Alas, poor Dilbert

31 May, 2007

The world divides into two groups – no, actually, three: people who enjoy Dilbert (a popular comic strip and book series, in case you’ve been living on the moon), people who dislike Dilbert, and people who can’t bring themselves to read Scott Adams’ stuff since he went nuts and drank his own Kool-Aid. Signs first showed in his book “The Dilbert Future”, which went along seeming pretty normal, if slightly lacklustre compared to previous efforts, and then went weird in the last chapter, in which he seriously predicted that evolution would be disproved in our lifetime, and reported that any goal or desire can be achieved if you write it down 15 times a day.

Since then he has blogged further on the imminent demise of evolution, based on, among other things, articles in Newsweek. He has denied advocating the creationist entryist pseudo-scientific theory called Intelligent Design (ID), but while he argues energetically against various pro-evolution critics, he doesn’t contradict the rabid creationists who post supportive messages.

He makes all the basic mistakes: he assumes that because he doesn’t understand evolution or ID, they have equal validity. (This doesn’t stop him citing any scientific discovery he thinks might disprove evolution.) He also thinks that, because scientific theories evolve as new evidence is received, there is no such thing as scientific fact and it’s basically all made up. This from the guy who gave us the Pointy-Haired Boss (PHB).

Remember the Dilbert strip (probably more than one, as Adams tends to recycle his themes) in which the PHB argues that, because he doesn’t understand the jobs his employees do, their jobs must be easy? Adams is now the PHB, refuting something he doesn’t understand, and rebounding all criticism with the retort, “I was just being facetious.” This facetiousness comes and goes as is convenient to him.

I must now sadly cast Adams into the dustbin of history, alongside PJ O’Rourke, who used to be a funny critic of bad thinking, until he became a free market fundamentalist and refused to seriously criticise the US Republican Party. Adams, it turns out, is smart enough to criticise the delusions and poor thinking of corporate suits, but not smart enough to recognise his own delusions and poor thinking. A lesson for us all: you’re never as smart as you think you are.

A post on this subject even more intelligent than my own!:
Suckered by Intelligent Design