Scott Adams

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Bill Watterson's understudy.
You gotta spin it to win it

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As far as Adams' ego goes … he has a certified genius I.Q., and that's hard to hide.
plannedchaos Scott Adams[1]
If experience is necessary for being president, name a political topic I can't master in one hour under the tutelage of top experts.
[2]

Scott Adams (born 1957) is a "trained hypnotist"[3] and cartoonist known for Dilbert, a long-running satirical comic strip about a white-collar office worker in America. His blog, which is currently a fascinating study of a man going insane,[4] attracted some major media attention during the 2016 election. Long before that, he advanced a number of crank positions, including questioning evolution and the validity of the fossil record.

Formerly a telecom engineer, Scott has embarked on a whole new life as a social engineer. He currently lives in a house shaped like Dilbert and has a matrix of microwaves for making large quantities of burrito and popcorn at once,[No, not The Onion] while writing about how neocon interventionism is just a persuasive tactic.[5][6]

Views on science and history[edit]

Adams knows The Secret[edit]

In his 1997 book The Dilbert Future, Adams professed his belief in the bit of woo known as the law of attraction (a concept popularized by the 2006 book The Secret), claiming that he has achieved multiple life goals through the power of positive thinking alone:

The idea behind writing affirmations is that you simply write down your goals 15 times a day and somehow, as if by magic, coincidences start to build until you achieve your objective against all odds. Prior to my Dilbert success, I used affirmations on a string of hugely unlikely goals that all materialized in ways that seemed miraculous. Some of the successes you can explain away by assuming I’m hugely talented and incredibly sexy, and therefore it is no surprise that I accomplished my goals despite seemingly long odds. But some of my goals involved neither hard work nor skill of any kind. I succeeded with those too, against all odds.

Borderline Holocaust denialism[edit]

In a 2006 blog post[7](which has since been deleted), Adams flirted with Holocaust denialism, questioning whether estimates of the number of people killed during the Holocaust are reliable:

I’d also like to know how the Holocaust death total of 6 million was determined. Is it the sort of number that is so well documented with actual names and perhaps a Nazi paper trail that no historian could doubt its accuracy, give or take ten thousand? Or is it like every other LRN (large round number) that someone pulled out of his ass and it became true by repetition? Does the figure include resistance fighters and civilians who died in the normal course of war, or just the Jews rounded up and killed systematically? No reasonable person doubts that the Holocaust happened, but wouldn’t you like to know how the exact number was calculated, just for context? Without that context, I don’t know if I should lump the people who think the Holocaust might have been exaggerated for political purposes with the Holocaust deniers. If they are equally nuts, I’d like to know that. I want context.[8]

If he actually wanted to know where the figures come from, he could have looked on Wikipedia[9] or used his Internet skills to Google it[10] or even asked somebody, but posting in a blog is an odd way to find an authoritative source for any fact, and smacks of JAQing off.

Struggling to understand evolution[edit]

In March 2007, Adams posted a piece on his blog seemingly questioning evolution, in which he stated that the fossil record doesn't pass his baloney detector:

I’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.[11]

His explanation for why he deems fossils "bullshit" seems to be the product of an extremely garbled understanding of paleontology and evolutionary biology:

Yesterday I read this article in Newsweek about how DNA testing is being used to show that, well, fossils are bullshit.

The bottom line is that DNA tests (which do not set off my bullshit detector) have shown that you can’t really tell what set of bones begat other sets of bones just by looking at how they differed and how old they are. Apparently evolution is more complex than imagined, and there were lots of ape-people varieties wandering around at the same time. Some had modern features that they weren’t supposed to have. The so-called modern features apparently popped up and disappeared more than once, and in more than one species.

My bullshit filter accepts this new information. I was having a hard time with the idea that some goober in tan pants would dig up a bone fragment in Africa and know it was his own (great X 1,000) grandmother. It just didn’t feel right. And now we know, assuming the DNA evidence is solid, that the guy in the tan pants was full of shit. All that the fossils show is that there used to be ape-people who are not us.[11]

Advocating Pascal's Wager[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Pascal's Wager

In his post about fossils, Adams stated that he does not believe in "Intelligent Design or Creationism or invisible friends of any sort."[11] However, in a 2007 blog post, he appeared to express the view that atheism (defined here solely as claiming there's no God) is essentially a form of dogmatism and used a version of Pascal's Wager to defend belief in an invisible friend God:

This brings me to atheists. 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.

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.

Let me put this in perspective. You might be willing to accept a 10% risk of going skiing and getting hurt, but you wouldn’t accept a 10% risk of a nuclear war. The larger the potential problem, the less risk you are willing to tolerate.

An eternity in Hell is the largest penalty there could ever be. So while you might not worry about a .00000000001% chance of ending up in Hell, you can’t deny the math. .00000000001% of eternity is a lot longer than your entire mortal life. Infinitely longer.[12]

Amusingly, Adams blurs percent certainty with percent probability; these are not the same. In addition, probability cannot be calculated for events that have zero historical data or evidence backing the event up. Adams' purported chance of ending up in hell, 0.00000000001%, is completely arbitrary and could have easily been 0.00000000002%.

"Science kicked me in the balls!"[edit]

In a 2015 blog post, Adams blamed science for the tendency of the media to misrepresent science, accusing science of "being silent when bad science morphed into popular misconceptions."[13] He went on to offer the following muddled understanding of the scientific process:

I think science has earned its lack of credibility with the public. If you kick me in the balls for 20-years, how do you expect me to close my eyes and trust you?

If a person doesn’t believe climate change is real, despite all the evidence to the contrary, is that a case of a dumb human or a science that has not earned credibility? We humans operate on pattern recognition. The pattern science serves up, thanks to its winged monkeys in the media, is something like this:

Step One: We are totally sure the answer is X.

Step Two: Oops. X is wrong. But Y is totally right. Trust us this time.

Science isn’t about being right every time, or even most of the time. It is about being more right over time and fixing what it got wrong. So how is a common citizen supposed to know when science is “done” and when it is halfway to done which is the same as being wrong?[13]

Global warming[edit]

Climate change denial in Dilbert

Though Adams says he doesn't reject the consensus, he makes reasons science isn't convincing the "skeptics".[14] As with other points, he appears to be more JAQing off rather than offering valid suggestions to convince the deniers. He calls the climate scientists "alarmists" and makes poor reasons the "skeptics" aren't convinced, mainly because things look "fishy" and demonstrates a poor, simplistic understanding of climate change. For instance, he tried comparing prediction models for global warming to financial models and concluded since financial models cannot predict the future, neither can models made from very predictable long-term phenomena. He also asks for accurate economic models to show how it affects things, something well out of their expertise. But then, he says that economic models are worthless.

Stop telling me the “models” (plural) are good. If you told me one specific model was good, that might sound convincing. But if climate scientists have multiple models, and they all point in the same general direction, something sounds fishy. If climate science is relatively “settled,” wouldn’t we all use the same models and assumptions? And why can’t science tell me which one of the different models is the good one, so we can ignore the less-good ones? What’s up with that? If you can’t tell me which model is better than the others, why would I believe anything about them?

He thinks that since there are several models that point in one direction, it seems like scientists are just manipulating data. On the other hand, according to science, many models predicting the same thing makes it more robust at the prediction. The suggestion he makes, which is "using the same models and assumptions" is very vague and unclear.

He also saw an article (without specifying it) that said that humans are responsible for more than 100% of warming because otherwise Earth would be cooling. He thought it was silly. Therefore, climate science is dubious. Since the beaches he saw look "normal" and he saw Google results that "debunk" the sea level rise, climate science is fishy and can't be trusted. He doesn't like it when the climate change "alarmists" resort Pascal's Wager because "[t]he world is full of risks that might happen. We don’t treat all of them as real." He makes arguments typical to denialist talking points including "Earth went through natural cycles before" and "why is there a decrease in Arctic ice and an increase in Antarctic ice" (with no regard to nuance, such as ice specified), stating that there are record cold AND record heat with disregard for the big picture.

If these are questions the climate change deniers want pose to climate scientists, it only shows more how ignorant they are, not that they want results that don't resemble a financial scam.

Views on women[edit]

In March 2011, Adams posted a piece on his blog in which he appeared to use some standard MRA talking points, stating that wage disparity between men and women is the result of men "get[ting] better results" than women because "on average, men negotiate pay differently and approach risk differently than women," and also apparently attributing the lower number of women in high managerial positions to an unwillingness to sacrifice "family time" in exchange for career advancement.[15] However, he seemingly advised MRAs that it is pointless trying to fight "the widespread suppression of men's rights," on the apparent grounds that women are simple-minded and we're supposed to be nice to simple-minded people:[15]

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. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.

In response to the backlash he received, Adams deleted the post from his blog, apparently forgetting that it's impossible to make something disappear once it hits the Internet.[16] He left a comment on the blog Feministe, stating that objectors to the post were failing to understand it because their "reading comprehension" was compromised by "emotion," unlike regular readers of his blog, who he claimed have "an unusually high reading comprehension level" and "are pretty far along the bell curve toward rational thought, and relatively immune to emotional distortion."[16][17]

In June 2011, Adams posted another piece on his blog that "society is organized in such a way that the natural instincts of men are shameful and criminal while the natural instincts of women are mostly legal and acceptable," with men's "natural instincts" apparently representing a desire to "act like unrestrained horny animals."[18]

Adams published a piece on his blog in March 2012 seemingly defending Rush Limbaugh's calling Sandra Fluke a "slut" for her advocacy of mandatory inclusion of contraception in employer insurance plans.[19] In the piece, he stated, "My interpretation of events is that Limbaugh saw Fluke as a capable adult, and a public figure, tough enough to handle some harsh language."[19]

In the introduction to Your New Job Title is "Accomplice", a compilation of Dilbert comic strips released in 2013, Adams claimed to have suffered "reverse discrimination" in the 1990s, alleging that his bosses at the time told him he was "unqualified for any sort of promotion because [he] had boring DNA and a scrotum."[20] This contradicts an interview he gave in Inc. magazine in 1996, in which he stated he "told all of [his] bosses [he] would resign if they ever felt [his] costs exceeded [his] benefits," and then voluntarily complied when he was eventually asked to resign due to "budget constraints."[21]

In 2015, Adams went full-on Manosphere, claiming that the US is a matriarchy while espousing 1950s era views on male/female interaction, and that refusing to give sex to men turns them into suicide bombers. He also offers a solution to the Daesh problem: promise the men their sex if they kill the leaders! Furthermore he seems upset that men have to ask permission to have sex with women.[22]

Online sockpuppetry[edit]

In 2011, Adams admitted that he had used a sockpuppet account called "plannedchaos" to defend himself in a MetaFilter discussion criticizing a piece he wrote for the Wall Street Journal.[23] As "plannedchaos," Adams wrote "he [Adams] has a certified genius I.Q., and that's hard to hide," and asked detractors "Is it Adams' enormous success at self-promotion that makes you jealous and angry?"[23] On his blog, Adams defended this act of self-aggrandizement, stating, "Conflict of interest is like a prison that locks in both the truth and the lies. One workaround for that problem 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."[24]

Views on SJWs[edit]

Adams' Rebuttal of His RationalWiki Page[edit]

When directed to his Rationalwiki page on Twitter, Adams hand waved away his well documented asshattery by claiming it was all taken out of context.

Confusing.png

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Scott Adams posting via sockpuppet, comments section to "How to Get a Real Education", The Wall Street Journal
  2. Adams, 7.28.16 Tweet at 7:08 AM.
  3. "Hypnosis", Dilbert Blog 7.7.07.
  4. Gettys, Travis, "‘Dilbert’ cartoonist Scott Adams thinks he’ll be assassinated if he doesn’t endorse Clinton", Raw Story (6/6/16 at 11:43 ET).
  5. Cavna, Michael, "Donald Trump will win in a landslide: The mind behind ‘Dilbert’ explains why.", WaPo 3.21.16.
  6. 4.6.17 Tweet, 7:21 PM.
  7. archived copy
  8. Scott Adams, "Sunday Blogging!", The Dilbert Blog (archived on the Internet Archive)
  9. "Victims" section of article The HolocaustWikipedia's W.svg
  10. Documenting numbers of victims, US Holocaust Memorial Museum
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Scott Adams, "Fossils are Bullshit", Dilbert Blog
  12. Scott Adams, "The Atheist Who Thought He Was God", Dilbert Blog
  13. 13.0 13.1 Scott Adams, "Science's Biggest Fail", Scott Adams Blog
  14. Adams, S. (March 8, 2017). How to Convince Skeptics that Climate Change is a Problem. Scott Adams' blog. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Archived copy of the Adams' piece on the Internet Archive.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Laura Hudson, "'Dilbert' Creator Scott Adams Compares Women Asking for Equal Pay to Children Demanding Candy", Comics Alliance
  17. Comment signed as "Scott Adams" to David Futrelle's post Scott Adams to Men’s Rights Activists: Don’t bother arguing with women; they’re like children. on Feministe
  18. Scott Adams, "Pegs and Holes", Scott Adams Blog
  19. 19.0 19.1 Scott Adams, "The Limbaugh Fluke", Scott Adams Blog
  20. Zeno, "Scott Adams changes his tune?", Halfway There blog
  21. George Gendron, "Dilbert Fired! Starts New Biz", Inc.
  22. "Scott Adams: We live in a matriarchy because men have to get permission for sex". http://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2015/11/21/scott-adams-we-live-in-a-matriarchy-because-men-have-to-get-permission-for-sex/. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 Mary Elizabeth Williams, "Dilbert creator’s ever-worsening P.R. crisis", Salon
  24. Scott Adams, "Planned Chaos", Scott Adams Blog