According to the New York Times, the first thing Donald Trump did after becoming President was to gather legislators to inform them that millions of illegal immigrants voted against him in the election. Fellow narcissist Steve Jobs said this kind of nonsense so often that it became known as his Reality Distortion Field:
A term coined by Bud Tribble at Apple Computer in 1981, to describe company co-founder Steve Jobs’s charisma and its effects on the developers working on the Macintosh project. Tribble said that the term came from Star Trek. In the Menagerie episode, it was used to describe how the aliens created their own new world through mental force.
The RDF was said by Andy Hertzfeld to be Steve Jobs’s ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence. RDF was said to distort an audience’s sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task at hand was possible. Jobs could also use the RDF to appropriate other’s ideas as his own, sometimes proposing an idea to its originator after dismissing it the week before.
The term is also used by Apple’s competitors when they criticize Apple. On Research In Motion’s official BlackBerry blog, Jim Balsillie introduced a blog post by saying “For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field”.
Jobs’s reality distortion field was parodied in Dilbert: Dilbert built a functioning reality distortion field emitter, which is used during Dogbert’s keynote speech, while previous strips parodied iPhone flaws. In chapter three of the 2011 biography of Steve Jobs, titled Steve Jobs, biographer Walter Isaacson states that around 1972, while Jobs was attending Reed College, Robert Friedland “…taught Steve the reality distortion field…”
The term has extended in industry to other managers and leaders who try to convince their employees to become passionately committed to projects without regard to the overall product or to competitive forces in the market. It also has been used with regard to hype for products that are not necessarily connected with any one person. Bill Clinton’s charisma has been called a reality distortion field. The chess champion Bobby Fischer was said to have a “Fischer aura” surrounding him that disoriented Boris Spassky and other opponents. The term has associated with Donald Trump’s approach to running his 2016 campaign for United States President.