Scott Adams's online book, "God's Debris."

SCott Adams has written a serious, non-Dilbert book in which he explains the universe. No, I’m serious. And you can download and read it for free:

http://www.andrewsmcmeel.com/godsdebris/

The book is written as a conversation between Adams-as-an-all-seeing avatar (the word he uses) and a character who serves as Joe Everyman.

I’m curious as to what others think. In my honest opinion Adams has achieved the publishing equivalent here of the Peter Principle; he’s clever enough to string his ideas together, and it’s pretty well written, and I’ll grant his conclusion is sort of unique and cool, but his book is rife with terrible logical leaps and problems and errors of fact, and one section that - I don’t know how else to put it, but he seems to think Silicon Valley is the center of the universe. You’ll know what I mean when you get to it.

I thought it had a strong premise and a real strong opening. But petered out. It has been a long time since I read it so I don’t remember many details (which itself is a commentary.)

I’m only in the very early chapters, but there is something I have to get off my chest: Laymen shouldn’t use quantum physics in a philosophical context unless they’re terribly clever. Scott Adams is a smart man, but he doesn’t quite pull it off.

The whole outing seems pretentious, but perhaps that feeling will fade as I get more deeply into the work.

I wrote Adams off when he came out on the pro-intelligent design side. He seems like a bit of a nut.

Yeah, he trots out the “evolution can’t be right because of the second law of thermodynamics” chestnut, which has been debunked on this board alone maybe a thousand times. It’s painfully obvious when he discusses evolution that, like a lot of its critics, he’s just ignorant.

He’s not a nut; he just thinks he’s smarter than he is.

My description, when I read the book (printed version) about a year ago:

“A ‘thought experiment’ in which the Dilbert creator gets all philosophical ‘n’ shit. It’s short, a quick and easy read, and mildly thought-provoking, I suppose, but not nearly as mind-blowing as Adams seems to think it is. I’ve read better stuff here in Great Debates.”

And while searching for that, I stumbled across the previous thread Spoil “God’s Debris” for me

I was surprised to read this. It isn’t quite true.

http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2005/11/intelligent_des.html

But the rest of his post explains a lot about why the ID myth can’t be put to rest. Adams essentially says that not only is it too complicated for him to understand, but that he doesn’t want to put in the effort to try to understand it. And because that’s true he’s willing to give equal weight to both sides. It doesn’t matter that one side has a molecule of fact and the other side a neutron star’s worth. There’s a “controversy” so they both get time in his head.

This pretends to be a balanced and cynical viewpoint, rather than someone talking out of his ass in pure ignorance. (His other comments would be torn to shreds in a hurry if he posted them here.) I haven’t read God’s Debris, but from the comments I’ve seen on it, I’d be willing to bet that his arguments in that book are just as uninformed, especially on science.

Fortunately, it doesn’t make any difference. No one has paid any attention to Scott Adams for years. He had one joke and he beat it into the ground back in the 90s.

There was once a neutrons star’s worth of facts that the Earth was the center of the universe.

I would agree that his scientific knowledge is somewhat lacking. For example he asks “what does the first member of a new species mate with?” like a baboon is going to give birth to a gorilla. I would imagine that the changes are gradual and it’s only after many generations of isolation from the rest of the species that a particular population would be so different that it was no longer compatible with it’s parent species.

But I don’t think he’s coming out in favor of ID. I think he’s merely saying not to be so arrogant that you think you know the answer.

Is that kind of like asking “Whom does the first speaker of a new language talk to?”

That’s what he’s says, but if you read his words carefully he doesn’t even understand the problem well enough to ask the right questions so he can’t possibly come up with the right answers.

He’s fallen for the propaganda that ID is worthwhile if it appears to poke holes in Darwinism. Leaving aside the fact that all those “holes” have been refuted in copious detail, that’s approaching the issue in exactly the wrong way, albeit the way that religious propagandists want.

The correct way to approach this - as any scientific issue - is to ask the first principles. How does ID work? How does it account for the available evidence? What can it tell us to look for that we haven’t yet found?

Note that this does not mention Darwin and evolution at any point.

Real scientists go about the process in exactly this way. There is an example in the current New Scientist in an article on how using an analogy to superfluids can explain the formation of the universe from a black hole singularity. The originators didn’t sit there saying we don’t like inflation, it has these flaws: they built up the physics from scratch to show how it accounted for features we see. Now they’re saying exactly what else they would need to account for to make the hypothesis stronger. That’s science. ID is not, and doesn’t even bother to follow the scientific method.

That’s what I’m saying Adams doesn’t understand. Without that of course every bit of noise is equivalent. But when you look at the issue through normal scientific lenses, “teach the controversy” is reduced to pure noise. There is no controversy. None. One is science, one is not. They are not two sides of anything. As long as scientists play the game of responding to the “holes,” however, the public will not begin to understand this. Adams shows us why.

Absolute utter nonsense. There was a belief, to which all evidence was skimmed, filtered, and skewed. It’s a good analogy, to be sure, but to the other side of what you think it is.

The Earth is made of custard.

Do you think that’s a stupid idea? Do you think the Earth is made of rock? Don’t be so quick to dismiss me. You shouldn’t be so arrogant to think you have all the answers.

Ugh, I almost managed to convince myself that that book was written by ANOTHER Scott Adams who just happened to share the same name. It was a load of pretentious tripe trying to masquarade itself as something far more profound.

I was always under the impression that we weren’t supposed to take the arguments in “God’s Debris” too seriously. The Synopsis does say:

“Imagine that you meet a very old man who—you eventually realize—knows literally everything. Imagine that he explains for you the great mysteries of life—quantum physics, evolution, God, gravity, light, psychic phenomenon, and probability—in a way so simple, so novel, and so compelling that it all fits together and makes perfect sense. What does it feel like to suddenly understand everything? God’s Debris isn’t the final answer to the Big Questions. But it might be the most compelling vision of reality you will ever read. The thought experiment is this: Try to figure out what’s wrong with the old man’s explanation of reality. Share the book with your smart friends then discuss it later while enjoying a beverage.”

Not at all.

I really like custard.

I await the coming of the Big Holy Spoon.

I’ve read some of Adams’ “serious” writing - he repeatedly makes the error of assuming that anything he personally doesn’t comprehend is not comprehendable. He appears to believe that the scientists who actually understand the subjects that are beyond him are just faking it and can be dismissed.

This book is 2 parts basic sociology and 1 part pop science. The basic sociology in this book is things like the mind as an illusion generator, people taking comfort in collective and useful delusions, science as a belief system, the useful fictions in science becoming accepted as fact, and even the idea of god as a metaphor for society and environment. The pop science is almost everything he said about biology and physics. I was especially amused at the God-dust theory of gravity, which is Newtonian gravity in different language.

Adams completely ignores that Newton, the person whose gravitational theory he is contesting, was the guy who introduced the concept of inertia, the term Adams co-opts for his “solution” to Newtonian gravity. Also, if gravity could be re-formulated into a probabilistic theory this easily, physicists would have done it already in attempting to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity.

As the guy who started that thread, I’ll note that I finally did read God’s Debris, and came away thinking it was meh. Aside from a glorified version of a Socratic dialog, the science and logic seems rather slapdash throughout (though I note Adams tried to cover himself by prefacing the novel with saying there are “deliberate mistakes” for the reader to find :rolleyes: ).

It does introduce some fun questions that could be used as conversational icebreakers, but that’s about it.

Yeah, he says that you’re supposed to find the flaws in the old man’s arguments, but there sure are a lot of them, and often the old man sounds like a smug ignorant moron arguing from the fallacy of personal incredulity. “I don’t get it, so it can’t be true.”

I really enjoyed his “sequel,” The Religion War, a lot more. It’s basically a sci-fi novel, and even though the main character is the guy who is being lectured by the Avatar in the first book (who is now an old man and is the Avatar himself) who uses weird logic and “patterns” in a completely unbelievable way to bend people to his will. I still enjoyed the book.