Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy for one sort of unpleasantness or another. It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.

In my prior post I suggested that if a person lives in a hostile place, that person should leave. I think we can keep gender out of the discussion for a minute. Let's just examine the proposition that if you live someplace terrible, perhaps you should leave.

First, let me give some context. You know I love context.

Years ago, when smoking was still allowed indoors, I went after my employer to force a rule change. Given the health risks, my second choice was to leave for another job, but as some of you pointed out in the comments earlier, moving isn't easy. So in that case, staying and fighting the system (and winning) made perfect sense, at least as a first plan.

A few years later, still working for that large bank, my boss informed me that there wasn't enough gender and ethnic diversity in management and so there was no hope for a white male like me to get promoted in the foreseeable future.  So I looked for another job and left. I didn't stay and fight for my rights for the simple reason that the fight was, in my opinion, unwinnable. I had a chance of winning the indoor smoking fight. I didn't feel there was any realistic chance to win the promotion fight as long as diversity was the headline of the era.

Then I went to work at the local phone company, Pacific Bell, and as most of you know, I hit the diversity ceiling again. My boss told me in direct language that a white male could not be promoted into their all-white-guy management ranks because now the public was watching. But I didn't stay and fight the system because I didn't think it was winnable. That's when I started pursuing some entrepreneurial ideas. One of them was Dilbert.

And as I mentioned in the prior post comments, as soon as I graduated college I bolted from my small hometown that had no opportunity to the bosom of California and all it offered. That was among the best decisions of my life.

Here's my point:

The loser worldview is that whoever is causing the problem needs to fix it for you.

The problem with the loser worldview is that in many cases the only person who CAN fix the problem is you, even if you had nothing to do with causing it. A winner in that situation fixes his own problem. A loser sits indefinitely waiting for others to solve it for him, even knowing that won't happen.

When indoor smoking was my problem, the fault was clearly with the smokers and with management that allowed it. So I went after them and made them fix their problem for my benefit. That plan worked because the problem was fixable.

When I hit the diversity ceiling on two occasions, I chose to run instead of fight because in those cases victory seemed impossible. I also ran from my hometown because staying and convincing everyone to build some industry so I can get a good job seemed impractical.

Now let's circle back to the street video I discussed yesterday, in which a woman is harassed far too often on the streets of New York City. Should that woman vote with her feet and leave, which might be a huge sacrifice, or should she stay and fight the system by making videos and whatnot?

I think that depends on whether the problem can be fixed by others. If others are at fault, and they have the ability and motivation to fix the problem for you, by all means take a run at it. But if the only person who can fix your problem is you, and you choose not to do it because the fault is with others, you have taken the loser path. You literally chose the path you know will fail because of some misguided sense of rightness.

The men in the street video were obnoxious but acting within the rights granted by the Constitution. They had opinions and expressed them. And I remind you that their opinions were almost universally positive and complimentary, albeit scary and creepy at the same time.

Can that situation be changed?

I'm going to say yes, but only if the problem is approached in the proper order. So I would say that living in a bad place does make sense if you are working toward fixing it and you have a reasonable expectation of prevailing.

Expecting the men in the video to feel bad and change their ways won't work. They are operating under the laws of the land and quite clearly enjoying it.

I wouldn't expect any law changes to make public compliments illegal even when the giver is too creepy or scary. That standard could not be enforced.

And I guarantee that if any of the men shown in the video watched it, they would not conclude they were acting badly or hurting anyone. So shame is not a tool that can work in this case.

But there is one path that might work to solve this. And that path recognizes that humans modify their behavior for rewards, just like other animals.

The men in the street video are presumably repeat offenders. And that means they are getting a reward, at least occasionally, from their shouted public compliments. And I assume the reward comes from the occasional women who appreciate the compliments and smile back. Does that group represent ten percent of women? Fifty percent? I have no idea, but it wouldn't take much to reinforce the habit in men. Remember that men like to fish, date, and play baseball, so we know how to wait for unpredictable rewards. And we know from science that unpredictable rewards are the most addicting. So the men in the video are acting exactly as science would predict, given the type of rewards they are getting.

So the way to vastly reduce the street harassment problem is by removing the rewards. And only women can do that, by never responding positively to compliments about appearance. And that means all women, all the time, whether on the street or in the workplace, or even at home. Perhaps the next video on this topic should be addressed to the women who have enjoyed street compliments and rewarded the behavior. I don't think they know how much they are torturing the women who hate the attention.

Yes, this line of thinking does remind you of the horrible old-timey idea that women who dress nicely in public are "asking for it." None of us want to live in a world in which a rapist can get away with the "she was asking for it" excuse. But I think all of you are smart enough to know that that is a political and practical standard, not a rational one. A rational standard might be, for example, that it is unwise to poke a bear with a stick because that usually doesn't end well. The political standard is that the bear is at fault for overreacting. And to be clear, I fully endorse the political standard over the rational standard if it keeps women safe. In this special case, it makes sense to abandon strict rationalism because the political standard gets the job done better. So I'm okay pretending the universe only allows cause-and-effect to be a real thing when it wants to because that is the best way to keep women safe.

But every situation is different, and you wouldn't necessarily apply the same thinking that works for sex crimes to the thinking that works for unwanted public compliments.

By any objective measure, the root problem of street harassment is that the men involved are ignorant assholes. All thoughtful people are unanimous on who is to blame in this case: the men. The problem is that the guilty men have no incentive to change. And I see no practical way to influence them directly. The loser worldview would involve wishing very hard for that situation to change while knowing it won't.

The winner worldview is that you have responsibility for your own life and it is irrelevant who is at fault if the people at fault can't or won't fix the problem. I've noticed over the course of my life that winners ignore questions of blame and fault and look for solutions they can personally influence. Losers blame others for their problems and expect that to produce results.

If you want to see a good example of winners, look at the Asian and Indian population in the United States. The country handed them the usual boatload of intense discrimination with one hand and the promise of unlimited education with the other. Who's your valedictorian now? That's what winners do. No blame, just personal responsibility.

In summary, men are 100% to blame for their bad behavior on the streets. But there is no reasonable hope to change that situation as long as men are periodically rewarded for it. So a winner worldview offers two options: Either move or try to convince other women to stop rewarding the behavior. Both of those options offend our sense of rightness, but a winner sees society's artificial definitions of rightness as nothing but a speed bump.

A hundred years ago it wasn't practical to leave a shitty or sexist place because everywhere else was the same. But today you have plenty of nice places to live. So if you insist on living in New York City, please stop making videos that suggest it is somehow my problem to fix.


Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com   
Author of this book 
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

I have a new personal Twitter account: @ScottAdamsSays

Twitter was useless in helping me fix the old and broken account. I had to create yet another email account just to start anew. See there how I fixed my own problem instead of wishing they would do it for me?

P.S. Yes, I am in a bad mood this week. Why do you ask?

Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy for one sort of unpleasantness or another. It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.


As regular readers know, I am a big fan of the feminist movement through history. A lot of brave people sacrificed and worked hard to move society toward greater equality. That was all good stuff. And the problem of sexism was so large a few decades ago that you really did need to approach it with a sledgehammer and not a scalpel.

But in 2014, sexism is not so much the "can't vote" type of problem it once was. It's more of the "Someone is making me uncomfortable" or "I think my gender played a role in a decision" or "I can't tell if this is a business meeting or a date" sort of thing.

I pause here to make a clarification for any folks who might have wandered over here from Jezebel.com, HuffingtonPost.com, or Slate.com. I will try to type slowly so you understand this next part: Scott...is...saying...there...is... still ...plenty... of ...spousal abuse...job discrimination ...sex crimes... and ...other ...horrors...perpetrated against...women.  But in 2014 that stuff looks more like crime than sexism. All women and 98% of men are on the same side when it comes to the criminal stuff.

Okay, back to the smart readers.

So today we have pockets of sexism as opposed to universal sexism, at least in the United States. That is still bad, obviously, but the point is that in 2014 feminists need to use a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer. And to use a scalpel you need some feedback on how the cutting is going. I am here to help.

One of the huge obstacles to successful feminism today is that there is no useful feedback on how their message is doing with men. Men have been trained to keep their heads down when this topic comes up. And that is a great disservice to women who need to know whether they are being heard on this topic, and whether the message is effective.

So I thought we could help out here by giving some unfiltered reactions to one recent feminist story. You might have seen the shocking video in which a young women walks around New York City for ten hours (edited down to 2 minutes) while being filmed as men continually harass her. The point of the video is (I assume) to show men how uncomfortable it is to be a woman walking down the sidewalk in a public place. The video does a great job. You have to see it.

Okay, so the video is presumably aimed at men, given that women are already aware of the situation. So in order for this video to succeed, it needs to convince men that a problem exists and that the problem needs to be addressed. Did it succeed? I'll give you my personal reaction. I'd like to see your reactions in the comments.

My first reaction is that editing ten hours down to two minutes is so overtly manipulative of the viewer that I had a bad reaction to it. I understand why they had to edit; no one watches ten hour videos. But while the video clearly states it is edited, the human brain still processes it as if it is in real time. My emotional reaction to the video is a reaction to a woman being harassed every five seconds, and that is not what happened.

So now I don't trust the senders of the message. If they manipulated me in one way, can I trust anything else? I'll call this a minor problem but it is worth calling out.

I assume the makers of the video intend me to watch it and conclude "Sexism is out of control! Women can't even walk the streets unmolested! Something must be done!"

Here's my actual reaction: "MOVE SOMEWHERE BETTER, YOU IDIOT!"

Do you want to know why my life is good today? It's because I once lived in a place with no opportunity and many disadvantages but I cleverly fixed that problem by moving somewhere else. And so I reiterate.


Okay, I know, your family lives in New York City and your job is there and....JUST FUCKING MOVE!!! MOVE!!! STOP MAKING IT MY PROBLEM!!!

I'm sure the women in my polite suburban town also get bothered too often on the sidewalk. But I don't think it is anything like the neighborhoods in which the video is filmed.

So here's my personal reaction, as a man who is the intended target of this educational video.
  1. The video is unintentionally racist as hell, and that doesn't help feminism.
  2. The video editing feels manipulative and turns me off to the message.
  3. It makes women look like idiots for living in such a place voluntarily.
  4. Every man featured in the video is a creep. Isn't that sexist?
  5. The harassment was mostly in the form of powerless men hurling compliments at a woman that probably has a better job and more education than nearly all of the men in the video. Remind me again who the victims are?
  6. The creepy stalker guys were just scary. MOVE!!! MOVE!!! MOVE!!!

Did the video move society in the right direction? I'm not sure. It spotlights a legitimate issue and it hits the emotional notes to cause action. But I don't know how that gets the guys in the video to act differently. Are they seeing the video on BusinessInsider.com like I did?

I'm curious about your reaction to the video. Was it anything like mine?


Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com    
Author of this book 
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily



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Disclaimer: I own some Apple stock

After a month-long wait - and salivating the entire time - I finally got my iPhone 6 Plus. I don't know how Apple manipulates my emotions so effectively but I am thoroughly impressed at the mental anguish they put me through while I waited.

My heart was racing as I removed the phone from its strikingly well-designed packaging. Apple makes the process of opening a box feel as if you are winning a prize. Every color, shape, texture and probably smell has been studied and tweaked to perfection. Simply touching the product or its associated packaging is a tactile joy.

The experience of getting the iPhone 6 Plus was like getting a puppy. From my first touch of the sleek, sexy miracle of technology I was hooked. I loved it before I even charged it up.

It was large in my hand, and slippery to hold, but I didn't mind. That would be like complaining that my newborn baby was too heavy. This phone is pure art and emotion frozen in a design genius so subtle that competitors probably can't even duplicate it. It was pure beauty. Sometimes I found myself just staring at it on the desk because I loved it so. Oh, and it works well too.

But I needed a case. I tried to imagine my anguish if I accidentally dropped this new member of my family and cracked it. I needed protection.

So I went to the Verizon store and bought the only cover they had left that doesn't look like a six-year old girl's bedroom wall. The color of my new case could best be described as Colonoscopy Brown. It is deeply disturbing. But because I love my iPhone 6 Plus, and want to keep it safe, I put it on.

Now my phone is not so much a marvel of modern design. Nor would I say it is nourishing my soul with beauty and truth the way it did when naked.

Now it just looks like a Picasso that three hundred homeless people pooped on. You know there's something good under there but it is hard to care. Now when I see my hideous phone on my desk I sometimes think I can hear Siri beg me "Look away! Look away!"

So Apple sold me pure beauty but they cleverly put a short fuse on it so I would cherish the fleeting memory even more. They knew I would need a case, and they knew my phone would look terrible in it. But I still have that sweet memory of the day I removed the virginal phone from its packaging and saw it in all its natural beauty. Even then I knew that I would need to cover this sensual work of art with the equivalent of a phone burka just to keep my hands off it. I will not see my naked phone again until the day I upgrade and scrape away its rotting case. But I will always cherish the memory of my first look of the iPhone 6 Plus.

Beauty needs to be temporary to be appreciated. I think those magnificent bastards at Apple know that. I think they made the case slippery by design. They want you to know that if you keep your phone selfishly naked, and try to hoard the beauty that is designed to be temporary, that phone will respond by slipping out of your hand and flying to its crackly death on a sidewalk.

, my friends, is good design.

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com 
Author of this book
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

Note: I think a hacker now owns my personal twitter account @Scott Adams925. I can't get in, can't generate a password reset email, and can't get a response from any stoners at Twitter to fix it. I'll wait a week then abandon that account and start over. (Yes, I checked my spam folders for the reset email. Thank you in advance for assuming I am an idiot.)


Let's test your sense of color and design.

The new design for this blog (under development) needs a background color for my posts. Studies show that different colors inspire different emotions, and that means that picking the right background color matters. Here are six candidate background colors upon which a black text (probably) will ride.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to simply "feel" each color and tell me which sensation feels most compatible with my writing style for this blog. Do you feel your emotions differently with each color? I do. And for me it is fairly dramatic.

I have a clear favorite in this group. Which one is yours? (My answer will be at the end of the post.)

I'm also interested if you feel anything different at all. I'm not sure how similar humans are in their reaction to colors.

My preference is 5 because it registers as gently dangerous to me.
Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy for one sort of unpleasantness or another. It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.


Do you find yourself wondering how ISIS suddenly emerged as a military powerhouse in Iraq and Syria?

The official story is that ISIS has smart leaders, fierce fighters, and they resupply themselves through crime and conquest. And we hear stories that the Iraqi army is incompetent and retreat-happy.  And Syria is just a hot mess. That should be enough to explain the situation, right?

I don't hold a competing theory. I just don't buy into the official version.

And those beheadings look a bit suspicious to me. They seem more staged for the benefit of the U.S. military than the benefit of ISIS. Those beheading videos consolidated support for military action and serve to keep the U.S. even more deeply involved in the region. There are powerful elements in the U.S. who want that, especially the weapons industry.

I've described in this blog how my B.S. filter works. I look for two sources to be in agreement. For example, if the news reports match my common sense view, or my observations, or the first-hand accounts from witnesses, I tend to believe the news. But if the news conflicts with my common sense or my observations I raise an eyebrow and try to keep it that way.

The ISIS story doesn't pass my B.S. filter because it violates common sense that such a competent fighting force could suddenly emerge and bitch-slap professionally trained (or even poorly trained) military forces with such consistency. I have worked in large organizations and I know that the logistics involved - the planning, training, and resupplying are huge challenges even for organized armies. Did ISIS really figure out all of that while their communications are presumably monitored by the enemy?

Then you have the curious situation that every country in the Middle East is united against ISIS. How often have Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel been on the same side of an issue? That is mighty convenient in the sense that it turns enemies into frenemies, and that's a step in the right direction.

I said I don't hold an alternate theory to explain ISIS. But let's imagine one and compare it to the official story to see which one seems more credible. If the conspiracy theory we invent here sounds more believable than the official story, that doesn't mean anything, but it is fun to do.

Let's say one of the major military powers in the world has been secretly providing ISIS with training, weapons, and intelligence about targets. That would explain the success of ISIS, but why would any major world power help them?

One answer is that the only way to kill an idea is to transform it into something you can bomb. And you can certainly bomb a caliphate. A caliphate should act as a magnet for the worst of the bad actors. Presumably the bad guys would want to consolidate power in the caliphate before spreading it to neighboring countries. So the caliphate attracts all the bad people, like a heat sink, and puts them in one target area. Convenient! Are the troop barracks built yet?

Arguably, the best thing that could happen to Israel is the creation of a caliphate with no air force that the Sunni and Shiite countries can hate with equal passion. It is a great distraction and it makes the enemies of the enemy cooperate. And compared to the videos of innocent journalists being beheaded, Israel's West Bank settlements seem like nothing more than a real estate issue.

ISIS has also become the "brand" for Islamic extremists, replacing al Qaeda. Scrappy little al Qaeda had support because it poked the big American bear all the way over in the homeland. That's something American-haters can get behind. But can you love ISIS as it gobbles up your neighbor and threatens to do the same to you?

So ISIS has achieved several useful psychological goals for Israel and the United States:

1.      ISIS is a common enemy that puts traditional enemies in the region on the same side. Perhaps that could help get an Iranian nuclear deal, for example. Iran needs U.S. help controlling ISIS.

2.      ISIS has stolen the radical Islam "brand" from al Qaeda and ruined it by putting the focus on killing other Muslims. That should be good for America in the long run.

3.      Israel's military actions in the region seem tame compared to the beheadings and mass killings in the caliphate. So Israel comes out ahead thanks to ISIS sucking up the news cycle over there.

4.      American arms dealers come out ahead because America continues to drop bombs in a war that probably won't reach the homeland with much impact.

So if I had to put a conspiracy theory to the facts we know, I would say the CIA, weapons makers, and Israel are engineering the situation for a caliphate to form so it sucks the bad actors out of the moderate countries and puts them someplace easier to bomb while ruining their brand image at the same time. The alternative might have been to allow Iran to slowly gain control over the entire region while developing nukes. Compared to that future, creating a honey trap for the enemy and then bombing it (forever) makes perfect sense.

In the long run, I think ISIS will be the best thing that happened to the Middle East because of what it does to the common psychology of who the "real" enemy is. And it comes when the problems in the Middle East seemed otherwise unsolvable. Is that a coincidence?

(Here I will remind you that this blog is just for fun and that cartoonists are not good sources for knowledge of world affairs.)

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     

Author of this book 

Twitter personal: @scottadams925
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily


Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy for one sort of unpleasantness or another. It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.


A recent study that got picked up by the media says that 90% of women in restaurant jobs that depend on tipping report being sexually harassed at work.

That sounds like sexist behavior out of control. But allow me to put some context on that based on my restaurant-owning experience.

I believe it is true that 90% of women working for tips in restaurants are sexually harassed by coworkers and/or customers. That fits my personal observations after working in the industry. But let's put some context on that and see if your feelings about the story change.

For starters, let's remove from the stats the folks who take jobs at Hooters and other restaurants that position the staff's appearance as part of the "entertainment." I would argue that those employees are signing up to be sexually objectified in return for the promise of easy work and good tips. You can make a convincing case that Hooters should not exist, but I don't think you can lump the servers at Hooters with the servers at Applebee's and get a good statistic on restaurant sexual harassment in general.

So let's say the non-Hooters rate of sexual harassment for female restaurant workers is something like 80%. That still sounds terrible. But I'm not done with context yet.

In my experience, attractive female bartenders and servers are completely conscious of trading their sexuality for higher tips.  They talk about it freely. They pick blouses to accentuate their best assets. And some will admit they choose jobs that allow them to trade on their looks. If I were in my twenties and could make money in a job that depended on my looks instead of my muscles I would take it in a heartbeat, assuming I had good looks.

My best guess is that if you remove from the stats the women who are intentionally using their sexuality to improve their income, you get about 50% of women in tipping jobs who get sexually harassed and have done nothing intentionally to inspire unwanted attention. That is still a horrible number.

But 50% is also the rate of men who report being sexually harassed in server jobs. In my restaurant experience, when we had handsome male bartenders or servers the female staff and customers were shameless with their non-stop sexual banter, flirting, and direct sexual offers. And if you thought all of that attention was the good kind, you'd be wrong. It was an ongoing problem for the guys. The handsome gay servers had it the worst because they had no upside potential from the female attention.

So here's the proper context, in my opinion, based on years of direct restaurant experience: 100% of attractive men and women are sexually harassed at work in the restaurant business. And nearly every one of them took the job knowing that would be the case, but they decided it was worth it for the relatively easy money.

Everyone who has restaurant experience knows that the industry attracts folks who are simply not as sensitive as the general public on this and other topics. In a typical office setting, a sexual conversation could be a career-ender. In a typical restaurant, half of the conversations are x-rated humor, and most of it is coming from the women. Comparing restaurant folks with typical white collar workers is comparing apples and oranges. Restaurant workers are self-selected as not-too-bothered by sexual banter. Or maybe they just become that way after a month on the job. I'm just saying they are not the same personalities that are working at IBM.

The ratio of harassment drops off as you move from the attractive restaurant employees to the merely average of both genders. Probably only half of average-looking employees get harassed. That is still too high, of course.

And then you have the homely restaurant employees of both genders. They have their own problems, but sexual harassment isn't at the top of their lists.

The bottom line is that sexual harassment in restaurants is not so much a gender issue as an attractive person issue. But it doesn't become a story until you layer on the sexism angle and leave out the context. Would you read a story with a headline that says, "Attractive people get more unwanted sexual attention than ugly people" or would you think you already know that story? Sometimes good context makes a bad story.

In related and not-so-surprising news, a study says attractive women get more job interviews than unattractive women. Attractive men have no similar advantage.

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     
Author of this book 
Twitter personal: @scottadams925
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily




The Dilbert movie script is coming along nicely. You can see in this picture that I am putting notes on the timeline as I think of scene ideas.

One of the themes throughout the movie will be that simple things are hard to accomplish in our dysfunctional world. One of those simple things will involve Dilbert trying to get a much-needed meeting with the CEO. As a lowly engineer Dilbert won't be able to schedule time directly, so he will have to go at it indirectly. Expect Dilbert to join the CEO's church, join the CEO's golf foursome, and even get a job on the CEO's yacht. The trick with humor writing is to create as many "fish out of water" situations as you can. So putting an atheist in church, a non-athlete on the golf course, and an engineer on the yacht crew gets that done.

With humor writing, you know you have something good when the setup makes you smile before the scene is even written. Imagine Dilbert chatting with churchgoers and trying to keep his scientific mindset to himself. The scene practically writes itself.

Likewise imagine Dilbert trying to golf in a foursome with three billionaires. Or perhaps he will caddy.

There is a good chance that none of these scene ideas will make it to the final script. But I thought you might be interested in the creative process at this point.

Speaking of scenes, feel free to suggest your favorite past Dilbert comic strips as scenes for the movie. At some point I will dig through all 8,000 Dilbert comics and pull out the strips that deserve full scene treatment. But if you have any suggestions I am willing to be swayed at this point in the process. All I need is the topic idea, such as "Show Dilbert getting a performance review." Maybe someday you will be watching the movie with your family and you can point to the screen and say, "That was my scene."

A few weeks ago I challenged readers to design a better book cover for How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. I promised that if one of the new designs tested better than my original art I would use the new design for the upcoming softcover book release. I embarked on this path because a lot of people told me the cover I designed for the book was hurting sales. I decided to test that hypothesis and perhaps improve things for the softcover release.

For a refresher, here are the rules and here are the top entries.

I predicted that a new cover design would not outperform the original. Today I have the results of the marketing tests. Before I tell you the results, do you think you can you predict a winning book cover design?

First, some background on how I selected the covers for testing.

I picked three designs to test. One is my original cover. The second is from a professional designer who competed against other professional designers on a site called 99designs.com. That cover design is labelled Lilam. The third cover I tested was the "best" of the ones submitted by blog readers - according to my publisher and me - created by Daniel Thornton. (Nice work, Daniel of qualifycomics.com)

My publisher created Twitter card ads and ran them randomly to see which ones generated the most click-throughs. I expected each cover to have similar results. But one of them blew away the other two designs. It wasn't even close.

Are you ready to test your powers of prediction? Here are the three designs as they appeared on the Twitter ads. Tell me in the comments which one you thought was the run-away winner in click-throughs.

Lilam's Design:

Daniel Thornton's Design:

Scott's original design:

 Okay, if you have your guess in mind, here are the click results:

Scott's Original Cover: 1,312

Daniel Thornton's Cover: 481

Lilam's Cover: 326

This is far from a scientific test, and one can see lots of holes in the method. But it seems an easy decision for me to keep the original art.

I have a few ideas about why my art outperformed the others. One suspicion is that people have seen the original cover art so seeing it again was just reinforcement. That would bias the test.

Another factor is color. My original art uses a color that has been well-tested on the Internet and we know it attracts the most clicks. On CalendarTree.com we changed one button from green to burnt orange and increased clicks 13% with no other change. So I know my cover color was smoking the two competitors.

My cover design also has some intentional complexity that makes you stop and wonder how it will all turn out. Will the giant shoe crush the stick figure or will he leap to safety on the bag of money? The science would say that forcing you to stop and think will make a bigger impression. Daniel's art depicts the aftermath of the fall and is straightforward. Lilam's art has some mystery about how the petal-picking will turn out, but that might seem a bit overused as a metaphor.

My original hypothesis was that different cover designs for this book would test about the same. I was very wrong about that. And it does indicate how important it might be for publishers to do rigorous cover design testing. Could a good cover design really triple the click-throughs as my unscientific test suggests?

I also inadvertently confirmed the talents of my editor and publisher. From the start of the book project I resisted their suggestion that I create the cover art myself. I argued that I don't have that specific flavor of talent and that we needed a professional designer. The evidence suggests I was wrong. But in my defense, I only did the line art. The title and color treatment came from the publisher's professional designer.

The good news for me is that my original cover art probably helped sales more than it hurt. The bad news for me is that I don't have a new cover design that will test better than the original.

I hope this was interesting to you.


Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com    
Author of this book
Twitter personal: @scottadams925
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

Listen to me yacking with James Altucher on The James Altucher Show podcast.

Suppose futurists are right and someday humans move their minds and consciousness into software to live forever. What then?

A software-based human would have no problems. There would be no pain, no need for money, no need for ego, success, or anything else that organic humans want or need. A software-based person would have no incentive to do anything, assuming the rest of humanity is also software-based and problem-free.

By the time humans can move consciousness to software I would expect us to have immense power over the environment as well. By then it will be practical to terraform new worlds, change the climate at will, and create new life forms with 3D printers. In other words, we will have Godlike powers over our environment.

So there we will be, someday in the future, software-based creatures with absolutely no reason to do anything. Our software will provide the sensations of pleasure, happiness, success, and whatever else we built into the system. There will be no reason to build homes, or run businesses, or create armies. Nothing will matter to software humans because all of our needs will be met internally in our program.

But let's suppose the creators of our software anticipated our future lack of motivation and built into the program a need for learning. We might believe that learning is an endless process and can't really go wrong.

But software would soon reach the limits of knowledge. Once the software can program itself, which is also predicted to happen, it will become super-intelligent fairly soon. And we future software humans might exhaust all normal avenues for seeking new information. What then?

Software-based humans would have the programmed need to learn but nothing left to learn that isn't trivial. What might our future software selves do then?

One possibility is that we will build 3D printers and create organic humans based on our software personalities just to experience reality through five senses. An organic creature can keep learning its entire life. So our future software selves might find a need to bring some of our minds back into organic form just to keep up the challenge and the learning.

And you know where this is going. If the scenario I described might happen in the future, how can we know it didn't already happen and we are the second-generation organic humans?

Let me boil this down to one idea. Today, engineers design robots to serve the interests of organic humans. But what happens when there are no organic humans left, after we move our consciousness to software and have no problems in our lives whatsoever? What would the software be programmed to do other than deliver streams of artificial pleasure to itself? It would have no reason for existence.

Humans seek challenge and novelty because we evolved that way. If our software selves acquire that programming from our organic minds it stands to reason we will someday move our minds back to organic form specifically because it is more of a challenge. And maybe it already happened.

But I would expect the new organic humans to be dropped off on a new planet so they can develop naturally, free from the protection of their software creators. That means Earth is a seeded planet and not an original. And it would explain why the second-smartest species after humans can't even invent a flip phone.

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com
Author of this book
Twitter personal: @scottadams925
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily


My childhood wasn't the good kind. I had a medical problem that kept me in intestinal agony every hour I was awake from the time I was a toddler until I was eighteen. I learned to mask my pain from others, and extreme discomfort simply became my normal. Even my siblings will be reading about it here for the first time. Only my late parents and our family doctor knew.

My grandmother was my parents' babysitter of choice. She was an obese, superstitious, angry woman who hadn't finished grade school. She believed that any unwanted behavior in a child could be corrected with a sufficient application of mental or physical punishment. Pain was her only childrearing tool. This wasn't unusual in her day. The problem in my case is that she interpreted my medical problems as behavior problems and she made it her mission to fix me. She used pain to try to fix my pain.

I'll spare you the details from those years because I wouldn't wish them to be in your head. But just to size it, she would be in jail if she got caught doing any of it in 2014. And had she survived until my adulthood I would have been tempted to kill her just to keep her away from other children.

I didn't tell anyone about my experience because I couldn't make my mouth form the words. And I mean that literally; it is like a frozen mouth experience.  I still can't talk about the details.

I'm not looking for sympathy because everyone has their own ghosts. And I have no reason to believe my ghosts are worse than yours. We live in a fucked-up world. But what might differ is our interpretation of our experiences.

My interpretation of my childhood is that it conferred on me a sort of superpower. Unlike some of you, I know how far I can go without breaking. That means I only have to ask myself one question about any potential path: Do I want it enough to pay the price?

I never worry that I am embarking on a path that will be too hard. I know what hard looks like and I know it didn't break me even as a kid. That doesn't mean I'm tough; I am far from it. But I do have the advantage of knowing how far I can bend without breaking. If you don't have that knowledge, you can never feel safe choosing a path with a lot of bending ahead.

Everyone has ghosts. You can let them haunt you forever or you can make them your bitches. Consider the latter.

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com
Author of this book



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