The article is only coming out now, long after the election: "How Scott Adams Got Hypnotized by Trump/Come to his Dilbert-shaped home. Bite into a Dilberito. Be persuaded on genocide, mental orgasms, and his fellow Master Wizard, the president of the United States." It's by Caroline Winter and published in Bloomberg.
And here's Adams — who doesn't seem to be having too much fun — with a 16-point demonstration that it's fake news. Here's the serious lesson:
By the way, Bloomberg did have a third-party do fact-checking on the article by running a bunch of questions by me for verification. That is standard practice for the big publications. None of the things I mentioned here were in the fact checking. The fact-checkers don’t check the writer’s own eye-witness accounts for accuracy, and they don’t check for missing context.All right then, we should take the lesson and apply it to his 16 points, which are what he sees as fake or misleading. His calling things fake should also be read with skepticism.
When normal citizens read the news, they think it is mostly accurate. But when you are the subject of reporting, you can see the fake news all over it. I thought I would share this view with you so you can increase your skepticism when you see this sort of thing presented as truth.
#4 accuses Bloomberg of anti-Adams bias for using a photograph of Adams looking down and working on his computer tablet which casts its light upward onto his face.* He prefers a photo that looks like a generic publicity head shot, complete with perfectly flattering lighting and a pleasant smile. But the publicity-shot type photo is boring. It doesn't show Adams at work, and it doesn't speak of Winter's access to his private space. I understand Adams wanting to look as handsome as he can, but ultra-flattering publicity-style photography isn't interesting. It doesn't pull us into the article. It looks more like the little photos of columnists that papers run with each column. It doesn't say: There's something new here, we got inside and have something to show you.
I don't have time right now to read Winter's article and all of Adams's 16 points, but I don't think he's really got that much against Winter. The list seems as padded as he could get it, with stuff like:
12. This quote is out of context: “In the kitchen, Adams installed three microwaves so he “can make a lot of popcorn at once.” The missing context is that I designed the house knowing that whoever makes the popcorn for the rest of the family misses the first part of the movie. Plus, the extra microwaves come in handy all the time. I use them at the same time quite often. How did that come out sounding nutty?Is "make a lot of popcorn at once" really more nutty-sounding than "whoever makes the popcorn for the rest of the family misses the first part of the movie"? I'd say no. Why doesn't everyone hang out in the kitchen getting popcorn ready before sitting down to the movie? What kind of people start the movie when one member of the group hasn't sat down yet? You can't watch something else — or talk to each other — until that person shows up? I mean, especially if that person is getting food for you. Also microwaves make terrible popcorn. Why don't you make good popcorn in a popcorn popper — or any big pot — on the stove... where I bet you have at least 4 burners? I think Winter served Adams perfectly well by saying "make a lot of popcorn at once," and finding fault with that is what really makes him sound nutty.
And I like Scott Adams, so don't try some Master-Persuader hocus-pocus on me and say that I am trying to make him look nutty. I'd even like him if he were nutty. What's so bad about nutty? Idiosyncrasies are endearing, especially when they are about things that don't matter, like popcorn.
* Adams shows us a cropped version of the photo that Bloomberg published. The cropped version looks awkward and misses much of what makes it a great photo. Here's the full version, i.e., the context. The photographer framed a scene, which includes the giant tablet Adams works on, where we can see an entire colorful Sunday Dilbert strip (with mostly readable words). There's also the surrounding room (which is different from a generic artist's studio and more of a living room). There's a careful composition with angles — Adams's arm in the foreground, the tablet, the desk and sofa. The photographer doesn't seem to be trying to get an ugly picture of Adams, but to put him in his real-world context. Adams stresses context, but he's unfair to the photographer by excluding context.
ADDED: I'm finally getting around to reading Winter's article. It's really good, and I don't think Adams has a good-enough argument that it's a hit piece. I'm particularly struck by his criticism that she's making him look "creepy" by how she presents his girlfriend. Here's what Winter writes:
When I visited, Adams’s girlfriend of three months, Kristina Basham, was living with him, along with her two daughters. She’s 28. Until recently, she maintained a website that showed her posing in a bikini, described as a model and baker, with a D cup size. “I don’t talk about where we met. People make judgments,” Adams said. “We met the normal way people meet.” He does blog about Basham, though. In a post titled “The Kristina Talent Stack,” Adams described how she increased her Instagram following to 2.5 million. “The idea of a talent stack is that you can combine ordinary skills until you have enough of the right kind to be extraordinary,” he wrote. “You don’t have to be the best in the world at any one thing. All you need to succeed is to be good at a number of skills that fit well together.” Basham, he noted, was smart, knew model tricks about posing and makeup, and used social media hacks such as SEO and A/B testing. (“For example, although her Instagram photos are G-rated, any hint of side-boob adds at least 10% to her engagement.”) This seemed a little obvious to me, but Adams also extended the theory to himself and Trump.In point #3, Adams says Winter "created a powerful and intentional creepy vibe" in part showing "the context of my girlfriend being too young for me," and in point #13, he says:
My girlfriend, Kristina, has an advanced degree from UC Berkeley, plays multiple instruments, has succeeded in several fields, and now has 3.3 million Instagram followers. The writer mentioned her bra size.But Winter did tell us about Basham's huge Instagram following, and Adams decontextualizes the bra size! The big Instagram account is Basham showing off her body and, specifically, her breasts, and that's something Adams has written about: You can up your Instagram popularity by showing "side-boob." Winter is pretty subtle and funny there. Adams shows off his theory — about "talent stacks" — while talking about his girlfriend's big breasts. Now, it is fun at Adams's expense, but it's not unfair. How does he not deserve it? Scott Adams is 30 years older than this woman, who self-promoted on Instagram and he brags about her savvy in making people like her by showing off her youthful beauty. The bra size didn't come out of nowhere.