Alex Knapp wrote an informed, intelligent response to that Oatmeal comic that I criticized the other day, in which he quotes Alex Waller's great piece on the same theme. The author of the Oatmeal, a comic which enjoys a tremendous amount of goodwill, responded with a whiny, petulant reply that is long on attitude and low on factual challenge's to Knapp's piece. Worse, he claims that he's just a cartoonist, and you can't take everything he says seriously. But he clearly wants to be taken seriously as an advocate for the merits of Tesla.... You can't have it both ways. Being wrong is fine, if you're willing to evolve when proven wrong. But take responsibility for what you say.
What an defensive, shitty display. And yet it's all excused, in his own mind and elsewhere, by the fact that he represents himself as some kind of victim of society. I have no idea whether he's really faced the social marginalization he says he has, but even if he has, it's no excuse to be a jerk. The mix of aggression and perceived victimhood is a dangerous cocktail. I'm trying not to comment on the geek thing here, but it has to be said that it seems like he often excuses his worst behavior because he identifies himself as part of an aggrieved subculture.
Incidentally, I just reject his thesis, that Tesla is somehow unknown. He may have been at one time. But that time is long past; he's appeared as a character in movies, been the subject of glowing magazine pieces, has had several books published about him in the last several years, was talked about reverently on MythBusters.... I think the secret is out. And for the record, I was taught about Tesla in high school.
Update: Commenter Mysterious Man from the Shadows makes a good point: the Oatmeal's creator compares Edison to Steve Ballmer of Microsoft. But in fact the far more apt comparison is to Steve Jobs.
Update II: I happened to check out the dude's Twitter feed, and he's continuing on with his denigration of Alex Knapp. He and his followers are saying two things at once: one, that he actually did factually rebut Knapp (which he most certainly didn't do) and two, that it's all just a joke, he's just a cartoonist, etc. etc. (You can tell from his tone that he's very clearly been gotten to.) The combination of the two are utterly self-defeating; if it's just a cartoon and all just jokes, how can he have rebutted anything? If expressing something in cartoon form means that it has no standards whatsoever, how can he claim to have rebutted Knapp at all?
I mean, why stop where he has stopped, if it's all games and jokes? Here, try this on for size: Tesla also invented Jelly Beans. And love. Plus Thomas Edison had sex with little boys. I mean what's the difference? Hey, we're all just joshing here! I'm gonna write a cartoon accusing the Oatmeal dude of murder. Who cares? He can't even write a real comeback. Remember, there are no facts in a cartoon.