Outrage Dilution

    I’m having a fun time watching President Trump flood the news cycle with so many stories and outrages that no one can keep up. Here’s how the math of persuasion works in this situation:

    1 outrage out of 3 headlines in a week: Bad Persuasion

    25 outrages out of 25 headlines in a week: Excellent Persuasion

    At the moment there are so many outrages, executive orders, protests, and controversies that none of them can get enough oxygen in our brains. I can’t obsess about problem X because the rest of the alphabet is coming at me at the same time. 

    When you encounter a situation that is working great except for one identifiable problem, you can focus on the problem and try to fix it. But if you have a dozen complaints at the same time, none of them looks special. The whole situation just looks confusing, and you don’t know where to start. So you wait and see what happens. Humans need contrast in order to make solid decisions that turn into action. Trump removed all of your contrast by providing multiple outrages of similar energy.

    You’re probably seeing the best persuasion you will ever see from a new president. Instead of dribbling out one headline at a time, so the vultures and critics can focus their fire, Trump has flooded the playing field. You don’t know where to aim your outrage. He’s creating so many opportunities for disagreement that it’s mentally exhausting. Literally. He’s wearing down the critics, replacing their specific complaints with entire encyclopedias of complaints. And when Trump has created a hundred reasons to complain, do you know what impression will be left with the public?

    He sure got a lot done.

    Even if you don’t like it. 

    In only a few days, Trump has made us question what-the-hell every other president was doing during their first weeks in office. Were they even trying? 

    For a fun party trick, ask your most liberal friends if they think the Federal government should have a say in whether a woman gets an abortion or not. When they say the Federal government should stay out of that decision, inform them that President Trump shares their opinion. He doesn’t want the Federal government to be in the business of making health care choices for women. He prefers leaving that decision to the woman, her doctor, and state laws. 

    Many of you have thought of different uses for WhenHub because those situations keep popping up in your life. It’s hard to avoid them.

Building My Podcast Streaming Studio at Home

    A number of you asked what equipment I’m using to build out my home podcasting studio. I put that tutorial in a WhenHub Whencast (my company’s startup) so you can see an example of how WhenHub works for sort of thing.

    In this application the dates are unimportant except for ordering of steps. In a future release we’ll have an option for displaying no dates, just an ordering.

    The advantage of the Whencast is that you can clone it and modify it and reshare. For example, if you were a manufacturer selling a different type of video capture card you could just replace the one I show in the example with your product, change the link, and  the Whencast serves as a commercial for your product with a click-to-buy button built in. Best of all, as you update it, the updates flow to all the Whencasts connected to it anywhere in the world.

    This visualization style is good for tutorials, but WhenHub has lots of different looks for different applications.

    This is just one of a zillion things you can do with Whenhub. You’ll see more examples over time. I’ll try to make the topics worthy of your attention so it isn’t purely commercial. I trust all of you to be smart enough to know that blogs usually have commercial intent no matter what else they have. 

A Look Back at My Trump Predictions

    Many of you asked me to provide a quick index to my Trump-only blog posts. I did that for you here in a Whencast. Feel free to share on social media or embed in your own blog. My updates to this will flow automatically to wherever it is shared.

    To expand the Whencast to full screen, click the icon on the lower right of the frame.

    Whencasts are made with WhenHub, my startup.

The Plan for Immortality

    As part of my long-term strategy to achieve immortality, I’m building a permanent digital record of my life online. Someday there will be enough video, audio, biographical, and linguistic information about me to recreate me in software form. Maybe that future software will take into account my DNA too. Eventually there will be enough of a record of my life for future software programmers to recreate my voice, my preferences, my priorities, my thought processes, and even the way I move.

    You might think I am not serious. But I totally am. The odds that I will someday be resurrected in software are probably close to 100% because the technology will no doubt exist and I’ll have the most complete digital record available for the researchers to experiment with. Or one of the most.

    I plan to keep updating this biography to fill in details as I go. This is just one of a thousand things you can do with WhenHub.

    This looks best if you expand the window to fullscreen by clicking the icon in the lower right of the Whencast. (It won’t be awesome on your phone.)

The Master Persuader Scrambles the Frame

    What was Trump’s biggest persuasion problem in the election? 

    Answer: His opponents did a great job of framing him as some kind of Hitler. Do a Google search on Trump and Hitler and you get an avalanche of comparisons. 

    It was sticky persuasion, and it still hangs over the country like a chorus of stale farts. I’ve said before that half the country believe they are living in 1930s Germany and the other half think we got a better economy and some free entertainment. Those are two completely different movies running on the same screen at the same time. So how does the Master Persuader deal with the second-largest case of national cognitive dissonance in our history? (Slavery was first.)

    Ignoring the Hitler branding from the other side won’t work. It’s too sticky.

    Denying the Hitler branding won’t work either. That would just make people debate the details and harden the association by reputation. In the 3rd dimension, where persuasion matters and facts do not, brains recognize “Bob is totally NOT like Hitler” as “Somehow Bob and Hitler are connected.” So denying doesn’t work. Not even a little.

    What’s left? You can’t ignore it and you can’t deny it. There’s no solution, right?

    Well, there’s no solution if you operate in the 2nd dimension. That dimension is out of ammo. But the 3rd dimension is not. A Master Persuader neither ignores nor denies. 

    He plays offense and scrambles their frame. 

    But he had to wait for the right time and the right opportunity. That opportunity came to him in the form of an intelligence meeting leak and some fake news. Here’s how the Master Persuader played it:

    Trump Tweeted: 

    How do I know this was calculated and not just a Godwin’s Law universal reference to Hitler? Because he played it exactly the way I would have done it. And I have a similar skill set in persuasion. This was the only play that can work. It won’t solve for the Hitler branding the other side put on him, but it’s a start.

    Update: Now this…

    You might enjoy using my start-up’s app, WhenHub, because it makes you happy to know exactly when your friends and family will arrive. I’m hearing great things about it from users. Feel free to get some free happiness for youself by downloading the free app.


WhenHub: Movies Coming in 2017

    Here’s one of the billion of things you can do with WhenHub, the startup I co-founded. It’s available now. Free. Anyone can use it to make shareable visualizations for any kind of timeline, schedule, or series of events over time.

    This visualization works well for movies. But for other types of data you might want to use one of these looks. (Or build your own with our API, coming soon.)

    We also have the WhenHub app that is like the Uber app but without the Uber car. See your friends approach a meeting spot on a map. The app automatically times-out for privacy.

What if Climate Change Causes more CO2?

    Let me start this post by restating that I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change. I’m not a scientist and I have no tools to evaluate the credibility of those who are. As far as I can tell, the arguments on both sides are totally credible. I can’t tell them apart. So I default to agreeing with the experts, not so much because I believe experts are likely to be right in this case, but because there are extreme social and economic penalties for being a climate “denier.” So I’m not one. I’m just a non-scientist who would like to understand this situation better.

    And one of my ignorant questions is whether we have the causation right. On one hand, basic science tells us that more CO2 in the atmosphere should cause warming. And according to the consensus view of climate scientists, it is. The graphs of CO2 seem to match the graphs of warming. Therefore, logically, CO2 causes warming.

    A separate debate is whether the CO2 warming is enough to be a problem or it simply exists. Forget that for now. I’m just talking about the direction of causation.

    As a non-scientist, I assume human beings have some sort of temperature range that is optimal for energy and economics. I also assume that there are natural cycles of warming or cooling independent from CO2, at least historically. So we’re probably always warming or cooling. We’re never staying the same. And that means sometimes we are heading toward optimal human temperatures and sometimes away.

    Now suppose the Earth’s temperature was already in the good range for humans, but it was getting even better according to a natural cycle. That better temperature would – I assume – increase human activity in ways that (wait for it) contribute to CO2. If the economy is good, we build more industry and create more CO2. If the causation works in that direction, the heat of the world and the CO2 levels would be correlated. But the cause in this scenario is the warmth, not the CO2.

    None of this means we shouldn’t be worried about rising CO2. The science says more CO2 means more warming. That’s just physics. And at some point we have to assume the planet gets TOO warm, and economic activity will suffer.

    And when the economy suffers, CO2 could drop, assuming the economy goes into decline. At the very least I think you have to agree that the causation is two-way.

    When people tell me to “do my own research” on climate change and reach my own conclusions, I think those people have no understanding of how the human mind works. No matter how much research I do on my own, a real climate scientist will still know things that I don’t know I don’t know. If I do my own research on climate science, all I will know in the end is what I do know. And that’s not enough for any kind of credible evaluation. The stuff I don’t know could easily be more important than the things I do know. One would need to live in a particular industry, the way a climate scientist does, to have any confidence that all the important variables are being considered.

    Consider how basic my question is today. As a non-scientist, I can’t even tell if scientists have the causation right. My layperson’s brain says correlation is not causation, and humans have a long history of confusing the two. And while climate scientists might have perfectly good explanations for why the causation is primarily one-directional, it isn’t obvious to me. (You can explain it to me in the comments.)

    I realize that people want to know which “side” I’m on. But apparently I’m on my own side. My view is that climate scientists are more likely right than not, but the quality of their persuasion is worse than that of the skeptics on this topic. I don’t know the underlying facts. But persuasion-wise, the skeptics have a big advantage.

    Remember how I taught you that Trump’s linguistic kill shots had a special quality that allowed them to strengthen over time thanks to confirmation bias? Every time Ted Cruz said something that didn’t pass the fact-checking you remembered his Lyin’ Ted nickname. And every time someone accused Clinton of crooked dealings you were reminded of her Crooked Hillary nickname. Climate change has the same dynamic. Every time it snows the non-scientists of the world look out the window and experience confirmation bias that global “warming” isn’t happening. Sure, it’s usually called climate “change” now, and most people know that. But to the under-informed that change in preferred wording just looks suspicious.

    Climate scientists might be right that CO2 will cause catastrophic warming. And fear is a great persuader. But this particular fear is a bit abstract. It isn’t like a nuclear bomb that can kill us all instantly. Climate worries are in the unpredictable future and won’t affect everyone the same way. Persuasion-wise, the climate scientists only have facts and prediction models to make their case. And what are the weakest forms of persuasion known to humankind?

    Facts and prediction models.

    And how are climate scientists trying to solve this problem? Mostly by providing more facts and more prediction models. And by demonizing the critics. The net effect of all that is to systematically reduce their own credibility over time, even if they are right about everything.

    I think you see the problem.

    California passed a new law that says you can’t use your mobile phone in your hand while driving. It was already illegal to text, but now it is also illegal to use other apps with your phone in hand. I recommend getting a dashboard mount, as shown, and using my startup’s free app, WhenHub, to reduce the need to text on the way to meeting people.

    In the picture below you can see me about to leave the garage. Several friends already “joined the approach” as we say, so we can watch each other approach our meeting spot on a common map. All approaches time-out after the trip so you aren’t accidentally tracking anyone. No need to text on the way to the meeting because you already know where everyone is at.

    By the way, I told you in other blogs that one of my motivation tricks involves working on projects that have huge potential. This one will literally save lives by reducing texting-and-driving. That’s the sort of thing that makes it a joy for me to wake up every day. Look for something like that in your life. It will have a huge impact on your thoughts and energy.

The Climate Science Challenge

    I keep hearing people say that 97% of climate scientists are on the same side of the issue. Critics point out that the number is inflated, but we don’t know by how much. Persuasion-wise, the “first offer” of 97% is so close to 100% that our minds assume the real number is very high even if not exactly 97%.

    That’s good persuasion. Trump uses this method all the time. The 97% anchor is so strong that it is hard to hear anything else after that. Even the people who think the number is bogus probably think the real figure is north of 90%.

    But is it? I have no idea.

    So today’s challenge is to find a working scientist or PhD in some climate-related field who will agree with the idea that the climate science models do a good job of predicting the future.

    Notice I am avoiding the question of the measurements. That’s a separate question. For this challenge, don’t let your scientist conflate the measurements or the basic science of CO2 with the projections. Just ask the scientist to offer an opinion on the credibility of the models only.

    Remind your scientist that as far as you know there has never been a multi-year, multi-variable, complicated model of any type that predicted anything with useful accuracy. Case in point: The experts and their models said Trump had no realistic chance of winning.

    Your scientist will fight like a cornered animal to conflate the credibility of the measurements and the basic science of CO2 with the credibility of the projection models. Don’t let that happen. Make your scientist tell you that complicated multi-variable projections models that span years are credible. Or not.

    Then report back to me in the comments here or on Twitter at @ScottAdamsSays.

    This question is a subset of the more interesting question of how non-scientists can judge the credibility of scientists or their critics. My best guess is that professional scientists will say that complicated prediction models with lots of variables are not credible. Ever. So my prediction is that the number of scientists who ***fully*** buy into climate science predictions is closer to zero than 97%.

    But I’m willing to be proved wrong. I kind of like it when that happens. So prove me wrong.

    Would you like to prevent your loved ones from texting while driving? Try my startup’s free app, WhenHub. It eliminates the need for all of those “Where are you?” text messages when you are trying to meet up. WhenHub works like the Uber app but without the Uber car. You can see one or more people approaching a meeting on the map, so there is no need to text back and forth. WhenHub automatically times-out so you have no ongoing privacy worries after you use it.

    WhenHub app for Apple: http://apple.co/2eLL3Oh

    WhenHub app for Android: http://bit.ly/2fIb6L7

The Kristina Talent Stack

    Over the past eighteen months or so my girlfriend Kristina Basham grew her Instagram following from zero to 2.5 million followers. She adds about 10,000 new followers per day.

    That’s ten thousand new followers per day.

    You might think this kind of accomplishment is easy for her because of her extraordinary attractiveness. Sure, that helps. But there are lots of attractive women on Instagram – most of them showing more skin than Kristina – and almost none of them are adding followers at Kristina’s rate. There’s a reason for that. I call it the Talent Stack.

    The idea of a talent stack is that you can combine ordinary skills until you have enough of the right kind to be extraordinary. You don’t have to be the best in the world at any one thing. All you need to succeed is to be good at a number of skills that fit well together.

    For example, I’m not much of an artist, not much of a business expert, and my writing skills are mostly self-taught. I’m funny, but not the funniest person in my town. The reason I can succeed without any world-class skills is that my talent stack is so well-designed. (That’s intentional, by the way.)

    President Trump also has a powerful talent stack. He isn’t the best communicator in the world, but he is very good. He doesn’t know as much about politics as career politicians do, but apparently he knows enough. He isn’t the smartest person who ever ran for office, but he’s very smart. He might not be the best business strategist in the world, but he certainly knows his stuff. I could go on for pages about how Trump has good-but-not-world-class skills in a variety of areas. And when you put all of those talents together it makes him the most persuasive human I have ever observed. Trump’s talent stack was powerful enough to make him president. And I don’t think it was an accident that he developed a talent stack so powerful. It looks intentional to me.

    But back to Kristina. Her talent stack is amazing. She has a degree from UC Berkeley, so she’s far smarter than the average person, but she’s not the smartest person in the entire world. She has modeled since she was a teen, so she knows all the model tricks for posing, and that makes a big difference. Having worked with lots of professional photographers over the years she also picked up a lot of skills with composition, lighting, and equipment. She is also an expert on makeup and all the other tricks that models do to improve their appearance. 

    And that’s just the starter package. Kristina also knows all the tools of social media and how to promote online. She knows a lot about SEO and she developed a range of “hacks” for boosting her Instagram posts. The hacks that work today will stop working by tomorrow, so that is an ongoing process.

    More recently Kristina started doing what might be called A/B testing to see which elements of a photo predict the most likes and engagement. For example, although her Instagram photos are G-rated, any hint of side boob adds at least 10% to her engagement. There are several other variables with the same amount of power, and most are not as obvious as “show more skin.” She isolates and tests those elements on a regular basis. It is fascinating to watch.

    Kristina also developed a system for picking the best photos to post. Before posting she usually asks several trusted advisors, including her dad and me, to weigh in on which photo out of a group of candidates looks best. This system allows her to see past her own biases about her appearance.

    Sometimes Kristina publishes four photos on her Twitter account and asks for feedback on which one people like the most. Her Twitter following is small compared to Instagram and works great as a test bed. Her Twitter follower often pick a photo that she would not have chosen on her own, and those picks seem to perform great on Instagram.

    You might wonder why anyone wants to have millions of Instagram followers. It’s a lot of work to post high-quality photos twice a day, and Instagram doesn’t pay for content. But Kristina is what I call a systems thinker, not a goals person. Systems thinkers create situations in which there are lots of potential ways to win, not just one. As Kristina’s Instagram audience grows, she attracts more and better business offers from all over the world. She built a web page to capture them. On a typical day she turns down offers to be on reality TV shows, to travel to exotic places for modeling, and to promote products on her Instagram page. The quality of those offers increases with her number of followers, so patience is the right strategy for now. It’s a great system and she has lots of options for cashing in when the time is right.

    Recently Kristina agreed to bring her talent stack to my start-up, WhenHub, to help us get attention. Something tells me this is one of my better ideas.

    In a coming blog post I will explain how WhenHub was designed as a start-up with the risk profile of an incubator. You’ll like that one.

    If this discussion of systems versus goals interests you, and you want more, see my book.

    Do you have your Dilbert calendar yet? There is still time. See here.

Can the Government Deduce Your Religion Without Asking?

    I’m hearing a lot of chatter about President Trump potentially creating a “Muslim registry,” which, as it turns out, already exists. The current system only registers non-residents from certain countries. But how hard would it be for the government to figure out all of our religious beliefs – citizens and non-citizens alike — without asking?

    My guess is that the government already uses Big Data to determine our religious beliefs and more. Consider all the information they have.

    1. Your cell phone leaves a trail in the cloud of where you have been. If you have been to a Mosque, the government can know that.

    2. Your banking and credit card records would tell the government if you buy any products associated with Islamic culture or beliefs. That could include food, clothing, and more.

    3. The government can search all of your social media, text messages, and other digital communication for keywords and other clues about your beliefs.

    4. The government knows who you associate with on social media and what websites you visit.

    5. Census information.

    6. Non-governmental forms you might have filled out with your religious preferences or ethnic background.

    7. Health records might have clues too. For example, a hospital record might specify a halal diet.

    I know the government doesn’t have explicit legal authority to snoop into all of the information sources I listed, but I’d be surprised if they aren’t doing it anyway in the name of national security. We wouldn’t know if they had backdoors into the major corporate networks. I assume they do.

    So don’t worry too much about a Muslim “registry.” We’ve probably had one for years. And the rest of us are probably on lists of some sort too. So far, all it has done is reduce terror attacks (I presume).

    I agree that society needs to keep an eye on this sort of “registry” to prevent abuse. It is frightening to even read the language about it. But once you see it in context, it probably isn’t much change from the current situation.

    On another topic…

    Are You Divorced with Joint Custody?

    If you are a divorced parent with joint custody you know how frustrating it is to manage the hand-offs of the kids once or twice a week. One parent is always waiting for the other, and getting angrier each minute because of lateness that seems intentional (because exes are like that). You don’t want to text your ex, especially when the ex is driving with your kids in the car. So how do you solve this annoying child exchange tension that you have EVERY week?

    Try my startup’s new app, WhenHub. It allows any group of two or more people to TEMPORARILY geostream their locations on a map as they head to a meeting spot. (Like the Uber app without the Uber car.) That way you know your ex is on the way without talking to them. And if your ex is not cooperative, you can put the app on your kids’ phones because they will be in the same vehicle.

    No more frustrating texts back and forth asking “Where are you???” The geostreaming in the app is always temporary and times-out whenever you specify, so your ex can’t track you.

    If you try it once, you’ll never go back to the old way.

    WhenHub app for Apple: http://apple.co/2eLL3Oh

    WhenHub app for Android: http://bit.ly/2fIb6L7