Monday, February 25, 2013

#439 (?): Scott Adams

Note: Adams has clarified his views in the comment section, and I'll accept those at face value. The entry should thus be read in light of those clarifications (most importantly, he rejects the ID allegations and affirms support for evolution, pointing out that he was making claims to the effect our understanding of evolution will most likely change in the future). Given those comments and clarifications, Adams does not qualify as a loon I'll let the post stand as it is, so that readers can appreciate the gist of Adams's clarifications - but also because Adams "clarifications" strike me as backpedalling more than clarifying.

But our mission is document actual loons. Even if the comment is a matter of backpedalling, it does affirm that Adams accepts evolution, and given that he does, Adams does not appear to qualify as a loon. 

Another cartoonist. Scott Adams is the famous creator of Dilbert, as well as several non-fiction works. He has also garnered some attention for his men’s right rants (he even supported Rush Limbaugh on the Sandra Fluke affair) and his use of sockpuppets to attempt to bolsterhis case and to declare himself a genius.

A case of poor judgment, perhaps. But Adams has also advocated Intelligent Design creationism (though when pressed he backed down to the “teach both sides” canard), motivated by arguments such as the following, hysterically question-begging argument for the existence of God: “[s]omething is intelligent if it unambiguously performs tasks that require intelligence. Writing Moby Dick required intelligence. The Big Bang wrote Moby Dick. Therefore, the Big Bang is intelligent, and you and I are created by that same intelligence. Therefore, we are created by an intelligent entity.” Uh, ok. A fine commentary can be found here. And then there is the following argument against 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.” Therefore, God exists. The arguments put some of the puns in Dilbert in a new light, don’t they?

Well, according to himself he doesn’t “believe in Intelligent Design or Creationism or invisible friends of any sort. I just think that evolution looks like a blend of science and bullshit, and have predicted for years that it would be revised in scientific terms in my lifetime.” Be that as it may. Adams is a loon for the appalling denialist attitude spurred by his own sense of ego: “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.” His lack of background for and knowledge of biology is no hindrance, of course. If science contradicts Adams’s guts, then science will have to go.

This one is certainly meant as a jest, but reveals a pretty shallow understanding in the process.

Diagnosis: Sorry. When you reject science on the basis of your own self-projection as a genius and the fact that science (which you don’t understand) doesn’t quite suit your gut feelings, then you’re a loon. End of story.


  1. Quite the loony Adams Family you have going here!
    I've always liked Dilbert, and appreciated the insight he had into modern office life. The first notion I had he was an idiot was when he was caught trolling and bragged about it. Finding out he's a creationist and MRA asshole just put the final nail in the coffin. He may know something about cube life, but outside that he's just a trolling, intellect-challenged, misogynist asshole, and I'm having nothing more to do with him or his books. Very sad.

  2. Those of you who aren't complete idiots will recognize that all of this is taken out of context.

    For example, the "sock puppet" incident was in the context of me entertaining myself while correcting stupid Internet rumors such as the ones here.

    The "Men's Rights" blow up was literally nothing but poor reading comprehension on the part of some readers that was then taken out of context, misquoted, and distorted into something truly awful.

    The evolution rumor comes from bad reading comprehension too. I've always accepted that evolution is a scientific fact. My arguments were more nuanced and would be better summarized as saying I predict that our understanding of evolution, within the context of science, will change a great deal over time just as it has changed since Darwin. (See punctuated equilibrium for example.)

    And it should be noted that anything I say in my blog, from which most of these stupid rumors spring, is for the benefit of a specific audience that likes to see normal thinking challenged, even when the challenge fails. You might notice I don't write this sort of thing for the Wall Street Journal, as that would be a different type of reader and a different context.

    You should be embarrassed about this web site. It's a true disgrace.

    Scott Adams

    1. Ok, fine clarification. I'll add an update.

  3. In my opinion, anyone who suggests that raping is among the natural instincts of men deserves to be labelled a loon to the fullest extent. Rape apologia is just as loony, if not more so, then evolution denialism.

    "Powerful men have been behaving badly, e.g. tweeting, raping, cheating, and being offensive to just about everyone in the entire world. The current view of such things is that the men are to blame for their own bad behavior. That seems right. Obviously we shouldn’t blame the victims. I think we all agree on that point. Blame and shame are society’s tools for keeping things under control.

    The part that interests me is 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." ~Adams

    1. I agree, ess bee. Adams claimed that the assertions were taken out of context, and I gave him the benefit of doubt. Insofar as I assume that readers possess critical thinking abilities, I would hope that I can let readers judge for themselves whether that's right of me if they follow your link (and, in fairness, take into account Adams's supporters' claims about the purpose of the blogposts.)

    2. I really hope everyone will take the time to read this passage in the full context of Adams' blog post - it doesn't help his case one bit. This is about as loony as it gets.

    3. I do not know what critical thinking exercise or thought-experiment intuition pumping Adams had hoped to achieve by writing such things. But given the backdrop of centuries of men using exactly such arguments to excuse or (falsely) explain sexual violence against women, there is no novel or provocative ideas being expressed. You are culpable for what you write, no matter the intent, and using your fame to help substantiate dangerously false premises cannot, and should not, be dismissed or tolerated.

      This is seemingly one more instance of a man twisting evolutionary science to project elements of his own psychology, in the process insulting men as a gender and trivializing the brutality and fear that are constant elements of many women's lives.


    4. I think that Terroja Lee Kincaid (aka The Amazing Atheist) fits that description more than Scott Adams.

  4. This entry turned out to age really, really well.