11 Apr 2017

Interesting Pairs of Posts

Humor 10 Comments

In my efforts to annoy everyone else in the blogosphere, permit me two comments on recent pairs of posts:

==> When the media broke the story of the Syrian gas attack, Scott Adams doubted it was Assad, and went on to predict:

My guess is that President Trump knows this smells fishy, but he has to talk tough anyway. However, keep in mind that he has made a brand out of not discussing military options. He likes to keep people guessing. He reminded us of that again yesterday, in case we forgot.

So how does a Master Persuader respond to a fake war crime?

He does it with a fake response, if he’s smart.

Watch now as the world tries to guess where Trump is moving military assets, and what he might do to respond. The longer he drags things out, the less power the story will have on the public. We’ll be wondering for weeks when those bombs will start hitting Damascus, and Trump will continue to remind us that he doesn’t talk about military options.

Then he waits for something bad to happen to Assad’s family, or his generals, in the normal course of chaos over there. When that happens on its own, the media will wonder if it was Trump sending a strong message to Assad in a measured way. Confirmation bias will do the rest.

Literally the next day, Trump ordered the firing of 59 Tomahawk missiles in retaliation. So Scott Adams presumably could either (a) ignore this entirely or (b) admit he had been totally wrong the day before. But of course what we got was (c) a post in which Adams explained why this was yet another brilliant move by Trump, and linked it to his previous post, without acknowledging that his (Adams’) prediction had been falsified in just about the most undeniable way conceivable.

==> In other news, check out two recent posts by Scott Sumner on EconLog. First skim this, and then this. Scott makes a compelling case that tight monetary policy has promoted free trade and open borders around the world. It’s big of Scott to go wherever the evidence takes him.

10 Responses to “Interesting Pairs of Posts”

  1. Andrew_FL says:

    As I pointed out in the comments, it is far more straightforward to conclude that a collapse of NGDP lead to the election of Obama than to Trump, and yes, the most recent recession/election of Obama was followed by a drop in US economic freedom. The facts don’t seem to be a problem for Scott’s theory, but they do seem to be a problem for his politics.

  2. Tel says:

    … without acknowledging that his (Adams’) prediction had been falsified in just about the most undeniable way conceivable.

    Strangely enough, here’s a comment from SST (completely unrelated to Adams) :

    ancient archer said…

    I still think this was a fake attack (with minimal damage – only a few old MiG23s which were in maintenance hangers with airport runway still in operation and some 6 people – who exactly we don’t know but that’s what has been told to us) in response to a fake chemical attack propaganda. Perfect reply I think.

    Now that trump is fighting with Russia – with words if not missiles – there can hardly be the continuation of the Russia story in the neocon controlled media. And war hungry commentators could hardly go back to bashing him after praising him on tv so publicly. If Trump keeps on this charade for another week or two, the neocon media will have forgotten what they were attacking him before this sham chemical attack event happened.

    Secondly, with this much hooha from certain quarters within the US as to the legality of this strike, you can be sure that any further aggression will be stymied for the time being. It’s not as if Trump is going to be impeached for this attack – AIPAC won’t let its domestic dogs in the senate and the congress do that. There was much more chance of Trump being impeached if he didn’t order this attack.

    So, the benefits of this. Trump-Russia story in the media now grounds to a complete halt. Trump gets his own trumpet blown by the neocon media who like missiles on Syria.

    Trump’s words immediately after 911 were very insightful. He has seen through propaganda time and again. He know what is fake and what is not. No way he was taken in by the fake chem attack propaganda. But he has paid back the fakers in their own coin! A fake attack on Syria in response to a fake chemical attack propaganda. Bravo!!

    07 April 2017 at 07:12 PM


    So Adams’ prediction hasn’t entirely been falsified, others came to the same conclusion even after the Tomahawk missile strike happened. One of Trump’s great skills is the ability to put on a show.

    • Harold says:

      Tel, Adams predicted Trump would do nothing – a fake response in his words. Trump sent missiles. His prediction was entirely falsified.

    • Rory says:

      I think this is where Scott Adams is Krugman-esque: his predictions invite very complicated justifications to hold that they are maybe possibly true in a very technical sense, but I am skeptical that if you asked people beforehand what they think think would falsify the prediction, it would match up to what they (or Adams) say would falsify it in retrospect. Note that I say this as a semi-regular reader of his blog. But I don’t see how Adams could be viewed as correct here when he says “watch now as the world tries to guess … what he might do to respond. We’ll be wondering for weeks when those bombs will start hitting Damascus” 24 hours prior to praising Trump’s response, unless one takes the most literal interpretation of “Damascus” and “bombs” that one can. But then this literal interpretation is in service of a more figurative interpretation of his overall post, because if I understand the argument that Adams is still (at least somewhat) correct, it’s because the “response” by Trump is itself a fake. That kind of inconsistency in interpreting Adams overall message and his individual points is what robs a defense of him of its credibility.

      • Tel says:

        If you are going to fake, you need at least some people to believe they saw the real thing.

        When a magician gets on stage to demonstrate sawing a lady in half, does he just stand there and do nothing for half an hour?

        • Rory says:

          I take your point, but accepting that Adams wrote his first post with this action in mind, I have to question why he was so vague. “We’ll be wondering for weeks when bombs will start hitting” strikes me as unnecessarily confusing if he is sure that in mere hours Trump would hit an airfield in Shayrat with missiles, or even that any offensive operation by the military was in play really. “Then he waits for something bad to happen in the normal course of chaos over there” is also kind of weird if “waiting” specifically refers to the period after the headline grabbing missile strike and said missile strike constitutes “the normal course of chaos over there”. Mind you, I’m not disputing that his post could have predicted what happened, but I would say absolute minimal effort could have secured Adams’ credibility amongst us ignoramuses; he could have explicitly mentioned a “feint”, a “military response that looks real”, a “show of power”, or a number of other things at any point. Instead of this, the next day he does explicitly state that “doing nothing, [Trump] appears weak”. Oh, and launching missiles was only too obviously the right move for 7 listed reasons. The phrase “military action”, used many times in his follow-up post, was not even used in speculation in the previous post, and my sticking point is that I refuse to give Adams full credit when I’m supposed to just know that the engine behind “dragging things out” would be “military action”.

          This is all in the context of Adams doing this before: Trump was on a glide path to the presidency until he wasn’t, because it appeared that only after the fact it was “obvious” and bore mention that Hillary would employ advanced counter-persuasion via Cialdini.

          Again, it’s not so much that I refuse to believe he saw this coming but he’s reached nearly horoscope status: afterwards you can always justify “surprises may be in store for you”. If he wants to remain immune from this sort of criticism then he can be a little clearer. Until then there is a clear demarcation for me between Adams the predictor and Adams the analyst.

  3. Harold says:

    Mr Adams has lost the plot in the first line about the mainstream media:
    “…that has been wrong about almost everything for a solid 18 months in a row”

    This is simply wrong. Nearly everything they published is substantially correct. To suggest that everything has been wrong is totally misleading.

    • E. Harding says:

      No, the MSM really has been wrong about most of the things that really matter.

      Yes, Scott Adams changes his explanations to fit the evidence, all the while pretending the evidence conforms his original explanation.

      The last time I remember Scott Adams gave a major mea culpa was after the New Hampshire primary.

      • Harold says:

        E Harding.
        “No, the MSM really has been wrong about most of the things that really matter.”

        Everything the MSM publishes matters to someone. You are using a “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

        Out of interest, what sort f thing that really matters were you thinking of?

        For example, they reported that the polls predicted a Clinton win. They were right – that is exactly what the polls were predicting.

  4. ThomasL says:

    For more interesting Syria analysis: http://streetwiseprofessor.com/?p=10476

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