In October 2015, I wrote that I thought Trump would win the US Presidential election.
Let’s back-up for a moment:
In 2015, there were sixteen – sixteen – Republican candidates. Jeb Bush was assumed to be the front runner. People thought this election was going to be a re-run – Bush v. Clinton. Democrats were just starting to “feel the Bern.”
Then this Trump guy declared his candidacy and everyone assumed it was a joke. No mainstream media covered it. The Huffington Post said they’d put it in their entertainment section, because it wasn’t real news. Trump was totally written off as a clown by everyone.
Everyone except Scott Adams.
In August 2015, Scott predicted that not only would Trump become President of the United States – but we would win in a landslide.
People laughed. “Stick to cartooning.” (Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert.) Was this a joke? A gimmick for blog traffic?
When I read his piece, I knew he was right.
It took me a while to publish anything saying that. I debated the decision for a few weeks. Writing on Trump had an ever bigger stigma then than it does now. But at the end of October, I wrote a short piece saying that based on what I knew about storytelling, Trump is the most likely candidate to win.
Scott shared it on his blog. Readers liked it. Then the real fun began.
How Did We Know?
Scott predicted Trumps win through the lens of persuasion. His basic thesis is that people are not rational. If you want to persuade people, reason is not effective, because all important decisions are not made rationally – they are made based on identity.
What Donald Trump says may not be factually accurate, but he uses weapons grade persuasion. Every time the media would say Trump was “done” after some outrageous statement, trained persuaders would say, no – what you thought was clown behavior was actually skilled persuasion. He meant to do that.
So how did I know this identity level persuasion theory was true?
For the past couple years, I’ve been working on a documentary called American Circumcision on the modern circumcision debate. When I began working on the film, I thought “I’ll just share new information with people, and then they’ll change their mind.”
Wrong. Working on this documentary taught me that no amount of reason, facts, or logic can change an identity level belief. You can’t use reason against what isn’t reasonable. If you want a masters class in persuasion, study what convinces people to cut body parts off their children.
When Scott said “people are not reasonable” that perfectly paced 100 hours of documentary interviews I’d filmmed. While every candidate was autistically explaining their policy positions, Trump was doing the only thing that actually mattered – persuading. Creating images, telling stories, getting attention.
How Did Others Miss it?
When I wrote that I thought Trump would win a few people hated me for it.
I travel in artistic circles and lived in Berkeley for couple years. I have lot of friends who were feeling the Bern. When I said “Trump will win,” they were mad – even though I explained in my blog post exactly how he was doing it and how they could use the same principles. It didn’t matter. You can’t use reason against what isn’t reasonable.
(I also wrote that I thought Bernie didn’t have courage and would fail them – which he later did, giving all their donations to the establishment and telling them to vote Hillary.)
I later learned people have a biological response to losing – even vicariously – so if a character you identify with loses, your hormones actually drop – something I’m certain many Hillary supporters are feeling now. When I wrote “Trump will win” I’m certain many took it as a biological attack, rather then just a prediction. But again, this has nothing to do with reason.
Rather then use the tactics Trump was demonstrating right before their eyes, they chose to social signal, and attack the messengers.
Well, how’s that working out for you?
Many are probably feeling shocked now. I’m not. I’ve been expecting this for a year. I outlined this blog post Monday, so I’d have it ready to go the day after the election.
This election has been the greatest education anyone could ask for.
Those who’ve been paying attention have read new books, made new friends, improved their writing, studied hypnosis…
Don’t worry if you missed it. You can still catch up. It’s even better reading in hindsight.
A few places to start:
- Scott Adams Persuasion Reading List
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini (required reading)
- Speaking Ericksonian by Richard Nongard & James Hazlerig
- How To Fail At Everything And Still Win Big by Scott Adams
At least half of you are probably feeling bad. I get it.
But you have a choice: You continue doing what you’ve been doing – which will get the same results – or you can learn from the story of this election – all the good, the bad, and the ugly – to benefit your own life.
If in that past year, worldview has not had a fundamental shift, you haven’t been paying attention.
Can you imagine what it would be like if you could use all the skills that lead to this for your cause and your mission in the world?
No matter what your politics, everyone just learned a major lesson.
This stuff works.
Today is the beginning.
You might want to check out my film American Circumcision on Kickstarter, because it’s going to be a master class in why people make irrational decisions.
Many people have backed it, but time is running out. Watch here.