I always enjoy the cynical comments that abound in Scott Adams' comic strip "Dilbert." The strip published Sunday, March 10 was no exception.
But readers should be warned that Adams is grinding an ideological ax in this one. The boss tells Dilbert they have won a government contract to measure ocean temperatures. Dilbert asks: "Which part?" The whole ocean, replies the boss. When Dilbert points out that ocean is too big to put sensors everywhere, the boss says to measure a bunch of places and estimate the rest.
Dilbert replies "So ... you want me to measure 1 percent of the ocean's temperature and estimate the other 99 percent? I don't know how to do that."
"Try using math," says the boss. But Dilbert replies that it would be cheaper to measure nothing and just estimate the whole thing. And the boss thinks this is a great idea!
To understand what is going on here, it helps to know that Scott Adams is a strong supporter of Donald Trump and believes that global warming is a hoax. In this strip he is try to cast doubt on the validity of the measurements scientists use to test various possible climate models.
As a political scientist let me point out a relevant fact here. Public opinion pollsters base their highly accurate forecasts on random samples of the population that are far less than 1 percent of that population. So Dilbert's boss, although usually depicted as a stupid loser, actually had a good idea in this strip until he was talked out of it.
Corvallis (March 10)