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Obama Vs. Iran - Who is the Wizard? - Dilbert Blog

Obama Vs. Iran – Who is the Wizard?

This is a good time to remind you that the Master Wizard Hypothesis I have been blogging about is for entertainment, not enlightenment. Truth is probably at a different URL. And I remind you that you should never take advice from cartoonists on issues such as nuclear proliferation. That is just one example.

The larger context of the Master Wizard Hypothesis is showing you some of the science-tested methods of persuasion on display from various leaders. The fun part (I hope) is seeing how well my predictions fit the data compared to whatever crystal ball you were using before. (None of this should be confused with science.)

That said… 

A popular American view of the Iran nuclear deal is that President Obama, a Kenyan Muslim, has gutted our government from within and now he is surrendering to Iran, a sworn enemy that plans to destroy us, and themselves at the same time, because someone picked the wrong God. 

The weaker view is that Obama unnecessarily made a bad deal that exposes Israel and the United States to catastrophic risk. Those sanctions would have worked in the long run, say this group of critics. Or maybe we could have looked extra-hard and found everything that needed a good bombing. Any military action would presumably continue forever because if we stopped bombing Iran, one assumes they might get all revengy. Realistically, once you start bombing, you have to keep that line item in the budget forever. But it might be better than nuclear annihilation, say the critics.

Then there are the optimists who assume our government would not agree to the deal we have been shown, so surely there must be lots of secret side deals that make Iran and America allies behind the scenes. I want to believe that version, so look for my cognitive bias as I tell you how this deal looks through the Master Wizard filter.

For starters, I have blogged that Obama is a Master Wizard of persuasion. He uses the same science-tested tools of persuasion that Trump uses, and to similar good effect. That is all described in the backlog of my blog here. (#Trump)

So we know we have in Obama a Master Wizard on one side of the Iran deal. According to the Master Wizard Hypothesis, The United States almost certainly “won” the negotiations even if the information that has been made public does not support that view. A Master Wizard would not lose a negotiation against an untrained opponent. (Even if he was not in the same room.)

But what if you have a Master Wizard on the other side? Wizard-on-Wizard is harder to predict. To dig into that question, I give you three quotes from Iranian President Rouhani, from his 60 Minutes Interview. Then I explain his technique.

Rouhani: “Of course, for reaching trust between the U.S. and Iran, there is need for a lot of time.”

Persuasion Method: Big Picture Maneuver. He takes us to a perspective where everyone agrees that if you wait long enough, anything can change. And we know patience is a good thing. The first person in a conversation to use the big picture maneuver always sounds like the wisest person in the room. In this case, our egos recognize Rouhani’s linguistic challenge to rise to his big-picture level of wisdom, and we do so automatically. We are wired to do so. Knowing it is a persuasion method does not protect you from the effect.

Rouhani: “The enmity that existed between the United States and Iran over the decades , the distance, the disagreements, the lack of trust, will not go away soon. What’s important is which direction we are heading? Are we heading towards amplifying the enmity or decreasing this enmity? I believe we have taken the first steps towards decreasing this enmity.

Persuasion Method: Big Picture Maneuver again. The first person in a conversation to say some version of “The direction of things matters most” always sounds the wisest. Your ego is triggered to join Rouhani on the level of wise people who understand that life is about direction, not destination. And by now Rouhani has established a pattern of saying big picture things that make you agree. Every time you agree with one thing – no matter how trivial – it primes you to agree with the next. So using the big picture maneuver more than once compounds its power by creating a pattern in your mind.

Rouhani: “We cannot forget the past, but at the same time our gaze must be towards the future.”

Persuasion Method: That sentence is a tell for a Master Wizard. It is engineered to a degree that made me tingle when I read it. I think I could write a thesis on it, but here are a few standout points:

1. “Cannot forget the past” will be processed by most brains as “forget the past.” Rouhani needs both sides to forget the past in order to move on. But on the surface he must say we “cannot forget” because that agrees with what everyone believes, so we let in that agreeable thought without editing. Once past your guard, the word “cannot” dissolves. What is left is “forget the past.”

2. Rouhani uses at least three Big Picture Maneuvers in one interview. All three get at the same issue of being patient and moving slowly in the right direction. But because each of Rouhani’s quotes comes at it differently, it is like working your abs with three exercises instead of one. Rouhani came at Kroft with a hat trick of Big Picture Maneuvers that he finished off in one perfect thought: “We cannot forget the past, but at the same time our gaze must be towards the future.”

My Verdict: Rouhani is a Master Wizard.

Okay, okay. I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking that none of this matters because Rouhani is not the real power in Iran. The real decisions come from The Supreme Leader, Khamenei. 

That was certainly the case with Iran’s last president. That guy didn’t seem to have much power.

But the last president wasn’t a Master Wizard. Look for Khamenei to support whatever deal Rouhani makes.

In Top Tech Blog, now we can do an MRI scan of internal organs and create 3D digital models of them. How long before HP comes out with a scanner/printer that lets you scan your heart, print it out, keep it beating with a potato battery, and have the coolest science project of all time? That has A+ written all over it.