How To Avoid Being Misled By Media Narratives?

The year 2016 confirmed for me that media’s job is not to deliver news but to push narratives. The narrative-pushing modern media poses certain challenge for the public. The challenge of identifying the right narrative to believe in.

If you have followed this year’s presidential election in the US, you saw how for over a year, till the very last day, the media vigorously kept saying that Donald Trump had no chance of winning the presidency, and yet he won bigly. After a fiasco like this, how can you believe the media?

When opposing narratives are running through the media, how can one avoid being misled? This is the question I will address in this post – with example of the recent Trump election.

To begin with, I’ll talk about what makes us vulnerable to being misled. During this election cycle I learned a great many things about psychology. One of the things that I learned about is confirmation bias. I knew what confirmation bias was, but I was not fully aware about how powerful its role is in our perception of the world. Another major thing that I learned is that humans are irrational almost all the time. None of our big decisions are based in rationality. NONE. Most of our decisions – small and big – are based not on facts but on how we feel about things. And our perceptions are strengthened by confirmation bias once we have formed a perception – which we do based on how the stimulus has made us feel emotionally. All this makes us vulnerable.

While I was following the election coverage I saw two universes in the media. The MSM (mainstream media) was relentlessly thrashing Trump; calling him a clown, racist, sexist, misogynist, an immature person with mental age of a 4-year-old, Hitler, etc. Nearly everyone in the MSM said that he had virtually zero chance of winning the presidency. And they worked incredibly hard to cover up Hillary’s crookedness that involved crimes as serious as treason. This was one universe.

There was another universe with the opposite reality. In that universe – which comprised of “alternative media” websites and citizen journalism on social media – Trump was not a clown but rather a master persuader. His use of language which was labeled “immature” in the MSM universe was considered to be application of his weapons-grade persuasion techniques. Trump was considered not scary Hitler but the savior of Western Civilization. The folks in this universe worked incredibly hard to expose Hillary’s crookedness and disqualifications.

People who followed the MSM coverage viewed Trump as a clown, racist, sexist, misogynist and whatever else he was branded as in that universe; and those who were solely exposed to the pro-Trump universe saw him as master persuader and the savior of the West etc. and viewed Clinton as the most corrupt candidate ever to run for president.

One of the people influenced by the anti-Trump MSM universe was my boss. He had started following the election coverage after hearing me talk enthusiastically about Trump. His first impression of Trump was that of a joker. Later on, his impression of Trump changed to misogynist, sexist, racist,.. and everything that the MSM portrayed Trump to be. I, on the other hand, had known Trump through the pro-Trump universe, and as such my first impression of him was that of master persuader and a masculine nationalist figure such as the one America needed to save itself. And every step of the way my belief in him grew stronger.

Human irrationality and confirmation bias were at work at their best.

Neither I nor my boss (nor anyone else from the general public) was qualified to understand politics and policies talked about by the two candidates. Nor did we keep a track of every detail that was being mentioned by the candidates and in the news about them, much less factcheck every bit of it. And yet I was sure about Trump’s fitness to be president and about his victory, and my boss was equally sure about Trump’s unfitness and his abysmal prospects in the race.

Every evening my boss would send me links of articles written on the anti-Trump narrative as “proof” that he was right in his assessment of Trump. I could also find as many articles “proving” my assessment of Trump right as I received from my boss and send them to him as my counter points, but I refrained from doing so because I understood that it would not sway his opinions at all. That is because his notion of Trump was built on irrationality and confirmation bias. Mine too was, to an extent, based on the same. I say to an extent because Trump has now won, proving that he is a master persuader, which means my notion of him was not totally based on irrationality.

So, are my boss and everyone who mocked Trump stupid? Not really. They were misinformed. When there are multiple universes in the media pushing different narratives it is easy to get misled.

In order to avoid being misled by media narratives, one must understand the following three concepts:

We are irrational

When following media narratives, ask yourself if you are really qualified to accurately assess the individual or the situation you are forming an opinion about. In almost all cases, we are not. We are forming opinions all the time based on how we feel about the person or the situation. And how we feel about someone or something depends on how it is being presented to us.

In Trump’s case, people who followed the MSM saw Trump as racist, sexist, misogynist etc. because that’s how he was presented to them, not because he really is all that. Trump has been a public figure for years, but never has he been accused of any such thing until he ran for president. You ask why?

Confirmation bias

Once you form an opinion about someone or something based on how you feel (or how you are made to feel) about it, confirmation bias kicks in. Then you will start to notice and even actively seek information that will confirm your opinion, and everything that conflicts with your view will become virtually invisible to you.

In Trump’s case, once his initial image was formed in both the universes, every speech, statement and move made by his aides provided confirmation bias to the people on both sides. As more time went by, those who thought Trump was unfit to be president saw him even more unfit, and vice versa took place on the other side.

Cognitive dissonance

Once confirmation bias sets in, everything that conflicts with your view becomes virtually invisible to you. But what happens when something happens that is not only conflicting with your confirmation biased-fueled view but is also too in-your-face to be ignored? You guessed right: cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is mental discomfort you feel when what you see (reality) does not match with your beliefs. The stronger your beliefs, the more the dissonance. To counter cognitive dissonance, you make up irrational hypotheses to justify your views in the face of conflicting information.

Look at the numerous hypotheses that have come out about why Trump won, none of which credit his persuasion skills or his intrinsic fitness to be president – because that would conflict with their views of Trump! There could not be more glaring example of cognitive dissonance.

How to proceed?

Be cognizant of the ubiquitous human irrationality, confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance, and learn about all point-of-views presented in the media.

In Trump’s case almost all of the MSM was against him, but people with Internet access and genuine interest in politics have no excuse for not scrutinizing both narratives. Once you start the practice of looking at all sides along with being aware of the aforementioned psychological traps that will keep you from objectivity, you will start to recognize patterns.

Pattern-recognition comes about with experience. Once you start recognizing patterns you will see a bigger picture about everything (patterns appear only in bigger view) and you will be better able to choose the right narrative.

During the Trump election I saw the following:

  • Hollywood celebrities were for Hillary, army Generals were for Trump.
  • Pro-immigration liberals were for Hillary, nationalist conservatives were for Trump.
  • Young people were for Hillary, experienced were for Trump.
  • MSM were for Hillary, citizen journalists and social media were for Trump.
  • Beta males were for Hillary, masculine men were for Trump.

These are just a few of the many observations, but they are enough to provide a clear pattern that made me choose Trump as my candidate. Supporters of Trump across categories, in my view, are superior class of people.

You may not see the same pattern as I see here. But this is just one pattern. There are always more patterns, complex and multi-layered, some too intricate to articulate. The point is, if you avoid the psychological traps and study all the narratives, the patterns will emerge that will make you better informed.

Will it always make you choose the right narrative? That’s too much to expect, I’d say. Does it seem like a lot of work then? Maybe, but it’s still worth it.

Smart Managers And Subordinates

How should #OfficeSmart managers and subordinates view each other?

Being in middle management position in a corporation I have acquired experience as subordinate as well as manager by making mistakes and learning lessons at both levels.

Sharing some thoughts – in the form of aphorisms – to put things in perspective for managers and subordinates as to how each should view the other in office.

Managers fail by being too nice to subordinates. Subordinates fail by expecting too high ethics from the management. Because in being so, both lose focus from what matters at each level.

A manager does not need to be nice at the cost of work extraction from subordinates. A subordinate does not need to expect high management ethics at the cost of good relation with the manager.

That is, of course, if they want to succeed in the company. (Success = recognition from superiors > growth).

A manager should be concerned with getting the subordinates’ work, not their respect. Subordinates should be concerned with the manager’s respect, not his work (management style towards them).

If subordinates give work and don’t respect the manager, it should not matter to the manager. If the manager respects the subordinate but his management style is bad, it should not matter to the subordinate.

Some managers worry about losing subordinates’ respect and fail to extract work. Some subordinates overtly keep finding fault with the management style and fail to earn respect of the manager.

Both of the above – managers who overrate respect from subordinates and subordinates who underrate respect from the manager – are playing it wrong.

An office is not a place where one should expect to find saints (message to subordinates), nor should one expect to reap rewards for being saintly (message to managers).

Office smartness is to have only and only one focus that is growth, and doing what it takes to grow in the company. Ethics are useful only insofar as they serve the goal.

Share this post with anyone you know who is working in office. I’ll also post more thoughts on this topic on Twitter with hashtag #OfficeSmart. Follow me.

Cardinal Rules For Success In Office Environment

If you are working in office, below are the rules you must observe if you want to grow in the company. Do not underestimate the importance of any of them. I have learned these things the hard way.

I’ll call it being office smart.

Keep your thoughts to yourself

At office, it is a mistake to express your real thoughts, ideologies and political views. Don’t even share your thoughts on social media unless you can keep your social media profiles hidden from everyone at office. Not only should you not share your own thoughts, you must also keep from sharing random jokes, quotes and memes.

By expressions of the aforementioned sort you will likely go out of favor with your superiors. You will either offend someone, or make them insecure by outshining them. You may affect their ego even by expressing an innocuous opinion that is different from theirs. This may not happen all the time. But there is no way for you to know what will affect whom, in what way and to what extent.

If you are pressed to reveal your thoughts on any subject, modestly say you don’t consider yourself to be learned on it but tend to agree with their (the person you are with) views. Everyone likes people who have the same views as them!

Remain intellectually mediocre

Your growth in a company depends on intellectual mediocrity. You may be Einstein or Aristotle, but no one cares. Mind your work and be good at it. Showing your intellectual superiority will get you labelled as weirdo. Office is not the place to showcase your intellect.

Have you ever seen anyone in higher management who is intellectual? I haven’t. And even if some day I see one, I’m sure being intellectual is not a pre-requisite for growth in management hierarchy.

Be mysterious

There are many advantages of being mysterious. Don’t give anyone at work – especially the superiors – a window into your mind. Your bosses need to know only one thing about you – your capabilities at work. Be the best at your work.

For best being marginally better than everyone else at your level would suffice. When you are good at your work and rest all about you is mystery, there is nothing about you that will give negative impression. Plus, your work related capabilities will create a halo effect. People will fill in the blanks and practically assume positives of you in other areas based on the fact that you are good at work.

Don’t reveal your moods

Learn to keep poker face most of the time. Don’t be over enthusiastic when you are happy (you got praise, promotion or some achievement at work), and don’t ever show anger or frustration. The former will make people jealous and/or insecure, and the latter will get you labelled as immature.

Remain calm and composed always. Smile at appropriate moments, like when you see/greet someone. When at desk, poker face is what you want to keep irrespective of your mood.

Give your boss gifts

Everyone likes gifts. Remember, even an enemy likes receiving gifts. Giving your boss a gift occasionally (like on a birthday) may work wonders.

Don’t worry that your boss will suspect you of ass-licking. In a way it is. But giving a birthday gift is perfectly legitimate. Just don’t tell everyone when you do that. You want to be the only one (or of the few) to give gifts to the boss.

If the boss doesn’t like your idea, it’s a bad idea

You can definitely think “out-of-the-box” and provide suggestions, but if your boss dismisses the idea, give it up right that moment. Do not try to make him understand how your idea is better unless he asks you to explain at length. Remember, the boss always knows better. He sees things that you can’t see. (Of course, I’m being sarcastic.)

Know that if you have a different idea than your boss about something, it is good only if its implementation is going to benefit your boss. If you are thinking of sharing the idea because it is morally superior or for some such reason, don’t proceed. If the idea is not benefiting the boss, he does not care how superior it is.

Talk to your boss like his dad died today

I couldn’t stop laughing when a good friend of mine offered me this gem of an advice. This is the frame you want to keep every time you talk to your boss. Whenever your boss enters your vicinity tell yourself that his dad has died today.

Would you show your excitement about anything to him when his dad has just died? Or would you show your frustration about work? Or would you complain about anything? Or argue? Or would you make a joke at his expense? You get the drift.

Don’t dress better than your boss

You may have a very good knowledge of fashion and dressing sense, but don’t make a mistake of dressing better than your boss. If the clothes and accessories on you are better than your boss, that will make him feel insecure and threatened.

You don’t want to outshine your master.

There’s no room for political incorrectness

This is one of the most important rules you absolutely must remember at all times. I have already stated above that you should keep your thoughts and ideologies to yourself, and that point covers this. However, I can’t emphasize enough how fatal being politically incorrect at office can be.

In case you don’t know what it means, if you are against man-woman equality, feminism, gay rights, fat-is-beautiful culture, or any other issue on the liberal agenda, it would be the end of your growth, and probably even employment, if you express it to anyone at the office.

Share this post with anyone you know who is working in office. I’ll also post more thoughts on this topic on Twitter with hashtag #OfficeSmart. Follow me.

Trump Wins: Triumph Of The Righteous

Trump wins the presidency of the United States.

People on the other side are shocked. Many can’t digest Trump’s victory. They are thinking, everyone on TV kept saying he was a clown, racist, misogynist, Hitler, and whatnot. Until the election day the media put his odds of winning at no more than 20%. How could he win!

The other side never believed in Trump’s message of Make America Great Again. They believed that America was already great. They were wrong. I think America is now set to be great again. I believe in Trump. And you should too, if you’re uncertain.

Let’s examine why people should believe in Trump.

Trump did not win on his own. In primaries, yes. He won the Republican party’s nomination by knocking off all other candidates completely on his own using his best in class persuasion skills (the link refers to the A-class commentary on the election and a treasure of literature on persuasion). But it was not possible for him to win the presidency because he was practically one man fighting both the opposition as well as his own party.

Who helped Trump win?

Julian Assange (WikiLeaks), James O’Keefe (Project Veritas), and people like Mike Cernovich, Stefan Molyneux, Paul Joseph Watson, and countless other citizen journalists, meme artists and social media users.

And who helped Hillary win?

All of MSM (Mainstream Media), Google-Facebook-Twitter, the Obamas, and might I also add, Jay Z and Beyoncé. (Add to the list Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Lena Dunham,.. Almost all of Hollywood.)

Now here’s the important questions people should ask themselves that may clear their mind:

  • What do all who helped Trump have in common?
  • And how they are different from those who helped Hillary Clinton.

People who helped Trump:

They all served truth that the establishment suppressed. WikiLeaks by definition leaks government secrets in service of the public. Project Veritas provided footage (here, here and here) obtained through a series of sting operations that exposed many a corrupt schemes – involving mass voter fraud, inciting paid violence at Trump rallies which the media then would blame on Trump – by DNC and the Clinton campaign to sabotage the righteous campaign of Trump.

All the people who made Trump’s historic victory possible are the bearers of truth. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is a hero who has literally given up his life to bring truth to the public.

People who helped Hillary:

The biggest arm of Hillary’s campaign has been the mainstream media – which is distrusted by whopping 94% of people. To call the media biased would be flattering. This time around they were downright hoaxing. The mainstream media stopped even pretending to be neutral. They were blatantly biased, they lied, spread hoaxes, colluded with the Hillary Camp (as proven by WikiLeaks), got caught and kept doing the same in their desperation. But in the end, they failed. The truth prevailed, thanks to the Internet. The mainstream media probably got dealt a death blow.

Google, Facebook, Twitter,… All of them proved that that are sold to the globalists. Google largely censored positive stories about Trump and hid negative stories about Hillary, manipulated its auto-complete search feature. (I tested it myself too.) Facebook kept the biggest stories about Trump from trending. After all, they funded Hillary’s campaign to defeat TrumpTwitter shadowbanned Trump’s tweets and even deleted some! There is so much evidence of all this that the mind boggles.

Obamas. To know what lying bunch of hypocrites the Obamas are one needs to look no further than 2008 and see what they said about Hillary while campaigning against Hillary. Obama has lied and showed his true colors at numerous occasions this election season. He lied about being unaware about Hillary’s use of illegal private email server to handle work related and classified emails (again, proven by WikiLeaks). He lied about Donald Trump being the first presidential candidate who said that elections could be rigged whereas he himself in his 2008 campaign was talking about elections rigging, not to mention numerous other presidential candidates and other politicians have expressed concerns about fraud and rigging in elections.

Jay Z and Beyoncé, among other scums. What to say about them. They are scums. Hillary said Trump is evil for uses lewd language. But she invites Jay Z and Beyoncé, who are the epitome of cultural degradation to perform at her rallies. And oh that reminds me, Michelle Obama even considers Beyoncé to be a role model for her daughters. And they say Trump is bad because he can not be a role model for the kids. Such hypocrites!

See the contrast between people who helped Trump and those who helped Hillary? Go through all the links in this article, then dig the Internet. There’s a lot more.

And then, my friends, decide which side looks righteous.