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Nate Silver Gives Trump 2% Chance of Getting Nominated

    On August 6th, Nate Silver predicted in his highly-respected FiveThiryEight blog that Donald Trump had only a 2% chance of getting the Republican nomination. Silver’s prediction is based on historical patterns, solid data, and sound reasoning. He’s great at what he does. Maybe the best.

    A week later, on August 13th, I wrote my post about Trump’s “clown genius” and predicted – based on his tool set – that Trump would win the Republican nomination and the general election as well. 

    On August 24th, based on Trump’s continued use of masterful persuasion techniques, I doubled-down and modified my prediction to say he would win the general election by a large margin. I believe I am alone in that prediction, at least among the talking-head/pundit/writer set. I realize that a healthy chunk of voters think he can go all the way. But the smart professionals almost universally expect him to flame out.

    If I had to put a number on my prediction, I would say a 98% chance of Trump winning the whole thing. That is the direct opposite of Silver’s prediction. 

    Nate Silver is far smarter than I am on this sort of topic. He’s considered the gold standard for predicting stuff that people don’t think is predictable. If you had to choose sides on the Trump predictions, the smart money is on Silver.

    That said, Silver’s predictions are necessarily based on past patterns. My predictions are based on my unique view into Trump’s toolbox of persuasion. I believe those tools are invisible to almost everyone but trained hypnotists and people that study the science of persuasion.

    What I see from my perspective as a trained hypnotist is that Trump brought a flame thrower to a stick fight.

    Since the beginning of time, every winner of every stick fight was a guy with a stick. So you’d expect that trend to continue. Until someone shows up to the fight with a flame thrower.

    I’m betting on the guy with the flame thrower. Silver is betting Trump will set himself on fire with that flame thrower, or some candidate with a stick will get lucky before now and election day. That’s what always happened before.

    But I say this isn’t Trump’s first fight using a flame thrower. I wouldn’t count on him forgetting where the trigger is.

    Today’s post is intended to document my prediction. I do this because I know most of you are not yet convinced of the power of persuasion. You know persuasion is a real thing, but you have never seen a Master Wizard practice in public, in real time, without trying to cover his tracks. That’s new. Even Steve Jobs did most of his work behind closed doors.

    This might be a game-changer not just for politics but for humanity’s sense of identity. When you see humans get reprogrammed in real time, it is hard to maintain a belief in free will.

    I don’t hang out with other trained hypnotists. But I’ll bet not many of them believe in free will. We see stuff you have never seen. And would not believe. 

    If Trump wins, the professional watchers of politics will explain to you why voters selected him. Some writers will say voters chose Trump for his brutal honesty, his immigration stand, his business talent, an anger with the status quo, or because the competition was weak. Others will point to his outsider status.

    Those reasons will be “real” in the sense that the voters expressing them in polls are not lying. But no one will spend much time trying to figure out why people have those feelings.

    Hint: Not free will.

    Update: Sept 4, 2015. Polls show Trump’s favorability ratings inexplicably spiking. Experts are baffled.

    Scott

    In other news, for several years I have been tracking a Master Wizard that I believe lives in Southern California. It seems he has trained a small army of attractive women in his method. The women create a specialized style of porn video clips that literally hypnotize the viewer to magnify the orgasm experience beyond anything you probably imagine is possible. Hypnosis has a super-strong impact on about 20% of people. And a lesser-but-strong impact on most of the rest.

    Once a customer is hooked, the girls use powerful (and real) hypnosis tools to connect the viewer’s enjoyable experience (a super-orgasm, or several) to the viewer’s act of giving them money, either directly or by buying more clips. Eventually the regular viewers are reprogrammed to get their sexual thrill by the act of donating money to the girls in the videos. There are lots of variations tied to each type of sexual kink, but that’s the general idea. 

    My best guess is that 10% of the traffic that flows through their business model literally cannot leave until they have no money left. The Master Wizard is that good. The women are well-coached in his methods. 

    The fascinating thing is that the videos fully-disclose what they are doing, in clear language that is often repeated. The women explain the hypnosis methods they are using much the way I have been dissecting Trump’s technique. Nothing is hidden, at least with this one set of practitioners.

    That makes customers feel safe that the hypnosis is just for fun and not actually rewiring them. But it doesn’t work that way. Explaining the technique as you do it actually deepens the effect. Hypnotists learn to do that.

    The Master Hypnotist behind all of this found a great loophole in the law. If humans understood how effective these videos are, they would be illegal in the same way gambling is illegal in most places. And the Master Wizard hides in plain site because the Internet is so littered with fake porn hypnosis (women waving watches and saying YOU ARE SLEEPY) that no one expects a real one to sneak into the mix. And this Master Wizard is a polymath of some sort. He also knows how to do high quality video production, data analytics, and A-B testing.

    When you combine hypnosis, sex, and A-B testing on a large population, the results are unimaginably powerful. The customers in this situation are getting an insanely good product. The only issue is the price.

    If a court ever tries to make this business illegal, the star witness will be the Master Wizard himself.

    No jury will ever convict him.

    Now THAT’S a business model.

    Why is everyone so surprised that my book on systems versus goals is better than they expected? The two newest reviews are typical.

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Trump Persuasion Alert: The Bush-Slayer Comment

    This article explains how Trump has decided to call Jeb Bush a “low energy” candidate.

    That’s a linguistic kill shot. If you live to be a hundred, you will never see a better linguistic move.

    No candidate can recover from the low-energy label. Trump ended Bush with two words. Now, even if Trump stumbles, Bush won’t be the one that surges to the front. From now on, Bush’s campaign hat is an anvil.

    You might think I am exaggerating. Politicians label opponents all the time. Usually the labels have to do with policies, personality, intelligence, or experience. And usually those labels are glancing blows, at best.

    But no candidate ever launched a “low-energy” criticism before. That’s a kill shot. You don’t wash that off. It is a variant of the High Ground Maneuver because Trump is saying that even if Bush and Trump had the same policies, the choice is still clear. You want the guy who isn’t going to be napping for four years.

    And remember your visuals. Jeb looks like a low-energy guy. Take away Trump’s “low energy” label and Bush might seem like a calm, cool, rational executive – exactly what this country needs in these crazy times.

    Until your opponent tattoos “low-energy” on your forehead. That doesn’t wash off. Done. Next.

    You don’t see linguistic kill shots that often. This one was engineered. Do you want to hear another example of a linguistic kill shot that you probably never noticed in the past?

    When Clinton/Gore were running for reelection against Dole/Kemp, the big topic was Kemp’s “supply-side economics” idea that you could cut taxes and goose the economy enough to make up the difference in tax collections. Clinton and Gore were helpless against supply-side economics because it sounded to voters like free money. Who doesn’t want to cut their taxes and make more money too?

    How do you defend against the promise of more money for nothing? Clinton and Gore had no way to counter it. You couldn’t argue it on economic grounds because the voters were not sophisticated enough to follow along. Nor would voters be swayed by experts. And supply-side economics was the big topic of the election. 

    So Gore used a linguistic kill shot. If you remember your campaign history, he started labeling Kemp’s supply-side economics as a “risky plan” for an economy that was doing reasonably okay. The media sprayed the word “risky” all over the headlines after the first time Gore used it in a debate. Clinton started using it too, since the word was getting traction.

    Older voters with one eye on retirement, or already retired, have no appetite for risk. And they know that any big, new economic plan comes with risk. You cannot argue risk. Risk was the Higher Ground. It was the kill shot.

    Supply-side economics largely died that election cycle, give or take some later death spasms. Thanks to one word. And the word was engineered for that purpose.

    Do you get a sense for how powerful this stuff is? A word or two changes history.

    If you are following along with my Trump analyses, you know I try to make predictions so you can check my work. It is easy to overlay an interpretation on the past (as I just did). Predicting the future is harder, and thus a better way for you to check my interpretation of events against prediction.

    My new prediction is that when Trump gets serious about eviscerating Hillary Clinton he will engineer a similar High Ground label that has little to do with her policies. It might even be open to interpretation so all of her haters see what they want to see. 

    Watch me engineer a linguistic kill shot for Trump to use against Hillary Clinton.

    Trump: “America needs credibility”

    See what I did there?

    Credibility is the high ground. It ignores policy differences. Core republicans will obviously agree that Clinton is a “liar” in their words. So the message works for them. That part is easy.

    The hard part, and the reason these words have to be engineered, is that you need to appeal to both sides with the same words. And “credibility” does that. Even supporters of Clinton – people who love everything she says and does – have to agree that her credibility has eroded because of all the email scandal noise.

    And what about Trump? Is he credible by contrast?

    Look for all the stories already printed about Trump being a handshake agreement guy. If you work in the business world, that is the highest standard of credibility.

    Let me put it this way. Ignore your thoughts about Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s policies and personalities for a minute. If you had to make a verbal agreement with both of them, which one do you think has the higher odds of doing as promised?

    Trump already said he hates the Iran nuke deal but will enforce it because he honors deals. The man is bulletproof on that dimension, so he will take the argument to the dimension where he wins every time.

    The word “credibility” resonates with every adult. And it hasn’t been overused in the context of politics so it carries no unintended baggage. We all want credibility, period. The word is clean and powerful.

    Don’t worry about Trump using the word credibility to win. I ruined that option by using it in this blog and creating a paper trail to a cartoonist. Trump will need another approach.

    Now you know how to engineer a linguistic kill shot. 

    1. Find a word that is “clean” from historical political baggage (examples: risky, low-energy, credibility).

    2. Choose a word that moves people to High Ground concepts where you are relatively strong and your opponent has a weakness, ignoring the smaller issues that are the topics of all disagreements.

    Examples:

    Low ground: Cut taxes                 —>  High ground: Risky

    Low ground: Immigration policy   —>  High ground: Low-energy guy

    Low Ground: Clinton’s policies     —> High Ground: credibility 

    In my corporate days I used the High Ground maneuver to “win” any meeting I needed to win. Unlike most methods of persuasion that have more of a statistical power, perhaps influencing 20% of a crowd, the High Ground maneuver works instantly, every time, and on every person. (In my personal experience.)

    As soon as I recognized that tool in Trump’s toolbox, I predicted he would win it all. He was going into a stick fight with a bazooka. Most of you only saw sticks. Trained persuaders saw the bazooka. 

    I remind you that he literally wrote the book on negotiating.

    My best guess for why the High Ground maneuver works so well is that you are taking a person from the weeds of your disagreement to a place where they need to define who they are as a person. Our egos won’t let us define ourselves as small thinkers in front of a big thinker, so we try to keep up, running to the High Ground of our demise as quickly as we can.

    Scott

    Bonus thought: If you view the world in terms of goals, Trump has failed twice to be president. You expect him to fail a third time because that is the pattern he created. But viewed from a systems filter, Trump got the most practice running for president of anyone in the conversation.

    Name one situation where practice doesn’t matter. Stop being surprised that the guy who practiced the most is performing the best. That is how systems thinkers play the long game. They fail toward a place of BETTER odds, not worse.

    You can see more about systems being better than goals in my book on success.

    In Top Tech Blog, if you surf, you want a motorized surfboard that doesn’t need waves. And yet another handheld health “scanning” device is here. This trend of miniaturized personal health scanners is huge. You will want this one.

Trump Persuasion Alert: Bible Dodge

    If you have been following my analysis of Trump’s persuasive brilliance you will see another example on display in this new story.

    On the surface, Trump seems to be just another politician dodging just another question. Routine stuff, right?

    But check out the wording. He had that reply in the chamber, locked and loaded. He said his relationship with the Bible was “personal.”

    Compare that to any other wording he could have used. You can play at home. Try to come up with a better response than saying his relationship with the Bible is personal. 

    Good luck with that.

    Every Christian, Muslim, and Jew watching the exchange nodded agreement that a person’s relationship with the Lord is personal and really should not be the topic of public conversation. Check.

    And every reason-loving person that heard Trump’s response thought he didn’t sound too anti-science, or particularly dogmatic. Nothing to worry about. Just move along.

    And I can guarantee that some atheists heard his response and thought there is a good chance he is one of them. Obviously a person in that position has to hide it. 

    Trump provides the canvas and everyone paints their own favorite picture.

    If you look closely at Trump’s response, he did more than avoid the question and act vague. He redirected your thoughts to the issue of privacy (by saying it was personal) because that has more immediacy to your brain than thoughts of your afterlife. Clever move. 

    And what about the folks who are concerned about government snooping on their privacy? They just heard Trump guard his own, while implying that privacy is important. Nice. He got that one for free without discussing government snooping at all.

    The media will report that Trump did nothing but dodge a question. I say there is more method to it. I believe we are witnessing something that could fundamentally change the way we view human nature. That’s a longer post, but the two-word summary is moist robots. It gets harder to deny our nature when you see a linguistic wizard reprogramming people in real time.

    I remind you that I do not know what kind of president Trump will be. I am not that smart and neither are most of you. But I do enjoy watching his linguistic precision, all covered in hay so he doesn’t scare the sheep. And I do not say that as a criticism. There doesn’t seem to be a second way to become president. 

     

    Scott

The Third Way on Immigration (Sort of a Trump Post)

    Readers have objected to my prediction that Trump will win the nomination and then the general election because…

    1. Trump needs about 40% of the Latino vote to win.

    2. Only 13% of Latino voters support Trump, largely because of his immigration plan.

    No politician can close that gap. Therefore, say the people that have been spectacularly wrong about all-things-Trump, he must be playing some sort of power game with no real intention of winning the whole thing.

    Maybe. 

    I can see both the math and the reasoning behind that point of view. I’ll bet it would be hard to persuade you that Trump can close that kind of gap in such a short time.

    Game on. 

    What follows is a blatant, manipulative play on your emotions that is engineered to make you believe Trump can beat the odds on Latino voters. It looks impossible to you now. You might update your opinion if you read to the end.

    Please stop reading now if you don’t want to be part of the experiment. I’m not joking when I say I’m about to rewire your brain. It might feel a bit freaky, but I think it is worth it for you to get a visceral understanding of the power of persuasion.

    — persuasion starts here —

    Before I talk about Trump’s persuasion strategy for closing the Latino voter gap, I should reveal my bias on the topic so you can factor that in.

    And I like to preface this sort of topic by saying you should not get any important opinions from cartoonists. This blog is for entertainment only.

    The immigration issue has calcified into two camps, as far as I can tell. Trump’s plan forms one extreme, and includes building a wall, ending automatic citizenship for babies born on U.S. soil, and rounding up 11 million illegal aliens and deporting them. 

    The opposing camp believes it would be impractical, uneconomical, and inhumane to do any part of Trump’s plan. I assume many of Trump’s critics favor some sort of path to citizenship for illegal aliens.

    I can see both sides. And I think both sides are missing the point by a mile.

    In my view, this is one of those times when we get to pick who we are as a country. You don’t get many of these moments in a lifetime. I would hate to waste it.

    Most of you heard the recent story about the Americans who helped disarm a gunman on a train in France. The young men heard trouble and they ran toward it. The story touched people in this country because it is a reminder of who we are.

    I don’t think anyone in America can argue with the criticism that we can be assholes. Hey, no one is perfect. But when the shit goes down, you probably want some Americans nearby. We accept your criticisms, my international readers, but we still have your back. That’s how we roll.

    I know each of you Americans reading this have your own notions about the identity of the United States, and that is my point today. The immigration issue gives us a chance to either confirm who we are or modify it. It matters that we get it right.

    My view of the 11 million illegal immigrants is that anyone who wants to be on my team badly enough to commit a crime is my kind of American. My impression is that they bring up the average. I understand why some of my fellow citizens don’t want to compete with them for jobs. And good luck competing with the second generation that have their parents’ immigrant DNA and an American education. I want those kids working for my start-up. 

    I hear everything folks are saying about the importance of the rule of law, about fairness, economics, and crime. Countries need secure borders or they fail to remain countries. Those are important considerations. But do we want to define yourself by those worries?

    We can. But it is entirely optional. 

    I prefer an America that knows when to use a hammer and when to use a hug. With immigration, I understand the hammer. But I prefer the hug. Not because it is right, in some intellectual sense, and not because it is economical, but because it is who I want to be.

    And about that birthright law – the one that says a baby that draws its first breath in this country is an American forever? In the history of all laws made anywhere, in any age, that one is by far the coolest. It gives the country a magical vibe that feels part of our nature. I don’t want to lose that. 

    You can look at the immigration issue through a filter of money, law, safety, or compassion. But none of those speak comprehensively to who you want to be. You are far more than those things.

    And this brings me to Donald Trump, alleged racist son-of-bitch and hater of all law-breaking, brown babies. How the hell does that guy convince millions of Latinos to vote for him?

    No politician could do that.

    But Trump is not a politician. He is a business person and one of the top wizards of persuasion on the planet. And he has one enormous advantage that I have never seen for any candidate: He can change his mind and show his work.

    As I said in a prior post, Trump is dropping a negotiation anchor with his super-aggressive plan that includes a wall, a change to the constitution for birth rights, and deportation of millions. He has no intention of doing all of that. He is simply creating some false choices to trade away later. But not until he has the Republican nomination in the bag. So be patient.

    If Trump follows form, what he really wants is a “Trump Wall” that is so “fabulous” that it becomes its own money-making tourist attraction and carries his name forever. I doubt he cares about deporting anyone or tweaking the constitution. Those are the items he plans to trade to get Trump Wall.

    I expect that Trump will eventually ask the Latino community to come up with its own plan for dealing with the 11 million illegals. And that plan might include having legal citizens “sponsor” an illegal alien including absorbing some of the risk. For example, as a sponsor I might have to buy a performance bond to protect against the risk that the illegal I am sponsoring causes any damage to the country. That’s just one idea. The main point is that Trump could put the Latino community on the spot to come up with their own plan.

    Then Trump supports the new plan for sponsoring illegals, showing he is a man of reason, but keeps his Trump Wall plan and tells you it will turn a profit.

    Another way he can game the system is by turning out massive numbers of young, white voters who normally would not vote. A President Trump would provide more hours of free entertainment than Netflix and Snapchat combined. And I do believe it will have a big impact on voter turnout.

    Update: And look for Trump to pick a second-generation Latino as his running mate. Did you see that coming?

    No one can know what the future holds. But I’ll bet a Trump presidency looks a lot more feasible than it did when you started reading this.

    And that’s what persuasion looks like. If you have read my prior posts on persuasion and Trump, you can start to see the method in what I wrote. For new readers, check the comments  and I expect you will see my persuasion method dissected for fun. 

    My disclaimer for new readers is that I am not endorsing Trump as president because I have no idea how that would work out. I am only interested in his genius of persuasion.

    Scott

    If you enjoyed reading this post you will probably enjoy my book about systems versus goals.

    In Top Tech Blog, check out a Microsoft claim that it can take 3D photos with your regular phone. Are you believing that?

Trump Makes Univision do the Perp Walk

    Could I love the man more? No. I could not.

    I don’t know how Trump will perform as president, but he sure entertains.

    If you are following my blog series on Donald Trump’s persuasive genius, you have to see this master stroke from today.

    The set-up is a press conference in which a reporter for Univision asks Trump a potentially damaging question about his immigration plan. Here’s what you have to know to understand the scene:

    1. Univision cancelled Trump’s Miss America Pageant over his comments about illegal immigrants. Univision and Trump are enemies.

    2. The reporter is famous in Mexico and perhaps among Spanish-speakers but would be somewhat unknown to most American viewers.

    3. The reporter is on record for being deeply critical of Trump.

    4. Trump had not called on the reporter, and that starts the video off.

    Given what I have taught you in past posts, view the video and separate out the impact of the visuals versus the “story” the media is putting on it. And remember that the visuals are about a 10-to-1 impact compared to text. Trump plays the visuals. Always. That’s part of his wizardry.

    It seems the press will be reporting the “story” as Trump being inappropriate at a press conference in some generic ways that will not register as particularly important to anyone.

    Now consider the visuals. Trump remained calm, put the reporter in his place, and eventually nodded to security to lead the protesting reporter out while cameras followed the entire episode.

    Trump, that magnificent bastard, made his enemy do the perp walk on International TV while appearing 100% in charge of the situation.

    Yeah. You can’t beat that. No accidents are happening here.

    And do you know what his core supporters saw? They saw Trump deport that Mexican reporter right out of the room, metaphorically. Those other candidates are talking about immigration but Trump has already started. Remember we are not talking about anyone’s rational thinking. These sorts of images sneak through your rational defenses.

    And Trump sent a message to the rest of the press, which helps to keep them nervous during future interviews. That’s how a world-class negotiator does it. He makes the other person less confident. Throws them off their game. And apparently he decided some collateral damage in the press would delight the viewers. I know I appreciated it.

    And on some level every person watching that episode was happy they did not have to endure another round of gotcha outragism as one “news” outlet after another rushes to take Trump’s words out of context. Trump’s show was far more entertaining.

    And he did all of that spontaneously. (As far as you know.)

    Does the boring candidate EVER win?

    I remind you I am not endorsing Trump. Most of the candidates seem qualified to me. I am only a fan of Trump’s persuasion methods.

    Scott

    If you like my Trump posts you would almost certainly like my book on systems versus goals. Trump is a systems guy. He isn’t that rich by accident.

Trump VS Bush: Persuasion Wars

    Introduction:

    Someone accused me of having a man-crush on Trump because I keep writing about him. I plead guilty. I have no idea whether he would be a good President or not, and I don’t believe you know either. My man-crush is based on Trump’s persuasion skills. I have never seen better.

    I hope that sharing some of Trump’s methods will make you more effective in your own life. And it is fun stuff. 

    — start —

    Who is the better persuader: Donald Trump or Jeb Bush? 

    Let’s start with this article about Trump’s oft-repeated campaign theme “We have to take our country back.” The article suggests that the sentence is veiled racism and an intentional call to anti-immigration types.

    Is it?

    If you look at this situation with a political filter, it sure looks like a secret dog whistle to the anti-immigration folks, as the article suggests. But if you look at it through the filter of a trained hypnotist reviewing the work of another, you see a lot more.

    You want to know what I see, right?

    Hypnosis rule #1 is that you leave out the details and allow people to fill in the blanks with their own imagination. That’s why, for example, my comic characters have no last names while working in a nameless company for a nameless boss in a nameless location. I don’t want a reader in France to think Dilbert is an American and therefore of little interest. I want the French reader, the Elbonian, and the American to look at the Dilbert characters and say some version of “That character is me!” In order to achieve that effect, I intentionally omit details that would knock you off the track. For example, the minute I give Dilbert a last name it would over-specify his ethnic origins and give folks a reason to feel less connected.

    When your intention is persuasion, you need to know when to drop a huge anchor that redirects everyone’s attention to one point and when to do the opposite and create a vague suggestion so people can fill in the blanks on their own. I’ll explain some examples of both.

    In the first debate, Megyn Kelly asked Trump to explain his offensive comments about specific women. If Trump had engaged in the question, the headlines the next day would have been about him “walking back” what he said, or lying about what he said, or simply being smeared with the topic in general. It was a perfect media trap. Trump was expected to say something generic and defensive, and then the media would take it out of context and paint him as a horrible sexist. That ploy would have generated a week’s worth of “news” that required no research and no flying into a war zone. Very economical.

    But Trump dropped an anchor on the media’s collective asses before the question was fully formed. He interrupted with “Only Rosie O’Donnell” (an unpopular name among core Republicans) and completely owned the headlines after that. That was some genius misdirection, and it was probably planned in advance. So that’s a good example of when to use a strong, visual anchor.

    But how does a persuader know when to redirect attention to something specific versus being vague so the audience can fill in the blanks? Let me see if I can answer that for you.

    A golden rule in sales is “Don’t sell past the close.” That means that once your customer says yes, you stop talking about the product because you might accidentally say something that stops the sale. You never add detail when the customer is already sold. The less you say, the more likely the customer (who is already sold) will continue talking himself into loving the decision because people like to think they are smart. (Google “cognitive dissonance” for more on that topic.)

    Now review Trump’s empty sentence: We need to take America back.

    From whom? Notice the intentional lack of detail? In this case, the lack of detail is the powerful part of the sentence.

    The media’s political filter automatically goes to immigration, and that interpretation is probably somewhat right. The problem is that it is only 10% of the explanation. The other 90% is what is happening in voters’ heads when they get an open-ended suggestion that someone has somehow stolen the country. 

    Who did this awful thing???

    Is it the top one-percenters who stole all the country’s money?

    Is it the liberals?

    Is it the politically-correct people?

    Is it the immigrants who are taking jobs?

    Is it the wrong-headed people in general?

    Is it the minorities? The women?

    Is it just our reputation in the world that we lost?

    Was it our former greatness we lost?

    See how the open-ended suggestion works? Every voter is free to fill in the topic of their own greatest fear. Your brain is a movie that creates your personal history, and when the movie finds a gap, your imagination fills it in. It happens automatically and bypasses rational thought. As with the salesperson who has already made the sale, Trump says nothing you can dislike while giving you the freedom to fill in the blanks in the way that influences you the most.

    In other words, Trump’s sentence “We need to take America back” invites you to hypnotize yourself to finish the thought. And you do.

    Secondly, we know from studies that human brains are wired to have a greater response to loss, or potential loss, than to potential gain. Trump’s slogan about taking back America speaks to loss while retaining the optimism that we can get it back. That is pure, engineered, persuasion perfection. 

    Trump’s slogan should, by design, make every voter spontaneously imagine the one thing they believe they have lost. It could be anything, from personal privacy to job opportunity to whatever. If you are afraid you lost it, Trump’s slogan makes you think of it automatically. And you just automatically paired your emotional sense of wanting something precious with … Donald Trump. 

    Many of you still believe Trump’s rise in the polls is some sort of media-generated side show. It isn’t. It is a master class in persuasion paired with perfect timing and a weak field.

    And I don’t think I need to explain why Trump’s hat is bright red, or why he is keeping his hair covered. There are no accidents in Trump’s world.

    You might think that all world-class politicians have the same set of linguistic tools at their command. Let’s check that assumption by taking a look at Jeb Bush’s recent campaign utterances to see how they match up on the persuasion scale.

    Jeb Bush recently said that Trump was a Democrat longer than he was a Republican in the past decade. That sounds like a good zinger, right? It got a lot of press, just as Bush wanted. Does Bush win that round?

    Nope.

    Mentioning Trump’s party change might have been a good thing to say before Trump was trouncing Bush in the polls and locking up the nomination. But today it sounds like Bush is telling independent voters that Trump is not a slave to any party. They love that. And independents will probably decide the election.

    It would be hard to engineer a worse thing for Bush to say at this stage.

    Bush has also been saying on the campaign trail that Trump favored a tax hike on the wealthy. Again, it would have been a great thing to say before Trump became the probable Republican nominee. But saying that sort of thing today is telling Democrats and Independents that Trump is not the greedy billionaire you were afraid he might be. It solves one of Trump’s biggest problems.

    On the persuasion scale, and looking at only these few examples, Trump gets his usual A+ and Jeb Bush gets whatever is worse than a failing grade. I say worse because failing in this context would mean having no impact on voters, but Bush probably convinced voters to prefer his opponent. You can’t fail harder than that.

    These are just anecdotes. The fun here is seeing how many of the examples going forward fit the persuasion hypothesis. 

    I remind you that in my opinion all of the candidates on both sides are reasonably qualified for the job of president. Trump has a huge persuasion advantage, but I don’t know how that would translate into the job of president.

    Update 1: See this political thinker dismiss Trump’s linguistic savvy and try to explain his success as nothing but the public’s distaste for government. That is one small part of it. I’m fairly sure the other candidates are promising to change/fix everything too. Why don’t we believe them?

    There is a reason Trump’s message penetrates the crowd noise while the other candidates crawl back to their dark corners. Trump is trained in the art of persuasion, and literally wrote the book on it. His opponents are politicians. That’s comparing a bazooka to a fly-swatter.

    Update 2: Here’s a new story about Jeb Bush saying things that opponents are taking out of context, thus causing him to defend himself from the professional Outragists. Compare Bush’s strategy of defending himself with facts versus Trump’s method of ballsy redirection and emotionally nailing the listener to an entirely different topic. Which method looks more effective to you?

    My updated prediction is that Trump will win the general election by a large margin. (Prior prediction was a small margin.) 

    Scott

    In Top Tech Blog today, how about a 3D printer that can print ten different materials? That seems close to the point at which robots can build new robots. One futurist predicted that when robots can build robots, everything changes. For example, robots could build power generation plants in the desert on the cheap and solve the world’s energy problems. Not sure I believe that yet.

    Have you read my book yet?*

    (”yet” in this context is a persuasion word. It is meant to cause you to think “no” while accepting the “yet” part without reason.)

    image

Anchors Away

    I hear you in the comments that you are tired of my Trump posts. 

    But if he keeps delivering a master class in influence, you will hear a lot more about his methods. I’m not terribly interested in politics, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see influence as an art form from a master operator who doesn’t feel the need to cover his tracks.

    For example, when CNN anchor Chris Cuomo asked Trump to react to the Pope’s criticism of capitalism, Trump correctly saw it as a trap. If he engaged with the question he would be quoted on this topic and smeared with the association of Trump-capitalism-corruption. Tomorrow the headlines would be some form of “Trump blah, blah, corruption.”

    Trump couldn’t bluntly refuse to engage in the question because that would look weak. So how does Trump wiggle out of such a well-crafted media trap?

    Trump responds that he would tell the Pope that ISIS is coming to get him, and that they have plans to take the Vatican, which I assume is true, or true enough.

    Do you even remember the question anymore?

    Now compare the wattage coming from these two thoughts:

    1. A boring discussion about corruption in capitalism. (Cuomo’s question)

    2. A mental picture of ISIS taking over the Vatican.

    No comparison. Corruption and capitalism are mere concepts that have no visual appeal. The ideas are important yet inert. But an ISIS overthrow of the Vatican is so visual you wonder why it isn’t already a movie. And that visual is all anyone will remember of that interview in a week.

    Do you still think Trump’s clown act is random?

    [Here I remind you that I am not smart enough to know who would be the best choice for president. I am only interested in the persuasion technique Trump uses.]

    Scott

    In Top Tech Blog, the Adams Law of Slow-Moving Disasters is starting to play out as expected for climate change. The law observes that when humans have lots of advance warning of pending disasters they always invent themselves out of it. Now we might be close to harvesting Co2 and turning it into fiber. If it works, that seems important.

Political Reporters Cover a Business Candidate

    The presidential campaign is being covered by political reporters, for the most part. That makes perfect sense because the subjects of the reporting are mostly politicians.

    But Donald Trump is a business person. If you apply a political filter to a business person, you get nonsense. Likewise, if you have a goal-oriented view of the world, as politicians typically do, a business person with a “systems” approach would appear crazy.

    That brings me to Trump’s newly-published immigration policy. For our purposes here, you don’t need to know the details. All you need to know is that it sounds totally impractical and draconian. 

    If you apply a political filter to his proposal, it is pure nonsense mixed with evil and flavored with crazy. That’s how the media is reporting it all over the Internet. Just like Trump planned.

    If Trump were a goal-oriented thinker, or even a real politician, the reporters would be interpreting this situation correctly. They would report that Trump’s plan is ridiculously impractical and even inhumane. And they would be right.

    But reset your filter for a minute. Remember that Trump is a business person who promises to bring a deal-maker to the job of President. Now look at his crazy plan again but use your business filter this time.

    Trump sees immigration as a negotiation. His opening offer is an anchor. This is how world-class negotiators work. The first offer has no purpose except to create contrast to whatever you eventually agree.

    For example, Trump’s plan has two ridiculous ideas that will never happen. One involves a change of the constitution to remove the right of citizenship for people born in this country. The other involves rounding up 11 million aliens and shipping them home.

    Not going to happen.

    If Trump were a goal-oriented thinker, or a politician, he would be setting himself up for failure. His plan has zero chance of success as it stands.

    But Trump is a systems thinker. He plays the long game. Every move is a negotiation.

    Trump wants a wall on the border, and he wants Mexico to pay for it. That is such a big ask that few people think it possible. I can only imagine one way a wizard with Trump’s skills could convince TWO countries to do this thing that is amazingly hard to get done. 

    You start with an opening offer that anchors people’s minds to the most outrageous parts of the plan and then you trade those things away until you get the only thing you wanted: the fence. Negotiators (Congress in this case) will feel that a negotiation happened and all parties met in the middle.

    But only Trump decided where the middle is. The debate is already over and Trump won. We’re getting a wall. But my guess is that America will create some sort of a path to citizenship for current illegals after the wall gets built. That will make both sides feel like they won something.

    Trump can’t say he will give illegal immigrants a free pass while at the same time trying to get a wall built. That would trigger a wave of immigrants trying to beat the wall construction. 

    There was exactly one path available for Trump to get his wall. He had to set an anchor in the negotiations that inspires his core anti-immigration crowd to vote for him while setting the stage to negotiate away the crazy parts of the plan and keep the fence.

    Another way to look at Trump’s immigration plan is that he’s working on America’s branding. That’s Trump’s area of expertise. If you want your brand to have value, the first thing you do is make sure no one can get if for free. You need a sense of exclusivity. Tightening immigration does that. 

    Keep in mind that trump is open to legal immigration for people who bring technical skill to the country. He wants more of that and less of the criminal element. That’s hard to argue against in principle. And if he succeeds in branding America as the only place you want to work if you have tech skills, imagine what that does to the economy over time.

    Bonus Thought 1: When Trump stuck an anchor in the immigration problem by calling the Mexican immigrants rapists, he also established himself as the only Republican who is talking about violence to women. Name the other Republican candidate who is out front on a gender issue. You can’t. 

    Bonus Thought 2: On the question of abortion, if Trump says he doesn’t understand why men even get a vote on the question of abortion he would take that issue off the table while keeping his personal views intact.

    Bonus Thought 3: Much has been reported about Trump’s bankruptcies. If you view Trump as a goal-oriented thinker, those are examples of failures. If you view him as a systems-oriented thinker, he built a diversified portfolio of holdings and kept the bad ones from infecting the others by creating separate entities that could fail by themselves.

    Bonus Thought 4: In all likelihood, Donald Trump will pick our next president. If he runs as a Republican, he will be picking himself, and winning, assuming he keeps going this way. If he runs as an independent he will be picking Clinton as president. There’s your republic: One guy gets to vote for President this year.

    Here I’ll remind new readers that I have no idea if Trump would be a good president. In my view, all the candidates are within the realm of competence. How they might perform as president depends on what future they are paired with. For example, the best president for winning a war might be the worst one for fixing a recession. You can’t know who will be good on the job if you don’t know what the job will entail.

    Scott

    In Top Tech Blog, do you remember my dumb idea I posted here about generating power by building pyramids with internal chimneys? Canada might start building some towers that do just that, plus they launch space planes from the top.

Wizard Wars

    Foreward: Everything that follows is true, to the best of my knowledge, but you can fact-check me on the Internet. Let me know if I got anything wrong.

    As I often warn you, don’t get your opinions about anything important from cartoonists. This blog is for entertainment, not enlightenment. You’re on your own for the enlightenment.

    I recommend that you postpone reading this post until you have at least 30 minutes of free time and your favorite beverage or state-legal prescription meds in hand. You are about to have an experience that might change the way you see the world.

    The ideas that follow are not appropriate for children, people who might be offended by talk of witches, and anyone that disliked my book God’s Debris

    Based on the public’s reaction to God’s Debris, my prediction is that 20% of you will have a truly interesting moment reading this post, and you will never see the world the same way. About 60% of you will be glad you read it for the entertainment value. The remaining 20% of you will be angry, and you won’t be able to articulate why. If you don’t like those odds, this is a good time to discontinue reading.

    To avoid spoilers, don’t do any Google searches until you finish reading.

    — End of Foreward —

    In 1901 the first American-born wizard came into the world. His name was Milton Hyland Erickson. And to the wizards he later trained, he was their Merlin, or Dumbledore if you prefer. The main difference is that Erickson was real. 

    Erickson was an autodidact, and maybe more. He discovered that he could arrange words in a way that cast spells on people and took control of their minds. If you have seen the Star Wars movies, you know all about the Jedi Mind Trick. Erickson’s power was like that, but slower, and with more words.

    In earlier times, such a person would be burned as a witch. But Erickson was born into an age of science, and in the new world, non-science claims such as his were swept to the side and assumed to be bunk. 

    Fortunately for us all, Erickson was a good wizard. And he made it his life’s work to train other wizards in his ways. As one might expect, the most talented of Erickson’s wizards went on to amass incredible wealth and breathtaking power. The new wizards were not saints, or even close, but they were generally a force for good. They built some of the biggest companies in the world. They led nations toward social justice. They ended wars triggered by evil wizards overseas. They stimulated economies.

    These super-wizards live and work among us, but their powers are visible only to other trained wizards. The public believes these wizards achieved their success with luck, brains, hard work, and passion. Those things matter, but the wizards had more. They could shape reality by altering how people see the world.

    Sometimes the wizards work publicly, and brazenly, knowing that their methods are only visible to other wizards. Other times they work behind the curtain, pushing buttons and pulling levers while the media looks in the wrong place and reports the wrong causes.

    Now, for perhaps the second or third time in history, one of these Erickson-trained wizards is running for President of the United States. You can expect that candidate to win. His name is Donald Trump.

    Allow me to connect the dots for you.

    Donald Trump is buddies with the most powerful wizard alive, Tony Robbins. Robbins is the biggest motivational speaker, life coach, and self-help guru in the world. Here’s a video showing Trump and Robbins selling a National Achievers Congress event they partnered on. First, listen to Trump’s style (full of happy-sounding words but zero content) and compare it to Robbins who follows on the video and is also full of happy words with zero content. See the similarity?

    Tony Robbins’ inspiration was John Grinder, an American linguist and a student of Milton Erickson’s teaching. Based on Erickson’s work, plus a lot of marketing ridiculousness, Grinder developed NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Critics say NLP is more garbage than science. In my experience, NLP is about 10% real and 90% marketing. But the real part is exceptionally powerful.

    What other wizards have been trained by Tony Robbins, you ask? This article in INC explains why Bill Clinton had Tony Robbins “on speed dial.” Clinton had advice from at least one other known wizard, and that advice probably changed the course of history, but I can’t mention that name for ethical reasons. 

    Another disciple of Erickson, Pierre Clement, opened schools to teach the Erickson method with some of his own flourishes added. One student of Clement’s school went on to write extensively about Erickson’s ideas. But to make them less “wizard-sounding” and more practical, he coined the phrase Moist Robot.

    That would be me.

    The moist robot philosophy, which I wrote about in my How to Fail book, is an outgrowth of Erickson’s teachings. In the moist robot view of the world, rational thought is mostly an illusion except for simple tasks and perhaps math. The good news is that the small, rational voice in your head can sometimes muster enough control to send you in a productive direction. 

    Erickson’s discovery is that words are like a UI for the mind. If you pick the right words, the mind goes into admin mode and you can rewire things at will. It might take lots of repetition, but you can get a lot done with that wiring over time. 

    Arthur C. Clarke famously said that any sufficiently advanced technology will look like magic. In this context, the magic involves the question of how someone like Donald Trump could be leading in the polls. But it isn’t magic, it is method. Trump is operating on a wizard level in terms of word choice.

    Milton Erickson is known as the modern father of hypnosis. The word “hypnosis” is loaded with misinformation because people have been exposed to bad movies and stage hypnosis shows. Stage hypnosis is more “magic tricks” than persuasion. The “trick” is that it only works with an audience. If you give me a hundred people, I can find one that doesn’t mind clucking like a chicken in front of the rest. He might even enjoy the experience. To the other 99 folks in the audience, it seems this subject is under a hypnotic spell and doing things against his will. The reality is that he’s just a dude doing things he doesn’t mind doing at all, but experiencing it in a super-relaxed state. There is more to it, but the central “trick” is that the subject is not embarrassed in the way that you would be, so the effect seems greater than it is.

    Real hypnosis, in my view, is closer to the science of persuasion. The best book on that topic is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Dr. Robert Cialdini. 

    So how powerful is this stuff?

    Ask Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump. All wizards.

    Have you ever wondered why Dilbert has an uncommon first name, no last name, a nameless boss, and he works for a nameless company, making nameless products, while living in a nameless city? That’s hypnosis. By omitting those details I allow the reader to better feel some version of “That’s me!”

    Likewise, when you criticize Trump for being vague on policies, you should know it is intentional. The empty spaces are provided for you to fill them in with whatever you think is a good idea. For a skilled wizard, the less he says, the more you like it. The wizard lets your brain fill in all the blanks with your personal favorite flavor of awesomeness.

    Two months ago Donald Trump was widely thought to be under-qualified for the job of president because he has never been a politician. Today most of the chatter is about how he is good at delegating.

    Two months ago you thought he was just an annoying loudmouth and a braggart. Today a lot of people are thinking he is presidential stuff.

    I don’t know what Hillary Clinton thought about Tony Robbins’ advice to her husband, or whether she did some wizard training herself, but one assumes so because of the association. And that means if the race comes down to Trump versus Clinton, two Erickson-trained wizards will be going toe-to-toe for the first time in American history.

    You might be wondering if I could use my wizard powers to become president someday myself. The quick answer is yes, even with my obvious flaws, unless I ran into a stronger wizard along the way. But don’t worry about a third Adams presidency. I like my job better. And the world does not need my help because Tony Robbins seems to have things under control. Literally. But I will keep my eye on all of them for you 🙂

    Update: Here’s a sentence I picked out of the news today (Business Insider) in which the writer describes a general puzzlement over why Trump is improving in the polls:

    “It’s not clear what is specifically driving Trump’s recent improvement against Clinton…”

    I’m not puzzled. You are watching a master wizard rewire the public in real time. 

    Scott

    At this writing, the #1 selling career guide on Kindle (priced over $2) is mine. You can find it here. It is full of moist robot goodness.

    And check out Top Tech Blog for what’s new and exciting.

Can We Call a Trump Puppet a Trumpet?

    [If your firewall blocked the image, see it on Twitter at @ScottAdamsSays.]

    When Donald Trump uses his persuasion skills to turn someone into a puppet, can we call that person a Trumpet? I vote yes!

    Because I want America to be great again.

    Anyway, yesterday I blogged about Trump’s masterful use of persuasion and I thought some of you would enjoy seeing a perfect example of a common technique. It is the sort of thing you can do at home.

    Warning: Stop reading now if you do not want to take the risk of being influenced to buy a particular item. Seriously. What follows is an experiment in manipulating your opinion. If that sort of experience does not appeal to you, please stop reading. 

    And this warning is serious. It is not part of the experiment. 

    If you’re still with me, check out this screen grab of my book’s ranking on one of Amazon’s bestseller sub-groups. My book is just above Trump’s book, and I’m almost positive he is getting more publicity lately.

    image

    [If your firewall is blocking the image, it is just two books side-by-side.]

    To be fair, this ranking lasted about five minutes and means absolutely nothing. The temporary ranking of my book in an obscure sub-group listing does not indicate its value.

    But here’s the thing. My words have a LITTLE impact on your memory. But the image of my book next to Trump’s book is a visual you are likely to remember even though it has no impact on your life. In effect, my book’s image is leeching off the “value” people see in Trump, either because he is a successful business person or because he might be the next president of the United States. Even if you dislike Trump on an intellectual level, he is still associated in your mind with success, wealth and power. And I just siphoned off some of that goodwill for my book.

    The way you influence people is by managing their dominant thoughts. And you can do that by associating things in people’s minds the way a dog associates obedience with treats. The brain is a natural connection-maker. It can’t turn that function off. A skilled persuader can chain together thoughts so one borrows the qualities of the other. Repetition strengthens the association.

    Trump wants to “Make America Great.” All three of those words are winning words. That choice of words is no clown accident. Trump is making people associate his brand with America, greatness, and even “making” stuff, which is generally good. Every time you hear his slogan, or read it, the association is strengthened.

    Compare Trump’s slogan to some dumb-ass intellectual slogan such as “I will make government smaller!” The words government and smaller are total loser words. The quality of that person’s argument will be lost on most voters. All they will know is that Trump wants to make them great while the other candidate wants to make something smaller.

    My main point is that intellectual arguments lose to visual arguments and to powerful associations such as “America” and “great.” You think Trump is spouting calorie-free non-policies because he’s an idiot who hasn’t done his homework. The reality (as far as I can tell) is that he’s playing three-dimensional chess with two-dimensional opponents.

    Here I’ll remind you that I don’t support any of the candidates at this point. My main interest in Trump is his persuasion skills.

    Scott

    Note: I am not including a link to my book because it wouldn’t seem sporting in this context.

    In Top Tech Blog, how about an AI that can jam with a jazz band? If it works, and passes the jazz-Turing test, it will be one more blow against the superstition that music comes from the soul. Sometimes it comes from the algorithm.