December 15, 2016

The subscription-only newsletter PublishersLunch announces a forthcoming book:

Creator of the Dilbert comic strip, NYT bestselling author, and inadvertent political pundit Scott Adams's THE MASTER PERSUADER, an analysis of why people follow some leaders and not others, to Portfolio, in a major deal....

Portfolio is an imprint of Penguin Books, which is part of the publishing giant Penguin Random House. PublishersLunch says this was "a major deal" -- which means Adams got an advance of at least half a million dollars.

I don't know how many of you paid attention to what Adams wrote about Trump during the course of the campaign. To give him his due, he could see Trump's potential for success as a candidate long before most political pros could. He said from the start that Trump is a "Master Persuader" appealing to voters on a non-rational level:

... when Trump says he is worth $10 billion, which causes his critics to say he is worth far less (but still billions) he is making all of us “think past the sale.” The sale he wants to make is “Remember that Donald Trump is a successful business person managing a vast empire mostly of his own making.” The exact amount of his wealth is irrelevant.

When a car salesperson trained in persuasion asks if you prefer the red Honda Civic or the Blue one, that is a trick called making you “think past the sale” and the idea is to make you engage on the question of color as if you have already decided to buy the car. That is Persuasion 101 and I have seen no one in the media point it out when Trump does it.

The $10 billion estimate Trump uses for his own net worth is also an “anchor” in your mind. That’s another classic negotiation/persuasion method. I remember the $10 billion estimate because it is big and round and a bit outrageous. And he keeps repeating it because repetition is persuasion too.

I don’t remember the smaller estimates of Trump’s wealth that critics provided. But I certainly remember the $10 billion estimate from Trump himself. Thanks to this disparity in my memory, my mind automatically floats toward Trump’s anchor of $10 billion being my reality. That is classic persuasion. And I would be amazed if any of this is an accident. Remember, Trump literally wrote the book on this stuff.

I don't know if this is insanity or an accurate assessment of how Trump gulls the gullible. I think Trump has no conscious idea what he's doing, though he's intuited what works. Nevertheless, I think none of it would have worked in a general election without a tremendous amount of backup from an email-obsessed media, an FBI director desperately trying to please Republicans, a Clinton-hating Russian dictator with a pal at Wikileaks, and a Clinton campaign that made many strategic errors, on behalf of a less-than-charismatic candidate who lacked sharp political instincts. It took a lot to get Trump over the line, and I haven't even mentioned Bernie-or-Busters or GOP vote-suppression laws or the Electoral College. But please, Scott, tell us that Trump won because he has us all hypnotized.

When he sits down to write the book, I hope Adams really wallows in his most half-cocked ideas and most florid rhetoric. Y'know, like this:

The idea of the Master Wizard Hypothesis says there are some people in the world, living people, masters of persuasion, they've got a linguistic gift for influencing people. And they are using actual techniques.

What I [see] in Trump is someone who was highly trained. A lot of the things that the media were reporting as sort of random insults and bluster and just Trump being Trump, looked to me like a lot of deep technique that I recognized from the fields of hypnosis and persuasion.

And I hope he goes off on tangents like these, spotted on his blog by Slate's Ben Dolnick:

[Adams] is prone to typing sentences like this: “My language skills activate your sex drive, and you know it.” ...

Here he is explaining that in the event of a Trump victory, he, Adams, “would be a top-ten assassination target.” Herehe is lamenting the “humiliation of the American male,” as evidenced by a dishwasher detergent ad. Here he is unforgettably (I’ve tried) attempting to hypnotize his readers into having the best orgasms of their lives (“I want you wet, or hard, and especially obedient …”).

And here Adams is after the election telling us that, while the Pizzagate conspiracy theory appears false to him, there is "a mountain of evidence supporting the allegations" and, hey, it might be true that there are subterranean tunnels in which children are molested under pizzerias, with pedophiles alerted to the molestation opportunities by runic codes on menus and signage:

I want to be totally clear here that I’m not saying Pizzagate is false. I see the mountain of evidence too. And collectively it feels totally persuasive to me. It might even be true. I’m not debating the underlying truth of it. That part I don’t know.

This really might be the book that, more than any other, encapsulates what's truly rotten and decaying in American society. It should survive, just as a warning to future civilizations of how much a society can decline. I guarantee you one thing: It will be a bestseller. You can take that to the bank.

(Crossposted from No More Mr. Nice Blog)

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.