Scott Adams | Master Persuader – The Art of Charm Podcast Episode 605

Scott Adams | Master Persuader – The Art of Charm Podcast Episode 605


Thanks, Scott, for joining us here today. Thanks for having me. Yeah, you got it. You’re the creator of Dilbert among other
things. I decided, “Okay I’m going to check out this
blog,” because I’ll be honest, somebody who’s a fan of the show said, “This guy’s crazy,
what do you think?” Was crazy the word? Crazy was the word. That’s like the best thing anybody’s said
about me this year. Yeah, this year, maybe! But it was late last year. You were in your predictive mode. And the reason that people were saying this
was because, in large part, you had said some pretty crazy-ish sounding things about the
election and you essentially predicted a Trump victory. A year in advance. A year in advance. And my prediction was different than anybody
else’s in the sense that I had a specific reason for it, that was different from other
people’s reason. Some people said, “Oh it’s his policies,”
or it’s, “People wanted change.” You know, they had lots of different reasons. I think CNN printed twenty-four different
explanations after he won. Different pundits said, “Well it was this
one reason.” Of course it’s never one reason. Mm-hmm. But my theme was persuasion. So I’m a trained hypnotist; I learned hypnosis
when I was in my twenties. And when I saw Trump enter the stage, I saw
a level of persuasive talent that didn’t look accidental. He’s someone who has acquired these skills
over a lifetime. He wrote a book on it. The Art of the Deal is essentially persuasion
in the form of negotiating. And he talks about persuasion. He talks about it all the time. And when I saw it, I thought, “I think I’m
seeing something other people aren’t seeing because I have a certain training.” Right. You know, I’ve been learning persuasion for
decades after I learned hypnosis specifically. And I just saw more technique and I thought,
“He’s bringing a flame thrower to a stick fight and this isn’t going to be fair.” A lot of the predictions were a little spooky
— or at least people thought they were spooky, especially after they became true. I guess predictions aren’t spooky until they
become true. Otherwise they’re just crackpot theories. And that’s the way that it came across in
the beginning. So you experienced maybe a little bit of like,
I don’t want to say smugness, because you’re not smug, at least not so far. Well I couldn’t be smug at all until the actual
election. That was the flagship prediction. If I got that wrong, the other ones didn’t
matter. But then the election happened and this strange
thing immediately happened, which is, you saw the country sort of going insane. Because people didn’t expect it. They were thinking that Hitler had just been
elected, you know, the people on the other side. And it was a dangerous situation. I went on Periscope as soon as the soon as
the election was certain and advised people to stay cool. You know, and don’t go out. And I tried not to go out myself for the same
reason. They just don’t need any more trouble. I mean it’s good enough to win, if that’s
what you wanted as your result. I didn’t really need to rub it in. So I tried to resist that. And you — what’d you say live tweet? Or is it live Periscope commentary throughout
the election and the debates and things like that? That must have been interesting. So I did a combination of lots of tweeting
and lots of Periscopes. Periscope, for anybody who doesn’t know, it’s
a live streaming service owned by Twitter. So I could just turn on my phone at any moment,
hit a couple of buttons, and I was, you know, live to usually a thousand people at a time
as soon as I went on. Congrats on being one of the last people to
use Periscope. I feel —
(laugh) I’m not sure how — I’m not sure if that’s
even still the king of the hill, but you’re doing more YouTube stuff now? Yeah so I’m transitioning to probably Facebook
and YouTube. Great, we’ll see you on there as well. I do want to say though, a lot of people who
say, “Well you know, you could have predicted Hillary or you could have predicted Trump. A lot of people one way or the other. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” What makes your prediction different than
just — you didn’t pick wrong? Yeah, so there’s always going to be the survivor
thing, right? So like you say, somebody was going to be
right no matter what. Right. And those people are going to say, “Because
I’m a genius.” Right, naturally. And of course I’m doing the same thing. Why wouldn’t I? Because I can predict a coin flip and I have
a 50 percent chance of looking like I can tell the future in that — in that case. So what I tried to do, since I assumed this
situation would happen, if I were right, I would be one of the many people who said,
“Hey I was right and here’s my reason, and here’s my reason.” And so I tried to make a lot of subsidiary
predictions along the way, you know? So that they could see that mine were being
right on a fairly regular basis when other people were less right. So for example when Carly Fiorina was in the
debates in the primaries, her big move — she’d made a big push about abortion. And she described in vivid details, things
I’m not going to describe for the benefit of the viewers. Sure. Just a horrible, abortion went wrong scene. And I predicted at the moment, based on persuasion,
not based on logic or policies or any of those things, which people largely ignore — I predicted
that nobody wanted in their head that image any longer than they needed it. Sure. And electing her, kept it in their heads. That was the top of her polls, the day that
she was talking about that. And she dropped from fifteen percent to four
or five percent within a few weeks. Just because of the anchoring and the negative
association? Well that was my prediction based on such
a horrible image that is now associated with her brand, she just ruined her brand accidentally. Now I make a distinction between what I call
the 2D world and the 3D world of persuasion. In the 2D world, facts matter and policies
matter and all that stuff. But I think we’ve seen that that’s not the
case. Right. (laugh) When I was saying it a year ago, it was actually
radical. And I’m pretty sure no one else was saying
it, you know, a year ago. But if you look at any of the headlines the
past month, you’re going to see a lot of people saying, “Why is it that people are so irrational? Why do people make decisions this way? How did we get Brexit? How did we get Trump?” So the world has moved over to my point
of view. Sure. Essentially that people are guided by these
sets of emotions rationalizing behavior. I noticed some of that on your blog as well,
about our feelings and emotions guiding us. Yeah so, other smaller predictions I made. When Trump started going at Ben Carson, when
Ben Carson pulled even, or a little bit ahead of him, in the primaries. If you remember, probably everybody saw this
video of Trump acting out the belt buckle stabbing incident from Ben Carson’s own book. Where Trump came out from behind the lectern,
and actually did a pantomime of the attack, where he was pretending to stab and it was
hitting his belt buckle, and he mocked it and he called Ben Carson pathological. Because that’s a word I guess Carson had used
himself in his own book. Mmm. And I watched that performance and it was
so visual that I thought, “This is going to be way more powerful than people think.” And I predicted that was the end of him. And that turned out to be the high of his
polls as well. Because the visual persuasion is just so good. It’s sort of one of the kings of persuasion. Up there with fear and identity and a few
others that are a little bit higher. So if we can associate somebody with something
negative, such as Carly Fiorina with gross depictions of surgical procedures and abortions,
can we do the opposite and create associations that are positive with people? So that our polls go up in theory? Totally. I don’t give dating advice — Yeah — no need. — but I’ll just use this as an example. If you were to meet somebody for the first
time, whatever you say first ends up sort of sticking in their mind as their first image
of you. So one of the best things you can say, “Hey,
how you doing?” If the first thing that you say takes them
to a visual place, like, “Hey have you good any vacations,” or “Good day for the beach. Have you been to any tropical islands?” You know as soon as you can work that in,
their mind goes to their own memory of their best vacation tropical paradise and just puts
them in this warm mood and then you’re standing there. Sure. Sure. So the association happens and people have
a hard time shaking a first impression. So that lasts longer than it should. So basically, we are using their own associations
and then taking one wire out of there, just connecting it to ourselves. One of the tricks of persuasion is you want
to directionally tell somebody to imagine a certain thing, but you don’t want to overspecify. Because as soon as you overspecify, people
say, “Oh that wasn’t what I was seeing.” Right. Or, “Yeah I don’t have a memory of that exactly.” But if you say, “Imagine you’re in a — you’re
in nature or you’re in the forest,” people just see their own forest and then that makes
them happy. Right. Then they’re on last month’s hike through
the Redwoods. Sweet. Yeah, it takes them back to a happy place. We want to let their mind fill in the blanks. Yes, you have to be careful about it. You need to, you know, bound it intelligently
so that when they fill it in, it still works for you. Right, otherwise we end up with the misuse
of persuasion which — I saw this weird example of this. There’s these — what’s the name of this? It’s like regressive hypnosis therapy where
they basically are programing people to think they’ve been abducted by aliens. (laugh) They’re implanting these memories by letting
people go back and associate things, but they’re also adding this little creative element in
there that kind of runs away in their subconscious mind. So I have a version of that. When I was learning hypnosis, we had to practice
on real people and it was better if you charged them because one of the things you learn in
hypnosis is if somebody pays for something, they give it more credibility. Sure. And once they’ve given it credibility, you
actually are a better persuader. They’ve actually given you that. So I would charge people to regress them to
their prior lives — Ha. — under hypnosis. Now I don’t believe that people have prior
lives, but they sure did. And they would describe these detailed scenarios
and they would talk in, you know, sort of the voice of the person. You know, at the time I was doing it, this
was a long time ago, I was a young man. At the time I was thinking, “Well I’m open
to the possibility that there are prior lives, you know? I haven’t seen anything that rules it out,
right?” But after I was done with this, I definitely
didn’t believe because all these people had exquisite detailed memories that had a weird
coincidence. None of them were Chinese. A quarter of the world is Chinese. Somebody out of 20 people is going to be Chinese
in a prior life, you know? So, but none of them were. I mean they were all things that you would
see on movies. “I’m Cleopatra,” you know or, “I’m a viking,”
you know? Right out of HBO, basically. I noticed that people, whenever they tell
me about their quote unquote past lives — and I tend to limit my contact with people who
tell me these types of these things but — I noticed no one’s ever like, “Yeah I was just
a farmer and before that I was a farmer and before that I was a farmer and before that
I shoveled donkey poop into a furnace.” It’s always, “I was a warrior.” Yeah. “I was the — you know, the king’s hand.” Yeah. I don’t know, statistically speaking, you’re
much more likely to be some homeless guy who got hit by a horse cart and died young. Yeah, you go back a hundred years, there weren’t
too many happy people. No, and you’re right, most of us would have
been Chinese and or — and if we go back far enough, everyone would have been African. But no, we’re royalty from Egypt. But even when they have bad lives, they’re
always soldiers. Yeah, I noticed that. And — with men, anyway. Right. Right. It’s always soldiers. Yes, soldiers who died bravely in battle. And very few people, I don’t know if anybody
was a different gender. Ooh, that’s interesting. Well you could do a prolonged study on that
if you had all the time in the world. Maybe in your next life you and do that. You mentioned that Trump is a master persuader
and that he’s a hypnotist. And when you write master persuader on your
blog, you’re capitalizing “master persuader.” Is there a reason that you do that? Is that just a term that you’ve coined or
are you — No, it’s to call it out so that people can
see it’s a term that I’m trying to popularize. At least for Trump in particular. And you mentioned some specific examples,
such as the Rosie O’Donnell comment and things like that. Can you explain that? Yeah, so the first moment when I thought to
myself, “Oh my goodness, he’s going to win,” and I noticed his skill, was during the first
debate, in which Megyn Kelly had set a trap for him. She had a question about his past crude comments
about women. Which if you imagined this happening to any
other candidate up there, just being asked and quoted back your own just horrible quotes,
it’s just a death trap. He should have been done on the first debate
in the first minute. That should have been the end of it. And that’s what I sort of expected, at that
moment. And she starts bringing up the comments he’s
made about women and then he just, sort of semi interrupts her and he says, “Only Rosie
O’Donnell.” The whole place goes nuts, and you know, we
remember the answer but we’ve already forgotten the question. Right. Sure. He made the answer so much more interesting
than the question. And by the way, it wasn’t even an answer to
the question. Sure. It was just something he said that was sort
of related. Now what’s beautiful about that is that Rosie
O’Donnell is a character that the Republican base, the people who cared about the primaries,
have a strong feeling about. So he immediately got emotion on his side. He was against her, then they must be on his
side right? Because they’re against her. But she’s also a visual. Everybody knows who she is. Oh, yeah. And so you imagine her, right? So this will be a theme you’ll probably hear
a few more times in our time together. That as soon as you can make something visual,
you’re already the king of the senses, right? What Megyn Kelly had, were a bunch of words
that we don’t have a person to put to, you know it’s just sort of — It’s an abstract concept. — abstract. He just moved that off the page with his perfect
visual, emotion-attracting reference. And I literally stood up. I just said, “Okay, that’s not normal.” Right. That’s the best you’ve ever seen anybody handle
any question — a hard question. Because if you get that cannon aimed at you
from Megyn Kelly, and you start going, “Well, you know, I meant it in this context and this
other thing is taken out of context,” you’re just digging. You’re just continually digging a nice little
grave for yourself — Nothing you can do. — with these words lining the sides. But instead he took the cannon and he twisted
the barrell around and he basically aims it at Rosie O’Donnell, a common target for his
own base, and everybody just goes roaring with laughter and they forget about everything
that came before that because he’d managed to just dodge that entirely Yeah, and then he used it as his platform
to talk about political correctness. And I have to admit, when I first heard him
talk about that, I thought, “Well, people have been talking about political correctness
forever, and it’s never really gotten any kind of purchase.” But he made it such a brand — (laugh) Yeah. — that you sort of almost wanted it and expected
it. If you were a Trump supporter, you just wanted
him to be politically incorrect. It was just more fun after a while. He likes to, obviously, attack the media. But he does it in a way that’s not just, “Well
this journalist this, this, and that, and the other thing,” he really does aim specifically
at credibility targets. So he’ll say something like, “Check your facts,”
and then he’ll name the person. So now you’re associating, in a way, that
person with, “Well they don’t do their homework.” Even if it’s completely unfounded. By the way, I have adopted that very phrase. The, “Check your facts,” thing. Because on Twitter, often people will say,
“Hey you said blah, blah, blah,” and it’ll be just something I didn’t say or anything. I used to try to correct it. Right. Like what we said earlier, as soon as you
start explaining somebody immediately says, “Ah you’re backpedaling.” Mm-hmm. You can’t win. “I’m not backpedaling, I’m just explaining
what you got wrong.” So instead I say, “Check your facts.” And it just ends the conversation just so
perfectly. Because all they can say is, “I did and you
still said that,” but by then you’re calling on someone else or there’s another part of
the — Yeah, life is moving on. — conversation. Yeah, Exactly. The same thing with fake news. He’s constantly saying, “Fake news, fake news!” Is this just a matter of say it enough times
and people start to believe it? Well first of all it was — I believe he flipped
around the attack, which you see him do. So the fake news was really aimed at the Republican
side with their literally fake news where somebody just made up stories. When he’s talking about it a little more often,
it’s something out of context, that sort of thing. That still ends up being fake, because if
you leave the context out, it’s the wrong message. And I think he does it strategically and he
does it to lower the credibility of the — I would call him the opposition media. Because they’re definitely not there now — No, that’s definitely true. And I think they’re also pretty pissed that
he’s treating them the way that he’s treating them and they’re pissed that he won in the
first place, which is understandable from their perspective. Why not just go with Occam’s razor on some
of this Trump stuff? Whereas people say, “Well, look, if you think
about it this way and you look at it that way, then it’s really skilled and it’s really
clever.” What about the Occam’s razor explanation,
which is, “Nah, he’s just the jackass.” That wouldn’t explain his consistent success
all the way through. He went from nothing, with no experience,
to President of the United States. You don’t do that by being a jackass that
just is fun to watch on TV. Firing at — ready, fire, aim type situation? Yeah. There are just too many things that he did
right. If you even look at the things that people
say he did wrong, you know, the chaos and whatever. If you look at the people he fired and when
he did it. First he had Corey, right? Corey Lewandowski. And Corey had some issues with you know, touching
an elbow of a woman in public or something and he wasn’t exactly the right person for
the next phase of the nomination and securing the nomination — he fired his friend who
got him that far and did probably an amazing job for that phase, he was the right person. Scrappy, street fighter kind of personality. Then he got Paul Manafort who was, you know,
the smooth operator — got him through the convention. And then he went with Kellyanne Conway to
close it. So a lot of the stuff that looks like, “What’s
wrong with him? He can’t keep his staff together.” Whatever the criticisms people are making,
they all seem to work. You can very easily find the business reason
that any of this happened. I’m not saying they didn’t make mistakes because
it’s a long, long process; they do a lot of stuff. He made a share. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) What you mentioned with Trump in the blog
as well — and we’ll of course link to that in the show notes — you mentioned a concept
called pacing and leading. And this is familiar to me from my hypnosis,
NLP stuff that I took a million years ago that I did not really keep certification on. Tell me what’s going on here. Tell us what’s going on here. What is pacing and leading and ideally how
can we maybe take a page out of that manual? So pacing and leading is the most fundamental
hypnosis technique, all right? There are lots of techniques that you have
to layer together to get a result. But pacing and leading means that first you
match your subject in some way, for example, I’m matching you right now. All right — That — was that an accident? Did you do that or did I do that? No, you did that. Okay. Because I paced you earlier, but that’s another
story. So you match them either physically or the
style of their talking — It could be emotionally you’re matching them. So you’re matching them in some way that they
recognize as, “Hey you’re one of me.” Because people are not really that rational. If you act like them, you talk like them,
must be a family member. You know? I don’t mean literally, but some part of your
brain you just have an automatic trust for somebody who’s doing whatever you’re doing
at the same time. So Trump does this with emotion. Meaning that all the things that he says that
are just wrong, like factually wrong — like factually wrong and they don’t pass the fact-checking
— and we all know there are lots of them, right? Whether you’re a supporter or anti-Trump or
a lot of things that didn’t pass the fact check. But if you look at all of them, they’re all
directionally, emotionally, correct. Meaning that, if you said you know, “Blah,
blah, blah. Terrorism is bad for 10 different reasons
that aren’t exactly true,” the people who have the same fear of terrorism said, “Yeah
he’s sort of where I am, emotionally.” The facts really didn’t matter that much. He agreed with you and then he agreed with
you more than you agreed with yourself. (laugh) If you were a little afraid of terrorism,
he was a lot afraid. So he sort of paced everybody in their emotional
state. Once he had that, the second part, people
trust him and then he can lead. And he’s obviously doing that now. So if you watch the number of things which
he’s said he’s going to do in the primaries, and you see sort of a softening and moving
to the middle, and you see very little complaint from the far right, the people who you would
expect to complain. And the reason is, he brought them a victory,
he brought them a unified congress, he emotionally agreed with them on every issue, from abortion,
to terrorism, to jobs to immigration, and that was enough. So that gave him the credibility to lead. When you say pacing and leading in the context
I should say of, “Well, I paced you earlier,” are we talking about mirroring body language
and things like that? Because I feel like I do a lot of that as
a habit. I learned it back in law school because it
works. Right. But it’s — it can be really clunky when people
are starting to apply this, when they’re new. So for example, I notice when I have people
on the show, that they’ll often do exactly what I’m doing or face me in a certain way. And I do that deliberately to make people
comfortable most of the time. I don’t really care about how they sit, I
just want them to feel good. But I do find it that it’s very hard to resist
that because you actually want to create comfort physically with somebody if you have rapport
with them. And of course if you don’t, then it becomes
a whole different ball game as I cross my leg, right? Is this something you do consciously now,
or is this something that is so autopilot for you that it just happens? The pacing is conscious but it’s also, you
know, the details of it are somewhat automatic. It’s like anything you learn, it just becomes
part of you. It’s not something you think to apply. But if I’m meeting a new person, I’m very
much thinking, “What — you know, how can I make this a good situation?” And I think the people who have high emotional
intelligence tend to do at least some elements of this almost automatically. I think it’s because people with high EQ often
are trying to gain rapport with other people, and one of the — a great way to do that is
typically to pace and lead, or at least to pace. That would make sense. Yeah. That would be a good tool. And so this just happens for you automatically
in a lot of ways. Yeah, I mean, I’m always looking for the way
to match somebody when I first meet them. What elements are there of matching? Body language? Are you talking about verbal and nonverbal
communication, eye contact? Yeah it’s everything. So it’s from the physical to the emotional
to the specific way you word things. The best example, this is straight from NLP
Hypnosis Training. If somebody uses, let’s say a lot of war analogies,
like, “Oh I jumped on a hand grenade, we have to take that hill,” any number of war analogies
— if you also do that, they’ll feel more comfortable with you. They won’t know why; they’ll just think, “Yeah,
this is a good guy.” When I was in college and I started learning
this stuff, I started to do it with everybody a lot. (laugh) And what would happen was, if I were drinking,
which I don’t do that much of anymore, I would get into a cab with, say, a driver from Samoa. And towards the end of the ride, my girlfriend,
after we got out of the car would go, “Okay, did you do that on purpose?” and I would say,
“What are you talking about?” And my friends are all in the back with my
girlfriend and they go, “We thought that guy was going to get mad. You talked with the same accent as him, same
cadence, we thought you were imitating him.” And you know, just because my calibration
was so far off, because I’d had four beers or something like that — Gosh. But the person never noticed. The person never noticed. You
can pace people in the most obvious ways and they do not notice. In fact, for practice, I was working my day
job in a big corporation at the time. And they would tell us to sit across from
somebody in a meeting and, you know, do the pacing. Where if they’re like this, you do this. Right. The exact — the clunky, precise mirroring
— Right. — of body language. And then you change, and then you do this
and you watch them do this just immediately. Same process as a yawn. You know a yawn makes everybody yawn. Why does that happen? Do you know why that’s contagious? I’ve read about it. But there’s a reason, right? I think there’s — There is, I just — — an actual reason, right? I actually don’t know. I wasn’t testing your knowledge. I actually don’t know. At The Art of Charm, our live programs, we
teach a lot of special forces and intelligence guys. And one of the tricks that I’d found a long
time ago, and I’m sure I’m not the first person to come up with this was, if — it’s a counter
surveillance technique, where if you’re sitting down and you think, “Is this person paying
undue attention to me?” if you can get a very real yawn going, which you often can by tweaking
with your jaw, and you see them yawn — it’s not a guarantee. Because often people are seeing us out of
their peripheral vision and it has nothing to do with their focus. But if you can do it a few times, and they
do it each time, you start to get the feeling that, “That guy right there’s not reading
because every time I yawn, he’s yawning,” and it’s so involuntary. And if you get really good, you can see their
jaw muscles tighten when they try to hold that yawn in. And that’s been pretty effective, at least
in some scenarios. Or it’s just a good gimmicky thing to teach. But we’ve had good results with things like
that. So I love your example of watching the jaw
tighten. One of the things you learn from hypnosis,
and apparently you learned the same stuff, is that detailed observation. Looking for very small changes and skin tone,
muscle tone, you know, posture and all those things. But I was going to ask you, my observation after
learning these skills, is that you can detect lying real easily. Really? Oh, have you found that in your own life that
you’re the one in the room who can tell some — if somebody’s lying? It depends. Actually, I would say I probably should be
better at it than I am. But I tend to, in many ways, over think that
situation. When I finally get my conscious mind out of
the equation as much as possible, then I’m much better at it. All right, let me give a demonstration for
your listeners — Oh, great! — of a lie versus the truth. So ask me twice, “Are you the murderer?” and
I’ll give you two different answers and see which one is obviously the lie. So ask me if I’m the murderer. Are you the murderer? Where did you get that information? Who told you I’m a murderer? All right, now ask me again. Are you the murderer? What the hell are you talking about? Right. No. I’m not a murderer. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Which one of those was the lie? (laugh) Well, this is all dependent on whether or
not you’ve actually killed someone. CROSSTALK So let’s assume you haven’t. I would say the second is the most authentic,
more immediate reaction. Yeah, so the person who says, “What is your
evidence?” is always the liar. Because if you have good evidence, then maybe
they have to confess and they better just do it in the best possible way or just start
running. And if you don’t have good evidence, maybe
you just a got lucky guess and they can stick with their lie. So the liar always asks you about the source
of your evidence. The person who didn’t murder anybody, doesn’t
need to ask. Because there was no evidence. Right. Or they assume, “The justice system will prove
me innocent.” Because that works every time. (laugh) That works every time. I think that there’s a lot of truth to that. I’m sure some people are better liars than
others. We know the body’s really — it’s tough to
get your body to lie in concert with your mouth. Right. People who do that well win awards on stages
in front of millions of people. Right. My old boss who taught interrogation to police
and military gave me a really good trick which was, if you ask somebody who’s guilty what
should happen to the person who gets caught perpetrating a particular crime, they usually
start rationalizing. “Well you know, it depends how badly was the
person beaten up, you know? Because if they just got their stuff stolen,
they weren’t hurt, then maybe we’re a little more lenient.” Whereas the normal innocent person just goes,
“I don’t care. Hang him, shoot him, I don’t give a crap,”
because it has nothing to do with them.– It has nothing — — and they know it. So their emotional reaction is total indifference
or super harsh punishment because they’re not that kind of person. Can you imagine being that guy’s kid? Yeah, yeah. It would just be terrible. It would be tough. He was a parent. Yeah. So we’ll — I’ll have to get back in touch
and se how his now teenage kids are doing or if they’ve since been locked in the basement
for life. So pacing and leading involved matching people,
creating a bond with them. Can you give us some examples of Trump doing
this in things that we’ve seen or we’ll be able to see on YouTube? Yeah, primarily the emotional stuff. So he goes hard on the immigration thing,
because people are afraid, hard on terrorism, because people are afraid of that. But he’ll also quickly change if he needs
to. If he’s made a mistake, like he said something
about abortion — maybe there should be a penalty for the woman who seeks an illegal
abortion. And you know, if he didn’t know anything about
politics, and he was new to it, right, it was almost reasonable because he was just
like, “And, well, people commit crimes, they should be punished.” But it turns out that is a special case in
which it just makes that the doctor is the — the only one you punish. So he’ll sometimes change. But when you see him with his extreme, you
know, anchor, I call it. His extreme emotional anchor. He’s getting everybody to not only imagine
the extreme, so that when he moves to the middle it doesn’t look so extreme. He does that all the time. And he talks about. He says, “I do that.” But it’s also emotionally bonding with people. So at — really every one of his policies
has an emotional hook to it. How is it different from just flip flopping,
right? Because if he’s pushing us in one direction
and then goes, “Actually, just kidding, we’re going to go over here.” If it’s not somebody who’s a master persuader
or a hypnosis trained person, it just looks like they’re changing their mind because it’s
convenient. Maybe there’s an example that I can’t think
of, but with Trump I’ve only seen him on the far end of the spectrum and just sort of move
in the spectrum. I’ve never seen him go to the other side. Is there an example of this? Uh, you know– I should have come armed with
one. I think I was mostly looking at things like,
“The wall. Well, maybe we’ll do a fence. No, we’re going to have a wall now.” I mean it just keeps constantly bouncing around. Well let’s talk about that. I love — this is one of my favorite examples,
the wall. So when he first started saying, “Wall, wall,
wall,” everybody said, “It can’t be a solid wall the entire way. Maybe some fences and drones and water hazards.” Sounds like a mini golf course. (laugh) Yeah. And at one point he said that, “Oh yeah, might
be different solutions in different places.” But he rapidly and wisely, went back to the
incorrect statement that it’s going to be a wall. Now here’s why. The incorrect statement makes you talk about
it all the time. And the stuff you focus on just becomes more
important to you because it’s the only thing you’ve been talking about. So this whole wall thing, the whole immigration
thing — before he ran, I didn’t even know it was a big issue. I thought it was an issue but not really the
biggest one. But now it feels like it’s the biggest issue
just because he made it so. It’s so important in our minds. But the wall, when he says, “It’s a wall. It’s a big beautiful wall.” JORDAN;It’s a great wall, if you will. Yeah and it’ll have a door. You can picture it. Sure. But he didn’t give you so many details that
you can’t picture the wall you want to see. So everybody’s seen the wall they want to
see. It’s incredibly visual. Compare that to, “Well, we need border security,
in a variety of ways. Each section will have its own solution that
matches the section.” And our eyes are glazing over. Concept, concept, where’s my picture? Give me a picture. Trump gives you a picture every time. Sure. And he does it at the cost of being wrong. Meaning, it’s not going to be a solid wall
the whole way. He said it won’t. Everybody says it won’t. That’s a hundred percent true. But he still says it’s true. And it’s the wrongness that actually keeps
you thinking about it and, “Ah it’s not a solid wall.” And of course, the term “great wall” is just
a hat tip to the big wall that everybody knows and has known since they were a kid. Right? Right, and you know, contrast is always an
important thing, right? So if you can you know, get the right contrast,
you can sell anything. So people who are saying, “We can’t possibly
build a wall.” But if he calls it “the great wall” and you
think of the Great Wall of China, well, they were doing that stuff — did they have the
wheel yet when they built the — when they built that? I would hope so because I’ve been there and
it’s amazing. But they were sticking these rocks together
with, I believe, rice gruel. And it’s still there. I mean the dang thing’s still there. It’s incredible. There are buildings in San Francisco that
haven’t been around nearly as long that are in worse states of repair than the Great Wall
of China in certain places. So it’s a good thing to pair yourself with
the people who are wondering if we have the wherewithal to build a wall. Yeah, we can build a wall. We just have to make it a priority if we care. You write on the blog there may be an objective
reality in our world, but our brains did not evolve to be able to see it. This is fascinating. Can you tell me about this? Yeah. So this is not based on science; this is based
on sort of a commonsensical look at things. Evolution doesn’t care about your feelings. It doesn’t care about the details; it doesn’t
care what shirt you’re wearing. It just cares if you create more of you, right? So winning, in an evolutionary sense, is just
being able to make more of you than other animals are making more of them. There’s no part of that that required us to
be right all the time. Or even much of the time. All we need is a consistent view of the world
that fits. So the example I like to use is that if you
believe you are reincarnated from a Tibetan monk, and I believe that my prophet flew to
heaven on a horse, we’re not living in the same reality. But we can both go to the grocery store, both
buy our groceries, have a conversation, go out for a drink. None of it matters. So it turns out that you can have entire weird
fantasies in your head that usually don’t matter. If you look at the country now, or right after
the election, it immediately causes cognitive dissonance of the people who lost and they
started thinking that they’re literally living in a — in 1930s Germany and that Hitler had
just been elected. And this is real. I mean they were actually living in this hallucination
that the world had fallen apart and this is the worst thing. The people that won, just thought, “Hey we
got some policies we like.” Right? Right, finally, yeah. But we share the same highways, we’re all
living, we can all reproduce. It just didn’t matter. It does seem that every election cycle, if
I look back at really old writing — it’s hard to find this stuff, but if you look,
you find that when Obama was elected, “Oh, my God, it’s the antichrist.” Before that, when Bush was elected, “This
is going to be a police state.” It’s the same fatalistic crap, it just has
a slightly different meme, a different picture, or now people are talking about it on Snapchat
whereas before they were talking about it on Usenet. I remember, I think it was three years into
the Obama presidency and I was talking with an older gentleman and he mentioned that Obama
was a Muslim. I said, “Now you don’t really mean that you
think he’s actually a practicing Muslim.” And he said, “Yeah, it’s well known. He’s actually a Muslim.” And I had to, you know, go to the Internet
and show him that wasn’t true. But — And you were able to prove to this person,
from the Internet, that that was not the case? I don’t know if he changed his mind or not
— I’m pretty sure — — he probably — I’m pretty sure you’re pissing into the wind
there, Scott. Yeah, that may have been a waste of time. But the point is, his world of living in a
— in what looked like a, you know, caliphate forming in the United States, was just pure
fantasy. But it didn’t stop him from reproducing or
anything else. So essentially, all we need is a model that’s
loosely tied to a few pillars somewhere on the shoreline. Other than that, we can bounce around all
we want, in between the constraints — Yeah. — and we’ll survive just fine. And you see it all the time when people go
on pharmaceutical drugs. Somebody will have one personality and one
way of looking at the world and either they’re afraid or whatever it is. You give them the drug, you check back in
a week, the drug works, they have a different personality, and the world is different to
them. The whole world looks different. All the cause and effect looks different. I mean it’s completely upside down. But they can still function. Better, actually, because if the drug worked… So yeah, we don’t really need any kind of
sense of actual reality in order to survive. It just was never necessary. We didn’t evolve to have it. And so we’re essentially run by social programming,
cultural programing, and our emotional filters as to how we perceive cause and effect then. Beyond that — Well a lot of variables bumping those around,
but yes. Yeah, sure. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Also at the bottom of your blog post, every
post, says, “You might enjoy reading my book, either because you vote or you don’t.” Or, “You might like reading my book because
kittens are so cute.” Is this the copy machine effect, where you
just use the word “because” and then everything after that is irrelevant? Yeah. Yeah. So the copy machine effect you’re referring
to, Robert Cialdini’s book — Right. — Influence, in which he talks about when
you use the word because, it almost doesn’t matter what you say after because; people
register it as a reason. And if you have a reason, well I guess I’ll
give you what you want. You’ve got a reason. So yes, I actually have been using nonsense
reasons because I talk about that effect in my blog so that people who get there know
exactly what I’m doing. So it’s both funny to them because they see
it in context, but it also works. People have been telling me that, “Damn it
that actually worked!” Sure. “I bought your book because of this.” So
I tested the copy machine effect and it’s disturbing how effective this thing really
is. I did it in the exact same context — well,
sans coffee machine or copy machine — Yeah. — I went to Chipotle, which is the modern
day coffee shop, Kinko’s, whatever. “Hi, can I cut in front of you because I have
a scooter?” I literally just had a mini Razor scooter
with me. “Oh, sure!” And very few people would go, “Why would that
affect the need for you to get in?” (laugh) I think one person went, “What does a scooter
have anything to do with it?” and I went, “Ah, I’m just kidding.” And then he went, “What, I’m trying to figure
out — you can go ahead of me, I just wondered why the scooter has anything to do with it.” So it still worked! It still worked! It still worked even though the guy went,
“Scooter?” I picked dumber and dumber reasons that were
more arbitrary and I even tested not picking a reason until it came out of my mouth, which
forces ridiculous things to come to the surface. One of the ways that even before I’d read
about it in the book, is you always have this awkward situation about who picks up the check. Sure. And so, especially if you’re a guy, you know,
there’s a little more social pressure. And so I’ll have these situations where you
know you go to dinner and you’re thinking, “Okay, in this situation, it’s sort of a tie. I could pick up the check, the other person
could.” Sometimes you want to be the one who picks
it up because it’s better to be the one who does than the one who didn’t. Yes. If it’s sort of a tie. Definitely. You just feel a little better. And so here’s the way I always win the tie. I will come up with a fake because before
dinner. It’ll be something like this. “I’ll pay because you drove.” Or, “I’ll pay because it’s your birthday.” Or, “I’ll pay because you had a bad day.” “I’ll pay because you had a success in that
contract that we were just talking about.” Mmm. And it doesn’t matter what you say. After the word because, people go, “Oh, thank
you.” And they’ll put their wallet away. Sure. But if you don’t say that, if you say, “Let
me get it,” you’ll be there all day. Now it’s in a constant — Now you’re fighting
about it. Aw! Right. Yeah. The only thing that wouldn’t work would probably
be some sort of negative connotation like, “I’ll pay because I heard your business is
doing terribly.” (laugh) Yeah, here — “I’ll pay because I heard your book is not
doing so well.” “I hear you’re a cheap bastard. Let me get this.” Yeah. “Nobody likes you.” I love, “I’ll pay for this one, you get the
next one.” Because often times it’s somebody that you’re
— maybe you’re not going to see for a long time. You’re not going to remember this and nor
should you try. Don’t do that. Yeah. “Remember when I paid last time and said you
would get the next one? You’re up, buddy.” But I do — I love the because — the copy
machine effect, the because technique if we can coin that. Right. It’s so representative of what our minds do,
which is just kind of accept any reason given to justify the previous request. And this is almost universally applicable. Yeah, that one and the McGurk effect. You may be familiar with that — No. — if not, I’ll tell you about it — are the
two things that are simplest to explain with the most profound like changes in your life
forever. So the McGurk effect, if I’m saying it right,
is the observation that –well, I’ll just tell you what the experiment was. They have somebody just say the words, “Bah,
bah, bah.” B-A-H, like a — like a sheep. And they just show the lips going, “Bah, bah,
bah,” then they keep that tape on, the same words, “Bah, bah, bah,” except they do a closeup
of the same person’s lips, except he’s forming the letters that would have said, ‘Fa.’ “Fa, fa, fa.” Your brain instantly translates ‘bah’ to ‘fa’
in real time while you know it’s a trick, while you know that the word is ‘bah.’ They tell you. And all it is is a visual, completely changes
your sensation to a hallucination. And it’s instant. And you can go back and forth as many times
as you want, as long as you’re showing the lips going fa, fa, fa, you’ll hear fa, even
though that’s not what it is. And when you see that, you can’t unsee that. How quickly the brain is reprogrammed and
fooled, even when you know what the trick is, every part of the trick, there’s nothing
about the trick you don’t understand and it immediately works. Why does this work because it — it would
make sense to me if we learned speech by reading people’s lips and talking, but blind people
learn how to speak fine all the time. I’ll tell you why it works. It’s because the visual persuasion just is
so powerful. It overpowers the — Yeah. — the auditory persuasion. Yeah, if there’s one thing that people could
take away from this whole thing, is that if you’re describing things in a visual way,
and someone isn’t, you’re going to win. It’s just that powerful. That’s a really good takeaway. The McGurk effect. Yeah I think it’s M-C-G- We’ll have to Google that and throw it in
the show notes. You mentioned also in your blog, in the news,
that Google’s trying to dehypnotize potential ISIS recruits by manipulating what content
they see when they try to search for pro-ISIS stuff. Have you been following this at all recently? Well, I suspect there’s a lot going on in
that regard. Both in and outside the government. So yeah, I would imagine that the government
has contacted the search engines to serve up the kinds of things that would help the
national security. I don’t have any details on that. At one point I did have sort of a connection
into that world, but I didn’t really follow up on it. I think that having a master persuader, Trump,
in the White House, is probably the only way ISIS could be defeated. Because if you think about it, war itself
and killing people, is just persuasion. You’re not trying to kill every single person
on the other side. You’re trying to kill enough of them to persuade
the others to stop fighting. So war is persuasion. Trump just has another weapon that isn’t just,
you know, military. He can frame things differently. And I think you’re going to see a lot happening
in that regard. You may never know it happened, but I think
you’ll see it. Take, for example, Trump’s idea of these safe
zones in Syria. That’s — on the surface, it’s just a way
to keep people safe and separate the bad guys from the good people, but it’s really persuasion. Because think what’s going to happen when
all the fighters are on one side and the women and children have been filtered out to the
safe spaces and they can’t get to them. What are you fighting for when all the women
are gone? Just think about that — Yeah. — from a persuasion perspective. They’ve still got all the weapons, they’ve
got all the anger, they’ve got all the religious reasons, but all the women are gone. Or enough of them are gone that, you know,
the average person has no access to mating. When you take it down to mating, now you can’t
mate. I think that’s pretty powerful persuasion. I think you throw your gun away at that point. Yeah, all you’ve got is this sweaty guy next
to you that’s also hungry. (laugh) Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, let’s not get into that but — Yeah, yeah — that’s a whole other can of
worms. That might be persuasive enough for some folks. You do mention that Google, Facebook, the
Internet, things like that are already kind of — take our political choices and even
our free will away. I would love to hear more about that in the
context of persuasion and things like that because — and we have seen that things like
Facebook, even when they’re not trying to be biased, the algorithms still filter for
things that we click ‘like’ on, which are things that we agree with and shows us more
of that so we can end up segregating ourselves into these little bubbles which inform our
political choices as well. Which is why everybody who voted for Trump
thinks, “The whole country must have voted for this guy” — Yeah. — and everybody who voted for Hillary thinks,
“Who in the heck voted for this guy? How did this even happen?” Because of what they’re seeing, in a large
part of the media, and especially social media. Yeah, I’ve been testing that with some of
my liberal friends who will love to send emails to criticise what’s happening or what was
happening. And I just simply asked them, “Are you familiar
with, say Project Veritas or anything that is well known on the right?” You know, “Have you even heard it?” Forget about whether you agree with it. Forget about whether you think it’s pertinent. “Have you even heard it?” And it’s shocking the things that I think
are just common knowledge are only common knowledge on one side. And I’m pretty sure that, you know, the same
blindness works both ways. It’s not a one way thing, but it certainly
tells you that reason, if it ever had a role, it’s certainly less now. Sure. And I think it’s becoming easier and easier
because our brains do look for facts to back up our existing beliefs. That’s not new to anybody who’s been watching
or listening to The Art of Charm for any period of time. However, now it’s so much easier to find facts
that fit our narrative when we’re essentially training computers to then train us that those
facts are so easy to access that they show up everywhere whether we want them to or not. By the way, there’s something way bigger than
just influencing politics going on and it comes down to the nature of the human being. Free will, in my view of the world, is nothing
but an illusion. Our brains are subject to the rules of, you
know, cause and effect and the rules of physics, so a certain number of inputs, for a certain
condition at a certain time is only going to give you one output. We have an illusion that we’re deciding things,
but science has also done a pretty good job that that’s not the case. In fact our rational faculties don’t even
fire until we’ve done things in some cases. That’s a recent discovery, is it not? I was reading a lot of news about this in
the past couple — now we’re both straightening up. These damn chairs, or you’re very persuasive. I went first, I’m just — That’s — no, I know you did, that’s why I
had to call it out. Because I’m like, “Dang, that looks more comfortable. Oh, but now everybody’s going to think I did
it because of you.” We’ve seen a lot of brain science recently
where they’re actually able, through I think fMRI, to find that they can predict, within
a few milliseconds or seconds before somebody does something, that their brain had already
decided, subconsciously, to take that action. I first heard that in a hypnosis class. I heard that the science had already discovered
that in hypnosis class in the ’80s. Maybe now they just have more proof that that’s
the case. I think that better — because of the better
imaging and stuff like that. It wasn’t new to me, but it’s certainly getting
more attention. Well we know, and again, things we teach at
The Art of Charm all the time, rationalization of behavior is kind of a cornerstone of persuasion,
influence, talking with Robert Cialdini on this show before. Any time you can get somebody to take an action
first, you can change their belief. Even if the action is seemingly unrelated
to the belief, you can get people to then wrap their beliefs around that action nicely. I mean if you can get — and this is for good
or bad — if you can get someone to go to the gym, even if it’s just to pick up a power
bar for a snack for me, you can get them to work out that much more easily the next time
they walk in there. I mean, there’s all kinds of crazy things
that our brains will do because, as you mentioned, we’re evolved to simply wrap ourselves into
that bubble. And now, so right now, people are programing
computers and software and then those things are programing humans. So your Fitbit, your search engines, and all
that. So it still seems like humans are affecting
other humans, they’re just using this tool in between. But we’re very close to the point where the
machines will make those decisions themselves. So imagine — and this is not science fiction
very far away. Imagine you’ve got a few more sensors on your
body. You know, just normal stuff that we could
already do, and the machine says, “Hey, you’re a little dehydrated. Take a drink.” Well, the first few times it does that, you’re
going to say, “Well, I might. I might not. It’s inconvenient. I don’t want to walk over there.” But as you continue to follow the suggestions
of the machines, you’ll find they work because they’re all based on science. They’ve studied, they know you need this. Eventually it won’t be a choice anymore. On some level, you could force yourself not
to have the drink — But it would require a lot of willpower. Why would you hurt yourself? Sure. So your free will is going to be — basically
the illusion is going to disappear, I think, in our lifetime. Then we will actually feel like we’re just
sort of going along with the plan because the machines are telling us what to do, and
where to go, and when to do it, and we’re just sort of doing it. Do you have a problem with that type of guidance
and persuasion because — just to bring back the comment you made earlier, “Well, I straightened
up first.” We almost don’t want to admit that we’re under
any sort of influence, even though it’s completely normal, completely human — Right. — and we’re doing it to other people deliberately;
we don’t want it done to us. Yeah, ego is the enemy. Another persuasion — important element is
that if your ego is making your decisions, then they’re just all going to be bad, right? (laugh) So the more you can — you can tell yourself
that ego is just a problem and not a thing to protect. You know, I see it as a defect. Any time ego crawls in when I don’t want it,
it’s a defect. But I also think it’s a tool, because I sometimes
will amp up my ego because it makes my physiology — Yes. — change. When you act confident, you know this is basic
persuasion — if you stand up straight, if you do the victory pose, your body immediately
changes to match what you’re doing physically and what your mental state is. You can change your health, your performance,
and everything else by manipulating your ego. But if you start thinking your ego is sort
of important and you should bow to it, like if it’s embarrassed about something, you shouldn’t
do that thing. If I’m embarrassed by something, I do that
thing. Sure, that’s the idea. That’s how you grow, right? I think somewhere along the line, and I want
to say probably somewhere in puberty at least for me and for guys in general — we go from
our ego being something that’s used to protect us to us protecting our ego — Yeah. — and everything that happens after that
is a freaking disaster. Yeah. Right. An absolute disaster. Yeah, you can actually look at people who
are successful and I think the people who can manage their ego the best, almost always
do better. You find that because then it becomes a non
consideration when they’re trying to get somebody else. For example, our persuasion context. If you’re trying to get somebody else to do
something, and you have a choice between doing exactly what needs to get done in order for
them to do that, or you have to somehow damage your ego, you often end up fighting against
yourself and you do the wrong things. Which is unfortunately why sociopaths are
so good at what they do, in many ways, because they are completely unafraid to just ignore
everything beneficial and negative about their own ego, if it’s going to get a desired result. And then after that, they’ll get their ego
back tenfold by essentially getting one over on their victim. Right. And we find that those people are highly effective. In part because they are able to just separate
themselves from that ego for just long enough to manipulate the heck out of somebody in
a very dastardly way often enough and get it done. That’s why accusations of narcissism, whether
it’s Trump or me or anybody else, are somewhat missing the point, that there is a positive
amount of narcissism. You know, healthy good feeling about yourself
— that just makes you more effective. And then there’s too much that just makes
you a jerk who can’t see the world clearly. If you know the difference between those two
states, it’s pretty useful to be a little bit narcissistic. Just enough. Just narcissistic enough. That might be the title of this episode. So what are you working on now? Well I’m writing a book. It’s going to be called, “Win Bigly.” (laugh) You can imagine what that’s about. But it’s about — it’s mostly about persuasion. But the context is the election. I also have a startup called the WhenHub and
we can tell stories with time. So it’s a platform for telling any kind of
story about things that happened in the past or schedules of the future in a visual way. Again, it’s visual persuasion. So instead of a texty little calendar, you
can have, you know, video and pictures and graphs and maps and stuff. And we will link to all that of course in
the show notes as well as your book.

32 thoughts on “Scott Adams | Master Persuader – The Art of Charm Podcast Episode 605

  1. i am glad you are uploading your interviews on youtube. that way they automatically show up in my subscriptions, otherwise i would always forget to check your podcast..

  2. Nice job Jordan, keep it up bud…I listen to your podcast a lot, and you are helping my life and those around me that need this like my friends…I am always saying "you need to listen to this guy, and keep feeding your brain with this podcast". You help me out, and I try to make those around me better because of it.

  3. And thus concluded the Straightening Up wars of 2017. By calling attention to it, are you intentionally trying to reinforce the impression that Scott is more charismatic than you?

  4. What you call "Master Persuader" a Psychiatrist would call a "Master Manipulator" or "Narcissistic Abuse".

  5. He guessed before the election and primary. So the coin toss wasn't 50%, unlike Democrats who had Hillary Clinton picked before primary. Trump had was against dozen Republicans so it was 1/12 then 1/2 chance after. Of course this is even a simplification of the odds.

  6. Followed Scott during election and really liked his insight into what was going on. Happy that he is continuing to comment on Trump as President

  7. Scott is reading way too much into Trump's words and actions and ascribing persuasion skills to him that he doesn't seem to really have. I think it's Scott's own confirmation bias.

  8. Would you want to live in a world where every person on Earth is a "Master Persuader"? At some point persuasion crosses the line into manipulation.

  9. If you enter the conversation about past lives with the personal understanding that we are all one, the same energy manifesting in different perspectives, then all past lives are shared experiences. Why would the unconscious present to you a mundane existence to overlook where you would not be extracting any nutritious value or learnings?

  10. Du må være mer enig med personen enn personen er enig med seg selv. Da vil personen få tillit til deg og han hun vil følge deg.

  11. as a trump voter i can say that the only reason he won is b/c we were given 2 choices, a proven-but-not yet-indicted criminal or a not-yet-proven-criminal..that's about it scott.

  12. Trump is an ass hole, a caligula type figure. This so called master persuader lost me when he mentioned him as a model. Making him incredulous. Trump appeals to maybe less than 50 percent of the population in his own constituency. Master persuader my ass.

  13. People love a good story- remember to have one on hand whenever you use the word "because" p.s. what ABOUT that scooter?

  14. One thing Scott Adams doesn't take into account is how remarkably stupid most (not all) Trump supporters are. He didn't persuade me. He didn't persuade most people. He persuaded enough people in mostly suburbs and the country.

    He may have done this masterfully, but it still means he is a persuader of very gullible and stupid people.

    He is not currently garnering a huge amount of support. Isn't this a counter-fact to the proposition that he is a master persuader?

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