American Inceptionalism

Premise 1: I am not very politically focused.

Premise 2: I post like crazy against Trumpism.

Conclusion: I see more than politics at work in Trumpism.

Trumpism is an example of a common problem. How we think we make decisions is often mistaken. In two short videos, we can see the problem at work.

Linguistics & Confidence Tricks

How does this guy make 2 of 3 successful purchases with blank paper?

How does this work!?! 

[Hint: Why didn’t it work with the middle guy?]

Watch this amazing 1:30 clip below. Then I’ll connect the trick & Trump.

Blank Paper & Broad Policy Mind Tricks

Overloaded people say things like “I can’t think straight” or “I can’t even hear myself think!”.  To whom are we referring when we split “I” and “myself“?

There is a voice that speaks to us from our internal processing. That is the private “myself”. That part of us is the “myself” who feeds lines to the “I” who then acts publicly.

Tim Urban’s Procrastination Ted Talk Simplification:

instant gratification monkey

Everyone knows the battle between our “Rational Decision-Maker” and our “Instant Gratification Monkey”. But the internal split is not just a procrastination problem. We all have divided internal dialogue all the time.  This is where the trick comes in.

“What if there was a way from the outside to affect what is listened to on the inside?”

When an option is inserted into our mind in a form that sounds a lot like it came from “myself“, the “I” may accept that message as its own. The “I” trusts that the part of the mind where “myself” appears to give a reasoned conclusion. That part of the mind must have worked through the concerns and it really is ok to just take it. It is fine.

“It’s okay, take it. Take it, it’s fine.”

When the interesting customer says “It’s okay, take it. Take it, it’s fine” his message echoes in the mind of the cashier. As more interactions keep coming, “It’s okay, take it. Take it, it’s fine.” sounds increasingly like it is the internal voice of the cashier. So what does the cashier do? The cashier takes the cash assuming he himself has already concluded that it is okay, it is fine.

The trick works with two cashiers, but not the middle one. Why?

Linguistically there is a different dynamic for the guy selling the hotdog. This cashier appears to speak English as a second language. He seems to think in his own language and then translate his thoughts into English.

So when Derren Brown tries to implant ideas in their exchange, those phrases never seem native to this man. That is not his voice. Meanwhile, his voice is asking about the blank paper.

“What is this?”

Trump Voices What Many Sometimes Think (but usually filter out)

When Trump uses his repetitions trick, as well as other forms of persuasive rhetorical techniques, it works with some people. First, it works with people who really are very much like him. That is not surprising.

What is surprising is when people who normally think very differently than Trump start to say that they agree with Trump. Over time they not only say it, they emphatically say it, even when they are asked specific content questions and they do not have specific content answers because Trump never provided them. That is what has baffled so many non-Trumpsters.

Of course we all have multiple voiced ideas speaking within our heads. That is our own mind testing out various ideas as they come to us, in draft form. What our responsible internal voice does is sift through various internal voiced ideas. When an internal voice violates our internal values we reject it. Instead, we choose a more responsible thing to think and say.

That is ideally how we choose what to say to others. But when we get overwhelmed, rogue thoughts sometimes just blurt out publicly. Our “responsible self” gets horrified and tries to retract, but usually people aren’t fooled, even when we say we are “just kidding”.

Dad is not very politically correct here, is he?

Trump’s Messages Strengthen Our Rogue Messages

People who vocally support Trump on a provocative issue, against their typical character, are not hypnotized. Their own internal voice is what they are responding to, though it might not be what they would normally choose from among their internal thoughts.

People who do not speak the language of Trump just don’t get that. We do not often appreciate the powerful effects of how Trump is communicating to people who entertain some of his ways of framing things. Many just entertained those thoughts on the inside, in a provisional sense. Even they can be surprised at what comes out when interacting with Trumpism.

The fact is that we all have dangerous views competing for dominance within our minds. What is disturbing is when an outside voice gains access to empower particular internal voices without us even realizing it.

Before we know it, we are confidently cashing blank paper notes as if we knew they had real value. This manipulation is so disturbing to me that I post like crazy about it.

My brain tells me I can just explain it all and people will see the trick. But if I paid attention to my own explanations, maybe I should just use smaller words in clever repetition?


Great blog post; great to share this great blog post!  This blog post is so great, I share great blog posts, and I feel great when I share, as long as when I share it is great; and great? Yes, this is a great blog post to share. It is so great that I am going to share it now. I might reread it, and see that it is great, but I know it is great, so I will just share it now, cuz I tell myself “It’s ok, it’s fine, just share it” which is great.

Me, Myself, and I feel GREAT that we decided to share this great post. hypnotize smiley


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6 thoughts on “American Inceptionalism”

  1. We have been taught all of our lives that we have to vote. ‘It’s your ‘Christian duty to vote’.
    ‘You have to vote.’ ( go ahead, just take it) ‘Just vote’ ( take it. )
    Now each time the ‘Rational Decision Maker’ has been overridden by the ‘Instant Gratification Monkey’ ( I want to fit in, be a part of ‘something’ any ‘something’ so as to not be outside what others are doing and talking about.
    I don’t want ‘them’ to know I didn’t ‘just vote’.

    I won’t get an ‘I voted today’ sticker and I won’t fit in at work, school, ‘church’.

    What if ( fill in the blank ) asks if I voted?

    My advice…
    Wake up and listen to the ‘Rational Decision Maker’ and slam the little monkey down where he belongs.

    Question the blank paper pushers.

    Enjoy freedom and stop living in fear of not ‘belonging’ to the broad road.

    I ‘just voted’ several times.
    Hundreds of thousands of bodies are in the ground because ‘ I just voted’.
    Women, children and some of those who went with the sword died by the sword who were ordered to by the ‘commander in chief’ I voted for.

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