Scott Adams, Cognitive Warfare, and Accountability
The Information Wars Part XXIV
"It's never wrong to distrust government. It's never wrong to distrust big companies." -Scott Adams
Find out more about the Information Wars here.
I wonder how many of Scott Adams's social media followers know that he is trained in hypnosis. In an essay entitled "Hypnotic Influence of a Leader", Endre Koritar writes,
Koritar (2022) suggested that Trump was actually a master hypnotist who mesmerized his listeners with hypnotic technique described by Scott Adams in Win Bigly (2017). Adams recognized Trump’s technique as he himself had taken a training program in hypnosis. Koritar drew on psychoanalytic literature to analyze Trump’s hypnotic technique. Ferenczi (1909) in “Introjection and Transference” proposed that hypnotic suggestibility was based on a regression to infantile transference experiences with parental objects. In a regressed state, the child in the adult responds to a maternal transference acknowledging mother’s love for the child and imagined wish fulfillment of his omnipotent fantasies, while transference to the paternal object represented a submission to the authority of father figure. Transference hungry individuals seek to introject the idealized maternal object in the person of the hypnotist or submit to the internal paternal authority figure embodied in the hypnotist. In the former situation, the suggestion is passively implanted in the psyche of the individual, while in the latter, the suggestion is forcefully introjected.
Here are the excerpts that Summarize Scott's recent admission of defeat in the COVID-19 vaccine non-debates to his parasocial subscriber frenz:
Here is the full livestream, if you can stomach 4029 seconds of Scott's full explanation of his new viewpoint. He self-administers a few self-pats, the weirdest of which is that this would have been his most popular episode if he could have telegraphed something like a summary of the message. Does that give you some indication to his frame of mind? There's a lot to talk about…
Let's stop here for a Big Picture check. My thesis:
This is not simply a tale of a simple apology (was one even given?), nor even a complex tale of apology that may or may not be genuine. This is a tale of extremely bad behavior. Thus, moving forward, it should be a tale about justice.
But the justice part gets complicated. Let's see why. I have some receipts you may want to examine.
How Cognitive Dissonance Was Casually Overcome in a Single Day
Scott's video followed a moment where Elon could step in and look good announcing/admitting his harmful side effects from his second booster. And by "good", I mean that he got eight times the love-per-view that Scott received. If there were a way to measure the impact in money/wealth, I would bet that this exchange makes Elon an expected value in excess of a billion dollars (I really would—even if my article mitigates the impact).
Is there any chance that Scott gets a cut?
But even as Scott throws his hand in after most all the doses of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine that will likely ever be administered have been administered, he attempts to maintain position as the alpha mind. I'm not particularly inclined to let that pass. And in particular, I'd like to shine a light on it.
Really, this is Scott's MO, and I sometimes wonder what proportion of his engagement is bot-driven.
I'm being harsh because Scott's behavior has been socially reckless. I still think that the lengthy periods of enforced suffering through public health policy caused so much global poverty that the future death toll from starvation will vastly outweigh the COVID-19 death toll. Also, people around Tom Cruise would be forced to experience more of this.
That's on you, Scotty.
For a man that, from what I can tell, doesn't lie much, Scott Adams churns out bullshit at an amazing rate. Whether reaching this status accidentally or intentionally, Scott has proven that he has the chops to run an elite seminar on how to mislead people with little or no liability. Call it a clever new method of privatizing profits and socializing losses.
Topic after topic, I chimed in to quickly explain the statistics and interpretations with him. Dozens of his readers and mine would appreciate the effort. He still ignored me.
This is where I toot my own horn because it's most relevant: I'm somebody who has written a four-digit number of textbook-level pages of curriculum in combinatorics, probability, and statistics. I've taught some of it to children younger than ten, school-aged children in instructional demonstrations, adults relearning the foundations of a skill set they want to master, corporate executives, and even somebody like my wife whom I helped in six weeks rebuild her entire foundation while she mastered gradual level statistics (she is now a Bioinformatics Instructor in a major research university system). And I apply these skills in fields like finance where it doesn't matter how pretty your picture looks, you get punished for being wrong (I've still never designed a losing account). Most of the time I can not only help with the problem framing/solving, but in practical-to-philosophical details like whether it's worth leaping over the frequentist perspective into Bayesian analysis.
Oftentimes, Scott would reply to all of the other heavily-liked posts specifically except for mine. Understand that I continued long after I observed that pattern. Documentation of behavior patterns helps us understand people, as the nudge units would no doubt tell us.
Understand that I'm not the only person examining the plandemonium in detail that Scott made it a point to denigrate through casual dismissal.
Though at some point, you have to chime in when fan ratios demand it, and the challenger is not a mere nobody like me.
I'm not sure where Scott gets this 95% number from. As a statistician who has seen a lot of shocking data, I wouldn't venture a guess nearly that high (I'll subjectively go with 8%, and since I'm rarely as shocked by true data as most people due to "having seen a lot of weird statistics over many years", that number should be lower for others). Interestingly, we will later see Scott default to, "a binary description such as data false vs. data not false" to be "a coin flip". Scott is one or several of (A) stunningly terrible at probability/statistics (Dunning-Kruger effect in overdrive), (B) mentally inconsistent in his application of subjectivity vs. outcome/attribute counting, or (C) completely full of Eric Fecal-Dingleberry.
There may be no official court to judge all this, and we may never know if he was on the list of paid intelligence influencers.
Back to the Beginning
"And your position has gone from weakest to strongest." -Scott Adams
Understand that Scott's takes on pandemic interventions that seem weird and obtuse (for somebody who isn't supposed to himself be a brainwashed zombie midwit) did not start with the experimental mass vaccination campaign. I engaged with him many times over early treatment medicine all the way back in 2020.
Weird that he didn't respond to me or acknowledge any of my well-prepared 20-tweet thread.
Take note of my offer to take time out of my schedule to walk through—yes, I had over 200 pages of notes about hydroxychloroquine alone (and I was just ramping up my research machine). The stories about Uganda and Vietnam can be found here, and are worth understanding more than most.
Notice how Scott's question presumes a(n untrue) "fact", and how he fails to engage despite the encouragement of numerous tweeters. Understand that Scott often engages with some commenters—most often when he has some form of advantage of opportunity to deflect with Socratic questioning (Socratic questioning is great when you're honestly working to understand the details, but can serve as a form of asymmetric time attrition war).
When Scott would not engage, I tried wriggling into one of the threads he did respond to.
I was ignored, but unfettered. Maybe Senpai would notice me this time.
There were some specifically interesting twists and turns. Here…it almost looks like he is selling the DIFFUSE proposal. But that's impossible, since it hadn't yet been released…impossible, right?
I had all the data and could answer all the questions. Do you suppose that's why he ignored me? I can't blame a busy man who doesn't have time for a nobody like me, I guess.
He's probably still ignoring me because I was right by doing things wrong, perhaps? How could he possibly know that without talking through my research and data with me?
I feel a little gas lit. Is that justified? Can I say that, or would that be attacking Scott? Is ignoring somebody qualified who is trying to help you in good faith a form of attack, like pretending they're invisible?
Never engaging with me comes with clear benefits. Scott could repeat his "apparent" lack of knowledge with apparent honesty, using statements beginning with, "As far as I know…"
Understand that I'm clear not the only person getting irritated with Scott through the first two years of the pandemic. Some of his takes started getting dunked on hard.
By this point in time I have over 10,000 pages of notes and writing, so I could literally set up shop and counter Scott's flood of bullshit misframing of nearly every pandemic story day and night if I wanted.
But wait, we're about to make a breakthrough. Follow along…
Scott played the "long COVID" card! But does he claim victory?
RrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrATIO. As ratios go, this is steep, but less absolute in numbers being several tweets down into comments to the original tweet. That day was the first and last time he would respond to me at all, though he did respond a second time thinking of me as an adversary who doesn't categorize and track the way that people formulate their logical arguments. Except that I do.
While Scott might have been educating himself out of something like a "fog of war", he instead repeated the notion that we must certainly be constantly blind due to a "fog of war", and therefore ignorance is a necessary conclusion.
Yeah, after two years of this nonsense, I was a wee bit aggravated. And while these tweets were mostly about hydroxychloroquine (which is indirectly about the vaccines), I can still relate it to his words at 56:35 in his abdication speech.
If you're one of those people, that has to feel really good, doesn't it?
How many of you are feeling like that—like that righteous, "Oh my God, I was right from Day 1." That has to feel great. I think you should enjoy it. And so I'm going to say, "Enjoy it. And you can enjoy it at my expense. You can even enjoy it at my expense. But don't be…don't be inaccurate. Don't be inaccurate about me. But just enjoy your feeling.
It might be my opinion that what we've proven beyond any question whatsoever is that your intelligence, and your wisdom, and your experience had nothing to do with your experience (laughs) and that being smart and being well-informed just didn't help at all. Just didn't help at all.
But, you should take victory, and I should take defeat.
So, I wasn't smart for gathering up the HCQ data, which involved making over a hundred phone calls to doctors in 2020 alone. I wasn't wise for being on alert after the September 17, 2019 repo market collapse that an exogenous shock might be engineered near the end of the dollar era? And my years of experience with applied statistics problems, sometimes applied to unmasking fake science studies had nothing to do with the growth of my skepticism?
My goal wasn't ever to have fun at your expense. There is nothing that stokes me more than acting as an educator. And if I could have educated a Scott Adams, that might have saved a lot of lives.
Instead, Scott issues a pretty deeply narcissistic jumbo pile of poo given that he is somebody who pointedly avoided discussing the facts with greater experts.
Misframing the Problems
"It's just too weird that I'm always getting in the middle of a story." -Scott Adams
Scott frames all of this as getting hidden information right or wrong—with basically equal probabilities (despite his acknowledgement of the successful principle of distrust of authorities, which is then a conditional statement). For over two years he maintains various versions of the "fog of war" story which justifies all of,
Lack of research into early treatment meds.
Lack of attention to the details of vaccine statistics.
Scott acting like a slippery penis-shaped jello mold.
But there are (clearly) principles that deal with information voids, feigned, created, or otherwise. New technology—even if it undergoes more substantial and complete testing than the COVID-19 vaccines did, is generally rolled out slowly at first, which heavy analysis of the results.
The precautionary principle points us to examine a large list of risks associated with vaccination—some of which, like fertility disruption, are existential in nature.
Of course, Scott would take the approach of allowing social media to blot out discussion of risk, so perhaps I should view him as having censored me, rather than having rejected my offer of pro bono consulting.
Various Takes (on Scott's Statements)
"I'm starting to wonder if everything I read on the internet is wrong." -Pointy-Haired Boss
I have some brilliant friends with whom I agree on issues of ethics, morality, and character far more often than not who give Scott more credit than I do.
And, of course, I'm happy for everyone to have their opinion—sometimes with and sometimes without my two cents. But I'm offering my two cents this time because we are in the War of Wars, and we should step outside the usual paradigms. Does this feel like a stage managed game to you? Well, it certainly feels that way to me. But we don't know 100% for certain (at least, I won't claim to, even though I lean heavily in that direction).
Kevin McKernan points out the flaw in Scott's "logic".
But is this about logic? Scott has been slippery in a higher plane than even Debunk the Funk manages with his performative science. I hereby accuse Scott of slippery and slimy logic. His principles and standards seem motivated to fit a desired narrative, but are generally a moving target (which contradicts the definition of either a principle or a standard). Scott constantly spews his takes (on whatever topic he is…managing?) onto Twitter and into YouTube without reference to fundamentals (like principles or standards) his audience can pin his conclusions to. This makes contending with these takes a bit like wrestling jello.
I suggest that he was likely fully aware of shifting between logical frames in order to confuse without telling (many obvious) lies. In essence, Scott strikes me as an excellent soldier of cognitive warfare.
If I were recruiting media influencers for a cognitive warfare operation, I've love getting a popular cartoonist who is also a hypnotist on board.
How much does it matter that we don't know Scott's motives with absolute certainty?
"If you screw me for your benefit, you must die." -Scott Adams
Fact: Failing to hold bad behavior accountable encourages it.
Also fact: Failing to hold ambiguous behavior that might be bad accountable encourages bad actors to formulate narcissistic masks
What I offered Scott was substantially more generous than the RTE-Gorski Challenge. I offered him my professional time, repeatedly, and at no cost, and over a prolonged period during which numerous very basic failures in his reasoning and viewpoints grew more apparent. His ignorance seems willful, and so we should wonder if this is all theater, and what his benefits might have been.
Best Livestream Ever!
Scott ended his livestream with an uncharacteristically weak, "Best livestream ever." He has 114k YouTube subscribers, and the video got 1,100 likes over the first couple of days. There are 1,415 comments, a lot of which are negative-to-sarcastic. That's not a ratio for a "best livestream ever". Given the way his Twitter audience turned on Scott more and more, he surely could have guessed that, and saved the embarrassment of such a stupid statement. And that forces me to wonder whether all of this is just theater. Just…extremely macabre theater—maybe to twist emotions on a rollercoaster ride that involves sacrificing some mostly old people while saving antibiotics ahead of a largely financial/trade war over the dollar and the newly forming economic networks (belt and road)? Maybe to cut off the action potential of those who might protest?
Also, Scott doesn't have enough hair to be the pointy-haired boss. It just seems more likely that he serves some sort of intelligence or business outfit—that might explain the universe throwing him a Disney and Balenciaga spokesmodel-aviator bride almost thirty years his junior (did I say that out loud?).
Kristina Basham and Scott got divorced last year while she said she was battling cancer. But I'm guessing the cancer was fortunately a false alarm because it didn't keep her from finding a new boyfriend.
Or getting pregnant a few weeks later.
Maybe it was a cancerous resemblance to Sam Harris that needed to be burned off?
Thank You, Scott
"We're actually coming together in the weirdest way." -Scott Adams
It is interesting to note that Scott Adams has previously claimed that Big Tech uses a powerful form of hypnosis on the public that it would be irresponsible to explain to the public.
How do you suppose he knows about that?
Anyone think that he might take that method into account when working his audience?
The game theoretic solution that we employ in handling Scott must take multiple answers to all these types of questions into account. Failing to do so invites asymmetric warfare against the populations—all populations. Including against me and you.
As much as I believe Scott's behavior should be punished, I'd like to take this moment to thank him. I put together a collage of his cartoons that I believe relate to this moment, and help explain where I'm going with this.
Ultimately, Scott has demonstrated a persona that cannot be easily interpreted with absolute certainty. And, in fact, attempts to form absolute opinions would likely be divisive—even at the point at which I've taken the time to flesh out what I feel is a reasonable set of tests I performed on him that sort out less likely explanations (I do love tests of veracity for just these kinds of situations). Any time you observe behavior that might be the stupidity or inconsistency of a midwit with a superiority complex, but might very well be psychological warfare at the outset of a mass murder campaign, you can now express to that person the fact that you may simply have to fall back on the assumption of nefarious intent. Not punishing potential bad actors—particularly during extreme circumstances—allows for skillful manipulators (and hypnotists) to game you. And they might even game you and hundreds of millions of others to death.
Failing to find the appropriate way to punish Scott Adams is an invitation for somebody to walk through the steps of his behavior with the intent of psychologically aiding mass murder.
Or we can just forgive and forget and mail this one in. That's closer to recent social norms for influencers who align with government and big companies, for the most part. What do you think we should do?
Scott has an open invitation to discuss these topics with me on RTE, if he would like to reach out.