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Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter Hardcover – October 31, 2017
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“I am deeply impressed by Scott Adams. I don’t know how anyone can write so many pages without using the word ‘doth.’”
“I recommend this book to all mammals, big and small. It once turned a mole into a cheetah. I saw it with my own eyes.”
“If you only read one book this year, that’s one more than I did.”
“Scott taught me how to create a persuasive nickname for myself.”
—Alexander the Great
“If I’m being honest, Win Bigly is better than all other books and at least one play.”
“Win Bigly helped me escape from the secret room beneath the author’s shed.”
“My life improved tremendously after I finished this book. If you ever write a book, I bet you’ll feel good when you’re done writing it too. Hey, why is my shed door open?”
About the Author
- Publisher : Portfolio (October 31, 2017)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0735219710
- ISBN-13 : 978-0735219717
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.38 x 1 x 9.31 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #115,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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A friend who is also an avid reader recommended this book saying, “I think you will find it interesting.” But unfortunately, I found it distressing.
The author states: “My main point of this book is that humans do not see reality as it exists.” And to that I say, Adams proves his humanity with this hypothetical book. Thankfully, he says many times that this book is more entertainment than science, and he shows it by quoting one source (a friend) twenty-four times and few if any others.
The only logical explanation is an affiliate deal. It’s hard to miss the irony of his repeated claims to be a great persuader (he repeatedly boasts he is one of the main reasons Trump was elected) since neither his book nor his only source are even close to the top 10,000 in Amazon sales.
This book felt like one big multi-level marketing presentation for the persuasion skills of the author. It soon became evident why he loves and supported Trump most of the campaign—because they are much alike.
I am hard-pressed to determine an audience for this book other than the Trump base. And I suppose they would benefit from the rare joy of finding Adam’s opinions agree with their worldview. He states, “My audience on Periscope unanimously agreed that they heard it (that facts don’t matter when picking a President) from me first.”
The writing style of the author came across as disingenuous and laced with false humility, albeit engaging. Again, he writes almost exclusively in personal opinions.
This book seems to elevate the art of persuasion above all else, including facts and justifying narcissism. He states that sometimes “art needs an enemy” and if this book could be called art, then yes, I am now an enemy.
One of my “persuasion” heroes is Michel Montaigne and the contrast this book draws to his classic essays are stark indeed.
A couple of sentences contextually sum it up for me. He calls Trump’s reason for pulling out of the Paris Climate accord “one of the greatest High-Ground Maneuvers in modern history,” and then goes on to posit that “he caused it.”
He also opines the “Scott-caused-it” persuasion filter where he considers whether he simply predicted or actually caused Trump’s “unexpected” election victory (in some small way) with his own persuasion. This sentence seems the height of arrogance unless you read the book and then it is par for the course.
This book is indeed a proof text “that humans do not see reality as it exists.”
The book is based largely on three premises: 1) people are mostly illogical, 2) the author (Scott Adams) predicted that Donald Trump would win the presidency, and 3) the author knew this because he knows more about persuasion than most people. Adams is right about #1 and #2, but his conclusion (#3) is very flimsy.
In the first couple chapters, Adams seems extremely gleeful about being correct in his prediction. His writing there is only superficially modest, making it difficult for me to stomach. Later he turns to the more credible topics of reasoning and fallacies, including "confirmation bias". His descriptions are largely correct, but they would be more credible if written by a noted psychologist or sociologist. Adams is a businessman, a comic-strip writer, and a "trained hypnotist". Oh, and he's rich, too.
Unless Adams is actually parodying himself in this book, I find it very perplexing - almost sad. Adams barely mentions (or immediately dismisses) any evidence that Trump may have won the election for reasons other than being a "master persuader" (his words). Worse still, he insists that our "perception filters" (again, his words) stop us from seeing reality, even suggesting that there may be no objective reality (and, therefore, facts).
Scott, there is an objective reality. There is a difference between opinion and fact. If you drink enough poison, you will die, whether you believe you will die or not.
I don't know if you really believe the anti-reality nonsense in your book or not, but it is far from persuasive. Moreover, you have fallen into your own confirmation bias trap. You have convinced yourself that you knew with high certainty why Trump would win because you tuned out all other explanations using your perception filter!
Top reviews from other countries
Following Trump’s raise to power, I was fascinated about the gullibility of the average voter (I.e. congitive biases) and how some people are masters at the exploitation of this. The way Scott wrote about this guy in his blog was interesting, as it offered a fresh and alternative view at the events. The “what if Trump is a genius using his unorthodox ways to play the political establishment” approach was at least interesting to follow. I always liked Scott’s slightly odd explanation of matters, which were entertaining and sometimes thought provoking. Here, I expected a set of carefully selected examples and their analysis based on findings of Cialdini, Thaler, Kahneman and others.
However, what you get is a thesis that has a pre-defined conclusion and then uses impressive argumentative acrobatics to back this assumption as being factual. At one point it just gets out of hand. As the title suggests, facts don’t matter here.
I stopped reading it at the point where Scott started explaining Trumps jokes and why they were misunderstood because most people don’t get New York humour. That was pretty much what made clear that the book will portray Trump as the next Messiah (the reference is made in the book) no matter what.
The book is from 2017, when Trump was still utilising the momentum generated by the previous administration. Things appear to look different now in 2020, when ignoring facts (or injecting disinfectants) might get you killed. Trump has proven in many cases, that he does not use his ridiculous behaviour to cover up some grand plan, because he simply has none.
Not too long after the publication of the book, Scott first turned off the commenting section of his blog, then switched into a podcast format, probably to reach a smaller, more evangelised audience. Eventually he removed his blog from the Dilbert website. I can only assume this is due to the backlash to his popularity resulting from his unconditional loyalty to what some refer to as “the last president of the US”.
The techniques of persuasion described in the book are also deployed in the writing of it. Making the reader a target for persuasion, rather than a casual observer, this stimulates your thought process and reinforces the message. The reader is kind of an active part of the book's creation which is pretty meta.
Whilst the material stuck to persuasion techniques, I loved it. I was totally into examples about Trump & the race. When he quotes his blogs and talks about Godzilla that was interesting too.
What I found less interesting was toward the end it got deeper into describing Scott's personal story, the effects of being publicly identified as a Trump supporter, reasons for flip-flopping, endorsing each of Clinton/Johnson/Trump.
But overall a great read that will help you interpret and understand the world around you.
FWIW I'm from the UK. The ratings of this book are clearly very polarised between American voters identifying as Republicans & Democrats. I don't consistently identify with a particular political party. IMO you don't need to be American or even interested in politics to enjoy and find value in this.
Would highly recommend - Win Bigly
Adams' level of detail when breaking down Trumps persuasion wins and Clinton's failures is both accessible yet deeply enlightening and his frequent use of personal blog excerpts remind us that this is an author whom has the experience and academic chops to go beyond mere punditry and pull back the curtain on what makes the consumeristic public warm to a brand.
Win Bigly is well written and good humoured, I highly recommend it to anyone who has aspirations of becoming a better speaker or influencer.
There's less "value" and "entertainment" then some of his previous books. Still I'd read it again.