The Truth, A Persuader’s Guide

I read The Game when I was 18 years old.

It was my first Neil Strauss book, which came to me after I had already learned enough about hypnotism to decide it was bogus. Back then, I viewed humans as rational creatures who make their decisions by rationally weighing the alternahahaha okay. It was a long time ago, give me a break.

I now understand that a person with the right training can subtly alter your reality without you knowing. So I am wary of reading Strauss’s new book, which wears a title that should immediately send your skepticism to high alert.

As The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships rests gently on my piano, I recognize that Strauss has all the tools he needs to insert or delete a belief from my head. A writer and a hypnotist? I only know a few of those. And despite studying this subject for years, persuasion is still hard to avoid.

But I know from experience that if I give myself something to do on the journey, my mind will be more alert. I’ll notice more. So this blog will be my tool. If you want to come along for the ride, I’ll take notes on persuasion in The Truth, as practice for another, bigger book coming later this year.

I’m only a few pages in, and I’ve already spotted what looks like a few maneuvers from Strauss. A friend has a pet theory that he may be “undoing” some of The Game. So I’ll report as I go. Keep in mind, this could be entirely confirmation bias — even when persuasion isn’t an intentional component of good writing, it is always a byproduct.

If you are also a student of persuasion, I invite your interpretation of this presentation. Tweet me.

And one more thing: I’m going to truncate as much as possible. I like Strauss and I want to give away as little of his book’s content as possible. Off we go.

Before the dedication

The book starts with a summary, of sorts, about the book. It is titled, “FULL DISCLOSURE”, explains that the book covers 4 years of his life, and characters are as good as anonymous. But Strauss sneaks in a presupposition, look:

“In order to compress [the book] into a manageable length, reduce the complexity, get at the truth of relationships, and preserve anonymity, incidents, people, locations and situations […] have been changed.”

The italicized part slips right into the reader’s mind. Hidden. But most people start to believe a bit more of what he says afterwards. And then he has a sort of “thinking past the sale” moment:

“If you are reading this and believe you recognize yourself, think again. Your story is the same as that of most others in this book: You cheated and got caught.”

This one’s a doozy. It confirms the self-recognition that will happen to most readers anyway regardless of which book you’re reading. “Think again,” he says, before tying you down to a frame: “Your story is the same as that of most others in this book” (moving you past the sale…). “You cheated and got caught.”

And sold. Primed for the future, and maybe he just made you feel guilty. (I might be doing it to you right now?)

After the dedication, before the table of contents

Strauss starts us with this quote: “People are made to need each other, but they haven’t learned to live with each other.” – Rainer Werner Fassbinder in The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. A heart sits on the opposite page, white on black.

This quote is wildly vague, as transportable quotes tend to be*. But the two clauses are enough to highlight dissonance. The heart symbolism works with the quote to set the tone. It leads you to remember a situation that could apply within the frame of love and relationships, especially because that’s all there is on the page. (If anyone cares to speculate on the importance of color, this section is almost all white-on-black. Suggesting duality, or a binary frame, maybe?)

Some notes from “Stage I: Wounded Child”

Page 8. The first character Strauss has dialogue with mentions The Game. This might look like a nod to his long-time fans, but to me it looks like priming. If he was going to undo some of The Game, this would be the way to do it. (We discover soon after that Strauss is heading to a rehab centre for sex addiction.)

Page 9. Since I will link this to one or more friends who work as therapists, I am curious about this paragraph:

“They say that when you meet someone and feel like it’s love at first sight, run in the other direction. All that’s happened is that your dysfunction has meshed with their dysfunction. Your wounded inner child has recognized their wounded inner child, both hoping to be healed by the same fire that burned them.”

This seems like a doozy to ignore. It’s super vague — plenty of room for confirmation bias to fill in the gaps. It’s probably happening already. (Consider that “love at first sight” implies you fall before speaking or shortly after, which is hardly enough time to notice someone’s underlying emotional history. I doubt it.)

Page 12, important: Strauss mentions The Game again to segue an introduction to what he wants you to think about during The Truth. He writes that The Game is about, “Why don’t women I like ever like me back?” before moving to a new frame in the next paragraph, which he calls a “tougher” life dilemma: “What should I do after she likes me back?”

Again, angling what the reader will think about during the book.

I wish I didn’t have to do this, but the next paragraph is right in between that^^ and a bit that got my full attention. So I imagine this paragraph is important too. If there’s anything important going on, let me know. For now, you can admire his sequence of nouns. Pay attention to how the words feel as they lead to the end of the sentences.

He says, “Like love itself, the path to answer this question will be anything but logical. The unintended consequences of my infidelity will lead me to free-love communes, to modern-day harems, and to scientists, swingers, sex anorexics, priestesses, leather families, former child actors, miracle healers, murderers, and, most terrifying of all, my mother. It will challenge and ultimately revolutionize everything I thought I knew about relationships–and myself.”

Seems important to the journey.

Next, this short paragraph is a gigantic tell for Strauss’s intentions and understanding of humans. He’s not saying it plainly elsewhere so far. But he does here.

“[1] If you’re interested in getting more out of this odyssey for yourself, notice the words and concepts that most excite or repel you. Each gut reaction tells a story. It is a story about who you are and what you believe. [2] Because, all too often, the things that we’re the most resistant to are precisely what we need. And the things we’re most scared to let go of are exactly the ones we need to relinquish.”

[1] This part gives you an enormous look into Strauss’s body of knowledge. I don’t know if he’s formally trained in hypnosis, but I know he has read a fair number of books by Bandler — he mentions Frogs Into Princes directly in The Game. So he probably has the “three dimensional” perspective on belief and emotions.

This part also hints at Strauss’s intentions. He wants you to notice what’s within you. Whether or not he intentionally makes changes, I don’t know. (I might not be learned enough to spot it.)

[2] Presupposition, presupposition. But I agree anyway (?!). These two sentences do a lot of work.

Page 14: Reminder, Strauss’s character is going to sex addict rehab. This quote happens while he checks in. “But I stay quiet. And I submit. Like a good cheater.” Humorous/sexy undertones firing on all cylinders.

Page 15: I marked this part more for “evidence” of Strauss’s learned talents. The dialogue reads,

“Do you have any homicidal thoughts?” [the nurse] asks.

“No.” And in that moment, I think of a homicidal thought. It’s like saying, “Don’t think of a pink elephant.”

This isn’t rare knowledge by any means, but the greater pattern, he is surely aware of.

Page 16: I think I only noticed this part because of my friend’s reaction as I read it to her. She reacted as if I had said it to her myself, though I was only reading it aloud. But it made me think of the “Say it in quotes” method I learned from Erickson or Bandler.

I ask [the nurse] if she thinks I’m really an addict. “I’m not an addiction specialist,” she says. “But if you’re cheating on your relationship, if you’re visiting porn sites, or if you’re masturbating, that’s sex addiction.”

My friend remarked in agreement.

Page 16 again: I recall that the reader will do presented mental exercises along with the character. In this case, the nurse presents Strauss a list of emotions and asks, “Which ones are you feeling right now?”

JOY, PAIN, LOVE, ANGER, PASSION, FEAR, GUILT, SHAME

Strauss selects one. The reader does too.

I’ll write more about this if there is interest. I can watch for particular things too if you tell me what to look for (and how).

 

*See “Impossible to Ignore” in the Persuasion Reading List.

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A Counter for the Crazy Card

Today I am going to supply my female friends with a few lines that will disarm the “crazy” card. If this seems like a useful post, I hope a few of you will try it.

It is a common notion that men think more logically and women think more emotionally. Everyone agrees that there is a bit of both going on in everyone, but the general consensus seems to be a skew towards “men are logical” and “women are emotional.” Watch close and you’ll notice that the men who apply this meme to their own gender often color it with pride, and the women express pride in their emotional intelligence because of who they are. That’s a logical thing. So you can join me in smirking the next time someone says that.

With this context, I have a simple claim:

No one calls you “crazy” when they can explain why your statement is nonsense with reason.

When you are disagreeing about something, both sides dig into their opinion really hard, especially if it is emotionally contested. Your mind shields you from any part of reality that conflicts with your view using something called “cognitive dissonance.” It’s why it’s so hard to get someone to change their political views. They are an emotional subject.

Once you know what to look for, as I do, you can see cognitive dissonance everywhere. Even casual conversations are rife with it. And in the context of someone arguing with a woman, cognitive dissonance is usually what causes the person to roll out the “crazy” label. Note that I say usually. When you say something that runs counter to what is in the other person’s head, cognitive dissonance happens. But there can be a false positive if you said something that was genuinely crazy (happens to everyone). Now for the good stuff.

If I communicate this part to you well, you will be able to use it whenever you want for the rest of your life. And it works like a charm. I know because I do it to people all the time.

Suppose someone is disagreeing with you. You say something reasonable, they say something reasonable. This cycles back and forth a few times until you say something so airtight that you can almost see a moment of unwilled agreement with what you said. But they subconsciously don’t want to change their opinion, so they have no option left but to hallucinate that you are a crazy person.  “You’re crazy!”

The fun starts here. You can now say to them, “as an intelligent person, I know you can explain what it is, exactly, that you disagree with.”

This puts them in a bind. Either they admit that they can’t explain exactly why they disagree and look dumb, or they give you an explanation with a reason. You can go forward from there. (Note that some people will be clever and evade this. If they dodge and change the topic, briefly answer their next words before re-stating the phrase.)

Another option is to say, “Since we are being reasonable, I wonder if you can explain why you disagree using a reason.” If they retreat back to calling you crazy, remind them, “People with a reason for disagreeing always give it.”

I recommend collecting a few sample data points through observation before you try this. If you don’t have any frame of reference, it will be hard to tell how effective this advice is. My guess is “highly effective,” but you should spend a few weeks noticing what happened right before someone calls you crazy. (You probably know a few ways to test this on-demand anyways.)

My bet is that right before you are called crazy, you will have said something that conflicts with the caller’s worldview. It will only happen if there is some emotional content involved. You can see that on their face every time.

Let me know how it goes.

Analogies Persuade No One: A Visual

It is commonly believed that you can advance your argument with an analogy.

Fiction.

They work for explaining things. But they don’t change minds. I’ll use an analogy and some visual communication to explain this.

When you make up an analogy, you imagine that the person’s understanding of it will match your own. You see at least a shade of similarity between what you are trying to explain and the analogy, and so you wrap it up into some words, and move your body around to communicate.

Then, disaster.

You’ve heard people agree with analogies before in casual conversation. Why didn’t it work this time? How can they still be stuck on their point, especially if you used a flawless, flawless analogy?

Allow me to explain.

Your perception of reality is stored in the part of your head called your brain. Your brain has a collection of memories, thoughts, and other great stuff kicking around. If you had an enormous sheet of paper, you could even map where all of it is located. And so as you are trying to communicate, your brain winds up imagining something based on a few parts of your map. You suppose that it will be understood perfectly — or even partially — by the information on the other person’s map.

ANALOGY_Bulb_Right.png

This is an analogy forming in your head. Isn’t it cute?

You can probably tell that in a casual conversation, where everyone is trying to get along, people will listen to an analogy and go, “Hm, yeah, that makes sense.” But for some reason, it never really works to change someone’s mind when you disagree.

To make up an analogy, you do something like this:

One, take all the things you want to communicate and wrap them into an analogy.

Two, explain your analogy.

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The green stars are similarities, reasons, etc. in your analogy.

As you explain, you imagine that all the parts that make sense in your head will make sense in the same way in the listener’s head. Like this:

Analogy_Bulb_Both_linked_Greenideas_BOTH.png

The level of understanding you want to achieve.

That isn’t what happens. The connections don’t “map” perfectly because everyone has a slightly different understanding of reality.

And then sometimes there’s cognitive dissonance involved.

When a person holds a belief, their mind will go to great lengths to avoid changing it. Science shows that the part of the brain that processes pain has more bloodflow when someone is trying to change your beliefs. To avoid changing, your mind will do all sorts of neat things. You might be unable to understand one interpretation of a sentence, or suddenly be yelling. It’s interesting to watch.

Part of this defense is a guarantee that analogies won’t change anyone’s mind once they’ve committed to their position. The reasons and similarities you are trying to communicate with your analogy will be invisible and inaudible in the mind of the recipient. The links won’t form because a conflicting idea is already in their place. Analogy_Bulb_Both_linked_STOPS.png

The red signs are pre-existing beliefs, incompatible with the analogy

They might understand some compatible parts, but conflicts prevent the analogy from changing anyone’s mind. Their mind will reject it. It could actually hurt them to hear how your analogy “makes sense” if you explain. Neat.

Worse, you might get a combination of dissonance and missing links, like in the picture below. If your analogy is explaining the similarities between your position and a car’s engine, I will misunderstand you because I have no idea how they work. Remember, part of my brain is tasked with resisting a change of opinion. So you’re really better off explaining with reasons.Analogy_Bulb_Both_linked_MIA_IDEAS222222.png

“This bulb is similar in X Y and Z ways, but you don’t know about Z so I’m screwed.”

If you’ve followed me this far, you probably agree with Scott Adams: Analogies are good for explaining ideas the first time, but they persuade no one.

Kandi, The Good Memory Storage Device

In Robert Cialdini’s Presuasion, the reader learns that an object can act as a permanent, subliminal reminder for a feeling or behavior.

It turns out that as long as an object is in your field of view, it’s still cuing the subconscious associations you have with it. You can check this fairly easily by comparing how well you work with a cellphone in your field of view compared to without.

In the past I’ve played with the idea of parking a gift in someone’s house as a visual persuasion tool. Each time they walk by the gift, they would be persuaded a little bit more.

And then I realized this is exactly what kandi does.

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I recently got back from Group Therapy 250 with Above & Beyond. Some of my friends are pretty big kandi kids (I might be responsible for that). One of them traded me a beautiful pink cuff after I commended her work.

I remember her complimenting my character as she pulled the cuff up on my forearm. I now have it resting on a shelf in my bedroom, next to a dozen other creations I’ve received from good friends. Kandi is colorful and pleasing to look at — that’s why I put it there — but it also feels good to have around.

Hold on though. Why does it feel good?

When you look at a kandi cuff, you are reminded of the good feeling you have from making it or trading it. You are also reminded of the feelings you have from all your other kandi, by association. Each cuff reminds you of all the other memories you have of kandi, subconsciously, every time you look at one. And since it is a big part of rave culture, those associations are built pretty strong.

So my suggestion is that, if you love the rave, you might like to display your kandi somewhere you want to feel good about. Over time, the good feelings from your kandi will become associated with wherever you leave the cuffs.

I also like to make a small note about how I came to own the kandi, if the trade was particularly special. (From a new or old friend, or if I got it under the electric sky — that kind of thing.)

If you wear enough kandi, you know that you can end up with great affection for what are essentially little plastic beads. Only other kandi kids will understand how that feels.

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Festival Chat and Future Pacing

Today I’m going to explain how a common conversation topic influences you to go to more music festivals.

As a long time student of persuasion, I know that influence often hides in plain sight. To me, it’s as visible as the sun on a clear day. Everyone else just sees sky.

I also live in the rave scene. It is a part of my life and I intend to keep it that way. So I know that some form of this question is familiar to anyone with a rave family. And the question is:

“Who do you hope will be on the festival lineup?”

To answer this question, you have to pick one or more DJs to be on a lineup. Until the lineup is released, it can be your dream lineup. This question is your invitation to play.

It’s done subconsciously, but this question actually sends your mind on a search through memories to find an answer. If you’re really paying attention, you might notice a few possible answers go through your head before you pick one. It’ll be a different process for everybody, but if you managed to answer the question, your mind definitely did something.

The persuasion part comes into play when your brain simulates different ways a lineup could play out. You imagine how it would go if this DJ or that DJ played at the event, and if you’re going along with the excitement of the question, you probably imagine a vivid version of the event. In NLP, this is called “future pacing”, which shows your subconscious an idea of how you could act. Effective.

Your experience might be different than mine, but I find the “Who do you want on the lineup?” question makes a great group conversation topic. And when the question comes up in a group chat format, you’ll hear a bunch of answers that you didn’t come up with. Some of them might feel better than your own ideas. Among friends, people tend to like those surprises because your ego doesn’t have much invested in being right about the answer. It’s just for fun.

Together, the excitement of your own ideas plus your friends’ associates with the festival in question. Then you find yourself, later, wanting a ticket.

I bet this topic is more influential than some ad videos.

Kid Rock’s Senate Speech

If you told me two years ago that a rock star would replace Elizabeth Warren as Senator of Michigan, I would have laughed at you. After today, I’m not so sure.

Jack Posobiec posted a tweet of Kid Rock’s first speech of his campaign early this morning. I knew as soon from the first frame that nobody would forget this speech. I’ll tell you why after we talk a little bit about Kid Rock’s talent stack.

Without even watching the speech, I know Kid Rock has an impressive talent for reading crowds. As a professional musician, Kid Rock has been reading crowds for years. Even as an inexperienced DJ, I can keep track of where the energy of a crowd has been, and anticipate how a crowd will react to changes in energy. I assume that a musician with over 20 years of experience on a stage, standing in front of masses of people, knows how to read a crowd’s energy. And more importantly, he can probably move it up and down like a thermostat. He can warm them up or chill them out when he wants to.

Kid Rock also has a great, expressive voice. He knows how to sing and speaks with charisma. He can drive a lot more feeling through his words than a regular political candidate could ever dream of. And you’ll hear that his speech is actually musical. It rhymes.

Another thing that Kid Rock has going for him is his brand. People are used to seeing him as an American’s American. And because Kid Rock is generally likeable, most people already have good feelings about him, even if they don’t listen to his music.

The stage itself is a reflection of Kid Rock’s performance experience. Bright red and blue lighting, with American flags on either side of him — and another draped over his neck. No one else does this. It’s memorable and comment-worthy. People who sees the video will react, remember, and even share it.

He walks up to the microphone with American music playing, in front of an American background, and shouts hello, drawing in crowd engagement. I’ll assess what he says in a moment. For now, try to watch the video without him grabbing your whole attention. It’s tough.

This attention-grabbing factor will be pulling for him throughout the race. As long as he keeps doing things, people will talk about the “Kid Rock senate run”. And as they talk about it, it will start to seem plausible, and then likely. His biggest problem close to the election might even be that his supporters assume he will win, and then stay home.

After greeting the crowd, Rock goes straight into his stance on healthcare. But pay attention to the words he uses. It’s everyday language. Simple. Everyone can relate. And notice how he gives the Democrat voters who are listening a moment to get on his side.

“What’s going on in the world today? It seems the government wants to give everyone health insurance, but wants us all to pay. And to be very frank, I really don’t have a problem with that [pause] since God has blessed me, and made my pockets fat.”

In this case, the way he says it is more important than what he said. Listen to the speech. It sounds like he really means it. He leaves enough time for a liberal voter to imagine that he is on your side before continuing on to the part about God. The God part doesn’t match most liberals experiences, but the part about fat pockets does, since they believe the rich should pay more.

Then Kid Rock goes on to agree with Republican voters really hard:

“But redistribution of wealth seems more like their plan. And I don’t believe that you should save, sacrifice, do things by the book, and then have to take care of some deadbeat milkin’ the system motherfuckin’ man.”

His swearing ensures you’ll remember it because it is unexpected. He speaks with emphasis. And you can probably tell while listening, the speech actually rhymes. That makes it more enjoyable to listen to, and harder to forget. It’s as if he’s saying, “The soundbyte ends here.”

Then on family issues, Kid Rock goes after irresponsible mothers and absent fathers with a musical bent, calling them the dads “gangster wannabes”. He ends it by slamming his fists to a guitar riff. That’s candy for conversation. People will spread their reviews. This begins his campaign with a head start, stirring up good feelings and trust among his potential voters early on.

He begins his next issue by gently places the flag over the podium, addressing the appearance of racial divide in America. This pre-empts his opposition attempting to label him a racist. His first move is to denounce sitting for the national anthem, but he pivots immediately to saying, “You don’t have to remind me. Black lives matter.” He actually goes through the whole list of disavowals that the media could ask him to make, but with stronger language (and a guitar riff). That actually makes him a leader among the non-racists.

Kid Rock finishes the speech by appealing to everyone to share blame and close the divide. The final image is the silhouette of people lifting their arms up with American flags.

At the end, the viewer might not have words for what they watched, but I think “Michigan’s next senator” would be a pretty good description.

Parsing Persuasion, I

This is my attempt at parsing the first ten minutes or so of the Waking Up podcast with Harris and Adams.

I have learned persuasion through Adams’s recommended material and observation of the man himself for over two years now. This is another exercise in learning persuasion.

I won’t try to differentiate between beginner and advanced stuff. It mostly looks the same to me.

Analysis:

“Thanks for having me,” is actually under appreciated. Adams sets the table with a friendly tone.

A few minutes in, after Harris has dissed journalistic ethics, Adams then says: “Yeah, I agree.” This gets himself on Harris’s side early. Pacing, pacing. Harris also mentions “gotcha” questions and other unethical maneuvers. Adams continues on to say, “I wouldn’t worry about me because like you, I’ve done a few of these.” Highlighting similarities.

Ok, now the real stuff Let’s see what Adams packs into a 294 word piece of dialogue.

Adams: Well I should tell your listeners [1] first of all that I have a background as a trained hypnotist, and [2] I’ve been studying the field of persuasion all of my adult life as part of my job, [3] its part of what a writer does, its part of what a cartoonist needs.

[1] Introducing himself as a trained hypnotist is an attention grabber. You don’t hear people say that at any other point in most people’s realities, and never with the specific word order as he does. The clause also segues into another credibility-builder, [2], and opens up curiosity in the listener’s mind in [3]. Together, there’s nothing about what Adams says here that sounds bland. Every single person listening has their head prompted for a new perspective. (I do think [3] might just be Adams explaining things. I don’t know if it’s too important for persuasion. Someone tell me if I’m wrong.)

Adams: So, when I saw Trump enter the race, I noticed fairly quickly that he had the strongest set of persuasion skills I’ve ever seen.

After establishing his credibility and unique perspective, Adams begins to show us the story of President Trump. And he does it by pitching a directional exaggeration from here to Mars. Well, maybe it’s not that much of an exaggeration. Anyway, the point is that the phrase feels awe inspiring. You can’t hear it in the transcript, but he also says it that way, with emphasis. Your rational brain will try to argue with the point, and meanwhile, you’ll be focusing on “Trump ~= persuasion.”

Adams: He has what I call [1] a skill stack, a complementary set of skills that, if you looked at any one of those skills you’d say, [2] “well that’s good, that’s better than most people, but that’s not any world class particular special skill.” [3] But when you put them together, they’re insanely effective. You know, as we can see, because he’s president. [4] He made it against all odds.

This sentence injects Adams’s “talent stack” idea, [1], into the conversation. Most people never hear skill acquisition described this way, so it’s new. Another hit of attention grabbing novelty. But it presupposes that Trump has skills, which is hard to hold in your head alongside the idea of him as a buffoon. Note Adams doesn’t say which skills. That’s harder to disagree with, and it allows the listener to fill in the blanks themselves. Then [2] is all pacing. Most people would agree, Trump is not the top 1% of any particular skill. So Adams has the audience with him when he pivots and says, in [3], “But when you put them together, they’re insanely effective, you know, as we can see, because he’s president.” Adams then finishes the “lead” he introduced by tying it back to a widely agreeable statement, “[Trump] made it against all odds.”

“Trump made it against all odds,” is actually a real beauty. On the left, people can hear this and agree that its unbelievable that Trump is president. On the right, people can hear it and agree that Trump had to elbow, shoulder and shove his way through hundreds of obstacles.

Adams: And, my view on the politics of it is that [1] my political preferences didn’t align with either side in the election. [2] I consider myself an ultra-liberal on social stuff, [3] meaning that even liberals don’t recognize me, because I’m more liberal than liberals. [4] I can give you some examples to fill that in if you want.

Here in [1] Adams positions himself in political neutrality. It’s a subtle way of making himself seem unbiased. He proceeds to pace “liberals” and Democrats with [2], leaving them scratching their heads as to how, exactly, someone can “out-liberal” a liberal. It’s another “exaggerate really hard in one direction” maneuver. As a potentially unintended side effect, it also gives listeners the impression that they could be more liberal if they tried. He goes on to say in [3] that liberals won’t recognize him as a liberal, pre-empting accusations of him being a Republican. If they call him a Trump supporter now, he will just say, “I said you wouldn’t recognize my liberal views.” My favorite part is [4] because it moves the attention off whether his political views really would be left of the left and and onto, “What examples would he give us?”

Adams: And then on the big stuff, you know, the international stuff, the “how do you beat ISIS?” and, whats the best thing to do with north korea? My view is that none of us really know the answer to that. Because we don’t have the information the government would have, and we don’t have the full context that they would have. SO generally I don’t have a firm position on the big international stuff, and on the smaller local stuff, the domestic stuff, I am in favor of people doing whatever they want as long as it doesn’t effect me.

Here Adams slips in a bit of intellectual humility that sounds very reasonable. I doubt many people even disagree with this when he says it, unless he’s already triggered them into disagreement.

Now a larger picture of what he’s done. Adams builds a lot of premises in on top of each other, which means you have to disagree or show that many parts are false before the frame falls apart. This will sound like reason, but I promise, it isn’t that.

We have the idea that Adams recognizes part of reality that we don’t. Hypnotist, persuasion. That allows him the early recognition of Trump as the strongest persuader he’s ever seen. He has a bunch of different skills — but the listener will figure out which ones on their own, after the frame has been set. The election results seem to (now retroactively) confirm this anyways. And because Adams was saying this a year and a bit before the election, it’s consistent and seems more credible. Lastly, there’s the identity play. Adams is on your side!