May 2008

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

« Halloween Costumes | Main | My Worst Blog Post Ever »



Not to put too fine a point on this, but.. well, if you can't deal with what you perceive to be hubris, what on earth are you doing on the internet? Scott put forward what he knew to be an unpopular opinion, and in advance stated that he was aware that many people would disagree with him.

If you disagree with something, you are entitled to your opinion, and certainly allowed to express it - here, at least. If it moves you to the point where you drastically lose respect for the person who put forth the opinion, you are not obliged to opine, or in fact continue to read the 'offensive' material at all. While many of the responses that I have read to this post have been well thought out and expressed, others have simply amounted to: "Despite the fact that I am morally outraged, I will continue to subject myself to something which I feel/find to be offensive because otherwise I would not know what to complain about."

Reviewing the initial blog post, I find nothing saying "I'm Scott Adams, and therefore what I put forward, you must believe like unto the word of God." To accuse the man of having a deus complex is somewhat of an ad hominem attack - certainly a logical fallacy... but I digress. I myself found the article to be an interesting opinion, albeit one which I did not necessarily agree with all points of. If you (the gentle reader) finds something aberrant in this notion, or in some other notion heretofore opined, then by all means, let yourself be heard. If, instead, you feel that the material of this blog is such that you grow weary of hearing Scott's opinions.. well, it's a big internet. Go exploring.


In physics terms, don't we already have 11 dimensions? whats another 2?


Evolution: Something creates random variations in the population. Some variations provide a minute survival advantage, some provide a disadvantage and most are neutral. Those which provide survival advantage get propagated in the population until the variation doesn't provide any advantage (since most members have it). When you take a long term view of this process it LOOKS as if someone is selecting variations which provide survival advantage... hence it is called "natural selection".

Now, it doesn't matter if reality has 3 dimensions or 4 dimensions or n dimensions. Whatever it is that gives the survival advantage will be "selected" by natural selection. We may not be able to observe the variations in the fourth dimension and hence not comment on it. But the process of evolution will work just the same, the mechanism won't change - unless you define by a fiat that the fourth dimension is something that only GOD (or some other supernatural being) controls.

In summary, no matter how many dimensions you have, the mechanism of evolution is fairly simple (random variation, "selective" survival of variation that provide some advantage) and would work the same way in any number of dimensions.

Bobby Wang



When will you stop your woo-woo blathering about evolution?!


I don't think I'm the first person to make this observation, and if so, props to whoever started it, but I wouldn't be surprised if the whole point of Scott's evolutionist-baiting is not out of some secret, latent creationism or something. I think it's to elicit responses like the ones he predicted he'd get -- faith-based responses. A lot of people "believe in evolution", which is exactly the folly he's trying to expose. If evolution is science then it's TRUE and you shouldn't have to "believe IN" it (which implies faith). Creationists have their scientific snipes at evolution which are dismissed as disparagingly and offhandedly as possible, but if evolution is science then no matter the quarter from which the objection stems, if it's VALID it should be tested experimentally. When proponents of ANY scientific theory start ridiculing those who don't "believe in" it, it ceases to be a scientific theory and becomes a religion! You shouldn't need invective to defend truth. I hope no one calls me a creationist for this (I'm not), because that's become like "liberal" on FOX News. Unless a person identifies him or herself as such, don't apply it as a pejorative. Isn't that what many religionists do with "sinner", "infidel", "unbeliever", "pinko", "nigger" and other terms? Yes I know the last two weren't "religious", I was making the point that ANYthing can be a religion -- even politics and racism and certainly something as open-ended as evolution, when you start defending it with invective and "believing in" it in opposition to the alternative rather than from a real knowledge of the idea itself. Racism is believed in because the racist is in opposition to Blacks or Latinos or Jews or what have you. How many "Christians" are out there who believe in it mainly because they oppose other cultures and not from a real understanding of scripture? How many Democrats were created not because of understanding and support of the party's platform but because they hate Bush? Ergo, how many "evolutionists" are there with no Biology or Organic Chemistry or Paleontology degree or background (and several with) who "believe in" it instead because they hate religious hypocrisy, corruption and influence? We're human, we're prone to it, and it's pretty darn hypocritical to be calling out the other side for calling you out. You don't want experimental science to be held on the same level as misapplied scripture and narrow-minded culture warmongering? Don't put it there.

A Person

>>> Would this hypothetical breakthrough in physics be enough to convince you that your understanding of evolution has only a shadow connection to reality? <<<

In your list, you left out this simple answer: no.


If time changes,
If objects create more of said objects by copying themselves,
If said copying is not always flawless
If said objects differ in prevalence of different forms of traits,
If said traits can be transmitted to objects created by said objects,
If said traits influence the chances of said objects to copy themselves,
Then the prevalence of the different forms of traits will change.


really Scott, its not that hard, if time doesn't change(or changes in a unconceivable way) then nothing we think is relevant, you're asking us to conceive the unconceivable.

evolution is a model that fits al objects that fit the requirements.
you know, like gravity only aplies to objects with mass, and optics only aplies to light.

the only thing to be said about evolution is wether you think its aplicable in a specific situation.

to pound it in a bit:
1+1=2 is only true when 2 is twice as much as one and the symbols have only one meaning (i.e. 1=one, or = = equals)


1. Why are these comments so mean/rude? Do YOU all have a regularly updated blog with that many readers (and a cartoon that pretty much everyone on this side of the planet has at least heard of)?

2. Being part of the science community, I can say (with a bit of sadness) that few scientists instantly trust papers coming out of Nature or Science. However, the media love these "breakthrough" stories, generate public attention, and, therefore, public funding, so *real* research can happen with the money generated by (most likely false) breakthrough events.

3. We ALL KNEW, for a FACT, that Earth was flat. And we ALL KNEW that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Fact! And I'm sure today we ALL KNOW facts that, two hundred years from now, somebody will look back at and say, "Wow, they were really stupid back then."


Sort of off topic, but in regards to theories about the existence of our Universe and other unexplainable phenomena: have you read "The Holographic Universe" by Michael Talbot?


The problem, Scott, as I've said before, is that you're not quite as smart as you evidently believe you are.

"it would prove that all three-dimensional perspectives are false."

No, it wouldn't. The hypothesis is of an additional dimension, not the non-existence of the first 3. Finding a fourth cigarette in an ashtreay does not prove that the first three do not exist. It simply means we didn't see it at first.

"At best, the theory of evolution would be a useful fiction, like religion."

Nice, long leap of logic. It spares you having to show exactly how the discovery of extra dimensions of time and space invalidate the theory of evolution. And since you don't even bother to present an argument of how this is so, it's impossible to refute your statement- except to say it is at the very least, unsupported by argument.

Scott Adams

I can imagine the discovery of extra dimensions invalidating our notion of evolution, but I think it is highly unlikely. And even if it happened, we are only equipped to deal with the world we perceive, and within that world, evolution is the best model we have.


This article brings to mind Dave Berry. It is the sort of totally oblivious-to-reality type thinking that he does in some of his dorkier columns. Reading him and this column makes one realize that instead of being in the presence of someone with functioning neurons, you are in the presence of an airhead, a dingbat, a space cadet, a Republican.

Some of your columns are actually thought provoking, but this is not one of them.

Johnny Ouais

"Whenever you read a story about a potential scientific breakthrough, you can safely assume it is complete bullshit."

I agree. The key word here is POTENTIAL.

The HR hypothesis is the greatest example of that. 1 Million to whom who can solve it. Every day, people discover and publish POTENTIAL ways of solving it.

If ever someone solve it, my first advice: see if it worth 1 million telling it. Your bright. Maybe this value more. Maybe this hold a key to fast factoring algorithm. Maybe the Iranian governement will give you 10 millions for it. Or the Chinese governement 25.

A real breakthrough worths million not telling it.

POTENTIAL breakthroughs in science are for losers. Ever heard of Joseph Newmann?


The theory of evolution would indeed be at best only a useful fiction, but this is not a particularly telling blow since in this scenario all of perceived reality could be divided into useful fiction and useless fiction. It seems the theory of evolution might be coming off pretty well here.... and so does religion.

It is interesting that the physicist involved came to the understanding of a three dimensional world viewing reality imperfectly as a shadow upon a wall through mathematics, while in the middle of the fourth century BC, Plato arrived at precisely the same analogy through simple observation, rational thinking and ...dare I say it ... imagination.

I would suggest modifying the analogy a bit though. most views of reality are not simply useful or useless...they possess varying degrees of usefulness, depending on how closely they actually appropriate reality. If we are relegated to to viewing a shadow upon a wall because of our three dimensional limitation, our view is distorted to some degree, but if we view that shadow through distorted or dirty lenses, it becomes even more blurred. So it would seem that some theories are more useful than others, by providing a clearer view of the shadow.

Care to wager on how many are willing to consider the possibility that their particular lenses are anything less than perfect?


I would think that the discovery of any number of extra dimensions affects what we know about the four we think we inhabit now pretty much in the same way that the discovery of more trees would affect what we know about the tree we already knew was in our garden. Nobody ever said the others couldn't possibly exist, or assumed that what we saw was everything that could possibly be. Not reasonable people anyway.

Now to play your game: (if I wasn't already)

>> 1. Evolution is true, you idiot! Read a book!

I agree, evolution is true. I arrived at this insight by educated guessing, and making assumptions. These are useful tools in life, and I use them. Sorry I called you an idiot.

>> 2. We KNOW the Earth is more than 10,000 years old!

See 1. Additionally, this statement is not about the Earth being more than 10,000 years old, but about 'us' knowing it. Which we do, even if you don't. How can you dispute that?

>> 3. That physicist is probably wrong!

Isn't that what you said? I haven't read the article, so I'll have to take your word for it. You're probably right, therefore that physicist is probably wrong.

>> 4. You keep changing your story! Gotcha!

Sorry, I don't really have time to research how your story has changed over time. Also I don't really believe many people use this point against you. Still, you keep changing your story. So, gotcha!

>> 5. Blah, blah, gaps in the fossil record!

Blah, blah, more like a broken record. Which brings me to:

>> 6. When will you stop your woo-woo blathering about evolution?!

I mean, really.

>> 7. We live in three dimensions. Physics is just useful math.

True. At some point people decided to start calling time the fourth dimension, really just to illustrate some theories and make it easier to think about things like 'space-time', but in the end it's just a question of semantics. Call time what you want, common sense tells me that there's a significant difference between the 'first' three dimensions and time, and three dimensions are what we move around in (through time), no matter what people find it convenient to call concepts that are clearly different from x, y and z.

>> 8. Get back to penis jokes!

Well, do as you're told, monkey. Dance!

james wilson

number 6 and number 8 from your list!!!


Just this one:

9. One thing has nothing to do with the other. Gee, it was a HUGE leap on logic connecting the two facts.


Our theory of evolution, just like every other thought, cannot survive from skewed perception. However, I think we have to understand that even if this universe has dimensions which we cannot interact with, we live in a four dimensional universe only. In the excellent book Flatland, a two dimensional person is shown the world from three dimensions for the first time and it completely revolutionizes his way of thinking; if it's possible to engage other dimensions than absolutely we should. But if all we can ever do is live in shadowland, then by all means let's live in shadowland. That's our universe, even if it isn't the universe.

Joshua Zambrano

I think for a theory evolution gets pretty well passed off as fact. I think micro-evolution works (minor adaptations to an environment within a species) but not macro-evolution (species becoming different species).

I find it a little absurd that the dating theories depend on variables like the level of carbon in the atmosphere remaining constant even as according to the evolutionists global catastrophes like floods, ice ages, and meteor showers are supposed to have been changing the face of our planet. Sure, those didn't affect the atmosphere at all.

Since everything in our universe decays according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, it seems a little odd to believe in a theory that involves all species getting better rather than worse, and everything coming from something. If anything, we should be devolving.

There's a lot of technicalities on both sides but what it comes down to is that one side thinks everything came from nothing and the other side believes an all-powerful being always existed. I guess if you really want to you can make fun of either side if you're so inclined. And don't even get me started on Buddhism and Hinduism. Trying to explain how reincarnation could start if there were no bad deeds to be paid for in the first life is like trying to jump out of a bottomless pit.

Andy Liu

Here is the question: "Would this hypothetical breakthrough in physics be enough to convince you that your understanding of evolution has only a shadow connection to reality?"

Your question assumes at least three things:
1) that all readers believe in evolution, when it is possible that there are other alternatives such as creation,
2) that all readers in this day and age believe in the resolution of scientific evidence, and

For reasons of education, religious or cultural beliefs, etc., some of these postulates do not hold true.

The "shadow" asked by your question is in consideration of the following passage in the article that you linked:
Bars’ math suggests that the familiar world of four dimensions — three of space, one of time — is merely a shadow of a richer six-dimensional reality. In this view the ordinary world is like a two-dimensional wall displaying shadows of the objects in a three-dimensional room.

In a similar way, the observable universe of ordinary space and time may reflect the physics of a bigger space with an extra dimension of time. In ordinary life nobody notices the second time dimension, just as nobody sees the third dimension of an object’s two-dimensional shadow on a wall.

With such factors in mind, I will present my response.


Until two thousand years ago, there was no Jesus. No one believed that a carpenter's son would be the core foundation to a major belief that such a person would be the son of God. Shortly after this person's death, there was a rapid expansion in the belief that Jesus is the key to eternal life. There was a before and there was an after

How did this perception change?

Just a few hundred years ago, the prevalent belief was that the earth was the center of the universe: forget that we circle the sun, the sun circled us.

How did this perception change?

Just a few hundred years ago, the majority thought that the world was flat: to sail to the edge of the world would mean impeccable doom.

How did this perception change?

Just a few years ago, the majority of Americans and democratic nations thought that democracy was the best available form of government that the world has to offer. You hear officials humming a different tune these days.

How did this perception change?

Perception is what our reality encompasses, and such perception is dictated by change, whether gradual or immediate. People perceive certain things depending on numerous factors including truth, convenience, and/or experience. There may be many perceptions that are not necessarily incorrect.

For example, an employer and an applicant tend to see different sides of the coin. An employer tries to find the qualities and criteria necessary for a job and for the employer's agenda, while an applicant tries to present in a way that meets the employer's criteria and the applicant's agenda. Both see different aspects, but their perceptions may not be incorrect.


Moving on to the question you have presented, a direct answer to the question, would be a resolute


This hypothetical breakthrough in physics may still be a theorem, a supported hypothesis, which may still be disproved. A hypothesis or a hypothetical breakthrough is still merely ascertained facts that have not been disproved, refuted, and/or tested. And because of such, leaves room for doubt and refute.

An example to refuting a hypothetical breakthrough would be that our nutritional food pyramid in America has only in recent years, been radically remodeled. Before such, most of us may remember seeing the food pyramid at one point or another in grade school.


However, the answer you may be looking for is whether such a hypothesis would alter perception in general. So we shall strengthen the conditions.

Let's suppose that all factual, quantitative, qualitative, and perceptual evidence undeniably and unconditionally point to the truth in the physics hypothesis presented. And let's just say this question is directed toward how the creation of the earth and of life is asked in a general way that incorporates the beliefs of all people.

So the question would be,

"Suppose that this hypothetical breakthrough in physics is unquestionably true. Would it be enough to convince you that your understanding or belief of the creation of earth and life has only a shadow connection to reality?"


Now that we are under the assumption that there is truth in this physics, a question that must be asked is to what extent does this shadow entail? Perhaps ours is the overall reality and such dimensions are merely a complement to such reality. Assuming that such is the other way around, gives grounds to an plethora of questions that remain unanswered.

And because of such, our understanding or belief of the creation of earth and life has still not been ascertained or refuted.

Richard Benish

Scott & indo,

As the author of the paper referred to by indo:

I feel compelled to clarify and set the record straight:

1) The extra dimension discussed here is not temporal, but spatial.

2) It is true that Scott is cited as a reference in the paper. Why? Because in his book "The Dilbert Future," he recounts his experience of dreaming up a similar idea for explaining the mechanism of gravity. In the book he concluded that the idea is not testable. Actually the idea is testable. If it's true, it means when an object is dropped into a uniformly dense sphere with an evacuated hole through its diameter, it will not oscillate back and forth in the hole. The standard Newtonian/Einsteinian prediction is that it will oscillate. If Scott's dream turned out to be true then the dropped object would not pass the center.

Having contemplated this problem during many a waking hour, having dialogued with physicists about it and being in the process of trying to build an apparatus to test the idea in my laboratory, I replied to Scott (August 12 1997) to let him know. My letter was perhaps unduly long-winded and perhaps duly ignored.

The paper referred to above has been published in a refereed physics journal:

And I continue work on the experiment and on the theoretical motivation for it.

Perhaps now we have come full circle, or more correctly, if Scott's gravity idea is right, full turn on an ever growing spiral.

Richard Benish

Samuel Savitz

Doesn't that apply to all scientific theories?


1. incomplete theory or theory based on partial observation doesn't imply theory is false.

2. some theories may apply to limited number of dimensions only or could be logically extended to more (think: 1d and 2d geometry theory in 3d universe)


Scott wrote: “Whenever you read a story about a potential scientific breakthrough, you can safely assume it is complete bullshit.”

You can’t safely assume that. Many potential scientific breakthroughs are true, for example, the earth is not a flat disk and the sun does not rotate around the earth.

Scott wrote: “I’ve been saying for years that evolution as we perceive it is not a feature of reality so much as an internally consistent perception, like a shadow. Our brains aren’t equipped to understand the nature of reality. What we understand as the gradual change of species over time is no more a feature of reality than your shadow is a real person.”

Bacteria that was on earth about 3.5 billion years ago evolved into all the complex organisms that have lived on earth. Here is a link:

And here is another:

Scott wrote:

“2. We KNOW the Earth is more than 10,000 years old!”

Some people claim that no person knows anything. I disagree with that. For example, I think I know that I had Crispix for breakfast. However, for the sake of argument, let’s say that no person knows anything for certain. It is, at the very least, overwhelmingly likely that bacteria that was on earth about 3.5 billion years ago evolved into all the complex organisms that have lived on earth. Please consider the links I provided.

The comments to this entry are closed.