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The Dilbert Future by Scott Adams

The Dilbert Future by Scott Adams: Scott Adams is a cartoonist. He is not a stand-up comedian nor is he Dave Barry, though this book makes it quite clear that he really wants to be. Still, there is a reason he tells jokes in three-panel comic strips instead of 30-minute monologues. Here he addresses various aspects of life and makes tongue-in-cheek predictions, interspersed with Dilbert cartoons. It was obviously written in sections rather than as a whole, and the entire time all I could think about was how much more fitting these musings would be in somebody’s blog than a hardbound tome published by Harper Business, especially since so many of the predictions have gone out of date since its publication (such as his erroneous predictions for the futures of the cable modem and ISDN). There were some vaguely amusing parts but nothing was anywhere near laugh-out-loud funny, and I had to yawn a bit at the tired “women really rule the world” section – that idea was beaten to death decades ago and hasn’t gotten any funnier in the meantime. Frankly, the most humorous parts were the cartoons, and if I wanted to read those I could have just picked up a collection.

The final chapter, “A New View of the Future,” was inappropriate in this context. For this section Adams “turned the humor mode off” and discussed his personal philosophies. They were interesting but did not fit whatsoever with the rest of the book. His ideas on perception and cause and effect would also have been much more compelling had he bothered to actually research any of the theories and experiments he mentioned. I understand that the goal of this section was nothing more than to make the reader think about the universe a little differently, but it would have been much more effective had he spent an hour at the library finding a couple of references to cite. Saying things like “I’ll simplify the explanation, probably getting the details wrong in the process, but you’ll get the general idea” does not instill in me a desire to take him very seriously. That said, I am giving thought to trying out those affirmations.

Despite the incongruity of the chapter, I still enjoyed it about as much as I did the rest of the book, but for different reasons (the first part was vaguely amusing, the second vaguely intriguing). Ultimately this felt like a Dilbert collection trying to be a Dave Barry book. I think I’ll stick with the comic strips from now on.

Originally posted on BookCrossing.

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