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Somehow, I've pulled off a rare feat: I have a fairly extensive readership for this blog, and zero credibility. That's just the way I like it. I imagine that credibility is a type of addiction. Once you have it, you naturally want to keep it. I'm guessing credibility feels good, and it probably has economic advantages too. If I ever experience credibility, I'll probably want to have it forever.

But credibility comes at a high price. Credibility makes you edit your ideas down to what you imagine are acceptable forms. No one wants to slip from being a credible expert to a ridiculous buffoon. That's a steep drop. Credibility makes you avoid risk. It makes you boring, and leaves you too often stuck in the past.

Critics can be harsh, and often dishonest, when discussing credible people. See how the media is treating the Republican candidates for president. About half of all the news generated during an election year involves quotes deliberately taken out of context to make these otherwise credible candidates seem like flip-flopping, racist, fat cats. People who are not credible hate the people who are. And the people who are credible feel a duty to attack the other credible people who have opposing views. Being credible is a hard job.

On the opposite end of the credibility spectrum you have me, and this blog. My goal is to be thought-provoking, but never credible. I embrace my ignorance and irrationality with enthusiasm. I consider both of those qualities assets for what I do. But what the hell is it that I'm doing? Maybe I should explain that.

First, we need some context. We humans naturally see ourselves as the center of the universe. That point of view probably has survival advantages, and it is a valid way to approach life. But it's not the only way to see the world.

I take more of a robot's view of the world. According to my robot perspective, ideas are the most important force.  Humans merely serve as incubators, filters, and transmission facilities for the ideas. It's a symbiotic relationship because wherever you see the healthiest environments for ideas, humans are usually thriving too. You know who has the fewest ideas? North Korea, that's who.

We humans like to think we control ideas, but it's probably more accurate to say we do little more than bury the ideas that are broken on delivery. If you suddenly have an idea for a car made entirely of potato chips, you probably keep it to yourself. But if you have a bad idea about how the President should manage the country, you'll probably have a few drinks at your next social gathering and let it fly. Human are transmitters, not filters. By analogy, the Internet can detect bad data packets, but not bad ideas. We're like the Internet.

In this context, I see myself as a collector, combiner, and broadcaster of ideas, both good and bad. I spray ideas into the universe and let the ideas fight for their own survival. With the help of their human hosts, the best ideas will evolve and reproduce, and the worst ideas will go to their resting places on the Internet.

You'd be surprised who reads this blog, either directly or indirectly. In the new biography of Steve Jobs, there's a story about Jobs forwarding one of my posts about his brilliant handling of the iPhone antennae issue. I assume Jobs wasn't normally a reader of this blog, but the ideas in my post that day hopped from host to host until they found him. Each of my posts finds a different path from host to host, depending on the topic and the quality of the writing.

I'm explaining all of this because of a comment that user Unlost made about my post yesterday. After reading my ideas for how I would run my presidency, Unlost said, "Priceless, yet this will all go unheeded." I understand the pessimism, but I see it differently. The ideas I unleashed yesterday are already waging a guerrilla war with the status quo. The ideas are hopping from host to host, and if any are worthy, they will evolve and survive. Change doesn't happen quickly, but I guarantee that any good ideas generated by this blog - if there are any - will find their way. The weak ideas will fade to backup storage, as they should.

I see life as a process, not a goal. If my goal had been to create world-changing ideas that worked right away, I would be a complete failure. But I don't have that goal. Instead, I have a process that involves seeding the universe with ideas and waiting for the strongest to evolve and make a difference. The worst case scenario is that my ideas cause the eventual best ideas to compete harder and evolve to even better forms. When you use a process that makes sense, even the unanticipated outcomes are good.

 
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Jan 24, 2012
ew, pandering to republicans... I see where you are headed... prepare to lose 50% readership at least...
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 16, 2012
You know, Americans are big on family dynasties despite their supposed aversion to royalty. Our fascination with the British royals seems evidence enough of that. For your presidential bid you should probably start trading on the Adams name a bit more. "Adams for President...AGAIN!"
Just a thought.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 16, 2012
You could also put it this way: "I leave the hard work to others".

I wish I could pull that off.
 
 
Jan 15, 2012
The actual worst case scenario is your ideas look good to the general public, eliminate their "opposition", and turn out to doom mankind. That being said, I have never thought of ideas as beings that go through evolutionary process, and it is an interesting point of view.
 
 
Jan 15, 2012
The actual worst case scenario is your ideas look good to the general public, eliminate their "opposition", and turn out to doom mankind. That being said, I have never thought of ideas as beings that go through evolutionary process, and it is an interesting point of view.
 
 
Jan 14, 2012
What you're talking about has been called "memetics." My passing familiarity with that concept includes the notion that the properties of ideas that make them popular are not the same properties that make them beneficial. Which is to say that ideas that propagate and thrive - in the evolutionary fashion that you are talking about - are not necessarily "good ideas."
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 13, 2012
Speaking of seeding ideas: I started to write up a comment the need to begin rethinking the Internet - to create incentives for the creation of high-quality content and reduce incentives for spam - and ultimately create a better environment for circulating, evaluating and developing ideas.

It got a bit wordy, so I turned it into a blog entry instead: www.marketingisnotlying.com.

I obviously prefer commenting to blogging - as evidenced by the number of postings (2) on my own site - but I do feel strongly about the need to get the idea out there.

The truth is that search is a tool - invented by engineers who found clever ways to use technology to deliver content. This opened up the world in many positive, beneficial ways - but it has also created malignant incentives to generate garbage content while discouraging real contributors. The effort required to rise above spammers clamoring for search rankings keeps a lot of intelligent, creative thinkers from joining the conversation. I'm certain there is a better way. The trick is to get people to start thinking about what that might look like.
 
 
Jan 13, 2012
"I see life as a process, not a goal."
"...I have a process that involves seeding the universe with ideas and waiting for the strongest to evolve and make a difference."
Technically, one could say that this life's goal is to compete ideas against each other. To what end, I don't know.
 
 
+9 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 13, 2012
I remember one of your ideas from years ago. It has probably evolved (or mutated) in my mind over the years, but what I recall is this: Dump all federal budget data into a vast database with a flexible interface - and allow people to create their own charts parsing the data however they want. No doubt that's wildly impractical - but the basic idea that fundamental budget data could and should be made far more accessible to the public is quite valid. Obfuscation is a just another word for control. I've done my bit to pass the idea on in various forms.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 13, 2012
Yes, but there's something to be said for sitting on an egg yourself until it's fully hatched. Interesting that you mention evolution, because that guy with the beard, ol' Charlie, sure knew how to hatch an egg.
 
 
Jan 13, 2012
"I have a fairly extensive readership for this blog, and zero credibility. " -- Ahem the goldilocks scenario like having lot of money supply but no inflation. You you should win a nobel prize in blogonomics
if there is one.
 
 
Jan 13, 2012
Synopsis : Scott Adams is incredible !
 
 
Jan 13, 2012
Scott,

This is one of the most inspirational postings I've ever read from you. It's a loving ode to eccentricity, a sonnet for insanity, a love song for crazy thinking. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: "The beginner sees many possibilities, the expert few." One of the hardest things to maintain is a creative mindset. In some circles, even suggesting a new way of approaching a problem is cause for embarrassment. I mean, who do you think you are, anyway? It's not like you're an expert, so something.

But it's the experts who have mastered fighting the last battle. Your point about credibility is spot on. It comes with an enormous price: it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a creative mind when you're more concerned with losing the status you've worked so hard to gain. That is one of the many things that Steve Jobs did very well. He had enormous credibility and maintained a creative mind.

Thank you for this posting. It's given me a nice way of approaching the way in which I grow in my life. How can I balance growing into a credible professional without losing my creative edge?
 
 
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 13, 2012
An idea needs more than just "being good" to get through the filters of the public. It needs to reach the public in the first place. A few weeks ago (and again, just now), I wanted to see how the mainstream media is taking to your candidacy. The only articles I found were in online-only publications that I had never heard of. May I submit that the mainstream press has their own filters which are based on criteria other than the goodness of the ideas. Since only a small percentage of voters actually vote for independent candidates, a newspaper would have little reason to publish something appealing only to a small percentage of their readership.
Also, one of your campaign platforms will probably work against you. There is a large contingent of voters who connote "science" with "hard to understand". These voters are the type who would prefer to wear a bracelet that promises magical powers, or read the horoscopes regularly. They will not relate well to a president who seems complicated.
 
 
 
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