Tag Archives: Scott Adams

Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America


  1. Loserthink has nothing to do with IQ but all to do with unproductive thinking. The aim is to gain deep experience from many fields, learning the mode and technique of thinking and not necessarily the facts. This books is broken down into various sections so that you can learn “how to think like a psychologist” and more. Thinking clearly is in fact rare and not the norm. You must learn the techniques for thinking from various fields, mitigating blindspots that even a smart person can have because of lack of exposure to a certain field. If you don’t have deep experience across many fields, you are prone to loserthink. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Thinking like a psychologist 
    1. The mind reading delusion – people are dreadful at reading other people and knowing what they’re thinking
    2. Occam’a Razor – In science the simplest exclamation that fixed it fits the fact it’s quite easy to arrive at however nearly every other round this is in a good jurisdiction because everyone has a different opinion on what is a simple fact
    3. Projection – people accuse others of having faults flaws or biases that they themselves have
    4. Ego is a tool that you should be able to dial up and down if you want to accomplish something ambitious turn off your ego and if you’re dealing with loved ones turn it down. Don’t choose ego over effectiveness. Put yourself in potentially embarrassing situations as a sort of practice and learn to ignore or at least minimize your embarrassment
  2. Thinking like an artist 
    1. Failure of imagination – The best explanation to most things in life is something that has never occurred to you. Most people fail because of a failure of imagination
  3. Thinking like a historian 
    1. History is extremely filtered and biased based on who wrote it. Every government writes its own version of history to brainwash its citizens no one history is objective everyone is slanted
    2. Don’t forget about the past but it is more productive to look forward to understand what the paths to success are rather than what has happened 
    3. Slippery slope – things will continue on their path until they go too far. Almost everything can be considered a slippery slope so it’s more productive to look at forces and systems
    4. Privacy is overrated. Sometimes it helps but context is important. When gay men started coming out, their lack of privacy helped their cause 
  4. Thinking like an engineer 
    1. A new expert will always call the work of the previous expert a joke
    2. The one variable illusion – people look for a silver bullet when in reality almost always multiple variables matter
  5. Thinking like a leader 
    1. Directional truth filter – truth has two important aspects: accuracy and direction. If you don’t know which one is more important, you might be falling to loserthink. Getting the direction right is almost always important but being 100% precise is only sometimes so
    2. Confusing hyperbole with legitimate opinion – make sure you know which you are dealing with
    3. Systems vs goals – a good system is doing something on a regular basis to increase your odds of doing something productive even if you don’t exactly know the final outcome 
  6. Thinking like a scientist 
    1. Coincidences are more than likely simply confirmation bias. We are surrounded by coincidences and most mean nothing at all
    2. Anecdotes – beware drawing patterns or assigning too much confidence in anecdotes
    3. Inversion – always ask what if the opposite were true. Beware forming opinions too early and always realize that you could be wrong 
    4. Judging a group by its worst members – beware falling for this mistake
    5. Proving a negative – can’t be done and best you can do is say it hasn’t been detected or found up to this point 
  7. Thinking like an entrepreneur 
    1. Couch lock – do what you can do, not what you can’t do. This will give you a small step to take, leading to the next, building momentum. Small but steady and consistent steps is how big things happen in a lot of realms. The effort in totality is humongous but in any given day it is manageable 
    2. Leave your lane – pick up different skills from different realms. This makes you more valuable and gives you different perspectives
    3. Sense of control – people who think they can control their situations are more likely to do so
    4. Humility and testing – be aware that you are probably overconfident but this should not stop you from experimenting. You learn from failure as long as it doesn’t take you out of the game completely. Find ways to start small so that nobody gets hurt
  8. Thinking like an economist 
    1. You can expect bad behavior when there is money to be had, when the chance of being caught is low, and lots of people are involved 
    2. The ends justify the means. Must consider all the costs and benefits that goes into a decision – ethically, morally, pragmatically, emotionally, financially…
    3. How to compare things – this is a skill that can be learned but most people don’t even know this is a skill. Compared to nothing is the lowest rung of the skill ladder, compare to how someone else performed in the same/similar situation, compare to the next best alternative
    4. Halfpinions – must compare full cost of the plan to the full benefit 
    5. Time value of money – those who only focus on the near term are childish and those who can look long term and understand the full costs and benefits are adults. Should discount things in the future back to the present to understand the trade offs. Money received in the future is worth less than money received today
    6. Consider the alternatives – important for any decision
    7. Confusopolies – companies in an industry are so complicated that knowing what is the best product or service is difficult if not impossible
    8. Straight line predictions – the world is dynamic so assuming anything stays stagnant is by definition incorrect. Don’t assume that the future will look just like the past. Humans are not good at predicting but are good at solving important and slow moving problems. You should also look at industries that have a lot of entrepreneurial energy as these tend to stick around 
  9. Things pundits say that you should not copy 
    1. Pundits are almost always advocates so are biased. Do not blindly mimic what they say without understanding their bias
    2. Moral equivalency – beware comparing two things which aren’t morally equivalent (even if you think they are). Somebody’s issues with their kids compared to your issues with your cat 
    3. Word-thinking – trying to win a debate or persuade by focusing on the definition of words. Instead, focus on the root of the problem, the morality of it. When people resort to word thinking, walk away as the chance of a good debate is low. Words are not reasons by themselves 
    4. The hypocrisy defense – just because the other side did something too, doesn’t make it right. If you screwed up, admit it, and communicate how you’ll solve it 
    5. Fairness – different for everyone and it can rarely be measured or doled out. People are spring loaded to prefer fairness but fairness is an illusion
    6. Feels-the-same – just because one thing about a person or situation feels the same as something, doesn’t make it fair or right to compare the two. People are pattern recognition machines, and not good ones. Analogies cannot help you predict the future. Focusing on causation rather than simply patterns
    7. Friction – adding friction of whatever kind changes behavior
    8. Mentioning is not comparing 
    9. Do your own research – doing your own research is very helpful in many realms but in the most complex (politics, climate change) it may not and may simply lead to confirmation bias. Doing some research is likely better than no research, but don’t pretend that you can tell the difference between knowledge and confirmation bias
    10. Be yourself – if who you are today isn’t benefiting your or those around you, you can change yourself. Be more positive and adapt your habits to become a better person
  10. The Golden Age Filter
    1. Bad news and drama sells, so most people don’t see or understand that the world is in a better place than it has ever been
    2. Poverty has drastically decreased, overpopulation has been mitigated, unsolved crime has decreased, inexpensive homes are improving, wars seem to be less likely moving forward as the economic and political benefits have drastically decreased, climate change technologies are quickly improving, end of unemployment may be within our lifetimes as housing/energy/technology/etc. costs and improvements help everyone, healthcare innovations, race relations have improved although the press blinds us to this often
  11. How to Break Out of Your Mental Prison
    1. Cultural gravity – some cultures have low gravity so that people aren’t ashamed of learning and excelling. Seek to surround yourself with this as much as possible. 
    2. Knowing where to start – doing the wrong thing is an excellent place to start in order to learn how to do it right. Loserthink involves doing nothing until you know how to do it right
    3. Unfocused priorities – You have to get your own health and finances in order. Only then can you help and focus on others. Priority should be yourself, family, friends, community, state, country, and then the world
    4. Context is hugely important yet most people ignore or are blind to the bigger picture 
    5. Fake news filter – can assume that if both sides present the same story that it is likely true, side that is out of power more likely to resort to fake news, beware mind reading and absurdity, be skeptical until the noise settles down a bit
    6. Persuasion – humans are not rational but have the illusion that they are. Once you accept and see this, the walls of Loserthink will soften
    7. Managing Embarrassment – getting comfortable with getting embarrassed takes training. Put yourself in the position to fail and be embarrassed and you’ll realize it won’t kill you. Learning that embarrassment doesn’t kill you is like a super power
    8. Change what you do to change how you think – thoughts follow action, so be biased towards positive action
    9. Judging the mistake versus the response – this is the best way to judge others
    10. The 48 hour rule and the 20 year rule – new manners that the author proposes. Give people 48 hours to apologize, clarify, or update you if something didn’t make sense. Forgive what people did more than 20 years ago
  12. How to break others out of their mental prison
    1. The magic question – what one thing do you believe that you don’t think I believe? This question will frame the conversation so that you can respond to specific criticisms
    2. Pacing – Agree with someone as much as you can at the beginning (without lying) to prove that you are an open and reasonable person. This will make future disagreements and discussions more productive 
    3. Define the weeds – define what is important and not
    4. Describe the long-term – what does the future look like under your scenario? If they can’t answer that clearly, they aren’t looking out far enough
    5. Call out the mind reading – by giving it a name and exposing mind reading, you will have more productive conversations
    6. Framing issues – how you frame an issue is as important as the issue itself. make sure you are thoughtful about how you frame it
  13. Other
    1. People gave greater weight to things that have names (why he created a new word in “Loserthink”)
    2. Everyone is coming from a different starting point but the purpose of this book is to explain these core ideas and how you can use them in your own life
    3. You must know not only how many times someone or something was correct, but how many times they were incorrect (the stockpicking scam where they send thousands of people productions and some salt small subset is blown away by how accurate they are and are conned out of money…)
    4. Opinion stacking – tactic of fake news where you get several people with the same biased opinion together and only one dissenting opinion 

What I got out of it

  1. Different realms require different modes of thinking and Scott Adams gives some amazing tips and tools for how to be more productive and persuasive and how to not fall for “Loserthink.” 

Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter by Scott Adams

  1. Discusses how emotional rather than rational people really are and how to use this fact to persuade people. He uses the recent Trump presidential campaign to tie in real life examples of his persuasion tips
Key Takeaways
  1. Trump’s presidential victory “ripped a whole in the fabric of the universe” in the sense that people have had to alter their mental models to fit reality. Objectivity was believed to be synonymous with reality but Trump’s victory shows that we have to alter the “movie in our head” to model what is really happening. This was one of the biggest perceptual shifts to ever occur
  2. A good mental filter is one which helps you predict the future and makes you happy. Adams does not say that the persuasion filter is an accurate representation of reality
  3. Cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias are two phenomena which affects everyone.
    1. Adams’ blog and prediction of a Trump victory was partly motivated by him wanting to make sure people were looking at the situation through the right lens. Trump remade the Republican Party in his own image, destroyed the media’s credibility and crushed the Democrats.
    2. The tell for cognitive dissonance is not the quality of explanations but how many of them there are. Also, overly emotional or aggressive responses, the psychic psychiatrist (thinking you can know other people’s unspoken feelings or thoughts), retreating to analogy, extreme social or professional pressure to agree with the assumed answer, and attacking the messenger are other tells.
    3. Cognitive dissonance isn’t a bug in the operating system. It is the system. Mass delusions are the norm
  4. Always keep an eye out for leaders who have a “reality distortion field”
  5. 2D v. 3D world
    1. Second dimension – mental model most people use which says that people are mostly rational. Master persuaders operate on the third dimension where people are irrational 90% of the time. Humans think they are rational and that they can understand reality but they are wrong on both accounts. The truth is that humans bounce around from illusion to illusion, thinking we see reality.
    2. Facts play little role in the big decisions in our lives as we are emotional creatures. We make emotional decisions and then rationalize them after the fact
    3. When emotions are involved, people simply don’t change their minds just because facts are presented
  6. Evolution doesn’t care if your representation of reality is accurate as long as you procreate
  7. Moist robot filter – people are like software and if you feed them certain inputs, you’ll likely get certain outputs
  8. To attract the other sex, aim to be talented rather than nice. This signals good genes
  9. When someone exceeds your expectations, look to see if they have a talent stack – a grouping of talents which add onto the others and allows them to excel
  10. Some of the most powerful words in history have been “turn the other cheek” and “we the people”
  11. Look for situations or decisions which give you multiple ways to win and none or minimal ways to lose. The importance of systems over goals
  12. Persuasion tips
    1. Fear is the strongest form of persuasion
    2. When you identify as part of a group, your beliefs tend to fall towards the consensus of that group
    3. Reciprocity is a huge tool for the persuader
    4. Persuasion works on the subject even when they know its being used on them
    5. The things you think about the most will irrationally rise in importance in your mind
    6. If you are not a master persuader, find a balance between never apologizing and apologizing too much
    7. Don’t trust any explanation of reality which isn’t able to predict
    8. People are more influenced by the direction of things than by their current state
    9. Display confidence whether real or not to improve persuasion
    10. Hypnosis works best when the hypnotist has credibility
    11. Calling out what someone is thinking when they are thinking it makes you connect and gives you more persuasive power
    12. Leave enough blank spaces in your content/argument/etc. so people can fill it in with whatever makes them happiest (Dilbert has no last name and don’t know what industry he’s in so more people can connect…)
    13. People are more addicted and respond better to unpredictable rewards compared to predictable rewards
    14. Aligning yourself and making yourself a key part of helping people reach their aspirations is a great tool of persuasion
    15. It is easier to persuade when you establish and signal any form of credibility
    16. People hate uncertainty and those who offered we are simple and strong answers even if they’re wrong are more persuasive
    17. Visual persuasion is far more powerful than non-visual persuasion
    18. People are more persuaded by contrast than by fact or reason. Humans need contrast in order to make decisions and prioritize. Find ways to set yourself apart from competitors
    19. Association is a very strong form of persuasion. All people and all companies are always “marketing.” What you associate yourself with becomes your brand and what people think of when they think of you. Associate carefully with positive factors. People forget what you say but not how you make them feel
    20. People almost always get used to small annoyances. We love novelty and almost always adjust to things as they routine
    21. All communication depends upon what we believe is in the mind of the person communicating. What you say is important but not nearly as important as what people think you are thinking
    22. High energy is taken for competent leadership even when it is not
    23. Direct requests are persuasive. Ask the customer if they want to buy. Trump ends many sentences with “believe me.” A command disguised as throw away words but in fact become associated with him over time as he repeats this over time
    24. Repetition is persuasion. Repetition is persuasion.
    25. Match the pace of the people you want to persuade and then you can lead. Copy their emotion and speaking style
      1. Trump matched the emotional base of his constituency and played to it. He made big, outrageous first ask and later, when he compromised, the other side felt relieved but more got done than maybe otherwise would have. Policies during the election weren’t that important as he would figure out the details later
    26. People love the simplest explanation of things but in a “3D” world this is hardly ever accurate
    27. Simple explanations are more credible than complicated ones even if wrong or incomplete
    28. Have to be memorable to be persuasive. Easily remember things which violate our expectations. A good general rule is that people are more influenced by visual persuasion, emotion and repetition of facts
      1. People put far more importance on the first part of a sentence than the second. Structure them carefully
    29. Analogies are great tools to describe a new concept but are terrible tools to try to persuade others
    30. Provide a “fake because”. This is a reason which those on the fence can fall back on and use as their excuse for deciding the way you want them to
    31. Making an exaggerated statement which is directionally correct is another form of persuasion as it tends to stick better in people’s minds
    32. The master persuader move energy and attention to where it helps him the most
    33. High ground maneuver – elevating a debate from the details on which people disagree to a broader concept on which people tend to agree on. Instead of attacking people’s actions, take the high ground and ask them if that is truly the person they want to be. Point out the gap and watch it close
    34. Linguistic kill shot – a nickname or short phrase which is so persuasive that it can end a debate immediately
      1. Trump is a master at using images, visual perception. Low Energy Jeb, Crooked Hillary, Pocahontas, The Wall
    35. Nothing kills humor like a boring and general truth. Steve Jobs’ response to issues with the iPhone 4s antenna is a prime example
What I got out of it
  1.  A lot of gems and great tips / cautions on how to go about being a better persuader. If you know the rules / tactics, you’ll be better able to spot them and combat them from being used on you

God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment by Scott Adams

  1. A thought experiment via dialogue on some of life’s big questions
Key Takeaways
  1. We are the building blocks of God, in early stages of reassembly. Eventually we will get to the point, beyond quarks and whatever else there is, where all matter is similar and this matter is God
  2. Building the Internet is not rational, it is something programmed in us. In the distant future, the Internet will be one big consciousness and make decisions on behalf of everyone and distribute it to everyone immediately
  3. Light is not a physical thing but a boundary
  4. Many wars are fought over holy land because of the delusion that location is constant
  5. Probability is the expression of God’s will. God controls the averages, not the individuals. Payoff for living with increased good probabilities leads to a happier, more meaningful and less stressful life. All you have to do is go with probability but sometimes it is hard to find what the right probability is
  6. People tend to be either ‘people oriented’ (talk about what people said or feel or do) and others are ‘idea oriented’. Talking about people is personal to everyone because we all instantly relate it to ourselves. When you find out how others deal with situations, there will instantly be parallels to your life. Ask others how they like something, how they deal with it, their struggles. Find a commonality and you both delight in talking about yourselves while pleasing the other.
  7. It is never useful to challenge the opinions of others, rather challenge the assumptions
  8. Each gender believes the other is a defective version of the other and this is the root of all misunderstanding. Women are about relationships and men about how they help others. If a man sacrifices their favorite activity to be with her, she will trust him. It is all about sacrifice. Men are all about accomplishments and if a woman doesn’t live up to his objectives, the man is disappointed. A woman needs to be told the man would sacrifice anything for her and a man needs to hear he is useful
  9. Don’t try to change anyone because people can’t be changed. The best you can hope for in a relationship is for someone who’s flaws you don’t mind
  10. No deep or important communication can be made without trust. Establish trust by ‘lying’ and making yourself more human, more humble – making your victories seem the result of luck and exaggerating your flaws
  11. Conversation can be seen as useless until you realize it’s not all about exchange of information but of signaling to the other person of their importance by your giving of time
  12. Other social tips – Express gratitude, deliver more than is expected, speak optimistically, be nice to people, remember names, don’t judge people by their mistakes but how they respond to mistakes, attend to own basic needs first or else you won’t be helpful to anyone else, touch people, don’t mistake flexibility for weakness, remember that physical appearance is for the benefit of others
  13. Affirmations work because people who are enthusiastic enough to write down their goals and know what they want are more likely to achieve them. Become more attuned to opportunities in environment to achieve goals. Opportunities don’t increase or come out of nowhere but people become more attuned to spotting them
  14. Your subconscious is an odds-calculating machine, but not always to good effect
  15. Intelligence is how well you function within your level of awareness and awareness is being able to recognize your delusions for what they are. Awareness is about unlearning, about realizing how little you know. Level 1 is of existence, level 2 is realizing others exist and believe what you’re told by authorities, level 3 is realizing humans are often wrong about what they believe and know there are some things you “know” which are wrong but not which ones, level 4 is skepticism and use of scientific method to determine what is true and false, level 5 understands the mind is an illusion generator, not a window into reality and recognizes science as a belief system, albeit a useful one. Level 5 avatars live by serving others. The world’s great leaders tend to be at level 2, very charismatic who can bring people into their delusion
  16. There is no good or bad, only difference is in usefulness
  17. Ideas are the only thing that change the world, the rest are details
What I got out of it
  1. Tackles some big and complicated questions in a relatively straightforward way. Quick read that most likely will need to be re-read to fully grasp

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams


  1. Adams is the comic behind the Dilbert series and this book is his story about how he stumbled his way to success amid many failures. Goals are for losers, your brain isn’t magic – you can program it, most important metric to track is your personal energy, every skill you acquire doubles your chances of success, success is happiness + freedom, conquer shyness by being a huge phony (in a good way), fitness is the lever that moves the world, simplicity transforms the ordinary into the amazing
Key Takeaways
  1. When it comes to any big question, humility is the only way to handle it
  2. 6 filters for truth (how to filter out the bullshit) – personal experience, experience of people you know, experts, scientific studies, common sense, pattern recognition
    1. Look for truth by getting at least 2 of the filters in agreement
  3. Consistency is the closest thing we can get to truth
  4. Writing good comics requires stripping a situation of all noise until only the true but absurd core is left
  5. Adams invites failure into his life whenever he can and extracts as much value from it as possible. View failure as a tool, not an outcome
  6. Energy is good. Following your passion is bullshit – people tend to be passionate about things they’re already good at. Never hear about passionate people who failed
  7. The market rewards execution, not good ideas 
  8. Seek opportunities in which you have an advantage 
  9. Timing is often the biggest component of success – makes sense to try many things because timing is so hard to predict
  10. There are very few, if any, useful things which can come from management
  11. Looking for a better job should be a continual process
  12. Systems over goals – Instead of having goals, have a system. Goals lead to an uneasy state and temporary satisfaction but a system is a long term, sustainable life style
  13. A proven, sustainable system which utilizes your talents will beat passion in the long term
  14. Aim to create something which is easy to scale which utilizes your competitive edge and makes it easier for luck to find you
  15. If you want success, figure out the price and pay it
  16. 3 levels of generosity – selfish, stupid and a burden to others. Best to be selfish as this will more than likely lead to success and giving more than you consume and forces you to take the long term view on things
  17. Aim to pick up a room whenever you enter it – have infectious energy
  18. Influence works best when the person you’re trying to influence has no objection to the given change
  19. Organize and base your life upon your personal energy. Search to fill your life with things and activities which fill you with energy. Some selfish things in life are enlightened as they make you a better person and more fun to be around
  20. Match your task to your mental state
  21. There are optimizers and simplifiers – choose which is appropriate for you, the task and your energy
  22. Be aware of how a tidy vs messy home and workspace affect you
  23. Do flash searches (1 minute research) for topics to intimidate you and you’ll often find it’s simpler than you might think
  24. Set your priorities by what will add the most to your personal energy. Priorities are things you need to get right so things you love can thrive 
  25. Positive attitude very important. Be conscious of the media you consume and aim to have as much of it as possible be feel good stuff
  26. Perception of reality most likely flawed so change perception to what makes you happy and that works. Reality is overrated
  27. Quality sometimes not a good predicting success (computers). However, customers still demanded the product although it would be a while until the product was of a high quality
  28. Your product or service doesn’t need to be loved by all, but a small subset must be very enthusiastic about it
  29. What people do is much more honest than what they say
  30. Determine if you are a “practicer” or need novelty in order to keep enthused
  31. For your resume, imagine that you got $100 for each word you removed and see how it looks after. Simplicity beats accuracy every time
  32. Being good at a couple different skills is often better than being great at one (unless you’re world class)
  33. Everything you learn becomes a shortcut to learning everything else
  34. Knowledge formula – the more you know, the more you can know
  35. Finding your “blind spots” is extremely important. see the world as math (probabilities) as opposed to magic. This will help you be more positive and build new skills
  36. If you see something that impresses you, it it is your duty to speak up and complement the person
  37. People’s perception of their own potential is often very lacking 
  38. Never be blind to the psychology in a situation 
  39. Quality is not an independent force – it must be compared to something 
  40. Make learning a psychology a top priority and a lifelong goal
  41. Reason is often the smallest driver of our decisions – consider incentives and psychology over reason 
  42. Business writing is all about getting to the point and leaving out the noise
  43. Being a good conversationalist is about asking good questions – name, where from, where live, family, work, hobbies, travel
  44. Determine whether the person or people you are talking to are ‘thing’ people or ‘people’ people – like to hear of events or things vs hearing about other people
  45. Persuasive phrases – because, would you mind, I’m not interested, I don’t do that, I have a rule, I just wanted to clarify, is there anything you can do for me?, thank you, this is just between you and me, decisiveness, energy is contagious, insane people usually have their way (can fake insanity by bringing emotions into it which won’t bend to reason), proper voice technique (speak how you think a confident person would speak, low voice, no “umms”)
  46. Always look for patterns
  47. Affirmations – Writing, thinking, speaking the outcome you want to achieve many times per day
  48. Step 1 to happiness is getting control of your schedule; where you’re heading more important than where you currently are; reduce daily decisions to routine
  49. As humans have limited willpower, you want to routinize as much as possible, especially diet and exercise. An attractive alternative makes willpower much less important
  50. Make healthy foods as convenient as possible for you in order to save willpower and make it easier on yourself
  51. Fail forward – if you’re going to fail, make sure you learn a lot out of it
  52. Optimists make it easier for luck to find them
  53. Don’t think of your body as magic. Understand that the right inputs (diet, exercise, thoughts, etc) lead to better outputs 
What I got out of it
  1. An unexpectedly good book – Adams is honest, rational, witty and gives a lot of great advice from diet/exercise to affirmations to what it takes to be successful. One of my favorite books of the year