Loserthink: Scott Adams explains failure, persuasion, and Trump's big advantage

Plenty of people wonder what has gone wrong in American political and cultural discourse these days, but few offer practical solutions to the problem. Earlier today, I had the honor and pleasure of speaking with Dilbert creator Scott Adams about his latest book Loserthink: How Untrained Brains are Ruining America. It’s an excellent and detailed discourse not on what we should be thinking, but how we go about it.

Loserthink currently sits in Amazon’s top spot for political humor, which Adams discusses as a successful marketing plan, but don’t let that category limit your perspective on what the book discusses. Adams lays out his premise, in detailed and sometimes personal terms, that we allow ourselves to create mental prisons based on our own assumptions and lack of analytical thinking, especially through a deficiency of cross-disciplinary training. Adams argues that the oft-suggested advice of “stay in your own lane” might be the worst advice one could possibly offer.

Adams and I spend a little time discussing Donald Trump and his previous book, Win Bigly, as another example of how the lack of cross-disciplinary experience can keep people from seeing a connected reality. “What I noticed about Trump,” Adams says of the early campaign, “is that he had the toolbox of a persuader — which I could recognize, because it’s something I’ve been studying for decades.” Without that cross-disciplinary training or even experience, Adams notes, people end up thinking, “‘Hey, it’s just some crazy clown, just giving people nicknames, full of bluster,’ and that’s there’s nothing to that.” We continue on that topic for a while, including whether people have begun figuring out that particular blind spot — and who has the best opportunity to do so, and why.

In Loserthink, Adams urges people to leave their lane, and often. “Leaving your lane is what allows you to pick up a new talent,” Adams notes in this interview. It’s that effort and experience that produces “all the good things” on the macro and micro levels, Adams argues, but it also teaches our brains to think better and comprehend reality more clearly. That is just part of the ways in which Adams instructs us to break out of our mental prisons.

It’s a fun interview, and I must admit being a little fanboy-ish here, as I have long admired Adams and enjoyed his work. I don’t think I’ve ever read an Adams book from which I didn’t get something valuable, but Loserthink might in some ways be the most practical and thought-provoking yet. Be sure to pick up a copy, and pay attention to his practical advice.