Scott Adams on PZ Myers

First of all, it’s PZ Myers. With an “s” at the end. It’s not that difficult.

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, answered readers’ questions on the Freakonomics blog. Here are a couple of the exchanges:

Q: I’m interested in your comments on evolution. If you have read PZ Myer’s deconstruction of your opinions on evolution, I think they point out not only your misconceptions, but also those of a large number of people unfamiliar with theory.

A: Actually, PZ Myer deconstructs his misinterpretations of my arguments. If he ever addresses my actual arguments, he might realize he agrees with them. That’s what makes him so entertaining.

Q: What do you see as the actual flaws in the Darwin-esque explanations for evolution, and what possibilities can you see for alternate explanations of the phenomena and evidence?

A: Evolution passes all the tests of science to be treated as a fact. But if physicists someday demonstrate that our perception of reality has no connection to actual reality, which I consider likely, then evolution is just a point of view, albeit a useful one.

My main criticism of evolution has to do with the way it is presented to the public. And beyond that, I enjoy yanking the chain of people who think they believe things for actual reasons as opposed to taking a side.



[tags]atheist, atheism, evolution, Creationism[/tags]

  • http://www.wotmwatchdog.org MorseCode

    So…does Adams think we’re all plugged into the Matrix, or am I misreading him?

  • http://t3knomanser.livejournal.com t3knomanser

    But if physicists someday demonstrate that our perception of reality has no connection to actual reality, which I consider likely

    This isn’t likely, it’s a fact. Our perceptions do not map very well to reality. Which is why we’ve built this incredibly powerful tool to reality-check our ideas and concepts. It’s called the Scientific Method, and it works whether or not you’re a solipsist.

    then evolution is just a point of view, albeit a useful one.

    That’s what every scientific theory is. A point of view supported by what facts we can gather.

    Scott Adams is funny, but he’s an idiot, isn’t he?

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    Why do I get the feeling that this guy thinks he’s just slightly intellectually superior to everyone else on the planet.

    I enjoy yanking the chain of people who think they believe things for actual reasons as opposed to taking a side.

    First he says that “Evolution passes all the tests of science to be treated as a fact” but yet if you preach evolution you are merely taking a side? This guy doesn’t know which side of his ass he’s talking from.

  • Aj

    Scott Adams is a complete dick.

  • http://journals.aol.ca/plittle/AuroraWalkingVacation/ Paul

    What Aj said.

  • http://wintershaven.net Jacob Wintersmith

    Meh, more radical epistemic relativism. At least Scott Adams manages to be sort of funny, which is a lot more than can be said for most epistemic relativists. If you want an incisive analysis and refutation of radical epistemic relativism, I highly recommend Larry Laudan’s book Science and Relativism: Some Key Controversies in the Philosophy of Science. It’s short, clear, and written for a general audience (i.e. people who aren’t specialists in epistemology or philosophy of science).

  • http://www.runicfire.net ansuzmannaz

    I can now tell how this man can write Dogbert. I never knew.

  • Thrawn

    “But if physicists someday demonstrate that our perception of reality has no connection to actual reality, which I consider likely…”

    I can see it now.
    Physicist: “Hey Nature, I just demonstrated that actual reality has no connection to any evidence we gather about it!”
    Peer reviewer for Nature: “Really? How did you do that?”
    Physicist: “Well, first I determined what reality is actually like, then I showed that all the evidence I gathered to determine it had nothing to do with how I determined it!”

    Adam’s opinion is to Immanuel Kant as the idea that theologians will soon prove that your entire life has been a hallucination created by Evil God is to Descartes.

  • stogoe

    Remember, kids: Solipsism isn’t cool or even interesting in the slightest once you leave high school. Or after you come down from that wicked high. You know, either or.

  • http://emergingdesign.blogspot.com Jim RL

    Denying reality truly is the last bastion of the crank. I also love his style of countering every crituque by just saying the person misinterpreted him. He then never goes on to say how he was misinterpreted, that way he can be completely free of criticism.

  • http://blog.infeasible.net/ Godless Geek

    Umm, huh? Wow. I knew Scott Adams to a kook, but damn.

    Is he saying that evolution is true as long as our perception of reality is correct, but he doesn’t think our perception of reality is true, so therefore evolution is false? It’s was hard for me to even follow that as I was typing it.

  • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com/ Spanish Inquisitor

    He doesn’t know where to stop. Here’s where he should have:

    Evolution passes all the tests of science to be treated as a fact.

    That’s actually not a bad, short rendition of an explanation of reality.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “But if physicists someday demonstrate that our perception of reality has no connection to actual reality, which I consider likely, then evolution is just a point of view, albeit a useful one.”

    Deep breath. Okay. Solipsism 101, for the very slow student in the back:

    If our perception of reality bears *no* connection to actual reality, then NOTHING we see or know or understand is true. NO theory of reality is better than any other. NO theory has more evidence to support it than any other theory — since all evidence is false.

    Therefore.

    We need to either discard the “our perception of reality bears no connection to actual reality” as both useless and highly unlikely (after all, how likely is it that our species would have survived if our perceptions bore no connection at all to reality)…

    …or STOP WASTING THE CLASS’S TIME WITH YOUR STUPID ARGUMENTS! If no theory is any better than any other, then why are you wasting all our time trying to convince us that yours is right?

    Now, if your point is that our perception of reality *distorts* actual reality… like, duh. But as t3knomanser said, that’s exactly why we have the scientific method — to screen out human error and bias and the distortions of our perception and understanding, as much as we possibly can.

    In other words, that’s not an argument against evolution — it’s an argument for it.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “And beyond that, I enjoy yanking the chain of people who think they believe things for actual reasons as opposed to taking a side.”

    Oh, for the love of Mike. The gadfly fallacy. “Geniuses throughout history have gotten under people’s skin and made them angry. I get under people’s skin and make them angry. Therefore, I must be a genius.”

    If that were true, then Bill O’Reilly would be freakin’ Einstein.

  • Siamang

    Scott Adams passes all the tests of science to be treated as if he really exists. But if physicists someday demonstrate that our perception of reality has no connection to actual reality, which I consider likely, then Scott Adams is just an illusion, albeit an annoying one.

    My main criticism of Scott Adams has to do with the way he is presented to the public as actually existing. And beyond that, I enjoy yanking the chain of people who think they believe people actually exist for actual reasons as opposed to taking a side.

    I am agnostic on the existence of Scott Adams, unless and until he can prove to me that reality is reality.

  • Stephen

    Oh, for the love of Mike. The gadfly fallacy. “Geniuses throughout history have gotten under people’s skin and made them angry. I get under people’s skin and make them angry. Therefore, I must be a genius.”

    So you’re saying Scott Adams is a pretentious high schooler and/or a 4chan troll. I’d have to agree.

  • http://msmith13.wordpress.com Mark

    Adams is a classic example of a shallow thinker masquerading as a deep thinker. Watching him use the tools of argument is a little like watching a baby play with pots on the kitchen floor — he thinks he’s found a use for them, but it’s almost certainly not the use for which they were intended.

    He seems to think that a half-baked opinion is a substitute for genuine expertise, but he doesn’t have even the minimum knowledge to appreciate the scientific method or knowledge theory.

  • grazatt

    I think he is what would be called a contrarian with delusions of intellectual grandeur!

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    I think he’s just joking, but to quote PZ… (link)

    If any of his defenders want to claim that “hey, he’s just being funny!” that’s fine, as long as you’re willing to admit that his chosen style of humor is to pretend to be a colossal boob…

  • http://www.saintgasoline.com Saint Gasoline

    I wonder how Adams thinks physicists will “demonstrate” that our perception of reality has no connection to reality. Wouldn’t any demonstration be just another “perception”? Isn’t this the ultimate in unconfirmable twaddle?

    Yes, maybe we are in the Matrix, Scott, but frankly we have no reason to believe this is true. And only an idiot would think it is “likely” that physicists will demonstrate the impossible!

    Also, this has to be the silliest criticism of evolution I’ve ever heard. It’s on par in idiocy with Alvin Plantinga’s “Evolution can’t be true because if it were true it means we evolved through natural selection, yet there can’t be a selection pressure for having access to epistemic truths, so therefore if evolution were true it is highly unlikely that we’d have access to any truth” argument.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “Evolution can’t be true because if it were true it means we evolved through natural selection, yet there can’t be a selection pressure for having access to epistemic truths, so therefore if evolution were true it is highly unlikely that we’d have access to any truth.”

    Does someone really say that?

    Seriously?

    Wow.

    I would have to say that “being eaten by tigers” versus “not being eaten by tigers” is a pretty powerful selection pressure for having access to epistemic truths. Epistemic truths about tigers, anyway.

  • http://calladus.blogspot.com/ Calladus

    I read Dilbert – as a guy in a cube, sometimes his stuff strikes close. But not as much as it used to. These days I think he just phones it in half the time.

    I don’t read Scott Adams. I’ve tried, but he very quickly pegs his stupidity meter so I move on.

    For those who want a better geek comic I’d recommend XKCD.

  • gsb

    This sort of post-modernist “reality is purely subjective anyway” argument indicates to me that Adams knows he’s lost. He even admits that the TOE accords with perceived reality. He’s now onto actually denying the existence of objective reality, which is as far as you can go before falling off the logical abyss.

    It’s almost the converse of the logical end-game of the more intelligent believers who end up arguing themselves into a vague, laissez-faire, deist god because ultimately it’s the only one they can shoehorn into the observed universe and still cling to Belief.

    I do still love Dilbert, though. Sometimes I think it is written entirely about my company. Adams should stick with that.

  • http://spannerotoole.googlepages.com Spannerotoole

    Scott adams once actually said that Dogbert is his alter-ego, i.e that he can make a dog say stuff thats controversial if he said it, but because it comes from a dog, it’s acceptable, because people will think that it’s cute.

    Scott Adams knows more than anyone here or anyone posting on Scotts own Blog can ever imagine. Remember also that scott also said he never posts his own real thoughts online or in a newspaper, (never do this unless you want to very unpopular),
    As Far as evolution is concerned, it’s a crock anyway, for evolution to have actually started, a simple one-celled organism would have to be able to think “I want to have a pair of eyes so I can see” but this is not possible, at least scientifically, what is more likely, is that everything was actually created, humans have been around, apes have been around, dogs have been around, fish have been around ad infinitum, The seven creative days mentioned in scripture are not literal days as the hebrew word for day is an unspecified period of time. but alas some poeple don’t actually look at this,
    examples of modern day usage of this term include “Back in my fathers day”
    and “In my Day” and so forth.

    To conclude, If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all otherwise wars get started


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