Theory 1 – no central authority

There is no central authority for news and information. Choice on the Internet and in TV programming, and the gathering of narrow ‘birds-of-a-feather’ groups around Facebook pages and Twitter feeds has created a cacophony that lacks a central ‘Athenian square’ where ideas are argued, facts are compared and opinions validated or discounted. Despite the great array of articulate criticism of Trump on conservative web sites such as Ricochet and The Federalist, no Trump supporters are reading it.

i.e., with apologies to WB Yeats, the centre cannot hold.

Not only is there no central authority in the world of political discourse, but the GOP has shown itself to be less than the sum of its parts, a weak collection of underwhelming operatives with little idea of how to proceed and absolutely no personal moral courage.

Theory 2 – the gamed moist robot theory

Scott Adams (Dilbert) has studied deal-making, perusasion and even hypnosis and written some interesting blog posts about it. Back in September he identified Trump as “the best persuader I have ever seen. On a scale from 1 to 10, if Steve Jobs was a 10, Trump is a 15.”

His analysis of Trump’s Super Tuesday is insightful and his reading list on persuasion is also worth checking out.

The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. In social psychology, this effect is sometimes called the familiarity principle. The effect has been demonstrated with many kinds of things, including words, Chinese characters, paintings, pictures of faces, geometric figures, and sounds.[1] In studies of interpersonal attraction, the more often a person is seen by someone, the more pleasing and likeable that person appears to be.


The gestalt effect is the capability of our senses to generate whole forms, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of global figures instead of just collections of simpler and unrelated elements (points, lines, curves…).


Human cooperation is an evolutionary puzzle. Unlike other creatures, people frequently cooperate with genetically unrelated strangers, often in large groups, with people they will never meet again, and when reputation gains are small or absent. These patterns of cooperation cannot be explained by the nepotistic motives associated with the evolutionary theory of kin selection and the selfish motives associated with signalling theory or the theory of reciprocal altruism. Here we show experimentally that the altruistic punishment of defectors is a key motive for the explanation of cooperation. Altruistic punishment means that individuals punish, although the punishment is costly for them and yields no material gain. We show that cooperation flourishes if altruistic punishment is possible, and breaks down if it is ruled out. The evidence indicates that negative emotions towards defectors are the proximate mechanism behind altruistic punishment. These results suggest that future study of the evolution of human cooperation should include a strong focus on explaining altruistic punishment.