Scott Adams

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Scott Adams
Scott Adams (cropped).jpg
Scott Adams, June 2007
Born Scott Raymond Adams
(1957-06-08) June 8, 1957 (age 59)
Windham, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Area(s) Cartoonist, writer
Notable works

Scott Raymond Adams (born June 8, 1957) is the creator of the Dilbert comic strip and the author of several nonfiction works of satire, commentary, business, and general speculation.

His Dilbert series came to national prominence through the downsizing period in 1990s America and was then distributed worldwide. Adams worked in various roles at big businesses before he became a full-time cartoonist in 1995. He writes in a satirical, often sarcastic, way about the social and mental landscape of white-collar workers in modern business corporations.

In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Adams drew attention for his early prediction that Donald Trump would defeat all Republican primary challengers and win the general election in a "landslide".[1]

Early life[edit]

Scott Adams was born in 1957 in Windham, New York, the son of Virginia (Vining)[2] and Paul Adams.[3] Adams is of half German descent.[4] He also has English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Dutch and "a small amount" of Native American ancestry.[5][6][7]

He grew up a big fan of the Peanuts comics, and started drawing his own comics at the age of six.[8] He also became a fan of Mad magazine, and began spending long hours practicing his drawing talent, winning a competition at the age of eleven.[8] In 1968, he was rejected for an arts school and decided to focus on a career in law. Adams graduated valedictorian at Windham-Ashland-Jewett Central School in 1975, with a class size of 39. He remained in the area and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Hartwick College in 1979.[9] In his senior year, a vehicle breakdown almost forced him to spend a night in the snow, causing him to vow never to see a snowflake again. He took a one-way trip to California a few months after his graduation.[8]


Office worker[edit]

Adams worked closely with telecommunications engineers at Crocker National Bank in San Francisco between 1979 and 1986. Upon joining the organization, he entered a management training program after being held at gunpoint twice in four months as a teller.[8] Over the years, his positions included management trainee, computer programmer, budget analyst, commercial lender, product manager, and supervisor. During presentations to upper management, he often turned to his comic creations to add humor.[8] He earned an MBA in economics and management from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986.

Adams created Dilbert the character during this period; the name came from ex-boss Mike Goodwin.[8] Dogbert, originally named Dildog, was loosely based on his family's deceased pet beagle Lucy.[8] Submissions to various publications of both Dilbert and non-Dilbert comic panels failed to win publication. These included The New Yorker and Playboy.[8] However, an inspirational letter from a fan persuaded Adams to keep trying.[8]

He worked at Pacific Bell between 1986 and June 1995; the personalities he encountered there became the inspiration for many of his Dilbert characters. Adams first published Dilbert with United Media in 1989, while still employed at Pacific Bell. He had to draw his cartoons at 4 a.m. in order to work a full day at the company. His first paycheck for Dilbert was a monthly royalty cheque of $368.62.[8] Gradually, Dilbert became more popular, and was published by 100 newspapers in 1991 and 400 by 1994. Adams attributes his success to his idea of including his e-mail address in the panels, thus facilitating feedback from readers.[8]

Full-time cartoonist[edit]

Adams's success grew, and he became a full-time cartoonist with Dilbert in 800 newspapers. In 1996, The Dilbert Principle was released, his first business book.[8]

Logitech CEO Pierluigi Zappacosta invited Adams to impersonate a management consultant, which he did wearing a wig and false mustache, and he tricked Logitech managers into adopting a mission statement that Adams described as "so impossibly complicated that it has no real content whatsoever".[10] That year, he won the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year and Best Newspaper Comic Strip of 1997, the most prestigious awards in the field.[8]

In 1998, Dilbert began as a TV series, but was canceled in 2000. By 2000, the comic was in 2,000 newspapers in 57 countries and 19 languages.[8]

Finally, I got the call. "You're number one." I still haven't popped the champagne. I just raise the bar for what would be the right moment, and tell myself how tasty it will be if I ever accomplish something special in my work. Apparently the thing inside me that makes me work so hard is the same thing that keeps me unsatisfied.[11]

— Scott Adams, The Dilbert Blog

Adams is an avid fan of the science fiction TV series Babylon 5, and he appeared in the season 4 episode "Moments of Transition" as a character named "Mr. Adams" who hires former head of security Michael Garibaldi to locate his megalomaniacal dog and cat.[12] He also had a cameo in "Review", a third-season episode of the TV series NewsRadio, in which the character Matthew Brock (Andy Dick) becomes an obsessed Dilbert fan. Adams is credited as "Guy in line behind Dave and Joe in first scene".[13] Later in the episode, the character Dave Nelson (Dave Foley) hires an actor to play Scott Adams in a trick to bring Matthew back to work at the station.

Adams is the CEO of Scott Adams Foods, Inc., makers of the Dilberito and Protein Chef, and a co-owner of Stacey's Café in Pleasanton, California.[14] Much of his interest in the food business comes from the fact that he is a vegetarian.

On November 16, 2011, Adams joked about becoming a candidate for President of the United States on his blog, running as an independent.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Adams is a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and a former member of Mensa.[16]

In recent years, Adams has had two notable health problems. Since late 2004, he has suffered from a reemergence of his focal dystonia which has affected his ability to draw for lengthy periods on paper,[17] though it causes no real problem now that he draws the comic on a graphics tablet. He also suffered from spasmodic dysphonia, a condition that causes the vocal cords to behave in an abnormal manner. He recovered from this condition temporarily but in July 2008 underwent surgery to rewire the nerve connections to his vocal cord.[18] The operation was successful, and Adams's voice is now completely functional.[19]

Adams is a vegetarian and trained as a hypnotist.[20] He credits his own success to affirmations, including Dilbert's success and achieving a ninety-fourth percentile on a difficult qualification exam for business school, among other unlikely events. He states that the affirmations give him focus.[21] He has described a method which he has used that he says gave him success. He pictured in his mind what he wanted, and wrote it down 15 times a day on a piece of paper.[22] In addition to his cartoon work, he has written two books on religion, God's Debris (2001), and The Religion War (2004). God's Debris lays out a theory of Pandeism, in which God blows itself up to see what will happen, which becomes the cause of our universe.[23]

Stephan Pastis, creator of Pearls Before Swine, credits Adams for launching his career as a cartoonist.

Adams married Shelly Miles in 2006. She has two children named Savannah and Justin Miles. In a February 2014 blog posting he revealed that he is no longer married.[24]

At the end of a blog post in 2016, Adams identified model and neighbor Kristina Basham as his girlfriend.[25]

He currently resides in Pleasanton, California.

Adams has often commented on political matters. Despite this, in 2016 he wrote on his blog "I don’t vote and I am not a member of a political party."[26] In 2007, he suggested that Michael Bloomberg would make a good presidential candidate.[27]

Before the 2008 presidential election he said, "On social issues, I lean Libertarian, minus the crazy stuff",[28] but said in December 2011 that, if he were president, he would do whatever Bill Clinton advised him to do because that "would lead to policies that are a sensible middle ground".[29] On October 17, 2012, he wrote "while I don't agree with Romney's positions on most topics, I'm endorsing him for president".[30]

2016 United States presidential election[edit]

In 2015, though Adams stated that he would not endorse a candidate for the 2016 elections, he repeatedly praised Donald Trump's persuasion skills, especially on his blog,[31][32] extensively detailing what he called Trump's "talent stack".[33] Adams correctly predicted that Trump would win the Republican nomination. He also predicted that Trump would win the general election in a huge landslide,[1] but essentially reversed this position in a blog post dated October 13, 2016. "If the latest groping/kissing allegations against Trump hold up – and I assume they will, based on quantity if not credibility – it won’t matter what Wikileaks says about Clinton. She will win easily."[34] After Trump lost to Senator Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucus, rather than achieving a landslide victory as Adams had forecast, Adams said that he suspected election fraud was committed and suggested that the caucus results were fixed by Republican Party elites.[35][36][37] Subsequently, it was revealed that Cruz's campaign told voters at the precincts that Ben Carson was suspending his campaign, an incident which may have changed the outcome of the election in a way favorable to Cruz and caused a stir among Republicans.[38] Trump won the ensuing primaries and caucuses in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, beating the runner-up by double-digits.

Adams has shared on his blog and elsewhere that men may feel emasculated by the nomination of a female candidate for president. Of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, he said the following: "...If you’re an undecided voter, and male, you’re seeing something different. You’re seeing a celebration that your role in society is permanently diminished. And it’s happening in an impressive venue that was, in all likelihood, designed and built mostly by men."[39]

However, Adams officially announced his endorsement of Hillary Clinton in June 2016, stating that Clinton had paired "the idea of President Trump with nuclear disaster, racism, Hitler, the Holocaust, and whatever else makes you tremble in fear" and that he (Adams) would be "a top-ten assassination target" because he "wrote about his (Donald Trump's) persuasion skills in positive terms."[40]

Adams later said that his endorsement of Hillary Clinton was purely out of fear for his own life, saying, in part:

Some of you watched with amusement as I endorsed Hillary Clinton for my personal safety. What you might not know is that I was completely serious. I was getting a lot of direct and indirect death threats for writing about Trump’s powers of persuasion, and I made all of that go away by endorsing Clinton. People don’t care why I am on their side. They only care that I am....If you didn’t believe me that I endorsed Clinton for my safety, perhaps the recent shooting of police officers changed your mind. That’s the sort of tragedy you expect to happen when Team Clinton frames the national debate as a race war.[41]

Adams goes on to say that writing about Donald Trump "ended my speaking career, and has already reduced my income by about 40%, as far as I can tell. But I’m in less physical danger than I was."[41]

As of July, 2016, he routinely placed variants of a disclaimer at the bottom of his blog posts:

"Note: I endorsed Hillary Clinton – for my personal safety – because I live in California. It isn’t safe to be viewed as a Trump supporter where I live. My politics don’t align with either candidate, but backing Clinton reduces my odds of dying at the hands of my fellow citizens. (And yes, I am 100% serious. It just happens to be funny by coincidence.)"[42]

However, in late September, Adams officially switched his endorsement from Clinton to Trump. Among his primary reasons for the switch were his respect for Trump's persuasion skills over Clinton's, Clinton's proposal to raise the Estate Tax to 65%, and his concerns over Clinton's health.[43] In mid-October, Adams switched his endorsement again, with a post titled "Why I Endorse Gary Johnson (this week)", and ending with the promotional line, "You might enjoy my book because you’re not sure if I’m really endorsing Gary Johnson or just saying so to protect my brand."[44] In late October, Adams switched his endorsement to Trump once again, citing the Clinton campaign's bullying tactics that had "[turned] Americans against each other".[45]

In February 2017, Adams announced that he would stop donating to his alma mater Berkeley, after violence erupted there against a rally by Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos.[46]


In March 2011, Adams posted a controversial, widely discussed blog post in which he wrote, "The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently." He did, however follow that comment with the clarification "I realize I might take some heat for lumping women, children and the mentally handicapped in the same group. So I want to be perfectly clear. I'm not saying women are similar to either group. I'm saying that a man's best strategy for dealing with each group is disturbingly similar".[47][48][49]

In April 2011, he used a sockpuppet account to comment extensively on a Metafilter thread, defending himself under an anonymous alias before identifying himself.[50]



Adams has received recognition for his work, including the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award and Newspaper Comic Strip Award for 1997 for his work on Dilbert. He had also been climbing the Suntop Media & European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) rankings of the 50 most influential management thinkers placing 31st in 2001,[51] 27th in 2003,[52] and 12th in 2005,[53] but fell to 21st in 2007.[54] He did not place in 2009.[55]

He received the NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language for his participation in "Mission Impertinent" (San Jose Mercury News West Magazine, November 16, 1997).

Coined phrases[edit]

Adams has coined or popularized several words and phrases over the years, such as:

"Cow-orker" was a preexisting word from Usenet that Adams popularized through his newsletter. Similarly, "Induhvidual" gained popularity through the newsletter, though it was coined by a reader.


  1. ^ a b Suebsaeng, Asawin (14 September 2015). "'Dilbert' Creator on How Trump Is Like The Founding Fathers & Jesus". The Daily Beast. 
  2. ^ "Virginia Adams obituary". Retrieved 16 Jan 2017. 
  3. ^ Adams, Scott (1999). El Futuro de Dilbert: Como Prosperar en el Siglo XXI Gracias a la Esupidez (in Spanish). Ediciones Granica S.A. p. 5. ISBN 9788475776156. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  4. ^ Adams, Scott. "Let's Talk About Hitler". Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  5. ^ Adams, Scott. "Immigration". Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  6. ^ Adams, Scott. ""I'm part Native American"". Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  7. ^ Adams, Scott. "Joe Rogan Experience #874". Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Adams, Scott (2008). Dilbert 2.0: 20 years of Dilbert. Jamaica City: Andrews McMeel. ISBN 0-7407-7735-1. 
  9. ^ "About Scott Adams". Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  10. ^ O'Brien, Tia (1997-11-16). "Mission: Impertinent". San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on August 17, 2000. Retrieved 2014-04-14. 
  11. ^ "The Dilbert Blog". 
  12. ^ Moments of Transition at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ Review at the Internet Movie Database
  14. ^ "About Us || Stacey's Cafe - Downtown Pleasanton, California Restaurant". Retrieved 2016-01-07. 
  15. ^ "Scott Adams Blog". 
  16. ^ Adams, Scott (2008-09-29). "Famous People Lists". Dilbert Blog. Retrieved 2010-06-12. 
  17. ^ Sordyl, Samantha (2005-05-10). "Scott Adams, Drawing the Line". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  18. ^ Zachary Kanin (2008-10-29). "An Interview with the "Dilbert" Cartoonist Scott Adams". New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  19. ^ "'Dilbert' creator recovers from rare disorder". Retrieved 2016-01-07. 
  20. ^ Mentioned in Dilbert: A Treasury of Sunday Strips
  21. ^ Mentioned in The Dilbert Future
  22. ^ Robert Frank. "Can You Get Rich by Visualizing Yourself Rich?". WSJ. 
  23. ^ Knujon Mapson, "A Brief History of Pandeism," Pandeism: An Anthology (2017), p. 31-32.
  24. ^ Scott Adams (February 18, 2014). "What's the Goal with Robots Read News?". The Scott Adams Blog. Archived from the original on 2014-02-24. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  25. ^ Scott Adams (October 3, 2016). "Presidential Temperament". The Scott Adams Blog. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  26. ^ Scott Adams (March 24, 2016). "Who's Afraid of Donald Trump?". Scott Adams' Blog. Retrieved 2016-03-26. 
  27. ^ Scott Adams (May 16, 2007). "Bloomberg for President?". The Dilbert Blog. Archived from the original on 2007-05-19. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  28. ^ "Commentary: Dilbert guy's economic poll on McCain, Obama -". CNN. 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  29. ^ Scott Adams (December 5, 2011). "The Persuasive Candidate". The Dilbert Blog. Archived from the original on 2012-01-08. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  30. ^ Scott Adams (October 17, 2012). "Firing Offense". The Dilbert Blog. Archived from the original on 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  31. ^ "The Trump Master Persuader Index and Reading List". 
  32. ^ "Dilbert Creator Scott Adams on Donald Trump's "Linguistic Kill Shots"". 
  33. ^ "The Trump Talent Stack | Scott Adams' Blog". 
  34. ^ "The Era of Women - Scott Adams' Blog". 
  35. ^ "News Flash: Cartoonist Gets One Wrong!". 
  36. ^ "Scoring My Iowa Fraud Call". 
  37. ^ "New Hampshire Election Fraud Prediction". 
  38. ^ "Cruz campaign apologizes to Carson". Politico. February 2, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Selling Past the Close - Scott Adams' Blog". Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  40. ^ "My Endorsement for President of the United States". 
  41. ^ a b "When Persuasion Turns Deadly". 
  42. ^ "The Crook Versus the Racist". 
  43. ^ "Why I Switched My Endorsement from Clinton to Trump". Scott Adams' Blog. September 25, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016. 
  44. ^ "Why I Endorse Gary Johnson (this week)". Scott Adams' Blog. October 9, 2016. Retrieved October 12, 2016. 
  45. ^ "The Bully Party". Scott Adams' Blog. October 25, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  46. ^ Ernst, Douglas (6 February 2017). "'Dilbert' creator: 'I'm ending my support of UC Berkeley'". The Washington Times. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  47. ^ "I'm a What?". Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  48. ^ Teeman, Tim (April 2, 2011). "Dilbert drawn into row over fightback by men's lib". The Times. 
  49. ^ ""Dilbert" Creator's Blog Makes Women Furious". Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  50. ^ Adams, Scott. "Planned Chaos". Retrieved 5 December 2016. 
  51. ^ "2001 Results". The Thinkers 50. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  52. ^ "2003 Results". The Thinkers 50. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  53. ^ "2005 Results". The Thinkers 50. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  54. ^ "2007 Results". The Thinkers 50. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  55. ^ "2009 Results". The Thinkers 50. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  56. ^

External links[edit]