Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, a daily comic syndicated in more than 2,000 publications that takes a satirical look at work office culture. He has just dropped his latest book, “Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter,” which highlights the strategies of persuasion Donald Trump used in his upset victory in the 2016 presidential election.
Adams earned political punditry and forecasting cred by handicapping candidate Donald Trump’s chances of winning the presidency at 98% a week after Nate Silver put Trump’s odds at 2%, and for his early-stage, time management and visualization platform WhenHub, which just launched an initial-coin offering-like simple agreement for a Future Token offering for half a billion tokens.
As market makers and shakers go, Scott Adams is smoking hot.
Modern Trader: What will readers learn from Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter?
Scott Adams: Win Bigly is packed with practical persuasion techniques that can be used in every walk of life. I wrap the tips in the story of the 2016 presidential election because that is a common reference point.
MT: Last June a Salon.com column called you a “fascist” for noting the persuasive technique of the then candidate Trump, which you document in your new book. Then, a week before the presidential election, a Washington Post column’s headline asked in its story about you, “What makes a rich celebrity risk his very brand in order to climb into a political pulpit?” Did the Post ask the same question of celebrities supporting Hillary Clinton?
SA: [LAUGH] Well, I’ve never seen the level of personal human-to-human hatred as I have this whole election cycle, and now the presidency. One of my contentions is that Trump supporters got a world that they had hoped for, and to some extent, at least some of them were expecting. So their world view is complete. They did not flip out and get crazy. They’re just sort of enjoying the victory. On the other hand, there are the folks who were positive that Trump could not get elected. They had been convinced largely by their own side that he was a monster of unprecedented historic proportions. An actual literal, Hitler-like character. Their world view blew up when he was elected, along with everything they imagined about the country; how people thought and their ability to predict the future. Their entire world view just fell apart in an instant. This is what I write about in “Win Bigly.”
MT: The bursting of a bubble?
SA: It would be normal, the way human brains are designed, that you would experience something called a cognitive dissonance, which is the moment when the script in your head has to be rewritten to make it all make sense again. The world didn’t make sense when Trump (won). There are far more terrible people in the country than they had imagined. That is the best way to preserve their moral high ground “we were right all along.” We got everything right, except that we didn’t realize how bad the people on the other side are, that they could support this monster.
So part of that thinking imagines that the people who supported him in any way, are villains. I predicted and understood his victory, but I personally didn’t vote. I don’t line up well with Republican politics expect in the few cases that might be coincidence.
But anybody who was viewed as supportive of the President’s efforts was considered “bad people,” and this is really different. This past election, many people on the losing side actually hate the people on the other side. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s because their world view just got scrambled, and they didn’t have an opportunity to just integrate this flow of history into the mental movie in their heads, so they called for an instant rewrite. Thus, all of the Trump supporters were horrible people. So I got painted with that brush along with everybody else.
MT: It appears as those two perspectives continue to define how his administration is being perceived and evaluated. You recently characterized the Trump presidency thus far, from the perspective of those who are his supporters, as “he’s having a bumpy transition ride but generally doing the people’s work.”
SA: It is what I call “the turn.” I predicted a year ago that you’d see the following story arc develop: Trump’s opposition would be committed to their “Hitler” frame around inauguration day and you’d see them marching in the streets with people loudly proclaiming that he’s actually some kind of Hitler. But then, after a few months of not doing Hitler stuff, people would start to lose that illusion, but would still hate him for reasons that could evolve as long as they keep their hate. I predicted the Trump opposition story arc would then turn into “well, he may not be Hitler but he’s incompetent.”
I predicted that that would last through the summer, which is exactly what you saw. It was the word incompetent that you heard the most over the summer. But, I [also] predicted that by the end of the year there would be a body of success in terms of him getting the things that he wanted for his voters. That body of success would make it impossible to say he was incompetent, because he was getting what his voters wanted. That’s when the story arc will evolve to “well, he is effective but we don’t like what he’s doing.”