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Scott Adams’ Persuasion Reading List

by josephwrichards on December 30, 2015, one comment

Scott Adams caught my attention when he appeared on Tim Ferriss’ podcast in September, mostly for his comments on Trump. But that lead me to read his post on the persuasion reading list. Because I think persuasion is such a vital skill, I have since been working my way through some of the books on his list. Below are my comments in italics. Regular font is Scott Adams’ words.

Chapter 1 – Things You Can Stop Believing

The first chapter is designed to make you skeptical about your ability to comprehend reality. If you are already a hardcore skeptic, you can skip this chapter.

Not YetAn Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural – by James Randi
Not YetThey Got It Wrong: History: All the Facts that Turned Out to be Myths Hardcover – by Emma Marriott
ReadI read Lies My Teacher Told Me because these two books weren’t on audible. Great book, highly recommend it. Dispels a lot of myths that exist in American culture about American history. 

Chapter 2 – Stretching your Imagination

These books are selected to open your mind for what follows. If you have experience with LSD or mushrooms, you might not need this chapter. (Yes, I am serious.)

ReadJonathan Livingston Seagull – by Richard Bach listened to this book on youtube. Weird, but compelling story. 
ReadGod’s Debris: A Thought Experiment – by Scott Adams An interesting mind-stretcher.  
Not YetIllusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah – by Richard Bach – couldn’t find audio version. 

Chapter 3 – The Moist Robot Hypothesis

The Moist Robot Hypothesis first appears in my book that is listed below. The idea is that humans are biological machines, subject to cause and effect. According to this view, free will is an illusion and humans can be programmed once you understand our user interface. With this chapter I ease you into the notion that humans are mindless robots by showing you how we are influenced by design, habit, emotion, food, and words. Until you accept the Moist Robot view of the world it will be hard to use your tools of persuasion effectively because you will doubt your own effectiveness and people will detect your doubt. Confidence is an important part of the process of influence.

ReadThe Design of Everyday Things – by Don NormanDidn’t love this one, didn’t think it was well written and the author seemed full of himself. But it did communicate the point that if you are having trouble figuring out how to use something, it was probably poorly designed. Good design should intuitively tell you how to use the device. Good design will guide you subconsciously. I think that was the key take-away in regards to persuasion. 
Not YetWhat Every BODY is Saying – by Joe Navarro
Not YetThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – by Charles Duhigg
ReadInfluence – by Robert B. Cialdini PhD – I read this one a few years ago and wrote about how it applied to salary negotiations. I put the text of the post on this site as well in case something happens to salarynegotiators.com.  
Not YetThinking, Fast and Slow – by Daniel Kahneman – Haven’t read this one yet, but it is the father of “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell, which I have read and enjoyed. The main point of that book was that our instinctual snap-judgements are often more accurate than rational decisions our mind will come up with. The subconscious mind is more powerful than the conscious.  
ReadSalt Sugar Fat – by Michael Moss – Great book about the power sugar, salt, and fat has over our bodies and minds. Goes into how corporations and their scientists have engineered foods to hit your “bliss point” for maximum pleasure and addicition to their products. Main takeaway: avoid processed foods as much as possible, as they contain a very unhealthy amounts of sugar, salt, and fat, which could lead to dire health consequences in your life. This book is in the persuasion series to show you how your body is a “moist robot” and that people can manipulate it (and you) by pushing the right buttons. 
ReadSteve Jobs – by Walter Isaacson – Excellent book. Talks a lot about Jobs’ “reality distortion field”, although not how you can replicate his powers. :
ReadHow to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life – by Scott Adams – Really great book. I liked it so much I took VERY extensive notes about it. 
ReadFree Will – by Sam Harris – A short essay on how humans don’t really have free will. I listened to it on audbile and probably need to listen to it again to fully understand everything. Very dense topic with a lot of logical and neurological terms that were difficult to follow at times. Key takeaway is that we are not as in control of our thoughts and actions as we think we are…

Chapter 4 – Active Persuasion

This chapter gets into the details of how to influence people. My opinion is that you will be less effective with these tools if you do not have a full understanding of our moist robot nature introduced above. The only book on this list that I have read is the Gerry Spence book. And I have taken the Dale Carnegie course in person. But based on reviews, the other books on this list will give you some useful tips on persuasion that I have acquired from a variety of other sources over my life.

Not YetTrump: The Art of the Deal – Donald J. Trump
Not YetWin Your Case: How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail–Every Place, Every Time – by Gerry Spence
Not YetAwaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial – by Tony Robbins
ReadHow to Win Friends & Influence People – by Dale Carnegie (Better yet, take a Dale Carnegie class near you. It will change your life. Trust me.) – Read this a few years ago. 
Not YetHow to Write a Good Advertisement – by Victor O. Schwab
Not YetThe Secret to Selling Anything – by Harry Browne
Not YetThe One Sentence Persuasion Course – 27 Words to Make the World Do Your Bidding – by Blair Warren
Not YetReframing: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Transformation of Meaning – by Richard Bandler , John Grinder (This is included for completeness. Much of the NLP field has exaggerated claims, but there is some strong reality at the base of it.)
Not YetHow to Hypnotise Anyone – Confessions of a Rogue Hypnotist – by The Rogue Hypnotist (I have NOT read this book, but based on reviews it probably gives you a good taste of the topic. Do not expect to be a capable hypnotist after reading a book.)
Not YetHypnosis and Accelerated Learning – by Pierre Clement (This is the school of hypnosis I learned in hypnosis class. It comes from Ericksonian hypnosis. See next book on list.)
Not YetSpeak Ericksonian: Mastering the Hypnotic Methods of Milton Erickson – by Richard Nongard, James Hazlerig (Erickson was the father of modern hypnosis. Any book about his methods would be interesting.)

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