Trump Derangement Syndrome and the Crumbling Media (Scott Adams Pt. 2)

Scott Adams (Creator of Dilbert) joins Dave to discuss the trend of ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome,’ the crumbling mainstream media, the Trump/Russia controversy, his predictions for future candidates and the future of Trump, and more.

7:07

Just this week there was this idiotic thing with Trump in Japan, dumping out his food in the fish pond.

What they don’t show you is the moment before the Japanese Prime Minister did the same thing.

(10 min) I don’t think media can make money in the middle of the political spectrum

Trump’s opponents might see sense if Trump does something useful with:

  • North Korea
  • Health Care

As long as Trump stays provocative in the same way, people will get used to it.

(18 min) Scott Adams: Russia is a weird relationship – frenemies, but we have deep connections.  Why wouldn’t be talking to them?  What are we going to do: depose Trump and Pence, put in Paul Ryan.  This would be an act of war.  Are we going to nuke Russia?

If Obama knew that Trump was a Russian spy, they would be out on the street yelling about it.

Why would it be illegal to get true information?

(22 min) If you were to ask someone on the street to sort out the Russian thing it would be a jumble.

Persuasion Democrats with Charisma:

  • George Clooney
  • Mark Cuban
  • Van Jones

All Politicians are celebrities, we’re going to live in a world where facts don’t matter.

Even if you’re pro-Trump, you know that the fact-checkers aren’t wrong all the time, but you like the way that he is persuading in the right way

  • Health Care
  • Growth = 4%

If he is successful, you might go out on top and Anoint his successor and keep the brand clean.

Weighing the Good and the Bad in the Spending-Caps Deal

Republicans dislike “increased domestic spending” in general, but once you see the specifics, you understand why Republican leaders signed off on it: $80 billion in disaster relief funding, $6 billion toward opioid and mental health treatment, $4 billion to the Veterans Administration to rebuild and improve veterans hospitals and clinics, $2 billion toward research at the National Institutes of Health.

.. It was always a stretch to claim that Republicans had “basically repealed Obamacare” just by repealing the individual mandate. But getting rid of the individual mandate and the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board? Now we’re getting somewhere. The IPAB was created under Obamacare and given the duty to slow the growth of Medicare spending, but no board members were ever nominated. But as written under the law, IPAB would have enjoyed a lot of power over what Medicare was willing to pay for and how much, with little opportunity for Congress to overrule their decisions. This deal gets rid of IPAB for good.

.. An abusive person will often become a lot calmer when confronted with an authority figure they cannot abuse, such as a cop at the door. Abusive people can usually recognize the difference between the consequences of hitting a partner or spouse in public — where someone may see and confront them or call the cops — and doing so in private, and thus they keep those impulses in check in public. This is, in fact, one of the traits that can emotionally and psychologically trap the victim; the victim finds herself baffled and wondering, “he’s so nice and normal sometimes, so what am I doing that’s setting him off?”

.. Abusive people are generally pretty good at measuring what they can get away with in a given circumstance. They want to indulge their impulses right up to the point where it generates a permanent consequence. For example, if the abuser picks up a knife and begins chasing his partner around the house pledging to stab the partner, the partner is almost always going to flee and end the relationship, and/or file a restraining order.

.. restraining orders usually only work on the kind of people who don’t require restraining orders.) A man who is violently angry on the first date is not going to get a second date.

.. The creepy guy who hangs around a playground and stares at the children is going to get reported and caught pretty quickly. The creepy guy who works his way into a position of trusted authority, and who manages to seem kind, caring, and all of those other good traits around other adults, can pursue prey at will for a long time, because accusations of abuse will seem so unthinkable to other adults.

.. Many people have a hard time rectifying the two, and we should have a bit of sympathy for the friends and co-workers experiencing that cognitive dissonance upon learning of a person’s private sins.

The Many Faces of Ben Shapiro

The conservative firebrand has built a massive young audience by bashing liberals and standing up to Trump. Whose side is he really on?

.. When Fields complained, Lewandowski said Fields was “delusional” and denied the incident had occurred.
.. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks suggested Fields was just angling to get attention. Despite a Washington Post writer’s eyewitness account corroborating Fields (and, later, video evidence), the editors at Breitbart opted to accept the Trump team’s brazenly false version of events over the word of their own reporter.
.. “In my opinion, Steve Bannon is a bully,” he said in a statement at the time, explaining his resignation from Breitbart, “and has sold out Andrew’s mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump; he has shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda.”
.. Fields got little support from other right-wingers. “When the whole ordeal happened, Breitbart immediately threw me under a bus,” she told me. “Close colleagues abandoned me. Fox took me off the air. People didn’t want to alienate Trump. I was in this storm and Ben reached out to me and said he wanted to jump into the storm with me. He knew it would hurt him with his base, with people that liked him.”
.. Shapiro was the direct target of at least 7,400 anti-Semitic tweets.
..  alt-righters had gotten around to doxing his sister, who is an opera singer, and were spamming her YouTube clips with anti-Semitic messages.
.. During the campaign, a bunch of talk-radio people were treating the alt-right as just another legitimate member of the Republican coalition,” says Goldberg, who was the sixth–most targeted journalist on that ADL list. “A lot of the GOP establishment and the cable news establishment said, ‘These guys are a social media force. Aren’t they interesting.’ But people like Ben knew that anyone forming an alliance of convenience with those guys wasn’t someone you wanted anything to do with.”
.. “My dad came into the room where the kids who’d done this to me were,” Shapiro told me, “and the rabbi started talking, and my dad said, ‘Shut up.’ And then he said to the kids, ‘I have a ball-peen hammer in the back of my car and I will take it to you if you ever touch my son again.’ He did not actually have a ball-peen hammer in his car. That’s a pretty indicative story of who my dad is.
.. Here we find a different formative lesson: Posturing with bared teeth will cow your foes into submission. In Shapiro’s lowest moments as a pundit, he is victim turned aggressor. Quick to mock, devoid of empathy, obnoxiously cocky.
.. Shapiro has also claimed “There is no evidence of systemic discrimination against minorities” by police departments and maintains that President Obama purposefully “divided Americans by race.”
.. Should there arise a constitutional crisis in which this president attempts to roll his tanks (metaphorical or otherwise) over the ramparts of American democracy, I will be relying on influential right-wing figures like Ben Shapiro to help America hold the line.
.. Shapiro was weighing in on George H.W. Bush’s nonconsensual butt-cupping habit. (He declared Poppy’s behavior indefensible unless the 93-year-old was “deep in the throes of dementia.”)
.. The Ben Shapiro Show, which launched in September 2015, now generally gets between 250,000–350,000 downloads per day on SoundCloud
.. A video version of the show—just a couple of cameras pointed at Shapiro’s face as he monologues—attracts an additional 250,000–350,000 views per day on YouTube.
.. on Facebook Live, where it will regularly get another half-million views, sometimes even 1 million.
.. Shapiro had more Facebook engagements (likes, shares, and comments) in December than any other conservative site or personality except for Fox News and Breitbart.
.. Shapiro’s Facebook page spurred 2.5 times more engagement than the Daily Caller’s, 6 times more than Sean Hannity’s, and 11.5 times more than Laura Ingraham’s. On Dec. 1, 2016, Shapiro’s page had 444,378 likes. Now it has 3.2 million.

.. Shapiro is the new Rush Limbaugh.

..  think talk radio is largely 60 and over. My podcast is almost entirely 40 and younger.

.. Shapiro’s climb into the right-wing media pantheon is partly thanks to his deftness at poking holes in the left-wing dogma of the day

.. he speaks a different sort of conservative language. He’s handy with Twitter memes and pop culture references. He connects with a younger online audience in a way that a baby boomer host like Limbaugh, or Sean Hannity, can’

.. the character he plays on air—feels new.

.. He often strives to acknowledge and address the strongest arguments of those he disagrees with.

..  He is the anti-Limbaugh in his personal life: physically fit, happily married, a devoted father.

.. He’s also willing to condemn hypocrisies on his own side, which is a quality rare in pundits of any stripe.

.. In a podcast segment about Trump’s feud with NFL players who knelt in protest during the national anthem, Shapiro beseeched his audience to “take off your partisan hats.” He then asked them to imagine a player kneeling to protest Roe v. Wade—and to imagine their horror if President Obama petulantly demanded the player be fired.

..  “Hannity, Rush, and Laura Ingraham, who I’ve listened to a lot, are a closed loop. They don’t consider contrary evidence. Ben does.

 I can focus on the fact that I disagree with how Ben weighs the evidence, but I get the sense that he is at least acknowledging the evidence.”

.. He went straight to Harvard Law, thinking he’d make lots of money as a lawyer, and graduated cum laude

.. My entire mode is speed, and the mode of a corporate law firm is to be slow and bill more hours.

.. Ben Shapiro, and not without reason. For example: Shapiro didn’t resign from Breitbart, despite ample evidence of its monstrous racism, until the victim of Breitbart’s thuggishness was a white female colleague in peril. And while Shapiro is no Milo, he has also said some vile things.

.. the Daily Wire posted an animated video mocking the Native Americans who Christopher Columbus encountered when he landed in the West. The video portrayed Native Americans as savage cannibals and then displayed a ledger comparing their putative contributions to the culture of the Western Hemisphere with those of post-Columbus Europeans. The Native American column listed only three contributions: “dreamcatchers,” “tomahawks,” and “cannibalism.” On the Western culture side of the ledger were contributions such as “science,” “underwear,” and “not-scalping.”

.. How much of it was saying Native Americans are inherently inferior, and how much of it was that Native American culture was inferior to Western culture, which is a contention with which I generally agree. I am somebody who says Western civilization is the best civilization by nature.

.. He then offered me an analogy that he felt elucidated the choice gay people have: “For example, I may have a desire to sleep with many women, but I do not.”

.. I almost always disagree with his rants, yet I find them fascinating. He often constructs well-crafted arguments that flow from first principles I deem wackadoo. This helps me understand conservative thinking even if it rarely changes my mind.

.. When it really hits the fan, will he go Trump? In a time of crisis, where will this shepherd of millennial conservatives lead his flock?

.. Shapiro insists that if autocracy encroaches, he’ll be manning the barricades. But he distinguishes Trump’s bluster from his actions. “Trump is a hammer. Sometimes he hits a nail and sometimes he hits a baby,” he told me. “The big problem I see on the right is the unwillingness to say when he hit a baby. We just pretend the baby was a nail. When he said he wanted to start looking at removing the licenses from NBC, I said, ‘This is insane. This is nuts.’ if Trump were to start shutting down press outlets, I would stand outside NBC. But aside from saying that the comment is nuts and that we have to oppose it, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. Because he hasn’t actually proposed a policy.”

.. David Frum has described this stratagem, popular among Trump-phobic conservatives desperately trying to thread the needle with their pro-Trump comrades, as:

  1. “Hope for the best.
  2. Make excuses where you can.
  3. When you can’t make an excuse, keep as quiet as you can.
  4. Attack Trump’s critics in the media and Hollywood when all else fails.”

.. Lately, Trump has been doing things Shapiro likes very much. In the last weeks of 2017, as Trump began to get traction on some policy goals Shapiro favors (tax cuts and, especially, moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem), Shapiro’s criticisms of the president seemed to soften.

Trump’s split with Steve Bannon delighted Shapiro

.. one of Shapiro’s recent columns for the National Review argued that Trump is merely the “salt” in conservatism’s “stew.” Too much salt ruins a stew, Shapiro concedes, but “the occasional dash adds necessary flavor.”

.. “I don’t think he’s the world’s most stable guy. I don’t think he has the character of a president that I would prefer. But I will enjoy the policy wins that he’s brought. And I can live with that cognitive dissonance. Everyone else should learn to, too.”

Crony Beliefs

BELIEFS AS EMPLOYEES

By way of analogy, let’s consider how beliefs in the brain are like employees at a company. This isn’t a perfect analogy, but it’ll get us 70% of the way there.[1]

Employees are hired because they have a job to do, i.e., to help the company accomplish its goals. But employees don’t come for free: they have to earn their keep by being useful. So if an employee does his job well, he’ll be kept around, whereas if he does it poorly — or makes other kinds of trouble, like friction with his coworkers — he’ll have to be let go.

.. If a belief performs poorly — by inaccurately modeling the world, say, and thereby leading us astray — then it needs to be let go.

.. If you’ve ever wanted to believe something, ask yourself where that desire comes from. Hint: it’s not the desire simply to believe what’s true.

In short: Just as money can pervert scientific research, so everyday social incentives have the potential to distort our beliefs.

.. I contend that social incentives are the root of all our biggest thinking errors.

.. A meritocracy experiences no anguish in letting go of a misbelief and adopting a better one, even its opposite. In fact, it’s a pleasure.

.. Going further, crony beliefs actually need to be protected from criticism. It’s not that they’re necessarily false, just that they’re more likely to be false — but either way, they’re unlikely to withstand serious criticism. Thus we should expect our brains to take an overall protective or defensive stance toward our crony beliefs.

.. crony beliefs will typically provide more social value the more confident we seem in them. (If Acme hires the mayor’s nephew, but seems constantly on the verge of firing him, the mayor isn’t going to be happy.)

.. But perhaps the biggest hallmark of epistemic cronyism is exhibiting strong emotions, as when we feel proud of a belief, anguish over changing our minds, or anger at being challenged or criticized.

.. The better — but much more difficult — solution is to attack epistemic cronyism at the root, i.e., in the way others judge us for our beliefs. If we could arrange for our peers to judge us solely for the accuracy of our beliefs, then we’d have no incentive to believe anything but the truth.

.. The beauty of Less Wrong, then, is that it’s not just a textbook: it’s a community. A group of people who have agreed, either tacitly or explicitly, to judge each other for the accuracy of their beliefs — or at least for behaving in ways that correlate with accuracy. And so it’s the norms of the community that incentivize us to think and communicate as rationally as we do.

.. Earlier I argued that other people are the cause of all our epistemic problems. Now I find myself arguing that they’re also our best solution.