Why Scott Adams is fed up with Jezebel, Salon, and me and you.

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Scott Adams is annoyed. At you.

I. Scott Adams Hates You

Adams, the creator of Dilbert, also has a blog. The blog is where Adams tosses out random thoughts he has in his head unrelated to the comic.

Adams wrote a post called “Pegs and Holes” that pissed off all the wrong people. That is to say, it pissed off exactly the right people all at the same time. The post muses on why “Powerful men have been behaving badly, e.g. tweeting, raping, cheating, and being offensive to just about everyone in the entire world.” These men would include Weiner, Strauss-Kahn, Schwarzenneger and many many others. Here is what he wrote in that post:

The part that interests me is that society is organized in such a way that the natural instincts of men are shameful and criminal while the natural instincts of women are mostly legal and acceptable.

This block-quoted excerpt is the thesis. That single sentence is what Scott thinks, and that is what he wants to talk about.[1]

Here is where the writers of Jezebel, Salon, Change.org, and their commenters all went wrong. They took the first sentence I quoted (“Powerful men…”), and mated it with the excerpt I quoted, even though they are separated by five sentences.

In no way did Scott believe that men’s natural instincts included rape or cheating. If you read his blog post before now, and you drew that conclusion, then I’m sorry, but you have some serious reading comprehension problems.

Jezebel blogger Irin Carmon tried to defend precisely that semantically and grammatically indefensible conclusion:

Leaving aside for a minute the implied equivalence of that laundry list (breaking your marriage vows versus raping someone), this is a bleak perversion of biological determinism. By that reading, the presumed majority of men who don’t rape (or cheat, or tweet) are simply better at managing their innate desires to violate someone else, which I’d wager isn’t true to the lived experience of most non-raping men.

There is no implied equivalence. Irin inferred it. The “laundry list” relates the events that have been in the news recently. The sentence about natural instincts is set off by itself as a new paragraph. To conflate the two requires a bias and/or determination. You have to want that to be what he is saying and here’s why.

II. Society Hates You, Too.

Adams is right that society curbs and criminalizes natural impulses of men. Where Adams misses a step is that it isn’t just men. Society does it to women too [1, again]. Society absolutely, positively, without question or possible counter-argument is “organized in such a way that the natural instincts of men [and women!] are shameful and criminal”. Suppressing, curbing, and subordinating these natural instincts to conform with the social order is the entire function of the superego according post-Freudian psychoanalysis. And it was and continues to be worse for women. Monogamy isn’t a natural instinct, marriage isn’t a natural instinct, holding your pee until you can get to a specially equipped room isn’t natural. For either sex. It’s imposed by the social order.

And this is where Jezebel’s “implied equivalence” went haywire. The only reasonable inference you can draw from Adams’s post is that the “laundry list” of bad acts is the dysfunctional/neurotic return of the repressed instinct.

Which brings me to another point. Cheating can not be a natural instinct. Polygamy, maybe. But cheating implies circumventing a set of social rules or some other social contract, which implies the existence of the social order. Cheating can’t be a natural instinct because the thing you are cheating itself isn’t natural.

But his subsequent explanations weren’t good enough either, and this is where the story gets very interesting. At this point, Scott Adams got annoyed, and wrote this:

To that end, I would like to invite some experts to render their opinions of my sanity, based on my interviews with my detractors, below. Any of the following professionals would qualify:

Judge
Lawyer
Debate coach/teacher
Logic professor
Psychologist (professional)
Scientist

He is not writing this to filter for men, or older folks, or the rich. He simply wants to hear from people who make, parse, and interpret arguments and make and render judgments professionally. He is soliciting the opinion of “professional thinking persons”. People who know how to distinguish an implication made by the author from an inference drawn by the reader. People who know how to remove themselves from their biases, and see all sides of an argument.

You know who he doesn’t want to hear from? Programmers, English professors, academics, sociologists, physicians, architects, NFL runningbacks, and bloggers. Especially bloggers. (For the record, I meet one of his criteria). He wanted to hear from people who would disagree intelligently with the central idea of his post, not engage in Fisking, the nitpicking of statements he obviously did not intend to be taken seriously.

Apparently, however, the uninvited didn’t get the message, so Adams posted a sarcastic Reading Comprehension Test.

Why is Scott Adams doing this?

III. Let’s Do It Greek-Style

Adams’s problem is that he wanted a Socratic discussion. Start from a single idea and then systematically explore its dimensions, implications, and implicit paradoxes. This is what he did in that original post (and in most of his posts). We’re hanging out in the agora, he tosses out an idea, we kick it around, fiddle with it, play with it, see what it can and can’t do for us. Adams wants to concentrate on the idea.

What everyone else wanted to have was akin to a Talmudic discussion (I’m being extremely generous here. What really happened on his blog and on others was beneath the level of high school debate.) They wanted to examine his words, his statements. They wanted to concentrate on the text. What I’m doing in the body of this post is the latter. What I’m doing way down below in the footnote is the former. Learn the difference, love the difference, and use it to your advantage.

What is frustrating about so many bloggers and commenters (fortunately not many of the ones here), is that they want to engage in the latter on a post that was very obviously written to be the former. They want to attack the words as if the blogger deliberated over the post for weeks. They want to argue about copy editing, word choice, and grammar. They take gross generalizations, hyperbole, and metaphor literally. Adams is fed up with precisely the kind of people who try to construe the post to mean something other than its reasonable meaning. He wants to recalibrate his sanity with people who have to read, write, comprehend and argue professionally and civilly.

Maybe he writes provocatively, or casually, or even clumsily (we all do). Absolutely none of those has anything to do with the ideas. We are all reasonable people. We are all reasonable adults. Engage the idea, the main point, the thesis. Focus on the construction of the argument and not the style of it.

And if you can’t engage the idea, or you don’t understand, just drop in a comment and ask. “Hey, Scott, did you mean to imply that all men want to rape?” I’m sure he or someone else would be happy to clear that up for you.

See also: Jezebel Proves Scott Adams Is Right @TLP
—–
[1] I think his thesis is wrong. First he assumes the cliche that women want stability and monogamy and men naturally want to be sexually aggressive. Anthropological evidence seems to suggest that pretty much everyone tends towards polygamy. But this almost doesn’t matter because secondly, and more importantly, there are innumerable layers of socialization on top of our instincts. Our society is organized in the interests of a stable society, one that survives into the future, which in turn necessarily and perhaps unfairly is biased in favor of the status quo (i.e. social progress is always “sticky”). The status quo suppresses everyone, men, women and children. Because individual stability is not as important as the stability of the whole.

But regardless of its makeup, to the extent society represses any natural instinct in one context, it provides an outlet for it in some other context. Relevant to my second paragraph in this post, Foucault talked about heterotopias, the places that society includes within itself where it’s okay to break the rules society has everywhere else (this is only one type of heterotopia, there are others, and the concept is quite profound). Adams’s conclusion fails to account for the existence of these heterotopias in today’s society, of which there many for for men than women, such as bathhouses, strip joints, Vegas brothels, and pornography on the extreme end, but also the more quotidian and conventional heterotopias like locker rooms, “man caves”, and sports bars. All of these basically serve as a release from the otherwise stifling restrictions on natural sexual instincts that Adams mentions (there are also heterotopias for women (and gays, and BDSM enthusiats, etc), just not as many, esp. outside cities.)  

Related posts:

  1. He Called Us a Cesspool :(
  2. Why are all female characters in pop culture cliches?
  3. Nobel Prize winning author thinks women can’t write.
  4. Hasidic Paper Disappears Hillary Clinton To Preserve Its Existence
  5. When Psychiatry Attacks

85 Responses to Why Scott Adams is fed up with Jezebel, Salon, and me and you.

  1. operator says:

    Adams’s problem is that he wanted a Socratic discussion.

    That is certainly a problem, but Adams invited problems when he decided to start a blog named The Dilbert Blog (why isn’t this blog about Dilbert?) which put his identity (and the Dilbert non sequitur) on the label for whatever he happened to want to discuss.

    The Dilbert Blog is Scott Adams’ publicity machine – runs on egotism to produce controversy and it’s not very funny (unless you count lulz) – and, if you’re talking about it, it’s working exactly as intended.

  2. JMiller says:

    Well here’s the thing, and it comes from the reasonable-sounding assertion “Adams’s problem is that he wanted a Socratic discussion,” and it is that in so doing Adams failed to meet the decorum of the Internet, continuing to undermine his ethos. I might joke at this point that in talking about “natural instincts” we’ve already abandoned logos and are thus left with pathos so he shouldn’t have been at all surprised by the reaction that he got.

    But never mind that. Let’s look at how his message is rebroadcast right here: based on a laundry list of “tweeting, raping, cheating, and being offensive” the assertion is “natural instincts of men are shameful and criminal” — and the only way you can put a logical “and” in there is to find a criminal behavior in the artifact that spawned the thesis which, for lack of alternatives like “fraud, murder and jaywalking” would be “raping” since the other elements of that list aren’t inherently criminal.

    I might be misreading his source material since I’m only reading the copy here and noting that I don’t really care to read the original because I don’t much care for Adams since — another breach of decorum — “He Called Us a Cesspool :(” (which is showing up as a post I “might also like”) among other things; there’s my bias. But it seems more likely to me that he’s just being a bit shrill in the pathos instead of the logos (see his ongoing reaction to the Internet) and it is perfectly reasonable to link his artifact to his thesis. It may be unreasonable to take it seriously, but it — and how it readily packages for rebroadcasting — aligns to make him sound kind of awful.

    But let’s cover one last point and this is just his thesis: “natural instincts of men are shameful and criminal while the natural instincts of women are mostly legal and acceptable.” In as much as Adams is in one of those groups and not the other, in as much as I’d be horrified if he doesn’t qualify as a socioeconomically empowered male, his interest and identification with not just the natural instincts of men, but also the alleged capability of the “Powerful men” that started his chain of thought to act on/give in to those natural instincts undermines his ethos in presenting any case. Again, he’s lost his ethos before he gets to the evidence so the evidence — if we bother to read it — gets shrugged off as “Oh poor oppressed millionaires, woe is you.” But chances are that anybody who identifies as he does finds no offense in the argument, anybody who identifies opposite does, and anybody who might be swayed is put off by the sound of self-serving and thus not going to bother asking for clarification.

    As a debate coach, I assert that Adams screwed up — that is to say, shouldn’t be surprised by the reaction — by drafting a case that he was bound to in a known-bad forum in a way that sacrificed logos to pathos.

    But did he even mean it in the first place? Let’s look at the down-side of “the natural instincts of women” as he’s profited from them — such as his Alice character who regularly (brutally) assaults her co-workers, or the nefarious (crossbow-wielding?) secretary. Where’s the “legal and acceptable” part of that behavior? It seems to me that Scott either (note: false choice ahead, add some options of your own!) doesn’t know what he’s talking about, doesn’t mean what he’s talking about, or actually accepts the misbehavior of women because misbehavior and amoral behavior demonstrates superiority, and having to use civil recourse to demand atonement for misbehavior demonstrates inferiority and the boys would rather suffer the misbehaviors of women than admit inferiority by demanding atonement through civil recourse.

    To rephrase that last option, Mr. Adams thesis might be reinterpreted as “patriarchal society is built to discourage the amoral behavior of men from hurting men while denying that the amoral behavior of women could ever hurt men.” I don’t know that I agree with it at all, but I think it’s good bait for Jezebel et al.

    Cheers,

  3. Fifi says:

    So he wants “experts” do debate him and to take him seriously but then it’s all really “satire” not to be taken seriously and anyone who does is a fool (according to him). Operator is right, it’s an attention seeking ploy/publicity machine…which we’re giving him. C’mon, it’s basically effective but not particularly clever trolling for negative attention and then claiming victimhood when he gets negative attention. That’s not how someone who’s genuinely looking for a Socratic debate behaves, it’s how someone who’s desperate for attention behaves (it’s also pretty standard trolling of the less lulzy kind).

    Of course, if he is genuinely interested in Socratic debate and you’re offering it then I guess we’ll get to see you engage with him in a Socratic debate. Let the debate (or the lulz) commence…I’m off to get popcorn.

  4. Comus says:

    To be honest, he was sort of fishing for ad hominems. It was fairly obvious that his post would cause a huge emotional shitstorm, while he was slowly waiting for the blog visits rise. And when the threshold hit, another wave and so on and so forth. He knew they’d bite, so he could construe it in a way he’d come out as a (Pyrrhosian) victor.

    Now it is easy to ask for a level-headed debate, when this issue has blown so much off proportion it would be insanity to touch this with your professional status and get infected.

    The question is why aim not raise the discussion elsewhere or propose it in such a manner (and for the listed professionals) that it would cause reasoned debate?

    He appears to be more Diogenes that Socrates.

  5. PlannedChaos says:

    Just a few factual items to correct, on this this thread and the related “called us a cesspool” topic.

    1. It’s not “The Dilbert Blog.” It’s the Scott Adams Blog. It was renamed a few years ago for all of the obvious reasons.

    2. Any discussion of whether I’m accomplishing my objectives necessarily requires you to know what my objectives are. How confident are you about that?

    3. On the Metafilter sockpuppet affair, the main topic wasn’t Dilbert. I don’t argue with people who have different tastes in comics. What would be the gain in that?

    I joined the Metafilter discussion to exterminate an outrageously nasty rumor about me personally. You can judge for yourself if that worked. Keep in mind that if an accused murderer can convince he’s really just a huge dick, he comes out ahead.

    4. Why’d I call myself a certified genius? You’d have to know my motive before judging whether it was a good idea. Keep in mind that I have a background in hypnosis. What do you think happens when people start debating the question of whether someone is a genius or not?

    5. On Metafilter’s actions, I’ve said they had every right to do exactly what they did. And they did agree to maintain my privacy if I walked away from the discussion. But as a practical matter, when someone well-known is involved, there’s no such thing as a secret. Once the moderators knew, and were discussing it among themselves, the cat was already half out of the bag.

    When I decided to reveal my identity, my only thought was that it was funny. And I was surprised to find that anyone cared. Keep in mind that one of the other civilians on the forum outed me as soon as I started posting, long before the moderators got involved. Everything I posted after that was with the assumption that people would figure out what was going on.

    This is the best discussion about this topic I’ve seen on the Internet. On the question of whether society is more of a prison for male or female urges, there’s no way to score it. That’s what makes it a fun topic.

    Scott Adams

    • Pastabagel says:

      Hi, Scott!

      Point of clarification, the “Cesspool” post wasn’t written by me, and while I am a very active member of Metafilter, I didn’t actually participate in that thread or even know about it until well after the fact.

      Second, thanks for the complement. On the point about whether society is more of a prison for male urges or female urges, I think the question is malformed. The fact is that by repressing the desires of one, it inherently represses the desires of the other. The distinction is subtle, but important.

    • Lopt says:

      I think Pastabagel is being too charitable. The actual position you take, according to only the text of your post(s), is entirely defensible. The text goes like: perhaps society does unfairly hamstring people from acting according to instinct, and men as a group are more constrained than women: discuss.

      That would be fine if it were an academic paper. However , when you post to your blog you’re acting in some capacity as a rhetorician. It is pose that you’re probably pretty familiar with seeing as how you’ve written countless comic strips and a whole bunch of books. So it strikes me as disingenuous when you write about things like sexual inequality without considering how that particular message might be received. Glibness about cheating, rape, or suggestions that men are unfairly oppressed tends to go over badly, and it comes across even worse when it’s a rich white guy being glib. If you want to be taken seriously a cartoonist’s blog is not the venue. You are already at a disadvantage, competing with hundreds of preconceived notions people have about rich, white, nerdy guys, and so unless you do something to allay suspicion that it’s a sexist rant similar to the many they’ve heard before, that’s what they’ll take it as.

      I just can’t reconcile the Scott Adams who is capable of hilarious, trenchant satire of the workplace and its associated environs with a guy who can’t appreciate that the tone, setting and source of social commentary on such a loaded issue might overshadow the purported topic of discussion. You demand a particularly charitable reading from people who are unlikely to give it to you, and then back away criticizing people for their lack of reading comprehension. If you’re not writing for logicians, scientists, debaters or members of the legal profession, it’s rhetorical slight of hand to dismiss those who don’t meet the criteria out of hand.

    • Guy Fox says:

      Ditto! (Hi Scott.)

      A little tip in reference to your appeal for those knowledgeable about arguments ‘n stuff to judge the state of your sanity: Presumably, the diagnosis would be based on your attachment to reality, i.e. whether you believe things that are patently untrue (e.g. the Holocaust was a hoax, men are natural born rapists) or you refuse to believe things that are patently true (e.g. laws of thermodynamics, Obama was raised by Satanic communists in Baluchistan – kidding).

      But there are two kinds of truth with different criteria for assessment. There are ‘brute facts’, like massive objects attract each other gravitationally, that photosynthesis requires carbon, light and water, etc. These things are true whether or not anybody believes them. Photosynthesis worked the same way worked before anybody understood it or commented on it as afterwards.

      Then there are what have been called ‘institutional facts’, like you are insane, a small pile of green bits of paper is worth the same as a car, and Shakespeare was the greatest English writer of all time. These are conventional. They remain true as long as some quorum of indefinite size agrees to believe they are true. There is no recourse to a higher standard of truth than the quorum’s assessment, and the truth can change without the underlying facts changing, if people’s beliefs about those facts change.

      No expert can pronounce you sane, just like OJ Simpson’s acquittal didn’t make him innocent, because experts often fail to convince the quorum or to constitute one themselves. Martin Sheen can try to convince the world that Charlie is a victim of his addiction, but it makes no difference if the world continues to believe he’s just an asshole hopped up on goofballs. An asshole he shall remain.

      Expert opinion might help to determine the natural urges of the different sexes, because there might be some that inhere genetically (although such arguments are frequently severely botched.) But as for your sanity, the appeal to expertise is likely to be as futile as asking comic book fans whether Rogue is hotter than Wonder Woman. The truth is what they say it is.

      Sorry to go all schoolmarm on you, but you seem to want to think seriously about the whole business, and it’s an idea that rarely comes naturally to those with an engineering/’natural’ science background.

    • DataShade says:

      Pastabagel suggests you don’t like Fisking, but what if, instead of picking apart a valid argument by slicing into minute flaws and inconsequential mis-presentations, you’re actually trying to refute something that’s a laundry list of flawed premises, non-sequiturs, and

      Just a few factual items to correct

      I don’t think the greater population of the internet accepts your version of the facts as sufficiently authoritative, Mr. Adams.

      1. It’s not “The Dilbert Blog.” It’s the Scott Adams Blog. It was renamed a few years ago for all of the obvious reasons.

      I’m not sure what “all” the obvious reasons are, but if any of them include the point that Operator was trying to make – that it was a mistake to tie writing down “whatever dumbass theory pops into my head and try to sell it as God’s final word” to your Dilbert franchise – then this isn’t so much a correction as a you concurring, and issuing caveat that you’ve attempted to correct the mistake. And, to be fair, Operator linked to the blog still named “The Dilbert Blog,” whose top entry, from 2008, says “we’ve moved.”

      2. Any discussion of whether I’m accomplishing my objectives necessarily requires you to know what my objectives are.

      In a word, no. More poetically, more precisely, “not even wrong.” I believe you wanted to issue a normative statement: “any attempt to evaluate how well I accomplished my objectives should be preceded by a firm understanding of what those objectives are.” That’s a very logical, reasonable point of view, but, like all normative statements, it isn’t a factual statement: “Tommy, you can’t just run around hitting people on the playground for no reason.’ ‘Yes I can, watch.” Tommy might be morally wrong, but he’s still factually right.

      In the idiom of the site, nota bene: if Tommy’s an adult and he thinks he’s in an fighting ring, you had best be at least one of the following: an authoritative source, willing to back down, armed.

      3. On the Metafilter sockpuppet affair, the main topic wasn’t Dilbert.

      Perhaps I am mistaken, but nowhere in this post, or Cesspool, was Dilbert said to be the main topic of conversation. A factual correction for your factual correction: in Phire‘s article, there was an hypothetical conversation, for use as a metaphor, wherein the main topic was Dilbert. The metaphor was intended to show how an otherwise understandable action – defending a misinterpretation of one’s work – could become objectionable through antagonistic discourse and the callous violation of social norms.

      I joined the Metafilter discussion to exterminate an outrageously nasty rumor about me personally.

      People said you were an evolution-denier and linked to your own blog as citation. All the comments on your blog posts I cared to read seemed wrong – like they totally missed the point you were trying to make – but what you were doing was highlighting scientific research that contradicts the commonly-accepted (kindly: simplified; bluntly: wrong) concepts of evolutionary theory, or, to put it bluntly: you said (parts of) evolution was wrong (enough, for long enough, that it ought to warrant calls for better science instead of appeals to authority and magic thinking).

      But then you show up in Metafilter with a sockpuppet, referring to yourself in the third person, and proceed to explain in explicitly condescending language (your second sentence was a straw-man) to say you’ve always said you believe evolution is true, you merely feel that that the evidence for evolution “smells wrong” and want to reconfirm your “prediction about evolution someday being rethought.” Maybe you were too offended at being accused of murder to realize you were channeling Lord Dorwin.

      As an aside: when you’re defending yourself, you do things like compare yourself to Abraham Lincoln, and treat internet-tame criticism of you as tatamount to being accused of murder. Why? I know you like to consider much of your humor to be “self-deprecating,” but the people who habitually overemphasize the adversity they face in life are called “emo,” not “self-deprecating,” and there are limits to how much you can define yourself in the face of evidence.

      Keep in mind that if an accused murderer can convince he’s really just a huge dick, he comes out ahead.

      To my knowledge, you were never accused of murder (caveat: I didn’t read all the comments on all your posts, maybe someone suggested you helped Glenn Beck rape and murder a girl in 1990). Proverbs 17:28 is good advice whether you’re religious or not.

      Also, my (admittedly second-hand) experience with criminal prosecutions would suggest no competent defense attorney would allow a defendant to take the stand “to convince the jury I’m just a dick” for any charge, let alone murder, especially when said defendant can provide no new evidence refuting the top charge on the indictment.

      4. Why’d I call myself a certified genius? You’d have to know my motive before judging whether it was a good idea.

      As in #2, that’s not a factual statement, it’s a normative statement, and, again as in #2, to the extent that it’s factual, it’s not even wrong.
      No matter what your intent, or how you explain yourself, everyone in the blast radius when you execute your idea not only can, but will judge whether or not it was good.

      Keep in mind that I have a background in hypnosis. What do you think happens when people start debating the question of whether someone is a genius or not?

      The act of reframing the debate and “the cognitive kill switch” are favored topics on TLP and here at PO, so there’s a solid chance everyone here knows, but: who cares? I don’t mean to be needlessly antagonistic, but get over yourself. You just went from asserting “you can’t judge me until you know exactly what I think” to making a series of statements with clear, but unverifiable, implications.

      It was a rhetorical question, but here’s my personal answer: when I see you use sophistry to start a debate over whether or not you’re a genius: I ask “why am I wasting my time on a sophist who appears to be using my time and attention to masturbate?”

      5. On Metafilter’s actions, I’ve said they had every right to do exactly what they did.

      I have to assume that’s in reply to Cesspool’s line “Mr. Adams himself wrote a blog post about it, trying to pin the blame on MetaFilter,” because it doesn’t seem germane to anything in this particular entry. If I’m wrong, then this recorrection is invalid, my apologies.

      Here’s part of what you said way-back: “My plan came off the rails when I learned the hard way that Metafilter doesn’t have a privacy policy” then “[MetaFilter moderaters] snooped into my not-so-private sign-up information, and threatened to make my identity public unless I did so myself.” Again, it’s only part of what you said, and partly out of context, but that looks like assigning blame, and more context doesn’t always make you seem more benevolent.

      You said here “they had every right ,” and that’s supported in your post at the time when you say “I support that choice,” but let’s examine the greater context: “And if the moderators of Metafilter think the ends justified the means, for business or other purposes, I support that choice.” Now, you probably wrote that with a sense of tolerance, perhaps even benevolence, but “the ends justifies the means” is a phrase with pretty universally negative connotations, which opens up what you said to interpretations of back-handed insult: “You want this, don’t you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your Jedi weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant.”

      On the question of whether society is more of a prison for male or female urges, there’s no way to score it.

      In “Pegs and Holes,” you made the assertion that men are more imprisoned by society than women, whose instincts are lawful and acceptable. Would you care to clarify the circumstances under which you are able to make these two contradictory statements?

  6. Liora says:

    hunh. at first he claimed to be frustrated (and/or amused?) by people responding in kind to his post with hyperbolic/careless language (I believe he used the phrase “debating their imaginations” or something like that) and invited debate/discussion on what he “actually said,” and then he became exasperated because people were discussing what he actually said… the truth is, it’s much more fun to just say stuff off the cuff than to actually think about things, articulate your position well, and accept responsibility for your mistakes.

    • Fifi says:

      Dude, it’s got a great big picture of Dilbert above it and it’s at dilbert.com – in that context it’s the Dilbert blog even if you write a little “Scott Adams blog” under the big Dilbert logo. Don’t go trying to take things out of their context now….I hear you hate it when people do that. Now, if you’re finished with more attempts at image control (which you present as “facts”, though half of it’s just “you don’t know what incredibly genius secret motivations I really have that are totally more genius than my words and actions have led you to believe”), let’s see you debate Pastabagel. We have popcorn, bring on the lulz.

      • Fifi says:

        And if you don’t debate Pastabagel, which I highly suspect you won’t since you went to straight to image management topped off with a bit of flattery thrown pastabagel’s way while attempting to wriggle out of actually debating or discussing anything, thank you for being our dancing monkey over here…if nothing else I suspect many PO and TLP readers will find your dancing (and being lured in by the mention of your name) quite good for the lulz considering the central interests of both blogs.

        • Pastabagel says:

          Well, I don’t see what there would be to debate as the point of disagreement on the actual subject is quite minor and narrow, but I would love a fullon debate of anything (with anyone!)

          But I have to say all this ad hominem stuff is weird. Full disclosure: I don’t actually regularly read Adams’s blog, so all of the things relating to his conduct or approach that people are complaining about seems way besides the point (e.g. JMiller’s comment).

          But as someone who doesn’t read it, you’d expect I’d be more sensitive to whatever link-baiting or trolling tactics people accuse him of. But I really didn’t see any of that, which suggests to me that people are bringing his past conduct to bear on whatever argument he is making now, which is precisely the kind of textual analysis/intent-of-the-author stuff I described in the post as being ill-suited for the kind of writing he’s doing.

          Maybe he’s been a jackass. So? That has absolutely nothing to do with the argument on the merits. If no one cares to debate him because he’s a whatever, that’s fine too. But why make it about that? It’s easy (and fun) to say that Rush Limbaugh is a bigoted fascist or that Obama is a bed-wetting liberal. Those things might even be true, but they don’t affect the strength of the argument at all.

          • Comus says:

            I agree that whether or not he is a jackass has nothing to do with the issue. But the point you raise here is, as far as I can decipher, that he has tried to create a socratic dialogue. We are not deconstructing his post and focusing on the issue raised there, we are focusing on your post on why Scott Adams is fed up with everyone.

            And yes, he has the right to be upset, annoyed, what have you. The issue he raised appears to swwitch on a automatic heuristic reaction, and definitely should be discussed level-headedly. The problem is, and this might just be me, the proposition doesn’t seem to aim for a neutral socratic dialogue, but more like Diogenes pissing on the agora. Which is fine and dandy, but should not be posthumously labelled as reaching for a socratic dialogue.

          • Fifi says:

            Heh, I wasn’t even aware he had a blog until you and TLP decided to pick up the topic (so obviously his trolling is working to get his blog hits up, as perhaps writing about him has for you). Quite honestly, I don’t know what “merits” you think his “argument” has (besides, he keeps disowning his argument…it’s satire…no wait, people should debate me on the facts…no wait, everyone is just too stupid to understand what a hilarious genius I am…). Ultimately there was no evidence, a clear lack of understanding of biology and a style that was clearly aiming to be inflammatory in the most tawdry and easy way. Then I did a bit of a poke around because obviously this had been going on for a while before you and TLP got onto it and it seems that Adams has a pattern of doing this (do a bit of research, you’ll see why his call to debate with scientists was just ultimately more trolling).

            It’s not that he’s a jackass or provocateur that’s a problem for me, some jackasses are very funny and I’m all for well done provocation . It’s that he’s an unfunny jackass without a valid argument and who avoids any real debate pretty consistently). You want to remove the argument from the context of the person? That’s interesting because Adams keeps going on about how the whole problem is that his blog post was taken out of context. And, you’ve been doing a fair amount of name calling during this too with the “you all have reading comprehension problems and are stupid” style comments…pastabagel, are you really scott adams’s sockpuppet? ;-) Just kidding but it is worth saying that if I’m a pot you’re a kettle in this regard.

            Seriously, I just found the blog post he made to be asinine – and as was pointed out the only reason anyone cares is because he draws super mainstream inoffensive comics and made a comment that offended the mainstream (and then he worked really hard to keep it going).

            I guess we’re not going to get any of that Socratic debate you seemed to think Adams wanted but at least you’re both getting a reach around.

          • JMiller says:

            Just to clarify @PB: in terms of creating *just* an argument, a logical formulation of evidence is enough. It also means jack-all to anybody who already has a well-formed opinion on the matter, which is why ethos & pathos form the other planks of classic rhetoric: it’s not enough to make a claim, the claim has to have an effect. And if the claimant doesn’t appear trustworthy, then people are going to believe that they’re untrustworthy first and rationalize disbelieving the argument after the fact (if they even stick around for it) — that’s not an ad hominem, that’s how people apparently evolved to avoid tiger attacks; see also: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/the-believing-brain/. I, meanwhile, disavow any perceived participation in the direct discussion of possible sexism in the alleged Social Contract as a guy who’s reasonably pleased with his socioeconomic standing (so my audience would expect me to advocate for the status quo); my response was intended as meta-discussion on why civil discourse not only didn’t ensue, but was also predictably shrill and hyperbolic. Hopefully that’s enough clarification to put me back to being weird without also being misunderstood.

  7. Or says:

    Was it Socrates who said, “Seek first to be misunderstood, so no one can prove that you misunderstand”?

  8. PlannedChaos says:

    It seems I have failed to achieve the goals that some of you have hallucinated for me.

    Did I ever call the Pegs and Holes post satire? (Answer: no)

    Did I ever pretend to want a Socratic debate? (Answer: no)

    I did say my only objective in blogging is to be interesting. Did all of you just spend time on something you don’t find interesting?

    • DataShade says:

      OK, if your only objective is to be interesting, why are you posting content-free replies like that one?

    • sunshinefiasco says:

      That’s the intellectual equivalent of “nana-nana booboo”. Did you come to engage in debate about the ideas that you put forth in your blogpost, or to dance around in the middle of an argument about whether you’re a douchebag, an idiot, both, or neither?

  9. Fifi says:

    One thing I do find interesting is actually how the media contextualized all the objections as “feminist outrage” because it seems like there are just as many men who think his blog was dumb (he seems to be a bit of a laughing stock in the science world for previous wacky opinions some time back that I obviously skipped over at the time because I don’t care what the dude who draws Dilbert thinks about science – or men or women for that matter since he doesn’t have anything new, intelligent or particularly interesting to say). Watching Adams dance like a monkey for media attention and the media responses, however, I do find quite interesting. Certainly more interesting than the bait he uses to get media attention.

  10. Fifi says:

    See pastabagel, you were hallucinating when you though he wanted Socratic debate! ;-)

    Yeah I did spend time on something that wasn’t interesting (your blog) simply because Pastabagel and TLP are often interesting so I read it to know what they were referring to in their posts. On the upside, now I know you’re an asshat who’s not funny or particularly insightful with about as much intellectual credibility as Ben Stern. It’s pretty clear that your intent isn’t to be “interesting” for others from the way you interact but is to get attention for yourself (clearly YOU find yourself incredibly interesting, most other people not so much it seems) – the two are not synonymous, particularly in the blogosphere. Seriously, it will probably do you no good but you should check out some of TLP’s posts because you might learn a thing or two about yourself and others (not to mention how to actually be interesting, though that’s obvious a subjective call).

  11. lilin says:

    I think Adams’ problem is that he made a poorly-thought-out, poorly-articulated, and scientifically insupportable post.

    There’s no mystery here. The man was dumb in public. That’s it.

  12. Hypocrisy Illustrated says:

    Pastabagel rightly focuses our attention on the spirit of Adams’ remarks instead of parsing the exact wording. Indeed the laundry list; tweeting (sexual aggression as obnoxious advances), cheating (polygamy, infidelity etc) as well as rape hardly is a scientific and proportionally calculated breakdown of male sexual aggression. All the usual feminist suspects equated analysing these for equating it all to the most extreme expression and apologising for rape.

    I don’t know about the assumptions about men being more sexually aggressive, whether they are accurate or not. Adams is also silent about what women’s instincts are that are more easily made compatible with social expectations.

    However considering how often I hear women complaining about, “this creeper” “that dirty old man” as well as the cad and the cheater, I conclude that there indeed is an intrinsic asymmetry between men and women.

    Consider the metaphor about smoking in public. For long smokers had the right to “assault” non-smokers with their noxious air pollution. As a non-smoker, I am pleased that my interests are now upheld by a social order that prevents smokers from enjoying their poison in public. Nevertheless I am conscious about the sacrifice that smokers have made. Though I’ve never been addicted myself, I can have compassion for the smoker who now must restrain himself. I say get that smoker some nicotine gum or a patch to help numb the addiction and make him more comfortable.

    Regardless if we consider that neither smokers nor non-smokers are intrinsically right, the social order must favour one or the other. One side must either suffer the noxious emissions or the other must repress its natural addiction driven instinct to express itself. Obviously even Adams concedes that the current social order that protects women from unwanted advances, harassment, etc is better than any conceivable alternative; “If we allowed men to act like unrestrained horny animals, all hell would break loose.” Why can’t the feminists who complain so much about male assertiveness have a little compassion for the differences that men have? (I’m not talking about rape here – just the uncomfortable come-ons and such.) Frustrated losers and a dirty old men have desires (likely unfulfillable), but nobody suggests that they just take that which they covet. Furthermore nobody is suggesting that it is pleasant or right for these fellows to pollute the environment with rude and lewd sexually toned discourse. But I found Adams question about men perhaps having to repress their desires interesting and worth consideration. His opponents who declined to engage the discussion preferring to attack his person and character hardly undermined the power of the questions that he posed. Indeed the condescending and hostile tone of his opponents was quite an unattractive contrast to the almost naively innocent questioning that comes across from Adams’ remarks.

    If we have compassion for the smoker, trying to help him fit in the round hole of a non-smoking world, why can’t we have compassion for the horny fellas who have a hard time fitting into a prudish moralising society? Men have (at least they should have) no problem trying to see things from the perspective of women. Why shouldn’t women try to do the same? Shaving some of the edge off of the frustrated overflowing male libido (with medication), might make everything more pleasant and agreeable to both men and women. But I suppose that isn’t exactly how Mr. Adams wants us to stop thinking about his modest proposal.

    Of course what all the scandals are really about are holding the great and mighty to a moral standard that is more exacting than any of us can live up to. Perhaps nothing more than a take down effort; cutting the tallest of the grass.

    • DataShade says:

      However considering how often I hear women complaining about, “this creeper” “that dirty old man” as well as the cad and the cheater, I conclude that there indeed is an intrinsic asymmetry between men and women.

      Why can’t the feminists who complain so much about male assertiveness have a little compassion for the differences that men have? (I’m not talking about rape here – just the uncomfortable come-ons and such.) Frustrated losers and a dirty old men have desires (likely unfulfillable), but nobody suggests that they just take that which they covet.

      “No fat chicks” and the “gay panic defense,” along with labelling any ex-girlfriend who’s happier without you a “slut” pretty nicely rounds that asymmetry back out to symmetry, and shows men don’t handle unwanted come-ons any better than women….

      • Hypocrisy Illustrated says:

        Everybody could have at least a little compassion and patience.

        Who doesn’t feel for the sad little girl inside the fat lady or the plain homely one that gets no positive attention?

        As for the assertive unattractive and fat lady chasing some poor uninterested fellow, what does the exception to the rule prove? Women rape men too, but that doesn’t mean that we should give equal attention to the sum of male rape victims as to the sum of women victims.

        Of course empathy and respect don’t get her dates, but as far as I know, they are working very hard to develop a pill to give to the fat lady that would solve her problem. For the hopeless and frustrated “dirty old men” and the sex addicted alpha horndogs, what is the solution? Maybe they deserve a pill too? For the creepy losers, perhaps charm school or pick-up academy?

        Pastabagel points out heterotopias, where the males can supposedly express their well endowed libido; the strip clubs, the brothels, etc. However do you believe that these things are really socially acceptable? It is exactly this kind of male activity that Adams is talking about “men behaving badly.” Governor E. Spitzer for example didn’t rape anybody. His Emperors’ Club patronage was transactional but certainly consensual. Neither he nor Tiger were raping anybody no matter what Salon, Jezebel and the like assert. I’m unpersuaded by that society actually accepts these places because it makes it quite clear that it is not ok to break the rules there and anything that happens in these contexts is so shameful that it should remain secret;

        1 you don’t talk about it
        2 you try to conceal it
        3 you try to cover it up if it ever gets public
        (hackers broke into my account… lol)

        The real question, in particular about the alphas behaving badly, is if the hormones that gave them the killer instinct and motivation to claw to the tops of their fields is also making them such irredeemable cads. Give ‘em the pill to “moderate” their libido, where does their motivation to compete and achieve go?

        Another possibility that we’re all leaving out. I’m not sure if sex drive / libido really explains these alphas behaving badly. My theory was always that these guys have some kind of hole in their soul that made them hunger for external validation in public recognition (politics, entertainment, celebrity, etc.) as well as in bed with as many women as they can seduce.

    • philtrum says:

      If we have compassion for the smoker, trying to help him fit in the round hole of a non-smoking world, why can’t we have compassion for the horny fellas who have a hard time fitting into a prudish moralising society?

      It is not “prudish” or “moralizing” to reject sexual advances from someone you don’t like, especially if those advances are rude and overbearing. You might as well say I’m being “anti-capitalist” if I hang up on a telemarketer.

      Men have (at least they should have) no problem trying to see things from the perspective of women. Why shouldn’t women try to do the same?

      You seriously think women don’t do that? To a certain number of men, anything short of “oh yes, take me now” is a vicious rejection, but most of the women I know try very, very hard to be polite when we reject men who hit on us. I don’t admire myself for this, but I’ve allowed myself to be driven away from activities I enjoyed rather than create an ugly scene with the men there who wouldn’t leave me alone.

      This conflation of male sexuality and male aggression is the fundamental problem with Adams’ post as well.

  13. Pastabagel says:

    Well, it’s a funny thing, so now you are doing what Jezebel and others did, and parsing your own words and intent (E.g. “Did I ever call…” “Did I ever say…” “My only objective…” etc.).

    Just as the opining of Jezebel and others on what you meant or intended is totally irrelevant, so is your own opining on that subject. Your own ex post interpretation is no more or less significant or relevant than anyone else’s. And of course, so is mine, and here is where I goofed, and which Fifi astutely pointed out. Where I wrote “Adams’s problem is that he wanted a Socratic discussion.” I should have written “Adams’s problem is that he framed his post as the opening of a Socratic discussion”. Of course I have no idea what Adams wnated, should never have framed the sentence that way, and good on you, Fifi, for nailing me on it.

    But to the relevant point of your (Adams) comment, it doesn’t actually matter what you say now about what you meant or wanted or intended when you wrote “Pegs and Holes,” even if you are being completely honest about that, (and apparently unlike everyone else I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt).

    So where do we go from here? You want to talk about the idea in the Pegs post, I’m in. You want to talk about how different the responses you got from your designated set of professionals are compared to everyone else from a rhetorical or civility standpoint, I’m in for that too. You want to talk about the quality of comments on blogs and sites generally, I’m am totally down. You want to talk about how the whole affair played out in feminist blogs, and any opinions on that, I’m down. Hell, you want to talk about the formal and contextual difference between writing comics for the Sunday paper vs. webcomics, I think probably millions of people would be interested in that, me included.

    But really, I’m not into the games. I have zero patience for it. “I never said this, I said that, etc.” I have a day job that isn’t writing this blog., and I don’t have time to investigate the hidden layers of meaning in the words you wrote. You didn’t direct 2001, write the Torah or pen the majority opinion in Bush v. Gore. You toss out an idea and I can promise you we can attack it, critique it, unpack it, deconstruct it without ever making it about you personally.

    What matters are the four corners of that post and the ideas conveyed therein. I stand by my assessment that what you wrote is formed in Socratic-fashion as the presentation of a thought/idea for people to consider, and on that basis I ignore everything else. Do you want to proceed?

  14. Here’s what most people don’t understand about Jezebel– and it is true about The Atlantic and other media, but explicitly not true about Scott Adams blog (or mine, for that matter): the influence of those outlets is separate from its readership.

    If Scott Adams writes something, then it is Scott Adams’s opinion. But if Jezebel writes something it carries weight outside its readership, it becomes almost an understood “known.” (see this.

    Here’s how it happens: you’re reading something else, and you see the title: “Scott Adams defends rape culture.” You don’t click on it, but you immediately know that Scott Adams has apparently taken a very anti-feminist perspective, but more importantly reading that title has told you that the default perspective is that the male one is wrong. Smart and literate people all know…. and if you disagree, the burden is on you.

    Merely by publishing in those outlets, you’ve made it part of mainstream culture. The same force exists with advertisements. Forget about the Acura they are selling, and look at the girl, stylish and sophisticated. You may not want the car, but you have just learned that that’s what stylish girls look like. That information is now unlearnable.

    Gossip Girl had that “threesome” episode. You say, “I never watch Gossip Girl.” Doesn’t matter. You saw the commercial, and now you know that threesomes are kind of ordinary.

    Jezebel and The Atlantic and etc do not take this responsibility seriously, and I don’t know if they’re even aware of their influence. But they’ll collage someone else’s words to make the world the kind of world they want, which is a sick kind of dangerous.

    • Hypocrisy Illustrated says:

      It’s disappointing but not surprising how Jezebel, et al just dismissed Adams idea or experiment without any real consideration. As neither feminist nor philosopher, a layman like I am probably is sometimes not qualified to judge which arguments are worthy of consideration. Of course I know that discussing with holocaust deniers, flat earthers and birthers and 9/11 truthers probably isn’t worth my time and consideration. But Jezebel and the rest might be so kind to have the patience to explain why they don’t think it’s relevant to consider things from the point of view of the square pegs, Mr. Adams describes. And if the square peg metaphor isn’t appropriate, or the asymmetrical distributed sexual aggression isn’t an accurate characterisation, at least they could take the time to explain why they disagree. The probably fires up their faithful but hardly wins any converts.

      I believe in treating people with respect and trying to view others with compassion and empathy. It just seems so limited that so many defenders of the oppressed victims of history are incapable of seeing any other perspective; which is perverse because they’re always trying to get people to see their own victim perspective. Adams little essay reminded me of that old narrative from Hollywood that tries to show the long suffering loser or nerd discovering how miserable his bully also is. It’s tough all over. It doesn’t excuse the bully’s bad treatment, or the men’s bad behaviour, but considering the bully’s situation and point of view might give us some insight to conceive of an approach that is more comfortable for everybody. I don’t seriously think the Adams believes his prescription to control masculine sexual aggression is the end of the journey. But it provoked too much discussion and controversy to dismiss it like ramblings of one of those conspiracy theory cranks. If it was as ridiculous as something like a holocaust denial, everybody would have just ignored it.

      It’s probably a platitude, but accurate, that people outsource their judgements to the editors and writers of Jezebel, The Atlantic, etc.

      I think I get what you are saying, the image of ” the girl, stylish and sophisticated” is seductive and the collective thinking and effort of thousands of brilliant marketers and advertisers can’t be ignored no matter how hard one tries to resist and remain critical.
      What do you suggest? Is resistance perhaps futile?

      I really enjoy when you and the rest of the gang here points out some of the subtexts of advertising hidden in plain sight – even if many of the advertising video clips are blocked by the copyright cartel in my market. I also find the tone of most of the participants here appealing. You show that it is possible to treat people and their ideas that we are considering with respect but not hesitating to pose the questions that highlight weaknesses or contradictions. It’s easier for me to take people seriously who can at least stay polite and calm.

      Thanks and please keep it up.
      You keep thinking and writing; I hope to keep reading.
      But you’re not doing it for us are you?

  15. PlannedChaos says:

    Did Pastabagel really just accuse me of parsing my own words?

    One of the things I love about the Internet is that when a person clarifies his position it’s called back pedaling, being defensive, digging yourself into a hole, having a meltdown, trying to disguise your true intent, and now, the all-time best: parsing your own words.

    The one you don’t hear so much is “Thanks for the clarification.”

    • shaydlip says:

      Honestly I’m not really sure what you clarified.

      If your Pegs and Holes post isn’t satire, what is it?

      If you didn’t want it to be a Socratic discussion, what did you want it to be?

      Your Pegs and Holes post was provocative, but it’s the media backlash, the discussions here about how to analyze ideas, not the idea itself, that was interesting.

      The idea you proposed actually deserves thoughtful discussion, because it is informed from the stereotypes that exist in our society. But I haven’t really seen any discussion of the idea, other than what Pastabagel was describing where folks nit-picked your word choice (which isn’t really that interesting).

    • DJames says:

      I suspect shaydlip said it better than me. I’ll try:

      We’re still in masturbation territory with Scott’s (PlannedChaos) replies. That’s the problem. Pastabagel is trying very hard to get you and this topic away from mere self indulgence. A Socratic dialogue sounded great to me.

      It’s cool that you’ve found this blog. If it’s not more timely and thoughtful than 99% of the other crap you read, then you get your money back. The drawback, of course, is that it’s tough for folks to tolerate public masturbation.

  16. Lopt says:

    Part of the problem is that most of the ideas in the actual post do not really lend themselves to serious discussion. You say that society is doing men a grave disservice by limiting their ability to have sex outside of certain prescribed relationships. That’s true, kinda– but it’s not really difficult to “hook up”, or pay for sex, or whatever, and there are few negative consequences so long as you’re not a priest or a politician. As TheLastPsychiatrist said, if you’re unable to go to a bar and end up with a one night stand, you need to switch bars. So you’re averring something that is factually incorrect, using a poorly chosen example, or you’re talking about something more extreme, like society not giving men free rein to rape and pillage because they’re the physically stronger sex. Well OK, the arguments against that are bit more philosophical, but it comes down to the fact that you’re causing minor disutility to men (by prohibiting rape) in order to prevent a massive disutility to women (being raped)– ever hear about something called “The Social Contract”?

    The position that men, in particular, are oppressed is historically inaccurate: except in a few matriarchal societies, the bulk of the economic, political, and social power has been concentrated in the hands of men. Women weren’t even able to vote (except in a few states after the revolution, and then even that was curtailed) until relatively recently, and they still earn less, ceteris paribus, than men. For every instance where men are the metaphorical square pegs, you can imagine a similar situation for women– as a thought experiment, think about what the public reaction would be if either Hilary Clinton or Sarah Palin was exposed as having cheated on their spouse.

    At the very least, it’s not clear that the male sex gets the short end of the stick from civilization; there are dozens of other possible responses that people kind of take for granted, I believe this is why when people write something in response to something you posted you can’t fault them if it’s not strictly limited to a discussion of the position expressed therin.

    If I’ve misinterpreted what you’re getting at, please correct me. Take some time to collect your thoughts, do some research, and make clear what you believe is wrong with how society treats men, how this treatment is unfair, etc. As it stands, though, you make no reference to evidence and rely on received ideas in order to make a point. When people criticize what you appear to be saying, you backpedal and place the onus on your readers to interpret and discuss what you’ve written in the most charitable light possible. Or you claim you were just doing it to “be interesting”. That doesn’t change that, based upon the English language as it is commonly understood, people disagree with what you wrote and believe that said writings reflect poorly on their author. What you’ve done is offer the form of an apology or clarification without actually addressing the reasons people take issue. Oh, so it’s not really “The Dilbert Blog” anymore? Cool. Your opinions are still uninformed by either science or history and that despite your willingness to “clarify” irrelevant minutiae, you refuse to engage people who want to actually figure out where you stand.

  17. PlannedChaos says:

    “If your Pegs and Holes post isn’t satire, what is it?”

    On my blog I deal in ideas, thought experiments, brainstorming, and sometimes predictions. I do satire too, but this wasn’t one of those times. The objective, which my regular readers have learned to appreciate, is that noodling on novel ideas, even bad ones, is entertaining for certain people, and can inspire better ideas and new ways to look at the world. In other words, anything that is interesting and makes you think in a new way has benefits.

    In the Pegs and Holes post I was curious what would happen if I tried to steal the power of victimhood from women and transfer it to men. I got a clear answer to that question. To me, that’s interesting.

    The premise of your question is fascinating. We live in a world in which an idea can’t be separated from the person who presents it. For most people, an idea described by an individual is an opinion by definition. If not an opinion, it must be satire, or trolling. It’s hard to imagine that an idea can be just an idea. There’s always the presumption of motive. I long ago gave up on the illusion that people change their minds based on new data or better arguments. So I lack the opinion motive.

    I do realize that when I put an idea into the form of an argument, because that’s the clearest way to present it, reasonable people assume it is my settled opinion. On my blog, readers have been trained to know that ideas are just ideas, and they can be good or bad independent of who describes them.

    The obvious next question is whether I should label my non-satire, or be more clear on my blog that ideas aren’t always opinions. I could, but those distinctions have never been the problem. The problem is that the ideas are distorted by those with bad reading comprehension, or power issues, or career ambitions, or fear, and the angry reactions are directed at the distortions, not the actual ideas.

    I’ve always seen both my cartooning and my blogging to be an audience participation event. You’re part of the show now. And if you read this far, you’re interested.

    • CubaLibre says:

      But even here, you’re still talking about the intent, the purpose, the backlash. Controlling the narrative. Pastabagel is actually trying to engage you on the idea itself, which you claim was your intent all along. But you still aren’t. Why not?

      No, don’t answer that question. Instead, answer it by reframing your argument (society victimizes men more than women), supporting it with data, and asking for engagement. We will take you up on it.

      • PlannedChaos says:

        “Pastabagel is actually trying to engage you on the idea itself, which you claim was your intent all along. But you still aren’t. Why not?”

        The intent was not for me to personally engage everyone on the Internet who asks. Maybe that wasn’t clear.

        But I would be interested in seeing how people score the question of whether society is more of a prison for male or female natural urges. My guess is that few people could stick to the topic of present day, America, and natural urges.

    • That is an interesting thought. Can an idea just expressed as an idea? Well, it depends on the context. Nobody can say ‘let’s just play with the idea that all non-white races are intellectually inferior to non whites. Just for fun, let us see what arguments we can come up for this.’ because it is impossible to remove such a topic from its cultural context. As TLP said in one of his posts, everything you do has a blast radius, and it is rather naive to think that by claiming one is just playing around with thoughts that one can escape cultural context.

      Sure, there are topics where this can be done. You can just think about the consequences of P = NP, a definitive way to disprove the existence of a universal grammar or other such things in such a way that people will accept that you are just playing around, but these are things whose discussion in itself has no social consequences, while for many other topics just talking about possibilities has a deeper meaning in a society than what the words say. What if God does not exist? Are you saying I’m wasting my life and that there is no afterlife? No, no, I just wanna play with the thought. Sure, backpedal now. It is inescapable.

      Feminism and the patriarchy is such a topic in current times. To do as if one could expect anybody to act as if it wouldn’t is silly. This does not excuse the people who want to declare dogma from their podium. But nevertheless, we have to live and act for the world we live in.

      • Fifi says:

        What I find interesting (and contradictory) is that Adams has defended the blog post he wrote by saying that it’s being taken out of context and therefore misunderstood. If it means something different out of the context of his site, meaning that the blog post is context specific in his eyes, then it isn’t an idea that is even intended to be free of context or to be taken merely as an idea that stands or falls on merit alone (because the intended audience are his fans who he said he has “trained” to be able to understand his mysterious wordfu powers).

        • Well, there are people who can understand my mysterious wordfu. I call them my friends, and we meet in private to discuss our tabooish thoughts. And even then sometimes we only do so when we can blame it on the alcohol.

          • Fifi says:

            thatswhyidrink, yes and thank goodness for friends who we do speak the same language as us and understand how we express ourself (or who understand our personal/mysterious wordfu, whether we’re discussing tabooish thoughts or not…mmm, tabooish ;-) Of course, then we’re revealing intimate beliefs or ideas in a private context and sharing with others, that’s a bit different than fishing in public using bait you know is controversial to get attention.

          • Fifi says:

            thatswhyidrink, just to clarify in case there was a misunderstanding (and because it’s unclear to me because of how the responses are threaded) – I wasn’t saying you (thatswhyidrink) “trained” people (it was a word Adams used). I think you’re making a very valid point about private and public spheres of communication and mutual understanding.

          • No worries, I understood it correctly, thanks for the support.

        • PlannedChaos says:

          If by “trained to be able to understand his mysterious wordfu” you mean they are mostly rational thinkers who don’t hallucinate meaning that is not in the text, we agree.

          • Fifi says:

            No, I mean you said you “trained” your readers (a word choice I find quite odd, I highly suspect created an echo chamber for yourself since so far I haven’t actually seen much critical or rational thinking in your posts – lots of rationalizations mind you, which is not the same thing…)

            You might want to take it upon yourself to learn a bit of cognitive science because the division you make between the people who agree with you as “rational” and everyone else as “emotional” tends to indicate you don’t actually understand much about how anyone’s mind works (or your own, for that matter, since you’re as human as the rest of us).

          • I don’t mean that at all. I mean that they know me intimately and thus I can express unclear thoughts in ways that they will nevertheless understand what I’m talking about, and since they are my friends, they are prepared to be very very charitable with anything I say, even if they find it shocking.

      • PlannedChaos says:

        I accept the occupational hazard of dealing with toxic topics. This isn’t my first rodeo.

        But you’re talking about separating an idea from the cultural context. I was talking about separating the idea from the personality that delivers it. You can see here that the idea gets lost when the conversation becomes about the personality.

        • The cultural context is in part that expressing certain ideas _has_ to say something about the person expressing them. I thought this was clear from my examples. This is not completely unreasonable, since there has to be a reason for choosing to express a specific idea from all the possible ones, even if it is done tentatively/’just to play around’.

          Like I said, inescapable. One has to either keep it in a very private circle, shut up, or double down when the inevitable happens.

        • Fifi says:

          The problem is that when a topic is contextualized as “toxic”, when it’s not inherently so. There are plenty of discussions of the topic of repression, equality, society, biological difference and fairness that are very healthy – I’ve had many interesting discussions with both men and women about the subject so it is possible. However, if someone believes it to a be “toxic topic”, and has approached it and presented it as such, they’re creating the context for it to be a “toxic topic” and not just a topic that can be discussed in a healthy, not-toxic and uncombative way that doesn’t shut down discussion.

          The other fundamental problematic is that, as philtrum points out, Adams is not actually presenting any novel ideas (granted, he may be naive and unaware of this) or even a novel way at looking at ideas that have been around for a while. While indeed it may be a novel thing to think about for you Mr Adams (and perhaps fans of your blog, though you did ask your fans for a topic so it seems like a topic that probably isn’t “novel” to all of them either), its actually something quite a lot of people have thought about and discussed. If you think people are reacting to the novel genius of your idea and rejecting it on those grounds, you’re functioning from a perspective that may be self gratifying but it’s ultimately uninformed (if not deluded). We can all be deluded or uninformed at times, the pivotal distinction is if we cling to our illusions or see them for what they are and educate ourselves. Delusions of grandeur, however, are particularly pernicious and often a defense mechanism against reality. Granted, celebrities who surround themselves with yes men and uncritical fans (who buy into the illusions of celebrity and fame) are more likely to have people shoring up their delusions because fans are generally invested in the illusion/idealized persona and care little for the reality of the actual person (and may even get outraged if the person doesn’t live up to the persona they’re attached to). That’s why I find it a bit weird when you talk about “training” fans of your blog to think in ways that you approve of and of usuing hypnosis as a means to manipulate people (though that seems more like magical thinking on your part to me) and keep proclaiming your superiority. It reminds me of how cult leaders operate. A religious cult and a cult of personality are not really that different – though obviously simply being famous is not the issue, it’s believing the idealized image that fans hold and getting angry when people who aren’t already in the cult don’t buy into it.

      • Hypocrisy Illustrated says:

        “Nobody can say ‘let’s just play with the idea that all non-white races are intellectually inferior to non whites. Just for fun, let us see what arguments we can come up for this.”

        OK I’ll take the challenge.

        First let’s try a little abstraction, maybe mix up the variables a little, just for fun before we move on to your advanced exercise.

        Change your comparison from white and non-white Americans and their respective intelligence to Americans and Frenchmen and their ballroom dancing abilities.

        ‘let’s just play with the idea that all [Americans] are inferior [Ballroom dancers] compared to [Frenchmen].

        Absurd, but I still can’t see what implications there are.

        Does this mean that Americans are hopeless and we shouldn’t waste any time or scarce resources teaching them ballroom dancing if these resources would be better invested helping the gifted Frenchmen reach the pinnacle of their art and discipline?

        Does it mean we just need to try harder to help the poor Americans overcome an innate Ballroom dancing deficit?

        Does it mean that an American who dreams of being a Ballroom dancer should just give up and try baseball instead?

        Does it mean that a Frenchmen should be compelled and struggle to apply himself to fulfil his Ballroom dancing destiny even if his passions lie elsewhere?

        In conclusion I’m hardly convinced by any of these conclusions that might be drawn from the assertion Ballroom dancing ability statistics = destiny.

        Going back to the thorny question about average intelligence among black and white Americans, I don’t understand what we’re supposed to do even if its conclusively proven one way or the other.

        Of course I’m not sure what the actual situation is, but I am very firmly convinced that if there were such a thing as innate intellectual ability, then the statistical distribution among various groups will never exactly balance. Flip a coin, it might be heads; it might be tails; but don’t count on it landing on its side. Consider the likelihood that average scores being the same on an IQ test among groups as random and diverse as New Jerseyans, Texans, tall people, those born in the month of February, virgins between the ages 13 and 23 or non-smokers?

        So returning to your initial allegedly impossible proposition, let’s assume that worst and most uncomfortable case scenario, that the tests are an accurate and fair measurement of innate intelligence and that Black Americans conclusively score worse than the white ones.

        What does this mean?

        I’ve heard similar assertions from various sources; I concede that it’s possible, but I don’t know what policy lessons we should draw from these conclusions.

        Do you?

        I come back to the old maxim about everybody being endowed with unique gifts. Even so I’ve never met anybody who has actually realised this full potential. It might be hard to let go and come to terms with one’s individual limitations, but it seems much healthier to focus on the possible than on the unfairness of the impossible. On an individual level, the differences are not so troublesome as for a collective. For collective deficits and gifts, I don’t really know what to think. Furthermore I doubt it’s terribly productive to think about in much at all.

        To wrap things up on an entirely different note, I am always unsettled about how studies almost always demonstrate that conscientiousness and perseverance are much more closely correlated to success than innate intelligence. Perhaps we’ve been looking at the wrong variable all along? If IQ doesn’t matter much, but rather conscientiousness and fortitude, should we even worry about intelligence? We all like to believe in free will, and since conscientiousness is the ultimate expression of this, then there should be no concern about innate ability. Just choose to be self-disciplined! But what would it mean if this strength was also highly inherited?

        I suppose then we could all relax then. Nothing we do would matter if our conscientiousness and discipline is predetermined. We could assume that we already live in the best of all possible worlds, because we undisciplined fools can’t help ourselves. What appears to be unrealised potential in some spheres of our lives, is actually illusory, handicapped by conscientiousness or discipline deficits.

        You’re right that “everything you do has a blast radius, and it is rather naive to think that by claiming one is just playing around with thoughts that one can escape cultural context.” The freedom to think out loud is important, but we should have the sensitivity to consider how our thoughts and words are perceived. There is no good that can come from indifferent callousness that puts a discussion to a premature end. On the other hand sensitive individuals who themselves have suffered personally as victims or belong to groups which have collectively suffered some oppression could keep an open mind and try to see the good faith of others participating in the dialogue. Having certain topics off limits taboos or forbidding people belonging to certain groups from taking part, because they lack the wisdom of a victim’s perspective are hardly constructive. Silencing your opponents doesn’t exactly promote understanding or win sympathy. Often it seems that people trying to silence those they disagree with seems more to be about a power trip than about sensitivity and being offended.

        I like to think that I wouldn’t take any revelations personally that my collective racial community did worse on a test and as a result probably consists of a group of people who on average have less intellectual ability than those in another group. It’s hard for me to really feel how a black man would feel , because I would have a hard time getting worked up about similar claims about the typical weaknesses prevalent in collectives to which I belong. But then again, I’ve never been a Black American. Try as I might it’s really hard for me to put myself in the shoes of a Black American. I just always find it sad when they disqualify non-Blacks from the dialogue with a wave of the hand and a curt, “It’s a black thing, you’ll never understand.” There are few statements that so sadly and powerfully widen the gap by claiming that empathy is pointless and that it’s not even worth trying.

        By thinking out loud here of course I’m risking a Scott Adams (or Larry Summers) style storm of hurt feelings and recriminations. Sadly I’m not famous and nobody will take much notice of my remarks – much like Scott Adams if he were just an anonymous opinionated blogging fool who spends his days working at a supermarket instead of the famous successful cartoonist.

        • ‘let’s just play with the idea that all [Americans] are inferior [Ballroom dancers] compared to [Frenchmen].

          This is something completely different, because nobody cares about ballroom dancing. Not even the french.

          I really don’t know why you began to discuss about the specifics of my example. I’m not talking about intelligence here. I’m talking about the impossibility of proposing certain ideas without a negative (or positive I suppose) reaction from your environment went it comes to charged subjects, something which you concede in your last paragraph.

        • philtrum says:

          On the other hand sensitive individuals who themselves have suffered personally as victims or belong to groups which have collectively suffered some oppression could keep an open mind and try to see the good faith of others participating in the dialogue.

          Good faith is best demonstrated by trying to educate oneself on the subject at hand before trying to discuss it with people who have been discussing it for a long time, rather than pulling a random truth claim out of your arse and expecting others to take it seriously.

    • philtrum says:

      The objective, which my regular readers have learned to appreciate, is that noodling on novel ideas, even bad ones, is entertaining for certain people, and can inspire better ideas and new ways to look at the world.

      That would be fine and dandy if your idea about men being more victimized/constrained than women was at all novel. In fact it is a decades-old cliché.

    • ThomasR says:

      I have been a “Scott Adams Blog” reader since you started it, and I completely understand and sympathize with your position. When I read your first post on the men vs. women topic, I thought it was hilarious; you poked feminists while making fun of the crazy radical meninists (I forget what they call themselves). And then the pegs and holes post speculated on why these men are so crazy.

      I do regret how your blog has been hijacked by both feminists and meninists. I like the humor posts and the thought experiments. But while this series has been an eye-opening experience in terms of what happens when crazy people hate you, it could definitely use some sort of closure.

      • Fifi says:

        Are you sure it was meant to be satire and you “get it”….perhaps you’re “hallucinating”…

        Here’s what Adams had to say when it was suggested that it wasn’t very good satire (naturally there’ll be plenty of different opinions about whether it was effective satire or not)…according to Adams his only goal was to be “interesting” (once again that’s obviously going to be a subjective call for each of us)…

        “It seems I have failed to achieve the goals that some of you have hallucinated for me.

        Did I ever call the Pegs and Holes post satire? (Answer: no)

        Did I ever pretend to want a Socratic debate? (Answer: no)

        I did say my only objective in blogging is to be interesting. Did all of you just spend time on something you don’t find interesting?”

  18. Lopt says:

    I think that this whole series of posts is kind of interesting because it demonstrates how people accustomed to being able to control or frame a discussion come off once placed on a more even footing with their audience. Some quotes follow:

    Trying to control who is a legitimate participant in discussion:

    “I’ve always seen both my cartooning and my blogging to be an audience participation event.”

    In the next post…

    “The intent was not for me to personally engage everyone on the Internet who asks”

    One line later…

    “I would be interested in seeing how people score the question of whether society is more of a prison for male or female natural urges.”

    But previously…
    “On the question of whether society is more of a prison for male or female urges, there’s no way to score it. ”

    On interpretation:
    Context is important. You’ve gotta know Scott Adams before you can talk about things Scott Adams says: “Any discussion of whether I’m accomplishing my objectives necessarily requires you to know what my objectives are.”

    No wait, nevermind: “ideas are just ideas, and they can be good or bad independent of who describes them.

    Well actually: “The problem is that the ideas are distorted by those with bad reading comprehension, or power issues, or career ambitions, or fear, and the angry reactions are directed at the distortions, not the actual ideas.”

    So the overall strategy was to change the criteria for success, at first from advancing an argument, then from starting a dialogue, then to just “being interesting”, or by limiting who had standing to comment. It got a bit Skinnerian (note how Pastabagel was complimented, both here and on TLP’s blog, until he called Adams out on reinterpreting his own blog posts to suit the moment, after which it was an ad hominem eerily similar to the ones from Jezebel et all– claim that accusing him of parsing his own text is bad, but with nothing other than sarcasm to justify that). His supporters (have there been any?) were those trained to participate in rational debate, while his detractors were just being contrary out of stupidity or careerist malice. The common thread, though, was the thesis that Adams was some sort of misunderstood genius, ridiculed (and cockblocked) by a society unable to appreciate his many gifts. This sort of thing works when you’re the sole author of a comic strip depicting the life of another smart but low-status (read: cockblocked) individual, but fails dramatically when held up to the scrutiny of the Internet.

  19. inarticulateinthecity says:

    You smart people should REFUSE discussing these things on terms of “alpha” and “beta” males, terms lent from woo-woo “science”, used rhetorically to discuss all kinds of things as if they were true, just like Jezebel and The Atlantic does.

    STOP IT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

    Heck, it’s late already. Look at you beautiful people discussing it as if it made sense, as if you KNEW exactly what you were talking about.

    And you give Scott Adams “the rhetorician” way too much credit.

    • Comus says:

      Hm. A quick search found 3 instances of the term “alpha” being used in this discussion (beta nonce), and now, thanks to you and me that has nearly doubled. So your argument is practically invalid. Is the “woo-woo science”, well, what exactly? Zoology? Primate studies? Biology? Evolutionary psychology? And we shouldn’t use interdisciplinary terms because there’s no link between human societies and biology or primate group behavior? Do we have to clarify and deconstruct every sign and signifier used, ending up in some horribly misshapen internet Judith Butler?

  20. TheCoconutChef says:

    This whole thing was interesting when it was about the mainstreaming effect of Jezebel’s reaction to Scott Adam’s blog post and its effect on people’s worldview and stopped being interesting and started transforming into something rather toxic when it got to be about Scott Adam and what he wrote.

    We’ve been going into the wrong territory here.

  21. Pastabagel says:

    Time to restore some order.

    1. “Did Pastabagel really just accuse me of parsing my own words? ” – You did parse your own words. You attempted to redefine or clarify what you wrote, a process which involves parsing.

    2. You can do this to your heart’s content, just like everyone else can haul into the discussion on bulk cargo freighters all of your past behavior. I don’t care. It is not at all relevant. There are many reasons it is not relevant.

    3. The most obvious reason for the irrelevance of your post-hoc clarifications are that no one can possibly be expected to read your blog post and then read all of your clarifications scattered across the web to understand what you meant. If you want it to be about the words you used, then you need to choose your words much much more carefully than you and most bloggers do (which is understandable given the nature of the medium).

    4. By constantly responding to criticism with clarifications or explications of your original statement, all you are doing is saying that the criticism misunderstands your idea or argument. How do you know you aren’t likewise misunderstanding them. In other words, everything you accuse other people of doing, you could also be doing. This style of argumentation is extremely common and amounts to constructing the rhetorical edifice on shifting sands. Everything anyone writes is subject to redefinition and change. The argument doesn’t go anywhere. We are all stick stuck on trying to understand.

    This has turned into precisely the kind of semantic game playing that I knew it would. You intent doesn’t matter, your after-the-fact re-casting doesn’t matter. The author of the work is irrelevant to the understanding of it. Formally, what Adams engaging in with his own work is intentional fallacy, a notion that has been around at least 65 years in literary theory. Lawyers will recognize that this intentional fallacy is somewhat similar to the parole evidence rule.

    Are we done playing games?

    • Lopt says:

      I think games are all there are. He doesn’t want to engage in a debate on any topic, he doesn’t recognize anyone’s authority unless they agree with him, and though he’ll offer endless clarifications and refactorings regarding just what he’s trying to do, not a single one will relate to the topic at hand.

      That’s because there isn’t anything to say. The philosophical justifications for curtailing personal freedoms in favor of group welfare have been established for three hundred years. Biology’s not my forte, science wise, but I’ve been reading today and haven’t found anything that would say that men are clearly more restricted by society. Same thing for sociology. Why bring it up? It’s an argument that’s been made before, with clear battle lines, which is why it didn’t drive discussion so much as partisan bickering.

      So what we do now is trade shibboleths to find the people who already agree with us that we may preach to the choir. Adams has his trained admirers on his blog, Jezebel has its outrage-junkies nodding in brainless affirmation, and we sit, pointing out argumentative fallacies, rhetorical blunders, and interesting interpretations. Games and gamesmanship all around.

      —–
      Parenthetically: does it make sense to invoke the death of the author when who Scott Adams is clearly has bearing on how his remarks will be interpreted? Lit-crit’s fine and all, but back when Adams was trying to make a point (as opposed to just “being interesting”), his persona, his work, and all that sort of metadata was central to his argument came across.

    • Fifi says:

      There are different ways to look at a literary or artistic work, none is more “right” or “honest” than another (as much as some people like to believe in a mythical purity of ideas divorced from the context they arose from, I find that a bit of a conceit really since it also denies the inevitable contextualizing any reader/viewer brings to the expressed idea…as well as how the meaning of words and symbols can shift according to culture, time period, etc). I do agree that a success piece of writing or art, or an idea, should be able to stand on its own merits and once something is in the wild the reader’s interpretation is just as important as the writer’s intent.

      However, one reason why it can be interesting to know the creator’s intent is because the proximity or distance between intent and outcome is an indication of how skillful a creator is – is someone actually communicating what they intended to communicate or have they, through lack of skill, said something quite different than they intended? This, of course, isn’t about judging the work but discerning the skill and talent of the creator.

  22. CubaLibre says:

    “I think games are all there are.”

    Maybe we should consign this entire comment thread to a Wittgensteinian hole.

  23. PlannedChaos says:

    Pastabagel: The “parsing” comment was funny because you could have said “clarifying,” as you later did when you…parsed your own words. It’s just such an Internet thing to say. Clarifying seems entirely reasonable. Parsing sounds like being a weasel.

    The clarifications are on my blog and in the comment sections of the most relevant blogs on the topic. That’s as good as one can get in clarifying. And again, only on the Internet is clarifying labeled as backpedaling and parsing.

    As to the “Intentional Fallacy,” what percentage of the general population has to miss the author’s intent before it becomes the author’s responsibility/fault? If 1% misread the post, you probably say the problem is with the reader. If 90% misread it, the problem is the writer. My best guess, based on my email and comments is that only 10% misread my original post. I’m sure it was fewer than half.

    Lopt: Your “gottchas” are weak. I’ll just pick the first one. It’s not a contradiction to say audience participation is part of the model while it is not part of the model for me to argue with every person who invites it. The rest of your gottchas are more of the same.

    Fifi: I agree. If my writing was well-suited to the target audience at my blog, I succeeded. If it was not suited for Jezebel and Salon, that raises a question about what I have called Author by Relocation. The person who moves the piece to a new context, or links to it with misleading paraphrasing, changes its meaning in the move, and perhaps should be assumed to take on the responsibility of how it is received. To me that’s an interesting an unsettled question.

    If we reject Author by Relocation, the cost for doing so is that an author on the Internet must write to suit the least capable readers and those who are most easily offended. In my case, obviously I wouldn’t have written in the style that I did if Jezebel.com had asked me for a guest opinion piece.

  24. Fifi says:

    Your argument/justification makes little sense and ignores that fact that you openly published something on the internet – that means you made it public and available to everyone who can get online. If you had published a blog that had a closed/private readership that only your fans could access and then your words were taken outside of that context without your permission perhaps (and it is only perhaps) your point would have some validity but as it stand it doesn’t really.

    Ironically, you’re trying to ignore the larger context in which you blog exists (which is both the open internet and the dilbert.com website) – if context is so important, then clearly the larger contexts in which you publish your public blog (the internet, the dilbert.com site) are also important. Equally, you keep trying to ignore the larger context in which the idea you’re trying to float exists, even though you clearly have taken some of the ideas from that larger context (meaning it didn’t all spring fresh from you mind with no relationship to the larger discussion, it’s not an original idea you’re proposing but one that already has a history and is part of a larger discussion).

    You can’t whine on about how you’re being taken out of context and then ignore the context it exists in just because you don’t like how the blog post and your words look in a larger context that isn’t only people who have been “trained” to think in a way that pleases you and who agree with you. Well, you can but most people will think you’re an ignorant douche with control and ego issues….which is pretty much what has happened.

    Just because one runs into a word on the internet and not in the context of one’s everyday life it doesn’t mean it’s an “internet word” (some words are, such as “pwn” etc… “parse” not so much). It probably just means you (or I) don’t interact with people who use that particular specialized language in our everyday lives.

    parse
       /pɑrs, pɑrz/ Show Spelled [pahrs, pahrz] Show IPA verb, parsed, pars·ing.
    –verb (used with object)
    1.
    to analyze (a sentence) in terms of grammatical constituents, identifying the parts of speech, syntactic relations, etc.
    2.
    to describe (a word in a sentence) grammatically, identifying the part of speech, inflectional form, syntactic function, etc.
    3.
    Computers . to analyze (a string of characters) in order to associate groups of characters with the syntactic units of the underlying grammar.
    .

    • ThomasR says:

      The “parse” thing is pretty irrelevant to anything, and the definition is not your strongest argument. Based on that definition, pastabagel used it incorrectly! …except he didn’t, you just found an incomplete definition. Or maybe Pastabagel just used it idiomatically. But regardless, kind of a weak (not to mention pointless) comeback.

      • Fifi says:

        Eh, I left out my point…the unmade point is that it’s not an “internet” word but an academic one (since context is being held up as important for understanding). And, agreed, it’s not a particularly strong point but since Adams was being petty about the word, pettiness in return seemed appropriate.

  25. PlannedChaos says:

    Fifi: Are you whining that your petty comment was taken out of context by ThomasR? Maybe you shouldn’t try to parse your own words and claim it’s the reader’s fault. That’s a very douche baggy thing to do. And it’s narcissistic to assume we must all understand every little thing you say in exactly the way you mean it. Apparently you haven’t heard of “the Internet.” It’s time you stopped playing games. We are not your puppets to manipulate.

    The above is satire.

    • Comus says:

      Surely you meant to say “The above is pasquinade”? Except it wasn’t. Swift weeps.

      • Fifi says:

        Comus, thank you for making me aware of the word “pasquinade”!

        • ThomasR says:

          Well, it may not be terribly effective satire, but it certainly can be defined as satire. I wouldn’t think he put too much time into writing it after all.

          If only there were a forum where authors and ideas could be separated. Then The Last Psychiatrist, Planned Chaos and Pastabagel could all be anonymous!

          hmmm….

          • Fifi says:

            To be truly anonymous one would, of course, have to have no distinguishable identity (pseudonyms obviously designate and establish an identity, even if it may be an alternate one to someone’s RL identity, even giving people numbers establishes individual identities). Of course then ones into the problem of not being able to distinguish one anonymous from another – not very useful in discussion but certainly quite possible if just presenting an idea (though even that has limitations since writing and thinking styles can be identifiable….an example would be how Adams was called out reddit for using a sockpuppet by another poster before he was identified by the moderator).

  26. Fifi says:

    Ahhh, ya know, just calling something “satire” doesn’t actually make it so but if you consider this post to be “satire” it does clarify a lot. Aggrandizing and conflating petty snark into social satire explains quite a bit of the difference between your perception of yourself and those you haven’t “trained” to agree with you.

    And I’m not complaining or whining – or even feeling misunderstood – I took responsibility and clarified. Something I’ve yet to see you do. I’m also able to admit when I’m being petty, another thing I’ve yet to see you do. Snark away, apparently it’s the best you can do.

    • ThomasR says:

      Let’s be honest, at this point, we’re all being petty. Pastabagel already gave up and left.

      • Fifi says:

        Hey, I’ve been totally honest about being petty and playing tit for tat, and I haven’t attempted to aggrandize it into something its not. I appreciate that you can admit when you’re being petty too ThomasR.

      • operator says:

        If you get lonely you can always dim the lights and say his name three times (in a manner that Google Alerts will pick up) to summon the controversial illustrator.

  27. rapscallione says:

    After reading this holy shit of a comment section:

    I think the problem here is that Scott is trying to speak from a place of authority, as if he’s treating this avenue for discussion the same as his blog. His blog is obviously well-read by people who have the same type of views as Scott, which isn’t a condemnation, just a fact. What Scott writes is read by people who agree with him. (Except when he writes things that make Jezebel have a conniption)

    But this isn’t that place. The whole point of this site is that everyone who posts is on the level. You’re trying to direct and control this conversation about the conversation about the nonexistant conversation, and when Pastabagel attempts to engage you, you ignore it and focus on other members. If the whole point of this post was to “noodle on ideas,” it’s failed utterly because there has yet to be any noodling. We aren’t going to do that on your own blog, we’re going to do it here. So if you’re actually interested in continuing with the objective that you’ve clearly stated, we’re all ears.

  28. PlannedChaos says:

    One of the funniest things about the Internet is that strangers can assign objectives to me and tell me I failed.

    Yes, my clearly stated objective was to have a discussion with every person who asks for one, in any forum, at any time. So I guess my failure to do so is proof that I’m a liar or a hypocrite or a coward.

    And you, sir, are no ostrich farmer. Try to live with the shame of that failed objective.

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