I’m calling a Bernie Sanders win, based on Scott Adams

For some reason the US presidential race, even 10+ months before the election, fascinates all of us. Well, me, anyway.

For some months I’ve been reading Scott Adams’ blog with a mixture of interest and horror. His proposition is that Donald Trump will win, not only the Republican nomination, but the general election afterwards, in a landslide. Adams has repeated this many times. For a general flavour of his arguments, see here, but basically, since Adams says he is a trained hypnotist, he claims to see industrial-strength persuasion techniques being employed by Trump against his opponents, to devastating effect. Eg, Jeb Bush being low-energy. Ben Carson being too nice. Carly Fiorina having “that face”. (To understand why these are supposedly persuasive, you need to read the source.) In short, Trump is a “master wizard”, or in Adams’ more recent wording, a “master persuader”. So, he says, was Obama.

So it was striking to see Adams hedge his bets in a new blog post: “My top-performing tweet of late predicts (indirectly) a Trump landslide if he runs agains Clinton.” (My emphasis.)

Why hedge his bets? Because of Bernie Sanders, obviously. This self-described “democratic socialist”. trailing Clinton by 20-30 points not long ago (and, some say, even today), is now being seen as competitive with Clinton in at least the first two primary states, and perhaps nationwide.

What does Adams think of a potential Trump-Sanders matchup? He doesn’t say. Previously he has dismissed Sanders as “too dandruffy” (can’t find the link now, but a variant is here.) But more recently he seems to be doubtful of Clinton’s nomination.

Adams may say more soon, but here’s my call (made in the safe knowledge that I don’t have a millionth the internet following of Scott Adams). Sanders will win the Democratic nomination and the general election. And my basis for the prediction is the persuader hypothesis: if Adams is right that persuasiveness is what matters, Sanders is empirically good at this. And if Adams needs to hedge his bets now after loudly trumpeting Trump for months, he too see something in Sanders, which, he (Adams) being a trained hypnotist, we need to respect.

[update Jan 22] Well, that didn’t take long.

[Sanders’] new ad, set to a Simon and Garfunkel tune, is pure identity (America!) and pure gold. That should put him over the top in Iowa, according to the Master Persuader filter… I don’t think Sanders can beat Trump in the general election… But Sanders does have a puncher’s chance if he stays in the top layer of persuasion like this.

Goodbye, repeated “landslide for Trump” predictions. I think I will keep this post updated until the general election. In fact, here’s my next prediction: if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination, Adams will find another reason to back off from the Trump landslide prediction.

New Zealand’s “acceptable standards of health”

V S Sunder is my colleague at IMSc.  He is a world-renowned mathematician.  He travels and lectures widely.  He has had multple sclerosis for many years, which means he is confined to a wheelchair (he can walk with a stick and with difficulty for short distances), and therefore suffers various personal inconveniences, but does not inconvenience anyone else (except organizations in India who ignore our accessibility laws, after whom he goes indefatigably!) We hope to have him around for many years longer.

But some others disagree. New Zealand, where his daughter studies,  has decided that he doesn’t have an “acceptable standard of health” for a TWO WEEK visa.