[Link] My Interview with Dilbert creator Scott Adams

post by James_Miller · 2016-09-13T05:22:47.741Z · score: 9 (12 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 27 comments

In the second half of the interview we discussed several topics of importance to the LW community including cryonics, unfriendly AI, and eliminating mosquitoes. 

https://soundcloud.com/user-519115521/scott-adams-dilbert-interview

 

27 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Daniel_Burfoot · 2016-09-14T13:07:44.750Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Note that Adams is using persuasion tactics in the interview itself. The most obvious trick is that he describes himself as being objective (he doesn't care about Trump vs Clinton) and altruistic (because he's wealthy and older), making it more likely for us to believe the other things he has to say.

My guess is that Adams is hoping that Trump wins the election, because he will then write a book about persuasion and how Trump's persuasion skills helped him win. He already has a lot of this material on his blog. In that scenario he can capitalize on his correct prediction, which seemed radical at the time, to generate a lot of publicity for the book. Persuasion is a topic of perennial interest, and Adams is a skilled expositor. So there's a good chance that a Trump win will mean a multi-million dollar payoff for Adams.

I actually like Adams and think he's a smart guy, but I doubt he's much more altruistic and objective than everyone else. ;-)

comment by James_Miller · 2016-09-14T15:20:51.393Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with your first paragraph, but Adams has described how his Trump writing has decimated his ability to earn money as a public speaker because people who hire such speakers want to avoid controversy. Adams appearing on the podcast of an obscure college professor was an act of altruism.

comment by hairyfigment · 2016-09-15T16:55:08.278Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So you think he assigns a lower probability to Trump winning than someone unfamiliar with his argument might suppose? In theory he might have lost more than 2mill * 0.38 = 760000, but the higher that probability goes the worse your argument sounds.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-09-16T02:40:54.192Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

No, I think Adams assigns a higher probability to Trump winning than most people do. I think Adams accepted this theory on Trump would cost him money.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2016-09-18T22:01:04.527Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can't remember where I saw it, but I think Adams is trying to transition his career to "trusted expert".

He's willing to take the financial hit to make the transition.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-09-18T23:41:27.681Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-09-18T22:07:15.165Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think Adams accepted this theory on Trump would cost him money.

Why do you think it costs him money? Adam is a blogger. He get's money from doing things that grab attention.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-09-18T23:40:56.723Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think he made far more from giving corporate speeches (based on his Dilbert fame) than he ever will from blogging. Adams has said that his association with Trump has destroyed his speech making side-business.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-09-19T08:38:27.963Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

He did make money from giving corporate speeches based on Dilbert fame but he could charge more money if he's the guy who is understands persuasion really well and if good at objectively looking and issues and gives corporate speeches based on that angle than he could make if he makes money based on his Dilbert frame.

Nassim Taleb layed out in anti-fragile that moves making moves that draw controversy is an effective strategy as a public intellectual. Ryan Holiday describes in "Trust Me I'm lying" as well that this is an effective strategy for people wanting to be public intellecutals.

I think Adam's likely read both Nassim Taleb and Ryan Holiday and made a conscious choice to follow that playbook. It might have turned out to be an ineffective move in reality because it turns out that giving speeches as "the guy behind Dilbert" isn't anti-fragile but it still rather looks like a deliberate move.

comment by Sly · 2016-09-14T21:42:18.801Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Adams did say that, but I agree with Daniel that he benefits hugely if Trump wins. Claims and reality are often different, especially when you consider that Adams is often transparently using his techniques in his writing.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-09-13T18:11:13.026Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's interesting how Scott Adams thought about how making the successful prediction about Trump provides him the opportunity to get huge value.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-09-14T14:15:56.722Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I've casually followed his predictions about Trump. It's so silly.

  • Far Away From Election when Trump is the #1 news story every day — Trump will win because he is using advanced persuasion techniques!
  • Post Khan Debacle once Trump is getting beaten badly in polls and looks unelectable—Hillary has now started using advanced persuasion techniques! That is why she has come back! (Hedging...)
  • Polls Tighten — Trump is back to using advanced persuasion techniques!

Um. No. Sounds like phlogiston to me.

At any rate, Adams is the winner here. I'd never heard of the guy who wrote Dilbert. Now I've probably visited his blog 50 times in the last year and clicked around a bit. I'm sure he's sold plenty of books because of his predictions on the election.

Prediction: After the election, Adams will say this whole "Trump will win" gambit was just a meta advanced persuasion project he'd been running on all of his readers. This fact people believed Trump had special powers was proof that Adams is a Master Persuader. (Unless Trump actually wins...then Adams will say "See! I knew it all along!") Win. Win. For Adams.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-09-14T14:20:47.094Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Has there been a description of what specific advanced persuasion techniques Trump has been using? Or why they work powerfully on some people and not others?

comment by James_Miller · 2016-09-14T17:00:30.819Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

See this at 41 minutes.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-09-15T08:05:18.308Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That link isn't working.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-09-14T16:12:37.812Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Has there been a description of what specific advanced persuasion techniques Trump has been using?

Yes. Ad nauseum.

Example.

Related WaPo article.

Again I only casually follow it, but from what I've read of his blog, he explains the phenomenon of Trump in terms of people's irrationality and Trump's ability to manipulate them. And then he gives example after example of how Trump does this.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-09-15T08:05:02.738Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you. I'm not sure that Trump's techniques are all that advanced, but maybe the difference is that he's more thorough in applying them.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-09-18T21:44:27.245Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you. I'm not sure that Trump's techniques are all that advanced, but maybe the difference is that he's more thorough in applying them.

Trumps scores very highly on what I would call "holding the frame". He uses very simple language in an enviroment where most people wouldn't.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2016-09-18T22:43:39.077Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Half of voters are dumber than average. Trump isn't shy about appealing to them. Or showing respect to them. Their votes count too. "I love the poorly educated."

It drives Republican Bow Ties insane; they're more attached to their Bow Ties than winning elections.

I think Trump scores highly on showing respect and solidarity to voters. He attacks individuals, and he attacks non voters, but he respects all voters.

Hillary I'm with Her. Basket of Deplorables.

Trump I'm with You. I'm your Voice. I respect all of you, even if you don't vote for me. I love Xs.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-09-19T08:26:51.376Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think Trump scores highly on showing respect and solidarity to voters. He attacks individuals, and he attacks non voters, but he respects all voters.

That seems like an interesting statement. I don't think Muslim or hispanic voters feel like Trump respects them. You can take many statements of him as sign that he doesn't respect woman.

Saying that he thinks that prisoners of war aren't heros, is something that many soldiers would take as disrespecting the troops if it would come from any other candidate.

comment by Viliam · 2016-09-20T13:28:54.461Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I guess he fails to respect literally everyone, but he shows respect to enough people who are traditionally disrespected by politicians of both parties.

In other words, instead of the "I am better than you" signalling game, he focuses on the game of getting votes. Most politicians play a mix of both games. (Which is probably better in long term. If Trump happens to lose this election, his chances are gone. On the other hand, if Hillary loses, she can still run for the president 4 years later.)

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-09-20T14:22:57.971Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If Trump happens to lose this election, his chances are gone.

That isn't necessarily true. He can still run another time. He can still run on what Hillary did wrong and on how she stole his election.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2016-09-16T23:47:04.707Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Adams switches between several claims (which are not incompatible). One claim is that Clinton often screws up, while Trump virtually never does. Maybe Trump only uses basic techniques, but if Clinton and the well-funded primary opponents fail to use even the basics, that's an interesting fact about the world. And by screwing up, he doesn't mean failing to engineer statements, but own-goals. Another claim is that Trump's techniques are more advanced than Adams's own techniques, but he can't communicate the difference to people who don't already have a solid grounding (so he doesn't try). Adams is good enough to recognize the greatness but not produce it. And Trump tests lines at his rallies to get even better results. A third claim is that Trump is good on his feet (Adams always gives the example of the Rosie O'Donnell response). Maybe Clinton can hire someone to write killer tweets, but she'll be outmatched at the debates.

I don't mean to endorse any of these claims, but they seem like reasonable possibilities and what the world would look like under his general claim.

comment by WalterL · 2016-09-19T17:52:36.440Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for doing this interview dude. Good stuff.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-09-13T17:25:52.153Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting interview. Does Adams ever write about his voice? It's distinctive (a little slower and more resonant than most people, I think) and it may be something he's worked on. Also, I'm wondering whether Putin is a better manipulator than Trump.

comment by moridinamael · 2016-09-13T18:36:21.938Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Adams has written a lot about his voice.

He has/had spasmodic dysphonia which means (rougly) his vocal chords would spasm and seize up during normal speech. It was a huge problem for him. One path he took to getting over it was lots of voice lessons to gain greater control over his speech. What ultimately cured him, though, was a surgery that rewired the nerves in his neck.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-09-13T18:00:15.624Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's distinctive (a little slower and more resonant than most people, I think) and it may be something he's worked on.

He has hypnosis training. The style of talking slowly is typical for hypnosis.