I just finished listening to Sam Harris and Scott Adams debate politics on Sam’s podcast.
The topic was Adams’ support of Trump, which has basically been unwavering since around last August when he started predicting that he’d win the election.
His argument is that Trump is a master persuader, and that everything he’s doing is calculated and thought out for the purpose of influencing people and achieving his goals. The alternative narrative is that he’s a know-nothing sociopathic Cheeto suffering mental illness.
I’m struck by the similarity between explaining the universe with physics and explaining the universe with god. Maybe the second one gets you there, but it has extra actors involved. An unnecessary actor.
So we have two explanations for Trump acting the way he does.
- He’s a master persuader who’s playing the extreme long game through the subtleties of human psychology, and…
- He’s a reality TV conman who at any moment is 30 seconds away from eating chalk.
Which is more likely based on all his behavior?
- Assaulting women
- Bragging about it
- Cheating his workers constantly
- Trump university
- Claiming he would build a wall, then doesn’t talk about it
- Has a one-sided bromance with the head of the KGB
- The entire world knows he’s being played by Putin, but he doesn’t get it
- Takes 3 entire days to say something bad about Nazis
- Finally says something bad about them, but blames both sides
- Stares at eclipse without solar glasses
I ask you again. Which is more likely?
Basically the supersmart persuader is the unnecessary actor in this equation.
You basically have a situation where Trump‘s behavior to be perfectly described by a narcissistic idiot who doesn’t understand the world, but if you’re smart enough—like Scott Adams is—you can contort yourself and the facts (Yogi style) into a shape where everything for a reason and is playing some sort of long game.
And you can make that fit. If you’re smart enough. And if you try hard enough.
And Scott Adams clearly is on both accounts.
I think we should reject the explanation simply because it requires more yoga. Sure, he could be an absolute genius that nobody but Scott Adams understands. Or he could be an imbecile who thinks climate change is a hoax perpetuated by China.
But since he actually believes that, I’m going to have to go with him being the idiot. It’s just the simpler explanation.