Thursday, December 01, 2005

Books (Comic Strip): Thriving on Vague Objectives

I wandered into the local Chapters looking for a copy of Sweet Silver Blues, the first Garrett, PI book (I can't find our copy at home) and discovered that there was a new Dilbert book out, Thriving on Vague Objectives.

I've been following Dilbert since before the first strip collections came out, and my Dilbert-quoting habit is almost as bad as my Python and Goon Show quoting, and the latest book is as good as any (and has a shorter title than many of the more recent ones). I've occasionally had a few problems with Scott Adams, though.

Adams has some great insight into the absurdity of corporate life, but he's got a very bizarre notion of how science works. It's generally not a problem, but every once in a while it crops up in his books or (most recently) his new weblog, in which he declared that the Intelligent Design folks and biologists were equally bad at their arguments, and not only did each not really understand the other's argument, they didn't even really understand their own.

This was a very odd claim, given that, over the course of the rest of the post, it became obvious that Adams himself understood the least about the matter of the three of them.

PK Myers at Pharyngula posted a good rebuttal which summarizes the whole thing quite nicely. What was most odd, though, was Adams's response to Myers. Adams said that the problem really is that there are "no credible people" to inform him about the subject, and that (most amazingly) no one who has a professional stake in a matter can be considered credible on that matter -- and that the more stake you have, the less credible you are.

I can even see Adams's point -- within a corporate context. In the politics-heavy world of a business, very often the people most pushing for project A or project B are completely non-credible. And, of course, then there's marketing and advertising.

But outside of that -- are engineers really the least credible people when it comes to how to build a bridge? Doctors the least credible about medicine? Lawyers the least credible about law? No matter how much you might dislike lawyers, they do know more about law (on the whole) than non-lawyers.

That's when I decided that I wasn't going to follow the Dilbert Blog anymore -- I didn't want it to spoil my enjoyment of the strip. And I did enjoy the latest book! It had a number of strips I laughed out loud at over lunch. The last couple of collections were fun, but didn't have anything outstanding in them. This one has some really great strips.

I just have to remember that Adams lives in a world of Pointy-Haired Bosses...

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