Reality Over Influence with Erik Fogg

TWS 19 | Reality Over Influence


Your reality is shaped by your education, where you live, and what you consume. How do you view people with different beliefs? Is there a way to bridge the polarity in society? And, how should an entrepreneur respond to influence? Patrick Donohoe gets the answers from Erik Fogg, an author, CEO, and co-host of the ReConsider podcast. Erik introduces his book, Wedged: How You Became a Tool of the Partisan Political Establishment, which talks about the way you can open your mind to the manipulation and fight your way out of political polarization.

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Reality Over Influence with Erik Fogg

This topic may not seem that it has anything to do with the entrepreneur, but I believe it has everything to do with it. My guest, Erik, is in the political arena. This arena is for the most part psychological as it pertains to what we hear and what is represented. I believe that is a skill of the entrepreneur to understand what is hyperbole and what is real and applicable. It takes some discipline when it comes to understanding yourself and how you’re wired. How you’ve been influenced in the past and also the person that is communicating with you. What are they are influenced by and why they are speaking to you? I believe psychology and influence being used all around us without being that known, being that conspicuous. There’s a documentary I saw called The Great Hack. The documentary was fascinating. It’s on Netflix. It’s a group that used big data as well as artificial intelligence to be very strategic in the way that they marketed during the Trump campaign and previous to the Trump campaign, Brexit and some other elections.

These days, I know we’ve heard big data, I know we’ve heard about privacy and we’ve heard the Facebook inquisition and so forth. Our information is everywhere and it’s being used for a strategic advantage of whether it’s marketing and companies or in this case, the political environment. Being aware of that is very important, but also it’s the psychology associated with your understanding of yourself, your perspective, where it stands and then being open to other’s perspectives then weighing everything and then coming up with a decision. This is crucial. I believe in times of crisis and times of chaos, there is a lot of opportunity, yet there’s only a small percentage that capitalizes on that opportunity. I would argue that that percentage understands themselves so well that they aren’t necessarily influenced by the emotional side of things, the rhetoric.

They are able to understand that and hear what’s being said but not necessarily come to a conclusion. Erik and I had a great discussion and I’m going to end my introduction of him with a quote that I found. He says, “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” It’s very interesting. Thanks again for all the support. If you like what you read, go check out the previous episodes. Give us an awesome review on iTunes. I’d be so grateful if you did, so thank you.

Most of you know that I wrote a book called Heads I Win Tails You Lose: A Financial Strategy To Reignite The American Dream and the book has sold tens of thousands of copies. We’re excited about it. For those of you who are new reading and haven’t had your chance to pick one up, you can get it for free. If you head over to and all you have to do is pay for shipping, you will get your copy for free. Thanks for the support.

My guest is Erik Fogg and I’m excited. We had a brief conversation and it’s made me even more excited. Erik, thank you so much for spending the time with me. I can’t wait for my audience to read this and learn from you.

Patrick, it’s my pleasure. I’m looking forward to this one for a while.

There is a gap between reality and what is projected into the national conversation. Click To Tweet

The first thing that would help the audience is if you were to maybe describe or characterize the message of your blog, the book that you came out with years ago, what were you trying to achieve? What did you want your audience to walk away with as an understanding or a new view of the world?

I’m glad that you pointed out that it came out years ago because I have a little bit of political history cred now and I was concerned about the political polarization before it was cool, before coming as a team. One of the reasons it’s so important is that I was able to get it out before it reinforces the fact that we were able to do this analysis and the book about political polarization in the United States before Donald Trump was elected, before we saw schism play out in the American electorate. Being able to do that analysis beforehand shows that this has been coming, that Donald Trump’s election and the polarization around it is a result of an ongoing process as opposed to the cause itself.

What we explore in the wedge is what are the forces and incentives in the United States political election system and media around politics that drive us towards choosing these tribal sides and treating politics like a war rather than treating it as a discussion? The big thesis in the wedge is that most Americans have nuanced contradictory, not always necessarily moderate, but often mixed views about how they feel about issues. Many Americans have very moderate views. Not all do, and that’s okay, but that is not reflected in Congress and it’s not reflected in the national conversation. We can talk about as much of the theory behind this as we want, but the big insight is that there’s this gap between reality and what is projected into the national conversation.

Where do you feel these realities come from? It’s so widespread and I’ve thought about this before as how a big group of people comes to do a way of doing things that’s similar. My kids right now are in school. I look at the school system. It was Horace Mann who brought this whole Prussian idea of the school system where it was going to a more regimented, dictatorial, hierarchical structure in which teachers are placed in this very elite role and essentially teach people. The whole theory is that it’s to train workers, to train military people, to be told what to do. You look at going through elementary school and then junior, middle school and then high school and then even college. It’s the repetition over and over again of being told what to do and told what to think. You have to do this in order to succeed. It’s interesting how that plays into our ability to look at what you described as reality. That’s what most people’s reality is. At the same time, it also helps us understand why we’re in the situation we’re in, the political scheme of things.

We don’t bring up the US education system in the book in particular because it’s one of the constants throughout this change period that we’re talking about. The period we’re talking about starts in the early 1990s where we start to see this weird divide happening. A good example is as regards to abortion, the mix of policy ideas that Americans have has been constant since the 1990s, but there used to be much more of a combined identity around what my position was in abortion. Most people were pro-choice, but even though people want the same policies, there’s been this bifurcation of pro-choice for life. It’s about 50/50 now, even though everyone thinks the same thing, they identify differently now. There’s all that time period that we’re explaining. What is the thing that changed? Your point about education is interesting because of how it preps the human mind to respond to what it’s seeing in the media.

What is the thing that changed? What’s driving this split between narrative and reality? What we believe and what we hypothesize in the book is that changes in how media is consumed are the primary driver. If we think about how the brain is prepped and then we think about how media has changed, no longer do we consume media in these long forms of newspapers. We consume media, both television media and internet media in very small chunks that activate a very different part of the brain. They activate this very instinctual, immediate responsive part of the brain, which is a different literal region of the brain that is activated during reading a newspaper. That part of the brain is very responsive to emotion, it’s very responsive to anger, fear and frustration.

TWS 19 | Reality Over Influence

Reality Over Influence: The education system wired us to do as we are told. It has prepared our mind to respond to what we are seeing in the media.


If we think of, for example, the incentive of an online newspaper, what they need to do is get you to click. They need to get you in for a few seconds so you see the ad and you ship out. In the shorter attention span mechanism, the tools that are being used to drive revenue for a newspaper are the tools that get you to click, which are the ones that activate that smaller instinctual part of the brain. How did they make money? They make you angry and they make you scared. That is the process. That’s the mechanism. It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. There’s no bad guy. It’s incentives that have led to how our emotional relationship with politics has changed.

Politics has become much more about the psychological narrative than anything else. It’s clear to those who understand what we’re talking about, where there are triggers that get some chemicals in our brain, things to fire and they don’t allow for rational, critical thinking. Donald Trump is the epitome of this. I don’t think he cares as much about what he says as the reaction he wants. He knows the reaction he’s going to get and it’s fascinating that people still buy into it. If you look at all the information that exists, whether it’s the internet or social media, there’s so much. I’d say our mind is defending ourselves from taking anything else in. That’s why we are so influenced way more than we think, whether it’s by the artificial intelligence that tells companies where they should place ads, how the color scheme should look, what time of day they should be posting, the different ages and sexes and socioeconomic situations.

There’s so much data out there right now that there is strategic influence every minute of the day, it seems like. Most people are ignorant and naive about that. That’s what I would say is scary but also good that you’re blogging, you’re talking about this because we have a huge election is coming up in 2020. Based on you writing this book years ago and how things have evolved and compounded, I can’t imagine what the rhetoric and the narrative and the psychological ways in which people are being swayed one way or the other.

Your example of advertising is so potent for this because it’s the exact same mechanism, techniques, technology, data that are being used in the political sphere to influence how you relate to political parties. What causes you to donate, what causes you to vote, what causes you to read this article are the same techniques used to get you to buy a thing, to click an ad and buy a new product that’s being advertised to you based on all this data. It’s these micro-manipulations to a point the saturation of micro-manipulations that we’re facing from these systems is overwhelming that we can’t process it, we can’t become aware of it. In particularly because they’re designed to influence that smaller part of the brain that is instantaneous, instinctual, quick-action thinking, it never actually makes it to the part of the brain where we fully process it.

It’s happening to us all the time and we don’t notice it. You’re banging on about that and you brought up the president. He’s trapped in the same cycle that everyone else is in terms of what does it take to get elected with this new technology and with these new techniques. He happens to be a master at using it. Whether that’s broken clock is right twice a day, whether he’s a mastermind and understands psychology at a level that other politicians didn’t, it doesn’t ultimately matter. It’s a technique that worked. The real tragedy of it is that because politics is a zero-sum game because there are exactly 535 members of Congress and one president, it means that the person who’s going to do this best for each of those seats, he’s the one who happens to win. We can’t ask politicians not to do it. We can’t wait for a hero to come save us because the ones that don’t do it, that don’t manipulate us will continue to lose.

How have you got to this point? I would say the problem isn’t necessarily just politics. The problem is how we’re influenced and we don’t even know that we’re being influenced. That’s why I look at so many unintended consequences of following this trail of thinking or following this group or following this narrative and what that takes away from a human being’s ability to think through and rationalize and understand for themselves. How did you get to this point? Was it a book? Was it an event that you went to? Was it an experience that you had in school? What led you to view the world this way to the point where you’re writing about it, you wrote a book about it, you’re blogging or podcasting about it?

The problem in our society is how we are being influenced without even knowing it. Click To Tweet

As much as I would like for it to be that I have some Socratic wisdom and some ability to rise above it all that everyone does not have, I super don’t. I have in time started to see where I’m being manipulated by this because I have my emotional reactions and my own biases, my own desire for something to be true and revulsion of some other facts. The thing that caused me to start to see that something was afoot was when I went to college. This was in 2005 in the city of Boston. I had grown up in a farm town in Pennsylvania. I grew up in a very red part of the country where everyone around me was great people that worked hard. They cared about their families, they cared about the country and they cared about helping people. They volunteer as firefighters. They gave money to feed the homeless and the poor. They’re wonderful people, and they hated the left. They vilified them and said, “These people are monsters that hate America and they want to do all these bad things.” Of course as a child, I was very impressionable. I was like, “That must be true.”

I then went to Boston and I ran into a lot of people that were very smart and cared about the country and wanted to work hard and wanted to help people that thought totally differently about all these different policies and hated the right-wing. They are monsters and they want to destroy America and hate all these groups and all this stuff. I was at first very defensive of conservatives where I grew up, but then when I started to come to love the people that I had met in Boston, I realized they were wonderful people too. The Boston people are wrong about the farmers in Pennsylvania and the farmers of Pennsylvania are wrong about the people in Boston. They hold these concepts of monstrosity so deeply. I used to until I had met all these people in Boston and I wonder, “How did that happen? What drove that?” Because disagreeing is one thing and even disagreeing fiercely is one thing, but to believe, and we have good data this in the book, that people in each party believe that other people in the other party have terrible intent, that they’re out to do bad things. How did that happen? That’s the first part I researched. Was this true? Yes. What must be going on? It was a three-year project to try to dig into what causes this divide of heart much more so than the divide of policy in mind.

It’s fascinating that you’re saying this because I was watching something with my wife. It was four days after 9/11 and it was an interaction between a Muslim person and an Orthodox Jew. Talk about extremities. You look at left and right at Pennsylvania versus Massachusetts, but this extreme view led to the exact same conclusion. Both wanted the same outcome, yet they became so involved in their group and the notion of group psychology programs the same thoughts and the same feelings over and over and over where they’re a part of us. We don’t know why we’re reacting the way that we are. We just react that way. If you’re aware of that, then it allows you to question the assumptions associated with what you believe and why you believe it.

It’s not to say that what you believe or don’t believe is true or false. It’s taking ownership over what you think and what you believe. That’s the ability we have. We all have to realize we’re human and we have been influenced as an American and me as a male. I grew up on the east coast, but I live in the West now, on the west coast. We have all these influences and we form a perspective of the world and that’s how we wake up every single morning. If we’re not aware that the majority of our life is subconscious and we’re just going to respond and react to things when it comes down to these very critical votes or critical things that we’re stating or that we’re trying to pursue, that we’re perceiving, we’re going to buy into what all our past has programmed us to do.

The transformative moment for most people in my experience, including me, is the moment that you’re in a state of mind that through whatever preparation, perhaps reading a book, perhaps reading this blog where you’re curious. You’re like, “Maybe this is happening,” because we know that it’s happening with advertising. We know that it’s happening about what we buy. We now have this thought, “Maybe this is happening in politics.” With that mindset, you go on your Facebook feed, what’s the stuff you’re normally clicking like on, that you’re normally sharing, that you’re normally reacting and you go, “This must be true because it makes me mad and I’m going to tell the rest of the world.” You question that once and go look it up and go do some digging and go see, “Maybe this is designed to manipulate me.” Understanding the mechanism of how it got to you in the first place is important, but when you see, “In this one instance, I reacted in a way that someone designed me to react in order to get me to do something for them.” That’s the transformative moment we realize, “This is happening,” and then you’re prepared. You have the spine and the knowledge to begin to resist it and filter through it in the future.

TWS 19 | Reality Over Influence

Reality Over Influence: Allow yourself to question the assumptions associated with what you believe and why you believe them.


This is what I’ve seen in myself and it’s a flaw that I’ve noticed where I have these biases, these cognitive biases to those that agree with me as opposed to going and checking my assumptions up against those that may have opposing views. As I’ve done that, people have a fear associated with what another group or another philosophy or another perspective is. I’ve found that in myself as well. What are you doing to check the other side too, to check your assumptions? Your book, your podcast and your blog are going to start firing up in the next few months. How are you looking at ways in which you can objectively analyze something, think about something and talk about something so that the audience can get the upper hand in relation to taking your information and realizing that you’re biased, but your bias comes from starting out being unbiased, if that makes sense?

You’re always going to have a perspective, a belief, a conviction and that’s good. Being able to challenge your own convictions is probably the single hardest thing on earth. It’s a tall order. The beginning is when we start vilifying the opposition outright, because when we vilify the opposition, when we fall into these tribal politics that you talked about, it blocks us substantially from being able to consider that they may have an opinion that is valid ever, because they’re bad people. What they think is bad, it’s to hurt people.

When we peel that away and we start to think, “Maybe people ran into what they believe in a similar process by which I ran into what I believe,” that’s the first step to being able to start thinking about different people’s opinions in terms of them being opinions in and of themselves. They may still be wrong, but they are ideas and that they are not the reflections of evil. Not that there aren’t evil people up there if you think within the middle 80% of how the country thinks about stuff. Step one is that we isolate the opinions of the people. The other path to being able to challenge my own biases is to ask, “How did this other person who disagrees with me so much about immigration, about the economy, about gender relations, something, how did they get there?”

You can think of this as a study of another person and it can even be a thought experiment. You don’t necessarily have to interview them or if you know someone, that’s even more helpful. Once you’ve been able to go through that thought experiment and derive a reasonable narrative for how they got to where they got to, other than sitting down and thinking, “I want to hurt people,” once you’ve got that firm, you can then turn it on yourself. Then you have the tools to ask, “How did I get to what I believe? What influenced me to get here?” Similarly, with the first layer of this, which is the anger layer, when we see the process and the mechanism by which we reach wherever we reach, we become less firmly attached to it. It becomes less something that’s part of our identity and something that’s more its own thing that exists. The key is extracting the idea, extracting thought from our sense of identity. That opens our mind to be able to then think critically. Changing our mind, doing the study, that’s the long work. It’s not the emotionally hard work, but that’s the long work.

What have you seen as some of the success of your podcast, your book, where someone had a certain point of view, a way of looking at things and they’ve realized how they’d been influenced and swayed by this political narrative or that political narrative and a can-do and understanding that’s different? I look at most people consuming this information won’t do anything with it. They’ll listen to it and say, “That sounds interesting,” but because of how hard-wired and program we are, they’ll show up tomorrow and respond and react to this the same way they’ve always done. That’s where the notion of a pattern interrupt or a shift in thinking allows us to go about life with maybe a different tweak to the way in which we make our assumptions. Going to the successes you’ve seen in people and how they’ve been able to understand things at a higher level, maybe talk through that?

The way I like to say it most about how we react to hearing something like this, what you and I are talking about is something that generally at the level of nod and then walks away, everyone would agree with or almost everyone in group. They’d say, “That’s great. Those other people who are super wrong, they need to hear this.” That’s the first thought that we’re going to have, is that other people need to hear this and they need to fix themselves. “They can be more like me,” which is correct. It is hard work and part of the problem is that it’s not fun. It’s fun to be right. It’s fun to fight a war. We love fighting wars. We’re very tribal people. We love having an enemy and we don’t have the communists anymore. We don’t have the Soviet Union, so were’ turning on ourselves. I digress a bit. The best story that I see people change on repeatedly, it’s because it’s the first chapter in the book.

People ran into what they believe in a similar process by which you ran into what you believe. Click To Tweet

We lead with it because it’s the most intractably emotional topic I can think of, which is abortion. People are like, “I don’t even want to talk about it,” but we’ve got people into it. The success stories I’ve seen are that someone starts off saying, “I am pro this. Anyone who is not pro this is bad. They either want to murder babies or they want to oppress women. They’ve got a war council about how to oppress women that had murder babies. That’s their plan. This is based on reader feedback and listener feedback. After reading that section on abortion, one of the things they realize is that the vast majority of Americans want abortion to be open and legal most of the time and they want to have some restrictions usually on timeline. They sometimes disagree on that timeline. Should it be 20 weeks, 24 weeks? The vast majority of Americans, whether they call themselves purchase or pro-life, we believe in that.

When you’re at your protest rally with your tribe and you’re saying, “End abortion, abortion is evil,” or you’re saying, “Free and open abortion always,” when you say “never” and “always,” you’re going to create a reaction. When you sit back and you read that most people want it to be legal most of the time, the people who read it then go, “That’s me too.” I also want it to be legal most of the time. The readers get that and go, “We can all sit down and say we can make it legal most of the time. There some tweaks to figure out. We’ll probably fight about it, but most of us want to be legal most of the time. What are we even fighting about?” That’s where people start to change everything because we’ve taken the most terribly, intractable emotional identity, politics, life and death, feminism and patriarchy issue and realize, “As far as policy, we’re not that far apart on it. It’s just stupid branding.”

It’s interesting that you have these two forces, the force of wanting to be right in the chemical reaction you get to being right and winning. We all know what that feels like. There’s this other side of the spectrum, which is the fear of being wrong. Nobody wants to be wrong. You have these two forces that essentially are converging and creating these absolutes, absolute this and absolute that because you want to avoid the feeling of being wrong and feel what it’s like to be right. Those are very animalistic types of responses. We’re all included in this because I react animalistically as much as everybody else does, but it’s being able to take these very critical things, these topics. They have to do with our lawmaking and the future, whether it’s our future, our kids’ future or the future of our society. These are very important issues. Being able to approach them as unemotional as possible is vital. What’s coming down the pipe is probably more artificial intelligence, more computer learning and more very strategic influence that is going to get us to buy into our tribe and if we’re on the fence, buy into some tribe.

Your point about that buy-in represents the biggest strategic challenge to this and the third fear people have, which is the fear of losing influence in stuff that they care. Because what people rightly understand is that, “If I misalign, if I don’t align with a tribe, I’m not able to create the collective power. I’m not able to replicate the collective power that the tribe has.” There’s an incentive to our own beliefs to a tribe because a tribe when it’s big enough and angry enough can get something done. Whereas if we’re sitting out in the middle going like, “It’s complicated.” It is real that the people sitting out are saying, “It’s complicated,” they’re not getting much done.

The hardest part is if you ask an individual to let go of the tribe and be independent, there is a good reason for them not to and that’s the structural thing that we need to change. I do think that there’s this individual perspective and the peak way you can operate right now is to have a bit of emotional detachment where you understand what’s happening. You don’t get caught up in the BS and the propaganda as reality. You still need to pick a tribe. It’s tragic. It’s unfortunate you take the best thing that you can, but the structural change that will allow people to let go of this is going to be a deeper structural change in how we vote and how we set up parties. They’re going to probably have to be some constitutional changes to allow people to have more than two tribes to pick from. There are a little more dynamism and a little more fluidity to represent the real nuance and difference that people have.

If you think of the Republican Party, when Mitt Romney was running for president in 2012, he was very pro-immigration and he was very pro-free trade with other countries. He was very anti-Russia. Obama gave him a hard time on all three of these. He said that his thinking about Russia was backwards. He said that too much free trade is bad for labor and too much immigration is bad for labor and now the two parties have flipped. Even within the Republican Party, you’ve got this pro-free trade, pro-immigration side and an anti-free trade and anti-immigration side. Somehow they’re in the same team. It boggles the mind that they can somehow get along, but because that tribal cohesion and strategic imperative is so powerful, they want to stick around. Whereas if we can structurally change something to let them get divorced and let them have their own parties and advocate for their own stuff, it means you don’t have to have this weird suborning of what you think to whatever dominates the party to get in time.

TWS 19 | Reality Over Influence

Reality Over Influence: Once you understand the thought process someone has to go through to reach their beliefs, you start seeing their beliefs as not who they are but something that just exists.


What do you see coming down the line in that regard? As you look at how much money in influence and resources behind these two dominant parties, what’s going to cause them to create factions within themselves or something else to be as influential or start to pierce that veil? People are fed up and the animosity that exists toward all politicians, whether it’s left or right, is probably at the highest levels ever. Are they going to stay the same? Are they going to change? What are you seeing?

Historically, we have had realignments occur where if you get Republicans, they used to be a left-wing radical liberal party. One of the major shifts that occurred was during the 1960s when essentially the Republicans moved south, the Democrats moved out of the south and they realigned to how they think about a lot of stuff. We could have a realignment. I happen to think that in 2016, it would be a lopsided victory for Hillary Clinton. My preferences aside, it’s what I predicted. I was super wrong. It usually takes a serious trouncing of a party to trigger a realignment of that scale. The state of Maine has experimented with rank choice voting. They passed that in a referendum. They’re implementing it in their congressional presidential elections. Thinking about rank choice voting, let’s say you want to vote Jill Stein, but you don’t want Donald Trump to get elected.

Strategically, the right thing to do is to vote for Hillary Clinton in order to keep Jill Stein, in order to keep Donald Trump from getting elected. You don’t vote for Jill Stein, so the Green Party doesn’t get your support. Whereas in rank choice voting, you could vote Jill Stein one, Hillary Clinton two, maybe even Gary Johnson number three and then Donald Trump number four and rank choice voting sorts out such that you voting Jill Stein one doesn’t hurt Hillary Clinton’s chance to beat Donald Trump in case Stein does not win. What that does is it changes all these incentives where you can prioritize someone other than your second least favorite choice. Let’s say Hillary Clinton is your second least favorite choice, but Donald Trump is so much worse for you. You have to prioritize Hillary Clinton. In this rank choice voting feature, you could prioritize the Green Party if that’s your thing. All of a sudden, that leads to a proliferation of parties and ideas that people can then bounce around between and have a few more nuanced ideas besides this seemingly black and white, two ways of looking at the world, which as we discussed, even within the Republican Party alone, it’s not consistent.

Has that been adapted or is it still in that theoretical stage?

It has been adapted and then it went through a legal challenge. The legislature voted down and then the Supreme Court got involved. It is back. It is something that the system will push back on. The two dominant parties, the one thing that we’ll probably agree on is that they don’t want this to happen. The historical moment that needs to happen in order to drive a shift of that magnitude is something like the progressive era of the 1920s. The 1920s post-Gilded Age was when enough people got sufficiently fed up with the system as a whole that they reformed a lot of stuff. They reformed how the Senate works, they reformed how elections work. Women voted and all this crazy stuff, but it all came through from the bottom up. The path forward comes through a reform movement that works on the system as opposed to on specific policy.

Nothing’s going to change from the top down. It’s all going to happen from the bottom up.

People fear losing influence in the stuff that they care about. Click To Tweet

The incentives aren’t in place for it to come from the top.

This has been awesome. We haven’t talked politically on the show. It’s been more business and entrepreneurship and more theory. I look at coming down the line in 2020 and I’ve watched some documentaries and became aware of certain things. From an individual standpoint, the saying that I’ve always heard is, “I’m one person. What difference can I make?” The individual has way more power than they used to have, with their ability to communicate, with their ability to express themselves and with the ability to start a conversation. We have way more influence than we think we have.

I look at what’s coming down the line and starting to become aware and educated and figuring out ways in which you can be influential is vital. I see the world is changing so rapidly on a daily basis. Politics and law, having that type of structure is I would say necessity for a civilized society. I feel like change is brewing. I don’t know where and that’s why we need to talk about how the audience can follow you and how can they get the book? What are ways they can keep up to speed with what you’re seeing so that they can circumvent some of the legwork they have to do on their end?

The one plug I’ll make for why your audience should care about this as a whole, regardless of whether you buy my book, I don’t care. I have my own startup, I make my money doing tech things. There’s no money in books. Buy my book or not, I don’t care. The reason you should care about this is that you are an entrepreneur. You’re a business owner, you’re a stakeholder in this system. Completely and selfishly, the United States political system doesn’t fix itself. There’s going to be a lot of trouble for the economy, frankly. There are a lot of reforms that need to happen to make it work. I don’t want to play armchair economist too hard, but there are dangerous signs about how we’ve been managing the economy from the federal level. They are due to the fact that we’ve spent our time being distracted about stuff such as immigration at the southern border and abortion perennially and whether Donald Trump is a Nazi or not perennially.

Those distractions mean that we’re not actually as a populace advocating for the changes that we need for small business owners or for the bread and butter engine of the American economy. That’s not happening. We are too distracted to do it. Of course, depending on how you feel about it or depending on how you think about it, does that leave the door open for certain special interests to pervert the economy to their interests, against the interests of the whole?

It’s this sleight of hand.

TWS 19 | Reality Over Influence


Even selfishly, even beyond we as entrepreneurs are major actors in the system and have a duty to have a public life, there’s private interest in this as well. Hopefully, that resonates to the audience pretty well. The way you can find us if you want to read a little bit more is It has links both to our podcasts, our blog and my book. I would recommend a probably listening to some podcasts of choice first. It’s going to be the easiest way to get into it. We’re going to talk through a few issues, break apart some of the two-sided narratives about it, dive into some of the nuance and detail and it’s through that repeated practice. A lot of it is in economics. What we don’t want to do is tell you what to think. We try to avoid that as much as we can. We want to help challenge the narrative that you’ve been facing and arm you with the tools to be able to make your own mind up about what’s important to you, what matters and what reality looks like. It’s Come check out the podcast. It would be great to have you.

Erik, this has been awesome. Thank you again. Thanks for what you’re doing. It’s a great conversation. Best of luck to you. Maybe we should link up again once the political environment starts to heat up.

That’s a great idea. It’s off of my own show. I can riff a little bit more and we can talk about the election as it’s coming, which will be terrible, a lot of fun and terrifying all at the same time. I would love to come back. Patrick, you are even more incisive and insightful about all this stuff than I even expected. This has been a real pleasure. Thank you.

Erik, thanks again. Hopefully, we’ll talk soon.

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About Erik Fogg

TWS 19 | Reality Over InfluenceErik Fogg is the Founder of ProdPerfect, Chief at ReConsider, co-author of the ReConsider blog, co-host of the ReConsider podcast, and author of the bestselling book Wedged: How You Became a Tool of the Partisan Political Establishment, and How to Start Thinking for Yourself Again. Erik is an MIT Bachelors/Masters grad, studying mechanical engineering and political science. He has 4 years of experience as an operations and engineering consultant with Stroud International, followed by an operations/sales executive role at startup HelmetHub. Erik interludes as political author, business book ghost-writer, and consultant for private equity and biotech.

Erik’s big ambitions are to use artificial intelligence to help large organizations and societies consistently identify truth from falsehood, and make better fact-based decisions

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