The cartoonist who created “Dilbert” has a unique and compelling take on the “clown genius” fuelling Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Scott Adams, the cartoonist, published a blog post on the subject last week and repeatedly updated the article with additional thoughts on why Trump’s campaign trail talking points remind him of successful hypnosis.
“For our purposes today, persuasion, hypnosis, and negotiating all share a common set of tools, so I will conflate them,” wrote Adams, who has studied hypnosis. “Would Trump use his negotiation and persuasion skills in the campaign? Of course he would. And we expect him to do just that.”
Adams pointed to Trump’s repeated — and disputed — claim that he’s worth more than $US10 billion.
Bloomberg Politics and other analysts have argued that Trump’s net worth is probably closer to $US3 billion, but Adams said that once the debate is over how many billions of dollars Trump is worth, the real-estate magnate has already won.
“The sale he wants to make is ‘Remember that Donald Trump is a successful business person managing a vast empire mostly of his own making.’ The exact amount of his wealth is irrelevant,” he said. “When a car salesperson trained in persuasion asks if you prefer the red Honda Civic or the Blue one, that is a trick called making you ‘think past the sale’ and the idea is to make you engage on the question of colour as if you have already decided to buy the car.”
He added: “That is Persuasion 101 and I have seen no one in the media point it out when Trump does it.”
And besides, Adams argued, voters will always be inclined to remember big, bold numbers like $US10 billion instead of specific counter-figures like Bloomberg’s $US2.9 billion.
“I don’t remember the smaller estimates of Trump’s wealth that critics provided. But I certainly remember the $US10 billion estimate from Trump himself. Thanks to this disparity in my memory, my mind automatically floats toward Trump’s anchor of $US10 billion being my reality. That is classic persuasion. And I would be amazed if any of this is an accident,” he wrote, noting Trump wrote a book titled “Trump: The Art of the Deal.” “Trump literally wrote the book on this stuff.”
The cartoonist also cited several other examples of Trump’s psychological tricks. He said Trump often deploys an “anchor” to shift the conversation to more favourable terms, such as when Adams said he intentionally exaggerated the illegal immigration issue and his own ability to fix it.
“You probably also cringed when you heard Trump say Mexico was sending us their rapists and bad people,” he wrote. “Trump also said he thinks Mexico should pay for the fence, which made most people scoff. But if your neighbour’s pit bull keeps escaping and eating your rosebushes, you tell the neighbour to pay for his own fence or you will shoot his dog next time you see it. Telling a neighbour to build his own wall for your benefit is not crazy talk. And I actually think Trump could pull it off. “
And as far as Trump’s tendency to constantly promote his own brands and approach as the “best” and “biggest” in the world, Adams wrote that it’s all part of the real-estate developer’s larger plan.
“Every time he opens his mouth he is saying something about the Trump brand being fabulous or amazing or great. The rational part of your brain thinks this guy is an obnoxious, exaggerating braggart,” the “Dilbert” creator said. “But the subconscious parts of your brain (the parts that make most of your decisions) only remember that something about that guy was fabulous, amazing and great.”
Adams said that, based on his observations, he was willing to predict that Trump will be the next president.
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