What am I hearing?

OK, regardless of which side you come down on re: Donald Trump this discussion is probably very important to listen to: https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/triggered

I was really freaked out by how reasonable Scott Adams sounded as he didn’t just defend Trump, he actually made a case for how Trump’s moves are highly intelligent and all make sense. Adams is a very smart person with a broad education. He has made certain public predictions about Trump and it is my belief (sorry, Scott Adams) that is heavily emotionally invested in these being correct. I guess there is chance he is seeing things clearly but there is also a good chance he is falling victim to the same cognitive dissonance he sees in others. His ego requires him to be right (this is not uncommon) so he’s picking things that “make him right”.

I obviously don’t agree with Scott Adams. I mean I agree Trump is a good persuader but that doesn’t make him a good leader or good for the US. History is full of good persuaders that are also regarded as History’s Greatest Monsters. There are also many that stepped in at times of strife and took charge — they get the job done but are maybe not great peacetime leaders (Rome’s tyrants, Winston Churchill, etc). I don’t think Trump is one of these. Trump is not one of these people. In my view he is simply profiting personally from his position and seeking to benefit those people he has “deals” with.

It is possible Scott Adams agrees with me on this but sees nothing wrong with it. This is the fascinating thing I am seeing with Trump supporters. People like me want our leaders to be moral. Yes, they are human beings but I expect the same level of decency and sense of public service that I would try to bring to the job if it were me. Others see the world more cynically and think “yeah, everyone is just trying to get theirs, and so I would get mine”. And they see cutting regulations and social programs as trimming the fat since “scammers” aren’t getting government money. I just don’t see the world in such black and white terms.

Adams is a good persuader too, but like Trump, his arguments don’t hold up to moral or intellectual scrutiny. Unfortunately, people hearing him speak who don’t take the time to look more deeply into his points (or are predisposed to agree, anyway) will accept his arguments as reasonable. Make up your own mind. I have no doubt he would win any argument with me but I would walk away frustrated, not convinced. This is not how decisions about the public good should be made.

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