Dilbert Creator Scott Adams on Donald Trump's "Linguistic Kill Shots"
Is Trump using powerful hypnosis and persuasion techniques hidden to manipulate us all?
Donald Trump has a way with words—and with people. Yet despite his popularity, he has been a mystery to the media, which have mostly derided his campaign as consisting of nothing more than random insults and ignorant bluster.
Scott Adams, prolific author, blogger, and creator of the massively popular comic strip Dilbert, has a different theory. He tells Reason TV's Zach Weissmueller that the media are being trolled by a skilled manipulator, or in Adams's parlance, a Master Wizard. So exquisite does Adams believe Trump's skills to be that he predicts The Donald will go on to win the presidency.
"What I [see] in Trump," says Adams, is "someone who was highly trained. A lot of the things that the media were reporting as sort of random insults and bluster and just Trump being Trump, looked to me like a lot of deep technique that I recognized from the fields of hypnosis and persuasion."
One such technique is what Adams describes as a "linguistic kill shot," in which Trump uses an engineered set of words that changes or ends an argument decisively. According to Adams, when Trump describes Jeb Bush as low energy, Carly Fiorina as robotic, or Ben Carson as nice, he's imprinting a label you already feel about these people. They're not random insults, but linguistic kill shots that you can never get out of your mind.
Similarly, where the media see random insults, Adams sees Trump creating a significant polling gap between those who attack him and those who compliment him, resulting in chilled aggression from his opponents. Trump, says Adams, uses "anchors," which are big, visual thoughts that drown out any other argument. Think, for example, of the billionaire's florid descriptions of a Mexican border wall.
Adams also describes Trump's use of "linguistic Judo," vagueness, and a carefully developed persona to defend himself against attack and promote the image he desires. "You see apple pie and flags and eagles coming out of his ass when he talks," says Adams.
About 8 minutes.
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For a longer, wide-ranging discussion in which Adams talks about the power of free markets, "failing toward success," and what to expect in Dilbert, go here.