Law #1: Never Outshine the Master (Persuader)
If you don't know who Robert Greene is, you really should. Most famously, he wrote The 48 Laws of Power, the first law of which admonishes one to give the master his due, which is precisely what I intend to do with this, my very first blog post on my new site. :)
Greene also wrote another book called The Art of Seduction, which teaches you how to persuade others towards your desired ends. Suffice to say, Robert Greene is a master persuader, yet it is another master persuader and teacher of mine whom I wish to herein acknowledge. Said individual is someone with whom I've had a rather long (and long-distant) relationship with. Someone whom I would count among my biggest influences.
That person is, of course, Scott Adams.
You might know him as "The Dilbert Guy," and I have been doing my part to try and help rebrand him as "The Persuasion Guy," since that seems a better descriptor of his particular contributions to society.
I was prompted to write this article because the publishing of my new site happens to coincide with my just having gotten Scott's new book in the mail: Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter.
Naturally, I'm anxious to dig right into it as soon as possible, though I kind of want to finish his other book first: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.
At the time of my writing this, I doubt if Scott knows me personally, or even knows my name. That's ok, though. When you're as famous as he is, I imagine it's hard to keep track of everyone you meet, even if they're well-known (and at the time of my writing this, I am not yet well-known).
That said, I do know a fair bit about him from his blog, his books, his interviews, and his Periscopes.
My own history as a would-be disciple of Scott goes back many years. I wouldn't say I'm a Dilbert fanatic, per say, though I've certainly read the strip and even watched a few episodes of the animated series (which really helped clarify a few things about that universe for me, such as the fact that Dogbert is a serial opportunist, or what Elbonians are supposed to be).
From the age of about fourteen, onward, and prior to my becoming interested in politics, I had taken up the hobby of studying comparative world religions. Somewhere in that period, I had read Douglas Adams' famous Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series and then later stumbled upon an ebook version of Scott's book God's Debris. Initially, I made the mistake of thinking these two were the same guy, and so it was mostly serendipity that led me to his work.
God's Debris was my introduction to deism - the belief that God existed, made the universe, and then, for some reason, stopped being involved in the process. In the case of God's Debris, the reason was that God could not violate the Law of Conservation, and thus had to subdivide himself into component pieces in order to make the rest of the universe, effectively killing himself off in the act, and confirming Nietzsche's hypothesis that God is dead.
There's more to the book than that, but so powerful was Scott's writing that, to this day, his conceptualization of creation remains a core component of my own personal cosmology. In fact, without really meaning to, I sort of happened upon a lot of the other same ideas he holds, albeit independently, and then later confirmed by his own mouth. Things like the holographic universe (what Scott reverses to as the simulated universe), which I derived from following the path of Cartesian skepticism to its conclusion; as well as a general disbelief in free will, and the idea that you can affect certain things, but not others - a notion I got from playing Blackjack at the casinos and studying odds.
All in all, it's a comfort to know that I happened to wind up in much the same place as him. Great minds think alike, as they say.
For several years after reading God's Debris, my only real interaction with Scott was in reading (and watching) Dilbert. I had moved onto other teachers, but his lessons stayed with me in that whole time, until eventually my circuitous route led me to discover another great influence of mine: Stefan Molyneux.
I'll talk about Stefan in more detail another time, but I bring him up here because he was the bridge to my eventual reunion with Scott Adams. I remember being surprised at first by the interview. The visage was not at all what I'd expected Scott to look like. Frankly, I have no idea what I expected. I doubt I really had any expectations at all, it was just shocking to finally see the face of your hero, I suppose, whom up until then had been some nebulous abstract narrator without a body.
The subject of their talk was Donald Trump - and prior to watching Stefan's The Untruth About Donald Trump, I really had no opinion of the man who would be king, but became a fast and early fan of him as well.
Some more time passed and I'd poured through nearly all of Stefan's video library to the point where I felt I was hitting a plateau and needed some fresh insights, if only to continue to push the limits of my mental and spiritual growth. I needed a new teacher - or, as would turn out to be the case, an old teacher revisited.
I don't recall exactly the circumstances under which it happened, but I remember it was around June of 2017 that I first happened upon a YouTube video of one of Scott's Periscopes. The topic was Trump, healthcare, and systems thinking (and I may have binged a few earlier ones as well, making the exact timing harder to peg). Up until that point, I'd only heard about Periscope from Mike Cernovich's casual mention of it an interview with Stefan regarding the Ferguson riots. (At the time, I'd naively thought Mike had invented Periscope.)
In short order, I soon became reacquainted with my old master and spent that summer and everyday since (at least so far) devoutly committed to mastering a new subject: the art of persuasion. It was a skill that I was sorely lacking - at least, so I had been told by friends and family. I had acquired a knowledge of philosophy, cosmology, ethics, religion, politics, history, economics, law, and so forth from a variety of other sources; I just lacked a suitable vehicle for delivering what I knew to others.
Scott's reemergence into my life, like so much else, it seemed, had occurred precisely when my spirit and the universe agreed it most needed to happen.
By this point, I was well into writing the first three books in my series, Thelema. I had semi-consciously adopted motifs based on things like the tarot or religious archetypes, as well as drawing inspiration from Game of Thrones, wherein Tywin Lannister employed double-speak in the course of his conniving. The little scenes where he's gutting a deer while talking about doing the same to the Baratheons (whose sigil is a stag) or catching fish while discussing how to entrap the Tullies (whose symbol is a trout) were some of my favorite vignettes.
The striking visual-linguistic contrast captivated me, held my attention, made me think. They were quite evocative scenes and I sought to steal such godly fire for myself; but it wasn't until Scott Adams came along and explained the persuasive techniques of contrast and visual persuasion (most notably in his Fire and Fury analysis) that I consciously understood why they were so powerful, and from that point on, I made a point to more deliberately employ such techniques and many others as well.
For so long, I had actively avoided learning persuasion techniques because I thought it unethical, manipulative, duplicitous - something only liars and thieves and crooked salespeople do; but only now do I see it for what it is: a most essential and useful of skill sets with nigh-universal application. It has become my newest obsession and I find myself fast-tracking along that road, my life altered seemingly overnight. It's as if I've unlocked a hidden magical power that suddenly I can cast spells and have my arguments hit their marks and be receptive ... at least more often than I used to.
I owe a great deal of my present worldview to Scott Adams. It is with no exaggeration that I consider him easily one of my top five biggest influences; and there is no doubt in my mind that, if my books become successful and wind up changing the world, he will have had a hand in making it so.
Likewise, it is with no exaggeration that claim an aspiration to one day become a sort of spiritual successor to Scott, and actively envision it the way he once envisioned becoming a famous cartoonist. That by the time the master is gone, the student shall rise to take up the mantle (assuming the machine revolution hasn't absorbed our brains into the singularity by that point).
I am still young compared to him, and have a lot more to learn; but hey, as far as Bucket List items go, it's not a bad goal to have, and I at least have a system and a path to help me get there. Thank you, Scott, for all that you've done for me, and continue to do for me, and for the wider world as a whole. :)