Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Ayn Rand as Word-Thinker and Persuader

Scott Adams, the creator of "Dilbert," has recently gained a bit of notoriety for claiming that there is a method behind all the Donald Trump madness. Trump, Adams insists, will probably win the Presidential election "in a landslide" because The Donald is a "master persuader." As bewildering and counter-intuitive as this assertion may seem at first blush, Adam's claims are, at least in part, based on a scientific understanding of human nature. That doesn't mean, of course, that Adams is right about Trump. He may be guilty of reading into Trump what isn't there. But Adams' view of human nature, nonetheless, remains largely sound. And for this reason, it might be illustrative to view Ayn Rand through the lens of Adam's own views on human nature and persuasion.
In a blog post, Adam's defined his view as follows:

When you are trained in the ways of persuasion, you start seeing three types of people in the world. I’ll call them Rational People, Word-Thinkers, and Persuaders. Their qualities look like this:

Rational People: Use data and reason to arrive at truth. (This group is mostly imaginary.)

Word-Thinkers: Use labels, word definitions, and analogies to create the illusion of rational thinking. This group is 99% of the world.

Persuaders: Use simplicity, repetition, emotion, habit, aspirations, visual communication, and other tools of persuasion to program other people and themselves. This group is about 1% of the population and effectively control the word-thinkers of the world.

If you’re a trained scientist, engineer, or other technical person, you might use data and reason sometimes, especially while others are watching and checking your work. But off-duty – and when it comes to anything important – we’re all irrational creatures who believe we are rational. At least that’s how trained persuaders see the world.

You can easily spot word-thinkers when they talk about politics. Their go-to strategy involves identifying enemies and fitting them into whatever category matches their biases and cognitive dissonance. Look for this form:

Examples: Person X is liberal, or not

Person X is a conservative, or not

Person X is an insider, or not

Person X is a racist, or not

Persuaders know that most people are word-thinkers, so a big part of political persuasion involves defining people to be in or out of a certain category. This creates a substitute for thinking that the public likes. It makes them feel as if they used data and reason to form opinions. 

Social psychology pretty much confirms most of what Adam's is asserting (see Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind). When it comes to thinking about abstract matters (such as politics), people tend to be "irrational creatures" governed by sentiments and other emotional biases and proclivities (many of them colored by innate predispositions). However, people in civilized societies like to put a logical veneer on their irrational sentiments, so they make use of labels and word definitions to convince themselves that their opinions are based on "reason" and evidence rather than on deep-seated emotional inclinations.

Rand was very much aware that individuals allowed their political inclinations to be determined by emotion, and she often railed against such emotionalism. "Emotions are not tools of cognition!" she would insist. Rand thought of herself as one of Adam's "Rational People." In her writings, she would frequently praise "reason" and rationality, while denouncing the horrors of the irrational and the mystical. Nonetheless, Rand's belief in rationality (particularly her own rationality) is largely illusory. The category she fits in -- and fits in quite comfortably -- is that of Word-Thinker. Her epistemology, with its emphasis on concepts (i.e., meanings ) and definitions (which she claimed, in defiance of all evidence, could be true or false), constitutes a perfectly rationalized version of the Word-Thinker creed. So much of her philosophy involves labeling views she didn't like, often accompanied with shoddy and ill-informed rationalizations. Rand is a Word-Thinker with a vengeance wrapped in a pretense of rationality.

Rand sought to be a Persuader as well, but because she did not experience the same kind of emotions that most normal people experience, and because she was not rational (and, even worse, clueless about human nature), she was very bad at persuasion. Given the intensity of her following, this might seem anomalous, if not blatantly untrue. However, it must be kept in mind that the number of people whom Rand persuaded is, relatively speaking, very very small. She appeals mostly to be people who are emotional outsiders like herself. But a Persuader must reach more than a handful of fierce acolytes. Donald Trump persuaded enough people to get himself the Republican nomination for President. Rand, with her miserable persuasion shtick, would have trouble persuading enough people to get her elected dog-catcher.

Rand's attempts at persuasion, if judged from Adam's point of view, are really quite dreadful. Her categories are too jargonistic. They're based on pseudo-philosophical categories that don't resonate with anyone outside of the narrow confines of Objectivism. A glance at some of the insult-words she used to pigeonhole her enemies will show how useless they are as instruments of persuasion: anti-conceptual mentality, concrete-bound, social-metaphysician, second-hander, moocher, altruist, appeaser, pragmatist, collectivist, socialist, fascist, Attila, Witch Doctor, mystic, mystics of muscle, mystics of spirit, Byronic, non-entity.

As instruments of persuasion, most of these laughable. Imagine calling someone a social metaphysician in a debate! No one but a few Rand acolytes would know what on earth you were talking about. The only half-way decent insult-category in that list might be "moocher." The mere sound of the term conjures up something low and disagreeable. However, the class of people this term is designated to describe constitutes, at least in part (and probably in large part), those who are considerably less well off than the majority. In a society dominated by egalitarian and humanitarian sentiments, it's just not very effective to target such people. And this can readily be illustrated by examing how easy it is to deflect such targets. President Obama easily deflected the moocher charge (in terms of emotional persuasion) when he said, "And then you’ve got cold-hearted, free market, capitalist types who are reading Ayn Rand and think everybody are moochers." Of course, Objectivists will complain that Rand never said "everybody," and that, therefore, Obama is wrong. But Obama is speaking rather loosely: he doesn't literally mean "everybody," and so complaining about the term "everybody" means you're trying to score points on the grounds of a pedantic technicality, which tends to alienate people, as pedantry is generally frowned upon.

"Non-entity" was one of Rand's favorite terms of abuse; but as a category of emotional persuasion, it simply won't do. A term like "fascist" has become sort of cliche: it's overuse has greatly lessened its resonance. The same could be said, though on a smaller scale, of such terms like "appeaser," "collectivist," "socialist." "Altruist" and "mystic" are generally seen as positive or neutral terms, not necessarily as negative.

Perhaps the least effective term in the list (other than the jargonistic terms hardly anyone understands) is pragmatist. If you're an Objectivist, it's an insult to be called a pragmatist. For some people outside of Objectivism, it's possible that the term conjures up lack of principles or even machiavellianism; but for the majority of people, especially in an age when partisanship is increasingly seen as a liability, pragmatism conjures up someone who is results-orientated and doesn't allow artificial principles to take sway over the demands of reality.

Pragmatism is, curiously, a term Objectivists seek to apply to Donald Trump. As Yaron Brook inveighed:

He is a pragmatist. He is a philosophical, unequivocal, pragmatist. And as a consequence he will fold as president, he will fold. He will not get anything done.... Donald Trump is the ultimate in being a pragmatist.

As an attempt to persuade people by using labels, this is really very ineffective stuff. To many non-objectivists, chastizing Trump for pragmatism and claiming this pragmatism will cause Trump to "fold" and "not get anything done" doesn't make any sense. When people are confronted by claims that don't make sense (on an emotional level), their gut reaction is to think: these are crazy people. Given that the common perception in the world at large of Ayn Rand and her beliefs is that they are outside the mainstream (and hence perhaps "crazy" or "unbalanced" in some way), if you are trying to spread Objectivism, you want to do everything you can to avoid reinforcing this common perception.

I realize that Objectivism has it's own narrative about pragmatism which seems to support the charge against Trump. But if the claim does not have emotional resonance with the non-Objectivists you're trying to persuade, then it's counter-productive to make it. Even worse are those Objectivists who think that the claim is fine as long you try to explain it. But if you have to explain it, you've already lost.

240 comments:

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Anonymous 2:30 said...

"It's your "step 4" above that I haven't ever suggested and wouldn't suggest,"

A: You've left out how this makes the GOP vote in any way they otherwise would not have. You've left out point 3. Even if we concede to all the things that you've just detailed, you still continue to avoid dealing with that one nagging detail, which has been asked from the beginning.

U: Sorry, I guess I gave you too much credit. I thought you understood that in a political race, as well as any other type of mass marketing, name recognition is a critical and often deciding factor.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_recognition

Also U: You asked for a theory that worked, I gave you one, and now you give me the old "that's the best you can do?" Trying to raise the goalposts, as predicted.

No. that's what you asked for. That's what I gave you.

-----

That's what you gave me, and would have rested on had I not pressed the issue. Seems pretty suggestive to me.

In any case, it's more shifting of the goalposts on your part, since all subsequent mention of your version of the "working hypothesis" comes after I pretty much concede you've provided a working (if just barely) hypothesis. You're essentially trying to steer things back to a question that has already been settled. I've moved on to something along the lines of: Now how do we know this is actually what happened? Faced with an inability to provide any evidence that it did, we're now at "well, dropping a Wiki article and some condescending comments IN NO WAY means I was trying to imply that was the mechanism at work, of course not!"

Which is why this can't be a serious conversation any more. You're arguing for things I've either already agreed to or suggested. If these were in fact your opinions all along, then there isn't anything meaningful to discuss any more. If not, then there's some kind of intellectual dishonesty at work on your part.

ungtss said...

Anon, you asked me for a working theory of how that could have worked, not proof that it actually did. I gave you exactly what you asked for -- a working theory of how it worked. That's not proof that it did work, or how significant an impact it had. Those are two different things.

Anonymous 2:30 said...

"Anon, you asked me for a working theory of how that could have worked, not proof that it actually did."

On the 30th:


A: Your theory "works" only if you assume certain things happened in certain ways. Note all the times I have voiced my doubt about what you've said about various parts of your chain, but let them slide for the sake of argument. Those concerns didn't go away, and you don't really address them, but, in the interests of getting you to actually come up with something that doesn't stop halfway through, I didn't press them.

In other words, the goalpost of "How is this supposed to work" has not shifted. But if you're aiming for "convince me that this is true", that's a whole different game, and you'd have to do better than you have so far.

U: I've satisfied the only standard of proof you've offered. If you want me to satisfy another one, offer it and justify it.

A: (after declaring "beyond reasonable doubt") Now, I can almost hear the keyboard clicking as you rush in to say, "but wait! Justify that standard to me! Why should I?"

1) This is your assertion, that the DNC chose Trump. It's your burden to prove.
2) You have not expressed one iota of doubt in saying it, and have not backed down from this assumption at all. You appear to have not even a reasonable doubt, so therefore you either have good evidence beyond such reasonable doubt (unlikely) or your own standards for accepting that assertion as fact are weak and shaky.
3) Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

-------------

So if anyone was paying attention, I have at this point conceded that it is POSSIBLE for the hypothesis to work, but not likely, and I'va stated that I don't believe that it is true, or at least that it was a significant enough factor to justify the statement that the DNC chose Trump. That's when the WJC/Trump conversation was brought up, which does nothing to further the likelihood of the GOP being influenced. Again, bringing up "working hypothesis" is trying to re-litigate a settled issue. Again, we're looking at inattention or deliberate evasion.

If you need it stated more definitively than that, I'll do it now so that there can be no question: You have a working hypothesis, but it is improbable. As of yet you have provided no evidence beyond your own conjecture that this hypothesis has had any meaningful impact on the outcome of the GOP primaries. If you want to convince me of the veracity of this hypothesis, you would have to support this hypothesis with the aforementioned better evidence. If you don't care about convincing me, then there's no further need for discussion, but you can't pretend that any of this hasn't been brought up days ago.

ungtss said...

"1) This is your assertion, that the DNC chose Trump. It's your burden to prove."

i'm not sure how many times we need to go around on this. "Choosing Trump" and "actually changing the primary outcome" are two different things. choosing means you select somebody you want and you push for them. actually affecting the outcome means it would have been a, but because of you're actions, it's be.

you're asking me to prove the latter. i can't do that and never suggested i could. i can prove the former, and, i believe, have. i've also given you a workable hypothesis for how the latter could have taken place. but it's absurd to ask a person to prove that the outcome would have been different but for what the DNC did. there are no tools available for prove that. asking people to prove things that are impossible to prove is just another incident of "raise the burden of proof." it's a hackneyed, lame, and conspicuous game calculated to waste people's time and manufacture the illusion of thought.

what i can prove, and i believe have proven, is that the dnc is so concerned with victory that they use the tools available to them to advance pathological narcissists on the other side, and that they're so concerned with convincing themselves of their own righteousness than they spend their mental energy hating on trump rather than examining their own candidate, who is an extremely bad person in her own right.

Anonymous said...

The silence of the "conservatives", oops sorry, I mean the "traditionalists" here is deafening.

C'mon guys! Endorse Trump! Paul Ryan voted for him.

Low taxation!
Opposition to marriage equality for gay people!
Increase military spending!
Law and order! (Endorsed by The Fraternal Order of Police)
Advocate for the privatization of prisons!
Punish women for getting abortions!
Punish doctors for performing abortions!
Punish journalists!
Create a registry for Muslims!
Low taxation! (Oops, I already wrote that. But that's the most important thing, right?)

Anonymous 2:30 said...

"but it's absurd to ask a person to prove that the outcome would have been different but for what the DNC did. there are no tools available for prove that. asking people to prove things that are impossible to prove is just another incident of "raise the burden of proof." it's a hackneyed, lame, and conspicuous game calculated to waste people's time and manufacture the illusion of thought."

What happened to your capitalization? That's an odd tic to spontaneously develop. Ah well, anyway...

Look, I think we both agree you can't prove it. I'm challenging you to prove it specifically because I'm certain you can't prove it, that's the point. That's because it's a shaky hypothesis, and with very little to support it in the first place. Like I keep saying, possible but not likely. Asking you to "prove it" is part of the very demonstration of that shakiness. The only reason we're going around is because you seem to want to complain about it as if it's somehow unfair to you to ask you to back up your own hypothesis.

The fault for this rests a lot on your shoulders. If, as you seem to be implying, I have been misinterpreting what you've said, than you bear some responsibility for not recognizing that and clearing it up promptly, instead of making condescending remarks and useless demands for "standards of proof". Had you done that, this could have been finished ages ago. Either you were too wrapped up in the rhetorical contest to pay attention to what the actual conversation was about, or you've shifted stances after the fact to avoid having to admit you talked yourself into a corner. Whichever it is, it's not me that created the time-wasting game.

And to the other Anonymous: yeah, good luck with that. Aside from Gordon and maybe you, it looks like everyone else is staying away while the epic battle over nothing is going on. Even if it wasn't, I tend to think most other folks that look in on this blog aren't super-prone to being baited. Although you did get ungtss, which is how this whole thing started.

Gordon Burkowski said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qENB7c-oyc

ungtss said...

"Look, I think we both agree you can't prove it. I'm challenging you to prove it specifically because I'm certain you can't prove it, that's the point."

Challenging me to prove something I've been saying I can't prove for days, just to prove that I'll say again that I can't? That's a pretty amazingly illogical goal.

Really what you're trying to do is change the subject from what I can and have proven to something I can't and never claimed to be able to prove. And then trying to blame me for the topic change by claiming I should have done a better job correcting you. By ignoring the many times that I did.

These are the headbands people play to convince themselves of their own rationality when rationality is absent.

Anonymous 2:30 said...

"Really what you're trying to do is change the subject from what I can and have proven"

OF COURSE change the subject away from that, because what's the use of going over it again? You can't prove it more, you're not going to unprove it. What's the point? Do you want to wallow in your one meager accomplishment for another page of replies, never moving out of your tiny comfort zone to a spot where you can't pretend to have all the answers?

Are you waiting for someone to give you an Internet medal or what? Or do you just want to get in the last word? Yes, you've provided a working hypothesis, SO WHAT?

ungtss said...

I don't think we ever discussed the profound immorality of the DNC at all. Anons pop up from time to time hoping to spot some Trump supporters to laugh at, but nobody's ever discussed the much more sophisticated and devastating wickedness on the other side of the aisle. The sort of wickedness that will almost certainly have control of the most powerful organization in human history starting in a few months.

That's the interesting issue to me. It's easy and self-satisfying to laugh at the buffoonish czar and his white army. But it's much more important to understand Lenin and his reds.

Anonymous 2:30 said...

If you say so.

The problem is that right there, you're already delving into things you also can't prove. How do I know this? Well, with a horde of Republican and alt-right attack dogs that have been trying to stick things onto the Clintons for decades, trying desperately to spin any mistake or suspicion into a sign of highest evil, by this time one has to think the Clintons are masters of hiding their trails (in other words, smarter than you) OR there's not really that much there. I seriously doubt any blatant wrongdoing will be uncovered at this point, and I'm not going to be receptive to half-baked theories that rely on fragments of maybe evidence backed up by innuendo. "Well, I know how people are, I have my book of aberrant behaviors, and see the way Clinton looks all shifty-eyed in this video? GUILTY!"

Or perhaps you're just referring to the general liberal policies of Clinton and the Dems in boilerplate Rand fashion, in which case the reply is the same: Whatever, dude, knock yourself out. I've got no need whatsoever to trudge around in these weeds.

ungtss said...

by this time one has to think the Clintons are masters of hiding their trails (in other words, smarter than you) OR there's not really that much there.

A third alternative is that they're terrible at covering their tracks, but they are excellent at pulling the right strings and feeding people the right narrative to manipulate a critical mass of people into looking past their wrongs. In other words, that everybody knows what wrongs they've committed, but they're able to make enough people not care that they're able to skate by.

I'd be happy to discuss the evidence of this hypothesis with you. For instance, WJC's undisputed perjury that "wasn't a big enough deal." Or Benghazi, in which lying to the public about the cause of the attack and pinning it on some blameless youtuber "wasn't a big enough deal." Or the email scandal in which Comey clearly said she violated protocols and lied, but it just "wasn't a big enough deal" to prosecute.

But if, as you say, you're not interested in discussing this subject, and only want to keep hammering home the undisputed fact i can't do what i never said i could do, then we're wasting time, and you may have the last word.

Anonymous 2:30 said...

I would be more interested (but honestly not by much) in going over it if it wasn't a blatantly partisan political issue. You obviously have it in for Clinton/that side, and as I touched on in my missing message, that kind of outlook isn't likely to be so exacting when it comes to the other side of the aisle.

Even if I felt any need to debate it, all I can foresee happening is that you will give me the aforementioned innuendo, treat it as established hard fact, and then furiously discount any indicators to the contrary. Your mind is made up. Perhaps mine is too.

So no, I am not interested in discussing that subject, and we'll see if this is actually the last word.

Gordon Burkowski said...


"So no, I am not interested in discussing that subject, and we'll see if this is actually the last word."

No chance.

Jzero said...

Hey, looks like it's all become moot anyway. Welp, I'm gonna sit back and chuckle in a couple years when Trump turns out to be more corrupt than any alt-right fever dream about the Clintons.

ungtss said...

Hardly moot.

Scott Adams' prediction in the OP came true.

Also, Clinton lost because her own base abandoned her. 6 million fewer Democratic voters turned out than did for Obama last time. Trump won with fewer votes than Romney and McCain got when they lost. The problem was that HRC sucked. And her "look at the boogie man over there" strategy did not work well enough to get her a win.

Jzero said...

So that's what, two days of restraint?

"Moot", as in: a big lecture on the evils of Hillary is pointless now and would accomplish nothing. She lost. Congratulations! Hope you love the taste of Trump. I have a hunch that in the end, the person responsible for things like "Trump University" isn't somehow going to be more principled while in the White House. And I also suspect that when Trump is caught cheating on his wife while in office and tries to deny it, Clinton critics will break their own spines to avoid holding Trump to that same kind of standard.

Yes, Adams' prediction came true. I haven't checked but I imagine the smug insufferability levels on his blog are off the chart.

Still, I think Adams is mistaken on his claim of Trump being a "Master Persuader". At least grammatically, because I don't think Trump has persuaded anyone of much of anything. He simply exploited an existing political current and said whatever he needed to say to present himself as the guy who would take care of things. But you don't hear much about him actually changing minds. He didn't find pockets of Clinton supporters, say "Hey, let's make America great again!" and have them change sides. He played to an existing mindset that happened to be so distributed so as to enable him to win the Electoral College. Whatever that is, I don't think it really qualifies as "persuasion".

ungtss said...

I ended my conversation with anon. Responding to you on a different subject entirely. I love how you people function purely on social pressure and mockery of the outsider because you lack the capacity to reason. It's like
a crutch for you.

As another example, claiming I was giving "long lectures on the evils of Hilary." When I was saying that the left was so focused on their own righteousness and trump's buffoonishness that they were ignoring the evil's of Hillary. Turns out that decided the election. The elitist left ignored hillary's evils and pleasured themselves with their own righteousness and trump's evils, but a good chunk of the democratic base didn't ignore what Hillary is, and ended up staying home.

Poor elitist leftists, always too in love with their own fantasies to learn what's really going on in the world.

Adams' Argument re trump is that he is pacing and leading. We're still in the pacing portion.

Jzero said...

I didn't claim you GAVE long lectures on the evils of Hillary. I was saying giving one would be moot - the implication being that you sure seemed to WANT to give one. Which is probably why Anon bowed out, I can see how that would be entirely wearying.

And as for "loving how" people do things, I sure love how you come back to the "ungtss being persecuted for whatever" routine. POOR BABY. Maybe if you weren't such a condescending dick, there'd be more than just a couple die-hards who engage with you at all.

Have fun with your Trump!

ungtss said...

Lessons to be learned: JZ knows what I want, without me having to say so. Also, even when anon gets the last word, JZ still knows he "bowed out." Also, no matter how many times I say what a dick/chump/clown/buffoon Trump is, JZ still magically knows that secretly I like him. In other words, JZ has magical mind reading powers that allow him to see things completely contradicted by the evidence, but which make him feel better about himself.

Jzero said...

Haha, wow.

You pretty much said you wanted to discuss your big hypothesis about the Clintons making everyone "not care" about their misdeeds, which is when Anon said "no thanks" - bowing out. The fact that you then clammed up doesn't mean that he didn't actively disengage first.

Suppose you guys had gone on. If that wouldn't have been you droning at length about how bad Hillary is, well, that would be a big surprise.

I didn't say you liked him, I said he's "your Trump". Unless perhaps you're not of the US. You've likely played your part, you've cast your vote, you've (I assume elsewhere) talked about how terrible HRC was, so unless against any seeming indication you actually voted for Hillary, then your actions have helped bring about President Trump. You'll have to live with that as will we all. Have fun!

In other words, blah blah persecution complex and reading into things that which isn't there. Got any more whining about how nobody's being fair to you and they're all some kind of psychological aberrants? You want to argue about nothing at all related to the original topic some more? Want to get the last word in? Be my guest.

ungtss said...

You pretty much said you wanted to discuss your big hypothesis about the Clintons making everyone "not care" about their misdeeds

It's pretty easy to win arguments when you put shit in other people's mouths, isn't it? When you don't limit yourself to what other people actually say, facts, evidence, or reality? So you can just say somebody "pretty much" said something they never said, and then allow yourself to believe it's so?

What I said, over and over and over, was that the left doesn't care how bad she is, not that i wanted to argue about how bad she was. Nobody was interested in talking about how bad she was. Because it's old news. It's all documented. What isn't old news -- but is much more important -- is how morally defective the left is for not caring, because she was the "chosen one" whose election was to help leftists distract themselves from their own mental and moral degradation for a while by helping them pretend they were doing something good. That's what I'm interested in.

I didn't say you liked him, I said he's "your Trump". Unless perhaps you're not of the US. You've likely played your part, you've cast your vote, you've (I assume elsewhere) talked about how terrible HRC was, so unless against any seeming indication you actually voted for Hillary, then your actions have helped bring about President Trump. You'll have to live with that as will we all. Have fun!

That's pretty clever. Unless a person voted for Hillary, he's responsible for Donald Trump being elected? When you're handed two terrible choices and you refuse to affirmatively support the one JZ prefers, you're to blame for the alternative being elected? What a moral universe you live in. I guess if a terrorist puts two hostages in front of me and demands that i choose one to die, unless i affirmatively say "no" to 1, then I'm responsible for the death of the second. Or do you just enter that moral universe long enough to dump that crap on somebody else, and then shift to a different moral universe when it's more convenient for you?

The morbid curiosity that keeps me here is, "Are these people actually able to convince themselves of their own BS?" It's phenomenal in this forum. Like stage four cancer of the soul. Helps me in my daily dealings with narcissistic psychopaths through my work, because they exhibit all the same symptoms as the members of this forum.

Gordon Burkowski said...

"Helps me in my daily dealings with narcissistic psychopaths"

Physician, heal thyself.

Jzero said...

"What I said, over and over and over, was that the left doesn't care how bad she is, not that i wanted to argue about how bad she was."

I don't see how there's much of a difference. Realistically, you'd have to be arguing with a Clinton supporter, someone who, in fact, does not see anything particularly evil about what Clinton may or may not have done. Right there, your premise depends on you establishing Clinton's misdeeds, and explaining their severity and why anyone who isn't Republican ought to care, so that you could then paint it as a moral failing of the left when they don't care. It's either that or slide into the echo chamber with someone else who worships at the feet of Breitbart or Alex Jones or whatever.

"That's pretty clever. Unless a person voted for Hillary, he's responsible for Donald Trump being elected? When you're handed two terrible choices and you refuse to affirmatively support the one JZ prefers, you're to blame for the alternative being elected?"

There's only four real possibilities here.

1) You voted for Clinton. Unlikely, sure, but at least then you could be said to have not enabled Trump's win.

2) You voted for Trump. You're definitely to blame for Trump (along with millions of others), then.

3) You did not vote. You've abdicated your choice, or as Rand might have said, you've chosen to let others choose for you, which is still a choice. There was no duress or hostage-taking, you stood back and let it happen - you didn't even try to select the lesser of two evils. You may not have cast a ballot, but your inaction still carries consequences. Whether Trump or Clinton won, some of that can be laid on your shoulders.

4) You voted third party, or write-in. Yay, principles, I guess, but since no alternative to the major party candidates had a remote chance of winning, the ultimate result is the same as if you'd not voted at all.

So yes, if you did not vote for Clinton, the only viable alternative, then you have to have either actively wanted Trump, or allowed Trump to win by simply not opposing him. It would have been the same if Clinton had won - you would bear some of that responsibility if you had not voted Trump.

"Helps me in my daily dealings with narcissistic psychopaths through my work"

I'm beginning to think that your "work" is some kind of fiction, frankly.

ungtss said...

I don't see how there's much of a difference. Realistically, you'd have to be arguing with a Clinton supporter, someone who, in fact, does not see anything particularly evil about what Clinton may or may not have done.

What she's done is on the record. E.g. She knew Benghazi had nothing to do with "innocence of muslims" because she had emails explaining what happened, but instead she blamed some idiot YouTuber for it, causing him to be arrested and investigated. She threw a completely innocent person under the bus to cover a lie she told to cover up a major and fatal fuckup under her watch.

So whether or not she did what she did is not at issue. What is at issue is the collective yawn let out by the left. Most likely you're right, they don't see anything wrong with throwing somebody under the bus like that, because they like her and they do the same thing. But as an outsider to this subculture, it's shocking to me that people can be so without conscience.

So yes, if you did not vote for Clinton, the only viable alternative, then you have to have either actively wanted Trump, or allowed Trump to win by simply not opposing him. It would have been the same if Clinton had won - you would bear some of that responsibility if you had not voted Trump.

Well, we've backed away from calling him "my trump" to now talking about "some responsibility." How much responsibility does it take to start calling trump "mine?"

Here, I had no power to affect the outcome at all. I couldn't affect what two candidates were selected, and my vote could not have affected the outcome because my state went Clinton by one of the largest margins in the country. My vote for Clinton would have just been another drop in the bucket for her.

How much responsibility does one have, exactly, with absolutely no power to affect the outcome in any way? If I see a train about the run over a child and I can't stop the train and can't move the child, am I still "responsible" for the death unless I engage in some meaningless ritual that can't possibly change what happens?

Only if we're trying to manufacture blame and guilt where none is deserved.

There's no rational moral theory in the world that justifies responsibility where one lacks power to change the outcome. Christianity does that, of course. In that system, we're to blame for being born and being what we are and can't help but be. Maybe you're clinging to the vestiges of that moral system?

I'm beginning to think that your "work" is some kind of fiction, frankly

That fiction also probably helps you feel better about yourself, doesn't it? Suspecting from the fact that I post on this forum a few times a day that I don't have a job? That's the sort of thinking that makes elections like this one possible.

Jzero said...

"Well, we've backed away from calling him "my trump" to now talking about "some responsibility." "

No we haven't. Still your Trump. The fact that I use different words from time to time isn't "backing away" from anything.

"Here, I had no power to affect the outcome at all. I couldn't affect what two candidates were selected, and my vote could not have affected the outcome because my state went Clinton by one of the largest margins in the country."

States predicted to go for Clinton went to Trump. Perhaps yours wasn't expected to, but you could have tried. Looking at it after the fact and saying "see, it was impossible" is rationalizing your inaction.

In the larger sense, though, he's everyone's Trump now. Have fun!


"Suspecting from the fact that I post on this forum a few times a day that I don't have a job?"

I never said that. I'm sure you have some sort of job to pay for things like your Internet. (Speaking of "sorts of thinking" that leads to things, how about this tendency to infer what isn't there, make stuff up out of nothing like you do? Does that have a clinical name? Paranoia, perhaps?)

But you bring out "your work" as a club, saying that I or others exhibit X behavior which is like Y people you deal with at "your work". You're obviously trying to paint yourself as some sort of professional in the realm of the human psyche, and then using that supposed expertise to call your opponents bad or crazy or whatever.

Then you have the gall to turn around and complain of social bullying and other persecutions! It's amazing the hypocrisy you engage in and maybe don't even see.

I don't really know exactly what it is you do, and honestly it doesn't really matter. I sure wouldn't tell you any details about me, so I'm not expecting anything of the sort. I simply can't imagine that someone as much of a dick as you are on this forum has made it through any kind of reputable training in human psychology, and if you have, I pity your patients and/or clients. You've mentioned "cults" in the past - well, if you're the one deprogramming, I have to wonder if the poor cult member wouldn't be better being tossed into a Scientologist convention.

So that's what I mean by fiction: my hunch is that whatever your job is, it doesn't have the stringent requirements of, say, a full-on psychiatrist, and does not make you an authority on matters of the mind, at least to the extent you like to imply here.

ungtss said...



"Here, I had no power to affect the outcome at all. I couldn't affect what two candidates were selected, and my vote could not have affected the outcome because my state went Clinton by one of the largest margins in the country."

States predicted to go for Clinton went to Trump. Perhaps yours wasn't expected to, but you could have tried. Looking at it after the fact and saying "see, it was impossible" is rationalizing your inaction.

In the larger sense, though, he's everyone's Trump now. Have fun!


Well then I guess he's your trump too. Even if you're not American, you could have tried to change the outcome by changing your citizenship and voting. Or if you are American, you could have run for office yourself or voted a few thousand times in Michigan or shot trump voters. And since you didn't do that, you're to blame in exactly the same way I am. So you enjoy your Trump too, along with your primitive moral system that divorces responsibility from control.

In the mean time, I'll be out here living in the real world where people aren't deemed responsible for things they can't control.

But you bring out "your work" as a club, saying that I or others exhibit X behavior which is like Y people you deal with at "your work". You're obviously trying to paint yourself as some sort of professional in the realm of the human psyche, and then using that supposed expertise to call your opponents bad or crazy or whatever.

That's not a correct assumption. Psychopaths and narcissists are a major factor in all areas of work -- business, medicine, law, entertainment. The higher up the chain you get, the more important it becomes to know how to deal with them. Psychopaths and narcissists are disproportionately present at the top of every game. Hell, look at he election.

Then you have the gall to turn around and complain of social bullying and other persecutions! It's amazing the hypocrisy you engage in and maybe don't even see.

Really I've just learned that with people like you, one needs to employ a "generous tit for tat" strategy. "Tit for tat" is recognized as the most effective and efficient means of resolving the prisoner's dilemma when you're dealing with a partner that doesn't understand what winning the game requires. The prisoner's dilemma is especially common when you're dealing with narcissists and psychopaths because they lack the mental capacity to see the whole matrix.

https://www.google.com/amp/www.forbes.com/sites/rogerkay/2011/12/19/generous-tit-for-tat-a-winning-strategy/?client=safari

You mock me for my alleged obsession with this forum, I turn it around on you by saying I can't look away because you are a freak who needs to be studied. You try to socially intimidate me, I socially intimidate you back. Then as soon as you do something right, I reward you generously.

There's plenty of research on it. Look it up.

Jzero said...

"You mock me for my alleged obsession with this forum, I turn it around on you by saying I can't look away because you are a freak who needs to be studied."

Uh huh.

So am I indeed a freak to be studied, or is that just the thing you say so you can win your tit-for-tat game? And in what way do you suppose you socially intimidate me? Have you ever rewarded me? What a crock of BS.

You can't intimidate me - your insults have been hollow and empty from the start, only brought up by me to illustrate your hypocrisy. Plus, there's been no "social" group here to interact with, as what little society there is here mostly drifts out the door when one of these mega-arguments happens. So whoever you think there is with which for me to be "socially intimidated" is beyond me. (Not to mention that the people that do remain don't exactly appear to be supporting you.) And I don't know what form this rewarding of yours is supposed to take. Either I haven't qualified for it or you're "rewarding" me with something I don't care about.

I mean, fine, whatever. We are way, way off the subject now so I'll let you have this sandbox to yourself for the time being. See if you can find some other member of the social group to engage with you.

ungtss said...

So am I indeed a freak to be studied, or is that just the thing you say so you can win your tit-for-tat game?

at this point, both. if you started engaging in rational conversation, neither. i'm trying to figure out how to bridge that gap with this crowd in this forum. real people in real life are much easier. the internet is a haven for trolls, which allows me to learn how to deal with people at their nastiest.

And in what way do you suppose you socially intimidate me?

I don't really care whether i do. I'm just hitting you with your own medicine. It hurts you about as much as yours hurts me. Meaning not at all.

Have you ever rewarded me?

You haven't been rational yet. Anon got there, but it took weeks to get him there.

You can't intimidate me - your insults have been hollow and empty from the start, only brought up by me to illustrate your hypocrisy.

Maybe this will help you understand how hollow and empty your insults are to me. I just laugh when you tell me i'm obsessed with this forum. i use "tit for tat" so you can learn how stupid your games are by being on the other end of them.

Seems to me it's working. At least we can agree that insults are a stupid waste of time. Maybe now you'll apply that principle to your own behavior.

the prisoner's dilemma has one fault -- it assumes that the prisoners share a single goal. shawshank redemptions shows that isn't true. andy's had several goals -- to learn, to live, and also to escape. it was his multiple goals that ultimately allowed him to beat the dilemma.

Gordon Burkowski said...

@Jzero:

Before this argument goes even further down the rabbit hole, a few thoughts on all this psychologizing.

In all of U's vaporings, there is an unspoken major premise - never stated outright, but always there.

The premise is: that the views being expressed by U. are obviously true, and eminently clear to any rational mind. There's no way that anyone could seriously believe that a lot of his arguments are pretty stupid. Oh no! Not at all! Any disagreement therefore positively demands a psychological explanation.

And those disagreeing with him are not merely rationalizing or in denial. Oh no! Not at all! His arguments are so brilliant, so self-evident, that people who disagree with him must in fact be mentally ill! “Narcissistic psychopaths” is his confident diagnosis. His professional diagnosis, no less.

For my own part, I have no interest in attempting to psychoanalyze someone who sees his own reasoning and the rebuttals of others in these terms. But I do find myself thinking that such an analysis is urgently required.

Jzero said...

@Gordon:

Yeah, I'm done for now. I mean, I'm not going to absolutely swear I'll never retort in some way if he says something particularly dumb, but it's clear that most of this feeds U's ego and lets him trot his sense of superiority out and give it walkies. (Regardless of whether he's got any point or not.)

I mean, right there he's just told me all my insults are meaningless, but it's always him that brings up issues of intimidation and unfair treatment first, so there's something that galls him going on. Either that or he's putting on an act, pretending to be galled so he can come back and crow about it all being his master plan to... whatever the hell he thinks he's doing.

In any case, I'm no longer willing to waste the time. Expect fewer mega-arguments in the future.

ungtss said...

When rational people disagree with you, they give you a counter argument. When irrational people disagree with you, they intimidate, insult, isolate, change the burden of proof, and change the subject. When I see you and JZ doing the latter instead of the former, psychological explanations are the only rational ones I can draw.

You then complain about my use of the only explanations that are possible, given your total failure to make rational counter arguments. Because that makes you feel better.

Gordon Burkowski said...

Q.E.D.

Gordon Burkowski said...

@Jzero:

"In any case, I'm no longer willing to waste the time. Expect fewer mega-arguments in the future."

Right on. Been there, done that. As have many others. There is no light at the end of this tunnel.

Anonymous 2:30 said...

Funny, I don't FEEL "rewarded generously".

ungtss said...

Funny, I don't FEEL "rewarded generously">

i admitted to you that i couldn't meaningfully prove my position on the only issue you wanted to talk about. When you said you didn't want to discuss the issue I was interested in, I accepted your decision and moved on. I also let you have the last word, just like you wanted. I also told you that I believed we had reached common ground, were having a raitonal conversation, and that I was enjoying it.

That's about as "rewarded" as you can get in an online debate.

I didn't get any equivalent treatment from you or anybody else, despite having "won" on a number of issues. But I don't care. To play "generous tit for tat" you have to give up on being rewarded yourself, and be endlessly patient. You're undoing millennia of accumulated psychological trauma, so it takes time.

Anonymous said...

@Neil Parille - could you pass along this excellent talk by Lew Rockwell:
https://www.lewrockwell.com/2015/11/lew-rockwell/open-borders-assault-private-property/

to Lindsay Perigo.

(I'm too lazy to sign up for account on SOLO Passion)

Thanks!

America Recidivus said...

At least Trump won. America is reborn, and very soon, believe me, we won't have to put up any longer with the evil analyzed so well here:
http://ariwatch.com/ValedictoriansOfYesteryear.htm

Here's an example of something Andy Bernstein would evidently support as "moral justice":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVbtV1O1xsY

Look at those moral giants, equal to the Founders, standing up for liberty and yooman rights and contextual capitalist rational epistemology!



Anonymous said...

You can usually spot the crazy when it starts hacking up its cute little catchphrases like a cat with a hairball.

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