Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Triggered, the Trump Effect

In the West, we like to believe that humans are logical and reasonable, that we seek data driven solutions. What if this is mostly wrong? What if reason is only one small piece of a much larger picture, a larger picture that mostly goes unnoticed because it is part of our wiring? This post seek to rip the facade of rationality off and take a wider look at human nature.

This post is based on the Waking Up Podcast by Sam Harris, #87 Triggered. It feature an dialogue with Scott Adams, the Creator of Dilbert, who attempts to explain Trump's implausible election:

Sam Harris admits that he is triggered by Trump because he feels that Trump deliberately speaks untruths to dupe gullible people. Scott Adams uses his years of training in hypnosis and persuasion techniques to analyze how Trump managed to convince enough voters to elect him to the most powerful office in the world.

Emotional Truth

In response to Harris' rage towards Trump's purported untruthfulness, Scott Adams replies that Trump does say some things that are factually untrue but that are truthful in the sense that they are emotionally compatible with his supporters. They are emotionally truthful, directional truthful, independent of facts. Adams gives and example of Trump describing thousand of Muslims dancing after 9/11. While this may not be factually true, it corresponds to his supporters feelings towards Muslims. It is also point to an inconvenient truth about how many Muslims felt about 9/11.

Wikipedia.org - Muslim Attitudes Toward Terrorism

Pacing and Leading

Adams says that these emotional truths are part of Trumps use of the pacing and leading persuasion technique. Trump is matching people emotional attitudes long enough to gain their trust.

Emotional Trust

Adams posits that, in order to lead, followers must trust someone emotionally. Factually compatibility does not get someone to a leadership position but emotional compatibility does.

Think Big

Adam's explains that trump uses hyperbole. He comes in with the largest first offer which gives him lots of room to negotiate. For example, he may start out by pacing his followers by stating that he will deport all illegals but later focus on a smaller goal of focusing on deporting violent criminals. He may state that he will waterboard terrorists but later focus on just pulling support from ISIS linked rebels in Syria.

Watershed Associates - Donald Trump's "Art of the Deal" - What's his final grade?

The first and perhaps most important Key Element is Trump’s call to action:  Think Big! He urges “If you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big”. This is Negotiating 101 – and so is definitely worth exploring further. Any negotiation eventually produces some give and take; you rarely close at your very first offer

Confirmation Bias

Adams says that Trump's supporters will not typically notice that Trump has pulled back from the initial big offer because of Confirmation Bias. Since they are emotionally connected with him as a leader, they will see any evidence including contradictory evidence as supporting their faith in him.

Psychology Today - What Is Confirmation Bias?

Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true.

Cognitive Dissonance - Two Movies on One Screen

cognitive dissonance if our mind is set to a specific reality especially about our self image we create an illusion if something contradicts. a lot of the country was in an echo chamber thought t was going to lose then the results did not go that way a cognitive dissonance cluster bomb split the us into two screen running two different pictures on one screen we elected hitler on the other we got a guy that was somewhat competent because of that set up we would see an

Trump Arch

arch #1 beginning protests, we elected hitler #2 summer - incompetent, chaos in the whitehouse #3 end of summer, get things done, but we do not like these things people do not change opinions they just change the reasons for their opinions

Dissonance Tells - Mind Reading

classic test of cognative dissonance Tell - imagine that you can know someone's entire inner processes trigger - the way he speaks there are two parts a tell and a trigger t's lies #1 honest mistakes #2 hyperbole - the big first offer #3 trained persuader,

The Limitations of Reason, Certain Facts Don't Matter

low regard for certain facts, one that don't matter for decisions or outcomes make trivial mistakes or make emotionally true, factionally questionable statements

The New Yorker - Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

Humans’ biggest advantage over other species is our ability to coƶperate. Coƶperation is difficult to establish and almost as difficult to sustain. For any individual, freeloading is always the best course of action. Reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems or even to help us draw conclusions from unfamiliar data; rather, it developed to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups.


hyndcast confirmation bias allows you to explain after the fact lot of explanations for how things work in the past analogy

if selfish tweets one explanation crazy any explanation can be be made to fit another explanation throws a lot of stuff out does a lot of a b testing like open and out of the box solutions plays loose with the facts has been in questionable situations has said i am no angel i will use

Analogies Are Poor Approximations

  when someone retreats to analogy it is because they have run out of reasons analogies are aproximations by design


When an analogy is used as a "homely example", memory crutch, poetic metaphor, colorful illustration, or with humorous or satirical intent, and is understood as such by the reader or listener, it probably is benign. But analogies should never be used as arguments to reach a conclusion, and should never substitute for reason and logic

Ripping a Hole in the Fabric of Reality

they explain a concept for the first time t changed politics ripped hole in the fabric of reality and let us peak through allowed us to see the two different movies at one time there are reasons for it that understanding goes a lot further people are trapped in the smaller, fact checking world the bigger picture is seeing throught the traps, cog diss, conf bias the smaller less aware world where you think people base decisions on logic and facts because you think they should you are missing the biggest part of life because they don't people think we should rely on reason and facts but we do not, because we are not built that way we do not have that capacity in general we can in certain constrained ways like science but in general

Smarter than They Look, Dumber than They Seem

e do not news reports indicate t supporters know what is true and what is not people tend to be despicable when you drill down it is more common than not uncommon for people to exhibit sketchy behavior china - smartest persuasion with nk is you are the adults in your neighborhood and can take care of the problem but you did not, so i guess that did not work so now i need to take action that you do not want me to

Mob Lawyer

learning on the job pivots changing tactics like being unpredictability keeping people off balance until offering solution persuasion wise brutally effective past the point where pres should be role model for children shouldn't he be more like the best lawyer even if he was a mob lawyer perfect life arch born as a baby, totally selfish adult, giving more than taking the amount of arrows that he went through would be foolish

Systems Beat Goals

the skills that made me successful on your behalf system being better than goals strong economy is a system that give lots of options reducing global warming is a goal new ceo move make big motions at the beginning whether effective or not to set psychology red team blue team military method to evaluate climate change issue tell for cognitive dissonance turning reasonable thing into an absolute

Scott Adam's Blog - Goals vs. Systems

In my new book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, I talk about using systems instead of goals. For example, losing ten pounds is a goal (that most people can’t maintain), whereas learning to eat right is a system that substitutes knowledge for willpower. 

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