The recursive brainwashing

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I’m not going to turn this into a Trump/Clinton/Politics blog, go over to Scott Adams or wherever else you want for that. This is just my grain of salt on this particular topic.

Today, Scott Adams wrote about brainwashed people in his blog. As always, he says that pretty much everyone is completely hypnotised by either the Trump team or the Clinton team, and people actually have no idea what is going on.

The one thing that I noticed is that, in the first part of his post, he mentions that Hillary (and her team) is doing great persuasion and playing 3D chess by convincing us that Donald Trump is like Hitler v2.0.

Then, in the next part, one of the tells to find a brainwashed person is that this person is making Hitler analogies. I see how that makes sense. The persuader compares Trump to Hitler, and the persuaded then thinks Trump is Hitler. But in that specific case, the persuaded also compares Trump to Hitler. He’s not just thinking, he’s talking. More importantly, he’s contributing to the illusion. He is actively persuading other people, regardless of his awareness of it.

According to Scott Adams, Donald Trump is the best persuader he’s ever seen. Also according to Scott Adams, Hillary Clinton is currently winning the persuasion war, even though this only changed very recently. How could that happen? If Trump really was the best at persuasion, he should still be winning that angle.

But the problem is, Trump’s persuasion is direct. It’s a straight ball. You listen to him, you have a fair chance of getting persuaded if you weren’t already brainwashed by the other side. Hillary’s team is doing recursive persuasion. You listen to her, you also have that fair chance of getting persuaded if Trump or someone else didn’t brainwash you first. The problem is, if you do get persuaded, you most likely start actively persuading others too. She’s throwing a curve ball.

People don’t like Hitler. When you hear his name, you usually think about horrible things. Emotional reactions dictate most of our actions, regardless of how much sense it makes. The best proof of this is that nobody has the Hitler haircut and mustache nowadays. There is no link between that hairstyle and the abominations that the guy has done. It’s a coincidence. The hair was on the wrong head at the wrong time. And it’s enough to completley and utterly kill that style in the 21st century. The Hitler analogies, no matter how accurate (or inaccurate) they are, or how relevant (or irrelevant) they are, have power. Furthermore, they are exactly the kind of analogies that get repeated by people. They spread incredibly fast.

Compare that to Trump’s persuasion. “You are losing money! Illegal immigrants are taking our jobs! Islamic terrorists are killing our people!” Those are good ways to turn people to your side. But for the wrong reasons. People who hate Hitler are horrified by his actions. People who are scared of terrorists are scared for their own lives first. Hitler had criterias to kill people. He killed many more, but you could know pretty easily if you were on his list or not. Terrorists are usually indiscriminate. You have no idea if they will target you next. Our instinct then makes this a fear for our own lives before feeling sadness for the lives of others. And that’s selfish. The same goes for the jobs thing. People are either scared of not having a job, or scared of the impact on the economy and their own wallets. That’s also selfish. No matter how persuasive this may be, people don’t brag about being selfish as much as they brag about being selfless. Yes, they will share Trump’s words around, but on a completely different scale. A lot of Trump supporters won’t even admit they are one.

I am not saying that voting Trump is selfish and voting Hillary is selfless. I’m just saying that’s the picture being painted in our minds. And I agree 100% that if Trump really wants to win this election, he has to do something about that. His persuasion is good, but not recursive enough.

I think Trump needs to find a selfless, easy to understand, easy to repeat persuasive idea, and push it forward. He already has a pretty big fanbase, so he just needs the idea, and they will make it viral. Unless he does that, he will continue losing the persuasion war, no matter how good he is personally by himself.