Sunday, August 21, 2016

A lesson in social engineering: president debates

In theory, we hackers are supposed to be experts in social engineering. In practice, we get suckered into it like everyone else. I point this out because of the upcoming presidential debates between Hillary and Trump (and hopefully Johnson). There is no debate, there is only social engineering.

Some think Trump will pull out of the debates, because he's been complaining a lot lately that they are rigged. No. That's just because Trump is a populist demagogue. A politician can only champion the cause of the "people" if there is something "powerful" to fight against. He has to set things up ahead of time (debates, elections, etc.) so that any failure on his part can be attributed to the powerful corrupting the system. His constant whining about the debates doesn't mean he'll pull out any more than whining about the election means he'll pull out of that.

Moreover, he's down in the polls (What polls? What's the question??). He therefore needs the debates to pull himself back up. And it'll likely work -- because social-engineering.

Here's how the social engineering works, and how Trump will win the debates.

The moderators, the ones running the debate, will do their best to ask Trump the toughest questions they think of. At this point, I think their first question will be about the Kahn family, and Trump's crappy treatment of their hero son. This is one of Trump's biggest weaknesses, but especially so among military-obsessed Republicans.

And Trump's response to this will be awesome. I don't know what it will be, but I do know that he's employing some of the world's top speech writers and debate specialists to work on the answer. He'll be practicing this question diligently working on a scripted answer, from many ways it can be asked, from now until the election. And then, when that question comes up, it'll look like he's just responding off-the-cuff, without any special thought, and it'll impress the heck out of all the viewers that don't already hate him.

The same will apply too all Trump's weak points. You think the debates are an opportunity for the press to lock him down, to make him reveal his weak points once and for all in front of a national audience, but the reverse is true. What the audience will instead see is somebody given tough, nearly impossible questions, and who nonetheless has a competent answer to everything. This will impress everyone with how "presidential" Trump has become.

Also, waivering voters will see that the Trump gets much tougher questions than Hillary. This will feed into Trump's claim the media is biased against him. Of course, the reality is that Trump is a walking disaster area with so many more weaknesses to hit, but there's some truth to the fact that media has a strong left-wing bias. Regardless of Trump's performance, the media will be on trial during the debate, and they'll lose.

The danger to Trump is that he goes off script, that his advisors haven't beaten it into his head hard enough that he's social engineering and not talking. That's been his greatest flaw so far. But, and this is a big "but", it's also been his biggest strength. By owning his gaffes, he's seen as a more authentic man of the people and not a slick politician. I point this out because we are all still working according to the rules of past elections, and Trump appears to have rewritten the rules for this election.

Anyway, this post is about social-engineering, not politics. You should watch the debate, not for content, but for how well each candidates does social engineering. Watch how they field every question, then "bridge" to a prepared statement they've been practicing for months. Watch how the moderators try to take them "off message", and how the candidates put things back "on message". Watch how Clinton, while being friendly and natural, never ever gets "off message", and how you don't even notice that she's "bridging" to her message. Watch how Trump, though, will get flustered and off message. Watch how Hillary controls her hand gestures (almost) none, while Trump frequently fails to.

At least, this is what I'll be watching for. And watching for live tweeting, as I paraphrase what candidate really were saying, as egregiously as I can :).

1 comment:

Unknown said...

"Trump's crappy treatment of their hero son. This is one of Trump's biggest weaknesses, but especially so among military-obsessed Republicans."
Trump is actually denouncing the war in Iraq, and Clinton supporting it.

"the reality is that Trump is a walking disaster area with so many more weaknesses to hit"
And Clinton is not. Hold on,
- Waco,
- dozens of suspicious deaths related to the Clintons
- silenced/threatened Bill's "conquests"
- email server
- support of every recent war

"this post is about social-engineering, not politics"
Politics IS social-engineering. By definition.