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Forrest Trump: “I May Not Be A Smart Man, But I’m Like, A Genius”

I’ve started reading “Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter” by Scott Adams. And it’s about Donald Trump. Mainly.

I suspect that Scott couldn’t fill a whole book boasting about how he called it right and how Donald Trump is a Master Persuader, so he talks a bit about being a trained hypnotist and he brings in some ideas about how people aren’t as rational as they think.

I’m having trouble with the book for two reasons: One, just being right about an outcome doesn’t mean that one is completely right about everything that led one to predict that outcome, and two, Adams seems to be using a lot of his persuasion techiques to convince us of Trump’s mastery.

Adams may have called the election correctly, but it doesn’t logically follow that his reasons were sound, in much the same way that correctly predicting that Stephen Bradbury would win the skating gold medal all those years ago doesn’t mean that you were right when you said, “He’s going to win because he looks like a guy I went to school with who won lots of raffles, so Bradbury is bound to be lucky too!” Similarly, Trump may have won through a combination of persuasive skills and luck. If the FBI hadn’t released a statement about investigating Hillary’s emails in the week before the election, would Donald have still won? And if he hadn’t, Adams assertion that he was a Master Persuader would look a little overcooked.

Of course the book was written earlier in Trump’s presidency and some of Adams’ assertions about Trump pulling back from his more extreme positions during the campaign don’t sound so convincing. He asserts that while Trump said that he’d deport all the undocumented immigrants, he’s changed his position and it’s only those with a criminal history who’ll be sent back. Trump’s recent performance on the DACA legislation makes that claim look more than a little foolish.

Perhaps, Adams would have us believe that his use (or non-use) of the word “shithole” was a deliberate strategy to take focus away from the fact that he changed his mind about the deal.

As I’m reading I’m also aware that some of the techniques described are being used by the writer himself. He suggests that it’s a good idea to find a point of agreement or similarity with the person you’re trying to win over and to use that to help win him over on other issues. So I have to confess to being a bit cynical when Adams tries to establish his “liberal” world-view and tells us that he doesn’t agree with Trump politically. Later on, he tries to justify the Trumpster’s position on climate change being a conspiracy made up by China by suggesting that really China is the country benefitting most from the Paris Treaty. There are a few other times when I notice that Adams is doing exactly what he tells us Trump does.

The book does make some good points, however, so I’ve kept reading. For a start, it makes the point that being wrong about something isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it sucks the oxygen out of other issues and focuses attention on the topic where your opponents are asserting that you’re mistaken. Take, for example, the recent brouhaha about African “gangs”. While the Victorian Government and Police have been at pains to point out that statisitically speaking, this is only a small part of crime in the state, that doesn’t matter because it’s focusing attention on a law and order debate. The Liberals would much rather this than if we were talking about healthcare or education.

And, of course, I realise that I fall into that trap over and over again. I talk about, I write about, I think about the mistakes in what politicians are saying, believing that pointing out their inaccuracies and inconsistencies will help raise the awareness that rather than having the adults run the country, we have a group of whining, complaining toddlers who chuck their toys out of the cot every time something doesn’t suit them. Rather than acknowledging that judicial independence is one of the cornerstones of a free democratic country, we hear complaints about judges ruling in accordance with the law. Who could forget the wonderful oxymoron “vigilante litigation”?

We should be talking about improving health and education systems. We should be looking at better solutions for homelessness. We should stop thinking that simply putting on a white ribbon once in a while fixes domestic violence. We should be asking why Centrelink takes over an hour to answer the phone.

Whatever, we should start setting the agenda and talking about what we see as important, and not let politicians distract us with their talking points.

 


27 comments

  1. Keitha Granville

    Yes, we should focus on all those important things, and in order to do this we need to hold our politicians accountable – but we don’t. They all get away with grandiose promises during campaigns which are then dumped when they are in. We have to stop them from grandstanding about things that are untrue, or only slightly true, or are blatant lies.
    But no-one does.
    And then we re-elect the same muppets.
    Why can’t we have accountability – a check list of what was promised and what has actually happened ? Independently assessed of course – their own stats are never to be trusted.

  2. Miriam English

    A while back I listened to Sam Harris interview Scott Adams. It was very disturbing. Sam Harris uttely despises Trump, but to his credit remained relatively calm in the face of Scott Adams’ loony statements and justifications.

    Hearing Scott Adams speak was a great disappointment to me as I’ve enjoyed his Dilbert cartoons for ages. What a surprise to find out that he isn’t Dilbert as everyone thought, but is instead the cynical, borderline evil Dogbert.
    https://samharris.org/podcasts/triggered/

  3. Jessica Brisbane

    Hwy, I predicted the election result, but only because I’m a pessimist and that was the worst possible outcome.

  4. Terry2

    Not everyone is rejoicing Trump’s clean bill of health : I hear that his wife Melania is being treated for depression.

  5. Egalitarian

    With Trump in power it feels like we are living in the 1950s and where we are headed for the 1940s.

  6. Miriam English

    Here’s the genius:

    https://www.nytimes.com/column/patrick-chappatte

    President Trump declared on Saturday that he is perfectly sane and intelligent. “Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” he wrote on Twitter.

    I think this is the most wonderful clanger ever. 😀

  7. Egalitarian

    Terry; if he stays in power for much longer.Most intelligent thinking people will need to be treated for depression.It’s the Mad Hatters Tea Party at the moment.

  8. Terry2

    Egalitarian

    But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
    “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
    “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
    “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

    Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

  9. amethyst3009

    Miriam English, what a fabulous cartoon! The gait of Trump, the ill-fitting suit, the baseball cap with the suit, the snarly face… Just brilliant! Oh, and the stuck-up members of the Republican party – gorgeous- noses in the air, trying to avoid the stench!

    Thank you for sharing it.

  10. Zathras

    Adams seems convinced that every apparent misstep by Trump is the brilliant reasoned work of some Super-Strategist and has thus relegated himself to the role of apologist. It’s just a shared delusion and he’s probably one of those who will be getting a big tax cut in return.

    So Trump passed a Year 7 cognitive test. Big deal. What happens when he hits the demands of year 10?

  11. Frank Smith

    What a farce the Trump Presidency is. Many see his impeachment as a way out of this dilemma. Personally, I suspect this is unlikely given the House and Senate are presently controlled by the Republicans. However, many Republicans may welcome the chance of elevating “one of their own”, Mike Pence, to be President and ridding themselves of the troublesome Trump. Pence would be “the darling” of the Republican Party, even though he is an ultra-right Tea Party exponent. So, be very careful what you may wish for – Pence is a very dangerous alternative and would also reinvigorate Republicans and entrench their right-wing agenda. The Democrats need to get their house in order very quickly so they have a chance of controlling the House and the Senate through the mid-term elections.

  12. Miriam English

    Frank Smith, I’ve noticed some recent impeachment movements want to impeach both Trump and Pence. That’s a much better option, in my view. Trump is an uncontrollable moron, but he’s also pretty ineffective. Pence on the other hand is really scary. He’s a religious fundamentalist with an implacable hatred of almost everybody that’s not like him.

  13. Florence nee Fedup

    This mob is ignoring or dismantling all the checks and balances the founding fathers worked so hard at building into the Constitution. Breaking down of conventions that underpin, making constitution workable have been watered down by the Coalition since the Whitlam years. It sped up under Howard, leading to Abbott having no respect for our democracy, rule of law. No respect for the separation of powers or presumption of innocence, no respect for international agreements. Things have if possible has worsened under Turnbull. We now see Dutton with the power of police, judge and jailer. Many with no respite to the judicial system. This govt has abused their powers interfering is statutory bodies. Overrule rights of the states.

    They appear to be a law unto themselves.

  14. Miriam English

    Great point Florence. I’d often given idle thought to how true conservatives can be mobilised against this “government” of radical extremists. I think you’ve put your finger on it. True conservatives place extremely high value upon the rule of law and reliability. But this bunch are breaking, redefining, and defying laws at every turn. They are the opposite of what conservatives like. This is how we get conservatives and progressives to unite against these bastards.

  15. Jack Straw

    : “I May Not Be A Smart Man, But I’m Like, A Genius”

    Trump sounds like Maynard G. Krebs from the TV show Dobie Gillis. Anyone would be LIke “A Genius” if you were given millions when you were a kid.

  16. Miriam English

    The hilarious thing is that Trump is such a terrible businessman that he should be a billionaire with all that starting money he inherited from his Nazi dad. The fact that he may be barely even a millionaire (and may actually be in debt) is crazy. He is really inept.

    He’s a perfect example of the message in the 1954 British/USA movie, “The Million Pound Note”. (Based on Mark Twain’s story “The Million Pound Bank Note” — available as free ebook at feedbooks or free librivox audiobook at Internet Archive.)

  17. jimhaz

    I did not predict the election result. I had too much faith that people would not so be irresponsible to use him as payback against the Dems and the left, and to see that he was no white knight.

    lol…Even now they see him as that white knight because he is using MMT to boost the economy. Like MMT he is kicking the debt/structural rationalisation can down the road. Apples actions will lift his approval rating and could lead to a 2nd term, barring impeachment. These big business plan their tax avoidance strategy to only ever return money for taxation when governments give them huge tax discounts (it has happened before and like Too Big to Fail they now expect it and plan for it). http://taxjustice.blogspot.com.au/2009/06/new-evidence-on-bushs-tax-amnesty.html

    Other companies will follow suit.

    “Every year, U.S.-based multinational corporations use tax havens to avoid paying an estimated $100 billion in federal income tax. According to a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 366 of the country’s 500 largest companies maintain at least 9,755 tax haven subsidiaries where they hold over $2.6 trillion in accumulated profits. Apple is at the very top of the offshore cash pile, booking $246 billion and avoiding $76.7 billion in U.S. taxes in the process”

  18. Miriam English

    MMT??? Trump isn’t using MMT. I doubt Trump even knows what it is.

  19. Matters Not

    Let’s not forget that Trump’s been bankrupted six (6) times. Banks in the US and elsewhere won’t touch him but maybe some Russian oligarchs would use him to wash some ill gotten gains. Mueller’s investigation seem to ne proceeding down that path.

    Trump did the bidding of the big end of town with massive tax cuts. Now he has no further use.

    Read this to get an idea of Australia and the rich

    http://johnmenadue.com/michael-keating-trickle-down-economics-and-a-company-tax-cut/

  20. jimhaz

    MMT??? It is close enough – there seems to be no intention to limit government debt or to balance the books.

  21. Miriam English

    MMT doesn’t mean not balancing the books and not limiting government debt. As I understand it, it simply acknowledges that the usual understanding of tax, debt, and government accounts are all subtly wrong.

    Tax doesn’t actually fund government spending, but it does something almost the same, in that it makes room in the economy so that the government can spend without causing inflation. The difference is that the conventional belief means if the tax isn’t raised then there’s no money for schools and hospitals and the social safety net. MMT says that the government can still spend that money, but they have to be careful that they don’t cause inflation and that they can use other ways to take money out of the economy to do that.

    Government can’t be in debt to itself, so the deficit or surplus isn’t what people generally think it is. It is actually more responsible for a government to run a deficit than a surplus because that means the extra money is out there in the community doing things.

    The government balance sheet with itself is important, but not for the reason generally thought. It lets the government keep an eye on the state of the economy, not the state of the government.

  22. jimhaz

    [The government balance sheet with itself is important, but not for the reason generally thought. It lets the government keep an eye on the state of the economy, not the state of the government]

    I disagree. It exists due to international trade and competition. It is for the purposes of viability measurement for investments.

    Is the US ever going to pay it debt. No way – that is what their investment in military might is now for.

    [Tax doesn’t actually fund government spending]

    This is rubbish and always will be. Such a statement would apply only if there was no international trade or investment. It is just a timing issue – ie it is not essential for the government to have tax receipts before they spend, and they can spend more than the expected tax receipts will provide although this devalues currency. It is such a childish comment, I cannot believe how much it is repeated.

  23. Miriam English

    jimhaz, you should read the recent AIMN article by John Kelly, A Politician’s Guide to telling the truth about taxation.

    You said, the government “can spend more than the expected tax receipts will provide although this devalues currency.”

    That’s almost what I said. I used the word inflation (which devalues currency) and tried to point out that tax and government spending are not directly connected.

    You miss the point that the government spending more than it takes in tax doesn’t necessarily result in inflation. Inflation is actually caused by too much money being available to be spent on too few goods and services.

    That can be a result of the government overspending, but it can also come about through loss of productivity. It can also result from over-use of personal and business loans — that particular case is dangerous because the bubble is unsustainable and will burst, requiring the government spends big to fix the crash.

    If productivity increases and the government doesn’t increase spending then prices (and wages) theoretically fall (though I think the result is not pretty and would set off some chaotic and unpredictable effects).

    I should note that I’m talking about federal government here, not state or local government.

  24. Miriam English

    Another way a currency can be devalued is if overseas investors buy up large amounts of a currency forcing the price up, then sell it all at once to make massive profits. This is what happened in the crash of the Asian Tiger economies in 1997 when some billionaires did this to Thailand. The highly interconnected Asian economies were wrecked by it, and it came close to causing a worldwide financial crisis. It severely damaged Japan’s economy, which was one of the most powerful in the world at the time. It has never fully recovered.

  25. Rossleigh

    Quote from the Scott Adams book: “On October 25, 2016, I re-endorsed Donald Trump for president of the United States. He has his flaws. But he wasn’t bullying me and he wasn’t trying to rob my estate.”
    It follows a bit where he complains that Clinton policy on estate taxes will be exorbitant on multimillion dollar estates and he works seven days a week, so he deserves all that he’s earned.
    Interesting in that, not only is it all about him, but it sort of makes it strange that he still tries to sell himself as not being in the Trump camp, just someone who admired Donald as a “Master Persuader”.

  26. Kronomex

    I can’t look at Dilbert without considering the loony Adams is and so it has now gone the way of the dodo.

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