Last summer, a friend from Rhode Island asked if I'd read Scott (Dilbert artist) Adams blog predicting since 2015 that the most probable outcome of the 2016 election would be the election of Donald Trump. Adams is intelligent, his reasoning is thought-provocative, and I've continued to read the blog, and many of its comments and tweets, for several months.
I've read reviews of the blog by commentators who "binge read" the blog. Since I've been reading pretty steadily, and trading comments, I thought I'd break from e-waste policy to discuss the weaponization of psychology, persuasion, and hypnosis. Because I don't think cramming his blog is the best way to absorb his thoughts on how to be, or not be, successful in persuasion.
Here is one example of Scott Adams blog, from January, titled "The Persuasion Filter and Immigration" which typically makes the case that none of us are "rational", that evolution has bred us to be "wet robots" responding to greed and fear through psychology.
"I’ve mentioned in this blog a few times that persuasion works even when the subject of the persuasion recognizes all the techniques as they happen. This is a perfect case. The left has been watching Trump make big offers and dial them back for the past year. And yet they still think this time it will be different. The Persuasion Filter says that 70-year old Trump will act the same way today as he has for the past several decades: Big first offer, then negotiate."
"But what about Trump’s critics on the far right who want more extreme immigration? Trump needs to negotiate with them too. And he is. He did that by showing them that his temporary offer was so extreme that people took to the streets. The system (America) is actively trying to eject Trump like some sort of cancer cell. And the worse it gets, with protests and whatnot, the more leverage Trump has to tell his far right supporters that he has gone as far as the country will let him go. He needed that. The protests are working in his favor. He couldn’t negotiate with the extreme right without them."As a business person, I found this very intelligent, and as a big supporter of immigration and globalization, I was frustrated as heck that the Left fell for Trump's January head-fake. Trump had (in order to fulfill his 'campaign promise') appear to do something about "Muslim Ban" and artfully selected the exact same countries which President Obama had already issued an order to increase "vetting" of. The left came out and protested, giving Trump the appearance of having done something dramatic. Scott Adams was correct, this was artful on Trump's part.
Here's another one, which I think defends him well from accusations that his prediction was Pro-Trump persuasion or bias. While he was certainly correct that Trump was being under-estimated, and using strong persuasion skills, he safely recused himself through this non-endorsement.
"My personal bias is that I don’t think any 70ish-year old person (Clinton or Trump) should be president. You wouldn’t hire a 70-year old into any other type of job that requires high energy, mental flexibility, and a possible eight-years of service. Why would we do it for the most important job in the land? And keep in mind that we haven’t seen detailed medical records from either oldster."Objectively speaking, we are likely to have incompetent leadership – because of age alone – no matter whether Clinton or Trump wins. That should scare you."-Scott Adams Blog, "Trump Prediction Update", August 10, 2016And today, he said he was "Tracking His Persuasion". It looks like he's using dollars to track it, because it's also pushing his books (as he has a software app, WhenHub, which I like in principle).
My challenge in the letter at the bottom of this blog is to convince Scott Adams that environmental science should be given the same respect - and no more - as the study of human health and western medicine. There will be many, many false leads, correlations, conclusions, along the way. But we are all more likely to live longer today (as noted by famous statistician Hans Rosling) because over time, the base of knowledge evolves, and the fittest policies survive. We could be on the wrong track, Trump could be on the right one. But Scott can't prove that "faith based medicine" would have created the vaccinations we live with today, and should beware of attracting the equivalent of anti-vax followers based on his ability to beat up straw men as political opponents.