Here is my honest confession. I started following Donald Trump on Twitter right after the GOP debate and I also keep watching many viral videos of him making ‘politically incorrect’, absolutely absurd statements.
Because he is a rare specimen that is demonstrating ‘Antifragile’ characteristics and it is not only entertaining but also quite intriguing to see how the theory of Antifragility is predictably operating.
I have written about the concept of Antifragile in many of my earlier posts. Just for the refresher, Antifragile simply means – things that get better with stress, chaos, distress, volatility, bad reputation, attack, etc.
Donald Trump – The Antifragile
Insulting politicians, calling war veterans losers, bad mouthing women, making racially damaging statements, publicly showcasing his hubris, etc. have only helped him become more popular with the poll survey participants and has given him a lot of media attention. He is emerging stronger with every attack.
Few years back I had watched a movie on Howard Stern, a controversial Radio Jockey who rose to fame through unconventional methods. People who hated him the most were his biggest listeners. Here is a funny scene from the movie. This is a conversation between a Radio Program Director and a Researcher –
Here is the transcript of the scene –
Researcher: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for – are you ready for this? – an hour and twenty minutes.
Radio program director: How can that be?
Researcher: Answer most commonly given? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”
Radio program director: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?
Researcher: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.
Radio program director: But… if they hate him, why do they listen?
Researcher: Most common answer? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”
The Republican candidates’ debate on Fox News Channel was watched by 24 million viewers, more than double the prior record for a presidential primary. It looks like people in case of Donald Trump are also interested to know ‘what he’ll say next’.
Taleb on Trump
Nassim Nicholas Taleb the person who coined the term and introduced the concept of Antifragility has tweeted these about Donald Trump.
So here is my take on Trump by applying the concepts of ‘Antifragility’ and ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ –
As long as Trump continues to be himself and the media / politicians attacks him, he will continue to gain popularity. As we saw even today, he is leading the poll results by impressive margins. Once he softens his aggression and plays by the traditional rules of politics (which I am anticipating will happen when the elections get closer), he will be less entertaining and his followers will tune out quickly to something more interesting.
Democracy operates through the ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ (a concept I’ll write about in later posts). Essentially it says – collective opinion of a group of individuals is always better than individual experts within the group. Voters in the extreme ends of the spectrum cancel out each other and the voters in the middle pretty much decide the candidate. Given Trump is operating on a completely different spectrum i.e. Anti-Political spectrum, voters on the traditional Political spectrum will cancel out voters from the Anti-Political spectrum. Trump is inherently weak to attract the moderate voters in the middle who are generally not swayed by the pomp and show and vote based on issues.
Anyways it’s a great entertainment and a wonderful learning opportunity. Let the Trump Show run!