How Scott Adams went nuts (and I'm sorry and it wasn't my fault and I won't let it happen again)

False modesty aside, there are things I know I'm good at - cooking, writing essays, figuring out maps and timetables. Then there are things I am not so good at - driving, wrapping presents, following along in exercise classes (basically anything that requires a sense of spatial awareness). And I am not - to disastrous effect - a good judge of character.

It might be from lack of ability to interpret facial and vocal cues, or an inability to read people combined with a naive tendency to take people at their word. How bad is it? Well, when Bill Clinton said, way back in 1998, "now you listen to me, I did not have sexual relations with that woman", I believed him. I know better now than to trust any politician lying about sex, but I've still been taken in and trusted people who turned out to be not what they seemed - or worse, exactly what they seemed, but I ignored the warning signs and thought the shitty things they did to other people, they wouldn't do to me, until they did.

And then there's Dilbert creator, writer self proclaimed genius and latter day Trump supporting constant commentator Scott Adams. Adams, who has in recent months declared that the nomination of a woman for president represents for men "a celebration that your role in society is permanently diminished"; that if there are no terrorist attacks before election day, it's because ISIS prefers Clinton; that the firebombing of an African American Church was a false flag operation;  that the polls were fraudulent in showing Clinton ahead, but had to pivot to reality to preserve credibility; that Hilary Clinton is a drunk; and - of course - that if Clinton wins, it's because Russia. He's also deflected all criticism of himself by stating that if anyone disagrees with him, it's cause their puny little minds are too feeble to understand.

And I cannot help but feel like I'm in some way responsible for all this. You see, I used to be a Scott Adams fan. And I don't just mean I'd have a laugh when I saw Dilbert in the newspaper (or in later years, looked it up from time to time online). I mean I've read every last one of his books, bought more than a few of them, and greatly admired many of his ideas, even if a few - an actual proposal for a donut shaped universe, although my memory on this is a little hazy - I didn't quite understand. And Dilbert! I loved Dilbert, both the comic and the character. I'm a survivor of a decade in the cube trenches, and Dilbert provided solace, comic relief and (in Wally's blase attitude) inspiration.

Some of my well-read collection

I'm sure Mr Adams has made more money from the worldwide syndication for Dilbert than he has from his books. But by buying the books, I and many others have enabled him not to stick to drawing comics, monkey brain, but to expound on his esoteric brand of libertarianism. And somewhere along the line, the line became an edge he tumbled off. What I'm left wondering is how I missed the signs. Were they there all along, and I missed them due to my problems assessing people, or is he in some downward spiral of recent years? It was delightful when back in 1997, Mr Adams posed as a management consultant to see just how meaningless a nonsense company mission statement he could get an executive committee to agree to. But it's a long, long way from such satire to creating sockpuppet internet accounts to anonymously tell forums what a genius you are - let alone to thinking reality warps back and forth, controlled by a drunk, ill, incompetent, genius mastermind Hilary Clinton.

I'm not altogether sure how much impact Mr Adams has had upon the election; whether or not he is a prominent voice or a sideshow to the alt-right media, and god knows I am not going for a dip in that chilly, fetid swamp. Either way though, I'm a little bit sad. I'll never be able to take seriously anything Mr Adams says again. I still want to buy Dilbert 2.0, but I don't feel good about it. 

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