Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams has a blog that I was pointed to by a cow-orker a couple weeks ago. Half-surprisingly, he’s very well written, funny, and intelligent; so it makes a pretty good read. And he posts quite regularly.
The other day, he posted about the Evolution versus Intelligent Design debate. He didn’t debate the issue, mind you (he says “Iâ€™m not a believer in Intelligent Design, Creationism, Darwinism, free will, non-monetary compensation, or anything else I canâ€™t eat if I try hard enough”), he decided instead to discuss the discussion.
As if that wasn’t meta enough, he focused on how both sides of the debate mischaracterize the other side’s arguments. As I was reading it, I thought “man, he’s not doing a very good job here; I’ve never heard any of these points that he’s complaining about.” And then I realized that was the whole point. He was either using his own misrepresentation as a meta-joke, or he was just interested in stirring up trouble. Or probably both.
He then got 300 angry comments from both sides.
Today, Scott posted a follow-up. He essentially verified my theory, but apparently he had taken it a step further. “I was waiting to see how many people fell into the irony trap and misrepresented my blog entry and then attacked it.” (The answer is “a lot”.) He links to one blog post in particular, but the page is currently down. He reiterates his point, and at the end leaves the whole thing open for more recursive straw men.
I applaud his willingness to be stung by hornets just for the sake of a joke. But what’s more amazing is that, in the end, his joke was proven correct by those who were trying to refute it. It’s also more than a little disturbing. Can’t we engage in intelligent dialogue anymore?