creator Scott Adams
came to our attention last month
for the first time since the mid to late '90s when a blog post surfaced where he said, among other things, that women are "
treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It's just easier this way for everyone."
Now, he's managed to provoke yet another internet maelstorm of derision by popping up on message boards to harangue his critics and defend himself. That's not news in and of itself, but what really makes it special is how he's doing it: by leaving comments on Metafilter
under the pseudonym PlannedChaos where he speaks about himself in the third person and attacks his critics while pretending that he is not Scott Adams, but rather just a big, big fan of the cartoonist.
And what makes it really, really
special is the level of spectacular ego and hilarious self-congratulation suddenly on display in the comments when you realize they were written by Scott Adams' number one fan... Scott Adams:
According to PlannedChaos a.k.a. Scott Adams, you have the right to an opinion, but if you disagree with Scott Adams, it's probably just because you're too stupid to know better. It's not your fault; that's just how your idiot brain is wired.
If you feel like you've seen this before, perhaps you remember how Adams cropped up on a feminist blog to let its commenters know that they lacked the reading comprehension of his website audience and were too "emotional" to understand his advanced argument.
Of course, the biggest difference between the comments on Feministe and the comments on Reddit and Metafilter are that he signs his name to his opinion and is willing to own it, rather than hiding under an assumed name to express his opinions, or far worse, deceitfully posing as an entirely different person who just happens to think Scott Adams is a brilliant, misunderstood comedic genius, and a master of both rhetoric and self-promotion on levels that the proles around him simply can't comprehend through the haze of their own stupidity.
The act of creating fictional people to defend your ideas on the internet is sadly common enough that there's actually a word for it: "sockpuppet
." I'm not really surprised that people try to get away with this behind the Dungeon Master screen of anonymity that the internet provides, but it's still kind of mind-boggling to me as a phenomenon, particularly when actual grownups and industry professionals feel the need to invent imaginary friends to praise them on the internet.
Using a sockpuppet is this strange mixture of cowardice -- an unwillingness to own the words you say and accept the consequences that come with them -- and the sort of raging insecurity that makes it emotionally necessary for a "certified genius" and professional cartoonist to spend this much of his time defending himself against anonymous commenters he repeatedly identifies as "idiots."
Another notable gem:
Or my personal and most revealing favorite:
The entire sockpuppet masquerade finally came to an end after the savvy commenters at Metafilter saw through the act and called PlannedChaos out, the moderators determined that he was, in fact, Adams and demanded that either he reveal his identity or they would. After finally outing himself, Adams then took to his blog
to explain why sockpuppeting his critics was a totally reasonable thing to do:
As a general rule, you can't trust anyone who has a conflict of interest. Conflict of interest is like a prison that locks in both the truth and the lies. One workaround for that problem is to change the messenger. That's where an alias comes in handy. When you remove the appearance of conflict of interest, it allows others to listen to the evidence without judging.
Obviously an alias can be used for evil just as easily as it can be used to clear up simple factual matters. A hammer can be used to build a porch or it can be used to crush your neighbor's skull. Don't hate the tool...
Which is to say, he lied to us on the internet in order to hide his obvious personal agenda and conflict of interest. But it's OK, because all he was trying to do was hide his obvious personal agenda and conflict of interest. Really, he was just very concerned that you wouldn't be able to understand him by looking at the actual context of the situation, so he helpfully removed it through the "tool" of deceit.
Amazingly, Adams somehow seems to believe that hiding this information gives you more
context, not less. If you don't understand how this can be true -- possibly because of how your idiot brain is wired -- Adams offers another example:
The same thing is happening today with a Republican official who emailed some friends a humorous photo of President Obama's face on a chimp and a punch line about his birth certificate. If your only context is what the Internet says about this story, you assume it's a typical racist act by a Republican who is already guilty by association. But if I add the context that Googling "George Bush monkey" gives you over 3 million hits, and most of them are jokes where President Bush's face is transposed on a monkey, you see what's really going on. Democrats and advocates of civil rights are using the media to further an agenda at the expense of a woman who was probably so non-racist that the photo in question didn't set off her alarms as being a career-ending risk.
Man, I totally get it now! Despite the fact that monkeys are widely understood as extremely offensive racist iconography towards black people specifically, Photoshopping President Obama into a chimp and suggesting that he wasn't born in America means doesn't meant that you're racist; it means that you're even more not racist
! I guess that is how context works.
And while Adams was obviously caught with his pants down by the Metafilter moderators, he still couldn't resist one more attempt to get the final word:
It turns out that the joke is on you, and Scott Adams has been laughing all along because you were too stupid to see through his deception! The deception he created in order to help you understand the things you were too stupid to understand! Indeed, during the interview he conducted with himself on his blog afterwards(?!), Adams continues to imply that rather than being embarrassed by this very embarrassing incident, he's actually just been having "fun":
There's no way for you to know if it's a prank. The only person who knows the answer to that question is me, and I'm not credible. But for the record, my non-credible answer is that the entertainment value of this endeavor was only a side benefit. With that said, I have to confess that giving verbal wedgies to people who desperately deserve them, in a public forum, is a lot more fun than you imagine.
This is also a familiar tactic: attempting to regain control of a PR disaster by shouting "j/k!" and assuring us that he has been laughing the whole time. During the last controversy, after Adams left the incredibly tone-deaf comments
that created a second wave of outrage, he took to his blog to inform his readers that these weren't further PR blunders, they actually just part of his plan to intentionally stoke their ire!
This seems strangely contradictory to the sentiments in his latest post
, where he explains that he needed the sockpuppet identity to debunk rumors and cope with all those nasty internet commenters who take him out of context and get him totally wrong.
It seems a little disingenuous to claim that you found it absolutely necessary to lie about your identity in order to clear up misperceptions on the internet when you've publicly stated that you've taken pleasure in creating misperceptions on the internet, but I'm sure that's all part of the master plan of Scott Adams, certified genius. Or Scott Adams, master troll. Whichever one he's decided to be today.