Some Fake News About Me from Bloomberg

Last autumn, before the election, a writer for Bloomberg asked to spend a day with me to interview me for a feature piece about my blogging on Trump, and my life in general. I could tell from the initial conversation that it was going to be a hostile article. The reporter was open about being deeply frightened of Trump, believing him to be a racist, sexist, homophobic monster. So you can imagine how she felt about me for writing flattering blog posts about his persuasion talents.

I quickly determined that agreeing to the interview would be foolhardy. Obviously it was going to be a hit piece. The writer weakly tried to conceal that fact, but failed miserably. 

If I agreed to the interview, I knew I would be making myself the target of ridicule and shame, baring my flaws to the world – both the real ones and the fake news ones. No rational person would agree to such an interview. It was a suicide mission.

So I agreed to the interview. 

Regular readers know I don’t experience embarrassment like normal people. I just thought it would be funny to have them write about how wrong I was… just as the election was about to prove how right I was.

The day I agreed to the interview, I told my girlfriend Kristina that I was going to be the subject of a “hit piece” in Bloomberg. When the writer asked to speak to my brother, for background, I told him it was a hit piece, but I invited him to do it anyway, just for fun. Obviously, no sane person would agree to be interviewed for hit piece on his own family.

So my brother agreed to the interview. 

We’ll have a good laugh about it later today. He got framed as a gullible idiot for “believing” something my mom told us when we were kids.

Check the article here and see if you can spot the fake news and the places where context has been tweaked to make things look both true and misleading at the same time. I’ll tell you what you missed, if anything, after you read it. Compare your impressions to my Fake News Report Card below.

Here’s the Bloomberg article by Caroline Winter

Fake News Report Card

1. The article and headline used my old phrasing “master wizard” instead of the updated “Master Persuader” that I used in 95% of my work. That was an intentional choice by the editor to create the KKK association in your mind, or at least to make it all seem silly.

2. The anecdote about me showing her a Victoria’s Secret Whencast that I made didn’t happen. One of the hundreds of public Whencasts on the site included that content, created by a woman. I might have opened that one along with others as different examples of what the software can do. By highlighting that one bit of fake news (saying I created it), and putting it in the context of my girlfriend being too young for me, it created a powerful and intentional creepy vibe.

3. Kristina doesn’t live with me. She was staying at my house temporarily while her place was having some repairs and upgrades. 

4. When an article is intended to be favorable, you see photos that make me look relatively good, like this one, from Peter Duke:


When an article wants you to look bad to the reader, you see photos like this, from the Bloomberg article:


This is standard practice on both sides of the political spectrum. Publications pick the photos that tell their bias, not the story.

5. The headline suggests I am somehow, maybe, in favor of genocide. Obviously I’m not in favor of genocide, and the article later weakly explains that. But by then, the damage is done. Your brain is most influenced by what you read first, especially if it is in a headline.

6. The headline says Trump hypnotized me. I would accept that as a hypothesis, but the article doesn’t address the point at all. The implication is that I’m a gullible nut-job, as opposed to one of the few people who predicted Trump’s win and provided lots of cognitive-science-backed reasons for the prediction.

7. The article was initiated before the election, and was originally intended for publication about then. But a funny thing happened that ruined everything for Bloomberg. Trump won, and in so doing, he made me look like less of a nut. My accurate predictions, against all odds, would have been the headline in any article that wasn’t designed to be hostile.

8. To explain my Linguistic Kill Shot idea, the writer focused on the Carly Fiorina “look at that face” incident. She could have mentioned Lyin’ Ted, or Low Energy Bush, or Crooked Hillary. All stronger examples, but they don’t make me look like a sexist when the context is omitted. The Fiorina examples does.

9. The writer refers to my wide field of interests as “unusual fixations,” thus turning ordinary discussions of fitness and diet habits into something that sounds like a fetish.

10. Last year, the author of a book about seduction called The Game mailed me a copy of his book. This is common practice among authors. Sometimes it happens because an author thinks another author would be interested in the book. Sometimes an author hopes to get a public mention to boost sales. I have lots of unread books all over the house for this same reason. The Bloomberg writer focused on this one. The Pre-suasion book she mentions was also signed and sent to me by the author, for the same reason. But I read that one. (It’s great.)

You might recognize this book-related persuasion trick as the Mein Kampf play. If someone gives you a book that you didn’t ask for, somehow the book still explains your soul.

11. The writer asked me what would happen for me personally if Trump won. I talked about the good and the bad of it. She picked only the following words to make me look like a douche bag: “If Trump gets elected, my profile will go through the roof, because I’m in a very small group of people who publicly said he would win in a landslide. … I’ll be very popular,” he said, with satisfaction.”

Notice the three dots before “I’ll be very popular.” That is your signal for a manufactured quote. They assembled it from bits of what I said and left out the context that would have rendered it un-douche-baggy.

12. This quote is out of context: “In the kitchen, Adams installed three microwaves so he “can make a lot of popcorn at once.” The missing context is that I designed the house knowing that whoever makes the popcorn for the rest of the family misses the first part of the movie. Plus, the extra microwaves come in handy all the time. I use them at the same time quite often. How did that come out sounding nutty?

13. My girlfriend, Kristina, has an advanced degree from UC Berkeley, plays multiple instruments, has succeeded in several fields, and now has 3.3 million Instagram followers. The writer mentioned her bra size.

14. This quote was cobbled together to make me look like a racist and a sexist because I write about Trump. “Adams has said, his professional advancement was thwarted by diversity hires. ‘There was no hope for another generic white male to get promoted any time soon,’ he wrote in Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert. (Later in the book, he noted that his Dilbert TV show was canceled after ‘the network made a strategic decision to focus on shows with African-American actors.’) 

Both events are true, but in the first case she left out the fact that my bosses told me in direct language that they couldn’t promote a white male. I didn’t imagine it. Likewise, the UPN network literally made the decision to focus on African-American viewers at that time. it wasn’t just my interpretation of events.

Here’s the problem with that sort of reporting out of context: I’m also the guy who thinks men should stay out of the abortion question and leave it to women to decide what should be legal. I also blogged about my ideas for slavery reparations. I also described myself to her as “ultra-liberal” on social issues, because I am. If you leave out that context, the anecdotes sound like an explanation for why I grew up to be so terrible.

15. The article quotes my friend and cartooning colleague Stephan Pastis as being appalled at my Trump support, and speculating that the reason might simply be that cartoonist crave attention.

Of course I crave attention. Plus, it’s my job. That part is not in dispute.

But I think Stephan’s quotes were from before Election Day, when people still thought I was nuts to predict a Trump win. Today, I think Stephan would add a second hypothesis: I did it because I thought I was right, and it seemed important to me to share with the world what I could see coming from a mile away.

Plus I crave attention. It was a twofer.

16. The writer badgered me on several occasions to make a comparison between Dogbert and Trump. I said Dogbert’s personality is based on my own dark inner thoughts and had nothing to do with Trump except they are both ambitious in the extreme. So she wrote this: “I’d thought the point of those strips was to laugh at Dogbert’s cruelty—not celebrate it. But Adams seemed elated by the triumph of a Dogbertesque president.” WTF?

That’s sixteen intentionally-biased or incorrect components in one story.

By the way, Bloomberg did have a third-party do fact-checking on the article by running a bunch of questions by me for verification. That is standard practice for the big publications. None of the things I mentioned here were in the fact checking. The fact-checkers don’t check the writer’s own eye-witness accounts for accuracy, and they don’t check for missing context.

When normal citizens read the news, they think it is mostly accurate. But when you are the subject of reporting, you can see the fake news all over it. I thought I would share this view with you so you can increase your skepticism when you see this sort of thing presented as truth.

Plus, I crave attention. I couldn’t solve healthcare funding without it, among other things. Attention is fun, but also a tool.

You might still wonder why I volunteered to be interviewed for a hit piece, aside from the attention thing. My brother just sent me a very short video clip of his first reaction when he opened the article to read it. I think this answers all of your questions.

Update: An alert Twitter user sent me one of Caroline Winter’s 2015 articles. You might be wondering if all of her subjects get similar treatment.

You’re going to laugh when you connect the dots.

You might enjoy my book because I crave attention.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

My Take on Wiretapping, Trump, and Comey

FBI Director Comey says there is no evidence of President Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign. 

So why did President Trump say it happened? I give you my opinion in this video. (My face is black & white intentionally. Sort of.)

You might enjoy reading my book because of all the reasons.

I’m also on…

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

How Leonardo DiCaprio Can Persuade Me on Climate Change

Note: If you came here from Twitter, I use “kittens” as my code for climate science to thwart Twitter’s shadowban on my tweets.

You probably know that actor Leonardo DiCaprio is a climate activist, and he is trying to persuade the world that climate change is both real and serious. Someone asked me on Twitter what it would take for DiCaprio (for example) to persuade a person like me.

I’ll take a swing at that.


For starters, you must separate the questions of real and serious. The real part refers to the climate models. The serious part refers to economic models. Those are different topics.

If you want to convince me that climate change is real, the best approach is to abandon the current method that packages climate models in a fashion that is identical to well-known scams. (Or hoaxes, if you prefer.)

Let me say this doubly-clear. When I say climate models are packaged in a fashion that is identical to known scams, I am not saying they are scams. I’m saying they are packaged to look exactly like scams. There is no hope for credibility with that communication plan.

To make my point visual, imagine walking into your kitchen and finding an intruder wearing a ski mask and holding a gun. You assume this person is not your friendly neighbor because he is packaged exactly like an armed burglar. If you shoot that intruder, and it turns out to be your neighbor playing a prank, you probably won’t go to jail because it isn’t your fault. The problem was that your neighbor packaged himself to look exactly like an armed burglar.

Climate scientists tell us that there are hundreds of climate models, all somewhat different. I assume that most of them do a good job predicting the past (hindcasting) because otherwise they would not be models at all. Hindcasting is one minimum requirement for being a model in this field, I would assume.

Then science ignores the models that are too far off from observed temperatures as we proceed into the future and check the predictions against reality. Sometimes scientists also “tune” the models to hindcast better, meaning tweaking assumptions. As a non-scientists, I can’t judge whether or not the tuning and tweaking are valid from a scientific perspective. But I can judge that this pattern is identical to known scams. I described the known scams in this post.

And to my skeptical mind, it sounds fishy that there are dozens or more different climate models that are getting tuned to match observations. That doesn’t sound credible, even if it is logically and scientifically sound. I am not qualified to judge the logic or science. But I am left wondering why it has to sound exactly like a hoax if it isn’t one. Was there not a credible-sounding way to make the case?

Personally, I would find it compelling if science settled on one climate model (not dozens) and reported that it was accurate (enough), based on temperature observations, for the next five years. If they pull that off, they have my attention. But they will never convince me with multiple models. That just isn’t possible.

If climate scientists want their climate predictions to be believed, they need to vote on the best model, and stick with it for a few years. If they can’t do that, all I will see is lots of blind squirrels in a field of nuts. Some squirrels will accidentally find some nuts. But it won’t look like science to me because of the way it is packaged.

I do realize that picking one model as the “best” is not something science can do with comfort. It would feel dishonest, I assume, since they don’t know which one will perform best. But if science wants to be persuasive, they need to pick one model. And it needs to be accurate(ish) for the next five years. Nothing else would be persuasive to me.

On the second point, about how serious the alleged problem of climate change is, we have to rely not on scientists but on economists. And economists have zero credibility for long-term forecasts of that type. So the serious part is beyond the reach of persuasion. You can’t get there from here because economic models are no more credible than astrology.

By the way, my educational background is in economics and business. And for years, my corporate jobs involved making complex financial projections about budgets. In other words, I was perpetuating financial fraud within the company, by order of my boss. He told me to pretend my financial projections were real, and I did. But they were not real. My predictions were in line with whatever my boss told me they would be. I “tuned” my assumptions until I got my boss’s answer. 

When I tell you it would be hard to convince me that a stranger’s economic model is credible, keep my experience in mind. I’ve seen lots of economic models. I’ve built economic models. In my experience, they are nothing but guesses, bias, and outright fraud.

The only way to convince me that climate change is bad for the economy is to wait until it starts breaking things. If I see it, and scientists agree I am seeing it, I might believe it. But long-term economic predictions can’t get me there.

I remind you that my topic is about persuasion, not the underlying truth of climate change. I don’t have access to the underlying truth because I am not a scientist working in the field. My information comes from strangers that tell me their interpretation of what the scientists are saying. I am as far from science as you can get.

The people who are hallucinating the hardest on this topic are the non-scientists who believe they have done a deep dive into the scientific papers and the climate models and arrived at a rational conclusion. The illusion here is that getting information from other humans is the same as “science.” 

Another group of hallucinators believe that they can determine the scientific truth of climate change by counting the number of scientists on each side. But that ignores the fact that science often has the majority on the wrong side. That happens every time a new idea is starting to replace an old one. Darwin did not agree with the consensus when he introduced evolution. Einstein’s ideas were slow to catch on, etc.

When the majority of scientists are on one side, what matters most is the flow rate from one side to the other, not the raw numbers. I need to know which direction the scientists are moving. Are more climate scientists moving toward climate skepticism or away from it? Give me that data and I’ll have something useful. But counting the number on each side during one slice of time is meaningless for persuasion.

My point is that Leonardo DiCaprio would have a tough time persuading me that climate science is both real and serious. But it isn’t his fault, because science has packaged climate science to look like a hoax, and sent him out to sell it. I respect and admire DiCaprio for his heart on this matter, and his effort on behalf of the planet. But science has failed him by giving him hoax-looking sales collateral.

You might love my book because of reasons and other good things.

I Declare Mobile Phone Carriers to Be Enemies of the State

Here’s the basic problem.

Kids as young as eleven have smartphones. That situation won’t change. 

A kid with a smartphone has access to any illegal drug in the world, as well as all the peer pressure in the world.

Pills are small, cheap, odorless, widely available, and nearly impossible for a parent to find in a bedroom search. When you have this situation, the next generation is lost. 

That is our current situation.

To address the problem, you would need the phone companies to allow parents full access to all messages on a kid’s phone. And this feature should be mandatory, not optional. Parents need to see all messages, and all photos, from all apps. 

The phone companies won’t make that capability widely available on their own because it would reduce their income. So the government needs to force phone companies to give parents that level of control to protect their kids. If you want to put a clamp on drug use, the only way is for parents to have full control of teen communications. Every message, every time. And it needs to be mandatory for anyone under 18. 

I know what you are going to say. You’re going to say good parenting is all you need. But my observation is that no more than 20% of kids can be “parented” away from temptation. The other 80% are totally out of luck.

Today, you can limit a kid’s smartphone and Wifi use in a variety of ways. But if a teen has 1% freedom to contact anyone for anything, that’s all it takes.

My observation is that smartphones have made half of all adults mentally ill. I mean that literally, not figuratively. The business model of phones is addiction, not value. And they addict you at the expense of the things humans need in their lives to be happy and healthy.

Kids have it worse. They haven’t developed any natural defenses. They are pure victims.

Today I declare the phone companies to be enemies of the state. They are ruining everything you love, and everything you care about. And they are doing it right in front of you. 

If this is not already obvious to you, it probably means you’re a smartphone addict. A normal person’s brain will spontaneously generate a protective illusion to support an addiction. If you see no problem with smartphones causing drug addiction in kids, or you think I am exaggerating, you’re probably in the illusion. 

If the Trump administration were to regulate the mobile phone carriers to add mandatory child-monitoring of communications, perhaps we can save the next generation. The current generation of “digital natives” is already lost. The majority of the current generation of kids are doomed to be drug addicts, either legally or illegally.

And that’s on us.

I’m going to delete any comments that say good parenting is all you need. That opinion would not be worthy of this topic.

Update: Disqus locked me out of commenting on my own post after a few. 

You might enjoy reading my book because of all the reasons.

You can also follow me on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

How to Leak Like a Master Persuader

After the hilarious Rachel Maddow face-plant on live television, with her scoop on President Trump’s 2005 taxes – all two pages of it – the big question in the news today is about who leaked it.

The worst punditry you will see on this question is coming from the people who say Trump couldn’t have leaked it himself because he wouldn’t leak it to a guy who has been his critic for many years.


The very best way to leak a tax return that makes you look good is by giving it to your worst critics so they can self-immolate on live television. Which is what happened.

I have no evidence that the leaked tax returns came from the Trump camp. But the alternative sounds ridiculous to me. I think the alternative hypothesis looks like this:

Trump critic: “Hee-hee! I stole two pages of Trump’s tax returns from 2005 that makes him look good. Wait until I show the world!”

I realize it is hard for President Trump’s critics to accept the idea that he is three steps ahead of them, and not practicing his goose-stepping in the White House bowling alley late at night while tweeting. But in this specific case, are there really two possibilities for how Trump’s tax returns got leaked?

Book. Because.

Photos Don’t Lie?

True story from five minutes ago.

Someone tweeted me an article showing photos of droughts and other natural disasters with the caption “Photos don’t lie.” I tweeted in response to the article, “On what planet do photos not lie?”

Sixty seconds later I see this photoshopped photo in my feed.

(I knew right away that it was fake because I don’t own a suit.)

Best of Robots Read News

I’m testing a WhenHub visualization that is optimized for comics. Here are some of my Robots Read News comics that I thought worked best. For optimal viewing, click the icon in the lower right of the Whencast to view as a full page.

Obviously I could have pasted the comics directly to the blog page. But WhenHub adds a number of features that I don’t get on the blog. For example, as a reader you could use our cloning feature, edit out the comics you don’t like, and share as your own WhenCast on Facebook or anywhere else. 

Think of a Whencast as a way of offering digital “shelf space” on a blog or media site. That shelf space can be managed by any trusted content provider. Any changes at the source will flow automatically to every page that has the embedded WhenCast.

How cool is that?

Tracking My Persuasion

After 18 months of reading my blog posts about President Trump’s talents for persuasion, you might wonder how persuasive I am on my own. If you have already read my book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, check out this article in Business Insider to see an example of my influence. The author who talks about my ideas – exactly the way I talk about them – is named Adam Alter. 

(What were the odds of that???)

The article links to a third author’s work on systems being better than goals. Look for my influence in that author’s work too. 

I designed my book to be influential. If you reread it, look for the persuasion technique throughout. The book came out in 2013. Now you can see my systems-are-better-than-goals idea all over the place. You’ve probably also seen books and articles saying passion is overrated. That comes from my book as well. At this point, after a few years, authors are less likely to remember where they first saw these ideas, or what influenced them. The trail is growing cold.

Here’s another article that comes almost directly from my book without attribution. The author later clarified that he had read my book before writing his article. I doubt any of the authors I mention in this post were conscious of what influenced them.

All of this was predictable to me because I designed the book for maximum persuasion. I figured there was no point in writing a book about systems for success if I didn’t also make it “sticky,” so the thoughts would stay with people and be useful. 

I think most of you would be appalled to see your ideas come from other authors mouths without attribution. But I’m not, because I designed my book to influence people the way you are seeing it happen in real time. You are witnessing a feature, not a flaw. I prefer more imitation to less. These are powerful ideas that are worth spreading.


The Survivor Bias in Climate Models

Here’s a link to a smart person who does a better job than I did at explaining the problems with climate models

I mentioned on social media a few times that I am using public persuasion to split the climate science debate into two parts. One part is the basic science, which appears credible. The other part is the climate models that are less credible. Watch for the climate science debate to start making that distinction more often. Historically, both sides have tended to conflate the credibility of all of the parts. That never made sense. 

This will get more fun when I introduce my new persuasion anchor. It seems to me that the actual damage from climate change is predicted not by climate models but by … economic models.

How accurate have economic models been in the past? For anything?

Now ask yourself how often you have seen that distinction – climate models versus economic models – called out. 

You’ll see a lot more of it soon. The High Ground Maneuver is powerful.