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How to Get a Real Education, by Scott Adams
April 12, 2011 9:07 PM   Subscribe

How to Get a Real Education, by Scott Adams
posted by shivohum (617 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite

 
Someone with innate entrepreneurial skills recommends everyone follow his lead, because they're certainly not going to be able to achieve at anything else just getting by with B-grades. He sure knows how to sell an idea, I'll give him that. I strongly agree with his last point about teaching the art of persuasion... along with teaching people how to know when they're only being persuaded to believe something.
posted by Lukenlogs at 9:19 PM on April 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


Wouldn't it make more sense to teach B students something useful, like entrepreneurship?

Pompous elitist argument from a (former) Mensa member.
"On social issues, I lean Libertarian, minus the crazy stuff".
--Scott Adams
posted by stbalbach at 9:20 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


1. write a repetitious comic
2. piss people off
3. profit!


(oh lord not another Scott Adams thread)
posted by edgeways at 9:20 PM on April 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Scott Adams' opinion on any and all things was rendered invalid to me the moment he published that rant basically comparing women to children and the mentally challenged.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:20 PM on April 12, 2011 [96 favorites]


Looks like somebody failed calculus.
posted by erniepan at 9:20 PM on April 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


I read that whole article thinking that by "B students" he meant "business school students", probably because it's an essay in the WSJ. Wow, I thought, he's really ragging on B School.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:21 PM on April 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The "Dilbert" comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people.

Well, at least he admits this much. And I agree that he's basically outed his pieces as pure trollery with the misogyny piece and subsequent write-op, and that that definitely changes this article.
posted by pahalial at 9:23 PM on April 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


So the takeaway is either "no one really needs to go to college", or "most people don't really need to go to college" because everything important to success can be summed up in a few entrepreneurial platitudes.

Scott Adams has now become the Pointy-Haired Boss.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:23 PM on April 12, 2011 [61 favorites]


Leaving off the inevitable Dilbert firestorm...

I teach entrepreneurship at a university, so I like the emphasis. And yes, aspects of entrepreneurship can be taught, and taught quite successfully, in a way that hopefully will compliment real-world school-of-hard-knocks learning. But good teaching needs to go beyond generalizations and look at where entrepreneurs fail, and what tools they may need to succeed.

And, importantly, it isn't something everyone should do, it makes some people happy, and others crazy. Take this fact: we have a lot of research that helps us predict who will become an entrepreneur (particular personality types, parents who were entrepreneurs, certain ethnic groups), but the only trait that seems to predict success is overconfidence in one's own abilities as an entrepreneur. It makes teaching the subject a bit of a paradox, in fact.

Finally, contrary to the article, I find that students with a liberal arts background are often better at pulling together the threads of entrepreneurship than people who are business majors. But the techies do best of all, mostly because they can code. And the A students are generally a lot more interesting to teach than the B students....
posted by blahblahblah at 9:27 PM on April 12, 2011 [23 favorites]


People who are going to succeed, do.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:30 PM on April 12, 2011


Hey blahblahblah, since you're here, I'm curious...how exactly do you teach entrepreneurship in depth? I always thought of it as more an "hourlong private seminar at Convention X" kind of thing.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:38 PM on April 12, 2011


I used to make fun of the fact that we have an "entrepreneurship" major here at UW (not because I don't think kids should aspire to be entrepreneurs, just because I had doubts about how it could work as an academic subject) but then I met a professor of entrepreneurship and he was an extremely smart, thoughful, interesting guy.
posted by escabeche at 9:41 PM on April 12, 2011


I thought he made some good points. I'm a teacher, and the thing I still struggle with is his point about how younger people (and some older ones) haven't been taught things that you take for granted.

In fact, one of the problems with teachers is that many of us were the nerdy A students. We liked school. We wanted to make the teacher happy. We knew we'd be in trouble with our parents if we didn't do a good job.

No wonder I had such a difficult time teaching American high school students with all three assumptions above.
posted by bardic at 9:49 PM on April 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


"I understand why the top students in America study physics, chemistry, calculus and classic literature. The kids in this brainy group are the future professors, scientists, thinkers and engineers who will propel civilization forward. But why do we make B students sit through these same classes?"

We get the B students to sit through basic science classes so that they will not grow up to be anti-evolution morons.
posted by benzenedream at 10:04 PM on April 12, 2011 [60 favorites]


Hey blahblahblah, since you're here, I'm curious...how exactly do you teach entrepreneurship in depth? I always thought of it as more an "hourlong private seminar at Convention X" kind of thing.

There is no better set-up for an academic then to ask how we teach something? Its like telling my four year old "knock, knock..."

In my case, I was an entrepreneur before deciding to go back and get my PhD, so I try to stay practical and focus on two things: 1) Points of fact that can help you avoid common mistakes and 2) Areas where academia has uncovered some insights about entrepreneurship that not everyone knows.

Let me give you an example. I teach a session on hiring and firing in fast-growing companies. HR seems like the most boring topic in the world, but so many entrepreneurs hire in the wrong way, or at the wrong time, or don't pay enough attention. I could fill multiple class sessions on the issue, incidentally.

So, first we talk about the nature of hiring, the details of the process, and the law. Then, we get into some issues where there is no right answer, but knowing about the trade-offs can be really important. Do you hire for now, or hire ahead? How do you split equity, and how do other people do it? We might discuss a case or two of hiring.

Then we get to the interesting stuff, about choosing the kind of company you might want to build. About how different choices among compensation, hiring, and culture reinforce each other. And how these choices affect start-up success. (And they do, profoundly - some types of companies are far more likely to succeed than others)

And that's just a tiny piece - think about navigating funding, understanding models for growing companies, generating ideas for companies, and so on. Lots of stuff to teach, never enough time.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:07 PM on April 12, 2011 [25 favorites]


Congratulations Scott you won the comic author lottery. No need to justify your success to us, some right place at the right time cultural wave caught you up and printed you a mountain of cash. You might as well have won megamillions jackpot because you bet aunt Betsy and grandma Janes birthdays. Lucky you. No need to try to convince us how it was really some magic strategy of hardworking and perseverance boostrappy dynamism. You got lucky, most of us have to work hard and study a lot. Then we can enjoy a somewhat precarious middle class existence. That is just the way life works. Scott maybe if you wernt so self absorbed in your libertarian/ grar women / blog / comic strip BS you'd notice this and quit whining so much about how it is, when let's face it you have it really good. So STFU and work in a soup kitchen or something.
posted by humanfont at 10:07 PM on April 12, 2011 [21 favorites]


The Wall Street Journal likes to pay lip service to "entrepreneurship," but its real gods are the big banks, hedge funds, and corporate monopolies against whom the mythical entrepreneur stands no real chance.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 10:09 PM on April 12, 2011 [29 favorites]


I'd like to believe in a Hell where Scott Adams and Jim Davis can wind up in a special circle where they get told the dumbest jokes in history for all eternity while cruelly bony fingers tickle them mercilessly.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:13 PM on April 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


I was going to add Cathy Guisewite to the list, but I just realized her hell is probably just a small room with mirrors everywhere.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:14 PM on April 12, 2011 [19 favorites]


What I did not like about this piece is that Adams did not mention "values" at all, although he demonstrated a value that is key to entrepreneurs: opportunism.

Obviously, identifying and taking advantage of an opportunity is pretty vital, but you need to be guided by core values that are based on sound business ethics.

Adams talked about at least two examples from his college days that demonstrate he's nothing more than a beady-eyed weasel.

He talked about taking advantage of loopholes, and that it's better to be driving the truck than to be run over by the truck.

He also talked about promising to incorporate everyone's ideas into a constitution he had pre-written himself. He violated a promise, and also lied to people, showing that he is very willing to insult the intelligence of just about anyone.

What a horrible person.

However, I definitely agree much of what Scott Adams says in this article. Entrepreneurship equals creativity, and it also equals freedom. matthowie is an entrepreneur. The guy somehow managing to run the independent vinyl shop downtown is an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are the people that make our communities vibrant, as opposed to sterile wastelands of chain big box stores (which are another brand of entrepreneurialism).
posted by KokuRyu at 10:15 PM on April 12, 2011 [24 favorites]


I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The "Dilbert" comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected in one person. That's how value is created.

*LE BARF*
posted by hellojed at 10:40 PM on April 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The "Dilbert" comic is a combination of all four skills.

The sum of mediocre talents is not success. Slackers, hacks, and assholes get lucky in the same way that geniuses, gifted artists, and driven workers do.
posted by Graygorey at 10:41 PM on April 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I would've thought Scott Adams might mention his own special talent: posting horrendously sexist rants and then deleting them hours later in the vain hope that nobody saw them.
posted by koeselitz at 10:45 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I still think Dilbert is occasionally funny.

However, this makes me want to punch Adams in the face even more. And that was already a lot.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:55 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


So. Is this where we rag on Scott Adams? Is it? Really?

Cool. Because is is a wealthy dick and needs to needs laughed at and be made fun of.

I love it because I was following his blog way back when he started to think that his fans were fodder for his twisted beliefs and his blog became some kind of Scott Adams mindfuck experiment. Then he started to ask people on his blog to fix his failing restaurant. And when that didn't work, he started to call out his customers for being morons who didn't understand his plan.

He's a half-educated comic guy that thinks his word is gospel and he needs to be taken down a peg or ten.

I was actually caring about his voice problems for a while. Some of the stuff he went through was horrible. Needles in the throat and all that. But now he's just a plain old dick.

A dick that can speak loud enough to make money talking about how he can't draw, recycles old shit and fuck y'all.

Angry? Me. Yeah.
posted by Splunge at 10:56 PM on April 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've read a hell of a lot of what Scott Adams has written, and I enjoy a lot of it and have a lot of problems with it. (As a note, I haven't read the misogynistic piece, and if someone would be so kind as to link to it I'd be much obliged.) Anyway, there was only one thing in the article that I actually found offensive, and that was his scheme to replace the people working at the college with his friends because it got him a better deal on housing. We obviously don't know the details but that just seems shitty to me.

As for the rest of it, well, I agree pretty whole-heartedly. Not everyone should be an entrepreneur, but people should know how to combine their skills into a worthwhile whole, and how to find where the opportunities are, and especially how to "fail forward," as he (frustratingly?) puts it.

As for the constitution/buy-in thing, maybe I'm cynical but I've done the same sort of thing myself on countless occasions. Meetings are where ideas go to die and anything brought up first in that format has no place near anything useful. If I were to tack on anything to his lessons here, it would be that one must get consensus around an idea prior to any meeting about it, for the idea to have any chance. If you don't do this, you're going to have someone like me in the meeting who waits out an hour of discussion while looking like he's paying a lot of attention to everything, and then, just as people are winding themselves down, says, "okay, from what I'm hearing, what if we just did X?" where X is exactly my plan that I came in with, but I make it sound then like it fits what everyone was talking about, and I get my way anyway.

"Buy-in" is bullshit. If you don't come into a meeting with a full plan and support behind it you won't see any of your ideas come to fruition. Decisions are never made in meetings They are made in one-on-one sessions before the meetings start. If you are not in those sessions, then you are probably window-dressing at the meeting.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:56 PM on April 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Scott Adams has now become the Pointy-Haired Boss.

Scott Adams was always the Pointy Haired Boss. Dilbert loses and is portrayed as a loser whose efforts fail or are misdirected. The power of the PHB is inevitable and inescapable and the only way to win is to emulate him. I'm pretty much with Norman Solomon on this one.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:59 PM on April 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think that business & management degrees are overall quite useful for managing people much less skilled, intelligent, etc. than yourself, which usually lands you a much less interesting job than your fellow students studying 'harder' disciplines.

As I understand it, our financial firms have decided they'd prefer people with degrees in math, physics, chemistry (physical), engineering, and computer science over business & finance, for example.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:00 PM on April 12, 2011


You know what's funny? There are plenty of perfectly prestigious and well-paid things that you can do if you can get Bs in chem, calc and physics, including be an engineer. Seriously: that's what you have to do at my university to get into the engineering program. You have to get Bs in chem, calc and physics. This is probably the wrong thing to get hung up on, but since when are B students destined to failure? I think it's fab to be an entrepreneur, but if you don't want to be an entrepreneur, then your Bs can also get you into occupational therapy or optometry school.
posted by craichead at 11:00 PM on April 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Also, Norman Solomon took an out-of-context quote to tear down Adams because he was basically paid to write a piece tearing down Adams at the height of his popularity. For all of Adams' problems, Dilbert is at heart a dark comedy about the inefectuality of the smart, hard-working employee in the face of blindly capitalist superiors who only think they understand what they are doing and why.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:04 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dilbert is at heart a joke that has died a long time ago. For instance, the latest run where they actually kill the PHB, use his dead body as a puppet, and then pull him out live from an alternate reality to bring him back.

Next comic...
posted by Splunge at 11:08 PM on April 12, 2011


Oh, hey, what's this here:

Deleted thread: 101865
This post was deleted for the following reason: I sort of feel like "Scott Adams has contentious ideas" is an established thing at this point

posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:09 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, I loved that "misogynistic" (hah, as if) essay because I knew it would enrage just the people I wish would, in general, live in a constant, futile state of rage. It being called misogynistic just proves Adams' later point of people being unable to read what is actually written through knee-jerk emotional reactions—or worse, forming opinions based on flawed second-hand analysis based on knee-jerk emotional reactions.

This thread is gearing up to be a comedy goldmine of whine.
posted by lifeless at 11:40 PM on April 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Again, I'd love it if someone could link to the piece in question there.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:42 PM on April 12, 2011


I can only take his blog in small doses, but those I do read are generally full of ideas. I completely disagree with many of then but I think it's generally healthy to at least be exposed to them. And in general that's what his blog is about.

I think his take in entrepreneurs in the article is generally pretty reasonable. He's totally correct that the generalist approach (wide knowledge rather than deep) is the most useful to an entrepreneur. The other really good take away, is just go DO something.

If you're all hung up on the misogynistic thing then go read this, and get an understanding of the real circumstances.
posted by Long Way To Go at 11:44 PM on April 12, 2011


Navelgazer, here.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 11:46 PM on April 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Okay, having read the "misogynistic" piece, I'm glad that I have a lot more experience with how Scott Adams writes than I probably should, because that wasn't really misogynistic at all, as far as I can guess. It was trying to talk to the sort of men who would care about "men's rights" and explain in their terms why the concept of men's rights is bullshit, and they should just stop it.

It uses at least one awful analogy, but I would be hard-pressed to claim that it is anti-women, and I care a hell of a lot more about defending womens' rights and opportunities than I do about defending Scott Adams' internet reputation.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:56 PM on April 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Wall Street Journal likes to pay lip service to "entrepreneurship," but its real gods are the big banks, hedge funds, and corporate monopolies

But isn't that just what "entrepreneurship" means? Its ideological usefulness is the whole reason there are teachers and motivational speakers who specialize in the subject, just the same way they like to talk about "enterprise" and "innovation" and the whole rest of the corporate motivational-speaking lexicon. George W. Bush was right, in a way, that the French don't have a word for "entrepreneur," because what that word means, in American, is how it casts the corporation as our Everyman, the boss as our figure of worship, the plutocrat as our hero.

And yeah, this is why Scott Adams is a shmuck, too: first because he's so far down the motivational-speaking rabbit-hole that he genuinely believes "entrepreneurship" is a thing, and second because, as Solomon and Tom Tomorrow said a long time ago, Dilbert is a cartoon whose humor serves the corporation rather than critiquing it.
posted by RogerB at 11:57 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wasn't aware of the misogynistic stuff but I do remember him telling everyone to buy BP stock after the Deepwater Horizon spill because he thought they would probably get off the hook. Which is disgusting, obviously.

Personally the term "entrepreneurship" seems ridiculous. Probably there is something to it, and something that can be taught but if you pay attention to people who espouse the philosophy of entrepreneurship, I'm talking about VC types and people who fap to all the pretentious VC/Silicon Valley blogs out there, it's people who are basically soaking in privilege.

A lot of it seems, actually, to be a lot of froo-froo almost new-agy stuff about psyching yourself up and how awesome everything is. Which probably does help with the overconfidence thing. But mainly it's people who are rich and know a bunch of other rich people who can make things happen. And in that sense, its' annoying to listen too.
Entrepreneurs are the people that make our communities vibrant, as opposed to sterile wastelands of chain big box stores (which are another brand of entrepreneurialism).
Well, that's somewhat self refuting, isn't it? Entrepreneurs make communities vibrant with local shops and stores, while others suck the life out by replacing local businesses with big boxes and chains staffed with minimum wage paid teenagers. What's the difference from the two? Well, it's the successful entrepreneurs, at least as measured by the average WSJ reading crowd who suck the life out.
Then he started to ask people on his blog to fix his failing restaurant. And when that didn't work, he started to call out his customers for being morons who didn't understand his plan.
Just out of curiosity, what was his plan?
Man, I loved that "misogynistic" (hah, as if) essay because I knew it would enrage just the people I wish would, in general, live in a constant, futile state of rage.
So, you basically spend your life constantly wishing ill upon people who disagree with you? That sounds... productive
posted by delmoi at 12:12 AM on April 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


As far as the "Mens Rights" article, it seems like he was trying to insult Mens Rights Advocates, and failed.
posted by delmoi at 12:18 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh and of course the flip side of this argument is "lets spend money on education by teaching kids less." Which would certainly save money.
posted by delmoi at 12:35 AM on April 13, 2011


But why do we make B students sit through these same classes?

But I thought you said it wasn't important to be an A in one thing. It's important to be a B, or a C- in your case, in a few things, then find a way to pull them together. Doesn't 'you should only do what you're really, really good at' kinda undermine your whole argument, Scott? I thought you said we had to fail again and again til we found something we're OK at and like doing. Who knows? Maybe it's something to do with physics and classic literature, even if you're only so-so at them.

PS - douchebag
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:04 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty unsuccessful and useless. Maybe this advice will help?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:04 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Success? Do it again or it was dumb fucking luck.
posted by fullerine at 1:50 AM on April 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


I like Adams to the extent that he plays around with the Zeitgeist, from corporate culture to Darwinist fundamentalism and (yes) gender fights. Norman Solomon is right somewhat. Adams is too shallow to truly oppose the powers that be and certainly that means any possible alternative is over his head. Yet that same shallowness, mixed with serendipity, made him a millionaire.
posted by Yakuman at 1:57 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, some of my peers were taking courses in art history so they'd be prepared to remember what art looked like just in case anyone asked.
Ohhh, burn! Take that, Arts students!
posted by Joe Chip at 2:06 AM on April 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Ah, but you see, any discussion about the 'Men's Rights' piece which doesn't take its deep complexity into account means you're just doing what Adams expected you to do, and thus proving you're not as intelligent as he is after all. Behold! He starts off by addressing the concerns of men's rights activists worldwide:
You might add to this list the entire area of manners. We take for granted that men should hold doors for women, and women should be served first in restaurants. Can you even imagine that situation in reverse?

Generally speaking, society discourages male behavior whereas female behavior is celebrated. Exceptions are the fields of sports, humor, and war. Men are allowed to do what they want in those areas.
But then, just as the readers who asked him to write about the topic think they're home safe, he turns the tables once again!
Now I would like to speak directly to my male readers who feel unjustly treated by the widespread suppression of men’s rights:

Get over it, you bunch of pussies.
Wait, so he thinks they're wrong after all? Nothing so simple! He's merely using their own logic to argue against them:
The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner. You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar.
Now, from any lesser writer, you'd expect that taking the post down in the face of the ensuing blogosphere shitstorm meant things hadn't gone exactly according to plan. But no! For, as Adams himself explains, said shitstorm is only extra evidence that most people just weren't smart enough to get him:
That’s the reason the original blog was pulled down. All writing is designed for specific readers. This piece was designed for regular readers of The Scott Adams blog. That group has an unusually high reading comprehension level.

In this case, the content of the piece inspires so much emotion in some readers that they literally can’t understand it. The same would be true if the topic were about gun ownership or a dozen other topics. As emotion increases, reading comprehension decreases. This would be true of anyone, but regular readers of the Dilbert blog are pretty far along the bell curve toward rational thought, and relatively immune to emotional distortion.
And you might read that and walk away from the discussion, content that your earlier impressions of Scott Adams weren't far off the mark. But ha! More fool you! Because that's exactly what he wanted you to believe!:
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I was enjoying all of the negative attention on Twitter and wondered how I could keep it going. So I left some comments on several Feminist blogs, mostly questioning the reading comprehension of people who believed I had insulted them. That kept things frothy for about a day. Now things are starting to settle down. It's time for some DMD.
[...]
A few people appreciated the meta-joke of removing the post. If you didn't get it, read the deleted post, consider the feminist backlash, then think about the fact that I took down my post and ran away.
Wow, that Scott Adams. Always one meta-joke ahead.

Thing is, I'm sure that in his head he's some kind of diabolical mastermind, playing his detractors like puppets for the amusement of his inner circle and running laps around the critics with the power of his mind. But in mine, he's more like Vizzini in that iocane powder scene from The Princess Bride - "You only think I guessed wrong! That's what's so funny, I switched glasses when your back was turned! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders!" And I'm sure that to him, thinking he's a prat with an overinflated sense of his own insight is merely proving his superior intelligence over mine, but I suspect the crushing blow to my ego is something I'll survive.
posted by Catseye at 3:25 AM on April 13, 2011 [35 favorites]


Remember, children are our future, and the majority of them are B students. If that doesn't scare you, it probably should.

Nah, Scott. I find it far scarier that evolution-denying scientific ignoramuses like you get to pontificate about education and careers, and people might actually take you seriously.

Stick to the funny comics, genius.
posted by Decani at 3:35 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's an evolution denier? cite?
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:40 AM on April 13, 2011


BrotherCaine: from a link above: http://friendlyatheist.com/2007/10/27/questions-for-scott-adams-creator-of-dilbert/
’ve been trying for years to reconcile my usually-excellent bullshit filter with the idea that evolution is considered a scientific fact. Why does a well-established scientific fact set off my usually-excellent bullshit filter like a five-alarm fire? It’s the fossil record that has been bugging me the most. It looks like bullshit. Smells like bullshit. Tastes like bullshit. Why isn’t it bullshit? All those scientists can’t be wrong.
PZ Meyers then does some pleasant evisceration shortly afterwards.
posted by mephron at 4:08 AM on April 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


Scott Adams' opinion on any and all things was rendered invalid to me the moment he published that rant basically comparing women to children and the mentally challenged.

I guess you didn't read the woo-woo "visualize it and it will happen" chapter at the end of one his early books in the 90s.
posted by DU at 4:20 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I misread the author's name as "Douglas Adams" before I clicked on the link, and was sorely disappointed.
posted by HeroZero at 4:27 AM on April 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm sick and tired of Scott Adams, but there is one old Dilbert strip that really speaks to me. It starts with Dilbert working at his desk, and he thinks to himself that he can either work straight through lunch and do a good job, or do a half-assed rush job and get to lunch on time. In the third panel, we see Dilbert sitting in the break room, eating a banana, and he says, "Today I traded my work ethic for a banana." Wally chimes in and says, "I ate that banana years ago."

"I ate that banana years ago."

It's so true for so much of my life. It's practically a mantra for me now.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:58 AM on April 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


I don’t think the world is short on business majors. If we all learned something else, with a side of business, I think we’d better off. The study of business, for business’ sake, has not been a good thing for this country. Great businesses grow out of a passion for something else. If we focus on helping kids find their passions, the businesses will follow if we add just enough business education to get them going.
posted by COD at 4:59 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


If they took away all the "B" students, who would guys like me aspire to?
posted by digsrus at 5:24 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don’t think the world is short on business majors.

Oh my good god, is this ever true.

At the university where I work, there are so many people clamoring to be business majors that rather than just not accept weak students (because hey, then we wouldn't get to take their money for a while), they have the "weed-out" class. They have to pass a business calculus class with a B or better to actually "get in" to the business school. They can't take any courses in the business school beyond the very basic ones unless they do.

You know who gets to teach these classes? The mathematics department.

I guess I can't complain too much because it gives me a job to do, but seriously. I have not really ever had a group of students who so loathed mathematics in my life. Also, since a number of these students are taking this class for the second, third, and sometimes even fourth time, they really don't believe that they need to learn anything new, because they've "taken the class before". This frustrates me because they can't realize that the reason they're taking the class for the nth time is because they didn't learn anything previously. This frustrates students taking the class for the first time because they think they're behind (when they're actually ahead). This causes nearly everyone in the class to shut down mentally, and we almost get nothing done.

Anecdote: On Wednesday, we were going to start talking about antiderivatives. Rather than just tell them what we were up to, I asked if they wanted to play a game, so I asked them to try and find a function whose derivative was 3x2 + 1. One student asked me what section this was from, and when I wouldn't tell her (because I didn't want her to look it up, I wanted her to think), she responded with:

"Well, I don't know the answer, so what am I supposed to do?"
"You should try to work it out. Let's all take some time and try to work it out ourselves."
"How am I supposed to work it out when I don't know the answer?"
"Try and find the answer, knowing what you know about derivatives."
"Well I can't. If I don't know where in the book we are, I can't figure it out."

She then put her head on her desk for the next hour while we worked through a bunch of examples until we thought we had a clear idea of how to solve the general question of how to find an antiderivative of a function like xn.

Her attitude is not unique. I don't think this is the kind of person who could even thrive as an entrepreneur if the idea of solving a new problem sounds so wretchedly uncomfortable that you stick your head in the sand until someone else comes along and solves it for you. Blargh. /rant
posted by King Bee at 5:29 AM on April 13, 2011 [41 favorites]


The Wall Street Journal likes to pay lip service to "entrepreneurship," but its real gods are the big banks, hedge funds, and corporate monopolies

It's simpler than that: The WSJ does like entrepreneurs, sure, just like a pig farmer likes his pigs.
posted by bonehead at 5:34 AM on April 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


i read about 1/3 of the article, most of the time thinking 'wtf?' is this supposed to be some kind of joke article, or did he really spend most of his college years looking for loopholes & scheming on how to get something for nothing? now i'm thinking: what an asswipe.
posted by msconduct at 5:40 AM on April 13, 2011


Couple of points - first, that essay on women was a massively failed attempt at satirizing the "Men's Rights" movement. I seriously doubt he meant any of the more inflamatory things in it beyond calling out the Men's Rights types as useless whiners, and he took it down when it wasn't being received in the way he hoped it would. Without corroborating evidence, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

Second, of course he doesn't know what the hell he's doing. Publishers or event co-ordinators see a massively successful comic creator who's subject matter involves business, so they offer him huge money on his "real insights" into business.

He has none, except that it's mostly arbitrary and stupid and all you can really do is put up with it. The really funny part is how he then goes and couches it in motivational buzzwords and homilies - like this piece - which boils down to business is mostly arbitrary and stupid, and all you can do is learn to put up with it.

Then he cashes the check, and does a little dogbert tail-wag.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:03 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I must have missed the part where his interesting but dubious college misadventures form the core curriculum of a class in entrepreneurship. We somehow went straight from anecdotes to summarizing core values without actually having any kind of specific, concrete proposal in how to improve education for average students and create a better class of entrepreneur.

I guess the way you get a "Real Education" is to be Scott Adams?
posted by Scattercat at 6:15 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


what he did in his college years isn't entrepreneurship - it's rent seeking by cronyism

naturally, the editors and readers of the wall street journal aren't likely to know the difference
posted by pyramid termite at 6:29 AM on April 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


I finished writing a position paper on the future of employment policy for a major political party in Australia last week.

Like it or not, large scale manufacturing is in terminal decline in the west and self employment and service sector start ups will be increasingly pushed as the way forward. In short, if you want a job you're going to have to think about creating your own, rather than find one offered by someone else. This needs a culture which both celebrates success and tolerates failure, rather than sniping suspiciously at both.

There is no point giving everyone a highly academic education if the number of jobs which require these academic skills is highly limited and unlikely to increase. While you're spending years on your history PhD just remember the cute girl in the coffee shop has an upper second in English and the guy who owns that slightly down at heel laundromat around the corner and a couple more in the next suburb is a millionaire with three new cars on his forecourt. This isn't about churning out more indentikit MBAs parroting meaningless business jargon to each other on power-point, it's about painter-decorators or mobile dog shampooers getting through the first six months and being able to feed their families.

Of course education has immense value in itself but in practical terms you're much better off with a real vocational skill than a degree in the humanities. There is no such thing as a poor plumber and every plumber in his own van is an entrepreneur. Success in your own business, like anything, takes a combination of talent, experience, desire, learned skills and a dash of luck but if all you're relying on is luck you've got no chance. Obviously lessons in entrepreneurship or business studies or whatever you want to call it would be pointless for a young Richard Branson, who'd already be out there doing it, but they can mean the difference between success and bankruptcy for some.

Capitalism is often a dirty word for those who've done nothing in their lives but bask in its benefits and I understand the scorn here for a really successful guy who happens to believe different things from the metafilter gestalt but he's basically right about this issue. It's not stupid or arbitrary and no amount of bitter arts graduate hand wringing or gratuitous personal name calling is going to change that. Whatever he thinks about women's rights or evolution has no relevance here.

To take one point at random, of course you should look for loopholes to gain an advantage, where you see another chance to hold forth about inequality he sees an opportunity to get ahead. You get to feel all morally self righteous typing away in your old bedroom in your parents house while he gets to put his kids through med school.
posted by joannemullen at 6:31 AM on April 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


A further point: There seems to be an inverse correlation between being good at school and entrepreneurship (or I would say "start-a-business-ship").

I used to teach at an Ivy where all the kid were great at school, I mean really great. Exactly none of them (and I taught there for 10 years) ever said to me "I'm going to start a business when I'm done here." They all wanted to get jobs at corporations or on Wall Street (Though there are some famous Ivy drop outs who were great entrepreneurs--Gates and Zuckerberg).

Now I teach at a big state U where many of the students are not that good at school. They're smart and articulate, but not professional students. Many of them talk to me about starting businesses, usually ones related to one of the many jobs they've had working themselves through school. Apparently you learn something about business when you work in a business. And a lot of them are business majors (Few of the Ivy students had jobs outside the university, and of course the Ivy school had no business major).

I've got no data to back any of this up, but it does seem to be the case that being good at school makes students tend to want to be "salary men" (or should I say "salary people"), and having a job in college makes you want to create another job.
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:37 AM on April 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why more Adams cruft in the blue? I'm just asking, mostly because this guy has never been right on any big idea he's written about.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:39 AM on April 13, 2011


I finished writing a position paper on the future of employment policy for a major political party in Australia last week.

(...)

You get to feel all morally self righteous typing away in your old bedroom in your parents house while he gets to put his kids through med school.

is it any wonder why people don't trust politicians these days? trust me, they sense the sort of contempt you've displayed here, even through the filter of a "position paper"
posted by pyramid termite at 6:41 AM on April 13, 2011 [15 favorites]


> Scott Adams' opinion on any and all things was rendered invalid to me the moment he published that rant basically comparing
> women to children and the mentally challenged.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:20 AM on April 13 [31 favorites +] [!]


I won't goggle and say "Did I just read that on Metafilter?" 'cuz I so much know what you mean. When James Watson sprung that rant of his about Blacks being less intelligent on us, that totally invalidated his opinions about any and all things like the structure of DNA.
posted by jfuller at 6:52 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess the way you get a "Real Education" is to be Scott Adams?

No, the only way to get a "real education" is by giving Scott Adams money.

Back in the '90s, when Dilbert was so popular, I was often a little embarassed by my (seemingly) irrational dislike of the strip. "Come on, Self (I would say to myself), don't be one of those guys. It's just a cute little comic strip. Lots of people like it (including Dad, though if he'd stop cliping every goddamn strip and sending it to me it would be a relief, thanks). Ok, he isn't Trudeau, or Breathed, or even Dik Browne, but he's some guy doing what he loves to do as best as he can. Don't be a hater, Self."

Now, a decade and more later, I can look at that strip and say "Thanks for vindicating me, Scott. Yer a real pal."


When James Watson sprung that rant of his about Blacks being less intelligent on us, that totally invalidated his opinions about any and all things like the structure of DNA.

Yes, I still remember when Scott Adams shocked the world by winning the Nobel Prize for Dilbert.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:00 AM on April 13, 2011 [23 favorites]


Kind of a crap article since it's mostly "look what I got away with in college due to lack of oversight / regulation / care". On the other hand, it's almost a perfect description of how to actually get ahead post-college if you have no morals.
posted by odinsdream at 7:03 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


blahblahblah: I find that students with a liberal arts background are often better at pulling together the threads of entrepreneurship than people who are business majors.

My dad (who did 30 years in shielding design at GE, about 15 of that as a manager) used to say something similar about engineering schools.* He mostly hired applied mathematicians and physicists, and said the candidates who impressed him most usually came from small liberal arts colleges. He said he thought that was true because they were forced by their education to consider things outside of math or physics, and so tended to have a better grasp of real-world contingencies.


--
*Typical formulation: "I've rarely been impressed by candidates from schools with letters for names." Specifically, he'd have been referring to MIT and RPI, from which GE generally recruited heavily. "Couldn't engineer their way out of a paper bag" was a phrase I heard him use once to describe some prospects.
posted by lodurr at 7:04 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


What bothers me about Scott Adams these days is not that he's become the pointy-haired boss, but that he's essentially now claiming that he always was, all along.
posted by lodurr at 7:07 AM on April 13, 2011


I can't help but think that the "Mens' Rights" blog post was actually Scott Adams' own Dave Sim moment, and this is just underscoring that feeling.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 AM on April 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


When James Watson sprung that rant of his about Blacks being less intelligent on us, that totally invalidated his opinions about any and all things like the structure of DNA.

If I need insight into writing shitty comics, I guess I'll still look to Scott Adams.

BTW, you do know that Rosalind Franklin made large unacknowledged (then) contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA, right?
posted by kmz at 7:14 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


trust me, they sense the sort of contempt you've displayed here, even through the filter of a "position paper"

Absolutely. If Ms. Mullen thinks her own work is "crap typed for idiots", I won't presume to disagree, but people can spot that kind of resentment and disgust through tons of happy bureaucratic banalities.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:15 AM on April 13, 2011


Anecdote: On Wednesday, we were going to start talking about antiderivatives. Rather than just tell them what we were up to, I asked if they wanted to play a game, so I asked them to try and find a function whose derivative was 3x2 + 1. One student asked me what section this was from, and when I wouldn't tell her (because I didn't want her to look it up, I wanted her to think), she responded with:

"Well, I don't know the answer, so what am I supposed to do?"
"You should try to work it out. Let's all take some time and try to work it out ourselves."
"How am I supposed to work it out when I don't know the answer?"
"Try and find the answer, knowing what you know about derivatives."
"Well I can't. If I don't know where in the book we are, I can't figure it out."

She then put her head on her desk for the next hour while we worked through a bunch of examples until we thought we had a clear idea of how to solve the general question of how to find an antiderivative of a function like xn.

Her attitude is not unique. I don't think this is the kind of person who could even thrive as an entrepreneur if the idea of solving a new problem sounds so wretchedly uncomfortable that you stick your head in the sand until someone else comes along and solves it for you. Blargh. /rant


Wow. This is almost identical to an engineering math class I took at our local community college a few years ago. Same kind of thing - the class pulled in not only the engineering students, but the business students as well. They'd totally shut down, just like you described.
posted by odinsdream at 7:17 AM on April 13, 2011


Capitalism is often a dirty word for those who've done nothing in their lives but bask in its benefits

My personal favorite, as someone who is mostly involved with the business of art and craft, is that our local arts grant organization (funded by cigarette tax money!) charges $150 for an "Artist As Entrepreneur" seminar that is more or less worthless.

After a friend (who went to one for free as a benefit of a grant she'd received) told me I'd have been a better presenter for the program, since I actually know how to make money from my creative endeavors, my studiomate and I thought it would be a good idea to organize our own seminars. First step towards being an artist-entrepreneur? DON'T PAY PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT $150 TO TELL YOU NOTHING, AND WASTE A FULL DAY OF YOUR TIME.

We were going to call our "The Business of Art for Capitalists." Everyone likes eating, and being able to pay rent, but it's even better when you can do it while working as something you love. Capitalism and being an entrepreneur are good things, provided you're not a complete dick in the process. I actually think it's more offensive for a publicly-funded organization like the one referenced above to take money from people who don't currently have much of it and provide nothing in return than it is to execute some of Adams' college year examples, most of which seem like "working with the established system as it presents itself to you in order to achieve a particular goal" (i.e. form a club and comply with regulations established by the college to get time on the soccer field) instead of Pure Evil.

His piece on women, though? That was pretty fucked up.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:19 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm quite willing to agree with the view that there's not enough real-world education going on in education. Education is an industry and it fosters belief in its own effectiveness, even as evidence suggests that the correlation between education and long-term financial success has a lot more to do with social class than anything you actually learned. My wife, who's taught writing to freshmen at state colleges for over 10 years, is of the considered opinion that teaching them to write in an academic style is worse than a waste of time because they don't learn to write (or work) the way they'll have to when they graduate. (She makes them do group presentations. It's usually the first and only time in their academic career that someone makes them work on a team to produce a document -- which is something many of them will have to do routinely when they get out.)

That said, it also seems quite clear to me that the business-ification of everything is a ridiculously bad thing. It leads to people with the thinking skills and rhetorical ethics of a Scott Adams or a P.J. O'Rourke, where the measure of reality seems to be your own "bullshit meter" instead of, you know, actual evidence -- and where the ability to get others to laugh when you ridicule an idea is much more important than whether the idea has merit.

It also pisses me off that our entrepreneurial culture basically lionizes crooks, while ignoring everyday entrepreneurs -- like, yes, tradespeople and small farmers and, yes, working craft-artists.
posted by lodurr at 7:38 AM on April 13, 2011 [15 favorites]


Metafilter: Where the ability to get others to laugh when you ridicule an idea is much more important than whether the idea has merit.
posted by dubold at 7:47 AM on April 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Unfortunately, I think the things that are most likely to teach students problem solving skills are also the sorts of things to get their funding cut, at least at the K-12 part of schooling. Student organizations, theater, arts. Of course, I also think schools should be teaching a lot more business stuff to the kids in trade schools, since they're far more likely to end up running a small business than the kids in the college prep classes.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:49 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Most of the best practicing engineers I work with were B students. People who are good at studying get As, but you can't study ingenuity.
posted by rocket88 at 7:58 AM on April 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Everyone likes eating, and being able to pay rent, but it's even better when you can do it while working as something you love.

I'm don't yet have a fully formed opinion of the W.A.G.E. campaign, but it seems apropos here.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:58 AM on April 13, 2011


the class pulled in not only the engineering students, but the business students as well. They'd totally shut down, just like you described.

And THIS is why we're in a recession!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:03 AM on April 13, 2011


BTW, you do know that Rosalind Franklin made large unacknowledged (then) contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA, right?

FWIW, I am right there with you in deploring how little credit she was given, but it is pretty well accepted that Franklin would have shared in the Nobel prize if she had been alive in 1962 when it was awarded (Nobels are not awarded posthumously).

Personally, from reading his book I think Watson just happened to be in the right place at the right time, rather than being particularly brilliant.
posted by edgeways at 8:06 AM on April 13, 2011


"B students" -- You mean Betas, Scott?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:15 AM on April 13, 2011


The drinking age in those days was 18, and the entire compensation package for the managers of The Coffee House was free beer. That goes a long way toward explaining why the accounting system consisted of seven students trying to remember where all the money went. I thought we could do better. So I proposed to my accounting professor that for three course credits I would build and operate a proper accounting system for the business. And so I did. It was a great experience. Meanwhile, some of my peers were taking courses in art history so they'd be prepared to remember what art looked like just in case anyone asked.

Scott Adams is a goddamn Herb.

The idea involved replacing all of the professional staff, including the resident assistant, security guard and even the cleaning crew, with students who would be paid to do the work. We imagined forming a dorm government to manage elections for various jobs, set out penalties for misbehavior and generally take care of business.

And a kleptocratic fascist.

Also, a misogynistic piece of shit.

He's a fuckstick that peddles mediocre office humor and libertarian claptrap to people with very low expectations in entertainment. I don't see any reason why people keep posting him as best of the web, or even as a source of ideas that merit discussing.
posted by codacorolla at 8:18 AM on April 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's a really poorly explained example of a point that's fundamentally true. If you're sitting in school or a job and you're not learning the things that are useful to you, at some point you have to go out and find your own opportunities to learn those things.

I'm not sure why everyone is surprised that it isn't easy to follow his logic when he writes a blog post or newspaper column. The guy's primary method of communication is a couple sentences of speech bubbles within three panels of what he admits is mediocre drawing. His little anecdotes are punchline panels short of being a week-long Dilbert arc.
posted by Taco John at 8:25 AM on April 13, 2011


I have not really ever had a group of students who so loathed mathematics in my life.

Kingbee, I was going to offer to match them against the Psych majors taking my Stats class, but I think it's more a case of 'fear' than 'loathe' for them.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:29 AM on April 13, 2011


blahblahblah, you sound like a great teacher. In just a few sentences, you took a subject I have an innate aversion to and made it sound interesting.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:32 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, here's my take-away from the article:

In college Scott Adams used the fact that he was unduly interested in things that other people weren't (most people used the bar as a way to hang out and get free beer, not to manage a successful business; most people didn't care enough to subvert the mostly friendly restrictions put on using the gym). He used every loophole he could find, in systems that mostly ran on good-faith, to bend the system to his will. He used cronyism to get his business school friends to stack the vote for him. He put full-time workers that (if it's anything like my school) were probably working at the university at least partially to get reduced tuition for their children out of work so that he could stack the ranks with his friends and get paid to do it. He fired the incompetent bar-tender and made him in to the pointy haired boss.

Adams' gloss on this is that he was learning the skills that make an effective business person, and if the last 10 years have taught me anything, he's absolutely right. Make the right friends, find the right hole in the law, and then get in there and fuck everything up while stealing as much money as possible. Oh, and of course show utter disdain for anything that doesn't involve stealing as much money as possible: "Meanwhile, some of my peers were taking courses in art history so they'd be prepared to remember what art looked like just in case anyone asked."

So Adams gives you his George-W-Bush-Lite story about the glory days defrauding his college for as much personal gain as possible, and then lobs a few softball, feel-good points that are no doubt an effort to gain publicity before the next moronic business help book he publishes. You agree with him because, no fucking shit, his advice is so obvious you can't help but. You feel better because you're like "well, I'm already doing that, I must be on my way to success!" Adams doesn't offer advice, he offers The Secret for pudgy, white collar Dilbert-looking motherfuckers.

Scott Adams is a total piece of shit, and I have a feeling his gravy train is dying along with print media. It's tough to sell comics about the horrors of white collar life when your republican buddies in charge have been making sure that those kinds of jobs exist less and less.

Get fucked Scott Adams, and die alone in a poor-house.
posted by codacorolla at 8:35 AM on April 13, 2011 [41 favorites]


This is all especially ironic considering this man, more than anyone else, is the person who instilled in Western culture a profound contempt for the sort of cubicle jobs a business education can get you.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:38 AM on April 13, 2011


I don't think it's contempt so much as cynicism about them. Which is OK from the perspective of the system -- cynical people don't rebel.

But, contempt: What I understand now about Dilbert is that Adams always, always had contempt for almost all the Dilbert characters, including Dilbert himself.

I now understand that the real hero all along was Dogbert. Dogbert knew the score, knew how to use other people to get what he wanted. Think about it: Dogbert is always right, and never (at least as far as I can remember) ends up on the short end of the stick. He's not Mister Bad Example -- he's the fucking hero.

I also now understand why Seth MacFarlane's Stewie reminds me so much of Dogbert.
posted by lodurr at 8:47 AM on April 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


Well, it's worth noting that the heroes of Dilbert are not the title character, nor the pointy-haired boss, but Dogbert and Wally, both deeply cynical characters. Dogbert follows the same principles Adams did in college and is consistently the most powerful and successful character in the strip, and Wally derives all of his joy from actively gaming and cheating the system.
posted by modernserf at 8:50 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I get a chuckle out of "Dilbert" every so often. I'm not sure why he inspires such frothing rage on mefi though. He's a successful cartoonist. His opinions on anything else you can take or leave. I found his post about the treatment of women versus the treatment of men completely absurd, but no more so than a lot of other men's opinions who have a hell of a lot more power and reach than the guy who draws "Dilbert."

He's not holding himself up to be an expert, and if you think he is an expert on anything but creating a successful comic strip and the business and marketing apparatus attached thereto, you're a sucker. The ad hominem attacks in this thread are kind of mind-boggling. I mean, "Get fucked and die in a poorhouse"? Holy shit. I reserve that kind of stuff for John Cornyn and Eric Cantor and Bernard Madoff, men who actually had/have the motivation, the skill, and most of all, the power to lay waste to millions of people's lives, and who need to burn in hell. Not Scott Adams.
posted by blucevalo at 8:50 AM on April 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Or what lodurr said.
posted by modernserf at 8:51 AM on April 13, 2011


> BTW, you do know that Rosalind Franklin made large unacknowledged (then) contributions
> to the discovery of the structure of DNA, right?
> posted by kmz at 10:14 AM on April 13 [+] [!]

Of course I do, that's common knowledge and has been for decades. (It is, for one thing, explicitly and prominently acknowledged by Watson himself in The Double Helix.)
posted by jfuller at 9:00 AM on April 13, 2011


Forgot about Wally. He seems to subsist on his glee at gaming the system, and like Dogbert never seems to suffer for it.

I tend to think of satirical humor in terms of different flavors of "clown." I started thinking of it that way when Simpsons and Married, with Children were back to back on Sunday nights. The Bundys were "bad clowns" who existed to provide a pretty simplistic negative example: Everything they did would turn out badly because they were bad, venal people who deserved what they got. (That's complicated by the fact that we're still clearly supposed to like them -- they become our metaphorical sacrificial lambs, absolving us of our own guilt by acting out karmic punishment in front of us.)

By contrast the Simpsons were "good clowns" in that, while they did bad and venal things, they more or less came around in the end (or their actions were shown to be inspired by a bad system) -- I used to argue that it was subversive in that regard, in that it used a bad example to sucker you in and then fed you a lesson without you generally realizing you'd gotten one. (That aspect of it is much less subtle than it used to be, IMO.)

MacFarlane and Parker/Stone mix up aspects of the good clown / bad clown scenario inasmuch as there's always either punishment for bad action or the implicit (sometimes quite explicit, from P&S) message that there probably should be.

Dilbert, as I think about it in this way, has another twist on this: What's punished is behavior that's either naive, or is incompetently manipulative. The only behavior that's rewarded is competent manipulativeness.
posted by lodurr at 9:00 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


joannemullen: “There is no such thing as a poor plumber and every plumber in his own van is an entrepreneur.”

This is sadly one of most untrue things in this thread. Anyone who really believes this doesn't know any plumbers.
posted by koeselitz at 9:04 AM on April 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


The part about 'poor plumbers' is false, granted, but they are all entrepreneurs. It's just that the reality of being an 'entrepreneur' is quite different if you're a one-truck plumber or contractor than it is if you're a real-estate speculator like, say, teh Donald.
posted by lodurr at 9:08 AM on April 13, 2011


The power of the PHB is inevitable and inescapable and the only way to win is to emulate him.

The only way to win is not to play. I thought that was obvious by now...
posted by Chuckles at 9:18 AM on April 13, 2011


oh, and, the misogynistic piece? Yes, it is clearly and extremely misogynistic. Saying "but I'm not suggesting women are actually like disabled people or children, just that we should behave as though they were" is a rather silly dodge when you get right down to it. (Try this and hopefully you'll get my point: "I'm not suggesting that black people are mentally inferior to white people, just that it makes sense to treat them as though they were.")
posted by lodurr at 9:25 AM on April 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


The thing about Scott Adams' business and entrepreneurial advice is that every single one of his ventures save one - the Dilbert comic and series of books it spawned - has failed.

This even includes a lot of Dilbert-related projects like the animated show (which was horrible), the line of novelty breath mints, etc.

By his own admission, Adams failed in both his first (banking) and second (engineering) careers. Plus a long string of failures which include a restaurant and a line of vegetarian burritos.

Not to mention his personal issues, which are many and varied.

The only advice Adams is qualified to give is, "Try every crazy venture that crosses your fancy, and get ready to lose a shit ton of money."
posted by ErikaB at 9:34 AM on April 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


He's a successful cartoonist.

so is Jim Davis
posted by edgeways at 9:50 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I found the post extremely inspiring. It helped me calcify a lot of my own nascent idea-clouds about finding happiness and autonomy in the capitalist culture whose negatives I am sick to death of thinking about, and whose positives are not as off-limits to most of us as I'd been starting to believe.

Then I read these comments. Good feelings and inspiration to try for success even in the face of past failures? Dead, right on the vine.

I guess seeing everything through a lens of urgent, critical unfairness isn't exhausting to a lot of you, but it is definitely starting to feel pretty exhausting to me.
posted by silentpundit at 9:58 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess seeing everything through a lens of urgent, critical unfairness...

Ya lost me on that one.

& if our comments could "kill" your good feelings? Not our problem, dude. We're not that powerful.
posted by lodurr at 10:02 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess seeing everything through a lens of urgent, critical unfairness isn't exhausting to a lot of you, but it is definitely starting to feel pretty exhausting to me.

Sorry to burst your "idea-clouds", bro. For every Scott Adams there are hundreds more entrepreneur types who go bust in a haze of debt. What Adams does is to legitimize the whole fucked system by representing the small minority who succeed and then denigrating the large majority who don't by saying it's their fault for not being crafty enough.
posted by codacorolla at 10:05 AM on April 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


a massively successful comic creator
[...]
a really successful guy who happens to believe different things from the metafilter gestalt
[...]
He's a successful cartoonist.

so is Jim Davis


Again, this is really a translation problem. In Corporate English, "successful" simply means rich, and therefore unquestionably right and deserving of worship. It's got nothing to do with the ordinary-language sense of having undertaken some endeavor and executed it well by some objective standard. (Thus George W. Bush is a "successful businessman," too.) Adams, whose deeply mediocre cartoons are at best occasionally adequate as comedy or art by any reasonable measure, is an unqualified "success" as a cartooning "entrepreneur" — because his strips make a lot of money.
posted by RogerB at 10:12 AM on April 13, 2011


The only way to win is not to play. I thought that was obvious by now...

Wait, what was the name of the sanitation guy? I think he was always presented as being "smart enough to have figured out that you don't have to put up with that office bullshit, and happier as a result". Is he a character any more?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:20 AM on April 13, 2011


What Adams does is to legitimize the whole fucked system by representing the small minority who succeed and then denigrating the large majority who don't by saying it's their fault for not being crafty enough.

Yeah, I didn't read any of that in the article. First of all, I'm not sure Adams or anyone else thinks that a 'large majority' are failures. By what metric? Being rich? There are other forms of success that a solid entrepreneurial skill set can offer. Like, being one's own boss. Or, being creatively autonomous. Or, simply doing something you enjoy, rather than sitting in a cube, in a row of identical cubes.

Maybe it isn't the 'system' that is fucked, but our culture's weird, hyper-exaggerated expectations of what we can reasonably expect from ours or any 'system?'
posted by silentpundit at 10:24 AM on April 13, 2011


Then I read these comments. Good feelings and inspiration to try for success even in the face of past failures? Dead, right on the vine.

Never be afraid to share your dreams with the world, my friend, because there's nothing the world loves more than the taste of really sweet dreams.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:52 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I didn't read any of that in the article

Forgetting about the larger Dilbert/Scott Adams context, here's how you can get it from the op-ed: Entrepreneurialism isn't being taught, you need to learn it, I'm going to tell you how it works through examples of my wonderfully industrious college years; you should emulate that example if you want to be successful, and if you didn't by implication, you're not taking full advantage of your opportunities and don't deserve success.

It's not a clear argument, but the tone is there. (A few examples: "Wouldn't it make more sense to teach B students something useful, like entrepreneurship?" [implies they're not engaging in, because no one taught them; implies they have to be taught, which in turn implies minds inferior to his.] "Meanwhile, some of my peers were taking courses in art history so they'd be prepared to remember what art looked like just in case anyone asked." ['Those silly eggheads. Hurf-durf'] "That's the year I learned that if there's a loophole, someone's going to drive a truck through it, and the people in the truck will get paid better than the people under it." [It's a good thing to be in the truck. You should want this. If you're not in the truck, it's your fault.] "To save time, I wrote the constitution over the summer and didn't mention it....I waited a week, made copies of the document that I had written over the summer, presented it to the dorm as their own ideas and watched it get approved in a landslide vote. That was the year I learned everything I know about getting buy-in." [It's OK to manipulate people and lie to them if they're sucker enough to fall for it and it gets you what you want.])

So, yeah, this is pretty much all about how if you've got a plan and you're willing to execute it, and nobody resists you, they pretty much deserve you.
posted by lodurr at 11:07 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Her attitude is not unique. I don't think this is the kind of person who could even thrive as an entrepreneur if the idea of solving a new problem sounds so wretchedly uncomfortable that you stick your head in the sand until someone else comes along and solves it for you. Blargh. /rant

Forget entrepreneur. This is not the attitude of a person who could thrive in any job anywhere on the planet. I work in the public sector (yes the dreaded bogeyman of bureaucracy, regulation and incompetence, according to hard-core capitalists), and while our hiring process is not most efficient nor the best, we, too have interview questions and tests specifically designed to screen out applicants who cannot solve problems on their own. Who in their right mind wouldn't?
posted by Kurichina at 11:47 AM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess seeing everything through a lens of urgent, critical unfairness isn't exhausting to a lot of you, but it is definitely starting to feel pretty exhausting to me.

What makes this post so objectionable are not his generalizations about entrepreneurialism. It's his flagrant lack of any kind of moral compass. Thinking and acting like this might make you stratospherically successful in some places, but it's just as likely to lead to failure when people desert you because you can't be trusted.

Having kicked around numerous start-ups and small businesses before starting one myself, I'd like to state the obvious and point out that entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are fine, principled individuals who are working to make the world a better place. Others are venal fucks. But mostly, they're fairly ordinary individuals trying to build sustainable enterprises that provide for the people they're responsible for in a challenging and changing economy. It's risky, it doesn't always work out, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

This outmoded bullshit is precisely the kind of thinking that gives entrepreneurs a bad name. Every time I read something like this, I wish we could get over this idea that enterprise automatically equals greed and avarice, when it can also mean fair trade, social activism or just a commitment to creating employment and putting food on the table.

If you're genuinely interested in how entrepreneurialism can be learned, may I recommend that you follow up some of the links in this excellent post, rather than find dubious inspiration in the self-regarding musings of a pedlar of cynical comic strips.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 11:57 AM on April 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Chuckles: The only way to win is not to play. I thought that was obvious by now...


The Gospel according to Joshua
posted by Bonzai at 1:35 PM on April 13, 2011


humanfont: "No need to try to convince us how it was really some magic strategy of hardworking and perseverance boostrappy dynamism. You got lucky, most of us have to work hard and study a lot. "

Yeah, I don't think Scott Adams success simply rained from the sky like you seem to imply here (and like he often does as a self-mocking gesture). Of course he was lucky and his path to success is irreproducible (specially now with the imminent death of print). That doesn't mean it was hard work.

This blog post talks about this, how success is never an overnight thing. And through it all, one thing didn't change - Scott was there cranking out cartoon strips day after day, year after year.
posted by falameufilho at 1:45 PM on April 13, 2011


codacorolla: "What Adams does is to legitimize the whole fucked system by representing the small minority who succeed and then denigrating the large majority who don't by saying it's their fault for not being crafty enough."

What system is fucked exactly? The one where people decide to try things on their own, seat of their pants kind of thing? You may dislike the fact that this system gave us, say, Starbucks, but on the other hand this very same system gave us Metafilter.

And honestly, if you ask the guys who failed what were the causes of their failure, I will bet that most of them will say a variation of "because I wasn't crafty enough".

And some of those who failed, enabled by mechanisms designed as part of that fucked system like bankruptcy laws and limitation of liabilities, will simply get up, try again and repeat until succeed.

joannemullen: "Capitalism is often a dirty word for those who've done nothing in their lives but bask in its benefits and I understand the scorn here for a really successful guy who happens to believe different things from the metafilter gestalt but he's basically right about this issue."

YES. THIS.
posted by falameufilho at 2:35 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found the post extremely inspiring. It helped me calcify a lot of my own nascent idea-clouds about finding happiness and autonomy in the capitalist culture whose negatives I am sick to death of thinking about
Well, that's the whole point, though. It's to make you happy about a messed up system, and instead of trying to change it, you just accept it and feel happy about it. That's what people don't like.
What system is fucked exactly? The one where people decide to try things on their own, seat of their pants kind of thing? You may dislike the fact that this system gave us, say, Starbucks, but on the other hand this very same system gave us Metafilter.
Lots of websites started as hobbies, and Matt worked on the site for years while having other jobs before it became profitable enough to make money. On the other hand he could have sold to AOLHuffPo or SixApart or any of the other blogging companies and turned it into an SEO Spampit. He could still do it, given MeFi's super-high page rank.


Anyway I don't think "capitalism" is super terrible, the problem I see is a lack of morals of people who get into business. The goal is to take as much money as possible out of the system for yourself. There are lots of people who want to create value, and there are lots of people who don't give a crap about creating value and just want to take take take. Then you have the Ayn Rand platitudes about how any one who makes money must by definition be doing something right.
posted by delmoi at 2:48 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Which party, joannemullen?
posted by Joe Chip at 3:25 PM on April 13, 2011


Essentially I have no problem with what Adams is saying, mostly because it's so obvious. Yes, taking risks can pay off. Yes, learning from your failures can pay off. Yes, in many ways you make your own luck...

...unless that luck took its greatest effects before you were even born. Douglas Adams is white, he's a man and, he was born into one of the greatest economic booms in the history of the world (1957 makes him a boomer). It's easy for Adams to fail because failure has such a low cost for him. Let's set aside the doors that were open to him because of his skin and his sex, and just think about the economic climate that he made his success in. Failure is much more dangerous for the generations that boomers have left in their wake, mostly because of the insane faith that they put in to the unregulated free market.

So Adams gets on his soap box and tells me about what a feckless, and irresponsible asshole he was in college, and how it's the fault of those less successful than him that they aren't as daring. You're charmed by him because he's the one telling the story, but what about the people he doesn't mention who are tangential to his story? Where are those building workers that he displaced? Adams doesn't care, so you don't know.

Adams is able to make his point about the greatness of small business capitalism because of his luck early in life. I think that capitalism can be useful in generating and distributing wealth, but only if you're on the right side of it. If you're on the wrong side of it then it's like you don't even exist.
posted by codacorolla at 3:47 PM on April 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Douglas Adams

...was a kind, thoughtful person with a strong sense of social justice and human decency, and hence as completely opposed to the Dilbert guy's shallow, thoughtless self-justification as it's possible for a person to be?
posted by RogerB at 4:11 PM on April 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Heh, whoops. You get what I mean, but maybe it's time to take a quick step back from this thread.
posted by codacorolla at 4:12 PM on April 13, 2011


falameufilho: What system is fucked exactly? The one where people decide to try things on their own, seat of their pants kind of thing? You may dislike the fact that this system gave us, say, Starbucks, but on the other hand this very same system gave us Metafilter.

1: Explain to me, why does it matter that "the system" "gave us" Metafilter?

2: I thought the people making a case for a fucked system were pretty clear on how and what system it was. The nutshell version, as I read it, was 'the system that dupes people into believing that the system isn't rigged in favor of the amoral.'

As delmoi pointed out, it's not that Capitalism Is Bad or Scott Adams Is Great -- it's that Adams is promoting a system whereby amoral schmucks get to claim the moral high ground by virtue of being the most successfully amoral guy in the room.
posted by lodurr at 6:42 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Surprised we didn't get even more of the Scott vs. Douglas Adams thing...
posted by lodurr at 6:43 PM on April 13, 2011


Yeah, I hate to be the one to break it to you, codacorolla, but Douglas Adams has been dead for a decade.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:50 PM on April 13, 2011


Yeah, I hate to be the one to break it to you, codacorolla, but Douglas Adams has been dead for a decade.

Damn him!
posted by codacorolla at 6:57 PM on April 13, 2011


Got curious when people mentioned a failed restaurant. Apparently he was part owner of two Stacey's, one of which closed. The other is apparently still going strong, though maybe that's because he's no longer involved in managing it.
posted by eye of newt at 1:11 AM on April 14, 2011


It's just for tax reasons, codacorolla.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:15 AM on April 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ah. So, now there's only one thing that's sure?
posted by lodurr at 1:17 AM on April 14, 2011


Whatever he thinks about women's rights or evolution has no relevance here.

posted by joannemullen at 2:31 PM on April 13


It is true that a person's opinion on subject A should not influence our view of their opinion on subject B if we are directly using this as an argument against their opinion on subject B. To do so is, of course, the "Poisoning The Well" fallacy. However, when the person's views on subject A are beyond the line of what is sane and reasonable, that raises a big red flag, indicating that we should treat any other views they might hold with a greater degree of care and suspicion than normal.

Evolution denial is one of the biggest and reddest of flags that indicates we are dealing with someone who is unusually ignorant, unusually stupid, unusually blinkered, driven by an excessively batshit religious agenda, or some combination of these factors. When I see an allegedly educated, intelligent individual indulging in evolution denial I know I am dealing with someone with a big, ragged hole in their mind, so I take extra care to examine what they say about, well, anything. Evolution denial is that major a flaw. It's as major as discovering that someone is a biblical literalist or a believer in astrology. I cannot and will not pretend that such things don't colour my entire view of a person's intellect.
posted by Decani at 4:03 AM on April 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


In Adams's case, I'm chalking it up to ignorance bred of arrogance. He seems to have actually convinced himself (possibly through that positive visualization he's so fond of) that he's the smartest guy in the room. (The contrast with Douglas Adams is particularly acute, there.)

This also makes me think of something that's been bothering me since this thread began: how much Scott Adams reminds me of Neal Stephenson. Neal's saving grace is that even though he's got an ego the size of Montana, he takes it as a given that there are, in fact, a lot of people out there smarter than him.
posted by lodurr at 5:21 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


He's an evolution denier? cite?
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:40 AM on April 13


He sure is.

And if you've had the misfortune of reading Chapter 14 of "The Dilbert Future", "God's Debris" or "The Religion War" you'll know there's a whole pile of crazy going on in Mr. Adams's brain.
posted by Decani at 8:38 AM on April 14, 2011


Lots of haters here. I hate Adams for his success too. But some factual clarifications are in order:

1. Adams has stated in his blog several times that evolution is a scientific fact. The citation someone gave here is in the context of his blog post explaining that the evidence for evolution smells wrong even if it isn't. That's an interesting point.

His prediction about evolution someday being rethought in scientific terms has to do with whether the arrow of time is an illusion. If time doesn't move forward, things aren't happening the way you think. That's an interesting point too. And it's a far cry from being an evolution denier.

2. Adams' success with Dilbert was lucky. That's what he implied in the article. He often says the same thing about his success. He also says you have to try ten things in order to have a good chance of getting lucky once. In his speeches, which he no longer gives, he showed a graph of the thirty or so entrepreneurial things he has tried, many of them prior to creating Dilbert.

3. Can he repeat his success with Dilbert? He already turned a failing comic into a household word by transforming it from a generic comic into a workplace comic. He wrote a number of best selling books. He was one of the top paid public speakers for a decade. His website has earned him millions while no other comic property has done the same. One of his two restaurants was solidly successful. And now he's one of the most popular writers in the Wall Street Journal. You can argue that all of his successes spring from his one lucky success with Dilbert, but I would argue that all entrepreneurs leverage whatever advantages they start with, whether that is technical knowledge, contacts, or whatever.

4. As far as Adams' ego goes, maybe you don't understand what a writer does for a living. No one writes unless he believes that what he writes will be interesting to someone. Everyone on this page is talking about him, researching him, and obsessing about him. His job is to be interesting, not loved. As someone mentioned, he has a certified genius I.Q., and that's hard to hide.

5. If you read the full back story of his so-called rants against women, you'll realize it's not what you might have seen out of context. See http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/im_a_what/.
posted by plannedchaos at 1:06 PM on April 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Welcome to Metafilter, Scott!
posted by StrikeTheViol at 1:38 PM on April 14, 2011 [377 favorites]


When Scott Adams puts his foot in his mouth, it's because he has some really fascinating ideas about how his foot tastes that much of the public is unfortunately too dull to grasp.
posted by anazgnos at 3:04 PM on April 14, 2011 [20 favorites]


plannedchaos: “If you read the full back story of his so-called rants against women, you'll realize it's not what you might have seen out of context.”

Yeah, I've read the full backstory. I've read his equivocations. I've been back and forth on it.

Let me tell you a story. A few weeks ago, I was driving with my girlfriend, and this horrible driver cut me off. I was pissed off, and said: "who the hell? ... Oh, of COURSE it's just a dumb girl driving." Before the words were even out of my mouth, I was copping that attitude: "uh, I mean, a COLLEGE girl, because college students can't drive, and, uh... well, that's not what I meant! Uh..."

The thing is, it was easy for me to deny any responsibility. I mean, I'm no misogynist! But the thing I can't really avoid is: I am a male; I do have male advantages, and I can't erase that fact. And that means that I really can't let my guard down; and I certainly can't give myself a free ride on saying sexist crap just because I think of myself as being on the right team.

Scott Adams is pretty sure he's on the right team; but it's clear to me that he's not really worried about having to examine himself or think about the impact of what he says. If other people have a problem with it, he'll issue a token apology, but as he himself says, nobody changes their opinions just because new facts are revealed. This is what annoys me about Scott Adams: he has a consistent derisive attitude toward others, particularly those whom he offends; and he's spectacularly unreflective on his own position.
posted by koeselitz at 3:31 PM on April 14, 2011 [16 favorites]


It seems that many of you have issues with what you imagine to be in Adams' soul. Koeselitz goes so far as to read Adams' mind and declare that he is "unreflective on his own positions."

Codacorrolla believes that anyone who gets a job is immoral for denying that same job to the person who would otherwise get it.

Does anyone here have an issue with what Adams actually said or is most of this about what you imagine he's thinking?
posted by plannedchaos at 4:03 PM on April 14, 2011


Does anyone here have an issue with what Adams actually said or is most of this about what you imagine he's thinking?

Assuming you're serious, I'll lay out a few things:

Adams places little value on education. He got one, but it doesn't figure in his article at all. Instead he celebrates behaving like a weasel, emulating the PHB, the fool of his own comic.
As an example:

Combine Skills. The first thing you should learn in a course on entrepreneurship is how to make yourself valuable. It's unlikely that any average student can develop a world-class skill in one particular area. But it's easy to learn how to do several different things fairly well.

This isn't as good an idea as it sounds. It's probably better to find a skill you can develop, and let others help you with the rest, listening to advice and deferring to specialists. (Adams' failure to see this until too late was why his first restaurant failed.)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:37 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


To address another point: His prediction about evolution someday being rethought in scientific terms has to do with whether the arrow of time is an illusion

If I understand you correctly, P. Z. Myers pretty handily deals with that issue. The nutshell version is that Adams doesn't actually understand very much about the history of biological thought, and especially not of thought about evolution.*

If instead he's talking about physics instead of biology (i.e. evolution is wrong because time is non-linear), then he's wrong in a totally different and frankly kind of crazy way.

Now, if you still want to believe in Adams, I can't stop you and wouldn't dream of trying. But don't expect us to buy your declamations just because you make them.

--
*He also has some grave misconceptions about the nature of atheism. I have having to turn to P. Z. for a defense of atheism, but he adopts a rather measured tone, for him, in knocking down Adams's array of straw men.
posted by lodurr at 4:51 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is fun!

Fail Forward. If you're taking risks, and you probably should, you can find yourself failing 90% of the time. The trick is to get paid while you're doing the failing and to use the experience to gain skills that will be useful later.

This is good advice, if you don't expect to stay employed for very long and don't really care about consistency at all.

Find the Action. In my senior year of college I asked my adviser how I should pursue my goal of being a banker. He told me to figure out where the most innovation in banking was happening and to move there. And so I did. Banking didn't work out for me, but the advice still holds: Move to where the action is. Distance is your enemy.

Industry dependent, no? Quickly, everyone to Bangalore!
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:57 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Good examples of masturdebating, Lodurr. (That's the process of furiously debating an imaginary viewpoint.)

You think Adams "Places little value on education" when the entire topic of this discussion is Adams' article about how to make education more meaningful. And Adams cites the great job that both his undergraduate and graduate schools did for him.

And on the topic of the arrow of time, you delegate your argument to some guy named P.Z. Meyer who, if you read his critique, and the material from Adams that he is discussing in its native context, never understood Adams' point. On this one you're not even masturdebating. You're watching someone else masturdebate.

Notice that your criticisms of Adams are now expressed in sweeping and vague terms such as "grave misconceptions" and "doesn't understand much about the history of biological thought" and "wrong in a totally different way."

Sounds like you have no objections to anything in particular that Adams actually said.
posted by plannedchaos at 5:26 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


His prediction about evolution someday being rethought in scientific terms has to do with whether the arrow of time is an illusion. If time doesn't move forward, things aren't happening the way you think. That's an interesting point too. And it's a far cry from being an evolution denier.
The "arrow of time" is entropy. Things move through time from a low entropy state to a high entropy state. Once you reach maximum entropy, nothing else happens. The end.
posted by delmoi at 5:42 PM on April 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


plannedchaos: “Does anyone here have an issue with what Adams actually said or is most of this about what you imagine he's thinking?”

I just did that. But if you want simpler, there are basic things I can point at.

For example:

Scott Adams has repeatedly (in his original article, and also in his apology) referred to people in the 'men's rights' movement as "pussies." Now, I appreciate that he thinks that this is brilliantly witty satire, goading chauvinists with the thing they hate most. But even if he's totally ignorant of context (as he seems to claim to be in that apology) he ought to realize that calling anybody a "pussy" in any context only serves to strengthen and fortify the sexist paradigm that devalues female body parts. And it's unreflective to go around slinging words like that without realizing the impact of what you're saying.
posted by koeselitz at 5:46 PM on April 14, 2011 [22 favorites]


Your complaint is that Adams' choice of words will influence heterosexual men to devalue vaginas? Have you ever met a heterosexual man?

I'll agree with your point if you agree it's your best one.
posted by plannedchaos at 6:57 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everyone on this page is talking about him, researching him, and obsessing about him. His job is to be interesting, not loved. As someone mentioned, he has a certified genius I.Q., and that's hard to hide.

I'm never less than amazed by how many people mistake narcissism for genius.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:04 PM on April 14, 2011 [31 favorites]


Good examples of masturdebating, Plannedchaos. (That's the process of furiously debating an imaginary viewpoint -- e.g., that I'm arguing Adams "Places little value on education." Might want to check your attributions, there.)

As for the "times arrow" bullshit, you'll have to do better than that. Perhaps you could start by actually citing some C&V to support your claim that Adams has an argument about evolution -- otherwise, it still looks to me like what we've got here is a dilettante thinking he understands a complex field because he's read a few popular science summaries.

Sounds like you have no support from anything in particular that Adams actually said
posted by lodurr at 7:23 PM on April 14, 2011


Plannedchaos, I'm also kind of bored with the lazy conflation of ego, brilliance and IQ. Ego, narcissism and a dash of amorality can get you a lot of publicity and occasionally persuade a lot of people that you're brilliant. 'What writers do' can, occasionally, be fairly summed up as ego-promotion - but sometimes, if the writer's actually good and actually interesting (William Gibson, say, or Douglas Adams, or Catherine Moore), they spend more time actually making art than self-promoting. Strange as that might seem.
posted by lodurr at 7:29 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


When did self-promotion become a bad thing? It made Adams a multi-millionaire, enriched hundreds of people indirectly through his varous enterprises, fed his family, and generated lots of tax revenue.

I don't think self-promotion breaks any laws of man or nature. It's not forbidden in the Ten Commandments unless he becomes a religious idol. I think he stopped short of that.

Some authors need no promotion to sell their work. For others, self-promotion is an integral part of the product. It's called marketing.

Remember that Adams calls himself an entrepreneur, not an artist. So your point is that he's not dong a good job at the thing he's not trying to do?
posted by plannedchaos at 8:01 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree with plannedchaos. Nobody is suggesting that Scott Adams is talented or interesting. He certainly is rich though, and if that isn't enough to earn your undying respect then there's just no reaching you.
posted by anazgnos at 11:32 PM on April 14, 2011 [60 favorites]


Operation Adams Honeypot is a success, I repeat, Adams has been successfully reverse trolled. We have the $5, operation over.
posted by benzenedream at 12:57 AM on April 15, 2011 [116 favorites]


"...not interesting," said the person who is talking about him.
posted by plannedchaos at 5:28 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"...not interesting," said the person who is talking about him.

And I dreamed I was on an island
That rose up from the sea
And everyone on the island
Was saying "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!"

And: When the degree of their narcissism become the measure of whether someone is "interesting"?
posted by lodurr at 5:51 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Good masturdebating, Lodurr. Which imaginary friend of yours is saying narcissism is the measure of someone being interesting? You are totally embarrassing that guy with your wit.
posted by plannedchaos at 7:14 AM on April 15, 2011


When the only rejoinder a correspondent can come up with is to ridicule his opponent for supposed offenses against debating rules, I generally regard myself as having proved my point.
posted by lodurr at 7:16 AM on April 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


When did self-promotion become a bad thing?

I'll say. If self-promotion is good enough for the likes of Snooki, The Donald (not The Donalde), and Tila Tequila, then it's good enough for Mr. Adams. With that in mind, and in the interests of maximizing his revenue stream, let me recommend some further avenues of self-promotion that may not have occurred to Mr. Adams. These are just some initial ideas I have for promoting the Scott Adams brand. There are many, many more. Should Mr. Adams or his associates wish to discuss them (for a small fee) with me further, you know where to find me guys.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:25 AM on April 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


When the only rejoinder a correspondent can come up with is to ridicule his opponent for supposed offenses against debating rules, I generally regard myself as having proved my point.
posted by lodurr at 7:16 AM on April 15 [+] [!]


You must win every one of your debates.
posted by plannedchaos at 7:32 AM on April 15, 2011


Oh, zing! Boy, you're sure planning some chaos here today!
posted by lodurr at 7:35 AM on April 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


If Snooki chooses to trade her dignity for fame and cash, it is comforting to know that the self-promotion police will issue a citation.

What are YOU trading for cash, Octobersurprise? I'll bet it's your freedom, unless you found a way to get paid for doing whatever you want whenever you want. Everyone trades something for cash.

You know what Snooki is doing while you're trapped at work? Answer: Anything she wants.
posted by plannedchaos at 7:38 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll bet it's your freedom....

Ah. I get it. You're a "Libertarian Anarchist." Things are much clearer, now.
posted by lodurr at 7:42 AM on April 15, 2011


Ah. I get it. You're a "Libertarian Anarchist." Things are much clearer, now.
posted by lodurr at 7:42 AM on April 15 [+] [!]

Ah, labels. That's another sign that you're totally winning the debate.
posted by plannedchaos at 7:46 AM on April 15, 2011


Plannedchaos well versed in the precendent of Rubber v. Glue.
posted by anazgnos at 7:47 AM on April 15, 2011 [52 favorites]


Of course, actually engaging would be off the table at this point -- you might have to explain how manipulative, amoral fame-whoring of the type the octobersurprise described and Snooki's done so well with is actually a good thing, beyond getting to do 'anything she wants' while we're trapped at work.

What I want to know is this: What do you do while we're trapped at work, plannedchaos? Wait, we already know the answer to that...
posted by lodurr at 7:48 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


If Snooki chooses to trade her dignity for fame and cash, it is comforting to know that the self-promotion police will issue a citation.

Hey, man, I'm right behind you on this, don't apologize. If the Scott Adams brand is all about self-promotion, then I'm all about promoting the Scott Adams brand! I want to see Mr. Adams blow up big Big BIG! We're in this together, man!
posted by octobersurprise at 8:00 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course, actually engaging would be off the table at this point -- you might have to explain how manipulative, amoral fame-whoring of the type the octobersurprise described and Snooki's done so well with is actually a good thing, beyond getting to do 'anything she wants' while we're trapped at work.

What I want to know is this: What do you do while we're trapped at work, plannedchaos? Wait, we already know the answer to that...
posted by lodurr at 7:48 AM on April 15 [+] [!]

If you read what you just wrote, you explained how it's a good thing. Unless you've invented a new religion with 11 commandments that requires every economic activity to have a positive moral purpose.
posted by plannedchaos at 8:03 AM on April 15, 2011


yup, libertarian anarchist. but I note you seem reluctant to cop to that.
posted by lodurr at 8:06 AM on April 15, 2011


Hey, man, I'm right behind you on this, don't apologize. If the Scott Adams brand is all about self-promotion, then I'm all about promoting the Scott Adams brand! I want to see Mr. Adams blow up big Big BIG! We're in this together, man!
posted by octobersurprise at 8:00 AM on April 15 [+] [!]

I assume you don't hate all self-promoters, such as homeless people applying for jobs. Is it Adams' enormous success at self-promotion that makes you jealous and angry?
posted by plannedchaos at 8:08 AM on April 15, 2011


yup, libertarian anarchist. but I note you seem reluctant to cop to that.
posted by lodurr at 8:06 AM on April 15 [+] [!]

Recapping: I said self-promotion has obvious benefits and violates no legal or religious rules. You conclude that I'm a Libertarian Anarchist who wants the government dissolved.
posted by plannedchaos at 8:14 AM on April 15, 2011


I assume you don't hate all self-promoters

Baby, look in my eyes and tell me if you see any hate there. Look, baby, look. Nada. Our nada who art in nada hallowed be thy nada. That's how little hate is in these eyes, man. No, right now I'm on a drug, a drug called SCOTT ADAMS, and it is the HANG IN THERE, BABY kitteh poster in my workplace cubicle wall, it is the wind beneath my wings.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:20 AM on April 15, 2011 [37 favorites]


Baby, look in my eyes and tell me if you see any hate there. Look, baby, look. Nada. Our nada who art in nada hallowed be thy nada. That's how little hate is in these eyes, man. No, right now I'm on a drug, a drug called SCOTT ADAMS, and it is the HANG IN THERE, BABY kitteh poster in my workplace cubicle wall, it is the wind beneath my wings.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:20 AM on April 15 [+] [!]

That's a powerful argument for leaving sarcasm to professionals.
posted by plannedchaos at 8:23 AM on April 15, 2011


Recapping: I said self-promotion has obvious benefits and violates no legal or religious rules. You conclude that I'm a Libertarian Anarchist who wants the government dissolved.

Now all I need you to do is take that next step to understanding that this is exactly teh kind of leap that you're making....

"leaving sarcasm to professionals"? Srsly? um, ok...
posted by lodurr at 8:25 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's a powerful argument for leaving sarcasm to professionals.

That's so awesome, man! A professional in sarcasm! I'm thinking, like a class, or a college, man. A college of Sarcasm, a chasm of sarcasm! The Scott Adams Endowed (and how!) Chair in Sarcasm. That's friggin' brilliant. I love you, man. You're beautiful. I feel like, I feel like we're both bros in Scott.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:32 AM on April 15, 2011 [29 favorites]


plannedchaos: your comments would be more readable if you could differentiate the quoted text from your own comments. I suggest using the 'em' html tag. even with the inclusion of the "posted by" information, it makes for more difficult reading as-is.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:14 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


How many people think I'm actually Scott Adams writing about myself in third person?
posted by plannedchaos at 9:21 AM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


plannedchaos, please check your email.
posted by cortex at 10:19 AM on April 15, 2011 [46 favorites]


How many people think I'm actually Scott Adams writing about myself in third person?

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt on their mental health, so I'll vote 'no.'
posted by lodurr at 10:53 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am Scott Adams.
posted by plannedchaos at 11:09 AM on April 15, 2011 [37 favorites]


And just to be clear that this isn't some weird joke, yes, he is.

Scott, if you wanted to sign up for Metafilter to defend your writing, that would have been fine. If you wanted to sign up for Metafilter and be incognito as just another user, that'd be fine too. Doing both simultaneously isn't; pretending to be a third party and high-fiving yourself by proxy is a pretty sketchy move and a serious violation of general community expectations about identity management around here.

I appreciate you fessing up at this point, but I'd sure rather it hadn't happened at all. It's just incredibly disappointing to watch play out.
posted by cortex at 11:16 AM on April 15, 2011 [241 favorites]


At which point there came the low thrumming of the crowd chanting Ban Hammer! Ban Hammer! Ban Hammer
posted by Grangousier at 11:19 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not really a ban thing so much as a cat-out-of-bag, this-needs-to-never-happen-again thing.
posted by cortex at 11:21 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, you really think evolutionary theory is bullshit because time is nonlinear?

What's the relationship, there? I mean, if you actually think that, then you should be able to explain what it is about non-linear time (i.e., esoteric physics) that makes the evolving views of evolution 'bullshit'.
posted by lodurr at 11:31 AM on April 15, 2011


Looks like the high-fiving by proxy happened on reddit previously, as well.
posted by benzenedream at 11:31 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry I peed in your cesspool.

For what it's worth, the smart people were on to me after the first post. That made it funnier.
posted by plannedchaos at 11:49 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow: are you calling all of metafilter a cesspool based on this one thread? Take it to MetaTalk?
posted by mattbucher at 11:54 AM on April 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


Oh, man, that is hilarious.
posted by rtha at 11:55 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, that's it. I'm unsubscribing from the Dogbert's New Ruling Class newsletter and removing Dilbert Daily Strips from my feed reader. TAKE THAT, SCOTT.
posted by brownpau at 11:56 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


"For what it's worth, the smart people were on to me after the first post. That made it funnier."

"Ha ha, you trusted me, joke's on you!"

What an unpleasant (and petty) person.
posted by Eideteker at 11:57 AM on April 15, 2011 [123 favorites]


Quick, someone ASCII up a picture of Calvin peeing on Dilbert.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:57 AM on April 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Truth be told, if I was that wealthy I'd probably be an asshole too.
posted by rocket88 at 11:57 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I see from the reddit threads that there are claims being made while pseudonymous that don't appear to be made while public.

It's an interesting page of quotes. Take this one, for example:
You're missing the subtlety of [my] point. Something can be true and still smell like bullshit. That's the interesting part of evolution. [I'm] talking about the nature of hunches.

And "revised" is a carefully chosen word. It allows such revisions as Punctuated Equilibrium, or discovering that dinosaurs evolved into birds. [I'm] on record as saying that evolution is a scientific fact.

It's a guarantee that in your lifetime, some portion of the body of scientific facts will be revised and deleted. That's how science works. So-called facts are allowed to change as new information emerges. Adams is testing his hunch against one particular scientific fact, and labeling it clearly.
So, there are several things that are interesting, here. First, and most notable, is the reference to "[scientific] fact", and "facts" being "allowed to change." That's either a deeply post-modern view, or betrays a pretty deep misunderstanding of how science works. Even P. Z. Myers (much as Scott scorns him) would be pretty clear that, at the very least, "fact" means something different in the context of scientific research.

There's a mismatch, here, between what Scott knows (must know, or he's a blithering idiot) people think the word 'fact' means (which includes a sense of objective truth) and the way that evolutionary biologists think about these "facts". The biologists don't think of these as things that are objectively true -- they think of them as things for which they have evidence. There's a pretty basic difference, there (and a practical one, too).

Now, if the argument has something to do with the way truth and reality are perceived in a social context, it would make much more sense to actually say that instead of saying something else entirely and then lurking in high-traffic message threads to provide additional context while posing as someone else.

here's another interesting one:
[I have] said that evolution is a scientific fact. [I'm] also one of the most public non-believers in the world.
Here's something Scott said about Atheism:
In order to be certain that God doesn’t exist, you have to possess a godlike mental capacity – the ability to be 100% certain. A human can’t be 100% certain about anything. Our brains aren’t that reliable. Therefore, to be a true atheist, you have to believe you are the very thing that you argue doesn’t exist: God.
This is actually a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of what atheism actually is (either that, or a self-serving redefinition of the term that bears little relation to the way people actually apply it to themselves). Now, I know that Scott might want me to also cite the next paragraph
Perhaps you will argue that being 99.999999% certain God doesn’t exist is just as good as being 100% sure. That strikes me as bad math. As other philosotainers have famously noted, a small chance of spending eternity in Hell has to be taken seriously. Eternity is a long time.
What's interesting to me about this is that it supposes that a 0.000001% chance of a god's existence is similar to a 0.000001% chance of Hell's existence. Which is a really odd thing to suppose, when you think about it, and an especially odd thing for a "non-believer" to suppose.

Now, of course, it's certainly possible that Scott really is this subtle, and this all really is a kind of large-scale work where Scott writes on the wall and PlannedChaos explicates it like some kind of free-range Socratic alter-ego. If that's true, well...good luck with that.

And, to paraphrase Laurence Olivier: My dear boy, whatever happened to writing?
posted by lodurr at 11:58 AM on April 15, 2011 [19 favorites]


Scott Adams? The guy that makes that crappy webcomic?
posted by cellphone at 11:58 AM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


This isn't nearly as funny as that NewsRadio episode. Or maybe it is. I don't know.
posted by dhammond at 11:58 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


To be clear, by "hilarious," I mean "kind of sad; pathetic, actually," and directed at Mr. Adams.
posted by rtha at 12:00 PM on April 15, 2011


"Truth be told, if I was that wealthy I'd probably be an asshole too."

Correlation/causation. Strike that, reverse it, and you have my answer to my mother's frequent challenge, "Yeah, well if you're so smart, why aren't you rich?"

"Scott Adams? The guy that makes that crappy webcomic?"

Wow, way to validate his cesspool comment, with ad hominem hurr hurr jokes.
posted by Eideteker at 12:01 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Truth be told, if I was that wealthy I'd probably be an asshole too.

You might want to reconsider that statement, as you're essentially confessing you're an asshole anyway, but you don't think you're rich enough to get away with it.
posted by Grangousier at 12:02 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


cold busted
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:04 PM on April 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Hey, Scott, your escape by roflcopter is really stirring up the cess down here.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:06 PM on April 15, 2011 [16 favorites]


Eideteker: I'm not looking for moral approval from a guy who draws funny pictures for a living. Not sure how you evaluate your decisions in life, but I'm cool with mine.
posted by cellphone at 12:06 PM on April 15, 2011


I'm really sorry I ever compared Scott Adams to Neal Stephenson.
posted by lodurr at 12:08 PM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Right now I feel like J. K. Simmons at the end of Burn After Reading. What did we learn here? We learned not to do this again.
posted by COBRA! at 12:09 PM on April 15, 2011 [27 favorites]


Jebus, J.K. Simmons was awesome in that picture. Tied the whole room together.
posted by lodurr at 12:10 PM on April 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


I just looking through my whole Entrepreneurialism for Dummies book index and can't find the listing for "insult community, when engaging it"
posted by the mad poster! at 12:10 PM on April 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow, just realized that the work I was shirking by reading this thread was the reading of a pile of books on the history of comics and comics artists today... Metafilter, you complete me in so many fascinating ways.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:12 PM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Remember that time Charlie Stross came in and pranked us while we were talking about one of his books?

Oh, wait, nevermind...
posted by lodurr at 12:13 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is a wonderful example of how to take a garden-variety fail like a slightly dumb WSJ OpEd and turn it into Epic Fail.

I'm sure PlannedChaos meant the whole thing. He's a professional at sarcasm, after all. He's just teaching us how not to get taken in by unscrupulous guerrilla marketers.
posted by lodurr at 12:16 PM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


If cstross had pranked us it would have been funny and we would have all had a good laugh in the pubMeTa about it afterwards.

I actually enjoy Dilbert, it's not high art but it hit a chord very precisely and effectively. Not that that speaks in any way to the ... behavior evident in this thread. Because wow.
posted by Skorgu at 12:20 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Guys, I should come clean. This incident makes me see that I can't live the lie any more. Sorry. I'm Charles Schulz. I faked my death, and I've been living like a king in Patagonia all this time.

God, it feels good to get that off my chest.
posted by COBRA! at 12:21 PM on April 15, 2011 [34 favorites]


You know, maybe the system IS set up for guys like Scott to win. Guys who press every advantage, who only care about their own needs. Or maybe that's only true if you see financial gain as the only scoring system. Aside from his claim that Snooki does whatever she wants (we'll talk about handlers in another conversation), is he really free? I mean, is this all he wants out of life, to troll web sites and insult people? Is his reputation so dear to him (and, if so, can he really say it's all about money)? I mean, is this all there is? If I struggle and succeed and cut throats and damn the consequences, is that the end game? Is that what I'm left with? If so, you can keep it. Yes, I have to work for a living, but I'm relatively lucky to have a choice in what I do and where I do it. I have a rich life outside my office where I engage in a number of forms of fulfilling artistic expression. I have friends who care about me and support me, regardless of my financial picture or fame. All in all, things are pretty good. It's a struggle some times, but I actually enjoy the fight. Spending my time insulting people online sounds like a pretty boring way to end up, but I guess that's why the point of the journey is not to arrive. Give me the challenge and the struggle and the chance to continue improving myself and to overcome setbacks over stagnation any day.

And just to be clear, Scott: I don't know you, and I don't harbor any ill will towards you. I have no stake in this thread and I hadn't participated until someone pointed me to it a few minutes ago. But I do wish you wouldn't swoop into our community (yes, it's a community—MeFi's been around for over a decade, and many of us know each other IRL... we may argue, debate, clash swords, but we try to be respectful of one another) and summarily judge it based on one post on one issue (even if it is fairly close to your heart). I mean, I don't come to your community (wherever you live) and call the place a cesspool just because your municipal government, HOA or what have you adopts some resolution that's personally offensive to me. And if you don't participate in your local government (something tells me you don't), replace that with something you do care about.

I mean, yeah, some of these people can be real shitheads, but so can we all. If you truly are the better man, be the bigger man. Comport yourself with respect and class. At the very least, if you do care about winning people over to your viewpoint, you'll catch more flies with honey. And if you don't care, well, what are you doing here? Which comes back to my earlier point: with your success and your wealth, is this really all there is for you?
posted by Eideteker at 12:24 PM on April 15, 2011 [60 favorites]


I think my favorite part might be where he makes comments about his ego in the 3rd person and calls himself a genius.
posted by iamabot at 12:27 PM on April 15, 2011 [32 favorites]


I KNEW IT! I KNEW there was a decided whiff of Peanuts coming from the McSweeney's website!
posted by lodurr at 12:28 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Eideteker: I'm not looking for moral approval from a guy who draws funny pictures for a living. Not sure how you evaluate your decisions in life, but I'm cool with mine."

Why give him the satisfaction of proving him right? Regardless of what you think of Adams, I'd prefer MetaFilter not turn into a cesspool.

P.S. - A non-trivial segment of the MeFi population "draw funny pictures," and some make money off it. But by all means be trivial and dismissive with the laziest generalizations you can muster. In fact, why not just go all out on the laziness tip and not bother typing in the first place?
posted by Eideteker at 12:28 PM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


I see several handles in this thread that I either know or strongly suspect belong to professional humor writers or cartoonists. (I am not one of them, for the record.) So, yeah, let's not piss on them. It's an honest living, as far as I'm concerned, at least if you approach it honestly.
posted by lodurr at 12:30 PM on April 15, 2011


If cstross had pranked us it would have been funny...

And we'd probably learn something from it other than "Not to do this again."
posted by lodurr at 12:32 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


OK, enough srs-faec for the moment.

Can we get the house lights down? Just a spot on me? Thanks.

*kneels in front of the altar of MeFi, bows head in solemn prayer*

O, mods, most high above us in your northern latitudes of Oregon, and Maine. We pray to you, in the spirit of great troll threads gone past, for the return of your son, the IMG tag. That we might bless this thread with Most Holy Lulz in your name, and the names of all the saints, from Astley to Ze Frank, and the Holy Memespirit. Amen.
posted by Eideteker at 12:33 PM on April 15, 2011 [44 favorites]


Ramen.
posted by Skorgu at 12:35 PM on April 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Flag+ it, brothers, flag+ it!
posted by lodurr at 12:36 PM on April 15, 2011


Maine? Vermont!

Had Portland on the brain.
posted by Eideteker at 12:51 PM on April 15, 2011


Having now read the linked article and having gone to college for Sequential Art (fancy name for comics), Adams has a point. The problem is that by the time kids reach college, it's probably too late, kids should be taught personal finance in grade school and high school and given some practical experience in running a business.

'Cause frankly, it was depressing seeing how many astonishingly talented artists I went to school with didn't know squat about business, marketing, copyright, work for hire, getting a contract and getting paid. But damn if they draw a real nice Spider-Man.

Otherwise, Scott there's no need to be dickish with the sock puppet thing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:51 PM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: I'm sorry I peed in your cesspool.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 12:51 PM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Otherwise, Scott there's no need to be dickish with the sock puppet thing.

Well, there's no need to be dickish with the feminism thing either, but can't hardly stop the guy.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:02 PM on April 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Ha. Ha ha ha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. I'm sorry, it's just so funny. If you're gonna go on and on like this, best be sure you won't get caught.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:02 PM on April 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher, are you George Herriman? I KNEW IT
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:08 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


This tickles my schadenfreude so much more satisfyingly than that "User Friendly" debacle.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:10 PM on April 15, 2011


"As someone mentioned, [I have] a certified genius I.Q., and that's hard to hide." —Scott Adams.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 1:13 PM on April 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


certified genius I.Q.

"They don't realize I'm a card-carrying genius"
posted by Greg Nog at 1:21 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Has anybody sent this to Peter Sagal, yet?
posted by lodurr at 1:24 PM on April 15, 2011


We really missed an opportunity here. Could have gone all Sparticus with "no, I am Scott Adams," "no, I am Scott Adams".

Every place on the web that opens itself up to discussion (including the comments on personal blogs, Scott) automatically tends toward becoming a cesspool. As a charter member here (under a previous account) and follower for over 10 years, I have found MetaFilter to be one of the cleanest cesspools on the web. I drop any site that achieves full cesspoolery from my daily reading like a radioactive potato (which I did to the Dilbert Blog years ago) and the last time they checked my I.Q,. I qualified for Mensa easy. B.F.D. Anyway, Scott Adams' quasi-anonymous contribution to this thread did make it smell funny - funnier than his last ten years of comics.

Also, for about a year during the 90s, I had a co-worker who claimed to have had a cublicle next to Scott's when he worked for the Phone Company... I think it was the phone company... frankly, all his Scott Adams stories were so boring and banal I've forgotten most everything about them except for the general impression that he was no fun to deal with. As they say on the Discovery Channel: Myth Confirmed.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:32 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Truth be told, if I was that wealthy I'd probably be an asshole too.

You might want to reconsider that statement, as you're essentially confessing you're an asshole anyway, but you don't think you're rich enough to get away with it.

While that's probably the case, it's not that I can't get away with it so much as I'm too occupied with life stuff to put in the effort. I suspect there's a certain ennui that comes with being financially set for life that some people can only overcome by messing with other people on the internet.

But in the interest of not making MetaFilter a cesspool, I apologize to Mr. Adams for calling him an asshole.
posted by rocket88 at 1:33 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


> and the last time they checked my I.Q,. I qualified for Mensa easy. B.F.D.

Shit, even I do, and I'm a dumbass. There are no shortage of dumbasses here that could technically qualify for Mensa. It's a very brainy cesspool!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:35 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


for the return of your son, the IMG tag.

Nope. You might want to stop asking.
posted by jessamyn at 1:36 PM on April 15, 2011


We'll never want to stop asking.
posted by lodurr at 1:37 PM on April 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Mensa standards aren't what they used to be. Hell, even I qualify.
posted by lodurr at 1:38 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd l
posted by five fresh fish at 1:39 PM on April 15, 2011


Truth be told, I do enjoy a powerful and rich cartoonist.

Can I ink you sometime?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:43 PM on April 15, 2011


Oops, looks like I missed the party. Just came here from Gawker.
posted by turducken at 1:46 PM on April 15, 2011


Heh.

I'd love to say something nasty about the douchebag, but I honestly think his piss-poor sockpuppetry has worked out just great. Not for him, of course, but for everyone else.

I've eliminated Dilbert from my environment. I can't imagine it'll make much difference to Scott's income or influence, but its better than continuing to provide the douchbag with another pair of eyeballs.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:46 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


That. Was. Good.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:51 PM on April 15, 2011


Totally not wanting to seem like a pile-on here but I avoided this thread as I have no interest whatsoever in Scott Adams or his creations and it's only through browsing SA the other week that I noticed this drama. It's a shame I didn't bother looking as now I missed out on watching live one of the steps in his mini-Sheen style collapse. What sort of professional/celebrity is stupid enough to do something like this and think it is a good idea?

Oh. I just answered that didn't I.
posted by longbaugh at 1:51 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dilbert was great in the mid-nineties, in the mid-nineties.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:52 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bagsy I'm not starting the MetaTalk thread about this.
posted by longbaugh at 1:52 PM on April 15, 2011


But... but... I qualified for Mensa when I was in college in the 1970s... when it supposedly meant something... and I still didn't bother to join.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:56 PM on April 15, 2011


Man, rich people sure do need day jobs.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:56 PM on April 15, 2011 [18 favorites]


Well someone better because I had to find this out through Gawker of all things.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 1:56 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found out via the magic of reddit. Nice to see this incident dethroning the Tim Buckly thing last night.

Man, what is with comic people today?
posted by hellojed at 1:59 PM on April 15, 2011


I wonder if I qualefy for Mensa?
posted by Houyhnhnm at 2:00 PM on April 15, 2011


Well, there's no need to be dickish with the feminism thing either, but can't hardly stop the guy.

No idea what that means.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:01 PM on April 15, 2011


An observation: in this thread, Scott Adams pretended to be someone else.

I've never witnessed someone pretend they were Scott Adams.
posted by defenestration at 2:06 PM on April 15, 2011 [35 favorites]


If only being wealthy made up for being a douchebag. Alas, it does not: only personal growth can do that.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:07 PM on April 15, 2011


No idea what that means.

Sorry, was referring to his posted/deleted blog entry; dude is dickish across multiple formats.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:09 PM on April 15, 2011


Uh-oh. I'm on Gawker. Better brush my teeth.
posted by lodurr at 2:09 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just posting so I can tell my future children that I was there.
posted by Stynxno at 2:09 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Uh-oh. I'm on Gawker. Better brush my teeth."

At least you know how to act now that you're famous.
posted by Eideteker at 2:10 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


So is community service in order? Maybe he can join the staff at GiveWell.
posted by dismas at 2:12 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


After reading the entire thread, all I can think to say is....Christ, what an asshole.
posted by pinky at 2:13 PM on April 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Qualifying for Mensa is not all that hard. There are many more people that qualify than are interested in being a member, and it's not hard to understand their reasons for that.
posted by Miko at 2:17 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


This has been a bad year for me and comic writers. First the PA guys (though mostly Gabe; Tycho is just an enabler) and now Adams. The upside here is that I stopped reading Dilbert when I stopped getting the daily paper last year. I had to remind myself a few times to stop reading PA.

thanks, onefellswoop, for thinking the same thing I was thinking re: Spartacus. Wish you or I had been the first post-reveal commenters.
posted by phearlez at 2:18 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think StriketheViol deserves a round of applause. Nice catch.
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:23 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cool thing about the Gawker post: they called us a link-sharing community and reddit a link-sharing site.
posted by defenestration at 2:24 PM on April 15, 2011


I need you to pretend you're several different customers and write positive reviews. via gawker
posted by Stynxno at 2:25 PM on April 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


Metafilter's own Scott Adams!
posted by jscott at 2:28 PM on April 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


I hope to god he's never posted on /r/gonewild/
posted by chillmost at 2:31 PM on April 15, 2011


Cool thing about the Gawker post: they called us a link-sharing community and reddit a link-sharing site.

They also called out our "ritualistic shaming."
posted by Miko at 2:32 PM on April 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Man, I picked a bad day to post a comic to reddit, what with all this drama.
posted by hellojed at 2:33 PM on April 15, 2011


It's funny becase this thread was pretty much over and dead before Scott Adams entered it, and it would have faded away into nothing had he not elected to come in and moderate every single post made after that point.
posted by anazgnos at 2:39 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


thanks, onefellswoop, for thinking the same thing I was thinking re: Spartacus. Wish you or I had been the first post-reveal commenters

One of my favourite (and possibly apocryphal) stories is of one of Kirk Douglas' sons (Eric I think) working as a standup comedian and dealing with a heckler by saying "Don't you know who I am? I'm Kirk Douglas' son!" at which point the heckler (followed by everyone else in the club) shouted back "No! I am Kirk Douglas' son!"
posted by longbaugh at 2:42 PM on April 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


holy shitbert
posted by chinston at 2:44 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man, this is the funniest thing I have read all day. I knew Scott Adams was a tool, but I didn't peg him as the sockpuppet handjob sort.
posted by miskatonic at 2:48 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


What's disappointing is that with his behavior in this thread, Scott Adams proved himself to be a troll and an asshole in the way that he engaged with his critics. Way to manage your brand, dude.
posted by ooga_booga at 2:54 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well goddamn that was embarrassing, I'm sending this to the few people I remember as being Dilbert fans back when it may have been relevant.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:55 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


They also called out our "ritualistic shaming."
Pretty fair call, if you ask me. This is not the 'best of MetaFilter' by any stretch.
posted by dg at 2:56 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Metafilter's own Scott Adams!

It suddenly tastes like vomit.
posted by TypographicalError at 2:57 PM on April 15, 2011


Scott Adams was the recipient of my first, "Hey, he printed his email addy, eew aol? Hey, he's famous and I think he's funneh, I have internets now, lemme email that guy," email. He promptly and politely replied. I wish I still had that email. It was like 1993 or 1994? So, hello from your 17-years-removed e-correspondent, Scott!
posted by not_on_display at 3:07 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Did I just hear someone say WEE-A-BOO!? I think I did!
posted by loquacious at 3:07 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Even I probably qualify for Mensa. As they say in my house, whoop tee doo.


(I actually like Dilbert the strip but it's certainly not because of the artwork. And his female character with the fist of death certainly should atone a bit for his perceived transgressions re view of women. FWIW when I read that essay I didn't take it as a diss on the female gender. )


dude, if you are still reading, learn something about design proportion. Dilbert absolutely reeks in that area.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:13 PM on April 15, 2011


Loved this comment from reddit, where he pulled the same stunt a few months ago:

"You're talking about Scott Adams. He's not talking about you. Advantage: Adams."

All I can do is point, laugh briefly, and move on.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:15 PM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


reminds me of this mess
posted by Dean_Paxton at 3:15 PM on April 15, 2011


Catseye: "I'm sure that to him, thinking he's a prat with an overinflated sense of his own insight is merely proving his superior intelligence over mine"

Dude, high five, you called the dude's shots before he even showed up in this thread. If you ever come to Portland OR I owe you a drink or something, good job.
posted by idiopath at 3:22 PM on April 15, 2011


I feel like, I feel like we're both bros in Scott.

I am so hooked on a feeling.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:43 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can this be the thread in which it will be said that we worked together, from all over the globe, to save the nice and funny Scott Adams, a wide-eyed and somewhat naive soul who is visiting the land of fortune and fame from the bitter Scott Adams, who trolls the Internet in search of people who are talking about him and gets into arguments and insults people?

Is there someone who can take the nice and funny Scott in for a time, show him around, until he gets his bearings in this sketchy new world which he is so obviously unequipped for?
posted by Danf at 3:49 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I checked his userpage and someone has already spoused him. So I suppose the process is starting....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:56 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


How has this not been MeTaed? I had to find out via another Mefite's Facebook, not being interested enough in Scott Adams to click on a post about him.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:04 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, hamburger class act hamburger.
posted by Aquaman at 4:11 PM on April 15, 2011


Just came here from Gawker too....where's the meta-talk? Isn't this a big deal?? Or do I have no life, being a non-genius?
posted by bquarters at 4:11 PM on April 15, 2011


Why would it need to be Meta'd? Everything's been resolved in-thread.
posted by anazgnos at 4:20 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I found out via GalleyCat. Hoo hoo dude burnt himself, man. Burned hiself right up.
posted by angrycat at 4:24 PM on April 15, 2011


Simply chiming in with "goodbye, dilbert RSS".
posted by coriolisdave at 4:26 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why would it need to be Meta'd? Everything's been resolved in-thread.

There's ritual shaming going on. People hate to miss it.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:30 PM on April 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Aw, man, I haven't read enough of Adams recent stuff to know about any of his shenanigans over the year or two. I was a pretty big Dilbert fan up until the lamentable TV series. I would have totally missed this and gone on nostalgically appreciating early Dilbert, but his behavior here has really left a bad taste in my mouth.

Not that he seems to care about losing fans (based on what I've read here), especially fans like me that haven't really followed Dilbert closely for a few years, but I think this pretty much closes the Scott Adams chapter of my comic fandom.

I'm genuinely bummed about this.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:34 PM on April 15, 2011


...I think this pretty much closes the Scott Adams chapter of my comic fandom.

I'm genuinely bummed about this.


You feel grief at the loss of your idea of Scott Adams. Adams does not feel grief at the loss of his idea of you. Advantage: Adams Joey Michaels.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:37 PM on April 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


There's ritual shaming going on. People hate to miss it.

He came into this thread at a point where most activity had died off and few people were still reading or commenting. From there the outing seemed to occur really quickly, offstage, between him and cortex without any real popular attention or prolonged contentiousness or debate that could have led to a MeTa.

Maybe the unrepetant self-promoter would have another tortured, self-justifying stance on all this, but self-promotion seems awfully hard to tell apart from self-denigration after a while.
posted by anazgnos at 4:44 PM on April 15, 2011


I can't wait for the comic in which Dilbert pwns some cesspool of a website, through the genius use of a sockpuppet; confounding all but the smartest, and generally being an all-round awesome guy.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:45 PM on April 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


OK so Scott Adams made a poor judgment call and this means he needs to get skewered on Metafilter and Reddit (aka "The Internet", since it's all Googleable). And since things are Googleable indefinitely, this public shaming is now engraved in stone.

Wait, what?

I'm sorry, but this punishment far exceeds the crime of "creating multiple accounts to support myself in conversation".

@cortex, the classy thing to do would have been to have him out himself, and then step back and let the community have their say. I know you're trying to run a community here, but your additional public chastisement was unnecessarily harsh (in the context of "the entire internet will now be able to read this") and is, I'm certain, what directly led to this "cesspool" remark he made.

I don't think people quite understand how bad ANY public shaming is, especially on the Internet. It's permanent character assassination on a grand scale, and it should only be reserved for the most egregious of transgressions.

This is like trying to steal a cookie from the cookie jar and having the lid cut off your fingers. Sure, a punishment was perhaps appropriate, but damn.
posted by Lectrick at 4:46 PM on April 15, 2011


I don't even know what you're looking at, Lectrick. There was a brief series of exchanges between plannedchaos and a few people, then there was the outing, then there were a lot of people coming into the thread and basically saying "wow, that happened". I'm not really seeing what I would recognize as high-level Metafilter-grade Vitriol in this thread.

It seems to me that whatever problems that arise for Scott Adams from this will come from a) larger media coverage of what he did, which is beyond our control and b) the positions he took and what he actually said.
posted by anazgnos at 4:51 PM on April 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Now it looks like Scott Adams' Mom has set up a sock-puppet to defend him.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:56 PM on April 15, 2011 [31 favorites]


Wow. What a douche canoe.
posted by brundlefly at 5:09 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, I can't wait for Mr. Adams' future anonymous AskMe questions: Dear Penthouse AskMe, I never believed these stories were actually true... until last night...
posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:16 PM on April 15, 2011


I don't think people quite understand how bad ANY public shaming is, especially on the Internet. It's permanent character assassination on a grand scale, and it should only be reserved for the most egregious of transgressions.

Yes, I'm sure he'll need to cry into some of his spare $100 bills tonight because he's been shamed. On the internet.

Are you his mom?
posted by emjaybee at 5:17 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reason I kept following the thread was because Scott Adams was one of my childhood heroes. I read the run of Dilbert cover to cover up to Don't Step in the Leadership, and I don't regret it. I thank the Scott Adams of the 1990s for hours of laughter over the years. After reading his blog and this article recently, I miss him.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 5:22 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


OMG SOME REDDIT USERS ARE SO TEDIOUS AND OBTUSE: http://www.reddit.com/r/comics/comments/gqzgx/dilbert_creator_outed_for_using_sock_puppets_on/

You're awesome for calmly responding to these whip-smart defenders of Internet freedom, cortex.
posted by defenestration at 5:25 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


(I was referring to this thread)
posted by defenestration at 5:26 PM on April 15, 2011


@cortex, the classy thing to do would have been to have him out himself, and then step back and let the community have their say. I know you're trying to run a community here, but your additional public chastisement was unnecessarily harsh

It was not any harsher than any chatisement given by a mod to any other mefite behaving badly in a thread when a public announcement that kind of behavior is not okay here is needed. Adams could have avoided the whole thing by either not participating at all - why does he care? - or by participating in good faith. People had poor opinions of him and he proved them right.

And, fwiw, I don't see cortex's comments as harsh. He laid out the rules and the ways in which Adams broke them.
posted by rtha at 5:30 PM on April 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


Must have not written out "I will relate to human beings well" enough times in that affirmations notebook.
posted by bonaldi at 5:34 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think people quite understand how bad ANY public shaming is, especially on the Internet. It's permanent character assassination on a grand scale, and it should only be reserved for the most egregious of transgressions.


I really don't feel too bad about this.

For one thing, as Metafilter "shamings" go, this has been positively tame. I see a few names on this thread who've been around long enough to corroborate that. We've gone after our own harder than we've gone after Scott.

For another thing, and more to the point, this was totally preventable: all Scott had to do was come in here as himself. We've had writers show up here to defend themselves before -- I've been in threads where it happened. It's not ike there's some requirement that they use their real name -- sometimes they even use a handle, but identify themselves. Usually, we thank them for coming around, ask questions, sometimes give them a hard time, but those folks almost invariably win respect for coming in and being themselves and being willing to take questions.

It's also totally preventable in the sense that everybody who's plausibly qualified to give advice on social media will tell you that you shouldn't astroturf your brand [unless you've got a shitload of resources to throw at it, like Exxon-Mobil or the Republican Party] because you will get found out. Scott either wasn't paying attention or didn't think that applied to him. (My guess is the latter, based on his behavior here and on the Reddit threads.)

I can't remember specific author instances here (maybe someone else can help me out on that), but I do remember a non-Mefi example from a year or so back. I was on some blog comment thread talking about a Malcolm Gladwell book that I hadn't read. There was a lot of hot and heavy action with haters & defenders, and all of a sudden, there's Malcolm. And what does he do, as soon as he gets into the thread?

He starts fucking engaging with people.

And when I say "engaging", I mean....well, engaging. "That really wasn't what I meant, and here are some other examples from the book that might help clear it up," kind of thing. "Tell me more about why you think that" kind of thing.

I have no idea if Gladwell is sincerely engaging when he does that stuff. I do know he has a pretty strong grasp of the idea that, yes, this is the internet and yes, stuff is permanent (and has been getting that reinforced lately with the "tall tale" episode [too lazy to look for the link, it's not that relevant]). Malcolm's "brand" (gad, I hate that term) is as a listener and a person with insight into stories, so he's preserving that and serving that by acting out the brand in public.

It looks like Adams has been trying to define his brand as 'public genius' -- as 'that guy who's so smart we should all listen to him.' Much like other people who've tried that before him (Dennis Miller, anyone? Orson Scott Card? Camille Paglia?), he seems to have taken to believing his own press.

I think it's important that people who try to scam us like that get shown up when they try to shame others. If we don't, then how do we communicate to them that the behavior isn't acceptable? Seriously: Adams has spent the past several years honing and delivering a message that it's not merely OK but highly desirable to manipulate other people into meeting your needs. Whether or not that's morally wrong, it's not a view that serves the rest of us at all, so it's in our interest to step on it. (I happen to think it's both morally wrong and promotes the development of the kind of society in which I don't want to participate. But that's just me.)
posted by lodurr at 5:47 PM on April 15, 2011 [56 favorites]


Oh, and cortex's comment was, as far as I am concerned, a model of restraint and appropriate chastisement. He clearly stated what he took issue with, taking ownership of the issues as he did ("using 'I'-statements" as a counselor might put it), and taking ownership of the fact that it bothered him.

Cortex done right. He didn't try to shame anybody. He did his job, and did it fairly. I've never known him to do otherwise.
posted by lodurr at 5:51 PM on April 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Why would it need to be Meta'd? Everything's been resolved in-thread.

There's the question of why the account wasn't disabled, but I'm not that curious it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:56 PM on April 15, 2011


This is cortex's initial post, by the way. I suggest reading it before chiming in on the issue. I'm actually having a hard time imagining how it could be done more gently.
posted by lodurr at 5:58 PM on April 15, 2011


Example of subject of a post coming into a thread: The creator of Comedy Evaluator Pro came into this one and, while there was some debate about the value of his product and/or service, he wasn't treated especially badly.

Not a celebrity, per se, but you can enter a thread about you and exit looking pretty good.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:02 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


re. why the account hasn't been disabled, I've been out of teh loop some in the past couple of years, but there were discussions in the past that boiled down to giving people the benefit of the doubt. In a case like this, it's arguably important to not let someone hide. Sometimes when people do this kind of thing, they'd really like to have an excuse for not coming back around to deal with the mess they got themselves into - ban-hammer can be that.

Honestly, I really am disappointed that he's not still around. I would genuinely like to understand what the hell was up with the "time isn't linear so evolutionary theory is bullshit" thing. I'm having a really hard time understanding why anybody would think there was any bearing there. (The idea that it's news that scientific theories get revised, I just chalk that up to garden variety [albeit intense] arrogance.)
posted by lodurr at 6:04 PM on April 15, 2011


Does Scott Adams have a twitter account? I can't find it if he does...
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:05 PM on April 15, 2011


That reddit thread confirms some of my most negative feelings about reddit.
posted by brundlefly at 6:12 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cortex, posting on Reddit: Hey, I don't make the rules for the whole Internet. I think you have to consult 4chan for that.
posted by lodurr at 6:22 PM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


The arrow of time isn't linear. The snark that happens right now in this thread is directly responsible for Dilbert becoming a successful comic strip in the '90s. Scott isn't an entrepreneur at all, he is just riding on the coattails of his great-grandson's monopoly on the food pill industry.
posted by idiopath at 6:32 PM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


> Lodurr: Okay, I can't go on like this. I admit it. I am Charles Stross.
posted by Naberius at 6:38 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would genuinely like to understand what the hell was up with the "time isn't linear so evolutionary theory is bullshit" thing.

Don't play with crazy too much, it'll just cause you miss out on other good things in life.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:39 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


See? I told you all we'd learn something!
posted by lodurr at 7:18 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plannedchaos, meet Lee Siegel (aka sprezzatura). While you're at it, you should also talk to John Lott (aka Mary Rosh).
posted by stannate at 7:26 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's the question of why the account wasn't disabled, but I'm not that curious it.

We basically dropped him an email and gave him the option to handle this himself. It's a courtesy we'd extend to any new user who seemed to be a little adrift.
posted by jessamyn at 7:53 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you read this thread backwards, Scott Adams shows up, introduces himself, and slowly goes crazy, referring to himself in the third person.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:07 PM on April 15, 2011 [75 favorites]


I am Scott Adams.

i am a 53 year old factory rat who is poor, dislikes his job, draws even worse than you and is utterly unimpressed with your online

A) wit

B) logic

C) skill at trolling

D) use of your celebrity to further intelligent debate

furthermore, although i would never say that jim davis, mort walker or bil keane were better cartoonists than you, i strongly suspect they are better human beings

it's not too late to figure out which attribute it is better to be better at

short version - poor move, poorly done

p s - i was a member of usenet's meower troll crew in the 90s - you are not as good at trolling as you think you are

a REAL good troll would have delayed his confession of identity, or never made it at all instead of shining a light on himself and scurrying like a cockroach into the shadows, never to post again

feel free to memail me if you'd like some lessons
posted by pyramid termite at 8:57 PM on April 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


and cortex - i cast my vote for not sidebarring this celebrity incursion like we often do for the others who have visited us

he. is. not. worthy.
posted by pyramid termite at 8:59 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


To those decrying that this thread is so not the best of mefi, i agree, but...
This thread has something of a late nineties mefi vintage feel to it. I think the combination of rudimentary internet fuckwad theory/flamew0rz NO U and the DILBERT GUY may have brought that about.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:11 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


he. is. not. worthy.
posted by pyramid termite 14 minutes ago [+]


You took the time to respond and address him. He won.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:15 PM on April 15, 2011


There is a MetaTalk
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:19 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The old hotness: Donald Trump surges to the head of the pack of Republican candidates for President

The new hotness: The Atlas Shrugged movie is released; Scott Adams surges to the head of the pack of Republican candidates for President
posted by lukemeister at 9:36 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You took the time to respond and address him. He won.

This is where we need a symbol - like the "." - that signifies "I'm not going to dignify that with a response"

Here goes... ~
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:38 PM on April 15, 2011


he. is. not. worthy.
posted by pyramid termite


Am I seeing this right? pyramid termite used periods?
posted by John Cohen at 9:43 PM on April 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Just in case anyone is curious, I wasn't actually entirely sure it was Scott Adams at the time, but I recognized a certain writing style. My first guess was that we were being trolled, and I laid odds on waking up to a flameout/banning rather than this, because I thought the real deal would have been more jokey and taken things in stride. Apparently not.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:57 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Quick! Someone post a anti-Ben Stein rant and see if we can lure *him* to hurf durf flame out with our trademark cynical-of-everything-but-therapy-and-xkcd snarking! We have to take advantage of our newfound super powers.
posted by Gucky at 10:04 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Quick! Someone post a anti-Ben Stein rant

Hey Ben Stein, I used to wear those same Simple® sneakers when I was thirteen, AND THEY WERE TERRIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE!

(You're next, Larry David!)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:09 PM on April 15, 2011


Wow.

And now I'm reading his defense of his post on the Men's Rights movement and I've come across this paragraph:

Emotions about the piece were running high. When humans get emotional (yes, including men), our critical thinking skills shut down. In this case, the original post on Men's Rights became literally incomprehensible to anyone who had a dog in the fight.


So, the original post became incomprehensible to men, women, children and the handicapped? So, everyone, then?

The idea that no one can be rational about topics that are emotionally charged is ridiculous.

Also: People don't change opinions just because new information comes in. They interpret the new information as confirmation of their existing opinion.

That's a depressing point of view. As is: I'm not trying to change anyone's opinion, largely because I don't believe humans can be influenced by exposure to better arguments, even if I had some.

So, it seems, people are irrational, emotional assholes, particularly when they have a "dog in the fight". One might suggest that Scott Adams is Exhibit A.
posted by crossoverman at 10:26 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


pyramid termite used periods?

it's that time of the month.
posted by pyramid termite at 10:40 PM on April 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


So, the original post became incomprehensible to men, women, children and the handicapped? So, everyone, then?

You'd think so, but actually it boils down to a very simple one-liner:

"Some men's rights are signed away in exchange for sex, because "nailing the queen" is the aim of the game"

Also, we found out that just now that "pussy" is not at all a derogatory term, because heterosexual men like vaginas. Following on from that logic, Scott would have no problem whatsoever with being called a c***.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:47 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


You took the time to respond and address him. He won.

of course he did - it's a PRIVILEGE to be flamed by me
posted by pyramid termite at 10:48 PM on April 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


@anazgnos, @five fresh fish, @emjaybee
No, I am most definitely not this man's mom, lol. I am merely a longtime fan of Dilbert, and perhaps particularly sensitive to shaming.

@lodurr
Well, I suppose I reread what @cortex said again, and I suppose it was fairly restrained, but the Internet just magnifies everything so much. Not only do written words themselves poorly carry the tones necessary to deliver emotionally charged communications such as a reprimand correctly, but all of this is permanently Googleable by anyone. And if he had any cred built up behind any of his usernames here, that's all of course gone now. Perhaps he brought it upon himself, but it just seems rather harsh. That's all I'm saying.
posted by Lectrick at 11:17 PM on April 15, 2011


Interesting that while reading about this episode, I can turn and see a Dilbert strip pinned to my corkboard. It's the one for October 19, 2004. Given that it is clearly autobiographical (Dilbert as Adams himself), it seems particularly apposite just now.

(As to why it's pinned on my wall ... hey, don't ask!)
posted by woodblock100 at 11:17 PM on April 15, 2011


Scott Adams: This Fossil Smells Like Bullshit
posted by taz at 12:18 AM on April 16, 2011


So this Dilbert guy just got outed as the Timecube guy, is that the gist of this? CUBE TIME WILL REVEAL ALL SCIENCE IS FALSE. THIS IS AN INTERESTING POINT, TOO.
posted by neuromodulator at 1:15 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps he brought it upon himself, but it just seems rather harsh. That's all I'm saying.

It's hard to see what is unfair about somebody's reputation suffering as a result of things they deliberately did and said.
posted by anazgnos at 3:44 AM on April 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


Wow, I'm a huge Dilbert fan who has all kinds of Dilbert books and merchandise and an image of Saint Dogbert ("Out, you demons of stupidity!") stuck to his computer screen.

And this is incredibly depressing.

I'm going to keep Saint Dogbert there, though. Now he can remind me that anyone, even his creator, can be an idiot, and there but for the grace of dog go I...
posted by mmoncur at 3:44 AM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


After that little display, we really need to question his claims about his intelligence... Hell, I'm half an idiot and know better than to pull a stunt like that, and my brother, who can't tie his shoes just said that he "shouldn't have told the people in the cesspool who was doing the peeing..."

I've never cared much for dilbert, the damn dog was an asshole.
posted by tomswift at 3:49 AM on April 16, 2011


You took the time to respond and address him. He won

The key thing to remember is that Scott and pyramid_termite are not playing the same game. Scott's game includes the rule "if you talk about me, I win." (And, as a corollary, "if you care what I think, I win.") ["And all the people on the island / Were saying 'Look at me!....'"]

By contrast, P_T's game (I'm guessing) includes the rule "if you think this is [funny / insightful / interesting], I get points."

More crucially, I'm also guessing that it includes a rule -- well, a style rule, at least -- something along the lines of "if I let your knowledge of a troll's 'rules' change my behavior, I lose points."
posted by lodurr at 4:09 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


"if I let your knowledge" >> "if I let my knowledge"

me no prufreed gud @ 7:11am
posted by lodurr at 4:11 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


the Internet just magnifies everything so much

I really don't think it does. Its vastness to shrink everything, in fact. Something can be a mild flap and water-cooler talk for two or three days, but once it recedes very few people remember it. In six months, a Google search on someone like Scott Adams, who has a comic in the paper every week and writes op-eds, would not be likely to turn this thread up in the first page of results - unless he continues the pattern himself, something entirely within his power (and apparently kind of likely). I can't imagine a scenario in which he would suffer damage because of comments here. If any reputation damage did occur, it would be because of his own comments, not those of others, and he is the only person able to control that.

The whole condemnation of "shaming" strikes me as problematic, sometimes, too. Sometimes it's really appropriate. I agree there is something "ritualistic" about the pattern of everyone chiming in with a "whoa, that's horrible" and no further content, but communities have rituals, it's how they communicate norms, and in human communities actions have consequences. I certainly think there are times it goes overboard and that self-restraint is a good idea, and appreciate periodic reminders that "ok, it's been dealt with, no need to pile on" but I don't think it's always wrong to call out behavior that impacts the site negatively.
posted by Miko at 5:15 AM on April 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow, Scott Adams is a bullshit Small Penis Urinal writer with a chip on his shoulder against evolution? I'll avoid his work from now on. And to think all this time he was Dogbert, not Dilbert.
posted by telstar at 5:30 AM on April 16, 2011


So the "genius" decided that posting on the internet as a third party in support of himself was good idea. That's more like Charlie Sheen level genius than Einstein level genius, but hey I'm no genius.
posted by datter at 5:39 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is where we need a symbol - like the "." - that signifies "I'm not going to dignify that with a response"

Umm...
posted by headnsouth at 5:43 AM on April 16, 2011


So, been away for a bit. What did I miss?
posted by joannemullen at 5:56 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


What did I miss?

Well, me, Wally and Eddie Haskell went down to the malt shop, but none of us had any money. So Eddie's friend Scott said 'no problem, I'll buy you sodas, but you've got to do something for me.' One thing led to another, and pretty soon he's got us walking up and down the sidewalk downtown with sandwich boards saying 'eat at the malt shop.' Then Eddie saw this guy who said 'hey, sweet thing, you came back!' and Eddie was all 'I'm so sorry sir I don't know who you are' and then Scott comes up and whips out a switchblade and starts rolling it across his fingers and saying stuff like 'hey, man, you know the price,' and then the dude is like 'well, he's too boney, what about this fresh young thing?' and he's pointing at me.

And anyway, that's how I ended up in jail. Eddie's friend Scott disappeared. We still haven't found Wally.
posted by lodurr at 6:34 AM on April 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


plannedchaos: "I'm sorry I peed in your cesspool."

Don't go away mad. Just go away.
posted by Splunge at 6:38 AM on April 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


And on the topic of the arrow of time, you delegate your argument to some guy named P.Z. Meyer who, if you read his critique, and the material from Adams that he is discussing in its native context, never understood Adams' point.

Whose fault would that be?
posted by Ironmouth at 7:07 AM on April 16, 2011


Ironmouth, I don't think you understand: It's all a test. If we don't get the subtlety of Scott's arguments, it's a demonstration that we don't operate at his intellectual level.

He's just out recruiting for his vatican assassin warlock posse. We should be flattered that he stopped here.
posted by lodurr at 7:32 AM on April 16, 2011


plannedchaos: "I'm sorry I peed in your cesspool.

For what it's worth, the smart people were on to me after the first post. That made it funnier.
"

So how many more people are now on to you, as well as think you are a douche?
posted by MrLint at 7:41 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


MarshallPoe: I used to teach at an Ivy where all the kid were great at school, I mean really great. Exactly none of them (and I taught there for 10 years) ever said to me "I'm going to start a business when I'm done here."

Dunno about that. I teach at one now, and plenty of students I meet have entrepreneurial intentions and, in some cases, going concerns underway. A little website called Facebook comes to mind.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:52 AM on April 16, 2011


Also, MINTBERRY CRUNCH!
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:53 AM on April 16, 2011


That was sad.
posted by zarq at 8:11 AM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I agree that bright people can also be entrepreneurial, but the culture of Business school does cultivate a certain self-perception that can be unwarranted. I just attended a two-day conference at Harvard Business School, coordinated by a student organization - bright and capable people, but not out of the general run of brightness and capability that one finds in my (humanities) field, and in some cases patently a shiny suit and good verbal presentation dressing up a mediocre mind. However, I was really startled by how many times over those two days I heard the presenting faculty refer to and remind the students of their role as the "brightest" - of their peers, in the world. If I heard it that many times in two days, I can only imagine what two years of that does to a person's thinking. There's an interesting, fundamental underlying tautology that business students are, by default, the brightest of all, because obviously if you are among the brightest of all you want to go to business school, and if you don't want to go to business school you must not be that bright.
posted by Miko at 8:20 AM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not equating "at a fancy college" with "bright" automatically. I'm just saying that the "entrepreneurial" faith is well represented among elite college students I meet, and I meet plenty.

The big difference is mostly access to capital, frankly.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:34 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, there is no "business" major at most elite colleges, in case that isn't well known. You major in engineering, math, psych, or economics if you really want to go to business school later.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:35 AM on April 16, 2011


I know, fourcheesemac, and I wasn't disagreeing with you. In fact, many of the people I work with in museums are also quite entrepreneurial, whether or not they are also in business for themselves.
posted by Miko at 9:01 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll have to bookmark this thread as an example of an overactive ego.

[Not to mention the schadenfreude of watching an arrogant person destroy himself.]
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 9:23 AM on April 16, 2011


So, open message to plannedchaos, if you are still following this thread. You are clearly an intelligent person, Scott, and I apologize for mocking you. I also think you made a few pretty big mistakes. But watching you make these mistakes reminds me of some of the most brilliant people I have ever known.

I have spent alot of time and energy seeking out the attention of people who were intelligent, who were productive in a way I admired and wanted to learn. There was a pretty common pattern. I would recognize there was something brilliant about this person, make some effort to know them better (hopefully for our mutual benefit), and there would often be this awkward moment of discovering their arrogance. Usually they would keep it to themselves but if they loosened up it would be this thing they would share. It felt like a dirty secret. I think a certain amount of controlled arrogance is really what makes success work. I would have lost my respect for the people when I saw this, but it was in confidence. Somehow that inflated self regard carried at least some hint of regard for me because I had the privelege of being allowed to see it.

In conclusion, there is a wonderful, vital, thing that makes the whole world tick, and the Internet makes it far too easy to cheapen and embarrass yourself by sharing it indiscriminately with strangers.
posted by idiopath at 9:25 AM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


So, it seems, people are irrational, emotional assholes, particularly when they have a "dog in the fight".

This is true, though. Pretty sure the self-promotion thing is too.

And no, I'm not Scott Adams.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:14 AM on April 16, 2011


Arrogance is a wonderful, vital thing that makes the whole world tick?

Not in my experience. In my life, I've spent a lot more time cleaning up after other people's arrogance than profiting from it. And the best work I've been involved with has been the product of teamwork, and required trust and respect for other people's contributions -- and a willingness to accept corrections to your own work.

Also, there is this thing about arrogance: People who are exceptionally self-confident often seem quite brilliant because as a rule, we tend to give people the benefit of the doubt for their veracity -- we tend to assume that what people say is true. Verifying everything people tell you simply isn't a workable program. So if someone expresses utter certainty that they're right about a lot of things, we'll not only tend to believe them, but tend to believe they're really smart.

I've yet to see any evidence that Scott Adams is brilliant or even particularly smart. He certainly thinks he is -- e.g., he's had some "hunches" about esoteric physics that lead him to believe that there's a previously unseen connection between the nature of time and evolutionary biology. Now, it is vaguely possible that such a thing could happen -- that what is essentially a layman* could have a theory-shattering hunch that others in the field haven't had -- but it'd be pretty extraordinary, and it should be accompanied by extraordinary evidence.


==
*This is a particularly interesting point, since in the Reddit threads there are a couple of points where Scott (as 'plannedchaos') takes correspondents to task for dismissing the consensus opinions of technical/scientific experts.

posted by lodurr at 10:15 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Arrogance also degrades your communication skills. If you're convinced you're right, you're less likely to try to make your views clear to others. That seems to have happened in spades for Adams.
posted by lodurr at 10:18 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks Miko, I was just clarifying my meaning a bit.

"Entrepreneurial" and "business-oriented" and "unethical" are of course not necessarily the same things.

Successful academics of my generation and younger talk all the time about the entrepreneurial culture of the modern university, where yes, you work for a salary, but your salary ultimately depends on your ability to develop and manage externally fundable projects (or projects that otherwise represent return on investment for the university's capital, from which you are paid). I am one ivy league grad who worked my way through college, dropped out to work in blue collar jobs and in fact to start my own modestly successful small business, went back to school working in sales, and have always valued that experience as a key part of my toolkit as an academic, where I am constantly selling some idea to someone in hopes of attracting investment or custom.

And this is the real lesson: the future work pattern for educated workers in highly developed economies (if there is one) is sure to involve a good portion of self-motivated entrepreneurship, but often in the name of larger enterprises than you, alone by yourself, creating. A "job," even now, is an invitation to do work that pays for your time on behalf of the corporation or institution that pays your salary (at least in the private sector, and increasingly in the public sector). And the "entrepreneurial" skills required in this workplace are not cut-throat unethical every man for himself deviousness and cunning, but a supreme ability to work with others, achieve consensus, see from others' perspective, compromise, and be self-effacing when it serves the common cause.

From this perspective, there's nothing entrepreneurial about being an arrogant genius.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


lodurr: I was talking about the kind of "arrogance" that doesn't prevent teamwork - the kind that one keeps to one's self. Perhaps I was using the wrong term. Maybe "excessive self regard" would have been better

And yeah, that "time's arrow" crap is mockable nonsense, which I am on record as mocking in this thread. That wasn't the thing I saw as intelligent.

The whole thing about it being a "wonderful vital thing that makes the world tick" was part of a failed allusion, attempting to compare such vulgar displays of narcissism to sexual exhibitionism.
posted by idiopath at 10:42 AM on April 16, 2011


Well, then, I don't really think you're talking about arrogance.

There's a difference between confidence and arrogance. I'm utterly confident in some things that I do. I don't for a moment suffer under the illusion that people will think they're brilliant, but I know for certain that there's a way I want to do them and that's what matters to me. If I was convinced that people ought to appreciate those things done that way just as I did -- that would be arrogance.
posted by lodurr at 11:12 AM on April 16, 2011


God DAMN, I dropped out of this thread the very post before the self-justifying certified genius dropped in. I hate that!


I sure feel like my negative opinion of Adams is more than justified now, though. Jesus Christ... if ever a guy needed to replace a few faulty mirrors around his house...

I'm sorry I peed in your cesspool.

posted by plannedchaos at 7:49 PM on April 15


You didn't, Scott. You peed in your pants. Publicly. Way to go with that whole genius thing, dude.
posted by Decani at 11:24 AM on April 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


By the way, I am Jim Davis. Hurt me, cesspool!
posted by Decani at 11:30 AM on April 16, 2011


Qualifying for Mensa is not all that hard. There are many more people that qualify than are interested in being a member, and it's not hard to understand their reasons for that.
posted by Miko at 10:17 PM on April 15


Quoted for truth. I could join Mensa, but it's been clear to me for decades that only utter pricks do so. And yes, I am aware that there are those who would say I have missed my vocation, but those people are meanies.
posted by Decani at 11:38 AM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am Chester Gould, and I'm checking this thread on my TWO-WAY WRIST TV.
posted by hangashore at 11:39 AM on April 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


You took the time to respond and address him. He won.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:15 AM on April 16


Is that true of the staggering street speed-head who called me a "cracker-ass bitch" the other day? I took the time to respond and address him with "I say, chap! No need for that sort of rudery!" Did I lose? Say it isn't so!
posted by Decani at 11:47 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, Decani Jim, are you saying you like it rough?
posted by lodurr at 11:49 AM on April 16, 2011


I just want to thank Scott Adams for getting this song from 1776 stuck in my head:

Mr. Adams, damn you Mr. Adams
You're obnoxious and disliked; that cannot be denied...

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:57 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, Decani Jim, are you saying you like it rough?
posted by lodurr at 7:49 PM on April 16


No, but my cat likes lasagne OH WHAT A GIVEAWAY
posted by Decani at 12:00 PM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ack!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:02 PM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thppptt!
posted by Wuggie Norple at 12:11 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


wait, you're BOTH Berk Breathed? How can this be?!

Time for me to confess: I am Jane Austen. I feel so much better, now.
posted by lodurr at 12:13 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I, too, am Jane Austen.

Wait, no, I'm Chuck Austen. I apologize for the confusion.
posted by Eideteker at 1:10 PM on April 16, 2011


\o/ Steve Holt!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:14 PM on April 16, 2011 [15 favorites]


I'm Austen Tatious. The Austen Tatious.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:16 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I need a script to auto-favorite Arrested Development references.
posted by neuromodulator at 1:48 PM on April 16, 2011


I hope I didn't confuse anyone by skipping the Chuck Austin -> Steve Austin -> Steve Holt step.

But, y'know, \o/ Steve Holt! Gotta happen.

Wishing there was a schtick-ck-ck-kraaa-aaa-aaa Steve Austin symbol.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:38 PM on April 16, 2011


I wonder if Steve Martin hangs out here.

And while I'm thinking about famous Steves, fuck Stephen Harper. What a contemptible politician.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:40 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Bionic Woman and I used to live in Ojai. Coincidence or...?
posted by ambient2 at 3:47 PM on April 16, 2011


Steve Wozniak is still my favorite Steve. He's a prime example of how to do this right.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:51 PM on April 16, 2011


This Fossil Smells Like Bullshit

It's a coprolite.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:40 PM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am Scott Adams.

I'm so sorry.
posted by abcde at 6:05 PM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm Jeph Jacques
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:23 PM on April 16, 2011


I am Jacques Cousteau. My son Philippe will now dive down with the sharks. I did this long before that hack Australian guy. And now, there, Philippe kiss a shark. Yes, see how the shark bites? A crocodile? Pfft. Nonsense. You can run from a croc after you poke it. Try to swim away from a Great White shark. I dare you.
posted by Splunge at 7:46 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am Ernie Bushmiller. I spent 50 years building a setup to this punchline. I regret nothing.
posted by gompa at 10:23 PM on April 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


\o/ EVE HOLT
posted by mippy at 4:11 AM on April 17, 2011


I'm still amused at Third Person Scott Adams saying 'but...pussies isn't sexist! Men like gash! ! how can it be bad word?'

Either he's a massive troll, or, for all his self-confessed genius, in some areas he's as thick as an elephant's fanny flaps.
posted by mippy at 4:33 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wait. People still read Dilbert? I'm not being snarky, but I honestly thought that little comic strip was discontinued years ago.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:59 AM on April 17, 2011


I am Ernie Bushmiller.

Boy, this brings back memories. I was living in a dorm when you died, and my roommate contributed to the dorm community newspaper. The cover that week was a drawing in your style of you, slumped over a drawing board, with Xs instead of eyes, and Nancy staring (with dotted lines) in shock from the doorway.

My roommate's obit quoted a bunch of famous cartoonists of the time explaining that they were glad you were dead. ("I thought my characters were simplistic," Charles Schultz declared, "but 'Bush' gave us all a bad name.")

OTOH, that is a brilliant panel.
posted by lodurr at 8:38 AM on April 17, 2011


Yeah, I kinda defended Scott Adams in a way upthread. Now I'm sorry I did. Bloody hell. Apologies to my fellow mefites.
posted by blucevalo at 1:45 PM on April 17, 2011


Yeah, I kinda defended Scott Adams in a way upthread. Now I'm sorry I did. Bloody hell. Apologies to my fellow mefites.
posted by blucevalo at 9:45 PM on April 17


No apology necessary. The early Dilbert comics were hilarious and very, very sharp. Even some of the later ones still get there. It's just that it seems to be the only thing Adams is any good at. Have you read "God's Debris"?

If not, I recommend you don't.
posted by Decani at 2:57 PM on April 17, 2011


Hahahahahaha, Scott Adams doesn't know HTML! He reads social media blogs and then replies to them in the third person! What a clown! I am laughing so hard right now...
posted by codacorolla at 5:49 PM on April 17, 2011


as a professional web geek, I don't give a crap whether adams knows html.

I do care that he waves his dick around in my yard.
posted by lodurr at 6:53 PM on April 17, 2011


Scott Adams was the recipient of my first, "Hey, he printed his email addy, eew aol? Hey, he's famous and I think he's funneh, I have internets now, lemme email that guy," email. He promptly and politely replied. I wish I still had that email. It was like 1993 or 1994?

Me too - sent him an enthusiastic fan mail, my first - except that while his reply was prompt, he called me "callow," and referred to my college, where my email server was located, as an "overpriced diploma mill." Never forgotten that - guy took the opportunity to be sarcastic to a kid, when he could just as easily have been nice.

Spasmodic dysphonia: sometimes your subconscious is trying to do you a favor.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry at 1:24 AM on April 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


My respect for S. Adams ended when I realized he'd sold my email address (along with the addresses of everyone else who subscribed to his stuff) to spammers.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:20 AM on April 18, 2011


kirth, he was just being an entrepreneur. that's a good thing, didn't you know?
posted by lodurr at 3:24 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm only dimly aware of Dilbert - it was carried in the Daily Mail here for years, not sure if it is elsewhere - but I am staggered at how unpleasant S. Adams comes across here, in anecdote form and on the couple of blog posts I've read (on the men#s rights one, he said that taking offence was purely down to his readers having a 'higher level of reading comprehension' - I've been able to read newspapers for about 27 years now and employ reading comprehension in my job all the time, and I still didn't understand what in the hell he was trying to tell me.)

Or maybe I'm just unhappy because I was an A student at the arts but a C at maths-based subjects (ta, dyspraxia) and therefore am too confused to know whether to be an entreprenur or not. Or, indeed, spell the word this morning.
posted by mippy at 3:25 AM on April 18, 2011


he was just being an entrepreneur

I'm seeing a lot of the preneur, not so much of the entre.

Scott Adams: Dave Sim without the talent.
posted by Grangousier at 5:06 AM on April 18, 2011


Everyone on this page is talking about him, researching him, and obsessing about him.

Latest YouTube stats on Rebecca Black - Friday:

* 109 MILLION views
* 2.3 MILLION comments

Take from that whatever you will.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:25 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I resent the implication that you could compare Scott Adams with Rebecca Black.
posted by lodurr at 7:13 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


he was just being an entrepreneur. that's a good thing, didn't you know?

I know why he did it. That he thought it was an OK thing to do says a lot about him, and no, none of it is good.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:16 AM on April 18, 2011


See Scott Spin. Spin, Scott, Spin!
posted by lodurr at 9:16 AM on April 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wow. I retract my previous retraction and apology...Scott Adams is taking assholishness to a new level.
posted by rocket88 at 9:47 AM on April 18, 2011


Now the Internet has given media power to the likes of Gawker, Metafilter, and any other cesspool

It sure has
posted by anazgnos at 10:19 AM on April 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


I resent the implication that you could compare Scott Adams with Rebecca Black.

Seconded. Black has been impressively cool, calm, and classy in every reaction that I've seen from her. If I was her dad I'd be overwhelmingly proud of what a well-grounded person she's been in the face of a shitton of mockery.
posted by phearlez at 10:35 AM on April 18, 2011 [13 favorites]



PlannedChaos: What's the point of trying to correct inaccurate rumors online when you often say no one is persuaded by new information?

Scott: That's a brilliant question. Are you a genius?

PlannedChaos: Just having a good day.


You really can't trust Scott Adams to be who he says he is in online communication, but this excerpt right here is how you can tell this one is legit: he calls himself a genius, and then politely demurs.
posted by codacorolla at 10:53 AM on April 18, 2011


Oh, awesome. My browser currently refuses to load S-Bomb's latest blog post, beyond the Dogbert-flavored background image. I feel like this is a sign from the Universe. I'm going to move on to eating all the peanut butter cups out of the office candy bowl, which feels like a much better use of my time.
posted by palomar at 11:00 AM on April 18, 2011


This is truly delightful:
In my book The Dilbert Future, published in 1997, I predicted that in the future the media would start killing celebrities to generate demand for their so-called news. That seemed like a stretch when the worst part of the media was the tabloids. Now the Internet has given media power to the likes of Gawker, Metafilter, and any other cesspool with an IP address. When the low end of the media conspired with unscrupulous advocates to label the aforementioned Republican woman a racist, they probably killed her career, and they might end up killing her too.
I wonder who's going to play me in the Law and Order episode.
posted by electroboy at 11:01 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now the Internet has given media power to the likes of Gawker, Metafilter, and any other cesspool with an IP address.

Sigh.

No, genius. You did that yourself.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:15 AM on April 18, 2011


Him bringing up that stupid birther email thing is really interesting because it furthers the impression that he's really uncomfortable, on a basic level with the idea that when you say something stupid, publicly, your reputation suffers. He seems to expect people to seriously mourn the potential damaged to her career as some great unfairness or tragedy.

We must vigorously protect the rights of the rich to behave like bigoted assholes while suffering no repercussions whatsoever.
posted by anazgnos at 11:16 AM on April 18, 2011


The best part of that was:
Democrats and advocates of civil rights are using the media to further an agenda at the expense of a woman who was probably so non-racist that the photo in question didn't set off her alarms as being a career-ending risk.
Which is some shit straight out of Stephen Colbert.
posted by electroboy at 11:19 AM on April 18, 2011


electroboy: I wonder who's going to play me in the Law and Order episode.

We've been here before.

When you make Dave Winer look reasonable by comparison, you know you're really onto something. Or on something. Whatever.
posted by lodurr at 11:22 AM on April 18, 2011


From Scott: ...emailed some friends a humorous photo of President Obama's face on a chimp and a punch line about his birth certificate. If your only context is what the Internet says about this story, you assume it's a typical racist act by a Republican who is already guilty by association. But if I add the context that Googling "George Bush monkey" gives you over 3 million hits, and most of them are jokes where President Bush's face is transposed on a monkey, you see what's really going on.

Yep, I see what's going on: A well-spoken black guy who had the uppity audacity to run for president getting called a monkey and told to go back to africa where he came from. That, of course, is exactly equivalent to a willfully-inarticulate Yale Man being called a monkey.

The insinuation that this is the only time anybody's every called Obama a monkey is pretty cute, too.

This guy is a true masturdebator. I can see why he's such an authority on the technique.
posted by lodurr at 11:26 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it means you're really off.
posted by maryr at 11:27 AM on April 18, 2011


Democrats and advocates of civil rights are using the media to further an agenda at the expense of a woman who was probably so non-racist that the photo in question didn't set off her alarms as being a career-ending risk.

So Scott Adams, self-described genius that he is, is saying she was so non-racist that she didn't even think there was anything wrong with portraying a black man as a monkey?
posted by rocket88 at 11:36 AM on April 18, 2011


This guy is a true masturdebator.

I know you were using that term ironically, but for some reason it makes me feel all punchy, because it starts to legitimize some lame word some asshole made up when he was trying to be clever, and I don't care if it pre-dates Scott Adams or plannedchaos, I just don't want to have to physically hurt anybody.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:39 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, it's Scott's word. He owns it, as far as I'm aware. But if it bothers you, I won't throw it back at him anymore.
posted by lodurr at 11:42 AM on April 18, 2011


masturdebator

Signifier is the signified! The word is itself a turd sandwich!
posted by Sys Rq at 11:45 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


While you and I would probably think that the least racist thing to do would be to not send an email depicting Obama as a monkey, the true super-genius can see that it's actually even less racist to send an email depicting Obama as a monkey. Surprising as it may seem, that's just how advanced and progressive things are nowadays in the OC...even for a rich white tea-partier, those old connotations just don't exist anymore.
posted by anazgnos at 11:45 AM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, it's Scott's word. He owns it, as far as I'm aware.

He may own it, but he certainly doesn't take responsibility for it.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:46 AM on April 18, 2011


Now who's the racist, racist?
posted by electroboy at 12:01 PM on April 18, 2011


This has all been fun, but Scott's answer (which unsurprisingly he didn't have the courage to make here, himself) basically maps out how this is going to go:

He's got first-person access to high-profile media outlets, and we're stuck in the cesspool, so he gets to reframe what's happened as us piling on him, unjustly, misrepresenting facts, etc. -- instead of him lying about stuff he's said, making excuses for his own lack of clarity in communications, and projecting his own hostility onto other people.

It's a slightly less crazy version of teh same dynamic that Palin, Bachman, Trump, etc. exploit when they spin their missteps.

So, we'll be defined as the cesspool. And Scott won't be waving his massively impressive member around in our space anymore. Oh, well, you can see I'm a little choked up* about this.

--
*someone else is going to have to go there, i'm just not going to do it. Nope, uh-uh...
posted by lodurr at 12:10 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


we'll be defined as the cesspool.

I really wouldn't worry about it. I think it's obvious that he's not well or at least not a well balanced individual, and even if I had no connection with MeFi I think I could see that, as will most reasonable people. In the aftermath of this whole sideshow, it's not MeFi that comes off looking bad.
posted by Miko at 12:15 PM on April 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am John Galt.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:17 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suppose I wasn't clear. I'm just arguing that if we get hung up on what the Dilboheads think, we're signing ourselves up for disappointment.
posted by lodurr at 12:18 PM on April 18, 2011


You know where there's a car crash and then another car behind crashes into the wreckage. Then another. Then another. Then another.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:21 PM on April 18, 2011


I also enjoyed the "I'm very disappointed in you, children" treatment that Matt and Jessamyn got. Scott Adams taught you kids better than that.
posted by electroboy at 12:23 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do no Libertarians want to take responsibility for the stupid shit they do, or is it actually always someone else's fault?
posted by Grangousier at 12:36 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It actually always someone else's fault.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:13 PM on April 18, 2011


It's actually impossible for Libertarians to make mistakes, because fault implies obligation to truth, and Libertarians don't believe in obligation.*

*May not be true, but who are you going to believe? Me, or someone who doesn't beleive in the obligation to truth?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:23 PM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Being that I am a certified genius, and I agree with you, It's Raining Florence Henderson, you are, as I am, correct.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:25 PM on April 18, 2011


I really liked Dilbert when I was younger (I was strange/disturbed little girl) so it's kind of depressing to see 1) how Adams is deliberately an asshole, over and over; 2) that Dilbert is totally shit these days.
posted by autoclavicle at 1:28 PM on April 18, 2011


This whole debacle could not have played out any better, in my opinion. The only one who has been hurt by this is the certified genius, and he by and large did it to himself.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:09 PM on April 18, 2011


plannedchaos: "I hate Adams for his success too."

We know, Scott. We know.
posted by chairface at 2:37 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am pretty amused, actually, by the third-person self-referencing of Adams, particularly the self-loathing comments mixed with the narcisissm. Seems like Adams might have a lot to hash out with his therapist.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:48 PM on April 18, 2011


With how much he crows about cheating and gaming anything he gets involved in, I would really, really, not want to have any kind of business dealings with him at all. He seems like the kind of guy skillful salesmen ridiculously overcharge while putting on a big show that they've been bargained down to a nub – because they know that as long as he feels quite secure that he's screwed you over somehow, he'll go away happy.
posted by taz at 3:16 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if plannedchaos has ever commented on anything other than Scott Adams.
posted by slmorri at 3:17 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


To embroider what lodurr said, Adams says he's "adding context" to the Obama-as-a-monkey story by saying Bush was also portrayed as a monkey, while he completely ignores the long, awful history of black people being so portrayed. That's the context that people who criticize that Republican committeewoman are working with. It's Adams who lacks context, not them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:35 PM on April 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


From Scott Adams' self-congratulatory blog entry: One workaround for that problem [conflict of interest] is to change the messenger. That's where an alias comes in handy. When you remove the appearance of conflict of interest, it allows others to listen to the evidence without judging.

No. Defending yourself, as yourself, makes your self-interest transparent. Nobody has any problem with that, because it's honest. Hiding your self-interest behind a false identity is the exact opposite; the most deceitful possible way of approaching the topic of self-interest. There's a reason why journalists are obliged to declare conflicts of interest, and it's not because the message would get through more clearly if they pretended that the conflict of interest didn't exist.

The types of people who act solely on principle are the ones who burn Korans and wonder why something went wrong.


What. Try telling that to Rosa Parks.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:48 PM on April 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


The types of people who act solely on principle are the ones who burn Korans and wonder why something went wrong.

What. Try telling that to Rosa Parks.


Yeah, I was going to make a similar observation. People who act on principle understand that their actions have consequences, but choose to act despite the consequences. They don't wonder why things went wrong; they understand that their principles are so important, that they will accept responsibility for the negative consequences.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:58 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I'm super-late to this party, but Cortex (or anyone), could you please let us know how you figured out that plannedchaos was really Scott Adams? It seems like you knew before he outed himself, and you were able to immediately verify his outing.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 5:14 PM on April 18, 2011


And of course after posting, I see that this comment from the MeTa page answers my question.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 5:26 PM on April 18, 2011


[If you're new to this, the paragraph above is the part that will be taken out of context and paraphrased to show that I'm paranoid and delusional, claiming that organized groups are out to get me.]

No, this paragraph–out of context–makes you look paranoid and delusional.

WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW, ADAMS!??!
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 5:40 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I keep a long list of things that makes him look delusional. But I guess that means he's not really just paranoid.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:12 PM on April 18, 2011


"while he completely ignores the long, awful history of black people being so portrayed. That's the context that people who criticize that Republican committeewoman are working with. It's Adams who lacks context, not them."

This. This a thousand times. But it plays right into the whole, social conservative fear of being called a racist, aggressive fight to make sure that "you don't have the right to call me a racist even if I say or do something blatantly racist."
posted by stratastar at 6:31 PM on April 18, 2011


Hey Scott, I made this for you.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:05 PM on April 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


I've enjoyed a lot of the Dilbert I've read, though I haven't been reading it for a long while.

I think I'm glad I haven't paid attention to any of Adams' other stuff.
posted by Zed at 4:49 AM on April 19, 2011


... let us know how you figured out that plannedchaos was really Scott Adams?

The Gawker story quotes Matt as saying that they noticed he's signed up, so presumably he used an email address that was identifiable as being him or someone paid by him -- e.g., dilbert.com, maybe. When he started trolling, they asked him, he confirmed and agreed to out himself.
posted by lodurr at 6:13 AM on April 19, 2011


Salon's take on the matter.
posted by orange swan at 9:13 AM on April 19, 2011


could you please let us know how you figured out that plannedchaos was really Scott Adams?

I think he paid for the membership from his personal Paypal account.
posted by electroboy at 10:05 AM on April 19, 2011


Matt explains everything on a comment to Scott's blog. Note Scott's smartass reply at the bottom.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:17 AM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm Scott Adams!
posted by hellbient at 10:26 AM on April 19, 2011


Gotta love projection. Matt's talking community standards, Scott immediately generalizes that to 'being master of all that is moral and right.'

The 'revisionist history' bit's gotta be irking Matt, too.

It takes a shitload of narcissism to think you're important or potent enough that people would bother changing history over an argument with you.
posted by lodurr at 10:28 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rich, famous, influential and you have nothing better to do than troll MetaFilter? How incredibly petty. You're not much of a man Mr. Adams.
posted by Scoo at 10:35 AM on April 19, 2011


Speaking of narcissism, consider the 400+ comments on the WSJ op-ed in light of MetaFilter definition of "good contributions". There are dozens of "dick", "sexist", and "crap" examples of the high-level of discourse. The folks looking for an address to TwitterBomb end up making PlannedChaos less of an offense than it probably should be. His blog often asks readers to question why they believe things, which youall claim would be valuable posts. Your reactions to those blog entries undermines your claims.

/Randy

Good Contributions = When the level of discourse here is high, conversations are typified by good contributions from a variety of viewpoints and experiences. Be respectful of others, bring your experiences and share them with everyone. If you make a statement of fact, show supporting evidence (hopefully as hyperlinks to other web resources). When everyone brings intelligent, thoughtful commentary to a thread, MetaFilter is the best it can possibly be. If you have a unique perspective on a topic, by all means contribute. If you'd like to express an opposing viewpoint in a respectful way, by all means contribute. If you'd like to add supporting facts and statistics or stories from others you've found elsewhere on the web, by all means contribute.

One of the things that makes MetaFilter valuable to its members is the contributions of the community. This means that a comment is appreciated for the value that it adds to the discussion. With many topics, members go into a conversation already having a general idea of how they feel about the subject. The most valuable posts present new information, new perspectives, and new ideas that challenge each of us to consider not just what we believe, but why we believe it.
posted by RSaunders at 10:49 AM on April 19, 2011


His blog often asks readers to question why they believe things,

How many fucking times can we go over questioning things like evolution or the holocaust or other 100% politicized ideas? We're not talking about a polite conversation on the cause of Alzheimers, but the usual rogue's gallery of right vs left, religion vs science, etc nonsense that all politicized right-wing self-proclaimed "geniuses" are always obsessed about. Not every salvo in the culture war is going to make me sit down and go "Ah ok, Scott Adams thinks time is non-linear and the big bang has design, thus God is real and evolution and atheism is bullshit." His telelogical bullshit is just that - easily dismissed bullshit. Lets stop pretending he's a modern day Socretes. If anything, he's the comic equivalant of Kirk Cameron.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:56 AM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


It takes a shitload of narcissism to think you're important or potent enough that people would bother changing history over an argument with you.

More of a politician and a coward, I'd say. He's basically calling Matt a liar without having the courage to just come out and say it. Which he couldn't really get away with, since the text of the e-mail is already public. So Adams is left with accusation through implication.

Neat trick, but we've seen it before. Which was his biggest mistake. Because now we know just how far down the sockpuppets REALLY go. That's right:

SCOTT ADAMS IS REALLY KARL ROVE*

*according to some interpretations of non-linear history theory
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:03 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the things that makes MetaFilter valuable to its members is the contributions of the community. This means that a comment is appreciated for the value that it adds to the discussion. With many topics, members go into a conversation already having a general idea of how they feel about the subject. The most valuable posts present new information, new perspectives, and new ideas that challenge each of us to consider not just what we believe, but why we believe it.

So you signed up just to say this? How's it hanging Scott?
posted by codacorolla at 11:39 AM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


You're kidding, right? Metafilter's Own Scott Adams would never say anything that balanced and reasonable. He'd have snuck at least a couple of snide trolls in.
posted by lodurr at 11:41 AM on April 19, 2011


I really hope that we can avoid "haha, new guy with an opinion, you must be Scott Adams" as the new site meme or whatever. People often lurk for a long time before joining to comment; just because someone's new doesn't mean they don't have a real sense of the community. I'd rather not see us haze new members in this way.
posted by Errant at 11:44 AM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


So you signed up just to say this? How's it hanging Scott?

Ugh. It's Scott Adams all the way down.
posted by mek at 11:48 AM on April 19, 2011


a polite conversation on the cause of Alzheimers

demons
posted by Greg Nog at 11:49 AM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


We have Wade Bogg's pants!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:56 AM on April 19, 2011


Second Errant, and by the way, there's nothing inherently wrong with what RSaunders is quoted as saying.

However, Randy, I think you're pretty massively over-generalizing our response to his blog posts, and my personal opinion is that you're giving Adams too much credit for sincerity. From where I'm sitting, not only is he a professional bullshit artists (i.e., someone who's much more concerned with how people react to what he says than with its veracity), but he's proud of it ("I'll let you in on a professional secret...").

That's not "questioning", that's cynicism. Cynicism is easy. So is picking holes in something from the sidelines based on half-baked theories about unrelated phenomena.* Trying to really figure shit out -- that's hard.

--
*Really, seriously, he's still hanging onto the 'evolution will be proved wrong because time is non-linear' thing? and even after he admits that he throws that stuff out there as utter bullshit, he still expects us to take it seriously? Make up your fucking mind, Scott. You know, there's a whole genre of fiction for people making that kind of conjecture, and some of it is actually really good. This is the point where it dawns on me that Adams has never read much Science Fiction -- at least, not in the last 20 years or so, and if he has, it wasn't the good stuff. (Or maybe he read Neal Stephenson -- which is a bad thing for an arrogant person to have as his only exposure to SF. Actually, arrogant people just plain probably shouldn't read Stephenson, period. It's liable to pump them up too much.)
posted by lodurr at 11:57 AM on April 19, 2011


Boggs', even
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:57 AM on April 19, 2011


Everything after /Randy is a copypaste from the new user signup page, under the "Good Contributions" subhead. The sudden shift in tone there is less weird with that in mind.

I really hope that we can avoid "haha, new guy with an opinion, you must be Scott Adams" as the new site meme or whatever.

Agreed. I totally understand the inclination toward a hurf durf puppet socker joke when someone comes wandering in late in the game here, but I like that fact that we're generally decent to new people showing up here and they've already got the "nice try, Scott!" thing done and then some over on reddit. We can probably leave it there.
posted by cortex at 11:58 AM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


After all this mess, I think it's the cynicism that's getting me down the most.

Scott is selling himself as a "genius", as someone with great predictive powers -- and at the same time, he's 'letting us in on the secret' that it's all bullshit.

And people are still buying it.

Scott trumpets: "I was right about [random prediction x]! [assuming you ignore the many ways I was not right about x]"

Scott demurs: "Oh, that crazy [prediction y]? That was just me making one of my many daily predictions! I make so many you're churlish to count it against me when my predictions don't come true [or are insane]!"

He gets to have his cake and eat it too. Gets to create his own version of reality. (The comparison up-thread with Rove was quite apt in that regard.)
posted by lodurr at 12:03 PM on April 19, 2011


Ok, I apologize to Randy, although I think if I was picking my first comment to make on MetaFilter it probably wouldn't be defending the guy who just got caught creating sock puppet accounts to defend himself.

I suppose what Randy was actually doing was asking for a higher standard of conversation (I disagree, I think that until Adams showed up the standard of conversation in that thread was pretty decent), but I shouldn't have accused him of being SA just for offering a critical opinion.
posted by codacorolla at 12:23 PM on April 19, 2011


I just hope that Adams plunges into obscurity so usage of his initials stops tarnishing the noble reputation of Something Awful.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:25 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


RSaunders is hopefully just an Adams fan who backtracked from this post by Adams put up yesterday, since his capitalization of "PlannedChaos" is distinctly not of-this-thread. That said, I think this thread stands alone as an example of what MetaFilter is all about: self-policing, accountability, and community action.
posted by mek at 1:30 PM on April 19, 2011


Coming very late to this party - I personally found the 'pee in your cesspool' comment to be offensive. Let me just say, I'm proud of the restraint Mefites have shown.
posted by newdaddy at 2:50 PM on April 19, 2011


I post under my own name, so it's pretty easy to detect that I've been a member of the Dilbert Blog community for years. I've read hundreds of Adams posts so I know the whole story of all the posts youall are quoting out of context. The first MetaFilter thing I read was Matt's post on the Dilbert Blog.

Having read Adams posts for years, I'm not at all surprised that some of youall take them out of context. It's surprisingly common, and there have been some very interesting examinations of the cognitive dissonance caused by the way Dilbert blog entries are written.

So why am I here? Fair question. I'm not onboard with the idea that everything that's interesting can be said in a 140 character tweet or 15 second video news clip. From everything I could read About MetaFilter, this seems like a community that I'd like to interact with. Matt seemed pretty reasonable and claimed the rest of youall were also.

Presuming this web site is a good cause, there's no real downside to spending $5. I read a couple of recent items, but they hadn't really gotten their legs yet. So, I used your search function to find the Great PlannedChaos Debate. A lot of folks have called Scott a lot of names over the years, mostly when he decided to poke them with a stick. I'll admit I've enjoyed many of those exchanges. Frankly, I wanted to see what sort of commentary would drive him to sockpuppetry.

My post reflects my disappointment. It wasn't an analysis of his reasoning that wore him down. It wasn't a comparison of the inconsistencies between his past statements like he was a Supreme Court nominee. It was the sort of petty name-calling and quote shopping that gives the Internet a bad name.

Frankly, I don't really mind if that's what youall do over here at MetaFilter. I'm not going to tell you how to run your site. I think there's a little false advertising in terms of what you say versus what you do. No biggie, the Internet's full of that. I posted to call you out on your bad behavior, not unlike Matt's calling Scott out on the evil that is being a sockpuppet.

@damn dirty ape: Scott's argument that the scientific community would benefit from a better explanation of evolution is pretty well discussed in the documentary film Flock of Dodos.

@codacorolla: Let's see:
comment #2 = Pompous elitist argument from a (former) Mensa member. (name calling already?)
comment #4 = Scott Adams' opinion on any and all things was rendered invalid to me the moment he published that rant basically comparing women to children and the mentally challenged. (Which he did not say, the paragraph was about prioritizing battles to fight.)

Like I said before, you can run things that way here at MetaFilter. That's not what I was looking for, so my fingers can just surf over to another website.

/Randy
posted by RSaunders at 4:01 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I regret apologizing to you.
posted by codacorolla at 4:17 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Randy: MetaFilter is a deep site (as in, contains a lot of content). There are subjects here warranting careful analysis and there are... well, poop jokes. Apparantly, the general consensus was that Scott Adams merited closer to the second category of response than the first. Being someone who comes here as a fan, I don't really expect you to look any further than that, but there you go. No one can be everything to everybody, and no one is universally liked. Welcome, if you care to stick around for more than a cursory sniff for regurgitated hero-worship truffles, or good day, if this was just a drive-by fur-ball snark-up. Either way.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:26 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, RSaunders. You're part of the hive, now, for better or worse. You are just as much Metafilter as every other user. Your contribution is now "Metafilter" just as much as ad hominem attacks on Adams. Stick around a while; you don't need to feel like you are an "other."

Unless you are an Adams sockpuppet, in which case, see above.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:27 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


@damn dirty ape: Scott's argument that the scientific community would benefit froma better explanation of evolution is pretty well discussed in the documentary film Flock of Dodos.

Hey Randy, the scientific community can benefit from a better understanding of anything. And dont point me to a fucking movie. Do you have a point to make? If so, make it. You and Adams' evolution skepticism is so convientant. We never see this treatment of "Oh wait, so we should rethink this constantly" to things that dont remind man that he's just a dying bag of cells. How about the mating rituals of urban squirrels? Or germ theory? Or the best way to train a dog?

Instead, we get the same "concern trolling" from the same people, who just happen to espouse the other typical psuedoscientific right-wing views. What a big coincidence! The guy obsessed with criticizing evolution also has arguments for the existence of god. Whoa, what an incredible coincidence yet again!

PZ is constantly debunking spiritual merchants of psuedoscience like Adams. Adams doesnt give a shit. He just continues on as Lord Troll of the Pseudoscience Magical Thinking Club.

Here's the deal Randy. If you and Scott want to be Mr. "EVOLUTION IS BULLSHIT" then you're going to need to man up quite a bit, grow a thicker skin, and lay out some pretty damned good arguments. "Thought experiments" based on ancient fallacies isn't cutting it. If you and Adams want to show ignorant cavement like me the wisdom of "magical thinking" then deliver the goods. Don't be wishy-washy, dont point to movies, dont point to shit fallacies, provide the proof - get published, get your nobel peace prize. Show us up. Its yours for the taking. What are you really waiting for? If you honestly think the jury is still out on evolution, then prove it, in the meantime, you should accept it as the most reasonable theory for why biological life exists as it does.

On final thing Randy, I suggest you stop it with the hero worship. Your pal is a fucking comedian. He's not a genius. Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Dennis Miller were funny smart guys, but their biology-fu is as poor as Scott's. Don't let Scott's ability to make you laugh also make you dumb. If you want to play anti-authoritarian skeptic, I suggest you start with your cartoonist pal.

Lets face it, right now you and your boy are looking pretty bad. You guys are like me in 8th grade trolling USENET and proclaiming myself king of the shit pile while stroking my own ego about invading alt.pet.cats yet again. The guy who hides behind nasty insult "comedy" is usually the guy with nothing worthwhile to say. I hope someday you can understand that concept.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:30 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Which he did not say, the paragraph was about prioritizing battles to fight.)

If your justification for saying a lot of hateful bullshit is that you have a careful, torturously constructed purpose for doing so which must be rigorously unpacked by all who receive it via a consideration of the absolute totality of context in which what said paired with the maximum possible charity of reading even as high-level hot button terms are being thrown about willy-nilly, it doesn't give the greatest impression the judgement of the person choosing to employ that particular rhetorical strategy.

I'm willing to allow that there is, by a very slim margin, a distantly possible "charitable" reading of Adams' men's rights rant. But his reaction, and that of his apologists has done nothing to make a persuasive case that Adams does not deserve the considerable hit his already shaky reputation has taken. I mean if you lack sensitivity or tact there's not really an argument to be made in favor of your handling issues that require sensitivity and tact.
posted by anazgnos at 4:39 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


/horny
posted by Burhanistan at 4:47 PM on April 19, 2011


Does the transitive property apply to certified genius? Does genius work like guilt, eg. by association?
posted by five fresh fish at 4:49 PM on April 19, 2011


I wish.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:51 PM on April 19, 2011


comment #9: a discussion of the value of entrepreneurship as applied to the broader community and its basic skills and values, by a professor of same, with a followup a few comments later.

comment #somethinghigher: discussion of employment policy and hiring practices in Australia from someone writing position papers for a major party.

If all you want to see is name-calling and expletives, that's all you'll see. It doesn't mean the signal isn't there, though. If you subscribe to the Adams theory of Internet as Wild West, then the name-calling and expletives are just an average day dodging bullets in Tombstone and they shouldn't bother you at all. If you don't subscribe to that theory, then Adams contravened the norms of a community deliberately in order to refocus a broadening discussion about the nature of entrepreneurship and its relationship to ethical business practice, in order to make sure everyone was talking about him instead.

Which is all we're doing now, when we could have been doing the other thing. Metafilter works better when people don't fuck with it; that's when it's most the site it can be. But we haven't hammered our pitchforks into plowshares just yet, so if you came here hoping we were some grand post-irony intellectual white tower, sorry, we play in the mud too. You're attempting a "gotcha" about a claim no one here has made or will make.

Also, please stop saying "youall". It's "y'all", or "all y'all" when referring to the second person plural superset. "Youall" just seems like you're appropriating the usefulness of a second person plural without wanting to sound like you're not from the city. If you'd prefer the urban variant, there's always "youse", or "youse guys" when referring to all us dirty rats what killed your brother.
posted by Errant at 4:57 PM on April 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


RSaunders, just responding to one point of yours -
what you see in this thread is not representative of the whole site. There are some topics that bring out irritability in the user base here (eg, defending anti-scientific "skepticism" about evolution) and Scott Adams has made posts about some of them over the years, causing people to get predictably irritated or think of him as a buffoon. (Although apparently his M.O. when writing is to make false or hyperbolic claims he doesn't agree with, as a form of comedy or attention-getting or interactive theater with his blog readers? -- I can't comment on this, haven't read his stuff)

At any rate he had an existing reputation here as someone whose posts/columns predictably say stupid things, or take positions that deserve to be torn apart (and he says openly that this is his method, yes?), and so the only people here who bother to read posts about him are people who are willing to put energy into tearing apart stupid things. Other people just roll their eyes and think, eh, that guy, not interested.

And, once this whole kerfuffle happened, most of the people who bothered to come into this thread in the first place will have rolled their eyes and just moved on to do something else. So the people who are left commenting in this thread are relatively few, who either relish taking someone down, or have a particular pet peeve about anti-scientific posturing (whether it's sincere posturing or just is easily mistaken for being sincere), or have the motivation to reply to snark with snark, or are to explain Mefi to newcomers, etc.

There are a lot of people on this site who have zero taste for drama or personal insults or snarky back-and-forth, and those people are - for obvious reasons - not interested in this thread. So anyway, just saying, this isn't a representative sample.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:15 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you subscribe to the Adams theory of Internet as Wild West, ...

Of course, the real wild west wasn't nearly as wild as we remember it. It remains a useful myth, though, for people who want to describe a place where their aggressive actions are justified as self-defense.
posted by lodurr at 5:18 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're gonna give you a fair trial, followed by a first class hanging.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:24 PM on April 19, 2011


I'm still waiting for somebody -- it could be Scott, it could be RSanders -- to explain why Evolution is particularly vulnerable to the effects of nonlinear timelines -- versus, say, astrophysics, or engineering math.

I guess my objection could be seen as another flavor of damn dirty ape's suspicion that this particular objection is a little too convenient, but it's -- dare I appropriate Scott's term? -- subtler than that, I think. In this world, in science and technology, we make progress in a stepwise fashion -- and everyone who's actually involved in making that progress already knows this, so telling them with great ceremony and as though they didn't know it that things are going to be re-thought at some point could be argued to merit a bit of condescension in return. So if Scott's position is "I'm seeing things others don't see about this", then he's full of shit: He's not really seeing anything others don't see, he's just refusing to believe actual evolutionary biologists when they say "no shit, sherlock."

All the evidence I've seen so far suggests to me that Scott Adams is the opposite of someone to be taken seriously as a source for ideas and interesting thought. I cut my teeth reading science fiction written by folks whose stock in trade was ideas -- I spend a lot of time interacting with SF people now. I've invoked Neal Stephenson a few times in this discussion, because he's a great example of someone who's made his bones on the wild and woolly wonder of his ideas. Neal doesn't hold them back -- he gives them out, they're out there for people to make fun of or criticise, to be treated as predictions (which, by the way is the wrong way to think about ideas, which is something Scott could learn from SF) or treated as thought-experiments. Neal Stephenson, Bruce Sterling, Paolo Bacigalupi, Nancy Kress, Rudy Rucker -- these folks don't go around whining that people don't understand the subtlety of their ideas. If people didn't "get" what they were putting out there, they'd view it as a personal failure -- they'd see it as meaning they didn't communicate clearly. (Well, maybe except for Rudy, who doesn't seem to care very much if not everybody gets his ideas. But he also doesn't think people are stupid if they don't.)

Scott has said that regards himself first as an entrepreneur, and part of that seems to entail manipulating information about himself. He uses a sockpuppet, reframes the narrative, follows an "any publicity is good publicity" policy*, changes his story retroactively about whether he meant somethng or didn't, etc. All of these things make him, at least, a very unreliable narrator. Add to that the fact that he seems to have contempt for people he doesn't regard as his intellectual equals, and I'm just not seeing why we should take him seriously as a thinker.

--
*This, by the way, is a deeply mistaken idea, if the goal is to make money off your brand. Any competent marketer can tell you that. If the goal is to increase the number of people talking about you, it's great, but they're not the same thing. Just ask O. J. Simpson.
posted by lodurr at 5:35 PM on April 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Of course, the real wild west wasn't nearly as wild as we remember it. It remains a useful myth, though, for people who want to describe a place where their aggressive actions are justified as self-defense.

Yeah, I did know that, and I guess that's why Adams' characterization as such is double-ridiculous: first, the Internet isn't like that, and second, even if it was, it wouldn't then be like the Wild West. Apologies if I have inadvertently perpetrated a lingering piece of misinformation in service of my point.
posted by Errant at 5:38 PM on April 19, 2011


I figured you knew that, I just wanted to point it out.
posted by lodurr at 5:44 PM on April 19, 2011


RSaunders, just responding to one point of yours - what you see in this thread is not representative of the whole site. There are some topics that bring out irritability in the user base here (eg, defending anti-scientific "skepticism" about evolution) and Scott Adams has made posts about some of them over the years, causing people to get predictably irritated or think of him as a buffoon.

Indeed. Take a look at a few other recent threads, e.g. the great Andres Serrano post, or this discussion of our limited capacity for culture. Lots of people are contributing and disagreeing without the eye rolling and snark.
posted by benzenedream at 6:52 PM on April 19, 2011


Scott Adams is a pathetic attention whore. The next step in his meltdown is either a sex tape, rehab or domestic violence arrest. Place your bets.
posted by humanfont at 6:55 PM on April 19, 2011


I'll take 2 (B) for 1500 favorites, humanfont.
posted by Floydd at 6:59 PM on April 19, 2011


humanfont: Scott Adams is a pathetic attention whore. The next step in his meltdown is either a sex tape, rehab or domestic violence arrest. Place your bets

Oh, I had my money on:
"Pained but dignified, self-deprecating piece in the NYT about errant behaviour and subsequent intervention and diagnosis of significant mental health issue which is now being treated with meds and everything is going to be OK but pills everyday for the rest of your life, boy-howdy... still, small price to pay for never again returning to that dark hell."
Did I guess wrong?
posted by DarlingBri at 8:31 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, cannot believe I missed this train-wreck the first go-around. What a dipshit.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:42 PM on April 19, 2011


Turns out the certificate was made out to Scott Adamson. Oopsie!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:37 PM on April 19, 2011


It wasn't really a train-wreck, joe lisboa.

More like rubbernecking at some guy who drove into a ditch because he was admiring himself in the mirror instead of paying attention to the road.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:27 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Did anybody from Metafilter get articles published in the Wall Street Journal or in any other serious newspaper?

I didn't think so."
posted by mippy at 1:51 AM on April 20, 2011


No, we're mostly just confined to peer-reviewed academic journals, alas, although we do have a number of published authors & journalists.

You need to write comics to gain enough celebrity status to be invited to write controversial shock-jock style opinion pieces to boost the WSJ's adclick income.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:35 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


(just couldn't be arsed signing up on dilbert.com to write that)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:36 AM on April 20, 2011


The next step in his meltdown is either a sex tape, rehab or domestic violence arrest.

Except for a nerd on Scott's level, the "sex" tape will be a youtube video of a late-night D&D session where he plays a female elf named Galandria Nightbreeze and roleplays a 23 minute sexual encounter between him and a rough Half-Ogre named Goro Graytusk. After this encounter Galandria is forced to marry Graytusk and Scott manages to somehow produce a wedding dress, elf ears, and wig that fit him perfectly.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:48 AM on April 20, 2011


Scott, if you wanted to sign up for Metafilter to defend your writing, that would have been fine.

Yes, but, to be fair, that hasn't always gone so well...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:48 AM on April 20, 2011


obligatory goblin porn

[SFW. alas.]
posted by lodurr at 6:52 AM on April 20, 2011


Depends on your definition of "well." Every time I've ever seen it, it did NOT result in a pile-on and while people didn't pull their punches, they fought clean. If you don't want to deal with what people think of your work, you shouldn't go into public forums.
posted by lodurr at 6:54 AM on April 20, 2011


Your reactions to those blog entries undermines your claims.

Yeah, lets talk about reaction for a moment. There aren't a lot of universal rules in life but, when your intellectual leader decides that the best way to take his message to the streets is via harassing middle school children and stoned teenagers in r/comics, its probably best to start unhitching your wagon from that trainwreck. Just saying. When your leader is attacking children with retorts like "YOU DUM, IM SMARTZ" its maybe time to reconsider whose flag you fly. This is like Jesus of Nazareth walking into a children's religious school and calling them a brood of vipers and hypocrites. Kinda awkward, eh Randy?

Actually, I'd say the first red flag is when you leader is given an opinion piece at Rupert Murdochs trash mag, the Wall Street Journal, but we'll let that slide for now.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:07 AM on April 20, 2011


Yes, but, to be fair, that hasn't always gone so well...

It depends an awful lot on how the showing-up-and-defending is done.

Almost always when someone signs up to respond to a post about their work, even to a thread where response to said work has been critical, it's gone pretty well if their response was "hey, I'm the person who wrote/drew/directed/whatevered that thing, and here's some thoughts on the criticism you guys have put forth".

It's always possible that there will be some uber-grumpy person who will get shirty with an author even when they show up and act reasonable. Other people are likely to tell the grump to cut it out, including the mods.

In any case, if someone doesn't feel comfortable wading into a pile of mefi criticism, that's totally understandable and their call. I have no expectation that any given subject of a post will choose to show up here; it's (usually) neat when it does happen, and tends to make for a more interesting thread and more tempered and considered criticism through conversation with the primary source, but even so it's not something we go around writing emails to people to try to make happen.
posted by cortex at 7:27 AM on April 20, 2011


... and more tempered and considered criticism through conversation with the primary source...

That's been my experience here. Most people won't get all PlannedChaos on somebody's ass if the person is right there in front of them. But I don't spend a lot of time on other forums anymore. (Other than Plastic, this is actually the only really large or public one I've spent really significant time on. YGroups don't count because they're small and not very public. So I could have a blinkered view of how it would go somewhere else.)
posted by lodurr at 7:45 AM on April 20, 2011


"Did anybody from Metafilter get articles published in the Wall Street Journal or in any other serious newspaper?

I didn't think so."


I understand MetaFilter user 'plannedchaos' did.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:08 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The opinion/essay/editorial section of the WSJ is far, far from a "serious newspaper." Its essentially Fox News and Adams is essentially Hannity.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:12 AM on April 20, 2011


I stand corrected!
posted by Sys Rq at 8:18 AM on April 20, 2011


You know, given that he just wrote a column about how he gamed every loophole he could find in order to exploit good-faith systems, it's not so surprising hat he'd try the same stunt with the MeFi community (fucking with it for personal gain and then trying to appeal to technicalities of a "privacy policy" and "conflict of interest" as if that'll make it ok). What is surprising is the fact that he appears to have gotten away with this antisocial nonsense enough times that he's now shocked -- SHOCKED! -- that it backfired.

Or maybe it has backfired before, and he's an unusually slow learner for a Certified Genius.

.... nah.
posted by Westringia F. at 8:21 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the characteristics that "geniuses" share with serial convicts is that they often find it difficult to learn certain types of lesson.

With someone like Edison, that can lead to a lightbulb.

With other people, it leads to serial incarceration.

Scott's somewhere in between.
posted by lodurr at 8:25 AM on April 20, 2011


There is no such thing as "obligatory goblin porn." I'm not doubting the existence of goblin porn - just saying that no, it's not obligatory. Under any circumstances. No, it's not. Sorry.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:01 AM on April 20, 2011


"Did anybody from Metafilter get articles published in the Wall Street Journal or in any other serious newspaper?

Eh, not to start a pissing match, but plenty of MeFites write books and articles and op-eds and many work for major media outlets in the kinds of roles that involve calling people up and asking them to submit op-ed pieces. So yes, they get published in serious newspapers, magazines, and elsewhere.
posted by Miko at 10:01 AM on April 20, 2011


And they star in TV shows, write feature films — really the list could on and on. There's some amazingly successful and talented people here.
posted by defenestration at 10:10 AM on April 20, 2011


Not to mention better looking!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:28 AM on April 20, 2011


I had a letter published in Goblin Penthouse.

Goblin Penthouse is a serious publication. It has articles and anything.

"Dear Goblin Penthouse, I never thought it would happen to me but..."
posted by longbaugh at 10:30 AM on April 20, 2011


...and fabulous cooks!
posted by Miko at 10:31 AM on April 20, 2011


anything everything.

Fucking certified GENIUS man...
posted by longbaugh at 10:31 AM on April 20, 2011


And now it looks like Miko has made a spelling mistake following on from my "readers letters"...
posted by longbaugh at 10:32 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, that too, of course.
posted by Miko at 10:33 AM on April 20, 2011


And hhuuuuuuuge tracts of land.
posted by Miko at 10:33 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Multiple orcasms!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:34 AM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Pulling my "o"gre face
posted by longbaugh at 10:45 AM on April 20, 2011


I hear there's some real action in this town called Nilbog — no trolling!
posted by defenestration at 11:04 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


UMBER HULK
posted by Mister_A at 11:40 AM on April 20, 2011


RSaunders: "Scott's argument that the scientific community would benefit from a better explanation of evolution is pretty well discussed" dismissed by anyone who actually has credentials as an evolutionary biologist.

The general public would benefit from better science education in general. But the scientific community is just fine with using scientific definitions to define science. If Adams wants to tell us how to do it better, he can go earn a PhD like the rest of us. Then we'll talk.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:27 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hold on - calling stoned teenagers names? What now?

Isn't Steve Jobs or someone a MeFite? He's probably been in the WSJ once or twice.

I was in the Guardian once - being interviewed about Teletext. They said I temped for a carpet company. It was a wallpaper company. That's the LIZARD CONTROLLED MEDIA for you.
posted by mippy at 2:01 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not only was his behavious here sad and pathetic, and becoming more so as he tries to talk himself out of it (especially with his latest "Trump is a Magnificent Bastard" blog entry), the ethical blind spots in that WSJ Op-ED, are obnoxious and gross.

It's the problem at the root of all libertarianism and Randism, and all that horseshit, at it's very rotten center there is a severely blinkered and problematic ethical core, that borders on evil being paraded as a virtue. Fuck em. It is pure evil, no equivocating required. When there is no real attempt to attribute any value more important to a human experience other than that of commerce, that in my book is evil.
posted by Skygazer at 2:24 PM on April 20, 2011


Speaking of Trump, I feel like Tina Fey has just been handed several years worth of dialogue for the Jack Donaghey character from 30 Rock.
posted by electroboy at 2:55 PM on April 20, 2011


Scott's doing god's work. Who else will speak up for the frightened middle-aged Republicans?

I love how most of his shenanigans are straight out of Thanksgiving dinner with your conservative uncle: global warming denial, evolution denial, crazy tax plan that will never work, etc all topped off with ye olde god of the gaps argument.

Mensa is missing its village idiot.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:48 PM on April 20, 2011


Who else will speak up for the frightened middle-aged Republicans?

Dude doesn't speak for ME. (but then, do I qualify as frightened? )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:31 PM on April 20, 2011


BOO!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:32 PM on April 20, 2011


Still there?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:32 PM on April 20, 2011


Isn't Mensa just an elaborate marketing con. It's like those finish this picture; and you can be a great artist things right? I mean what kind of moron would fall for that simple marketing bullshit.
posted by humanfont at 4:48 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought you were talking about manga for a minute there, but then I reread your comment. What do you have against manga?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:51 PM on April 20, 2011


*draws Binky*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:52 PM on April 20, 2011


I thought you were talking about manga for a minute there, but then I reread your comment. What do you have against manga?

I read your retort and though you had mistaken my comment as a tirade against magma. And I was thinking why would you think I was talk about magma? I don't hate magma, just the cosplay idiots who dot understand the difference between magma and lava. Oh wait you meant manga same objection at heart really, that and all the tentacles...what were we talking about again?
posted by humanfont at 5:24 PM on April 20, 2011


I can't believe you'd say that about Dogma! Sure, some people prefered Clerks, but I say Dogma was clearly the superior work. But, I guess h8rz gotta h8.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:28 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean what kind of moron would fall for that simple marketing bullshit.

You just need to do the Mensa test early enough. Pass it in grade 4 when you do it just for a laugh or because you're bored on holidays, and you'll be immune from having any respect for Mensa or Mensa members for the remainder of your life.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:33 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Scott Adams' quote as the last line in this 2007 NYT piece: “The problem with being a cartoonist is that if you don’t have someplace else to go, your life just gets so small.”
posted by JLovebomb at 6:03 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mensa is like the International Star Registry or Who's Who. It does not carry nearly the prestige you think it does and you probably would he better off spending the cash elsewhere. I guess if you enjoy it, then great have fun. Just don't think it makes you any kind of accredited/certified genius. From my perspective it just suggests you are an easy mark, all we have to do is play on your own need for external validation of your intellectual abilities.
posted by humanfont at 6:19 PM on April 20, 2011


Oddman was here.
posted by oddman at 8:27 PM on April 20, 2011


From my perspective it just suggests you are an easy mark, all we have to do is play on your own need for external validation of your intellectual abilities.

Also that you don't have any serious interests in which you are making progress. Most people gifted with unusual intelligence find some specific interest or passion which they can pursue as avocation or vocation, and they do their associating through that, if they want to associate with others.

There's something odd about the fact that people are drawn to Mensa, which has no unifying principle other than "we all met the qualification test and wanted to be in this organization for its supposed cachet." If you are doing anything at all interesting with your intelligence, there are opportunities to get whatever cachet you want by excelling in your field of endeavor and associating with people who care about the same subject matter you care about. Just being in some club that has no real focus is an odd way to express your sense of personal worth and a lame argument for others to consider you valuable members of society contributing to human experience. By all means, enjoy your recreational club, but please let's not pretend it means anything.
posted by Miko at 8:58 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


RSaunders: I'll admit I've enjoyed many of those exchanges. Frankly, I wanted to see what sort of commentary would drive him to sockpuppetry.

My post reflects my disappointment. It wasn't an analysis of his reasoning that wore him down. It wasn't a comparison of the inconsistencies between his past statements like he was a Supreme Court nominee. It was the sort of petty name-calling and quote shopping that gives the Internet a bad name.


He was "driven to sockpuppetry" a year ago on reddit, and kept it up, tossing out jabs from behind his mask. There was no wearing down, it was self-defense from behind a cape. Sure, there were some nasty comments here, but the same has happened before - nasty things are said when the author isn't present, yet when they appear, people get nice. Sure, it'd be better if we were polite before the party in interest joined the discussion, but so it goes.

Scott would come across differently if he didn't think that the only way to avoid a conflict of interest is to promote yourself in 3rd person. Or if he didn't get a rush from negative attention. But apparently that's who he is, and that doesn't make him a particularly good fit for MetaFilter.

I hope you stick around, because there's more to MetaFilter than what you see here.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:15 PM on April 20, 2011


There's something odd about the fact that people are drawn to Mensa Amway.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:31 PM on April 20, 2011


My landlord is a member of Mensa - I only know this because he got one of their newsletters in the post, otherwise he'd never have mentioned it. It's pretty obvious to me that he is a very intelligent guy and he's a big fan of logic, so it wasn't a surprise that IQ tests would come easy to them.

I do wonder - and this is from someone who'#s mother didn't enrol them in the Gifted Children's Association because 'it's just about giving them money' - what the value is, as Miko says. Growing up, I would have loved to meet people on the same level as me, where I could just chat without someone asking me if I'd swallowed a dictionary or thinking I was weird for liking the things I did. Now, and perhaps the internet has spoiled me, I wonder what I would have in common with people bar a certain level of intelligence. I know little of maths and physics, so it would be hard for a maths genius to talk about their passion with me. And the incredibly clever physicist I know is an extraordinary bad speller and finds writing prose difficult, so if intelligence within our areas of aptitude was the only common ground we had, we might not have so much to talk about, and we probably wouldn't play Scrabble. Having flicked through the MEnsa magazine, there's a lot of events geared toward more science-based interests, none of which would be something I fancy doing. Of course, many of those people might just like getting together and chatting about everything and nothing, but it just seems a wee bit arbitrary.
posted by mippy at 5:04 AM on April 21, 2011


* them = him.

I need broccoli.
posted by mippy at 5:07 AM on April 21, 2011


who'#s = whose.

All that broccoli seems to be corroding the dictionary you swallowed earlier.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:13 AM on April 21, 2011


Lesson: never mix vegetables with grammar.
posted by mippy at 6:39 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Definitely.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:41 AM on April 21, 2011


Being told I had a genius level IQ age 13 made me into the insufferable arsehole I am today. I never joined Mensa though; something about it always seemed kind of sad. I chose instead to take lots of drugs, fuck a lot of different people and read a lot of really weird shit. Much more fun I have to say. I may not be pulling in millions of dollars but I am much happier this way with no pressure on me to excel.
posted by longbaugh at 7:48 AM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK, I apologize for my movie link, and offer Damn Dirty Ape and others the following clarification.

I said "the scientific community would benefit from a better explanation of evolution". My emphasis is that the community of scientists in all fields (from aerodynamics to zoology) would benefit from different explanation of evolution. I admit that "better" was a value judgment on my part. One might reasonably ask what evolution has to do with aerodynamics, and I'd reply that people outside the scientific community see "science" as a homogeneous thing. People inside the scientific community appreciate all the nuanced connections between scientific fields. This is a generic difference between insiders and outsiders, replace the scientific/science with medical/medicine or legal/justice or plumbing/plumbing and the same holds true.

Am I suggesting that scientific insiders would be better able to do their individual scientific endeavors if armed with a better explanation of evolution - No, I am not. My point is that scientific insiders are such a small percentage of the world's population that their internal endeavors are just one piece of their community's situation.

I am suggesting that the perception of science by people outside that community (i.e. the rest of humanity) would be improved with a different explanation of evolution. Provided that the explanation was consistent with the facts, it shouldn't be different to the related scientific insiders.

Since "better" was my value judgment, let me explain the value spectrum I'm using. One the left end we will have Bernoulli's Principle and on the right end we will have Natal Astrology. I would argue that Bernoulli's Principle is science and Natal Astrology is not. I don't do this to offend the practitioners of either aerodynamics or astrology, and if it's required here I apologize to both groups in advance.

Bernoulli's Principle has certain characteristics in its description of the real world. There are formulas that lead to predictions. The formulas and predictions can be evaluated in both naive experiments like blowing over a slip of paper and rigorous experiments. Any repeatable, rigorous experiment that identified a contradiction to the predictions of these formulas would be interesting to the aerodynamics community. It might be an experimental error, perhaps the fluid was forced into a flow where it was compressible, but if it were not an error it would be a very interesting result. This notion of reliable falsifiable prediction in repeatable experiment is one of my value system's metrics for scientific-ness.

Natal Astrology has different characteristics in its description of the real world. There are formulas for weighting the influence of various dimensions (called Houses). The formulas and predictions can be evaluated in experiments, but the predictions are statistical. It's not a force like lift for which we have direct instrumentality, but it's an increased likelihood of an outcome. While one might think that a little design-of-experiments and statistics might quantify the phenomena. the more math you add the more it looks like sampling noise. Even though there are repeatable experiments and falsifiable predictions, there is no more reliability than flipping a coin. That's means not-science to me.

With that value spectrum, let's look at the fossil record explanation of evolution through natural selection. Darwin observed that birds had beaks that seemed to have more to do with their favorite food than anything else. He hypothesized that common ancestors with random variations that made them more effective at eating the local nuts were more likely to raise chicks, and that this natural selection force caused divergence between the related bird groups. Darwin had the advantage of seeing what the birds ate, but the whole evolution concept is grounded in the study of fossil records. Fossil's don't preserve a lot of the information present in the actual animal, much as Natal Astrology's houses don't really capture the whole pattern of the universe. Much of the interpretation of fossils depends on large collections of them, which appears to provide data points for a statistical analysis. Alas, the percentage of the animals that have lived on this planet which are available as fossils for study is 0 to dozens of decimal places. No formula for the natural selection has ever been proposed. If two individuals separated by generations have something in common, that's consistent with evolution. If they have something different, that's consistent with evolution. And, to top it off, we have only the one fossil record. By definition there is only one history, barring some sort of many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. With no falsifiable predictions, no repeatable experiments, no math, and no formulas it is pretty easy for me to put evolution to the right of center. Evolution guided by the intervention of an invisible, omnipotent being (or whatever you call Creationism) isn't really any different. That's why you don't see machines that use evolution to do something, like the airplanes that use Bernoulli's Principle to do things.

What's a shame, again in my opinion, is that evolution is a fact. There is a vastly better explanation of evolution than the natural selection. It's called genetics. Genetics has the sort of formulas and predictions you can experiment on. The predictions are statistical, but you can gather the data and get remarkably reliable results. Genetics is on the left side of the scale, it's a science. It doesn't work back in time very well because fossils don't really preserve DNA well. That's too bad, but science could live without it.

Why do we even teach the old natural selection stuff? What's it brought the overall science community. It's variance from many popular creation stories has documented that Science and Religion are competitors. It's empowered all sorts of kooks who say "you can't trust science" and then proceed to tell you some kooky theory like vaccines cause autism or you can pray away your child's disease. It's time to sell natural selection to the History department where it can be taught with the spread of the Roman Empire.

A final apology to the cosmologists out there in MetaFilter. Yes, I'd probably sell you to the History Department also. It's totally not fair, so I wouldn't jump to the defense of evolution with "but we only have one history of the universe to build our cosmological theories on".

/Randy
posted by RSaunders at 8:23 AM on April 21, 2011


filthy light thief:

I decline to get involved with reddit, Digg, or comments on SlashDot. Those communities have not, in my opinion, maintained a healthy or respectful discussion. that's not what they are offering up to the Internet's population.
posted by RSaunders at 8:28 AM on April 21, 2011


With no falsifiable predictions, no repeatable experiments, no math, and no formulas

If you're posting from a planet where evolutionary biology has none of these components, I think maybe we've just proven the existence of parallel worlds.

That's why you don't see machines that use evolution to do something

Have I got a journal for you!
posted by RogerB at 8:32 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


RSaunders - a lot of folks will probably reply to that comment but I can't recommend TalkOrigins enough as a starting point if you have any confusion about natural selection or evolution or related concepts.
posted by longbaugh at 8:33 AM on April 21, 2011


RogerB: The distribution of MIT Press Journals like the no doubt applicable one you cite is not the same as the Wall Street Journal. It's an insider journal for insiders, by PhDs for PhDs. That's not the sort of publication that's feeding into third grade science curricula and into the concept labeled "evolution" in Scott Adams, to bring back the subject of the thread.

/Randy
posted by RSaunders at 8:41 AM on April 21, 2011


longlaugh: I'm more familiar with Panda's Thumb, but I don't want you to think I'm anti-professional about history. Just visit the American Historical Association.

/Randy
posted by RSaunders at 8:45 AM on April 21, 2011


/Randy

Do you know a guy named Todd?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:48 AM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rsaunders: we all have a "posted by" byline so signatures are kind of seen as redundant here, to put it mildly.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:49 AM on April 21, 2011


I would argue that the opinion page of the WSJ is its own insider journal. I forget if it's read by the people who run the country or own it. In any case, slashRandy, I think what you're arguing for is a better K-12 educational system, as well as a lot less sensationalistic pandering media systems. I'm certainly down with that. Not much we can do about the latter, but there's tons we can do about the former.
posted by lysdexic at 8:53 AM on April 21, 2011


There is a vastly better explanation of evolution than the natural selection. It's called genetics.

Huh?
posted by lodurr at 9:15 AM on April 21, 2011


look, the main reason people don't like evolution is that they don't want to think of themselves as having descended from icky monkeys - because then we would be some kind of animal

and besides the bible says we weren't - so there

you can't explain science to people who don't want to hear the explanations - you can't simplify complex notions and evidence so people can be spoon fed

quit blaming the messenger for the message and the unwillingness of some to hear it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:35 AM on April 21, 2011


you can't explain science to people who don't want to hear the explanations - you can't simplify complex notions and evidence so people can be spoon fed

I believe that not only can we do this but we have a responsibility to do so. You might not get everyone but any people who better understand science and how it works is a win in my eyes.

quit blaming the messenger for the message and the unwillingness of some to hear it

This is just like Scott Adams would say. His inability to effectively communicate is blamed on the people reading his work rather than on his own failure to present it in a sensible manner.
posted by longbaugh at 10:04 AM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Evolution is an observable fact. At the very least, please accurately state your problem with 'evolution', which is actually that speciation is driven by evolution.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:18 AM on April 21, 2011


s/which is/ which is generally (among evolution 'skeptics' in my experience)/

if that's not your issue with evolution, then i'm confused as to what it is.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:45 AM on April 21, 2011


Darwin was a hobbyist pigeon breeder. The idea of natural selection comes from a very simple and observable process -- namely, artificial selection, as when human breed a type of plant or animal over generations, selecting for reproduction only the individuals who exhibit a desired trait. Darwin watched this happen with pigeons. Farmers have done it with types of beans, or types of cow, for thousands of years.

The question in Darwin's time was, how did we get all the many species we see? Was it a single event, or is there some process that fits in with our understanding of natural laws that would explain how you can get many species or types from one?
Evolution by natural selection is that process. It's an explanation of how species can come to be differentiated over time. (Notice that this is the main problem with astrology - it doesn't have any plausible explanation of HOW the star positions would have any influence on the psychology of babies.) We can observe artificial selection at work, and the reproductive story is the same as with natural selection. The only question then is, what plays the role of "selector" in natural selection? And Darwin answers that question by saying roughly, the environment. So, here's a testable prediction - if you put the same ancestor species in two different environments, you should get different descendant species. And that's what the example of the finches shows.

The TalkOrigins website is excellent because it has plain-English explanations of all this stuff. Here are a few of their responses to common challenges to evolution:

The Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution - including "evolution has never been observed"
Evolution and Philosophy of Science - does evolution make testable predictions? does it have laws?
Instances where we have observed speciation taking place
Evidence in favor of macro evolution

I'm not sure I understand your point about evolution, RSaunders. You accept that evolution is a fact, that natural selection is how species develop, etc. But you say there should be a better explanation - I assume you mean, a better public education effort? That seems fair, it is certainly important that people understand how this works because it has important consequences - for example, the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is an ongoing serious public health threat, and if more people understood how evolution works we might have better luck getting people to cut back on use of antibiotics where they're not necessary. But when people like Adams try to make some ill-defined point about how they're skeptical of evolution, it doesn't exactly help with the effort to educate the public. It just feeds into this generalized distrust of science, which again has bad practical consequences for all of us.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:00 AM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


In fact, a lot of the intelligent design adherents were forced to concede that evolution exists because it's observable, so they fell back and said ok, microevolution exists, just not that dirty dirty macroevolution stuff that changes monkeys into people.
posted by electroboy at 11:20 AM on April 21, 2011


I think that Randy's point, said simply, is that conventional (K-12) explanations hinge on the term "natural selection", and we naturally think of selection in terms of a making choices. Nature, we think, is choosing. Which implies, linguistically, that Nature is some entity with agency that selected that man should come from monkey, which comes off as "It's not God, it's Nature doing it!" which basically sounds like some heretical appeal to a pre-Christian divinity. This is a good point, and I agree completely - debating evolution with anyone, you quickly realize they simply misunderstand it because they are anthropomorphizing an agentless process.

It's exactly the same problem with using "design" in an evolutionary context. Adaptation is a much better word for this entire conversation, as it better encapsulates this, but "survival of the fittest" and Darwin's conception of "fitness" are also excellent tools.

Anyway, none of this has anything to do with Adams' ideas on evolution.
posted by mek at 11:25 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just to hammer the point home, let's look at the so-traditional-it's-cliche "ape to man" picture of evolution over time. It's immediately obvious that this picture erases the real mechanism of speciation entirely; we only see the hypothetically fittest, preserved fossil specimens which successfully transmitted their genes, which we are looking back on from the far future. Invisibile are the millions and millions of other organisms which lived in parallel or were evolutionary dead-ends, and really, the mechanisms by which speciation occurs are exclusively the act of reproduction and the failure of unfit creatures to reproduce. The agent of selection here is the artist, or the scientist, who has assembled a series of links from the fossil record. Moreover the concept of "fittest" is actually meaningless, in that "just fit enough" is indistinguishable from it, while this image represents only idealized specimens, further implying some sort of evolutionary metahierarchy, another intuitive but totally false idea (thanks, X-Men!).

The processes of evolution is not captured well in this picture, because the events which constitute that process are not depicted. Instead, evolution is reduced to a linear function by which we are improved somehow, one of positive selection, which is a misleading if not outright false representation of what it is trying to explain.
posted by mek at 11:43 AM on April 21, 2011


For some reason, I thought this was what Adams believed about evolution.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:16 PM on April 21, 2011


I'm sorry I didn't make the point clearly. I did, in honesty, suggest that the documentary did a better job.

I was trying to make a point that mek cleared up somewhat. Using the fossil record as evidence of natural selection is the way evolution is defined to most people. Sure, it's not completely accurate. Most science is actually more complicated in reality than it is in high school. Newtonian Physics, particularly the frictionless and massless parts, is a simplification of physics. However, it's a really good simplification. It doesn't break down seriously until speeds are measured in terms of c. At billiard ball speeds it really works. I'm not arguing for general relativity in high school, particularly given the math that students need.

The fossil record evidence for natural selection isn't as good a simplification of evolution as Newtonian Physics is a simplification of physics. I was suggesting that the genetics mechanism for change in individuals was a better simplification of evolution for most people. It explains why this year's flu shot is different than last year's. It explains how dog fanciers, and cow fanciers, make consistent products and enable consistent flaws. It covers the part of the facts that most people can apply without the "interpretation" angle. Adding the need for human interpretation of the fossil record opens a stage for kooks with whacky interpretations. Next thing you know we have "teach the controversy" in an area where there is no real controversy over the real facts.

The "interpretation" element is what Scott Adams calls "fishy". His notion of science is that it is true whether your believe it or not. Interpretation by some old grizzly fossil expert or some old grizzly cardinal seem about the same.
posted by RSaunders at 6:54 PM on April 21, 2011


Kirth:

Here is the original Scott Adams blog from 2007 that got him labeled as anti-evolution. Though the opening video is funnier.
posted by RSaunders at 7:15 PM on April 21, 2011


RS, I was with you right up the the very. last. sentence.

I could be talked into the argument that full evolutionary theory is such a mind-blowingly difficult concept that it should be reserved for post-secondary eduction. *

But to equate the fossil expert with a Cardinal—which is to say Evolutionary Theory and Creationism—is, sorry to be blunt, dumb.


Maybe the USA's children are incapable, while most of the rest of the educated world doesn't have this idiotic Creationism problem. Whatever: perhaps an incomplete piblic education is the best solution to this unique problem.

posted by five fresh fish at 7:40 PM on April 21, 2011


Interpretation of observations is a normal thing that happens in all sciences. And sometimes interpreters get it wrong, and later we figure it out and go back and revise the interpretation etc. This is true of observations made through telecopes, through microscopes, etc. Every observer is taking some things for granted in relying on his or her observations. (Taking for granted things like how lenses work, etc)

Is there some reason why there are special problems about applying normal scientific procedures to fossils? Nobody's claiming that paleontologists never make mistakes, sure they do, and their interpretations are subject to revision as we learn more, just like the theories of marine biologists studying organisms from the deep ocean.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:00 PM on April 21, 2011


The "interpretation" element is what Scott Adams calls "fishy". His notion of science is that it is true whether your believe it or not.

Strangely enough, I don't actually give a flying fuck what a cartoonist's notion of science is. Can we leave that to the experts, please?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:20 PM on April 21, 2011


Sorry, spent the morning trawling back over a thread about another self-appointed demagogue, Stefan Molyneux.

Both of these guys strike me as nothing other than "naive" philosophers. I use the term in the same sense as "naive" artists - ie not wholly without talent, but self-taught and apparently completely oblivious to the entire academic & philosophical history of their subject matter.

Both seem to position themselves as gadflies, as the guys who "break open the shackles & dust off the cobwebs of academia, and show up all the fuddy-duddy old academics with their revolutionary insight".

The problem is, they prove nothing other than the Dunning-Kruger effect: the less you know about a subject the less able you are to see your own fallibility.

Add a metric fuckton of hubris, and voila! A demagogue capable of attracting followers through nothing more than presentation, a public persona, and the fact that their theories are marginally less ignorant than those of their totally ignorant acolytes.

There are plenty of people who - very intelligent & motivated to begin with - spend their entire lives reading & researching & writing about these subject matters. It's an appeal to authority, sure, but I'll assert that in the face of that, there is no way that even a "genius" could get a foot in the door of credibility without putting in the same legwork.

If they can't at least acknowledge the thinkers who have gone over the exact same arguments a billion times before them (of course they can't; they're just plucking "ideas" out of their arses) and distinguish how their arguments are any different to that same old well-trodden ground, then it's very difficult to see why they should be listened to at all, except, perhaps, in a college dorm room bong session.

/rant
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:48 PM on April 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


This is just like Scott Adams would say. His inability to effectively communicate is blamed on the people reading his work rather than on his own failure to present it in a sensible manner.

no, he only says it where other people are concerned - if they aren't being understood it's THEIR fault - but when he's not being understood it's YOUR fault

it works like this - people who want to communicate should be as clear as they can be - people who want to be communicated to should listen well and carefully

anyone who's following another strategy isn't really trying - and that includes scott adams, who can be partially excused by the fact that he hasn't much to say, anyway

for the record, i don't feel that the public presentation of evolution is confusing or obscure at all - unless people listening want it to be
posted by pyramid termite at 8:59 PM on April 21, 2011


You're right there pt and I'll be honest with you - it was just a good snark opportunity and I twisted what you were saying to fit into something I wanted to put across. I'm sorry for misrepresenting what you were saying. I agree with you entirely in that it's not just the teacher that must concentrate - the pupil has to be part of the process or nothing is being passed on at all. I do feel that some people don't find learning easy and there's a lot of people out there who are intimidated by knowledge. We do still have an obligation to bring it to them, there's no guarantee that they'll accept it but nonetheless we really do need to share wisdom.

Adams will never admit he was wrong even when backed into a corner. I have a feeling he has never been able to face criticism, hence the blustering attitude he has displayed here and elsewhere. Inside he knows how utterly stupid he is but he will do anything to avoid accepting that. The change needs to come from within himself but after as many years of life as he has lived it's going to be almost impossible for him to tear down the internal walls he has built to protect his ego.

One of the reasons my web presence is pretty much limited to MeFi is because it is probably the only place I have found that isn't a cesspool. We have our moments, sure, and I myself have made crap and inappropriate jokes many a time but overall this place is a beautiful walled garden away from the youtube-comment level of discourse seen elsewhere.

I come to MeFi because, even though I was diagnosed genius* age 13, I am one of the dumbest people in the room. There are more smart people here than I have ever had the opportunity to meet in my life. I get to watch them be really clever and some of it occasionally rubs off. I learn something new or come to a new understanding of something I thought I had previously known.

I come to MeFi because I know that even though I'm the smartest person in the room I physically inhabit right now**, there are plenty of folk out there in the real world that could blow me out of the water with their knowledge and grasp of any given subject.

Scott Adams pisses me off because I know him. I know that he will feel smug and secure when he's in his element because he has surrounded himself with a level of intellect that is maybe just slightly below his. He won't risk getting into an argument with someone too clever because then all his bluster will be worthless and it'll be clear that he is a pretender to the claim of "genius". I've done stupid shit like this myself and it took me years to come to terms with being not quite as special as I thought I was.

Once I realised that being a "genius" was overrated I enjoyed life so much more. I am happy being a B rather than a straight A+ student and my time is free to devote to actual fun stuff rather than comparing my e-peen to other people. Scott Adams hasn't had this epiphany as yet, or maybe he has and has decided to suppress any negative thoughts about it.

*it's a genuine curse, man!

**I'm alone...
posted by longbaugh at 5:49 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


even though I'm the smartest person in the room I physically inhabit right now**,

**I'm alone...


longbaugh, quick, look, do you see that ant on the floor? Turns out, it's just one extremity of a huge, interconnected, sentient colony. We can't understand it yet, but it's thinking thoughts much more profound than any single human.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:41 AM on April 22, 2011


*steps on ant*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:19 AM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


and then there's that other ant hiding under the sofa that you aren't going to see - it watched you stomp its friend - you can't understand it yet, but it's not thinking profound thoughts at all and it's thinking them about you
posted by pyramid termite at 8:35 AM on April 22, 2011


The IRFH household has an ongoing battle with carpenter ants. I know damn well it is a battle we can never win. I know they are watching, and learning, and scheming. That one day they will come for us. I'm just happy to be able to kill enough of them to slow them down so that maybe the house won't fall apart in the meantime.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:43 AM on April 22, 2011


Fucking ants. Seriously. I hate them.
posted by cortex at 8:52 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, like we're going to believe what a termite has to say about ants. There's a history there, and we know about it.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:55 AM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


just for that, i'm putting a horsefly's head in your bed
posted by pyramid termite at 9:54 AM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


besides, we have much more expensive tastes than ants
posted by pyramid termite at 9:58 AM on April 22, 2011


So Dali's thing with ants? Began when, as a child, he saw a dead bat covered with ants. In a sort of frenzy, he picked up the ant-covered bat and bit it. No, I don't have a cite. I read it once.
posted by angrycat at 10:08 AM on April 22, 2011


This isn't nearly as funny as that NewsRadio episode. Or maybe it is. I don't know.

Ha. I just linked to that episode in the Portal 2 thread yesterday.

Answer: not nearly as funny.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:33 PM on April 22, 2011


:/ It's too bad that the rest of metafilter doesn't enjoy scott adam's writings when they're good and ignore them when they're bad. It's too bad scott got all douchy up in this thread... I was really disappointed by that.

this whole topic has made me sad. Please stop killing my happiness, everyone.
posted by rebent at 9:07 PM on April 22, 2011


Find true happiness within, beyond the diamond gate.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:19 PM on April 22, 2011


t's too bad that the rest of metafilter doesn't enjoy scott adam's writings when they're good and ignore them when they're bad

It's not like there's a shortage of good writing in the world. There's no need to read someone who's douchebaggy a nonzero percentage of the time.
posted by Miko at 9:24 PM on April 22, 2011


Miko, I challenge you to find a single author that meets that criteria
posted by rebent at 9:28 PM on April 22, 2011


Are you joking?!?
posted by Miko at 9:36 PM on April 22, 2011


Yeah, take Ezra Pound for example. Wait...
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:38 PM on April 22, 2011


if there's one thing I've learned, it's that there are no more heroes. Not even Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams. Everyone's a wonk in one way or another.

And, to head off the obvious argument: I'm not lumping adams with adams. You are, by making the standard level of douchebaggyness zero.
posted by rebent at 9:46 PM on April 22, 2011


I'm not going to pursue such a silly argument. I've got a wall full of books from the past three centuries here to offer up as examples, but I can see it's not going anywhere interesting. Fortunately, we'll all be a very long time dead before I find myself "Well, that's it; I've come to the end of the English language's good writers; I guess now I have to read Scott Adams' blog."
posted by Miko at 9:50 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I came here from Scott's blog, because I still read that, having given up on Meta over 3 years ago. I see that wasn't an error.
posted by baylink at 10:15 PM on April 22, 2011


> I see that wasn't an error.

So it was ok for Adams to pretend to be someone else while propping himself up?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:18 PM on April 22, 2011


we're not geniuses, burhanistan - surely you realize that superior people can't be wasting their time with those who aren't geniuses
posted by pyramid termite at 10:21 PM on April 22, 2011


Hey baylink...if you aren't planning on hanging around, can I use your account as a sockpuppet to bignote my Ubu account?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:01 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


See ya next Leap Year, guy who remains happy not being here! It's nice you keep swinging by. Shame you chose a bad moment; someone shat in our cesspool. Anyhow, drop by any ol' time, maybe watch the RSS feed for a while. Don't let the door slam you in the ass on the way out.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:04 PM on April 22, 2011


In my unsolicited opinion, UbuRoivas is a certified genius. He or she is a woman or man of uncommon grace and his or her wit and wisdom calls to mind the greatest intellectual writers of the ages.

posted by UbuRoivas
posted by baylink
posted by five fresh fish at 11:12 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uburoivas is an UNSTOPPABLE FORCE for the good of all mankind, and has been known to pet kittens even when they didn't ask him to first
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:56 AM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas is just another beer-swilling Aussie.

which is to say, AWESOME
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:53 AM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


... and has been known to pet kittens even when they didn't ask him to first

you mean...he FORCED HIMSELF ON THEM?! that MONSTER!
posted by lodurr at 4:19 AM on April 23, 2011


See, that's where MetaFilter's reading comprehension falls behind that of Scott's blog. Obviously, it meant that I am a familiar person to kittens that are pets.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:04 AM on April 23, 2011


Oh, sure, and I bet you've brainwashed the kittehs to back you up on it. Monster. Belieb teh kittehs!
posted by lodurr at 5:09 AM on April 23, 2011


gotta work on mah spellen. "the kittehs" >> "teh kittehs"
posted by lodurr at 5:10 AM on April 23, 2011


damn, i can't remember the password for my "kittens for breakfast" account.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:25 AM on April 23, 2011


When you try to win an argument with "Well yeah, but everyone else is just as bad", I think that about wraps things up. I look forward to the next thread in a few months. (I lay odds on Adams having doubts about Obama's birthplace.)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:27 AM on April 23, 2011


I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that the theory of Hawaiian birth will be rethought before the next election begins. It just smells like bullshit. I have a finely tuned bullshit detector, and this 'public record' evidence just smells like bullshit.

[/scottfilter]
posted by lodurr at 1:13 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh, just heard about this thread on NPR's "On The Media." Anyone else come here as a result of the story?
posted by CommonSense at 11:42 AM on April 24, 2011


Heh, just heard about this thread on NPR's "On The Media." Anyone else come here as a result of the story?

Dude, you know the drill. Link it.

The Problem of Sock Puppets - NPR interview with cortex. (no transcript yet.)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:03 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh god, and then I stumbled over to Adams' blog just to get an idea of what he writes about. I made a horrible mistake.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:08 PM on April 25, 2011



The Problem of Sock Puppets - NPR interview with cortex. (no transcript yet.)

>Transcripts will be available Monday afternoon.

Wish they'd make with the transcript already.
posted by anazgnos at 10:03 AM on April 26, 2011


[LAUGHS]
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:51 PM on April 26, 2011


Fake! Photoshop! Photoshop! Redrum!
posted by lodurr at 10:57 AM on April 27, 2011


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