Parsing the Milo Yiannopoulos Interview With Channel 10 Australia for Persuasion – Part 1

Below is a clip of one of the most expertly done examples of persuasion I have yet seen. Australian TV channel 10 interviews Milo Yiannopoulos live in preparation for his Australian tour. There is an interesting panel: a mainstream female anchor, a male anchor, an older woman, and a feminist with the sides of her head shaved who I think is named Jess.

I’ll post some of the techniques in the next post so as you watch the clip and read the transcript now, what persuasion techniques can you identify?

1st pass: Identify the use of Cialdini’s principles and pre-suasion

2nd pass: Identify reframes (higher ground, changing chunk size, etc.)

3rd pass: Watch the clip and pay attention to Milo’s tone of voice and hand movements. What patterns can you detect?


Anchor: Who is Milo Yiannopoulos and what exactly does he stand for? Well we are going to ask the man himself because he joins us now from New York City this morning. Milo Yianopolous! Welcome to Studio 10.

Milo: Thank you! Thank you so much! Thank you for having me.

Anchor: Well you have … your critics call you antisemitic, homosexual hating, white supremacist… yet you have publicly said that you are a proud gay man, you have Jewish heritage, and you just recently married your black boyfriend. Congratulations, by the way!

Milo: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Anchor: Lots of people want to label you, so tell us: what does Milo stand for?

Milo: Well I’m a free speech activist so sometimes I say outrageous and controversial things. Sometimes I’m a jokester and a trickster and a Loki-esque figure. The political left, the, you know, the feminists and the social justice warriors and the leftist journalists don’t like me very much and call me a variety of names because they find me difficult to categorize. They don’t understand how a gay guy could have these opinions, or whatever. I don’t fit, really fit into any box, so I represent sort of a threat to them because I’m persuasive and charismatic and I have a huge fan base. They just really don’t know how to deal with that.

Older Female Panelist: Oh, very modest as well, darling!

Milo: Also, very humble. (laughter)

Shaved Head Feminist: Ah, because, Milo, I’m a feminist, and I’m proud to be a feminist, and a lot of what you say …

Milo: That’s ok, I’m sure they’ll cure you soon.

SHF: No…

Milo: There’s chemotherapy for that now.

SHF: No no no what, I suppose, of course everyone is entitled to a view, and to free speech, but the issue that I have with you, and I suppose a number of critics have with you, is that you just seem to stir up hate for the sake of it because you want to get a reaction, because you want to provoke, and then you don’t seem to take the consequences for that.

Milo: I don’t think it’s fair to say that I stir up hate. I mean, most people would admit, I think, if they’re being fair and reasonable, it’s very difficult to describe yourself as “not a feminist” if you’re in public life and that’s an enforcement of a particular political orthodoxy that is not shared by the majority of the public. I mean, very few women describe themselves as feminist. Fewer than 1 in 5 in America. Just 7% in England. I’m sure the numbers for Australia, being a very sensitive, ah a very sensible country, are about the same. You know, these ideas that are being enforced in popular culture and on TV are not views reflected in the public, and the gap between the media and the people at home is growing all the time. That’s my insight and what I seek to expose and ridicule and have fun with. Um, it’s perfectly fine if you’re a feminist – my problem isn’t that. My problem is you, not you personally, but my problem is with those feminists who require in public for us all to say we are too, when we might not be. We might think that feminism has run its course and had its day, you know. I’m not particularly interested, um, in anybody else’s specific positions. What I’m interested in is an open marketplace of ideas. You know, a fair, open system where everybody can express themselves without fear of censure. Without fear of professional disaster or fear of social peril just because they cracked the wrong joke on Twitter. Or because they used, you know, the wrong language at work.

Anchor: Can I just interrupt for a second Milo because just picking up what Jess says is you do throw these social hand grenades out there and you say things like “feminism is cancer.” But if you drill down past the headlines and read some of your work – I’ve read your book, I’ve listened to a number of your podcasts – you do make some fair points. But do you think this kind of outrageous schtick that you have is hurting you and turning people off listening to you?

Milo: No, I think the opposite’s happening I mean millions of people on Facebook, a sold-out tour – by the way Sydney is completely sold out. Now we’re adding a new day on the 30th of November – very obviously the opposite is true. There is a huge appetite for someobody who doesn’t mind thumbing their nose and sticking their tongue out and pointing their middle finger up at the scolds and the nannies and the people who want to tell us how to live. For years, Conservatives

SHF: But Milo, you do more than stick your tongue out. I mean, because of the sorts of things you’ve written, along the lines of “Islam is a cancer,” “feminism is a cancer,” you rally…

Milo: I never wrote that actually. That was an invention by journalists. The feminism is true.

SHF: You rally your followers for hate campaigns. There was Leslie Jones, who was in Ghostbusters

Milo: Well what do you mean by “hate campaigns?” I mean, this was invented by the media.

SHF: Well, all the… it was not invented.

Milo: I wrote a review of Ghostbusters… I don’t want to get into the little details but

SHF: But no that isn’t a “little detail”

Milo: I wrote a review of Ghostbusters that defended her.

SHF: It isn’t a little…

Milo: No, no, the “little detail” is that actually, actually I wrote a review of Ghostbusters that defended her. Then, some people said some mean things about her and I was blamed. Well we don’t blame Beyonce when her fans say mean things to Taylor Swift. We don’t blame Justin Bieber when his followers

SHF: But wait a minute. They were your followers. They were your followers who said incredibly racist things

Milo: Says who? Says who?

SHF: Her.

Milo: Some mean people… and I went on CNN and I said it was horrible. I said it was terrible. But I’m not responsible for what they say. I’m responsible for what I say.

SHF: So then why don’t you take more of a consequence of what you say. Because I think there is so much hate in the world and you seem to think it’s funny. You seem to sort of think it’s…

Milo: Mmm-hmm. Oh I do think it… Oh no no no … Well, most of what’s characterized as “hate” and “abuse” and “harassment” – this is all a sort of hysterical drumming, it’s like a moral panic by the media.

SHF: How is it a moral panic?

Milo: The reality is, some people in power don’t like jokes being made about them and I’m perfectly happy to tell jokes about powerful people because they can take it. I don’t tell jokes about ordinary private citizens. I don’t ruin the lives of private citizens like journalists do.

SHF: Well, I think there are people who would take issue with that.

Milo: Gawker’s journalists who destroyed that woman Justine Sacco because she told the wrong joke. I tell jokes about people in power. I tell jokes about politicians, celebrities, journalists, university professors. I tell jokes about people in positions of huge institutional power who can take it. I punch up, not down. Um, you know, and I tell jokes that a lot of people find funny and are amusing and now the actions of a small

SHF: But do you punch up? Because the point is what you do is that because you continue this hate, it then encourages other people to think, you know what this is alright to have a steps-on mentality…

Milo: You keep calling it hate. I think… I think you are over-egging the pudding. Keeping cause… you know a gay man who tells a few waspish jokes …

SHF: Over-egging the pudding when women have threats of rape made against them on Twitter. You think that’s “over-egging the pudding,” do you?

Milo: Well, you’re implying that I’m responsible for rape threats now on the basis of no evidence whatsoever.

Male Panelist: I don’t think Milo actually said any of those things you’re talking about. People who follow him.

Milo: Why do you think I’m responsible? I think you might be misled by new reports. I think I’m probably the most lied about person in America if not in the world. I think, and I sincerely believe that you are being straight up with me and are conducting the interview with integrity but I think that you’ve been misled by inaccurate press reports about what I have personally, actually done. And very often you’ll find – because I’m in the midst of these culture wars in America which are very bloody and very dirty, full of name calling and false accusations, right the way up to the Washington Post – I think that’ you’ve been misled. If you could give me a specific instance of something…

SHF: Why do you call Donald Trump “daddy.”

Milo: Let me just finish my point and then I’ll tell you why I call him Daddy. If you can think of a specific instance in which I have ever said anything that has directly given rise to rape threats against some woman please tell me because I don’t know what it is. What I do is crack jokes about celebrities.

SHF: Well, Leslie Jones would say that you have. And you were taken off Twitter.

Milo: No no no let me tell you: Leslie Jones – not to get too much into this because I’ve been over it so many times – but Leslie Jones was responsible for targeted harassment on that platform. I wasn’t. Leslie Jones was retweeting all kinds of stuff about me. I barely mentioned her except to crack a joke about her looks which I’m entitled to do. If I can’t comment about a celebrity being ugly then literally the roof is going to come down and the First Amendment is dead. Um, you know.

SHF: Yeah, but you got to take some consequence for it and all this stuff you did with Gamergate

Milo: You know, well, I do, I accept responsibility for my own actions. And you can throw out names like Gamergate which your viewers are not going to understand but the reality is I took the side of what I considered to be consumers over the establishment. The consumers, actual video gamers, who were worried about their art form being poisoned by social justice just like social justice has ruined comic books, ruined Hollywood, ruined the Academy, ruined journalism, and everybody agrees with this. 65% of people in America think the press routinely makes stuff up. Why? Politics. The Left. And we didn’t want that same thing to happen to video games so we resisted it and for our trouble we were called all manner of terrible things and accused of things we did not do.

SHF: ‘Cause you trolled women, that’s why.

Older Female Panelist: Can I just ask a question?

Milo: All kinds of things get thrown… did I troll women? You seem to be, you are accusing me of things I never did. I’m responsible for what *I* do. I’m much more interested, by the way, in your question about Daddy Donald Trump. I called him that because I think it sort of annoys everybody, but also because it reflected the role that Donald Trump was playing in Culture and society at the time. He was one of those people who kind of slightly made you cringe sometimes, made you a little embarrassed sometimes, but was basically right, basically had your interests at heart, and if you stuck by him you knew he was going to look after you in the end. I found that a lot of female voters, who you might not have imaged would vote for Trump, perhaps because of his locker room talk or whatever, were voting for him anyway and they loved him. Why? Because he was this strong, masculine figure who projected strength and maybe a little machismo. Versus the previous president who was you know limp-wristed and useless and never, never inspired her. There were no women fainting in the aisles or, you know, light-headed on the chaise-longue for Obama towards the end. But there were for Trump and I found it fascinating. and I so anyway I called him Daddy and it annoyed the left and the right which is exactly where I live. If both sides are upset with me, that’s what I want. I want the conservatives and liberals mad with me, then I know that I’m probably OK.

Older Female Panelist:  I just want to… Are you the subject of fake news then?

Milo: Of course! Of course. I mean any conservative in public life is going to be routinely, you know, lied about, demeaned, ridiculed… Look at how hard they’ve come at me. They’ve called called me a pedophile apologist when actually, I’m the victim of it. They’ve called me a neo-nazi and a white supremacist when actually, white supremacists and neo-nazis hate me the Daily Stormer which is the biggest white supremacist blog in the world declared a holy crusade against me. No one reported that. They threatened to boycott where I worked until where I worked fired me. Nobody reported that. The fact is the far left and the far right both hate me equally but it’s only the left that gets reported and that consistently because I’m effective – get smeared as far right. When somebody calls me far right what they actually mean is I’m right-wing a really good at my job. I’m right wing and I’m persuasive. And this far-right label is something the media does to attempt to suggest that I’m beyond the pale and not fit for public consumption. Well guess what? I am and millions of people agree. My book, despite no mainstream media interviews, despite no reviews in the mainstream press, was on the New York Times bestseller list for 5 weeks. You don’t get that by being some crazy hateful crank. You get that by telling jokes and telling the truth that ordinary people want to hear and by speaking truth to power. All of my readers understand it because they actually read what I say instead of reading what people say about me. And all of my viewers and my fans and the people who come to my shows get it because they actually listen to me instead of what left-wing journalists say about me.

Male panelist: I certainly understand Milo. And when you speak, you know, you’re often very funny, often very witty,

Milo: Thank you

Male panelist: …and a lot of what you say is often very interesting. I remember listening to a speech you gave at one of the universities where you talked about you know the origins of religion and the role of marriage in protecting women’s rights, making it about consent, and I love history and I thought that was very interesting. And I think you made a lot of good and unfashionable points. And then it sort of veered off into something along the lines of, and you know, aren’t all feminists ugly or something like that. I just kind of wondered if, I mean, have you become now a sort of captive of some of these, a bunch of followers or a sort of mob that wants to cheer and shout when you say things like that but actually doesn’t get you?

Milo: No…

Male Panelist: I mean I kind of get the feeling that Donald Trump wouldn’t actually get you. He wouldn’t actually understand half the jokes you’re making.

Milo: Well, daddy never gets… the daddies never get their children but um no, I don’t think that’s true. I think that what I do is weave highbrow and lowbrow. In my columns you’ll see, you know, low-rent jokes and you’re like, “ugh, that was low-hanging fruit” or “uuuh, do you have to be so mean?” It was like News Flash: gay guys can be catty. I try to blend low culture with theology, with history, with sociology, with science. So you come to one of my talks, you know I did, I talked about how fabulous Christmas was, which I think is the one you are referring to. I was talking in theological terms about how the church invented marriage as a way of protecting women…

Male Panelist: Yep. Yep.

Milo: …and how that comes from, you know, catholic tradition and all the rest of it. My talk “10 Things I hate About Islam,” which was obviously provocatively titled, then went into the theological differences between Christianity and Islam. The conception of God being different, you know how to practice faith. I try to blend lowbrow and highbrow. It’s very unnerving to people. They don’t know how to deal with it and it’s very threatening.

Male Panelist: I don’t want to interrupt right now but you make a lot of good points about the censoriousness of the left and the outrageous things that’s happening on US campuses now where they are just shutting down debate and banning people and calling anyone they disagree with a fascist.

Milo: All true.

Male Panelist: But I guess it sort of gets undermined when you unleash these kind of primal forces that we’re seeing in politics now on the extremes.

Milo: No no, but it’s only journalists. It’s only journalists who think that my position on this is undermined by my language here. Everybody else loves it. It’s only journalists because they’re so “earnest” and “high-minded” and stuffy and pompous. No offense I’m not talking about you but other journalists who say this stuff, you know.

Male Panelist: No no, that’s all right

Milo: We’re just getting to know one another so I don’t know what you think, but other journalists who say this stuff you know they give <pompous fake voice> “Oh, lurra lurra couldn’t possibly use this language hurra lurra lurra.” Give me a break! If I want to say that feminists are fat and ugly, which, by the way, most of them are, then I will.

SHF: No they are not! They are not! That’s… <frustrated sigh>

Anchor: <laughing>

Male Panelist: <sharp intake of breath> Heh heh heh! Here we go…

Milo: If I were to say at the same time, you know, if I want to make a complex historical point about the different emergences of strands of feminism, if I want to talk about the virtues, you know, of equity feminism versus whatever, I can be both and I can do both and you know what it shows, when people are upset about those two things, it shows that there is a double standard at work. You are perfectly happy for Jon Stewart, for Bill Maher, for Stephen Colbert to blend highbrow and lowbrow, to be both comedians and cultural commentators, to be clowns and historians. You’re perfectly happy when a left-winger does it. But for some reason, now I’ve arrived, I’m the first person on the right ever to do it and suddenly people are like “Wait! You’re not supposed to do that. Conservatives aren’t supposed to behave like this. Wait – you can’t be real and funny and dangerous and also a bit offensive and be able to talk about Nietzsche and Sartre and Heidegger and Descartes! What is going on here?” Well, I’m sorry but this is a double standard. We’ve had it for decades on the left. Well, now you have it on the right. Welcome to the new era. If people don’t like it and people can’t cope with my blend of elevated discourse as well as low-rent cattiness, that merely demonstrates their own hypocrisy. The fact is most people love what I do. They come to my shows in droves which is why we’re sold out in Sydney. I’m looking forward to selling tens of thousands of copies of my book when it goes on sale November 2nd in Australia. And I can’t wait to explore the country because Australia is I think my number 3 place for fans. Millions of Australians watch my stuff. They come to read my columns and watch my videos. I think Australia need saving from their own media.

Male Panelist: laughs

SHF: pbbbbb

Panelist: awwwwwww

Anchor: Alllllll right. Well Penthouse Australia is bringing Milo Yiannopoulos on his Troll Academy Tour to Adelaide Perth Melbourne Sydney and the Gold Coast from November. You can get all the details from

Milo: Thank you

Anchor: <to SHF:> You’ll need a little lie-down after that interview. Milo thank you so much.

Milo: Thank you so much. [applause]

Ways to Supercharge Your Paraliminal Use; Or, How to Address Phone Addiction and Social Media Issues

I’ve gotten some requests for the best ways to use the Paraliminals series of change work sessions.

I’ve used them for years, and while there are many effective change work sets out there, I recommend the Paraliminals because they work very well without causing any conflicts or downstream issues. So you can use them without anything going wrong.

As you read through these, I’m going to use 2 examples: phone addiction issues and social media comparison dysphoria (that is, always feeling left out, inferior, or “fake” due to usage of social media).

Also – consider that you might want to use these links when you buy them because it helps me support the site while helping you make changes in your life.

1. Address the issue at the proper chunk level

Is your issue is “phone addiction,” there are ways to address that globally, but that might not address all the different aspects. You could address it as:

  • Phone addiction
  • Addiction to Instagram
  • Addiction to notifications
  • Addiction to likes
  • Addiction to the sound of Instagram notifications

At each smaller chunk size, you can target more accurately. At each larger chunk size, you can target more completely. Select the right chunk size for the job.

For the social media comparison example:

  • Feeling inferior to others
  • Feeling inferior about others having more friends
  • Feeling inferior to X because he has more friends than I do
  • Feeling inferior to X about the pictures of his party

You could do a similar line for feeling left out, or fake.

One strategy is to use a “bottom up” approach by addressing the first or most intense episode of an issue. Many times that will lessen the intensity of the rest.

2. Consider addressing the internal process or “strategy” that creates the problematic state or situation

If you feel inferior to others after using social media, you are almost certainly comparing yourself to what you think others’ lives are like. One trap is to compare yourself in some area to the best you see on social media. That is like playing soccer solo against a team of 500. That’s not even remotely reasonable.

Two ways to adjust this are to feel better about yourself and to change your internal interpretation of what things on social media mean. For example, instead of comparing yourself to the best you see on social media, you can drop that path entirely and instead compare your performance to how you performed in the past. (Notice there are two shifts here: 1) from comparing your self, to comparing your performance, and 2) from comparing against others, to comparing against your own former performance).

Phone addiction is generally a combination of feeling empty and self-medicating with a hit from your phone.

3. Consider a multipronged approach for complex issues

For phone addiction, any of these may help:

For social media dysphoria:

4. Sleep and repeat

Create a playlist for a particular listening session like this:

  • Track 1
  • Track 2
  • Track 3 (the “sleep learning” track)
  • Track 3
  • Track 3
  • Track 3
  • Track 3
  • Track 3
  • Track 4

Listen to your session as you go to sleep. As long as you set your intention during track 1, your mind will wake you up when you have made enough changes for the current session. At that point skip to track 4 to finish up. This can help with an issue with a lot of layers to it.

5. Read through the booklets

It is well worth the time to read the accompanying booklets because there is a wealth of great information in them that can help you get the most out of the sessions.

6. Bonus: A story about phone addiction

I think we all, at some point in our lives, have thought that our phones were becoming an unhealthy habit. Now, I can remember when I first realized my phone was causing problems with my life. I had spent some time on Facebook and wasn’t feeling great about things. I contacted a friend to meet for coffee and as we sat down, I asked him a question: do we use our phones too much? He thought for a moment, and told me how he was out to dinner the other night and everyone at the table was on their phone at the same time. The person to his right was taking a picture of the food for Instagram, and the person to his left was checking in on Facebook. His girlfriend was on Twitter and he himself was texting a friend. He suddenly stopped cold, put his phone down and looked around — really looked around. At other tables people were talking, laughing, smiling, listening to each other and being listened to. He saw one man lean over and kiss his date. They were connecting. He looked back at his table and realized he and his party were not. He thought, “This needs to change now so I don’t miss out on any more real life that everyone else is enjoying.”

So right then, he set his iPhone to reduce motion, he set his screen to greyscale, and he turned off all his notifications except for his family, his girlfriend, and 3 close friends. He got everyone’s attention at the table and told them what he did, and suggested they do the same, for at least while they were at dinner, because it is good to really connect. And they did.

Finishing his story at the coffee shop, he then answered my question, “Yes, most people do use their phones too much. But we all kept our phones in greyscale and minimized our phone alerts, even after the dinner was over.” And now, looking back on that time I first realized my phone was becoming a problem, I’m glad I did it too, because since then things have been different, and because it IS good to really connect.

Parsing the Scott Adams – Sam Harris Podcast for Persuasion, Part 8

Read my intro here and some background on belief structures here.

The podcast itself is called “Triggered!

Previous sections: Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7. You might notice some techniques I pointed out in those posts that I don’t point out below. That’s deliberate.

My notes in blue.

Note that there may be a difference between my own opinion and my parsing of what the persuasion is communicating.

And thank @RolyPolyIsTaken and @MattMcCombs17 for this transcription!


Adams: So, let me ask you this. So you know that he tells us he uses hyperbole to make his point. You know that he, uh, says things during the campaign that are slightly different from the things he would say as president because we, we observe that to be true. [ Cialdini because, pacing, visual ] He’s –

Harris: I’m not so sure about that at this point, frankly, ‘cause he didn’t get saner as president.

Adams: Well, he did

Harris: Or much saner

Adams: Well, look he backed off waterboarding, he backed off deporting ten million people all at once. He backed off going after the families of the terrorists [ Supporting examples ]

Harris: But then he accused Obama as wiretapping him. He’s just as much the loose cannon, he’s just on to different topics. [ Counter example. Note that as of this writing, Trump has been proven correct that his communications were monitored during the campaign. ]

Adams: Well, even the wiretapping thing, the government is listening to all of our conversations all the time right, [ Reframe from notable exception to the norm ]

 Harris: Well no, well first of all no, and second of all, for the sitting president of the united states to accuse the previous president of having wire tapped him, I mean it’s a very specific claim. That is, one, on its face, crazy, but two, and crazy to allege without evidence—

Adams: But before you go on, would you acknowledge that when he says “taping” or “wiretapping”, he’s speaking in a, you know, a general sense about monitoring communication, you would agree that that’s – [ Pre-emptively denying Harris a way out via changing definitions, or what Adams calls “word-thinking” ]

Harris: I don’t even think he knows what he was saying, because he put –it wasn’t “wiretapping” in quotes? – I mean he’s talking about Trump tower being bugged, essentially.

Adams: Right, so, but I’m just, we’re trying to make sure that we’re on the same page here. You would agree that he meant that word to be generally, “monitoring communications.”

Harris: I’m just saying imagine, just imagine Obama coming into office and having immediately accused George Bush of having wiretapped him. I mean it would just – [ Visual, then Harris doesn’t agree to the definition but changes topics ]

Adams: Are you giving me an analogy? Because…

Harris: It’s more than an analogy. It’s still the US presidency. [ Semantically confusing construction here. ] We’re talking about the US presidency at two different time points. It’s such crazy uncivil behavior, it’s the new normal because of the chaos that he has introduced to our political system. You can’t even focus on it because there’s a hundred things like that. [ Harris literally can’t create focused images in his mind about it here. Also absurdity: “a hundred things” ] Scott, I see we’re getting to the two hour mark here and I’m, I’m mindful of your time and I’m also mindful of when I’m going to lose this studio. I want to just pivot just for a second to the Russia thing because I think we kind of blew past it, and I don’t think we’re going to get into it very deeply. Obviously, the news is moving away from us as quickly as a rocketship at the moment. I mean we’re having this conversation I think the day after the recent Donald Trump Jr. epiphanies with his, having given his emails to the public and everyone’s having their reaction to that. Who knows what things will look like when we release this. But I just want to bring you to your views on the Russia thing, because you wrote a blog post titled, “Russia Hacked Our Election, So What?” And you seem to believe – again this is somewhat apace with your relationship to the climate science topic. You seem to believe that there’s either some uncertainty about whether Russia did much of anything or whether it would even be wrong if they did, and you seem to doubt whether Russia is really all that hostile to our interests, and whether Putin is really that bad a guy, and whether there’s really anything here to be concerned about. And so I just want you to represent what in fact you think there.

Adams: Well, I think you have to look at this Russia thing in its individual parts, because they’re not all equal. [ Reframe to smaller chunk size ] To the extent that if Russia hacked into, uh, any American servers with the intent of influencing the election, that would be a topic of revenge. In other words, the appropriate response would be for our spook services to pay back, as soon as we can and in kind, and, you know, with proportional force, and the American public may never know what’s happening there. But we assume, I assume that that sort of stuff goes on. At the same time, it makes sense for the president not to be burning bridges unnecessarily. Because we’re always doing this poking back and forth below the hood, so you know, being nice with somebody who has similar interests to us, at least in terms of ISIS, at least in terms of NK to some extent, makes sense at the moment. So I think that in all likelihood, we don’t know what’s happening under the hood, with the, what our cyber people are doing, [ Pointing out that none of us have visibility into the cyber espionage world. Lessens the certainty. ] but I would be astonished, astonished if the man who’s most famous for revenge and never letting anybody get away with anything, is letting this slide. [laugh] You know, he may wait for his chance, but I don’t think he’s going to let this slide. [ Taking a trait that Harris has assigned to Trump and applying it against Harris’ argument. ]

Harris: So you’re not concerned that he has a double allegiance to either the Russians who have invested heavily in his properties, or that he’s in any way compromised by Russia so that [stumbling] that explains how soft he has been on them and how incredulous he has been about, this being a scandal and all, the fact that he would relate to this as fake news. [ Tell for cognitive dissonance: “so” plus an absurd absolute “double allegiance to Russia.” ] You think there’s just no “there” there.

Adams: Umm, I think it’s not a one variable world. I think that everyone is influenced by all of those big factors. [ Pace, big picture. ] So he’s influenced by wanting to do a good job, he’s influenced by wanting to lose face, not wanting to lose to Putin, he’s influenced by, I’m sure, the fate of the Trump empire. But it’s one of many variables that are swirling around. [ Big picture reframe, or as Adams calls it, a “higher ground” reframe. ]

Harris: But what do you make of all the, like all the contacts with Russia, that were all lied about until they were revealed. So you’ve got, and now the most recent one is, Don Jr. We’ve got him on camera on CNN or wherever it was having to respond to the charge that they’ve had all kinds of contacts with Russia, and representatives of Russia, and he says, “This is an absolute lie, it just shows that you know, my father’s opponents will stoop to anything,” and we know that he did that interview like, hours, after he just met with this Russian lawyer, right? So it’s just like, we have him lying…

Adams: Wait a minute. But we also know that what they talked about was trivial. [ Irrelevance ]

Harris: Oh uh, okay, but everyone in this campaign has been misrepresenting their level of contact with Russia, and it’s only dribbling out… [ Harris chunks up to “everyone” in the campaign. Another absurd absolute ]

Adams: No, you just misrepresented his level of contact. [ Adams calls it out ]

Harris: Yeah, well his, I mean

[both talking at once]

Adams: Wait hold on, I can’t let that go. You suggested that that meeting had something to do with the Russian government, and it turns out it didn’t.

Harris: Well no, it did, it did because he believed that it did. I mean the email trail was him showing his absolute willingness to collaborate with the Russian government to get some dirt on Clinton. I mean that, that’s…

Adams: Well, collaborate and collusion, you know there’s…

Harris: Well I’m not even focused on the technicality of whether or not he’s guilty of a crime.

Scott: Let me ask this.

Harris: I’m just saying this

Scott: Let me ask this.

Harris: Everyone’s talking to Russia over there and they’re lying about it. [ Absurd absolute “everyone,” a tell for cognitive dissonance. ] Again, the starting position from Trump and everyone on down was, “There has been zero contact.” That’s their position. And yet they’ve had all this contact.

Adams: Wait, wait, did they say they had not talked with anyone who is a Russian citizen, or did they have no contact with Russia as a, you know, their intelligence or their government? [ Moving to a smaller chunk size to de-conflate Russian citizens and Russian government. ]

Harris: It has been every possible permutation [ Absurd absolute ] of, “I’ve got nothing to do with Russia. I’ve got no investments in Russia, I’ve got no connection with Russia, I don’t know anything about Russia, no one on my campaign has talked to Russia, or anyone representing Russia.” I mean anything like that.

Adams: And do you think that twenty minute conversation that was about adoption or something… [ Providing missing information – topic and length of meeting. Relevance. ]

Harris: [increasingly distressed for the past minute] Well no it wasn’t about adoption. The set-up in the email was, “We’ve got dirt on Clinton, do you want to meet with us?” and he said, “I love it, I’ll be there in five seconds!”

Adams: I gotta ask you this Sam: how would you have handled the situation? [ Thought train interrupt on Harris. Also Cialdini comparison principle – Harris is comparing Trump Jr.’s behavior to the ideal behavior with the benefit of hindsight; Adams changes it to comparing Trump Jr.’s behavior to Harris’ ideal. Then from the Cialdini reciprocity principle, after giving his version, Harris is obliged to give Adams a chance to offer one, and Adams’ version will be a reframed comparison. ]

Harris: Okay no but that’s a change of topic. [ Correct ] I would have, I would have called the FBI is the short answer.

Adams: Well hold on, hold on. So if you called the FBI and let’s say its June, and the election is coming up. Suppose it was something vital, like it was important. Suppose it (H: Oh please) was something that the voters (H: please) wanted to know. [ Stripping away the benefits of hindsight from the decision making process and showing how Trump Jr. did not have them at the time of decision. ]

Harris: Please. To take the actual, a relevant example, although probably a harder case was, I believe this happened in 2000 with Gore where, some, I don’t know hack, or just stolen material from the Bush campaign was brought to the Gore campaign. And they, without looking at it, called the FBI, right? So like, cause, “No, we’re not going to use this because this is illegal, and this is unethical, and we’re not going to be part of this.” [ Precedent as a comparison reference point ] I’m not imagining that everyone who does opposition research for presidential candidates has to be held to an ethical standard that I would hold myself to in my daily life. I don’t have too many illusions about how dirty all of that gets, [ Pacing objection ] but here you have a known hostile foreign power intruding into our process, and that puts it, that puts it completely out for normal opposition research.

Adams: Let me tell you how I would have handled it in that same situation. I would have first gone to the meeting and found out what they had. I would expect that it would be nothing because it’s the sort of offer that you expect to be exaggerated. So I would go there because my contact said I should, and you know I’m just, it’s a personal connection of some sort. I would go there, I would listen. If it turned out to be important and something that law enforcement needed to know about, I would let them know, [ Reasonable alternative ] but I would also know what the information is first. Cause here’s the thing. If you turned it over to the FBI and it was something big – and I’m not saying it’s likely that that would be the case – but if it was something big, ’cause that’s how it was alleged, you would have put the decision for who became president into the hands of James Comey. Because he would decide – well he would decide whether he’s leaking it or announcing it. That would be his decision. ‘Cause you have given (Sam interrupting) Let me just finish. If you also knew the information, because you obtained it first, and then you said, “Oh my god, there’s something fishy here, FBI get involved.” Then you have also maintained the option of letting the American public know this information if it was important. And I can’t imagine as a voter that I wouldn’t want to know important information – [ This is one of the best reframes of the entire podcast. Adams shows how Harris’ answer is actually worse for Harris’ own point than what actually happened. Namely, calling the FBI right away would potentially be worse for a free democratic election because it would potentially take the election out of the hands of the American people and into the hands of the FBI director, if the “dirt” would have changed the course of the election had it been disseminated. This is particularly effective because one of Harris’ repeated arguments has been that Trump is bad for democracy, is autocratic and authoritarian. Turning Harris’ own argument against him is effective. ]

Harris: The important information here is that there is concerted effort by Russia to influence our election in, in every conceivable way. [ Big picture; chunking up ] Through hacking, through propaganda, through… Those are quite distinct actions I would grant you, but there’s been a full court press to influence it to one end: to install president Trump. I mean clearly none of this has been in favor of Clinton. And what we have is a Trump campaign and now a Trump presidency that has stonewalled this at every opportunity, that has not tried to get all the facts out to put them in the hands of the American people, but to brand this as fake news, to brand this as a hoax, to brand this as scaremongering that will lead to a war with Russia, right? There’s all this talk about, “What do you want, World War Three?” You can’t be pressing on this door… [ More absurd absolutes: full court press, install, none, every. Ends with a kino. ]


ADAMS:      How much time should a president spend delegitimizing his own administration? [ Reframes what Harris calls “stonewalling” to a reasonable refusal to avoid weakening his own administration. ]

HARRIS:      It’s not a matter of delegitimizing his own administration. I can tell you what he should have said before being president, as a candidate. Rather than saying “I hope Russia hacks Hillary’s e-mails, because I’d like to read them…”

ADAMS:      You took that as a joke, didn’t you? [ Reframe ]

HARRIS:      Did you take “lock her up” as a joke too? [ Counter example ]

ADAMS:      Of course. [ Adams remains consistent ]

HARRIS:      So when he said “When I become president, I’m going to get together some lawyers to look into your situation”, you didn’t take that as an actual threat?

ADAMS:      I did not.

HARRIS:      You thought that was a joke?

ADAMS:      Not a joke – well yeah, it was a joke because it got a laugh – but it was clearly hyperbole because…

HARRIS:      It didn’t get a laugh. It got cheers from people who would want to see that happen. It got cheers from his partisans.

ADAMS:      It was a crowd-pleaser. [ Larger chunk size. Joke is a subset of crowd-pleaser here. ]

HARRIS:      Yeah, but again, I would score this as a significant harm to our political conversation, and you would score it as just something that pleased his base. [ Chunking up ]

ADAMS:      Your assumption is that she was not guilty of anything that was worthy of… [ Another reframe. Makes people consider the case if she were guilty of something substantial. Also Cialdini comparison. ]

HARRIS:      Well no – leave that aside – yes, I assume she’s not guilty of something worthy of prison time, certainly on that score. But violating the norm in our democracy, threatening that if you win the presidency, you are going to lock up your opponent – that is in disastrously bad taste at a minimum, for what it is to have to function as a stable democracy and a peaceful transition of power. That’s just way beyond the pale. [ Chunk up: Trump as threat to democracy itself. ]

ADAMS:      I believe that, for a different kind of candidate, I would definitely agree with you pretty strongly. [ Pace without an actual concession ] In the context of President Trump, who was well known by all observers to say stuff like this, it does come across differently to me. [ Using Trump’s reputation as hyperbolic in his favor. Social proof. ]

HARRIS:      Okay, so I just want to come back – and again, sorry I’m being motivated by time constraints now – I just want to come back to your point where you didn’t really answer my question about how you perceive all of this entanglement with Russia. He basically claims he’s got nothing to do with Russia, and none of his surrogates have anything to do with Russia. And then it just keeps coming out that his campaign had more contact with Russia in every conceivable way than anyone has ever seen from a campaign [ Absurd absolute: every conceivable way ]. There are clearly instances now where they have been lying about it. They made false declarations on their security forms, or most charitably, incomplete declarations on their security forms. They have to keep amending the story. I’m just wondering how you perceive this. [ Sets this frame: my frame is reality, but how do you subjectively perceive it? ] Is this just some kind of strange accident that doesn’t look good, or there’s just an entanglement with Russia that is potentially meaningful and undisclosed? [ Giving Adams 2 alternatives: agree with Harris, or present a weak argument. ]

ADAMS:      So I’ll give you the view from the right. [ Adams avoids the credibility hit from supporting a weak argument. He also sidesteps Harris’ bind and presents a third alternative. ] The view from the right is that the mainstream media has largely turned a lot of nothing into something. Because if you drill down into any one of these cases, they sound like they’re something, until you get to the bottom and you’re not so sure. [ Again, attacking certainty ] I’ll just give you a few examples. Let’s say we know that the IP addresses for the hackers of the DNC were Russia-based. So you say “oh my God, that’s pretty bad”. And then you hear an expert say “well, that’s how you hide where you’re really coming from, you just act like it’s over in Russia”. I have personally talked to somebody who has used that trick, to use an IP address in Russia, for a different project [ First hand knowledge enhances credibility ]. So technically that can be done. So I say to myself “okay, there might be something there, and we should definitely find out what that is, but on the surface it doesn’t mean anything.” [ Process language; how to interpret news about Russia ]

HARRIS:      Okay, but what should mean something – and again, this is analogous to what you’re tending to do with climate science. We have our full intelligence apparatus declaring – in a bipartisan way – this happened, it was Russia. You’re not privy to top secret information. You don’t know what they know. Why are you tempted to second guess how they have analyzed the IP addresses? [ Cialdini appeal to authority, credibility attack ]

ADAMS:      Well, just because we don’t know, and we know that there are…

HARRIS:      But they’re saying they know. I’ll give you an example of where you would just never do this. Just imagine if NASA announced today that there was an asteroid that was on an Earth-crossing orbit. They’re really worried about it. Their current calculations suggest that it could come within 5,000 miles of Earth, give or take 5,000 miles. JPL and the other labs come forward and say “Jesus Christ, this is the scariest thing we’ve ever seen. This is a serious problem. It’s all hands on deck. We’ve got to figure out what to do about this.” And you don’t even own a telescope. You would not be tempted to say “you know what, I haven’t seen those calculations, and I’m not so sure”. You have to outsource some of your reality testing to the people you’ve hired to do it for you. And in this case, we’ve got all these intelligence agencies looking at Russia.

ADAMS:      But would you also agree that we have notable examples where the intelligence agencies… [ Counter example ]

HARRIS:      Of course. Of course. But then the remedy for that is more and better intelligence. It’s not the next tweet from somebody who will say “I just talked to Putin and looked into his eyes, and he said he didn’t do it.” [ Comparison: intelligence community vs tweets ]

ADAMS:      Let me finish my point, because I think when you see the context, it will make more sense [ Future pace ]. So if the intelligence agencies know stuff we don’t know, and they’re right, and Russia and its government were behind hacking the servers, that’s important and I would expect that our administration would pay them back in kind, and we may never know what that is. But the trouble is that you start lumping the things that are real, or could be real, with the things that just sort of sound like they almost are kind of real. [ De-conflating ]  And then you start building this – “well, when there’s so much smoke, there must be fire.” So the things that are less real, like the Don Jr. meeting, that really I would have taken, frankly. I would have taken that meeting just to get the information in case it mattered, and then I would have turned it over if that was the right thing to do – turn it over to the FBI or whoever. So I would have handled it the same way, and I would think any seasoned businessperson would also handle it the same way.

HARRIS:      You’re wandering off the actual thing I’m asking about, which is not so much evaluating the quality of the intelligence about Russia. It’s the fact that we have an administration, we have Trump and everyone below him [ absolute ], consistently representing the fact that they’ve had no contact with Russia, or no contact that they remember with Russia. It continually [absolute] gets found out that they’ve had meetings that they have, at the very least, not been forthcoming about, and which there’s no credible reason to think that they would have forgotten about. What do you make of the fact that there’s that level of dishonesty about a connection to Russia?

ADAMS:      So let’s take some of those examples where we know for a fact that there were contacts – you’re thinking about General Flynn? [ Chunking down ]

HARRIS:      I’m thinking about all of it. Sessions, Flynn, Don Jr., the investments that we know happened that Trump is lying about. Look at the son saying that they’ve got massive investment from Russia. And then we’ve got Trump saying that he never has Russian investors, got no loans from Russia, no business in Russia, all the rest.

ADAMS:      So the business stuff, I haven’t seen good reporting on that yet, but I’ll take your word for that. [ Pace ] But if we’re talking about the Sessions, and Flynn, and Don Jr. encounters with Russians, apparently once we drill down, they were fairly trivial. In other words, nobody is suggesting that those things that they left off their forms actually were material.

HARRIS:      I have to remind our listeners that we’re having this conversation 24-48 hours after the story broke. When you’re listening to this, there’s probably another week of reporting, so who knows what is true now. Don Jr.’s e-mail exchange makes it very clear what the purpose of the meeting is, and it was not the first thing that he represented when this was starting to leak out over the weekend. And you’ve got Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort also in that meeting, and also sent the e-mail. So it’s the three of them. These are the top level people in the administration now, going to a meeting that’s billed as with an emissary of the Russian government to get dirt on Clinton. This is one of the meetings that they never disclosed and claimed they never had. We’ve got Don Jr. being interviewed about this topic that night, and he’s saying that there’s no contact with Russia, and what a scurrilous lie this is to suggest that there could be any contact with Russia.

ADAMS:      I would have been tempted to leave that off of my form too…

HARRIS:      Well it’s illegal!

ADAMS:      Hold on, hold on, because it was trivial and it turned out to be nothing, and I was duped into going. So I’m not sure I would have put that on my form, or even remembered it frankly.

HARRIS:      [laughs] Okay. To watch this interview with Don Jr., which we know came immediately after this e-mail exchange and meeting, is to be in the presence of someone who is *absolutely* lying about something they *must* remember. There’s just no way. This is unforgettable. It’s like me just getting on television saying I’ve never spoken to Scott Adams in my life. There’s just no way to do it. [ Absolutes. Also mind-reading. ]

ADAMS:      Sam, he didn’t say – I didn’t watch whatever you saw – but I’m pretty sure he didn’t say “I haven’t talked to anybody from Russia.” [ Untangling the nuances to eliminate any straw man aspects. ]

HARRIS:      Well no, but it’s just the allegation was that the campaign has been in dialogue with the Russian government and there’s Russian influence here…

ADAMS:      And that example was him not being in dialogue with anybody. He was just fooled about the nature of a meeting.

HARRIS:      Please. Please. Alright. Unfortunately we are out of time. I will let our listeners adjudicate what sort of progress we made or didn’t make. The thing I most appreciate about this conversation is the tone and mutual goodwill, and the fact that you went down this rabbit hole with me. The goal here obviously is better understanding of ourselves and the world, and how we can get to a good place. I just think more of what are in fact very fraught and very hard conversations need to be had, in this spirit of being willing to meet with goodwill and just hashing it out. [ Higher ground ]

ADAMS:      I would say the same. I think you’re a force for good, and I’ve been a big fan for a very long time. I love what you do, and I love that you would have this conversation. [ Higher ground ]

HARRIS:      And I should say there are many things – I said this at the top – though we sound like we disagree about everything here, the moment we would make a lateral move onto other topics, we agree about so many things. Just having read enough of your book, I know we agree about things like free will, and the point you raised about goals versus systems. All of that is very interesting, and could be the topic of a very fruitful conversation. [ Higher ground ]

ADAMS:      And I would go so far as to say that when you read my new book Win Bigly about persuasion and about the election, that the gap between us will close substantially. [ Higher ground ]

HARRIS:      I look forward to that Scott, and I wish you all the best with what you’re doing. Just give people your Twitter feed or whatever else you want them to know about where to find you online. 

ADAMS:      That’s @ScottAdamsSays on Twitter.

HARRIS:      Thank you Scott. To be continued.

ADAMS:      Alright, thank you Sam. (2:17:12)