conversation.

    That’s the basic idea. If you don’t believe we can dupe 20% of ISIS, keep in mind that 20% of the United States believes President Obama was not born in this country. And he has a birth certificate.

    One assumes the CIA is already working hard on psychological operations. I’m just trying to help.

    If you think my blogging is terrible, you should see my books.