Dilbert and science - the tech closet door opens

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by iceaura, May 14, 2017.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    This week Sunday, 5/14, Scott Adams - already famous for not only predicting a Trump win but endorsing him as the best candidate in the large primary field - doubled down: a cartoon promoting AGW denial, by dredging up and dressing up an old wingnut canard about AGW alarmists.

    Haven't got a link yet, but it should be easy to find by Sunday night.

    Two question rise immediately:
    the first, let's call it the Dennis Miller question, belongs in Art and Culture: will he still be funny? It's not an idle question - the list of people who were funny, bought into a Republican thug meme in public, and were seldom if ever funny again, is with one exception I know of (Ann Coulter, who was evil from jump) the same as the list of people who were funny and bought into a Republican thug meme in public. He's bucking the odds here. (Note: the Bluecollar Comedy guys, Foxworthy @ Co, don't actually buy into Republican thug memes in public).

    the second, let's call it the Cubicle World question, belongs here: Why do techies and corporate minions, people who work in cubicles and corporate offices, disproportionately among the intellectual and educated classes of America, have so much trouble following biological and ecological arguments?

    These are often very intelligent people. Scott Adams is no dummy. So what derails his brain in these circumstances?
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Despite the well-known comic strip, his Trump prediction, etc...

    If a 5-minute timer was counting down to zero, "Scott Adams' Blog" would literally have been my last guess for a bomb deactivation password (ten years too late for my survival). Some initial batrachians for any other SAB neophytes to dissect / analyze:

    Where's My Immigration Prediction Model : "If scientists can make climate prediction models that are reliable (or so they tell us), why can’t they do the same with Muslim immigration predictions?"

    The Comey Firing: "The beauty of that official explanation (true or not) is that it is making heads explode with Democrats and the Opposition Media. How dare President Trump fire the person we publicly demanded he fire!"

    Some Fake News About Me from Bloomberg: "I quickly determined that agreeing to the interview would be foolhardy. Obviously it was going to be a hit piece. The writer weakly tried to conceal that fact, but failed miserably. [...] No rational person would agree to such an interview. It was a suicide mission. So I agreed to the interview."

    That aforementioned article: How Scott Adams Got Hypnotized By Trump

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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    When I saw the Dilbert cartoon (in Saturday's early edition of the Sunday paper) making fun of 'climate science' rhetoric, I expected that it would make the climate cultists angry. My informal behavior model is verified!

    Will he "still be funny"? That depends on the reader, I guess. The United States seems to be split about 50-50 it seems. Comedians on the left blast Trump and his voters, incessantly and often very insultingly. (You see it every day on late-night TV. Colbert makes his living pandering to the left.) Are these comedians still funny? The big-city coastal Democrats eat that stuff up, so it's obviously funny to them. But out in 'Middle America'? Probably not so much.

    Comedians take a risk when they address divisive subjects, since they might lose some of their more political fans. But many comedians take that risk and seemingly revel in it.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Not really. The examples so far - the other funny folk who have wandered off the foundation of reality on which their humor was based for shallow political reasons - have lost their comedic edge generally - almost nobody found them funny, afterwards. Like I said - it seems to be possible, as with Coulter, but it's not the way to bet.
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    There is no anger in my post, or in my response. I have a lot of sympathy for Adams's political assessment of Trump - I agree with much of what he says about the guy, and I share his impatience with the dismissal of Trump as an untalented buffoon only.

    And I found his cartoons very funny - I would miss him, as a worthy contributor.

    But defending his fantasy of Trump actually governing a country in this manner seems likely to corrupt his perceptions in a fundamental way, which is perfectly illustrated by his dull repetition of wingnut canard in this recent cartoon.

    He's dealing in propaganda, there. And propaganda is dull, lifeless, boring.
    Yes. Because they tell truths - the core of comedy.
    Not getting the joke always leaves one out. But if the comedian is simply dumb, there's no joke to not get.
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Try another take, see if the situation clarifies:
    Sure. But Adams is not addressing a real subject in that cartoon, and by driving down that road he would be losing not his political fans but his informed ones - the people who know better, who have always been his core audience. His engineers, bosses, etc, exist - we recognize them. His climate change explainer there does not exist - it's an invented stereotype, like the happy shuffling darky of racist "humor", and being wholly invention it is shallow and boring.

    Check: do AGW researchers ignore the models that "seem wrong" to them? No. Do the alarming projections of possible global disaster depend on economic models? No. He isn't in touch with physical reality here. He's bought into a very shallow political line invented by propagandists - equivalent, intellectually, to the grey verbiage of Soviet era official press releases. There isn't much humor in that pile. It's politically correct in the worst possible way.

    He might be funny to the crowd that finds referring to Elizabeth Warren as "Pocohantas", and illustrating the joke with faux-"Indian" whoop whoops from a podium, hilarious - but they aren't reading his cartoons. They don't read. And is he really willing to adopt the rest of that point of view, find common ground with them on TV or wherever, after what he has done in the past?
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Yah, the risky humor has to be balanced with litigation, ostracism or bad publicity consequences. (I'm purely guessing that the Al Sharpton type category talk circuit for healing any inflicted wounds to public sensitivities is still available for salvaging an entertainer's career, if not a thriving business by now.)

    As the Millennial "protect me from all potential offenses" daycare culture for adults incrementally installs itself over time, the cognitive impairment of not discerning tongue-and-cheek facetiousness and sarcasm seems to reach crippling levels for members of both political polarities. Will Rogers might have been in trouble today even with his friendlier jabs at Washington politics and the Cherokee blood as a contemporary shield.

    For both the famous and everyday folk, acts of venting are getting generalized now by political zealotry as "what the individual truly / privately believes", thanks to Daniel Goleman's "ventilation fallacy". With the more specific functions for old and new shock-values, like as an "emotional cathartic", being tossed aside.

    First, the fallacy doesn't mean that the majority of people are suddenly going to stop their venting that was the result of instinct or traditional reasons (chalk the latter up to inertial fallacy). Second, the ventilation fallacy itself has an aura of possibly being another offshoot bauble of pop-psychology influences. That could be replaced by a later trend that rolls off the assembly line of the social sciences factory (and the failures of some of those disciplines to replicate most of their research studies or to provide even tentative evidence from the outset for many of their hypotheses / claims and issued "oughts").

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  12. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Never Mind the Birds | Something Something Stoned

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    I got nothin': Click to wail on a rocksichord.

    This has been, in my lifetime, one of those weird inversions where now that the empowered are expected to answer, we suddenly need to fundamentally alter the nature of our discourse.

    I have a joke: The people who think I have no sense of humor are also the people who don't laugh at my jokes.

    When I was young, all the bully's threats eventually added up to nobody could take a joke, because in the end, say, school administrators didn't want to punish the white kid for racial animus. So when the bully was caught and cornered everyone else was to blame for treating him poorly.

    However, anyone else behaving that way was a threat.

    No, really. Try ... punk rock. The so-called respectable people could say the worst things, but a punk shows attitude when rejecting their shit, now everyone is afraid. And this, generally speaking, was the empowerment majority. As such, the behavior permeates the culture. For all they complain about "PC", in the end the bully class cowers behind it.

    The only truly surprising thing about school shootings over the last, say, eighteen years, has been our approach to bullying. Apparently we needed to wait until the middle of the Gay Fray, and perhaps the timing and driving cause behind the idea that It Gets Better isn't purely coincidental; that is, in a weird way, the Gay Fray is when we can do it when it's not about "white" or "male" in particular. It's hard to explain, but examining the role of bullying in school violence would, at some point, require a close examination of American classism and its manifestation in ritual socialization. This is part of what is notable about the Appeasment faction in the Democratic Party's ongoing debate about their future course: Okay, we can finally talk about classism, but we're going to talk about white men, because anything else is mere identity politics.

    Inasmuch as "acts of venting are getting generalized now by political zealotry as 'what the individual truly / privately believes'", we might look to market influences. It sounds complex when we start tallying up the details for those who demand but have no intention of attending the answer, but it also feels pretty simple when we're living it.

    So, let's try an example with men. White men, sure, but this transcends color boundaries.

    And most of my life, men have gotten away with saying some pretty terrible things about women. We've gotten away with doing some pretty terrible things to women. And this happens because "we" men are in charge; "our way" of seeing things is "the way" of seeing things.

    But let us consider a moment, then: The rape joke or even threat doesn't register as dangerous because that's how the world works, and that's "the way" people see things. One need not even accuse "all" men, many men will make the leap for them; simply point out the rape advocacy, which feels ugly and dangerous to the accused, and now we're into the range of "zealotry". Mundane, accurate description can be denounced as zealotry, and what an individual truly and privately believes can be dismissed as just a joke so stop being so serious about everything damn it.

    Which reminds: Maybe one expresses explicit sexism, but we can't take that to be significant. The other, though, who says, "fuck off" in response? Well, the one says it feels threatening because the other hates all men, so therefore hating all men must be what the other truly and privately believes.

    Or hating all white people.

    Or hating all Christians.

    Honestly, this has been going on pretty much from the outset.

    It's not quite mass hysteria, but ego defense trends among populations, and between the appearance of strengthening identity assertions to the one, and the simplification of potentials as a market result requiring its own discussion to the other, the prevailing influences driving the behaviors you describe are informed by the prevailing influences of society.

    • • •​

    You think too highly of yourself. Many people are distressed at the sight of the incompetent embarrassing themselves in public.

    Then again, one of the things we need to remember about Dilbert is that everything taking place inside that building is presupposed to be pretentiously stupid. That is, we can expect that the soulless, barely-competent corporate employer couldn't find anyone better than the quick-buck speaker's bureau circuit. I mean, really, you've got the aging comedic actors, retired military and law enforcement, and maybe some of the doctors who have sacrificed their credentials for the sake of politics, and who's this goofball that can't even explain the basics of climate change? Hey, maybe they called over to Exxon/Mobil, but remember that in addition to the goofball eminence front, they also retained some real scientists to tell them the real truth about what is really going on. In the end, it's all a matter of how deeply we wish to read into the narrative. Scott Adams, to the other, just isn't very deep, so, yeah, sometimes a clumsy excuse for sleight is exactly what it looks like.
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The cartoon itself does not take place in that building.
    The engineer character is neither pretentious or stupid.
    Adams is not trying for depth and missing - he's paddling shallow. And he used to try for that level and hit.

    The loss of that level of reference is part of the loss of humor they suffer - maybe because it requires self-awareness in context, and in crossing to the dark side they have refused that of necessity.
  15. iceaura Valued Senior Member

  16. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Hmm... people who spend their lives in a sterile environment don't understand living things. What a mystery.
  17. superstring01 Moderator

    Christ. Show me any average joe who can follow biological and ecological arguments. Science is hard. Intuition is easy.
  18. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

    What gets me with this... is the idea that climate scientists "ignore the ones that look wrong to them" - they don't typically just ignore things as if by confirmation bias. Outliers are removed as part of a statistical probability, but that is, if I'm not mistaken, common in any sort of predictive modelling - it has to be, else you have these one-off simulations that make no real sense.

    As for the long term models "that have never been right" - I am curious to know if anyone actually believes they're that unreliable. Sure, we can't use divination and "know" the future... but historic trends and modern observation being combined to form a solid hypothesis on future expectations seems reasonable to me...
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    These arguments are often abstract - data evaluation stuff. Climate change arguments employ heavy computer modeling, ecological arguments often come down to fairly arcane mathematics, algorithms are everywhere in evolutionary evaluations and descriptions.
    But these aren't average joes. Dilbert and the like are the cultural expressions of the intellectual elite, people with college degrees and professions.

    And suddenly they lose depth in their sense of humor in general. They join the ranks of the irony-blind, change status in this odd way.
  20. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    You don't have to be able to analyze all the raw data, just know that panels #6 and #7 have nothing to do with how science is actually done, it's what Scott Adams thinks happens, and it's total BS. And that's why it's not funny at all.

  21. superstring01 Moderator

    I call it "delousing" and it's not an altogether accurate descriptor (but it's still my own and I'm sticking with it). Same thing for Dennis Miller who did this hyper-right-wing switch after 9/11. After some people make that transition, they delouse all the other speckles of contrasting opinions that don't gel with the social-philosophical group to which they belong. Climate change denial happens --best as I can tell-- because they then surround themselves with deniers and have that echo-chamber of people constantly telling them that it's a Chinese hoax or those dumb liberals over-thinking it.
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    This does not, at least obviously or immediately, account for the disappearance of entire modes of thought - not just particular opinions vanish, but ways of arriving at opinions and expressing opinions, any opinions. Scott Adams lost his edge and depth overall, as linked - not just when dealing with specific political issues. So did Dennis Miller. So do they almost all.

    They can't do irony any more, is maybe the easiest aspect of this change to define and identify by name - not a complete description, but useful hathook.

    And we know, by example (PJ O'Rourke, Ann Coulter, Penn&Teller, etc), that this is not inherent in the nature of conservative or reactionary or rightwing thought. However characteristic, it's not absolutely necessary.
  23. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    When considering the Scott Adamses and the Dennis Millers of the world, I've often wondered how much of a Chauncey Gardener aspect may be at play. I mean, even before all this, Adams has made many a bewildering statement in the past--of Bil Keane, creator of the Family Circus atrocity, he said:

    "Bil was a misunderstood creative genius who knew how to write for his target audience."

    OK, I get the pandering bit, but the misunderstood genius? Adams didn't even elaborate upon this, he just threw it out there. I'll also admit the possibility that I am totally missing something in Family Circus, but what?

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