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God's Debris by Scott Adams for free
November 18, 2005 6:57 AM   Subscribe

God's Debris by Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) is now available for free in PDF form. It's a controversial book that presents a philosophically strange view of the universe. According to Adams, it splits readers between "the best book they've ever read" and "an insult to literature and a disservice to humanity".
posted by Plutor (44 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
(I know this looks like a shill, so I feel I should mention that I have no official or unofficial links to Scott Adams, Dilbert, or Andrews McMeel Publishing.)
posted by Plutor at 7:01 AM on November 18, 2005


I did not know there was a sequel. Anyone read it? More to the point, does anyone recommend it?
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 7:03 AM on November 18, 2005


I only ever bought one of Adams' non-Dilbert books, but it was an astoundingly fun read. Whether or not I agree with him, I find I generally enjoy what he has to say, and how he says it.
posted by antifuse at 7:04 AM on November 18, 2005


Haven't read the posted pdf but are there any good jokes in there about how fax machines are confusing? Or that there just isn't enough coffee for Mondays?
posted by Peter H at 7:19 AM on November 18, 2005


I've gotten through the first chapter. Reminds me of Ishmael, which I haven't decided is a good thing or a bad thing.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:31 AM on November 18, 2005


after reading roughly 30 pages, it strikes me as a long-winded exercise in navel gazing. "have you ever really looked at your hand? On weed?"
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:32 AM on November 18, 2005


I appreciate that you linked to Adams' blog in the FPP. I'd been thinking of posting about it myself. Adams is the Bill Mauldin of the American white-collar workplace.
posted by alumshubby at 7:33 AM on November 18, 2005


Haven't read the posted pdf but are there any good jokes in there about how fax machines are confusing? Or that there just isn't enough coffee for Mondays?</em

There's this great one about how old people are funny in the head, and uh, how packages deliver people. Comedy Gold!

posted by arcticwoman at 7:35 AM on November 18, 2005


that < /em was supposed to have a>
posted by arcticwoman at 7:37 AM on November 18, 2005


Homeskillet Freshy Fish : I did not know there was a sequel. Anyone read it? More to the point, does anyone recommend it?

I read the sequel (The Religion War) and while I thought it was good, I much preferred God's Debris. The two books are completely different in style (which Adams acknowledges), though related in story somewhat.

Peter H : Haven't read the posted pdf but are there any good jokes in there about how fax machines are confusing? Or that there just isn't enough coffee for Mondays?

No, actually. It's entirely not-Dilbert-related, and is actually rather different from just about anything else of Adams'.

--
In general, I thought it was a good book. The central idea of it is interesting, and I found that it was somewhat relevent to some of the discussion in a Modern Philosophy class I had earlier this year. The whole part at the end about affirmations, though, doesn't connect with the rest of the book.
posted by Godbert at 7:37 AM on November 18, 2005


Is this one of those things were he applies Newtonian common sense to quantum mechanics, or literary common sense to biochemistry, and then concludes that psychic dragons are living in his garage? Because I fucking hate it when he does that.
posted by queen zixi at 7:37 AM on November 18, 2005 [1 favorite]


I, like cosmicbandito, gave up a couple chapters in. I mean, I remember late-night conversations inspired by Philosophy 101 with fondness, but that doesn't mean I want to plow through Scott Adams' version of the same crap. At least he doesn't seem to be in danger of going completely Dave Sim.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:41 AM on November 18, 2005


It looks like it might be interesting. I have downloaded it but this thread will likely be long closed before I get around to reading it. Thanks for the link Plutor.
posted by caddis at 7:42 AM on November 18, 2005


Interesting stuff. Thanks for the link. Reminds me of a less "intense" version of these. From what I'd read so far, that is.
posted by basicchannel at 7:43 AM on November 18, 2005


God's Debris?

I thought God's DeMan!
posted by Peter H at 7:45 AM on November 18, 2005


I gave some its chapters a quick read. I'm not terribly impressed. It reads like someone's self-constructed worldview, one where the author isn't getting any critical feedback. Some of his ideas are plain wrong. Others, to paraphrase Wolfgang Pauli, "aren't even wrong."
posted by justkevin at 7:51 AM on November 18, 2005


Man, I didin't even realize that Adams HAD a blog. Now I am reading his discussion of Intelligent Design, and I love it!
posted by antifuse at 7:53 AM on November 18, 2005


Scott Adams is a wally. (In the anti-evolution, intelligent design sense)
posted by jsonic at 7:57 AM on November 18, 2005


jsonic: "Scott Adams is a wally. (In the anti-evolution, intelligent design sense)"

That rant is so obnoxiously one-sided. Scott Adams was not talking about how stupid ID is, he was talking about how stupid both sides of the whole evolution/ID debate are. Actually read the so-called "truly clueless whine" and its follow-up, and you'll see how badly that blog represents his point. Which, ironically, was his point.
posted by Plutor at 8:04 AM on November 18, 2005


I'm not getting sucked into this.. I'm not getting sucked in.. *breathe*
posted by Plutor at 8:06 AM on November 18, 2005


Wrong again, Plutor. That's Adams trying to weasel out of his misstep. Details here.
posted by jsonic at 8:09 AM on November 18, 2005


I think it's kind of funny that in the blurb on the download page, he/they act(s) surpised that anyone bought this book that doesn't, to them, fit into any category. But it's by Scott Adams. They'd get decent sales during the hardcover run if he published Ratbert's book about being in the time vortex under his name.

I've been wary of Adams' noncartoon work since noticing his relatively anti-science in both the comic and cartoon; even setting aside his last chapter in the Dilbert Future. And his weird argument with PZ Myers (initial Adams post; first Myers post; Myers follow up to Adams follow up. There ended up being several more posts at Pharyngula about it) about Intelligent Designed just reminded me of my unsureness with Adams.

Then, I read the introduction to Adams new book and he misstates the whole idea about looking for the simplest explanation. He says "My experience tells me that in this complicated world the simplest explanation is usually dead wrong" (PDF pp. 10-11). Of course, really, when people look for the simplest explanation, they look for the simplest explanation that explains all of the facts. Which he seems to not get in that section. So, oh well.

On preview, Plutor, I know you're not getting sucked in, but to make a quick point: The problem is the fact that Adams phrased so many of his complaints of evolution nearly EXACTLY the way creationists do, sets off alarm bells among people who spend their time debunking creationists. In the end, Adams didn't really add anything. Playing meaningless gotcha games, when you can do real research to FIND OUT which one makes more sense, is pointless. (But it seems that much of what Adams does is just for his entertainment; which isn't wrong, but you can't do that and then try to act like people should take you seriously.)
posted by skynxnex at 8:12 AM on November 18, 2005


Hmm...I wonder if this is the book I read a long, long time ago in which it is explained that gravity doesn't exist, but it is an illusion caused by the fact that every time you jump the earth expands in size to meet your feet.
posted by leapingsheep at 8:12 AM on November 18, 2005


leapingsheep: That was The Dilbert Future. Do a search inside the book on "gravity" and you'll find that section. And it's not so much that he explained it doesn't exist, just that it's almost consistant with what we experience so it'd be possible that's what "gravity" is.
posted by skynxnex at 8:22 AM on November 18, 2005


I enjoyed those last chapters of The Dilbert Future just because they were so incongruous with the rest of the book. At the time I almost bought God's Debris - so thanks Plutor for the link.
posted by oh pollo! at 8:27 AM on November 18, 2005


Scott Adams is a wally.

Well, maybe. He's a cartoonist with no background in science, and anyone who takes him seriously is most definetly a wally.

Scott Adams was not talking about how stupid ID is, he was talking about how stupid both sides of the whole evolution/ID debate are.

So he made you believe science is stupid. I guess we know who the wally is now.

I've been wary of Adams' noncartoon work since noticing his relatively anti-science in both the comic and cartoon;

Seconded.
posted by spazzm at 8:28 AM on November 18, 2005


"According to Adams..."

Well, yeah; framing something as polarizing and controversial is a good marketing trick. It's a good general rule of thumb that when someone insists that Work X is a love-it-or-hate-it thing, it's usually a good idea to keep a protective hand over the wallet--even if just figuratively speaking now that this particular Work X is free.

To refute it in this case, it's a moderately entertaining rambling loose essay, and very much a feel of earnest and moderately-bright undergrads who aren't actually in the philosophy department but thought about it, jawing at each other about how trippy it would be if the world was really like this, or maybe that, and just consider what if foobar! It's emphatically not a love-it-or-hate-it product; it's just too forgettable to be that.
posted by Drastic at 8:28 AM on November 18, 2005


Scott Adams misrepresents the claims of both sides of the argument in order to make a point. The "Scott Adams is a Wally" post (and the followup post) chooses to point out the misrepresentations on their side, and comes to the conclusion that he is anti-evolution. Adams points out the biased-ness of that post, admits that he misrepresented the argument to make a point and that the wally post helped prove his point. And that's called weaseling out?

I call it missing the point. Yes, he was wrong. But he wasn't trying to be right.
posted by Plutor at 8:31 AM on November 18, 2005


I enjoyed the thought-provoking last section of the Dilbert Future (which is the book you are referring to leapingsheep)

But I'm getting a little bored of Adam's presumption he is the only person with an imagination, apparently because he is able to monetarize his.

"It’s a thought experiment. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever read. How do you sell something that can’t be explained?"

"There is even disagreement about whether the material is fiction or non-fiction. I contend that it is fiction because the charcahters don't exist. Some people contend that it is non-fiction because the opinions and philosophies of the charchters might have a lasting impact on the reader"

I think he may have missed out on many great novels if he has never read anything hard to explain or that has a lasting impact on the reader.

That said I own a few of his books and enjoy much of what he does, and look forward to having a proper look at this God's Debris thingy.
posted by MetaMonkey at 8:32 AM on November 18, 2005


So he made you believe science is stupid. I guess we know who the wally is now.

He didnt say the ideas of either evolution or ID are stupid. He said the virulent debators and their straw men are stupid. Difference.
posted by Plutor at 8:33 AM on November 18, 2005


*characterx2 (stupid pdf)
posted by MetaMonkey at 8:34 AM on November 18, 2005


Thanks, Skyxnex.
posted by leapingsheep at 8:36 AM on November 18, 2005


Yes, he was wrong. But he wasn't trying to be right.

That's the trick of being anti-science: Make it appear that right and wrong are both valid standpoints without any real distinction.

Contrast these two statements:
Scott Adams was not talking about how stupid ID is, he was talking about how stupid both sides of the whole evolution/ID debate are. (Emphasis mine).
and
He didnt say the ideas of either evolution or ID are stupid. He said the virulent debators and their straw men are stupid.

First it's the whole debate that's stupid, then it's only the 'virulent debators'. If you think the whole debate is stupid - fine, don't get involved. But you can't expect to decry the debate without becoming part of it.

But hey, nice post.
posted by spazzm at 8:49 AM on November 18, 2005


Scott Adams misrepresents the claims of both sides of the argument in order to make a point.

What sort of point is it that relies on misrepresentation?
posted by spazzm at 8:50 AM on November 18, 2005


Plutor, science doesn't use strawmen to discredit creationism. This is the problem with Adams' false equivalence. This is what people are pointing out is wrong with his argument.

It is very similar to the creationists false claim that there is a scientific controversy about evolution.
posted by jsonic at 8:53 AM on November 18, 2005


Well, it's not the scientists who are starting this debate, but they will finish it. They only have things like evidence, logic, and honesty on their side.
For Adams to poke his nose under this tent is all fun and everything, but come on -- he's a fucking cartoonist. He's not a scientist, nor is he even a rationalist; he claims in one book that you can achieve whatever you want just by writing down your desire (that's called "magical thinking").
Frankly, his comic is getting pretty tired after, what, a dozen years of Dilbert? I find it hard to read anymore. Feh.
So he's put forward a philosophy of life -- so what?
posted by mooncrow at 12:20 PM on November 18, 2005


Anybody who reads that Scott Adams post who has the slightest understanding about the scientific breadth and robusticity of evolution and is aware of the deep ridiculousness, flimsiness, and dishonesty of "Intelligent Design" Creationists, cannot avoid the utter fact that Adams is a complete wally, and deserves little attention outside of the superficial gags of the funny pages (or if you're me, not even there). There is no "debate", there are no "two sides". There are fundamentalist assholes trying to weasel through the boundries of church-state and there are real scientists who do actual science and have to, on a constant basis, deal with the slanderous and pseudoscientific memes the Discovery Institue think tank leaves in its trail.
posted by dgaicun at 3:34 PM on November 18, 2005


. . . which are uncritically regurgitated by lazy and credulous pointy-haired cartoonists like Adams.
posted by dgaicun at 3:37 PM on November 18, 2005


spazzm, you're taking adams' straw-man expose a little far. There's a subtle difference between parodizing fallacious debate tactics and outright trolling, and I think you've crossed that line.
posted by nomad at 7:16 PM on November 18, 2005


I lost massive quantities of respect for Adams when I read that dreadful, idiotic, illogical and woefully ill-informed final chapter of "The Dilbert Future". I shan't readily forget the transition from amusement at Adams' undeniable wit, to open-mouthed disbelief at his pathetically childish pseudo-philosophical musings.

When "God's Debris" came out the opening chapter was available online and reading it did not, shall we say, cause me to reassess my newly-contemptuous opinion of Adams' intellect. I shall read this before deciding whether that situation has changed, but let's just say I'm not optimistic.
posted by Decani at 6:43 AM on November 19, 2005


Adams' "philosophical" writings are a bit shallow but fun. I have to admit I never looked at some things from quite the angle he looks at them and it was interesting and entertaining to do so for a little while. Useful? Not really. But fun.
posted by kindall at 9:12 AM on November 19, 2005


scott adams is for idiots
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:21 PM on November 19, 2005


Wow, the part where he actually "reveals" the debris bit is dissapointing. "Not even wrong" indeed, he comes up with some nonsense about god being "dust and probability", and for the latter I think he is trying to say causality.
posted by phrontist at 6:04 PM on November 20, 2005


I thought it was at least more entertaining than Descartes "God loves us so he won't deceive us" shtick. The only interesting thing for a God to do is commit suicide and see what happens - awesome!
posted by jopreacher at 12:07 AM on November 21, 2005


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