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Did you see the reports of my scandalous behavior on the Internet? The headlines say "Scott Adams Caught Defending Himself Anonymously on Metafilter!" The stories go on to explain that I was posting under the name PlannedChaos and pretending to be the only person in the world who doesn't hate me. According to the wise and fair denizens of the Internet, this behavior is proof that I am a thin-skinned, troll, asshole, dick, fame-whore, ego maniac, douche nozzle, misogynist. That list might sound bad to you, but keep in mind that I was starting from a pretty low base, so I think my reputation is trending up.

You might have questions about this story. So I asked my Internet alter-ego, PlannedChaos, to interview me and get to the bottom of it.

PlannedChaos: Mr. Adams, do you mind if I call you Douche Nozzle?

Scott: This interview is over! You really are a dick!

Let's try this the old-fashioned way. I'll give you all of the facts about this scandal, and some proper context, and you can assume every word of it is bullshit. And that leads me to my first point about context: As a general rule, you can't trust anyone who has a conflict of interest. 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.

Obviously an alias can be used for evil just as easily as it can be used to clear up simple factual matters. A hammer can be used to build a porch or it can be used to crush your neighbor's skull. Don't hate the tool.

The next thing to consider is that in my line of work, some types of rumors can cause economic damage to hundreds of people in the so-called value chain. The stakes are high. I know from experience that when a rumor flares up that says, for example, I'm affiliated with one particular interest group or another, the people who hate that group will stop reading Dilbert comics. And they will aggressively warn everyone who will listen to do the same. This was a small problem in the pre-Internet age. Today, a rumor will send an army of advocates to vote down your products on Amazon.com and defame you on every blog and web site that allows comments. It happens in hours, not days.

This week for example, I'm the target of Men's Rights advocates, Feminists, and one bearded taint who is leading an anti-creationist movement. What do those folks have in common? In each case they are using the same strategy. They take out of context something I've written, present it to the lazy Internet media who doesn't check context, and use it to demonize me to gain publicity for their respective causes. That's how advocates get free publicity. They find a celebrity to target.

The same thing is happening today  with a Republican official who emailed some friends a humorous photo of President Obama's face on a chimp and a punch line about his birth certificate. If your only context is what the Internet says about this story, you assume it's a typical racist act by a Republican who is already guilty by association. But if I add the context that Googling "George Bush monkey" gives you over 3 million hits, and most of them are jokes where President Bush's face is transposed on a monkey, you see what's really going on. Democrats and advocates of civil rights are using the media to further an agenda at the expense of a woman who was probably so non-racist that the photo in question didn't set off her alarms as being a career-ending risk.

In my book The Dilbert Future, published in 1997, I predicted that in the future the media would start killing celebrities to generate demand for their so-called news. That seemed like a stretch when the worst part of the media was the tabloids. Now the Internet has given media power to the likes of Gawker, Metafilter, and any other cesspool with an IP address. When the low end of the media conspired with unscrupulous advocates to label the aforementioned Republican woman a racist, they probably killed her career, and they might end up killing her too.

There's no sheriff on the Internet. It's like the Wild West. So for the past ten years or so I've handled things in the masked vigilante-style whenever the economic stakes are high and there's a rumor that needs managing. Usually I do it for reasons of safety or economics, but sometimes it's just because I don't like sadists and bullies.

Some time ago, I learned the hard way that posting messages with my own identity turns any discussion into an orgy of name-calling. When I'm personally involved, people speculate that I'm being defensive, or back pedaling, or being a douche nozzle, or trying to weasel my way out of something. Speaking with my true identity also draws too much attention to the very rumors I'm trying to extinguish. In contrast, when my spunky alter ego weighs in, people generally focus on the facts presented, including checking the source material to see my writing in context. The masked vigilante strategy worked well until recently. And I'd be lying if I said it wasn't fun.

Most of the inaccurate information about me on the Internet is harmless. And negative opinions about the quality of my work are always legitimate. The trouble starts when advocates for one cause or another use me as a whipping boy to promote their agendas. As I mentioned, the way that works is that they take out of context something I've written, paraphrase it incorrectly, and market me as a perfect example of the thought-criminal that they've been warning everyone about. I don't think any of this is an organized conspiracy. I think it's a combination of zealotry, bad reading comprehension, opportunism, and some herd behavior.

[If you're new to this, the paragraph above is the part that will be taken out of context and paraphrased to show that I'm paranoid and delusional, claiming that organized groups are out to get me.]

The best example of the rumor problem involves the topic of evolution. I've often stated publicly that evolution meets the scientific standard of "fact." But when I write an article or a comic on any unrelated topic that sparks discussion on other sites, a commenter suspiciously appears each time to say, "Adams has no credibility because he doesn't believe in evolution." Dilbert readers don't expect all of their opinions to line up with mine, but evolution is probably the hottest of hot buttons for the technology crowd. If you're rumored to be anti-science, you're dead to them, and so is your product. That's a rumor with economic consequences.

If you wonder how the evolution rumor started, it's partly because I made the following argument: The evidence for evolution, by its nature, seems fishy to the average non-scientist independent of the underlying truth. That's a statement about human perceptions, not the objective reality of the theory. The suggestion here is that if scientists could do a better job of packaging the evidence for evolution it might help convert the doubters. Malevolent posters often quote me out of context as saying, "The evidence for evolution smells like bullshit." Out of context it means nearly the opposite of what it means within context.

I've also famously predicted that the theory of evolution will be debunked in my lifetime. That sounds like crazy Creationist talk, and a direct contradiction to my statement that evolution is a scientific fact. The context for that prediction is the notion that a future Einstein might someday demonstrate that our common sense understanding of the passage of time is flawed. If that happens, every part of our observed reality will be debunked, sort of. Instead of focusing on evolution, I could have predicted that the history of your daily commute to work will be debunked. It's the same point but less catchy.

By now you are probably thinking that my prediction has nearly zero chance of being right. I'll let you in on an industry secret: You're correct. You know all of those books on the market that predict various economic bubbles, social upheavals, and disasters of all kinds? Most of those authors don't believe their predictions are likely to pan out. They're making calculated bets that in the unlikely event they guessed right, they will become famous. That's worth a fortune in future speaking gigs and book deals.

My contrarian prediction about evolution being debunked in my lifetime was the same sort of bet. It's unlikely that I'll be right. But if I get lucky, I'll be the one person who predicted it. And because of the "in my lifetime" condition, I can't be wrong until I'm too dead to care. This is the sort of thing I do that really, really, really pisses off some people, especially the anti-creationist bearded taint guy.

Keep in mind that Einstein debunked humanity's common sense understanding of gravity, and no one saw that coming. Your great grandfather probably thought the planet was exerting an invisible sucking force called gravity to keep him from floating away. But Einstein figured out that mass curves spacetime. That sounds different than an invisible sucking force. I'm just saying anything can happen.

Let's take a moment to call back the discussion of how the messenger changes the message. A large number of you are reading my explanation of the evolution rumor and dismissing it as my pathetic attempt at revisionist history. I'm back pedaling! I got caught being a moron and now I'm trying to save face!

See how this works? The messenger with a strong self-interest is automatically non-credible, and should be. There are some types of information that can only be communicated by an unbiased messenger. And the most unbiased messenger in the world is one that is imaginary, such as my invisible friend, PlannedChaos. Speaking of him, let's get back to my interview to mop up some lingering questions.

PlannedChaos: Isn't it fundamentally dishonest, and therefore immoral, to debate under an assumed name?

Scott: Yes. On the scale of immoral behavior, where genocide is at the top, and wearing Spanx is near the bottom, posting comments under an alias to clear up harmful misconceptions is about one level worse than Spanx.

PlannedChaos: Are you saying the ends justify the means?

Scott: Yes, sometimes. The types of people who act solely on principle are the ones who burn Korans and wonder why something went wrong.

PlannedChaos: How do we know this whole scheme isn't a Dogbertian prank. You have a dark history of doing exactly this sort of thing.

Scott: There's no way for you to know if it's a prank. The only person who knows the answer to that question is me, and I'm not credible. But for the record, my non-credible answer is that the entertainment value of this endeavor was only a side benefit.  With that said, I have to confess that giving verbal wedgies to people who desperately deserve them, in a public forum, is a lot more fun than you imagine.

PlannedChaos: Didn't you once wear a professional disguise, including a wig and mustache, and pass yourself off as a famous consultant named Ray Mebert?

Scott: Yes, several years ago at Logitech's meeting of top management. I led them through a Mission Statement workshop that I manipulated to create the world's worst Mission Statement. The president of Logitech was in on the prank, and the San Jose Mercury sponsored the whole thing.

PlannedChaos: So you've been a douche for quite some time?

Scott: Apparently.

PlannedChaos: Are you a fame whore?

Scott: Yes, but I have ambitions to become a high-priced fame prostitute. In my job, fame is just one of the tools. The main reason you've heard of Dilbert is that I'm a tireless self-promoter and I've been able to work with some of the best PR professionals in the industry. (I'm off the leash at the moment. You might have noticed.)

PlannedChaos: Are you just a troll?

Scott: If I understand the term, trolling involves off-topic comments with no purpose other than to get people worked up. My main purpose is generally to add context to the stuff that trolls and issue advocates have posted online about me. My primary motivation is economic as opposed to evil. But I do have a twitchy trigger finger when I run into sadists and bullies online. So while I generally enter an online conversation with the intent of suppressing damaging misunderstandings, I've been known to empty my clip once I'm there. I'm not proud of that. I'm also not proud that my personal hero is the bigger kid in this video. I'll own that.

PlannedChaos: I called you a genius on Metafilter. Is that proof that you are an ego-maniac?

Scott: No, that is not proof. But as circumstantial evidence goes, it's pretty good. The proof that I'm an ego-maniac is that I'm interviewing myself in my own blog. I don't think I can be any clearer on that point.

I will add some context though. Keep in mind that creating the hapless Dilbert character largely in my own image launched a twenty year career of daily self-deprecation. Likewise, about half of what I write outside of the comic is unambiguously self-deprecating. I'm a short, near-sighted, bald, over-the-hill guy with a bad sense of direction and an astonishing lack of competence at 99% of life's challenges. It is also objectively true that I sometimes have good days. That last part is a thing called arrogance.

Another bit of context is that most of what I write outside of the comic is meant to be entertainment for a certain type of reader who likes to be exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints no matter how ridiculous. With the blog in particular, the explicit model is that I write down whatever dumbass theory pops into my head and try to sell it as God's final word. Then my readers shred it in the comment section, or sometimes say it's an old idea that's already been done. Taken out of context, many of my blog posts and even my Wall Street Journal articles would look like the crazy rantings of a guy who thinks he has all the answers to fix the entire world. At best, that's only half true.

And the last piece of context is that I created you, PlannedChaos, specifically to say things that are relevant to the debate but would be grossly inappropriate for me to say about myself. By analogy, if critics of President Obama start calling him stupid, it wouldn't be appropriate for him to whip out his SAT scores. But if one of his spokespeople reminds the public that the President has a law degree from Harvard, which by any objective measure puts him in the genius category, that's a legitimate response. Context is everything.

PlannedChaos: Are you going to go full-Sheen or is this mental breakdown more of a temporary thing that you can fix with rehab?

Scott: No promises, but I think I'll be okay if I lay off the crack pipe for a few days.

PlannedChaos: Why wouldn't it be better to just defend yourself online using your real name?

Scott: You're not a good listener. Watch what happens now that I have. Every part of this post will be taken out of context and twisted to its opposite meaning.

PlannedChaos: Are you going to smugly claim that you orchestrated everything that happened, including getting caught, and it is all part of your oh-so-clever plan? You do that sometimes.

Scott: Not this time. My plan came off the rails when I learned the hard way that Metafilter doesn't have a privacy policy. I assumed, incorrectly, that the worst thing that would happen is that I'd correct some rumors online, amuse myself, and get discreetly booted off the system by the administrators.  Instead, the moderators acted on a tip, probably because I left bread crumbs in my comments the size of tractors, snooped into my not-so-private sign-up information, and threatened to make my identity public unless I did so myself. On the scale of immoral behavior, I think everyone involved scored about the same that day, unless one of us was also wearing Spanx. And if the moderators of Metafilter think the ends justified the means, for business or other purposes, I support that choice.

PlannedChaos: What's the point of trying to correct inaccurate rumors online when you often say no one is persuaded by new information?

Scott: That's a brilliant question. Are you a genius?

PlannedChaos: Just having a good day.

Scott: Rarely is anyone persuaded by new information once a strong opinion has been formed. But I like to think that some people haven't yet formed opinions on the question of whether I am a Holocaust Denier, to pick just one example. That's an actual rumor floating around the Internet.  I hope to influence the undecided.

The second benefit of joining a debate that I might prefer had never happened is that once inside I can shift the conversation from something awful to something less so. We humans are wired to think that the most important fact is the one that gets repeated and discussed the most. This scandal started when I went to Metafilter to kill the rumor that I'm anti-science. But after I stirred up things, what are people discussing most often now?

PlannedChaos: They're mostly appalled that you invented a fake identity to call yourself a genius.

Scott: Wait for it...

PlannedChaos: Damn it! You're doing it again! You arrogant bastard!
 
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Apr 19, 2011
I can't say that I have any idea about Scott Adams personally, or frankly that I care. I find his cartoons hilarious, and a frighteningly accurate portratal of corporate life. Thanks for the daily humor!
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
Two points... one, why is everyone getting mad at anonymity? Isn't that what the internet all about? And two, I wish we could get over this and get back to the good old days when Scott's posts on his blog were interesting. (I now get more enjoyment out of going into the archives and rereading old blog posts instead of reading your blog.)
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
newcanan,

I am sure that you have made countless efforst to improve the world at large. There was a cartoon from the 40's that my dad had (now i have) that has a person scrunched up in small wooden crate, The person had a sour expression and the caption was "People are no Dam$ good". See humor does reflect life. Now be a good little troll and go back to your box.

RC
 
 
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 19, 2011
This makes me think of you as Butters role playing Professor Chaos...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ocaztxj87E

I wonder how South Park would make fun of you, if you got onto their radar...
 
 
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 19, 2011
I had just graduated from college and got into my first professional cubicle gig. Needless to say the way things worked were frustrating. When I read The Dilbert Principle I gained perspective and found the humor in it all. It made a big difference in my cubicle life.

Thanks Scott!!!
 
 
-31 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 19, 2011
I always thought Dilbert as a piece of !$%* comic strip and an irritating merchandising cash cow, so it doesn't surprise me its creator is a total piece of !$%* as well. Scott Adams, you suck
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
People please,it's a comic strip! If you don't like the comic or the artist read something else. Solve the sorry state of our economy,find a cure for cancer or discover the Fountain of Youth! It's not rocket science it's a comic! It's not going to change anyone's life if you go somewhere else for your laughs! It's a damn funny comic and I could not care less if the artist is a stark raving lunatic! Get a life!
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
Some years ago I met you Scott at an Ebig (now defunked) event. I found your talk enjoyable. I have always enjoyed the strip. And to be quite honest, it requires a lot of skill and intellect to create Dilbert. Anyway, it is nothing that Dogbert or the Boss would not have done anyway.

Oh and to the person or persons you got into an argument with, one either they have no sense of humor or they can only have an impact by tearing down and unable to create anything new themselves. Sort of like a snooty restaurant or movie reviewer that has not the skill to cook or make movies.

RC
 
 
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 19, 2011
[Comment deleted for race baiting. -- Scott]
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 19, 2011
Overhere we had a semi-celebrity sock-puppeting on his OWN blog. He used several puppets and they were also supporting his opinion. He claimed he had to do it, because his opponents were being overly emotional.

As you can guess, it didn't work. He was exposed and ridiculed by his haters.

I read the thread on Metafilter and I thought you did pretty well. You did not insult anybody any more then they insulted you. And the very first comment following your first was something along the lines of "Welcome, Scott Adams". How come they didn't get it? Maybe they knew and played along.

I don't see a big change in personality, for what it's worth. You're getting more attention, that's all. Oh wait, !$%*!$%
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
These are strange times we live in.

Doug makes some statements that are 100% correct, (and obviously so) then has to spend a endless amount of time and effort apologizing and explaining himself to a bunch of apparently insane, politically correct automatons.

Some of us are behind you Doug, and I am one who has the balls to admit it without any apologies whatsoever.

As he said, imagine a world where women opened doors for men and let men order first.
Just sit quietly for several moments and picture that. That alone justifies everything he said (and demonstrates its accuracy).

Keep up the good work Doug!
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
I'm pretty sure that anybody who denies evolution is an idiot (at least anybody who has had access to a first world schooling system) and I don't bother listening to sexists or racists. I've probably read everything that Scott has written and published under his real name (Including the old bitter rays of sunshine) and I can say pretty conclusively that anybody who thinks he is a sexist or thinks that he doesn't believe in evolution based on his writing is an idiot.

That being said, this whole drama only serves to remind me that idiots exist. I didn't really need to be reminded. I get reminded rather frequently.

Slightly off topic: thank you for the years of wonderful procrastination material Scott!
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
I have not been a regular reader of your strip, because I am not a regular reader of the paper. When I do get a chance to read the paper, I definitely read your comic, as it is one of the funniest always! (I am not Planned_Chaos under another pseudo) Being a Bay Area native, and thus exposed to the mountains of cubicles in the work force, I felt your niche was ready and welcomed. This whole debacle of you posting under a false name is ridiculous. We all use false names and post what we want without the fear of retaliation. We can even stand up to our peers, saying what we feel, and no one is the wiser. I do not condemn you for doing that. I will now, however, unsing your praises for a moment. The filthy foul mouthed language in which you wrote this latest rant was uncalled for and at least to me, not funny. I have to protect my kids from Scott Adams mouth? What is the world coming to? Just like stand-ups, TV, or movie comedians, the clean ones remain the funniest and endure the best. Sure there are some classic moments (Lenny Bruce, et. al.) but you have kids reading this stuff. Keep the strip going strong. You have one of the best minds in the business for it. Thanks for all the laughs.
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
Scott,

You are the man as far as I am concerned! You needn't justify what you say or try to defend yourself against these unwarrented attacks. I get it. And, most people who read Dilbert (what is that 90% of World's population) also get it. There are a few douche bags out there that like to complain and criticize about almost everything. I stay away from them, or ignore them.
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
Scott, don't sweat it. I've heard that the movie idiocracy is the way the world is going. You write funny comic strips. You make money doing it. That about sums it up. I've been reading Yahoo news comments made by people. We really are becoming stupider and stupider. Don't let it worry you. Just don't live beyond your means and this comic strip gig will keep your life fairly comfortable

John Wilson
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
Mr Adams,

I applaud your efforts to troll the trolls. Congrates and I have to say...

"Duh, Winning!"
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
Sockpuppeting is bad, but as far as webcomic hijinks go, Scott's hardly the worst person. Tim Buckley of Ctrl Alt Del wields draconian control of his forums and deletes all dissenters, edits/deletes other comic author's Wikipedia pages, chided a kid for using his art for a school project (and later Buckley stole someone else's art for a goth chick character), copy/pastes his artwork with premade templates, uses his main character as a mouthpiece for his opinions, may have sent pictures of his junk to a minor, and the offenses go on.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 19, 2011
its a funny idea, or maybe you needed to make yourself more interesting to YOU?
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
over a long stretch of history involving 2 cubicle jobs & now my own windowless closet office,I find the worst thing about your strip is the dead on fidelity to reality.the boss's email story could be about my employer!sadly,i don't know the basis for the current flap,but i'm willing to help out on that evolution thing...my time machine will be at the corner of main & minor in frostbite falls on feb.30th,2012,at 13:15 sharp!bring your own absinthe.
 
 
Apr 19, 2011
Hi, Scott,

I love your strip and your sense of humor. I do, however, believe there are douche nozzels out there. I think you've been talking to them in recent days! -Mac
 
 
 
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