Author Topic: Skeptoid  (Read 38321 times)

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Offline GodSlayer

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #405 on: August 04, 2017, 09:37:11 AM »
Sure, he could admit that what he did was wrong and apologize to eBay, to the people whose computers he used to perpetrate his fraud, and to anyone who did not receive a commission because he received it instead.

did it override their preferred affiliate?
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #406 on: August 04, 2017, 10:45:02 AM »
What I took away from it it is that we as skeptics shouldn't be sweating the small stuff.

"Small stuff" like ethical behavior.

which once upon a time in the west (and today in the middle east) would have included James Randi's homosexuality.

why're we to think your ethics are the final word history has at last arrived at? or by 'ethical behavior' do you just mean 'my little preferences' (like how some people don't want children saying naughty words)?

No, I'm not talking about being gay or having a potty mouth.

I'm talking about telling people it's okay to lie to people in order to swindle money out of them.

I know you're not, this is an analogy. the mere happenstance of you as you are now is no reassurance to me.

if I was having this conversation 50 years go, someone in your place would've been saying ... [blah blah blah]

If you were having this conversation 500 years ago, somebody might be arguing that the Sun revolves around the Earth and maggots spontaneously materialize on shit.

"The mere happenstance of you as you are now"...? Are you a troll or just an idiot?

Your argument, based on a wild-ass assumption about what I might have argued under some impossible circumstance, is completely irrelevant.

Online Swagomatic

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #407 on: August 04, 2017, 11:24:42 AM »
We posed the questions, he's dodged.  People started white knighting.  If you're not interested in participating, you're free to go elsewhere.

Brian himself said that he probably will not be responding in this thread.  He said to email or text him if you have questions.
 
Quote from: Brian Dunning
Anyone is always more likely to get an answer from me by email, brian@skeptoid.com, even phone/text, 949-510-9681, as I rarely check forums.


Whatever "white knighting" is, I don't think I was doing that.  My point is - if a person commits a crime (especially a non-violent one), is convicted, and serves their sentence, then they deserve a chance to resume their life.

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Offline John Albert

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #408 on: August 04, 2017, 11:29:50 AM »
My point is - if a person commits a crime (especially a non-violent one), is convicted, and serves their sentence, then they deserve a chance to resume their life.

Nobody's arguing that they shouldn't, but it also doesn't mean that everybody else is required to pretend it never happened, and must refrain from ever questioning the individual's ethics. 

Especially when that person has also made other statements indicative of questionable ethics which they refuse to discuss publicly.

Online The Latinist

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #409 on: August 04, 2017, 01:22:54 PM »
I would like to add very clearly: if Brian Dunning were doing a sports podcast or something, I'd have no problem with that.  It's that he is doing a podcast about skepticism that I have a problem with.

why? he never preached that people shouldn't be skeptical of their cookies. what's the conflict?

Actually, he did: https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4017
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 01:44:44 PM by The Latinist »
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Online The Latinist

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #410 on: August 04, 2017, 01:45:55 PM »
We posed the questions, he's dodged.  People started white knighting.  If you're not interested in participating, you're free to go elsewhere.

Brian himself said that he probably will not be responding in this thread.  He said to email or text him if you have questions.
 
Quote from: Brian Dunning
Anyone is always more likely to get an answer from me by email, brian@skeptoid.com, even phone/text, 949-510-9681, as I rarely check forums.

On July 26, 2017, Brian Dunning revived a year-old thread on this board to say the following:

Well, as I've always said, I've always been here and happy to answer any questions. If nobody asks, nobody learns anything.

I asked him the question:

I want to know if you still maintain that you did nothing wrong by installing cookies on unsuspecting people's computers to make it appear that you referred them to eBay when you in fact did not.

His response was:

Our company was not involved in writing cookies. Ebay was entirely in control of what cookies they wrote, and whether to read or write them. See http://briandunning.com/message

I will note that this response completely avoided answering the question of whether he felt he did anything wrong by focusing on a technical detail in a misleading way that minimized his involvement.  The fact is that he created malware that caused cookies to be installed on people's computers.  That the cookies were installed by eBay's servers is completely irrelevant to the question.

I will also note that Brian Dunning started this interaction, that he clearly said that he was "always here" and that he answered evasively and disingenuously on this forum.  Of course he now wants to take it to E-mail; because he doesn't want to continue to reveal publicly what a weasel he is.  I have no interest in facilitating that.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Online Swagomatic

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #411 on: August 04, 2017, 02:05:14 PM »
We posed the questions, he's dodged.  People started white knighting.  If you're not interested in participating, you're free to go elsewhere.

Brian himself said that he probably will not be responding in this thread.  He said to email or text him if you have questions.
 
Quote from: Brian Dunning
Anyone is always more likely to get an answer from me by email, brian@skeptoid.com, even phone/text, 949-510-9681, as I rarely check forums.

On July 26, 2017, Brian Dunning revived a year-old thread on this board to say the following:

Well, as I've always said, I've always been here and happy to answer any questions. If nobody asks, nobody learns anything.

I asked him the question:

I want to know if you still maintain that you did nothing wrong by installing cookies on unsuspecting people's computers to make it appear that you referred them to eBay when you in fact did not.

His response was:

Our company was not involved in writing cookies. Ebay was entirely in control of what cookies they wrote, and whether to read or write them. See http://briandunning.com/message

I will note that this response completely avoided answering the question of whether he felt he did anything wrong by focusing on a technical detail in a misleading way that minimized his involvement.  The fact is that he created malware that caused cookies to be installed on people's computers.  That the cookies were installed by eBay's servers is completely irrelevant to the question.

I will also note that Brian Dunning started this interaction, that he clearly said that he was "always here" and that he answered evasively and disingenuously on this forum.  Of course he now wants to take it to E-mail; because he doesn't want to continue to reveal publicly what a weasel he is.  I have no interest in facilitating that.

Well, I guess what it boils down to is that I think you are being unreasonable.
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Online The Latinist

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #412 on: August 04, 2017, 02:14:19 PM »
Well, I guess what it boils down to is that I think you are being unreasonable.

Unreasonable to expect him to answer a question he solicited rather than to evade it?
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline CarbShark

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #413 on: August 04, 2017, 02:20:06 PM »
The claim is not that the scam was hatched in partnership with eBay, but that the person at eBay responsible for the affiliate program knew about it, and was fine with it. Their goal was to promote their affiliate program, and having someone making good money at it was a pretty good way to promote it.

Good point. But I still find it unbelievable that eBay would be cool with two guys scamming them for over 10 million dollars in fraudulent commissions in exchange for dubious "promotion."



There is absolutely no point in re-litigating the case at this point.  All is said and done.

Who's "re-litigating"?

Estockly posted an excuse for Dunning based on his court defense, which left out an especially incriminating detail about the case. My post was intended to set the record straight to the best of my knowledge.

All is apparently not "said and done," so long as we're still engaged in a conversation here.

I wasn't trying to excuse or apologize for Dunning. There were numerous posts in this thread that showed a misrepresentation of the case, and I provided my best assessment of what I believed happened, based on Dunning's defense, and other sources.

I did leave one detail out. I wouldn't say it was especially incriminating, but it did explain how he was able to place the invisible ads on so many computers as to make his scheme profitable.

AFAIC, the two especially incriminating factors were using an invisible add that did not actually refer users to eBay, but tricked the eBay computers into thinking it had; installing these invisible ads on unsuspecting people's web pages and not paying for the advertisement.

Only one of those factored into his fraud conviction, as I understand it.
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Online Swagomatic

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #414 on: August 04, 2017, 02:22:37 PM »
Well, I guess what it boils down to is that I think you are being unreasonable.

Unreasonable to expect him to answer a question he solicited rather than to evade it?

Just send him an email and see if he answers. Maybe his answer will satisfy you. He already said he probably won't respond on the forum.
Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
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Offline CarbShark

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #415 on: August 04, 2017, 02:30:37 PM »
Sure, he could admit that what he did was wrong and apologize to eBay, to the people whose computers he used to perpetrate his fraud, and to anyone who did not receive a commission because he received it instead.

did it override their preferred affiliate?

I don't think so. What I believe happened is that he was given a referral credit for visitors who went to eBay directly after viewing a page with his faux ad and then bought something.  If there were a legitimate ad on the page that they visited, I believe that would have overridden his ad and the credit would have gone to the advertiser.

It's only if his faux ad overrides an actual ad on a page viewed before going to eBay that he would get the credit instead of someone who actually deserved it. IIRC, he claims that didn't happen, but some people find it hard to take his word for things like that. I don't recall that getting referral credits instead of actual advertisers who deserved it was part of his fraud conviction.

Again, not making excuses, defending or apologizing.
and Donald Trump is President of the United States.

I'm not a doctor, I'm just someone who has done a ton of research into diet and nutrition.

Offline CarbShark

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #416 on: August 04, 2017, 02:41:07 PM »
His response was:

Our company was not involved in writing cookies. Ebay was entirely in control of what cookies they wrote, and whether to read or write them. See http://briandunning.com/message

I will note that this response completely avoided answering the question of whether he felt he did anything wrong by focusing on a technical detail in a misleading way that minimized his involvement.  The fact is that he created malware that caused cookies to be installed on people's computers.  That the cookies were installed by eBay's servers is completely irrelevant to the question.



Again, not making excuses, defending or apologizing.

But I would point out that's kind of the way he handles criticism and reader questions in his podcast as well.

That's also one of the reasons I tried to explain as best I could the process by which his fraud was committed. You are right, that whether his company wrote the cookies or the faux ads tricked eBay into writing the cookies it ethically and morally irrelevant, and he did dodge your question.

But here's the other thing. For the sake of argument, say he's correct that he was working with the person who ran the affiliate program, that they were more interested in having successful affiliates to build up that program and happily directed and encouraged him to use his faux ads. Suppose he believes that given the circumstances as they unfolded, he did not believe he was defrauding eBay, but working with eBay.

Would that belief disqualify him for whatever in your book?

As I've said, I do believe the conviction disqualifies him from being a leader of the skeptic movement, but I'm really asking about morals and ethics of his situation. I don't think it's all black and white.
and Donald Trump is President of the United States.

I'm not a doctor, I'm just someone who has done a ton of research into diet and nutrition.

Offline John Albert

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #417 on: August 04, 2017, 02:44:35 PM »
I don't think so. What I believe happened is that he was given a referral credit for visitors who went to eBay directly after viewing a page with his faux ad and then bought something.

I seem to remember reading that for a commission to be paid, the visitors didn't necessarily have to go straight to eBay from the compromised Wordpress page; they only had to make an eBay purchase within the expiration period of the cookie. I don't know enough about the rules of the eBay referrer program to say whether a new referrer cookie would have superseded ones placed at an earlier date.

Either way, the scheme was lucrative enough to net the two partners several million dollars each.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 02:48:43 PM by John Albert »

Online The Latinist

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #418 on: August 04, 2017, 02:46:46 PM »
But here's the other thing. For the sake of argument, say he's correct that he was working with the person who ran the affiliate program, that they were more interested in having successful affiliates to build up that program and happily directed and encouraged him to use his faux ads. Suppose he believes that given the circumstances as they unfolded, he did not believe he was defrauding eBay, but working with eBay.

If what he says is true, that only means that the employee in question was colluding with him in the fraud in order to inflate his own numbers.  Such collusion would not make his actions any less fraudulent, any more than if I robbed a bank with the knowledge and assistance of its manager.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline John Albert

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #419 on: August 04, 2017, 02:50:34 PM »
Then there's also the matter of compromising the security of all those Wordpress websites that relied on his trojan horse, unwitting of the hidden functionality.

 

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