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My Suggestion for a National “Dashboard” for Tracking Progress

After years of trying, I think I came up with an idea that nearly 100% of people would agree is a good one. Rare!

The idea is to create a national “dashboard” for citizens to track the progress of government. Imagine a website with a bunch of small graphs on it for each element of national interest, from gun deaths, to national debt, to stock market performance, to the number of people covered by health insurance, and more. Click any graph to see more information, including the legislation in the pipeline to address that area.

I’m imagining some semi-independent group managing the site, but the figures would mostly be generated by the government.

If you want to make something better, you have to measure where you are and how you are trending. Measurement is a base idea behind all management theory. The government already measures lots of stuff, but citizens don’t see it gathered in one place for an overall picture. And you can’t allocate resources until you see how all the topics are doing, because resources are limited. Every expenditure comes at the cost of not spending the same dollars elsewhere. A national dashboard would let everyone see the problem areas at the same time and in the same way.

I talk about this idea on Periscope here.

It might be a good idea to pre-order my new book, Win Bigly, at this special page, because you get a bonus chapter by email. You’ll like it.

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The Worst Gun Control Arguments

I’m pro-gun, but mostly for selfish reasons. Some people (such as celebrities) are probably safer with defensive weapons nearby. But I acknowledge the reality that guns make people less safe in other situations. No two situations are alike. That’s partly why the issue can never be fully resolved. Both sides pretend they are arguing on principle, but neither side is. Both sides are arguing from their personal risk profiles, and those are simply different. Our risk profiles will never be the same across the entire population, so we will never agree on gun control.

That said, I want to call out the worst arguments I have seen on the issue of banning bump stocks. If you are new to the conversation, a bump stock is a $99 add-on to an AR rifle that turns it into an automatic-like weapon for greater kill power. The Vegas gunman used bump stocks. They are legal, whereas a fully automatic rifle is not.

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How a Silicon Valley Investor Does Leadership

Lately I have been describing my personal political views as “left of Bernie, but with a preference for plans that can work.” In other words, I would love universal healthcare and free college. I just don’t know how to get there in any practical way. I don’t think anyone else does either.

This indirectly brings me to Sam Altman, CEO of Y-Combinator, and a billionaire investor. He’s embarking on an experiment to see what happens when you give citizens free money, no strings attached. This is important because our robot-centric future will mean the end of most forms of human labor. And that means one of two things, in all likelihood: 1) 90% of the world starves to death while the robot-owners thrive, or 2) 90% of the world receives some sort of “free money” from the rich, with no strings attached. Sam is testing option two.

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Your Monday Morning Laugh (Mine Too)

In case you missed it, you might enjoy a good laugh with me on this Periscope.

Topics:

1. President Trump’s tweet about “Rocket Man”

2. President Trump’s golf ball tweet

3. My list of magical thinking arguments on Twitter

4. I add a few words to the list of insults that should never be uttered in public.

My book, Win Bigly, is available for pre-order now. It’s your path to the third dimension (persuasion).

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Win Bigly – Available for pre-order

My new book, Win Bigly, is available for pre-order wherever you buy books:

Amazon

B&N

Books A Million

8CR

iBooks

Google Books

Win Bigly is a tutorial on weapons-grade persuasion, using as a backdrop the personal story of how I used my knowledge of persuasion to predict a number of unlikely events during the 2016 election. You’ll have a new superpower when you are done with it. And you’ll never see reality the same way again. (In a good way.)

If you liked my book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, you know it taught you how to persuade yourself toward success (essentially). Win Bigly teaches you how to persuade others. I hope you use your new powers for good.

Win Bigly is some of my best work. You’re gonna like it.

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Are the Hurricanes and Temperature Records Confirmation of Catastrophic Climate Change?

It wasn’t that long ago that climate scientists and their supporters mocked the critics who looked out their window, saw snow in the winter, and declared “global warming” to be a ridiculous hoax.

The climate scientists were right about that. You can’t predict the future by looking at today’s weather, even when the weather is setting records.

Likewise, my latest understanding of climate science (which is always sketchy at best, and certainly in need of updating now) is that we haven’t yet seen the “signal” of climate change in the hurricane data or the weather extremes. But that view is perhaps a year old. Has science updated its opinion to say the two super-hurricanes and our heat extremes are indeed a credible signal of the beginning of a climate catastrophe?

I watch a lot of news, continuously sampling both sides. I haven’t yet seen a climate scientist weigh in on our recent weather extremes. (Perhaps I missed a few?) So I have no idea whether we are seeing something statistically meaningful right now or not.

Let me put this in more stark terms.

If the recent hurricanes and weather extremes are meaningful in terms of climate change, we really, really, really need to know that. THAT is NEWS. In fact, no news is bigger than that news. Even the risk from North Korea is smaller than the risk of total climate catastrophe. So if the current weather extremes are statistically meaningful, and science confirms, why-the-hell isn’t that the lead story everywhere?

On the flip side, if climate scientists do NOT believe our current weather extremes are meaningful in terms of climate predictions, I’d say THAT should be the lead story too, simply because so many people believe they are seeing the beginning of the end times, climate-wise.

So why is the biggest story in the world conspicuously missing from the news? Keep in mind that climate change is still the biggest story even if the hurricanes are NOT telling us something new. The public wants to know how big the threat is. We’re scared!!!

Instead of that news, we get mostly crickets.

But why?

My working hypothesis is that science doesn’t know one way or another whether the current weather extremes are predictive of things to come. And if they are not yet sure, they would say as much. And that would be a problem for news organizations dedicated to reporting climate science risks as real and dire. If you think the world is best served by convincing the public that climate risks are real, your most socially responsible play in this case is to ignore climate scientists at the moment and let the public believe (without the benefit of scientific support, at least right now) that current temperature extremes are a clear sign of climate collapse.

Take this guy, for example. He’s typical of the what I am seeing on Twitter and even from my friends.

[If Tumblr were not broken right now, you would be seeing an image of a tweet that mocks climate critics for thinking the hurricanes are not proof of climate change. But instead you see this boring text because Tumblr won’t accept an image this morning.]

This fine gentleman believes our current hurricanes are indeed a clear signal of climate change. To be perfectly clear, he could be right. But if he is right, it is not because he is well-informed or smart. It would be a coincidence in this case. As far as I know, climate scientists are not onboard with Roger. They might confirm his gut feeling at some point soon, but for now, Roger is doing his own climate science by watching CNN.

So we have an odd situation in which news organizations can report the most “truthful” version of the reality — according to them — by NOT reporting the best thinking on the topic. Here I’m assuming the best thinking is that it is too soon to know how important recent weather extremes are to our predictions of climate change. But if that story is reported, viewers will get the wrong idea and conclude that climate change is not such a big deal even though these weather extremes are clearly a big deal.

Conversely, by not putting climate scientists on TV, and avoiding the trap of having them say, “We can’t tell yet,” which would be over-interpreted by skeptics, news organizations might be doing the most ethically defensible thing they could do. If they believe climate change is a big problem, and they want the public to agree, these hurricanes are doing a great job of persuasion without the benefit of science. It’s hard for the public to see what is happening right now as coincidence, or a normal variation in weather. It just doesn’t feel like normal. It feels like the first big signal of climate change to many observers because they have been primed for confirmation bias on that topic.

If you are a producer for CNN, and you believe climate change is an enormous problem that the public needs to understand, you would hesitate to allow any segment on the air that conflicts with that objective. For example, you would not give equal time to climate skeptics. And while all attention is on the hurricanes, you might not want a climate scientist to come on the air and say some version of “We have no idea whether these specific weather extremes mean something. We’ll need more data to know if this is a real trend or a blip.” That message would sound to skeptics like confirmation of their skepticism, even though it isn’t. Not even close. But it would be received that way by skeptics because of confirmation bias. Everyone hears what they want to hear.

So the biggest story in the world is largely ignored by news organizations because — and here I speculate — reporting any uncertainty about climate change is not as persuasive as allowing the public to look out the window and generate their own illusions of certainty while also frightened to death.

What would Sam Harris say about the ethics in this situation? Should news organizations lie by omission when they sincerely believe doing so is good for the planet? Or should they put scientists on the air to say “We don’t know yet” and give fuel to the climate skeptics whom they believe are jeopardizing the future of humanity?

I say give us the truth in this case, even if the truth is “We don’t know yet.”

You might like my books because hurricanes.

Follow me on Twitter at @ScottAdamsSays. Otherwise you’ll miss all the good stuff.

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