Ask The Strategic Genius: Bus-Undering


The strategic genius says, “when you are throwing people under a bus, make sure that your other staff won’t realize you’re the kind of person who will throw them under a bus, too.”

BBC: [bbc]

US President Donald Trump has played down the importance of an ex-campaign aide indicted in the Russia inquiry.

He said his onetime foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was a “low level volunteer” and “liar”.

This is not a Loyalty Zone

The strategic genius tries to recruit minions that are devoted, clever, tacticians. This brings us to The Paradox Of Minions (TPOM): if you have incompetent minions, then they don’t minion very well, but if you have competent or even talented minions, then they’re likely to see chinks in your armor and displace you. If you have talented minions and you throw one of your minions under a bus, the talented minion will realize that you’re not very loyal to them, and that will reduce their loyalty to you.

Movie mafiosi, who followed the code of omerta, illustrate the most-evolved way of dealing with this issue: the boss protects the minions, unless they screw up so badly that they are caught – at which point they are expected to keep quiet, or die. Whoever rats anyone out (whether boss or minion) no longer commands loyalty from anyone.

Trump has not managed to instill enough fear in his minions that they would rather die than cooperate with the FBI. But, then, Trump is no strategic genius; he’s just not cut out to be a mob boss. He wants to be a mob boss, but he’s only got the chops to be a minion.

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“bus undering” sounds awkward and I am absolutely certain that Terry Pratchett would have come up with something better. Unfortunately, I am not a language genius. I never got far in the Discworld series (too many, same tone, felt repetitive) but I loved the part where the assassins guild referred to “inhuming” people as, you know, the opposite of “exhuming” them.

Comments

  1. cartomancer says

    Didn’t we come up with subcarration last November on the same subject?

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/stderr/2016/11/18/inner-dynamics-of-revolutions/

    What you really need, minions-wise, is people who are competent in their appointed minion-tasks but unambitious and uninterested in what their boss is up to. Or you could pay them so much that it’s tempting whatever the dangers of being discarded for the boss’s gain, but no self-respecting evil overlord is going to lower himself to doing that.

  2. says

    He said his onetime foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was a “low level volunteer” and “liar”.

    There’s actually not one thing he isn’t lousy at doing – he can’t even lie properly, which I consider to be a rather important art in the conman’s arsenal. He just spews shit that he has to know is easily disproved. “I said it, so that’s how it is.”

  3. says

    Speaking of Discworld, Vetinari (educated at the Assassin’s Guild) is a fine example of how to have loyal minions who are also smart and high performance.

  4. says

    cartomancer@#1:
    “Subcarration” – darn it, that’s it!

    Used in a sentence: “The Washington subcarration epidemic is leaving a trail of broken careers and crushed policies.”

  5. kestrel says

    re: Caine’s #2 comment: from much personal experience I can say that an NPD (Narcissitic Personality Disorder) follows that exact same pattern. It does not matter to them that 2 seconds ago they said the exact opposite: they will then claim the exact other side, and if you point out the discrepancy they will merely tell you they never said that. Even if there is abundant proof that they did, in fact, say that.

    The best way I can describe it is that it’s like the whole world is a play, starring the NPD with the NPD as the main character. Every single other human on the planet is merely a prop. They may decide to use that prop for a scene they have in mind; on the other hand, if the prop breaks, or does not perform as they wish, they simply discard it without a moment’s thought. I mean, hey, if your refrigerator stops working, you don’t worry about a thing, you take it to the dump and forget about it. You sure don’t worry about the refrigerator’s “feelings”, LOL, *as if* a refrigerator could _have_ feelings! In the meantime it’s just so important that for your next scene, something completely opposite happens. If some of the props complain, get rid of them! Who cares what props think?

    Living with people like this is a nightmare. As we are finding out.

  6. says

    kestrel@#5:
    The best way I can describe it is that it’s like the whole world is a play, starring the NPD with the NPD as the main character. Every single other human on the planet is merely a prop.

    I’ve got to do some reading on NPD. It is starting to sound more and more like that’s what’s going on. I’m curious as to whether it’s a behavioral anomaly or if there’s some underlying neurological problem, and whether it responds to drugs. Maybe someone needs to get Trump on meds.

  7. chigau (違う) says

    When we had the old cat euthanised, the meds they used worked within seconds and she did not seem much distressed.
    Just a heavy sigh and … done.

  8. says

    I’ve got to do some reading on NPD. It is starting to sound more and more like that’s what’s going on. I’m curious as to whether it’s a behavioral anomaly or if there’s some underlying neurological problem, and whether it responds to drugs.

    Of course it doesn’t respond to drugs. NPD is exactly what it says in the name — it’s a person having a narcissistic personality. And you cannot just change somebody’s personality by giving them pills. NPD shares quite lots of similarities with sociopathy / psychopathy.

    One may attempt to treat people who have such personalities with behavioral therapy, but it’s not always effective and it may turn out to be counterproductive. When the patient doesn’t want to change herself (and people with the disorder frequently do not consider themselves to have a problem), forced therapy only makes the patient more dangerous, because it doesn’t really change the patient’s personality, all it does it teaches the patient how to act, how to pretend, thus making the patient a more efficient deceiver.

    Maybe someone needs to get Trump on meds.

    It won’t work. Unfortunately.

  9. kestrel says

    @Marcus re: #6: Ieva Skrebele is right in #8 – as far as I know, no one knows how the whole thing is caused and there is really no treatment. In fact it is not considered a mental illness. I think it’s described as a disorder.

    We tried over and over to get our NPD treatment. Our efforts were always undermined and when, finally, we had a diagnosis the NPD refused any treatment and there was nothing we could do.

    Here is a site I found useful in trying to wrap my head around this whole issue:
    http://outofthefog.website/personality-disorders-1/2015/12/6/narcissistic-personality-disorder-npd
    Not that it’s easy to understand.

  10. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#8 & kestrel@#9:
    This is part of the problem I have with psychology – it’s easy to say there is a thing called NPD, but implicit in the idea of “disorder” is that there’s something wrong, and we usually interpret “something wrong” as being more than just a behavior. Yet, there’s no medical test for many of the things psychology has decided are “disorders” (they used to claim being gay was a disorder…) so there’s a laundy list of behaviors that are indicative of the disorder, but – I still don’t know what it is.

    I’m not saying “there is no such thing” – I fully believe there is, but I still don’t know what it is any more than I know what “intelligence” is. It’s not like when you take your car to the shop and the mechanic discovers that the engine was mis-firing because the signalling wire on the cam’s insulation was failed and it was grounding on the block and causing a mis-fire. I’m comfortable with diagnoses of failures that are repeatable and predictable, and most psychological diagnoses aren’t either.

    Trump is probably diagnosable as NPD by a large number of psychologists, but a bunch would say “no, he’s not.” Compared to a diagnosis of an electrical fault, that doesn’t tell me anything I can use for any purpose. They may as well diagnose him as having “asshole syndrome.” I fully agree with that diagnosis, BTW. But ask me how I can tell someone who suffers from AS from someone who suffers from NPD and I gotta say that AS sufferers mostly use Twitter, or something like that.

    What’s frustrating is there are absolutely behavioral problems that are so strongly reinforced that they are almost irresistable. Richard Rhodes’ Why They Kill has some fascinating analysis of people who rage-kill – apparently criminologists have identified a certain set of situations in some killers’ past in which they were simultaneously emotionally traumatized (large dumps of adrenaline!) and responded violently, successfully. That’s a situation that’s ripe for learning something very intensely. We observe that animals subjected to shock and a training event respond very certainly – why not a human? What if what a human learns is violence? What if Donald Trump has been positively reinforced for being an abusive blowhard, for his entire life? Is AS a learned behavior? Or is there an actual ‘disorder’ condition?

    I hope neuroscience helps us tease this stuff apart. Pscychology’s hypotheticals aren’t doing much.

  11. kestrel says

    Well, it’s true that people will see this differently, but I think they have done the best job they can for right now trying to nail it down with tests and questions and so on. Since the vast majority of NPDs refuse treatment, or to even get diagnosed (since they are, of course, perfect and it’s the rest of us who are screwed up), there is very little known. If you have never had the extreme misfortune to deal with an NPD (and I sincerely hope you have not), it’s really difficult to describe, because (this is my own opinion and observation) we keep trying in our heads to make the behavior be normal, and it is decidedly not normal. And I wish to clarify: I am not saying Trump is an NPD. What I am saying is, he acts EXACTLY the way they do. And I mean even down to some of the very words and phrases he uses. For this reason I can barely stand to listen to the man talk; our NPD is now dead, and it makes my skin crawl to hear some of the exact same words come out of his mouth. It’s like that person has come back to life somehow.

  12. bmiller says

    Caine: Given that much of the Trump base is infected by the heresy of American Fundamentalist religion:

    “He just spews shit that he has to know is easily disproved. “I said it, so that’s how it is.””

    makes sense. These are the robots that parrot “God said it, I believe it, that settles it”

  13. Siobhan says

    The way “disorder” is typically used also implies a cost for the actual sufferer. In that sense, NPD doesn’t fit, since having a profound intuition to manipulate people is actively rewarded in capitalism. The cost of NPD are the people around the narcissist. I can’t think of another diagnosis that means that.

  14. bmiller says

    “What if Donald Trump has been positively reinforced for being an abusive blowhard, for his entire life? Is AS a learned behavior? Or is there an actual ‘disorder’ condition?”

    In this thread, sociopathy was brought up as a similar “condition”. I’m with Marcus in that I am skeptical of diagnoses of “syndromes” or “disease” as the proper concept. I think these are more personality types and behavioral characteristics which are manifested or amplified when a culture or social group rewards the behaviors.

    Is being a predator a “pathology”? Of course not.

    Trump is a perfectly evolved predator very appropriate for late stage American Crony Capitalism. He is not “sick” he is evolved to take advantage of what our culture wants.

  15. bmiller says

    Plus….what I said above does not mean that I don’t think Trump does not has other mental issues. Such as the early stages of dementia. Which may be amplifying his “special” personality

  16. says

    This is part of the problem I have with psychology – it’s easy to say there is a thing called NPD, but implicit in the idea of “disorder” is that there’s something wrong, and we usually interpret “something wrong” as being more than just a behavior. Yet, there’s no medical test for many of the things psychology has decided are “disorders” (they used to claim being gay was a disorder…) so there’s a laundy list of behaviors that are indicative of the disorder, but – I still don’t know what it is.

    Of course I agree. I only used the word “disorder”, because that’s how other people call it.

    It gets even worse once you look at how specific behaviors became classified as disorders:
    1. Whatever the majority happens to do is right, any deviation from that is a disorder. For example, majority of humans are heterosexual, therefore homosexuality must be a disorder, or people with autism spectrum happen to be a minority, therefore they must be sick.
    2. Whatever failed to align with religious ideals. For example, religion says that masturbation, wanting to have lots of sex, having fetishes, enjoying BDSM is wrong, therefore those are disorders. And historically those had all sorts of proposed “cures”, for example, circumcision was used as a “cure” to prevent boys from masturbating (speaking of which, I find it crazy that even now in 21st century Americans are still OK with mutilating baby boys).
    3. Whatever people happen to not like. People don’t like self-centered assholes. Saying that somebody has an “asshole disorder” doesn’t sound scientific, so let’s call it NPD instead.

    People seem to be desperate to ensure that all humans are the same. All deviations from whatever is considered “normal” must be labeled as disorders and treated. And minority groups actually had to fight for the right to be left alone and not treated (cross-dressers, homosexuals, transsexuals). People with “high-functioning” autism are still fighting for this right. Autism rights movement has to deal with the pesky problem that some of current therapies for autism are harmful or outright abusive.

    In past psychiatry had been founded on the premise that the goal is to identify abnormalities and make all humans “normal”. I think this is very wrong. When deciding whether something is or isn’t a psychological disorder it would make more sense to look at whether the patient’s behavior is hurting themselves. For example, I would be willing to agree that anorexia is a disorder, because patients end up with actual and measurable health problems. I wouldn’t call having a narcissistic personality a disorder, because it’s just that — specific personality traits. Sure, somebody who doesn’t care about other people’s feelings can hurt those around themselves, but how comes that sociopathy or NPD are disorders, while your average run-of-the-mill asshole with a really bad personality doesn’t have any disorders?

  17. jrkrideau says

    13
    The cost of NPD are the people around the narcissist. I can’t think of another diagnosis that means that.

    In many cases a sociopath/psychopath would qualify.

    As well as NPD which is taken from DSM-V or VI a similar description in the WHO’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (the ICD-10) seems to cover the Donald. I stumbled over it while looking as some old file about our former and unmissed PM, Harper.

    I reluctantly had to decide that awful as Harper was/is he did not quite fit the bill. I think Trump is much closer.
    F60. 2 Dissocial personality disorder
    Personality disorder characterized by disregard for social obligations, and callous unconcern for the feelings of others. There is gross disparity between behaviour and the prevailing social norms. Behaviour is not readily modifiable by adverse experience, including punishment. There is a low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence; there is a tendency to blame others, or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behaviour bringing the patient into conflict with society.
    ICD-10 Version:2015 http://apps.who.int/classifications/icd10/browse/2015/en#/F60-F69

    @Marcus
    I hope neuroscience helps us tease this stuff apart.
    I’d not hold my breath. The neurscience community has some difficult methodological problem to deal with. I don’t know about the state of theory.

  18. says

    I have lots to say about Tourette’s Syndrome and disorder. There’s lots of benefits to having people who are different when it comes to group behavior and diversity of responses. Society sees angry people or people with social boundary tics in the insult, scatalogical, or forbidden word kind because that’s what society is concerned with, society makes jokes mostly. But I also see articles about writers, musicians, and atheletes. One of the papers I’ve read could not only show “confusion” about a range of rapidly presented faces of emotional expressions, I could say the same error bars showed enhanced recognition of fear. That is arguably useful in social species. It’s like we don’t really want to know how the fear based stuff works as a group.

  19. says

    Found it.
    “Rapid Presentation of Emotional Expressions Reveals New Emotional Impairments in Tourette’s Syndrome.”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23630481

    I can accept that I recognise recognize emotion differentlythan the population at large, but in my experience it’s a matter of what I tend to look for first. Emotional priority if you will. If they want to argue defect in some I get to claim enhancement in others.

    There’s also the other papers showing enhancements.

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