The Dilbertito


Dilbert creator Scott Adams has many interesting ideas.  Reader Mike Yank put me on to his analysis of Trump:

The $10 billion estimate Trump uses for his own net worth is also an “anchor” in your mind. That’s another classic negotiation/persuasion method. I remember the $10 billion estimate because it is big and round and a bit outrageous. And he keeps repeating it because repetition is persuasion too.

I don’t remember the smaller estimates of Trump’s wealth that critics provided. But I certainly remember the $10 billion estimate from Trump himself. Thanks to this disparity in my memory, my mind automatically floats toward Trump’s anchor of $10 billion being my reality. That is classic persuasion. And I would be amazed if any of this is an accident. Remember, Trump literally wrote the book on this stuff.

Over the holidays I read Scott Adams’ book:


which was full of interesting stuff as well as plenty of boring stuff.  Scott Adams practical, experienced-based ideas on what you should eat, for instance: he talks about how he has found that white starches and potatoes (my two favorite foods) are nothing but energy saps.  Adams also suggests you drink as much coffee as you want.  He also makes a good case for “systems instead of goals.”

On Friday at work I got into an argument because I brought up Scott Adams, and a female co-worker was like “that crazy misogynist”?  And indeed Scott Adams has written some stuff that could justifiably make steam come out of ears:

Women have made an issue of the fact that men talk over women in meetings. In my experience, that’s true. But for full context, I interrupt anyone who talks too long without adding enough value. If most of my victims turn out to be women, I am still assumed to be the problem in this situation, not the talkers. The alternative interpretation of the situation – that women are more verbal than men – is never discussed as a contributing factor to interruptions. Can you imagine a situation where – on average – the people who talk the most do NOT get interrupted the most? I don’t know if the amount of talking each person does is related to the amount of interrupting they experience, or if there is a gender difference to it, but it seems like a reasonable hypothesis. My point is that men are assumed guilty in this country. We don’t even explore their alibis. (And watch the reaction to even bringing up the topic.)

It’s an ongoing issue in his writings.

I can’t and don’t want to defend everything Scott Adams has written, but I tried to make the case that maybe Scott Adams isn’t a misogynist, he’s a nerdy weirdo who’s working out ideas and we should cut him some slack. I read all kinds of weird thinkers, it’s healthy.  I follow The Federalist on Twitter — they like Ted Cruz over there, but sometimes they make some interesting argument I’ve never thought about before.  You can read The Federalist and Mother Jones and subscribe to Ann Friedman’s newsletter and go see the Entourage movie.

At work though I threw in the towel on the Scott Adams Is A Misogynist argument, because I was losing, and I was like “Steve what are you doing are you really going to spend emotional energy arguing about Dilbert creator Scott Adams’ no doubt wack ideas about women?”  No, I’m not.

Today though, somebody somewhere on Twitter directed me to this piece by Ryan Holiday:

Any publicist will tell you this. A scandal is awful while you’re in it, almost unbearably awful as the headlines from bigger and bigger outlets pour in. But as time passes, whatever those headlines said begins to blur, the pointed words lose their potency and the residue that’s left, that residue is raw fame. And fame is a precious resource that most people, companies, and causes will never have but always seek.

And while people have always been willing to debase themselves to get famous, this mindset has metastasized through our more important institutions—from journalism to government.

The Gawker’s of this world publish the most vicious and shameful story of 2015, and as long as  their writers can successfully pretend they didn’t do anything wrong, they can get right back on their high horse and blog like it never happened. A Donald Trump can make serious—even alarming—progress towards the nation’s highest office so long as he refuses to laugh at the joke of it all.

One can imagine these folks surfing a large and monstrous wave of attention. It looks dangerous and indeed it is, but they know—having been on or watched others on such waves before—that if they can just ride it out they’ll emerge intact, ever the more famous for it, since so few have.

Holiday says a lot of interesting stuff, and he helped me clarify what was driving me to stick up for Scott Adams:

Unfortunately, none of them are the people you might hope for. The cartoonist Scott Adams, apologizing during a major incident over a minor flap a few years ago, wrote that “Ideas are society’s fuel. I drill a lot of wells; most of them are dry. Sometimes they produce. Sometimes the well catches on fire.” People like Adams—valuable cultural contributors—are losing the ability to take creative risks. A good person who happened to have said something dumb in an email once, or took a private naked photo, might have their willingness to drill those wells (as Adams put it) utterly destroyed, while others—due to their calculated shamelessness and delusional imperviousness—continue to operate with impunity, untouched.


What Scott Adams said on this one thing might be (is, I would say) misogynist.  But if we then just call him a misogynist and throw him in the trash, we might miss other things he has to say that are pretty interesting.

But let’s give the woman I was having the argument with a chance to weigh in:

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this in relation to the David Bowie tribute stuff that’s been going on (we love David Bowie! Wait but David Bowie committed statutory rape!) I think it’s possible to rationally hold two contradictory thoughts about an artist (or anyone) in one’s mind and recognize that large, active, ambitious people contain contradictions.
I guess where I was coming from with the Adams thing is that I don’t love his oeuvre enough in order for me to overlook his gross and damaging comments about women. But I weirdly am still very happy to listen to Ziggy Stardust even though I know that Bowie shouldn’t have fucked a 15-year old.
That said I refute the idea that there’s a correlation between Adams saying stupid wrongheaded shit about women and some kind of decreased ability to take creative risks. He’s in the public eye, he has money, I assume he has people around him who can vet him before he posts something publicly that might be incorrect… He should have just taken a beat and asked himself “does this need to be in the world?”
Fair points.

Anyway this all a long way of getting to the interesting trivia that in the late ’90s Scott Adams used his Dilbert money to try and launch an all-in-one superfood product called the Dilberito:

First announced in The Dilbert Future and introduced in 1999[1] the Dilberito came in flavors of Mexican, Indian, Barbecue, and Garlic& Herb and was sold through some health food stores.

Said Fortune in 2001:

Adams’s invention, the Dilberito, is sober and utilitarian. It’s a tortilla-wrapped comestible consisting of vegetables, rice, beans, and seasonings that contains all of the 23 vitamins and minerals that nutritionists say are essential.

The product was not a success.


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