Author Topic: Skeptoid  (Read 39656 times)

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Offline Redamare

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #390 on: August 03, 2017, 08:31:19 PM »
I think of "white knighting" as defending someone for demographic or political reasons rather than because you sincerely believe they are being treated unfairly. People around here tend you use it to mean "defending someone from ME".
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #391 on: August 04, 2017, 12:46:36 AM »
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.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 12:51:13 AM by John Albert »

Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #392 on: August 04, 2017, 12:56:32 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.

I hate seeing "whiteknighting" used in place of "disagreeing with me."

Attack the ideas, not the people.

It is not white-knighting to disagree with me.  It's white-knighting to come in here to defend him when he is apparently unwilling to defend himself.

I always thought of "white-knighting" as arguing as a representative for some person or group who you don't actually represent. I can have opinions on issues involving women, i.e. "I think that's offensive," however, if I say, "women think that's offensive," now I'm white-knighting, since I'm speaking for a group of which I am not a part.

Nobody here is speaking as a representative of Brian, but some people--believe it or not--do have opinions different from yours.
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Offline Eternally Learning

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #393 on: August 04, 2017, 01:04:57 AM »
This is just silly... the guy knowingly committed fraud.  Sure, not the most heinous case of fraud imaginable, and on the whole fairly tame, but fraud nonetheless.  I don't consider it a word game either.  With or without someone at eBAY conspiring with him and his friend, he made a decision to intentionally deceive others in order to make money.  His relative success or failure at the venture is completely inconsequential to me.  I'm with TheLat; unequivocally admit guilt, apologize to the community, and stop taking money for Skeptoid (or at least publicly divest yourself monetarily from it).  Pretty sure I've heard him admit full culpability though I don't have a citation right now and I thought I remembered him apologizing though I'm not sure, but the concept of having a popular podcast and website with a figurehead asking for money who committed fraud is just something I am not comfortable with.  I wouldn't recommend this show to anyone based on that alone because it's just a time-bomb waiting to go off when the person stumbles across it.  If he's not asking for or even accepting donations, but stating that Skeptoid is a passion project, then there's no real issue, but taking money just opens up the floodgates for all sorts suspicions and casts doubt the sincerity of the endeavor. 

Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #394 on: August 04, 2017, 01:13:55 AM »
This is just silly... the guy knowingly committed fraud.  Sure, not the most heinous case of fraud imaginable, and on the whole fairly tame, but fraud nonetheless.  I don't consider it a word game either.  With or without someone at eBAY conspiring with him and his friend, he made a decision to intentionally deceive others in order to make money. 

I thought part of his defense was that the orders were coming from high up within eBay? I find that (along with them throwing anybody involved under the bus when caught) much more plausible than this internet giant of a company not knowing about it.
Quote
His relative success or failure at the venture is completely inconsequential to me.  I'm with TheLat; unequivocally admit guilt, apologize to the community, and stop taking money for Skeptoid (or at least publicly divest yourself monetarily from it).  Pretty sure I've heard him admit full culpability though I don't have a citation right now and I thought I remembered him apologizing though I'm not sure, but the concept of having a popular podcast and website with a figurehead asking for money who committed fraud is just something I am not comfortable with.  I wouldn't recommend this show to anyone based on that alone because it's just a time-bomb waiting to go off when the person stumbles across it.  If he's not asking for or even accepting donations, but stating that Skeptoid is a passion project, then there's no real issue, but taking money just opens up the floodgates for all sorts suspicions and casts doubt the sincerity of the endeavor.

You are of course entitled to opinions, but I do have a few quibbles:

(to me) It's not about whether or not his venture succeeded, but whether or not anybody was impacted negatively. I think he was convicted of and admitted to cheating the system for financial gain, which I agree is ethically bad--but if no harm was done to anybody, it falls pretty low on my "how bad was it" scale, which makes me quick to forgive and forget.

I also see no relationship whatsoever between ANY previous wrongdoing of Brian's and his trying to make a living off of a podcast. How long until you think he should be allowed to profit off of his own creativity?
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Offline Eternally Learning

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #395 on: August 04, 2017, 01:53:43 AM »
You are of course entitled to opinions, but I do have a few quibbles:

(to me) It's not about whether or not his venture succeeded, but whether or not anybody was impacted negatively. I think he was convicted of and admitted to cheating the system for financial gain, which I agree is ethically bad--but if no harm was done to anybody, it falls pretty low on my "how bad was it" scale, which makes me quick to forgive and forget.

I also see no relationship whatsoever between ANY previous wrongdoing of Brian's and his trying to make a living off of a podcast. How long until you think he should be allowed to profit off of his own creativity?

Negative impact is certainly important, but then it would also matter whether he intended harm, didn't intend harm, or just didn't care one way or the other, and really that's important whether measurable harm was incurred or not.

As for the relationship between the crime and the podcast, it's simply that I don't feel comfortable telling others to listen to a guy who committed fraud for money who is asking listeners to donate.  For the skeptically minded, the two can indeed be independent of one another, but it casts doubt on why the person is delivering the message they are.  People are already primed not to accept a skeptical mindset and I don't want to give then more reasons to not listen.

Look, to be clear; I'm not saying we need to lead a protest against Brian and demand that he do what I think he should.  All of my comments are couched simply in the proposition of whether or not I'd recommend his show to others, especially the non-initiated.  The fraud, combined with him asking for money makes me not comfortable with doing that.  It's not a huge, earth-shattering deal for me, but there it is.

Offline Redamare

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #396 on: August 04, 2017, 02:42:41 AM »
I don't recommend him to anyone, either, but that's mainly because I never really listened to him to begin with. I have no problem with him trying to do what he loves. That's not to say I don't understand the argument that it's not a great look for Skepticsm. I get it. It's just not enough for me to say he shouldn't do what he loves to do. Ultimately, it's more important to me to let someone move on with their life than it is to worry about a tiny radar blip of bad PR. Other people feel differently from me and I get that. I don't necessarily get the anger I perceive from some folks here, but I do understand the PR concern.
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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #397 on: August 04, 2017, 02:47:01 AM »
That's totally understandable, can't argue with your personal feelings.

I still think him attempting to profit from his podcast is unrelated to any previous ethical transgressions, though.

What if you found out he was convicted of dealing weed 20 years ago? Would it be ok to attempt to profit from his podcast in that case? Exactly how long after the fraud conviction should he (in your opinion) have to wait before he attempts to profit from his podcast? Ever?
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Offline Eternally Learning

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #398 on: August 04, 2017, 03:12:58 AM »
That's totally understandable, can't argue with your personal feelings.

I still think him attempting to profit from his podcast is unrelated to any previous ethical transgressions, though.

What if you found out he was convicted of dealing weed 20 years ago? Would it be ok to attempt to profit from his podcast in that case? Exactly how long after the fraud conviction should he (in your opinion) have to wait before he attempts to profit from his podcast? Ever?

It's not that he committed any crime, it's that he committed a crime where intentional dishonesty in pursuit of money was the key factor.  The podcast is about him (in super-simplistic terms) spreading truth in the face of a largely credulous world.  It's bad enough doing that while saying that you were convicted and sent to jail for fraud, but to do that and then say, "Please send your check or money order to..." just looks that much worse.  To be perfectly fair though, there are other reasons I wouldn't recommend his show that I find more important, but I'm pretty sure you and I have discussed that before so I won't rehash it.

Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #399 on: August 04, 2017, 03:30:44 AM »
That's totally understandable, can't argue with your personal feelings.

I still think him attempting to profit from his podcast is unrelated to any previous ethical transgressions, though.

What if you found out he was convicted of dealing weed 20 years ago? Would it be ok to attempt to profit from his podcast in that case? Exactly how long after the fraud conviction should he (in your opinion) have to wait before he attempts to profit from his podcast? Ever?

It's not that he committed any crime, it's that he committed a crime where intentional dishonesty in pursuit of money was the key factor.  The podcast is about him (in super-simplistic terms) spreading truth in the face of a largely credulous world.  It's bad enough doing that while saying that you were convicted and sent to jail for fraud, but to do that and then say, "Please send your check or money order to..." just looks that much worse.  To be perfectly fair though, there are other reasons I wouldn't recommend his show that I find more important, but I'm pretty sure you and I have discussed that before so I won't rehash it.

I repeat the question then--if he had been convicted of selling weed 20 years ago, would your same rationale apply? If not, what's the difference?
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #400 on: August 04, 2017, 04:07:57 AM »
I repeat the question then--if he had been convicted of selling weed 20 years ago, would your same rationale apply? If not, what's the difference?

Selling marijuana is essentially a victimless crime. Fraud is not. 

And he's soliciting money from his listeners on good faith, yet he has apparently declined from publicly answering some perfectly reasonable questions from the skeptical community.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 10:50:19 AM by John Albert »

Offline Eternally Learning

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #401 on: August 04, 2017, 04:33:35 AM »
That's totally understandable, can't argue with your personal feelings.

I still think him attempting to profit from his podcast is unrelated to any previous ethical transgressions, though.

What if you found out he was convicted of dealing weed 20 years ago? Would it be ok to attempt to profit from his podcast in that case? Exactly how long after the fraud conviction should he (in your opinion) have to wait before he attempts to profit from his podcast? Ever?

It's not that he committed any crime, it's that he committed a crime where intentional dishonesty in pursuit of money was the key factor.  The podcast is about him (in super-simplistic terms) spreading truth in the face of a largely credulous world.  It's bad enough doing that while saying that you were convicted and sent to jail for fraud, but to do that and then say, "Please send your check or money order to..." just looks that much worse.  To be perfectly fair though, there are other reasons I wouldn't recommend his show that I find more important, but I'm pretty sure you and I have discussed that before so I won't rehash it.

I repeat the question then--if he had been convicted of selling weed 20 years ago, would your same rationale apply? If not, what's the difference?

I think we must be talking past each other here.  I feel I'm being pretty clear what I think is different.  For one, I don't think marijuana should be illegal.  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.  Beyond that, it'd really depend on what kind of drug dealing operation he was running and if he'd shown that he's moved past it.  If he sold a dime bag to a friend once and got caught, I could not care less.  If he was a major supplier for his area then I probably would hold a much different opinion.

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.  If I'm going to tell a friend to listen to a podcast because of the message he sends, I don't want to then explain that the messenger has been convicted of fraud.  Why am I going to put myself in a position to have to defend the guy?  Think of it this way: I did not have a very high opinion of Alex Jones, but the minute I started to realize that he was not a true believer and was simply cynically making things up to sell shit, my opinion of him went even further down the tubes.  There's nothing wrong, inherently, with a podcaster asking for donations, but once people I refer hear that he's been convicted of fraud, the prospect of asking for money suddenly calls into question the motivation for and sincerity of what Brian says on his show.  Now, that said I believe he's in a defensible position on that front, but I'm not going to say, "hey, listen to this guy if you want to get a peek into what skepticism is about" if I have to plan to defend him as not a liar and a fraud.

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

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #402 on: August 04, 2017, 08:32:34 AM »
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.  Fraud is the very antithesis of skepticism, and having committed fraud and thinking there's nothing wrong with it is, in my opinion, disqualifying for a position as a leader in skepticism.
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Offline GodSlayer

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #403 on: August 04, 2017, 09:27:16 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 the same things about Randi and homosexuality--small ethical behaviors that should concern us and our image as part of the skeptica communitah! maybe 50 years from now cunning coding money-makers will have been the next Nigerian prince email scam, everyone will know the deal, and not fall for it, and it just becomes something kids learn about and go 'oh shit, that's awesome, haha, people are stupid, I wish I had lived in a time where I could've gotten away with that shit, too bad now everyone is aware of it and I can't! harrumph!' (yes, they say harrumph in the future, hipsters have grandkids!), rather than thinking 'omg, it's like holocaust part deux!'.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 09:30:28 AM by GodSlayer »
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In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.

Offline GodSlayer

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Re: Skeptoid
« Reply #404 on: August 04, 2017, 09:34:51 AM »
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?

Fraud is the very antithesis of skepticism, and having committed fraud and thinking there's nothing wrong with it is, in my opinion, disqualifying for a position as a leader in skepticism.

"I find their lack of quality control disturbing", post's the SGU on facebook:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2017/07/22/predatory-journals-star-wars-sting/#.WXOF0Z8pBnE

how dare they defraud innocent little journals :(
Quote from: Thomas Carlyle
In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.

 

personate-rain