With Trump, There Is No “There” There

Suppose you took an average toddler and let him finger paint on a canvas, then hung his painting in a contemporary art museum and asked critics to weigh in on it without disclosing who the artist was. I imagine a few art critics saying things like “Yes, look at how the strokes are predominantly vertical and the colors appear random and chaotic which suggests chaos in life as one ascends blah blah blah…”  Asked to evaluate this unknown artist’s work they might suggest that it fits a certain style or breaks new ground, perhaps even hints at genius on some level. Why? Because it’s hanging in a museum. They will assume the artist must possess some gravitas if his work is worthy of display at such a level.

This is exactly how the media sounds to me when talking about Donald Trump. They speculate about what each utterance, tweet, flip-flop and bluster filled tirade might signal. They coo about his political savvy and wonder out loud about his “doctrines” or his “positions”. Donald Trump has no coherent doctrine. He has no cogent ideology or consistent positions. He drifts with the wind on any number of issues because there is exactly NOTHING behind those positions. He is a toddler slapping paint randomly onto a canvas. There is no plan. There is no vision. There is no ideological underpinning. He is a fucking toddler who has no idea what he is doing.

What’s worse is he doesn’t care. He wants to be admired, period. He doesn’t give a shit about health care reform. He’ll work with Ryan or he’ll work with Democrats if by working with them you mean avoiding any and all detail and taking credit for any bill that polls well. He doesn’t care for governance at all. He likes the title, the pomp and circumstance, the privilege, and the fame that come with the office. He cares about crowd size and the perceived size of his hands. He cares about television ratings. He doesn’t care about the hypocrisy of his positions on Syria, or healthcare, or even presidential golf outings given his criticisms of Obama. He cares more about chocolate cake than remembering which country he just bombed.

Trump saw how President Obama was admired and he wanted that. After Obama had some laughs at Trump’s expense at the White House Press Correspondents Dinner, Trump wanted it even more. Trump believed that Obama was seen as smart because he was President. Trump thought Obama was seen as a leader because he was President. Trump thought Obama was seen as articulate because he was the President. Trump erroneously believed that those are things that just come along with the office like being saluted by the military and addressed as Mr. President. They don’t. He thought that if he were president, people would automatically consider him smart, articulate and a great leader. He’s not. He’s a fucking toddler slapping paint randomly onto a canvas.

The media should stop pretending he knows what he is doing. Stop pretending there is a plan. Stop playing along with ideas like Trump has a plan for defeating ISIS, or Trump has any cogent, codified foreign policy whatsoever. Stop playing along with the idea that he has reversed positions on things. The truth is he never held any position in the first place. Stop playing along with the notion that his expensive education makes him smart. It doesn’t, any more than having your Hyundai serviced at the Ferrari dealer makes your Hyundai a Ferrari. Stop pretending there is a Picasso in front of you just because of where it has been placed. There is only the unguided, meandering work of a toddler which doesn’t deserve the position it’s been given. There is no “there” there.


Donald Trump’s IQ Is Below 100

by Wayne Adkins

Donald Trump’s IQ is below 100. I know many will disagree with my estimate. I will give reasons for the estimate here. Yes, it is only an estimate because he would never take a formal IQ test and release the results. He won’t even release transcripts or school records or anything that would denote any kind of academic achievement. Yes, I know that he challenged London Mayor Sadiq Kahn to an IQ test, but it turned out to be nothing but bluster. He might actually want to take an IQ test, but his handlers would never allow it. They know he has all of the intellectual prowess of a slow eighth-grader. They will tell him that the tests are inaccurate, that it’s a waste of his time, that his accomplishments speak for themselves, anything they have to say to prevent exposing his flaccid intellect.

Now some have estimated an IQ as high as 156 based on Trump’s enrollment at Wharton Business School. But there are a number of things wrong with this notion. Trump did not have to meet the rigorous admission standards as he transferred in from the University of Pennsylvania needing only to meet the more lax transfer requirements. He also didn’t attend their storied MBA program. He got a BS in economics and anthropology. So does having a degree from a certain school prove high intelligence? You tell me, did every college athlete who ever got accepted to an ivy league school turn out to be a genius? No. The answer is no. Sometimes people get accepted because of what they can do for the school, not because they are smart. Some would argue that regardless of how he got in, whether through influence or merit, his education would have made him even smarter. Nope. Have you seen how many times this grown, allegedly well educated man has misspelled words on Twitter? Google it. He doesn’t possess the literacy of a well educated 70 year old. He spells and handles grammar the way a stupid, careless person does. If you have enough money you may be able to take your Honda to get serviced at the Lamborghini dealer, but you will still have a Honda. Getting the oil changed at a Lamborghini dealer doesn’t make your Honda faster or more exotic. It just means that you overpaid for an oil change. Likewise, getting your idiot kid into a great school won’t make them smarter, they may still end up a half illiterate joke of a man who can’t distinguish legitimate reporting from alt-right clickbait. If you believe that Donald Trump getting into a good school proves that he is smart, then you must also believe that Donald Trump marrying a model proves that he is super sexy.

Others have proposed that only a genius could have achieved the financial success that Donald Trump has enjoyed. It’s one of Trump’s routine claims. This one is more about the people who propose it than Trump. Financially successful people don’t want to concede that their success may have been due in part to fortuitous circumstances or privilege. People who have struggled their whole lives without achieving great financial success don’t want to concede that they don’t work hard enough or make the right choices. Everybody wants to be rich, right? So if you aren’t rich it must be because you haven’t figured out how to get rich, in other words, you are not as smart as Trump. Well, there are a lot of people who are rich for a lot of reasons other than intelligence. Trump himself would be richer today if he had taken the millions his father gave him and invested in index funds. But this alleged genius went bankrupt running casinos, a “business” where the odds always favor the house. Genius? Here’s the deal; there are a lot of people out there with great business ideas who need investors to make it work. If you have money, the kind of money Trump got from his father, people will pitch you great ideas all day long. You don’t have to be an innovative or visionary thinker. You just need to have money to invest and smart people with great ideas in need of funding will seek you out. Then just discern which opportunities are good investments and which are not. How did Trump do? Well there are the six bankruptcies, Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump Casinos, Trump University…..failure after failure. As I said before, he would have more money today if he had stuck it all in an index fund and kept his poor decision making out of it altogether. So much for money = IQ points.

“Trump won the election! He must be a genius strategizer!” Nope. Listen, if little Donnie Trump were running for student body president at his elementary school and he promises pizza every day for lunch, he’s going to influence some ignorant children to vote for him. Now if little Donnie wins does that make him a genius who knew how to appeal to the electorate and knew how to manipulate the system? Some of you seem to think so. But the more likely scenario is that little Donnie has no idea that the student body president doesn’t set the lunch menu, that there are contractors and suppliers involved, that there are  school lunch nutritional guidelines which must be met etc. Little Donnie’s promise was made out of ignorance, not genius. Those kids who elected little Donnie are in for some disappointment. Likewise, those who think that Mexico is going to pay for a border wall better get ready to pony up because if a wall is built, it will be built with their taxes.

Some people learn a few guitar chords and think they are accomplished guitarists. To those who aren’t musicians they may be able to pass as good guitarists. Even to themselves, because they have mastered the few things they know, they may appear to be great guitarists. But better guitarists can spot them immediately. He doesn’t know music theory, can’t play barre chords, knows nothing about harmonics or pentatonics. In other words, the guy who doesn’t know these things about guitars may not even know that these things exist to know. But a seasoned professional can tell in minutes that this guy doesn’t know much about guitar playing. There are many indicators of Trump’s low intelligence; his limited vocabulary, his spelling, his simplistic answers, his short temper, his bullying, his misunderstanding of science and technology, his inability to control his most base impulses, his casual relationship with the truth etc. Donald Trump, like that amatuer guitar player, overestimates his own abilities and is blind to his intellectual deficiencies. It’s what is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Full disclosure: because I know the ad hominem attacks will come from the “We’re getting pizza” crowd, I took two IQ tests administered by Mensa at the University of Cincinnati and gained admission to Mensa with a score of 138. It doesn’t make me a genius or an expert, but I’ve been around a lot of intelligent people and I can recognize the differences between them and Donald J. Trump.

UPDATE: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agrees, Donald Trump is a “fucking moron.” Tennessee Senator Bob Corker has questioned his competence and claims many in the Senate agree. Despite all of his promises to the “we’re getting pizza” crowd he has delivered on none of his major initiatives and has managed to alienate members of his own party and allies around the world. Many of the “best people” he put in place are gone just months into his administration and a special counsel and both houses are investigating him and his campaign for collusion with Russia. Genius? No, just a run-of-the-mill moron.

UPDATE 2: Oracle CEO Safra Catz — who was on the executive committee of Trump’s presidential transition team — reportedly said McMaster called the president a “dope” and an “idiot” who has the intelligence of a “kindergartner” during a dinner with Catz on July 18 dinner at Washington, DC, restaurant Tosca.

How Slavery Returns to the United States

By: Wayne Adkins


Slavery has been abolished in the United States since 1865. It is illegal for one human being to own another. But Americans are being owned and they continue to allow their owners to do it.

When I was a kid I remember shops on Main Street downtown in the small town I lived in. There were specialty shops with the names of local business owners on the signs. A place to buy mens suits, another for dresses, one for appliances and another for toys.  There were restaurants nearby where you could buy a dish that nobody else in town had. Those shops are all gone now, replaced by the super Walmart and a handful of other chains. The restaurants are closed, unable to compete with the ubiquitous fast food chains. Some would call this progress. They say that it’s good for consumers to have competition which keeps prices low. The problem is that over time it actually reduces competition and drives prices up as a percentage of income by driving wages down.

In towns all across this country it looks the same. National chain department stores, national chain restaurants, chain hobby shops, chain grocery stores, chain auto parts, chain barber shops, and on and on and on. The mom and pop business model is dead. There is no way mom and pop can compete with the volume buying power of large national chains. Manufacturers can’t sell to mom and pop for the same price without risking their largest outlets pulling their business based on exclusive pricing models. There may be competition within a small town between two chain stores, but there simply is no competition from mom and pop.

Consumers can’t be blamed for patronizing the chain stores. Prices are lower and for many cost is the driving factor. That’s because the jobs in their cities and towns evaporated with the mom and pop businesses. Now the bulk of jobs available to most workers are in low paying unskilled positions at the chain stores. It’s really difficult to explain to someone struggling to pay their bills that they are making it harder on themselves by shopping at the cheapest store. Even if they are aware of the bigger picture they are powerless to change it today and today they have to eat.

This is a horrible situation for the disappearing middle class and the growing poor. But it has worked out really well for the wealthy few. The wealthy used to own large plantations where they could buy people to work and make them richer. But that involved risk and large outputs of capital. Slaves had to be purchased, housed , fed, and given medical care. There was an investment to protect. This was risky as owners couldn’t tell at auction which slaves in the future might get sick, run away, or be unable to breed. They also had to pay someone to manage and supervise slaves. They more than came out ahead over time because they had cheap labor working sun up to sun down, but it wasn’t exactly free.

Now owners don’t have to expend as much capital up front on their labor force. They have no investment in workers. They don’t have to house, feed and provide medical care for them. In fact, they don’t even have to pay them enough that they can provide housing, food and medical care for themselves. If they don’t make enough money to provide for themselves they can go somewhere else or get a second job, or a third. The problem for the worker is there is nowhere else to go. Sure, you can quit your job and go somewhere else. But where will that be? The chain department store? Another fast food place? A different warehouse? The worker has the illusion of freedom, but he has only moved from one plantation to another. He still must work from sun up to sundown to survive. Meanwhile the job he left is filled with another desperate worker who just jumped from some other plantation.

There are now industries popping up all over the country designed to further bleed the poor. Banks have leveled so many overdraft fees against people who live hand to mouth that they are now turning to pay day lenders to try to scrape by for another week. Have you not seen all of the check cashing pay day loan businesses popping up in this country? Stores offer to rent to own furniture and appliances to people who can’t buy them all at once and don’t have credit because they can’t consistently pay their bills.  I have never seen as many thrift stores and consignment stores as there are in this country today. I am even seeing used tire stores for people who can’t afford tires for their car, but can’t afford to not have transportation to their multiple jobs. Forget buying a home for many Americans. That dream is dead. They can’t build credit while living hand to mouth and can’t save enough money for a down payment. So they have to rent in any of the proliferating giant apartment complexes where they will build no equity and are one emergency away from eviction and homelessness. We are trending more toward third world status than the American dream.

Meanwhile the political machine in this country is making sure that this continues. They call the wealthy “job creators” despite the fact that these chains have only displaced numerous jobs paying livable wages with fewer jobs paying minimum wages. They continue to provide tax breaks and loopholes to the wealthy accelerating the movement of wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy few. The standard line is that “if the wealthy can keep more of their money through tax breaks, they will inverst it and create more jobs in the process”. The problem with that thinking is that it completely ignores the very purpose of investing in the first place. People invest money so that they can have more money in returns. So giving them more tax breaks only accelerates the flow of money to the top. They bail out banks who wrecked the economy and decimated workers 401ks with irresponsible and illegal behaviour without holding any of those individuals responsible. That only encourages more reckless behaviour.

We don’t live on a planet with infinite wealth. The two extremes would be that everyone on the planet owns everything equally or that one person owns the entire planet. Most would argue that we should be somewhere in between those two extremes. We are so much closer to that second example than the first that it is scary.  “According to the Forbes report released in March 2015, there are currently 1,826 U.S. dollar billionaires worldwide, from 66 countries, with a combined net worth of $7.05 trillion, which is more than the combined GDP of 152 countries.”- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billionaire.  That wealth doesn’t come from nowhere. They aren’t generating wealth out of thin air. The rich cannot get richer without the poor and middle class getting poorer. That is a fact.


Remember playing Monopoly as a kid? The guy with the most money would sometimes cut deals to keep bankrupt players in the game longer so they could continue bleeding the bank and building their own wealth? He owned almost everything on the board and it was obvious that no other player could change that. But he would let you stay in the game because you were going to pass go soon and he wanted that $200 too. Inevitably someone would reach the point where they couldn’t take it anymore and flip the board. Think about what that represents in real world terms. That’s where we are. Millions of Americans are running the economic gauntlet week to week trying to scrape by on minimum wages hoping to pass go on Friday and get another $200. Of course there are still some educated middle class types left. But their jobs depend on them going into staggering student loan debt to get a degree that may not even be useful to them in an environment where middle management is gone.

I am NOT saying that this is a deliberate, devious plot to enslave the American worker. I don’t think most companies are evil or don’t care about their people. What I am saying is that this is the result of unchecked capitalistic greed. Companies exist to make money. Being able to purchase large quantities at a reduced price allows you to sell for less and make more money. Being able to drive smaller competitors out of business allows you to make more money. Being able to eliminate worker benefits allows you to make more money. Being able to pay the minimum wage to part-time workers allows you to make more money. Being able to buy political influence allows you to keep tax breaks and make more money. Shipping jobs to cheaper labor markets overseas allows you to make more money. There may be no evil intent in that, but the effects are the same either way. How much money is enough? When does the board get flipped?

Slavery is illegal in the United States. But make no mistake about it, you are being owned. You can’t be literally beaten, but you are being beaten down. Sure, you get to choose which job you take, but the wealthy control the job market. Work for them here or work for them there, it doesn’t matter. You will work for them. You get to choose where you bank, but you will pay a banker. You get to choose where you shop, but the stores are all owned by a wealthy few. They will keep paying to keep the playing field tilted, to keep you misinformed, and to keep you voting against your own self interest. They have convinced you that you can’t even talk about things like “income inequality” or “redistribution of wealth” because those are things that only lazy losers looking for a handout say.  They own you.

The Freedom Caucus Doesn’t Understand Representation

By Wayne Adkins

The Freedom Caucus is a group of about 40 extremists on the fringe of the GOP in the House of Representatives. They have brought work in the House to a screeching halt and left them in a situation where nobody capable of being speaker wants to be and those who want to be aren’t capable. Why? Because they and their constituents do not understand what the word “representation” means. They seem to think it means winning. If they don’t get their way they feel like their representative didn’t do their job. If they don’t get their way through making persuasive arguments and following normal voting procedures they want to shut everything down and create a crisis as a way to force their will on the majority. That’s not representation, that’s a tantrum.

Let me put it this way. American citizens have a right to be represented in court when they are charged with a crime. Representation is even provided when a defendant cannot afford it. It is a right. But you are not guaranteed a right to WIN in court. That is an absurd notion. You and your representative must MAKE YOUR CASE. If you fail to make your case you can’t replace the judge or the jury foreman or shut down the courthouse until you get your way and you certainly can’t claim you weren’t being represented. You were represented. You just lost. You failed to persuade the jury of your peers.

In your district you are entitled to representation in Congress. You have a right to vote for the representative of your choice and let them know what your views are. That representative has a right to sponsor legislation which promotes their constituents agenda. That representative has a vote on legislation that their constituents favor or oppose. What they don’t have is a right to win. To win, you must make your case. You must make your case to citizens across the country so that they compel their representatives to join yours in voting a certain way. If you can’t do that, you lose. But you can’t say you weren’t represented. You can’t say that your representative didn’t do their job. You can’t take hostage the entire government and the services it provides to all of it’s citizens and force your will on the majority. That’s not how representation works.  If you can’t make your case you deserve to lose. If you don’t understand that simple concept then you deserve to be marginalized. The rest of us are not willing to be held captive to your stupidity.



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Donald Trump and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

By Wayne Adkins

Donald Trump, much to the chagrin of numerous pundits and the GOP establishment, is leading in the GOP primary polls. None of them take the Donald as seriously as the Donald takes himself. Ask him about his qualifications. He will tell you he is very, very rich and very, very smart. He almost invariably conflates the two. He sees his monetary success as an indicator of his intelligence. After all, everyone wants money and if they were smart enough to figure out how to get as much money as he has they would do it, right? Well, no. Trump has made his money primarily in real estate and casinos. He inherited a fortune from his father who was himself a real estate mogul who taught Trump the trade. Most people with millions to invest and daddy’s connections could make money, perhaps without piling up four bankruptcies along the way. Then there are the casinos, a place where the odds are always slightly in the house’s favor. It doesn’t take a genius to make a lot of money when you have a unlevel playing field. If money were really an indicator of intelligence and leadership ability those people should be clamoring for Warren Buffett to run. He could buy Trump ten times over and he’s not a pompous clown.

So why does Trump think so much of himself? It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Basically, it’s a cognitive bias wherein people who are relatively less intelligent are really bad at evaluating intelligence because the skill set required to do that is part of the cognitive ability they lack. The end result among the less intelligent is a belief that they are more intelligent than is accurate. Sound like someone we know?

How then, does Trump end up leading in the GOP primary polls? I think it says something about the GOP base as well. They are really bad at identifying intelligence too. They clearly don’t care about the lack of experience among the GOP frontrunners with the top three having never held political office and yet  seeking the highest office in the land. They don’t care that the frontrunners routinely display a lack of scientific knowledge. They don’t care that candidates contradict themselves. Just like the 2012 election cycle they will jump from one candidate’s bandwagon to another creating rotating leads in the polls until they have to go with whatever candidate hasn’t imploded his own campaign, a la Mitt Romney. These are people who still believe that Sarah Palin would have made a good president. Instead of being able to tell that she was clearly in over her head they blamed the media for asking hard questions of her.

Trump may well be the Republican nominee. He may seem like he is teflon coated. Each time he says something incredibly stupid or offensive the pundits think he may have ruined his chances and still he leads in the polls. It’s because people who pundits so graciously call “low information voters” are, like Trump, unable to see the problems with what Trump says.


9 thoughts on “Donald Trump and the Dunning-Kruger Effect”

  1. This is one of the most wonderful examples of irony I have seen. As you describe the Dunning-Kreuger effect, you are providing a perfect example of it in effect. You know so little about business and Trump that you’re unable to see his incredible ability and intelligence. The man graduated from Wharton, builds skyscrapers in Manhattan and all around the world, authored one of the most successful business books ever, made one of the most successful reality shows ever and now, with zero experience, is undeniably the most skilled politician since Obama. You have no idea about what a business bankrupt is or what it implies and you’re so uninformed you think the fact that Casinos have a house edge makes them easy to build and run. Your title is perfect.

    1. He’s a “skilled politician”? Seriously? He puts his foot in his mouth regularly. He insults practically everyone. Skilled politicians don’t do that!

      1. It would never occur to you on the left that the reason Trump says such wild crazy things is simply to piss YOU off. Which millions of us enjoy immensely every day.

  2. “The end result among the less intelligent is a belief that they are more intelligent than is accurate. Sound like someone we know?”

    Yes, the author of this article comes to mind, unable to see Trumps intelligence.

    “They clearly don’t care about the lack of experience among the GOP frontrunners with the top three having never held political office and yet seeking the highest office in the land.”

    Yet the Democrats twice elected a community organizer with no political or managerial experience.

    1. Apparently you don’t consider serving terms in both Illinois and US senate ‘political experience’. Bankruptcies aside, Trump’s “managed” to run at least a dozen companies into the ground. The man hasn’t demonstrated even a topical understanding of domestic or foreign policy, with the exception of negotiating with low-level foreign officials to build shitty hotels.

      There seems to be a discrepancy between your perceptions and reality…hmm.

    2. Help us please read the original papers by Dunning and Kruger they tested validated and proved their hypothesis in a controlled trial in which persons were asked to access their performance on a series of cognitive test those scoring in the lowest quartile grossly over estimated their performance and ability (Trump) those in the top(Buffet / Gates/ etc) underestimated their performance. This is what exactly explains Trump and his supporters the stupid don’t have the skills necessary to recognize their stupidity!

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Why Kim Davis Should Go Now

Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk who has refused to issue marry licences should leave office now. The licenses being issued from her office, by her own admission,  are of unknown legal validity. Anyone can issue dubious marriage licences. Only one person in Rowan County can issue valid, unquestionably legal licences and she refuses to.

Why does it matter? It raises all kinds of legal issues for the people of Rowan County regardless of their sexual orientation. Straight couples are being affected too. Will an insurance company be able to deny health coverage to a heterosexual spouse by claiming the marriage isn’t legal? We don’t know. Can the state claim property and deny survivors rights to a heterosexual couple if one spouse dies? We don’t know. Is a pre-nuptial agreement enforceable if one party claims the contract isn’t in effect because the marriage wasn’t valid? We don’t know. Can a husband remove his wife from life support if the family challenges the validity of the marriage? We don’t know. Why? Because Kim Davis won’t do her job .

She claims she has the right to be a conscientious objector. She does. Just like a soldier who decides that he could never take a human life can’t be compelled to go to war. But that soldier has to leave the military. He can’t collect his full pay and benefits and then pick and choose what missions he will go on. He must Go. Even military chaplains don’t get to place their own religious beliefs above their job requirements. Chaplains must agree to provide services to soldiers of all faiths, even if it is not their own. If they can’t do that, they can’t stay.

Kim Davis campaigned for that job. She took an oath. She has broken it and has refused to do her job as the law requires and as the citizens who elected her deserve. She suggests that anyone wanting to marry should go to another county’s office, someplace separate but equal, if you will. She can’t be forced to stay and do something against her religious beliefs, but she can’t sit back and collect a paycheck from the taxpayers while shirking her responsibilities. If she truly has any moral convictions she should leave office now. Don’t take pay for a job you won’t do. Don’t force others out of their way for your 15 minutes of fame. Don’t put couples, gay or straight, in the position of having to defend their marriage against legal challenges from health care providers, insurance companies or government offices.


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