Author Topic: Skeptoid  (Read 38468 times)

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Offline CarbShark

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #420 on: August 04, 2017, 04:06:31 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.

I don't believe the technique compromised the security of those web pages, I believe it exploited a hole in the security. (I don't think Trojan Horse is a good description. His faux ads did not do any harm).
and Donald Trump is President of the United States.

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Online John Albert

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #421 on: August 04, 2017, 05:05:03 PM »
I don't believe the technique compromised the security of those web pages, I believe it exploited a hole in the security. (I don't think Trojan Horse is a good description. His faux ads did not do any harm).

Depends on how you reckon "harm." It's an unauthorized abuse of their system resources, and I would consider it an offense if somebody surreptitiously exploited my hardware in the commission of a crime.

Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #422 on: August 04, 2017, 05:18:25 PM »
(click to show/hide)
I think we must be talking past each other here.  I feel I'm being pretty clear what I think is different. 

From my end, you're not as clear as you hope. Not necessarily your fault of course, but I'm reading your words and not getting the meaning you're hoping to convey. Your reaction to Brian's crime seems very arbitrary, so I'm trying to figure out your reaction.

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For one, I don't think marijuana should be illegal.


Cool, so how you view punishment has to do with your personal feelings on the crime itself, not necessarily its illegality.

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For another, if his fraud conviction was 20 years in the past with no other criminal record in the meantime then I probably would not really care as much in either case.

Why?

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Just to reiterate, my issue is not with the fact that he committed a crime in and of itself.  My issue is with the crime he committed being one of intentional dishonesty in order to illegally obtain money from those he duped via others he duped. 

Does it matter to you who (if anybody) was hurt/impacted from his crime and to what extent?

My take is that he exploited a loophole (probably at the behest of his employer) to make more money for himself, without causing meaningful harm to anybody else. What he did was still wrong, absolutely--but I don't think it deserves the level of ire he's receiving here.

If Stephen Novella was caught cheating on his taxes, would you feel similarly? That he should be cast out from any skeptical circles? Would it matter to what extent he cheated?

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If he were to stop taking donations then that red flag goes away.

I'm still failing to see why him attempting to profit from his creative venture is in any way related to his criminal history. Making a podcast takes a lot of time and resources, of course he should try to receive compensation for it.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 05:31:32 PM by Drunken Idaho »
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Offline CarbShark

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #423 on: August 04, 2017, 05:23:49 PM »
I don't believe the technique compromised the security of those web pages, I believe it exploited a hole in the security. (I don't think Trojan Horse is a good description. His faux ads did not do any harm).

Depends on how you reckon "harm." It's an unauthorized abuse of their system resources, and I would consider it an offense if somebody surreptitiously exploited my hardware in the commission of a crime.

Well, I don't define "harm" as anything I don't like.

It is an unauthorized use of their resources, and at the same time a harmless use.

I would also not be happy if someone was using my web page in this manner.

Just to be clear, though, because he's doing things I don't like, and things he shouldn't, doesn't mean I can describe those things with exaggerated terms, and inaccurately describe the process he used.

It's important to be as accurate and honest as possible (especially when accusing others of dishonesty and fraud).
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.

Online Belgarath

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #424 on: August 04, 2017, 06:12:54 PM »
estockly, you're wrong about it being harmless.

In the cases where the end user didn't actually click on a Dunning ad:

1) The money that went to Dunning was SUPPOSE to go to another affiliate, or;
2) The money that went to Dunning should have been kept by eBay


In either of those cases, there was harm.
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Offline CarbShark

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #425 on: August 04, 2017, 06:38:15 PM »
estockly, you're wrong about it being harmless.

In the cases where the end user didn't actually click on a Dunning ad:

1) The money that went to Dunning was SUPPOSE to go to another affiliate, or;
2) The money that went to Dunning should have been kept by eBay


In either of those cases, there was harm.

I don't think 1) is the case.

As for 2), that certainly is the position that eBay took when they sued Dunning. But, Dunning says that the manager of the affiliate program wanted to have successful affiliates and wanted eBay money to go to affiliates, deserving or not. And that is the entire crux of the issue of whether or not what he did was fraud.

Was this just some corrupt employee, or a responsible eBay manager pursuing a strategy to promote the company?

(FWIW, if you accept Dunning's argument, then it's the eBay manager who is being deceptive, promoting a program with false results, and Dunning is a party to that. Certainly not ethical, but probably not criminal.)
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 Eternally Learning

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #426 on: August 04, 2017, 08:11:52 PM »
I think we must be talking past each other here.  I feel I'm being pretty clear what I think is different. 

From my end, you're not as clear as you hope. Not necessarily your fault of course, but I'm reading your words and not getting the meaning you're hoping to convey. Your reaction to Brian's crime seems very arbitrary, so I'm trying to figure out your reaction.


Maybe I'm just saying too much around the core of my point. I'll address your other comments then try and rephrase my stance.

For one, I don't think marijuana should be illegal.


Cool, so how you view punishment has to do with your personal feelings on the crime itself, not necessarily its illegality.

I'm not sure if this is deriding my statement or not, but no, I do not feel that simply being illegal makes an act wrong and have nothing to make that distinction with beyond my personal feelings on the matter that are based in my experience and knowledge. That said, with regard to marijuana dealing, it's not like outlawing gay sex. I don't have a problem telling someone they made a mistake by choosing to engage in an illegal activity if they get caught selling weed.

For another, if his fraud conviction was 20 years in the past with no other criminal record in the meantime then I probably would not really care as much in either case.

Why?


Because making mistakes and growing is part of life, but it's not instantaneous. People relapse, fake it, and so on, but 20 years of no other convictions is evidence to support the fact that they've moved on.

Just to reiterate, my issue is not with the fact that he committed a crime in and of itself.  My issue is with the crime he committed being one of intentional dishonesty in order to illegally obtain money from those he duped via others he duped. 

Does it matter to you who (if anybody) was hurt/impacted from his crime and to what extent?


Yes, and I already said that it does. It also matters to me what his intent was and to what degree he showed concern about causing harm, whether or not he actually did. That's all very hard to quantify though so I'm just focusing on what we know he did.

My take is that he exploited a loophole (probably at the behest of his employer) to make more money for himself, without causing meaningful harm to anybody else. What he did was still wrong, absolutely--but I don't think it deserves the level of ire he's receiving here.

I'm struggling to see where I've displayed ire towards Brian over this, but you may indeed be right about your characterization of his crime.

If Stephen Novella was caught cheating on his taxes, would you feel similarly? That he should be cast out from any skeptical circles? Would it matter to what extent he cheated?


Please show me where I said or implied that this conviction means Brian should be cast out from skeptical circles. And no, I would not feel that Steve should be "cast out" for tax fraud, though I would suggest that he too stop taking and asking for donations.

If he were to stop taking donations then that red flag goes away.

I'm still failing to see why him attempting to profit from his creative venture is in any way related to his criminal history. Making a podcast takes a lot of time and resources, of course he should try to receive compensation for it.


Compensation is not the issue, it's the probable perception of people uninitiated in skepticism that he may be taking more than he needs for personal gain and that the show and its message is a cynical vehicle for that personal gain.  Again, as I said earlier, I personally feel that Brian taking money in context of his conviction is defensible.  Other people who don't care to take the time to look into it almost certainly will not. If I recommend this show to them and they do the slightest bit of googling on Brian, all they will see is red flags and the fact that I don't care. Possibly I'm able to convince them that it's doubtful that he is using the show as a vehicle for personal gain, but why even invite the conflict when there are other shows where that's not an issue?
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 08:15:56 PM by Eternally Learning »

Online John Albert

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #427 on: August 04, 2017, 08:47:34 PM »
Just to be clear, though, because he's doing things I don't like, and things he shouldn't, doesn't mean I can describe those things with exaggerated terms, and inaccurately describe the process he used.

Who's using exaggerated terms or inaccurately describing the process?


It's important to be as accurate and honest as possible (especially when accusing others of dishonesty and fraud).

He plead guilty himself. At this point the "dishonesty" is a matter of public record.


(FWIW, if you accept Dunning's argument, then it's the eBay manager who is being deceptive, promoting a program with false results, and Dunning is a party to that. Certainly not ethical, but probably not criminal.)

1. I do not accept that argument, because,

     a) it doesn't seem credible to me that somebody engaged in fraud would freely share that information with the party to whom they're defrauding;

     b) it doesn't seem credible to me that a company employee would choose to overlook such a widespread and massive case of fraud for some dubious claims about raising publicity; 

     c) Dunning plead guilty to an elaborate fraud. That piece of information diminishes the credibility of any already dubious claims that mitigate his culpability.

2. Even if the fraudster colluded with an inside agent, that does not absolve them of the crime. 
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 10:41:53 AM by John Albert »

Offline Redamare

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #428 on: August 04, 2017, 09:28:04 PM »
Every place I've ever worked that had "numbers" to track involved supervisors showing us every little trick they could think of to make those numbers look better.
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Online The Latinist

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #429 on: August 04, 2017, 10:04:52 PM »
Every place I've ever worked that had "numbers" to track involved supervisors showing us every little trick they could think of to make those numbers look better.

And did you then conspire with a third party to defraud your employer of $5.4 million in commissions in order to improve your numbers?  And if you did, do you think that would make his fraud not fraud?
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Online John Albert

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #430 on: August 04, 2017, 10:18:20 PM »
Every place I've ever worked that had "numbers" to track involved supervisors showing us every little trick they could think of to make those numbers look better.

And did you then conspire with a third party to defraud your employer of $5.4 million in commissions in order to improve your numbers?  And if you did, do you think that would make his fraud not fraud?

It was actually in excess of $10 million. Dunning's partner made far more money from the scheme than he did.

Online John Albert

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #431 on: August 04, 2017, 10:20:05 PM »
What exactly are we arguing about here, anyway?

Offline Desert Fox

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #432 on: April 06, 2019, 10:49:29 PM »
I was listening to his latest quiz of his podcast. I see something with lack of nuance where states absolutely that Mallory and Irvine did not reach the summit of Everest.

While it is pretty unlikely that Mallory and Irvine reached the summit of Everest, it is certainly not impossible. It is technically within their ability to have done so. I am perfectly fine with the possible of probably not but we cannot know for sure. *

*Unless Irvine's body is found with a camera with summit pictures.
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