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Political Psychology

How the Washington Post Radicalizes Murderers (video)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

To liberals, the murder of a Republican is like the swatting of a mosquito. They oppose violence in theory, but they also want the pest dead. They’re just too lazy to get out of their easy chairs to do it themselves.

Cass Sunstein, a leftist who’s happy whenever a conservative dies early, wrote a book called Nudge. It’s a good psychology book. Nudge is about persuasion, which is my chief interest. Sunstein teaches people how to get others to swat mosquitoes for us.

The mainstream media revere Sunstein. The right hates Sunstein. The left applies Sunstein’s science to manipulate people from a distance. Like swatting mosquitoes without leaving your easy chair. Conservatives, on the other hand, pooh-pooh psychology and neuroscience. They think it’s voodoo or witchery.

Because the leftist media like CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, and MSNBC use psychology, they can influence their fringe to attack and kill conservatives. They’re very good at psychology.

Today, we saw a fringe leftist shoot at 30 Republican members of Congress and their staffers. It happened on a baseball field in Virginia. The shooter was a 66-year-old man from Belleville, Illinois. His name was James T. Hodgkinson. Hodgkinson was radicalized by the mainstream media. And I think they radicalized him on purpose.

See Scott Adams explain his brilliant “radicalized” meme.

The media actually celebrated Hodgkinson’s attack on the unarmed Republicans, until they tried to erase the incident with a lie. For example, The Gateway Pundit noticed that a Washington Post reporter justified the shooting on Twitter.

 

And

Cass Sunstein would be proud. Sunstein probably shot (no pun) Harris a note congratulating him on great persuasion technique. Malcolm Harris radicalized the next James T. Hodgkinson.

Earlier, The Gateway Pundit pointed out how Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas programmed his minions to believe Republican deserve to be shot.

Finally, as I predicted at about 1:00 this afternoon, the Washington Post invented five unnamed, anonymous sources to smear Trump and knock the radicalized James T. Hodgkinson off the front page. WaPo posted a mostly fabricated story about Robert Mueller shifting his investigation from Russian election tampering to obstruction of justice.

That’s another Sunstein move: waving shiny objects to distract the gullible.

I’m not that gullible. I know their game because it’s a game I study and play in a different way.

Unlike Washington Post and the left’s mainstream murder advocates, I use persuasion to help get what they want. Like a personal trainer. But the techniques are the same whether they’re used for good or evil.

The left uses psychology for manipulation, to radicalize its fringe.

Just thought you should know.

This is what it looks like when the MSM succeeds in radicalizing leftists.

Mark Steyn explains just how vile and hateful the left has become.

False Flag or Not

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The contemporary term false flag describes covert operations that are designed to deceive in such a way that activities appear as though they are being carried out by entities, groups, or nations other than those who actually planned and executed them. [Wikipedia]

Think of a time when you acted on false information. You knew it might be false, but you acted as if it was true. Why did you do that?

As absurd as it seems, people do this all the time. People behave as if something were true even though it might not be true.

Think about runaway stocks. Remember the Iomega Zip Drive stock surge of the 1990s?

A lot of people thought Iomega would become bigger than Apple or Microsoft. I know of a man who sold all of his investments in 1995 to buy Iomega and only Iomega. He said at the time, “this will be the most valuable company of all time.”

Was he right?

From a technology standpoint, no. I was a techie back then, and I knew that Iomega Zip Drives would have a short life expectancy. Maybe two or three years tops. Rewritable CD-ROMs and massive online storage would soon make the Zip Drive a clunky burden. The Zip Drive would die fast.

But in 1995, everybody knew Iomega was the king. In fact, the Zip Drive remains to this day the number one selling computer peripheral of all time.

Because the mid-90s were the peak of nerd-worship, anyone in the tech business learned what everyone thought about technology. At family gatherings, everybody wanted to talk to me about computers. People wanted to know more, and they saw me as an expert. They also wanted to share with me their knowledge. So I learned what people were thinking.

That’s how I learned that a senior vice president at a very large corporation, a man with an MBA from a school you’ve heard of, took his life savings and bought Iomega.

Well, Motley Fool also bought a lot of IOM in 1995. And the value of their Iomega stock rose 1,500% in the next 13 months.

I ask again, did my acquaintance make the right move on IOM?

To answer the question, you need more information. You also need an understanding of the game theory concept of “common knowledge.” For that, I’ll let genius Ben Hunt of Salient Partners explain:

Your feelings about a stock, as opposed to your feelings about a company, should be completely determined by your beliefs about other investors and their feelings about the stock. In the lingo … your preference functions for stocks qua stocks are entirely exogenously derived and epiphenomenal. There is no rational internally-developed preference for one stock versus another stock, any more than I prefer a $5 chip from Harrah’s to a $5 chip from Caesar’s Palace. The only thing I care about is whether other investors, for whatever reason, will value the Harrah’s chip at $6 tomorrow.

Common knowledge is something everyone knows and everyone knows everyone knows. It’s information on which you can expect other people to act a certain way.

For example, imagine that on a Thursday NOAA and the local weather fearmongers bombard St. Louis with news of the “winter storm of the millennium” scheduled to begin the following Tuesday. You can bet store shelves will be devoid of bread, milk, eggs, and rock salt by midday next Monday. It doesn’t matter whether the prediction is right. What matters is that most people will behave as if it’s right. If you need bread or milk, you better get it on Sunday.

Except . . . other people will also think ahead, so you better beat them by shopping on Saturday. But what if a lot of people also think about shopping on Saturday? So you decide to shop on Friday.

Until . . . you think of all the other people who might be reasoning backward like you are. So, you stop at Schnuck’s on your way home from work Thursday and find bread, milk, and salt already running low. You buy three gallons of milk, three loaves of bread, and 100 pounds of rock salt. The perishables will go bad before you finish them, but that doesn’t matter. You beat both the storms and the common knowledge game. And if worse comes to worst, you can always sell your excess milk and bread to desperate, short-sighted neighbors at a high price.

That’s common knowledge. Again, it doesn’t matter whether the forecast is right. What matters is what everyone else will do in response to the forecast.

Now, back to Dr. Hunt and the old newspaper beauty queen contests:

[The 1930s was] the heyday of the Miss America contest and “bathing beauty” pageants everywhere), less so to us. Here’s how it works.

A newspaper would run a page of photographs of pretty girls, and readers were invited to mail in a ballot with their choice of the prettiest. If you picked the girl who got the most votes, you were entered into a drawing for some sort of prize. Voting for the girl you think is the prettiest is what Keynes would call the first degree of decision-making.

Now it doesn’t take a lot of thought before you realize that choosing the girl who you truly believe is the prettiest is probably not a winning strategy. To win, you need to choose the girl who gets the most votes as the prettiest, and your personal preferences aren’t nearly as useful in that task as figuring out who everyone else is going to vote for as the prettiest. Voting for the girl you anticipate more people will consider to be the prettiest is what Keynes would call the second degree of decision-making.

But there’s a big problem with the second degree. It assumes that everyone else is making a first degree decision, that everyone else is making a choice “on the merits” of the photographs and you’re the only one smart enough to think about the average preference of the group. As a result, you quickly realize that everyone will be thinking exactly like you are, so you need to make a third-degree decision – who will get the most votes when all the voters are basing their votes on who they think will get the most votes? This is the Sentiment game!

Note that this third-level decision probably has nothing to do with the relative or objective prettiness of the girls. If “everyone knows” that the brunette with the biggest smile tends to win, then that’s where you should place your vote regardless of your personal preference or your knowledge of everyone else’s personal preferences. It’s the “everyone knows” component of the contest – regardless of what the contest is fundamentally supposed to be about – that determines voting behavior and contest winners. To get beyond the third degree of decision-making requires a superior identification of whatever it is that “everyone knows”. As Keynes wrote, “We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be. And there are some, I believe, who practice the fourth, fifth and higher degrees.”

Just like shopping for staples before the snow storm, winning these beauty pageant contests required knowing what everyone else knows and anticipating their behavior.

My friend with all the Iomega stock was smart to buy when he did. If he sold near the peak, he was brilliant. If not, he might have lost a lot. Either way, though, he bought Iomega for the wrong reason. He bought Iomega because he loved the company, not because he expected everyone else to buy the stock. He wasn’t playing the common knowledge game. He was playing the corporate strategy game. My guess is he held onto the stock all the way to bottom. Unless he learned about game theory before the crash.

When you’re in a game like stocks, shopping for stables, or geopolitics (and geopolitics is a formal game), common knowledge must determine your moves. And common knowledge means you must behave as if everyone else will behave as if the key information were true even if it’s not.

Which brings us to Michael Savage and the Syrian sarin gas attack.

Dr. Savage has determined that the sarin gas attack was a false flag. Dr. Savage is not alone.

Now, let’s pretend Dr. Savage is right. Let’s just pretend that the sarin gas attack was a false flag. In other words, let’s pretend the Russians were right and there was no gas attack. Instead, anti-Assad forces staged the whole thing.

Remember, this is just make-believe, so don’t assume I’m a false-flagger. And don’t believe I’m not, either. Instead, ask yourself this: should the US response be different if Savage is right?

Your immediate answer will probably be, “Yes, of course.” You will probably tell yourself that, if the sarin attack was a false flag perpetrated by the rebels, then we should punish the rebels instead of Assad. That’s the logical and moral answer.

But is that the game theory answer?

Well, how many people besides Michael Savage and a few others believe the sarin attack was a false flag? Of those people who believe in the false-flag theory, what is their role in the game of geopolitics? Are they heads of state or of government? Do they have armies? Are they in the mass media, broadcasting into billions of brains 24/7?

Dr. Hunt reminds us what’s most important in the common knowledge game:

But the more precise answer is that the role of the Missionary is served by any signal that is propagated widely enough and publicly enough so that everyone thinks that everyone has heard the signal. The important thing is NOT that lots of people actually hear the signal. The important thing is that lots of people believe that lots of people heard the signal. The power source of Common Knowledge is not the crowd seeing an announcement or a press conference. The power source of Common Knowledge is the crowd seeing the crowd seeing an announcement or a press conference. This is why sitcom laugh tracks exist. This is why American Idol is filmed in front of an audience. This is why the Chinese government still bans any media mention of the Tiananmen Square protests more than 20 years after they occurred. The power of a crowd seeing a crowd is one of the most awesome forces in human society. It topples governments. It launches Crusades. It builds cathedrals. And it darn sure moves markets.

Geopolitics is a different game than national or local politics. But it’s still a game like stock markets. Geopolitics influences local politics, and vice versa. But it’s not a direct influence. And it’s imbalanced. Geopolitics has an immediate and ubiquitous effect on local politics, while local politics has a very slow, very gradual, and muted effect on geopolitics. Until those local events reach a tipping point.

WWII was a geopolitical event that affected the local politics of just about every country in the world. But WWII resulted from local political developments over the previous 30 years. It took a long time for local events in Germany and Japan to hit the world stage. And those local events in two countries had little influence on local politics in the USA. Until December 7, 1941, of course. Then everything changed.

Just as we stipulated that Savage was right about the false flag, let’s stipulate that all of the players in the geopolitical game will behave as if Savage was wrong. They might all know he’s right, but they also know that all the other players will behave as if he’s wrong. Like the beauty contest players, picking the prettiest girl isn’t the game. Picking the girl who will get the most votes is the game.

In Syria, the crowd saw the crowd seeing Bashar al-Assad gas babies, little babies. And that’s all that matters.

The US response, then, must be appropriate to a game in which all the other players will behave as if Assad gassed his own people. Who actually did it, if it was done at all, matters morally but not strategically.

If this story leaves you feeling dissatisfied. I’ll give you a thought experiment. What would happen if Trump had acted as if the Savage was right? How might that game unfold?

You may have your say in the comments below.

P.S. Even if you’re not interested in stocks, markets, and investments, Ben Hunt’s Epsilon Theory is a must-read site for anyone who likes to learn and think.

 

What Do I Mean By “Narrative”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“I don’t agree.”

Some folks disagreed with my instant assessment of the Syrian strike. My assessment: Trump’s surprise military attack will shift four narratives in Trump’s favor:

  • Trump is Hitler: dead
  • Trump is a Russian agent: dead
  • Trump is incompetent: dying
  • Trump is a lightweight among world leaders: dead

In other words, it took 59 cruise missiles to blow up the left’s anti-Trump narratives.

But my friends disagree. That’s okay. I don’t hang around with “yes” people.

Still, I figured I should at least explain what I mean by “narrative.”

Narrative, in this context, is the story we tell ourselves. It’s not the stories we are told. And the narratives develop from information that reaches the brain, often without awareness. (See the video below to learn just open you are to suggestion.)

Check this out first.

Right now, I am sitting in a cafe. One end of this cafe is huge atrium with glass on three sides and above your head. Looking out through the glass I see blooming trees. Those budding leaves are laboring to blot out the bright blue sky beyond. Those leaves want all that sunlight to themselves.

That’s the narrative in my head about what I see outside. Thirty or so other people can see the same world beyond that atrium. But I am pretty confident no one else sees the leaves conspiring to block my view of the sky (what color is the sky?). Each person has a slightly different narrative about those leaves.

If I were to stand up and announce my narrative, some people would adopt it as-is.

But most of those people would, instead, become aware of the view beyond the atrium. Their minds would conjure up a story about that they see. Their stories would be influenced by my bizarre outburst. They would not simply adopt my narrative. They would form their own narratives under my influence. And their narratives would influence everything they see through the atrium’s glass.

Until something else happens—some new influence—alters that narrative.

Now, back to the Syrian air strike.

Here you are reading my blog. You pay more attention to politics than most people do. You are more informed than many people, don’t you agree?

So think about the people who pay only slight attention to politics and world events. How do they fill their days? How do their brains craft narratives about the world?

Those people’s narratives form just like the people in the cafe looking out the atrium. Their brains pick up bits and pieces of someone else’s narrative to form their own.

CNN is on everywhere. In airports, restaurants, doctors offices, and even in this cafe where I’m writing. For months, those people have picked up narratives about “Hitler,” “Russia,” “clown,” and “isolationist.” Even without people knowing it, they’d formed a narrative in their own minds about President Trump. However they voted, if they voted at all, those narratives were influenced by CNN’s words. That’s simply how the brain works.

And those narratives got stronger and stronger every day. Until something caused people to re-evaluate their won private narratives. Something big enough, emotional enough, to make people pay attention for a moment.

Dying babies—babies!—gets their attention. Now, they’re listening.

And this is what they’re hearing:

“No child of God should ever suffer such horrors.”

“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies! — little babies, … that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines.”

“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike . . . “

These are the words of President Trump. Trump’s biggest enemies—the people who have helped shape those scary narratives—repeat these words. They repeat Trump’s humanitarian, decisive words again and again. That’s high information density combined with high emotional intensity. The recipe for narrative change.

Imagine sitting in this atrium with your narrative about the trees. You’re not aware of that narrative. It’s deep inside your brain. You only recall it when you need it for some reason. As you sip your coffee, you don’t need your narrative. Then . . .

CRASH! A tree branch the length of a telephone pole crashes through the atrium.

The danger alerts your attention. Your brain pulls that old narrative out of cold storage. Then your brain updates that narrative. The shattering glass is new information. Whatever your old narrative might have been, it’s different now, guaranteed. It’s a different narrative now.

When President Trump crashed Assad’s slaughter party with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, he shattered a lot of atriums. Today, people are writing new narratives. And most of those new narratives involve a bold and decisive leader who can’t stand seeing babies slaughtered.

Everything has changed.

Now for that video I promised.

 

BACKFIRE: Psychological Tricks Used to Advance Russian Conspiracy Theory

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Newspapers lie. And by “newspapers,” I mean the whole mainstream media.

Yesterday I told you how Donald Trump punked the media by pulling a Crazy Ivan maneuver. A critic on Twitter thinks I’m lying. He thinks I’m lying because he read a news article. He read it in the New York Times.

This Twitter critic thinks it’s okay for the New York Times to lie (“Wiretapped Data Used In Inquiry of Trump Aides”), as long as they only lie in their headlines. If the body of the story contradicts the lie, then my Twitter critic says all’s well. A lot of people probably agree with him. People know that headlines are written to pull people in. To pull people in, sometimes you have to stretch the truth. Sometimes you have to stretch the truth until it snaps like a snow pea.

My Twitter critic is unusual. An odd duck. He reads news stories. Sometimes he reads them twice. But 60 percent to 80 percent of people read only the headline.

People can easily remember snappy headlines because they’re repeatable. And people repeat what they remember. Especially if it’s sensational and snappy.

When the New York Times wrote its sensational, snappy “wiretapped data” headline, it hoped to plant a snappy thought in millions of minds. A thought that people would find themselves repeating to others throughout the day. Which day? Inauguration Day.

Psychologically, the New  York Times did a great job. People are still repeating that January 19th headline. Even Donald Trump.

So maybe the story under that snappy headline cast doubt on the headline’s assertion. I don’t know. I didn’t read it. I didn’t read the article because I don’t want to give the New York Times a click count. Screw them. Besides, that headline told me everything I needed to know: Obama wiretapped Trump’s people.

Like the vast majority of people, I read the headline and remembered it. There’s an 80 percent chance you read only that headline, too. Most of us are not like my Twitter critic.

Since most people read only the headline, most people believe that Trump’s aides were questioned based on information obtained through secret wiretaps. Which is exactly what Trump said in his Twitter storm last Saturday. He said that Obama wiretapped his people. His source was the New York Times.

Maybe that New York Times headline was a lie. Maybe not. If it was a lie, then the whole Russian conspiracy theory was a lie. Can you fault President Trump for believing the newspaper of record?

But if that headline was accurate, if Obama really did wiretap Trump’s people, then Obama re-enacted Watergate and should be in jail.

And it all happened because the media used psychological tricks to convince people that the government wiretapped Trump’s people.

There’s no third avenue here since no one is required to read the whole story. No one.

 

How ObamaCare Benefits from the Scarcity Heuristic

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Concorde was a supersonic passenger plane. It shuttled people between New York and Paris very quickly.

When commercial Concorde flights began in 1976, the novelty and excitement of flying at twice the speed of sound led people to line up to take the flights. But after 27 years and several safety mishaps, the Concorde’s popularity waned. Flights were often less than half full, so British Airways, the operator, was losing money. Bigly.

In 2002, the company that operated the service announced the Concorde’s last flight would be in 2003.

Every flight sold out immediately. The impending death of the Concorde made the flight more popular than ever. Why?

There’s no rational explanation for this surge in popularity. If you didn’t need to get to Paris in an hour before the announcement, you didn’t need to after the announcement.

So why did the failing jet service become popular?

It’s called the scarcity heuristic. People value things that are rare, hard to get, or about to expire. My persuasion hero, Robert Cialdini, names scarcity as one of just six principles of persuasion. According to Behavioral Economics:

When an object or resource is less readily available (e.g, due to limited quantity or time), we tend to perceive it as more valuable (Cialdini, 2008). Scarcity appeals are often used in marketing to induce purchases. An experiment (Lee & Seidle, 2012) that used wristwatch advertisements as stimuli exposed participants to one of two different product descriptions “Exclusive limited edition. Hurry, limited stocks” or “New edition. Many items in stock”. They then had to indicate how much they would be willing to pay for the product. The average consumer was willing to pay an additional 50% if the watch was advertised as scarce.

We’re seeing the scarcity heuristic benefit Obamacare’s popularity right now. Fox News reports that support for Obamacare is surging just as Republicans prepare to kill it:

According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, there is an even split betweenregistered voters who support the law and those who oppose it. Currently, 45 percent approve of the legislation compared to a poll back in January—before President Trump took office—that showed 41 percent of voters approved of the bill.

This surge in popularity frightens a lot of our weak Republican members of Congress. It shouldn’t.

The only reason for the surge is scarcity. Were President Trump and Paul Ryan to announce that they’re leaving Obamacare alone, support for the program would wane because people don’t value what’s abundant.

Urge your lawmakers to ignore the scarcity-driven polls and kill Obamacare because it’s the right thing to do.

Trump’s Landslide Tipping Point Is Breathing Down Your Neck

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We’re getting close, folks. So close you can feel it. Close your eyes and feel the soft, warm breath on the back of your neck. (Now open your eyes and continue reading. You’re such a good reader.)

As you watch the polls shift rapidly toward Trump, you might wonder what’s happening. What’s happening is completely natural, but it’s not normal. Elections don’t usually go this way.  And two psychological phenomena are working to deliver the Trump landslide I predicted long ago.

Hillary’s Self-Doubt Phenomenon

The 2016 election is more like sports than any other election in my lifetime. In fact, it’s a lot like the 1964 National League pennant race. Think of Trump as the St. Louis Cardinals and Hillary as the Philadelphia Phillies. (Where was the DNC convention this year?)

In sports, losing and winning both produce psychological changes. I’m not talking about the hot hand fallacy. I’m talking about subconscious expectations, the same things that cause people to sabotage themselves. The voice in the back of your head that says, “you’re not good enough” and “here we go again.”

You can see this happening to Hillary every day. She wrote off 27 percent of Americans as “irredeemable” and “deplorable.” She hid her major health problems. She lied. She said “bombing” then said Trump shouldn’t say “bombing.”

Just as she lost the primary in 2008, she’s losing the election in 2016. Her mind is whispering “you can’t win” and “here you go again,” and she’s listening.

That’s the first step. The second though is more intriguing, and you’ll now begin to see it develop before your eyes like a post-hypnotic suggestion.

Trump’s Tipping Point of Support

In many circles, it’s been unpopular to admit support for Trump. In the spring, I literally watched a man go from bashing Trump to praising him the moment the two people he was talking to admitted “we’re both for Trump.” Let’s call him Mike.

Mike’s eyes popped open and he said, “Oh, so we’re safe here.” It was as if a runaway slave realized he’d wandered into a meeting of local underground railroad conductors. While the polls were showing Trump down, guys like Mike kept their true opinions about Trump to themselves. They felt alone and “different.”

Now that the Mikes of the world know that many, many people just like them support Trump, they’re free to say “I support Trump.” It’s happening everywhere.

And the more people who hear someone say “I support Trump,” the more people support Trump. It’s called a “preference cascade,” and it’s picking up steam.

Deeper Than Preference Falsification

The formal name of the Bradley Effect is preference falsification. Named for the black former mayor of Los Angeles, the Bradly Effect means people tell pollsters they plan to vote for the politically correct candidate, but they actually vote for the other guy. Falsification skews polls.

While that’s happening in the presidential race, it’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about actual human behavior. I’m talking about people who’ve secretly supported Trump and are now flooding out of the closet and the effect they have on undecided voters or soft supporters.

It’s Social Proof

This flood of people admitting they support Trump influences the people around them. It’s called social proof. It means that, when in doubt, most people do what they see people around them doing.

Say you softly support Hillary because your family and friends might beat you up if you supported Trump. You don’t really like Hillary, but you feel safer saying you do. And you plan to vote for Hillary because . . . you don’t want to be a liar.

Then one day, a woman you work pulls into the parking lot with a Trump sticker on her car. “If Madelaine can say she supports Trump, maybe I should take another look,” you think.

Pretty soon, you put a Trump sticker on your car. And you work up the courage to come out to your family and friends. When you’re all sitting around talking about the election, you might find yourself saying, “I’m for Trump.” Chances are you won’t be alone. Someone else in your conversation circle will admit “I’m for Trump, too.”

That’s how preference cascades work. They are influenced by polls and they influence polls. But they’re really about the way we influence each other.

It’ll take some time for this work out, but expect to see a tipping point in the polls very soon. The tipping will come when the RCP average of states shows Trump is expected to win 270 electoral votes—enough to capture the election. At that point, people will move so fast to the Trump column it will make your head spin.

The RCP magic could happen in a week or two after the first debate on September 26. It takes time for the RCP average to work out the old polling data from weeks or months ago. But it’s going to happen, and when it does something amazing will happen.

The question is how the media will portray it. Will they talk about Trump’s magnificent rally or about Hillary’s historical collapse?