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Media => Podcasts => Topic started by: Volanova on April 14, 2015, 08:09:58 AM

Title: Skeptoid
Post by: Volanova on April 14, 2015, 08:09:58 AM
So I know that Mr. Dunning is a rather controversial character, what with his little run-in with the law. My question is, will Skeptoid make a comeback once he gets back behind the wheel of it? Or, have his actions tainted the brand of what was at one point a pretty solid short format podcast?

I was once a pretty avid listener. I found the topics to be engaging generally, and the shorter time period pretty well fit my commute time. However, since Dunning ended up in prison, I feel like the guest hosts simply haven't had the talent or persona he brought to it.

I'm torn on whether or not I'll start listening again when he starts back up. I doubt I'll be sending any more donations his way, but if the quality is good, and the information is solid, I may put it back in my rotation.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on April 14, 2015, 09:11:31 PM
I've continued listening and contributing to Skeptoid in Brian's absence. I haven't found that the quality has dropped substantially.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on April 14, 2015, 09:21:36 PM
Meh.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Volanova on April 15, 2015, 05:15:16 AM
I've continued listening and contributing to Skeptoid in Brian's absence. I haven't found that the quality has dropped substantially.

Maybe it's just the inconsistencies inherent with having a different host all the time that get to me. The quality of information doesn't seem to have dropped off at all.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on April 15, 2015, 09:26:41 PM
A few of the voices have been a little offputting, but not seriously.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on April 16, 2015, 06:33:49 PM
I thought the recent one about SRA was pretty good
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on April 17, 2015, 09:15:41 AM
Never liked the show or Dunning, and I see no reason to support either of them. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on April 20, 2015, 09:10:54 AM
I generally enjoy Skeptoid. It's kind of like I sometimes find PZ blog posts informative but I'm not sure I really want to hoist a beer with either PZ or Dunning.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer on July 12, 2015, 01:22:10 PM
Dunning ended up in prison-

aaaaaaaaaaaaah.

I just realized a new ep I downloaded had a guest host and I wondered if that might have been the reason... knew SGUF would have the answers (didn't see anything on the skeptoid website, naturally)
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 13, 2015, 01:15:57 AM
I'm pretty sure his prison term is close to being up, isn't it?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning on July 13, 2015, 02:14:07 AM
I have a hard time believing he will regain the numbers he had before all this started, but you never know.  People have short memories and his crime might be just unintuitive enough to allow people to be apathetic.  Besides, it's not as if most of the topics he talked about on Skeptoid were highly controversial.  They were fairly straight-forward in a way that doesn't make me all that concerned about how honest he is.  That being said, I imagine that it will hit him hardest in terms of the donations he receives.  People may be willing to continue to listen to him, but trusting him with their money is another matter when his crime was financial in nature.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on July 28, 2015, 06:14:34 AM
I have been listening to skeptoid off and on since Dunning went on "holiday", and while I have found a few of the guest host were really good, the topics have been pretty boring, in my opinion.

However, Dunning has been popping up doing feedback episodes, and to my surprise, he seems to have finally started taking the criticism he has been getting for years seriously.  His tone is much less mocking and he is addressing legitimate comments and criticism rather than just the unrepresentative crazies.  Perhaps his prison experience is encouraging positive growth?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Belgarath on July 28, 2015, 07:46:41 AM
He hasn't recorded a single episode since he went to prison.  All of those are pre recorded


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Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on July 28, 2015, 11:19:46 AM
He hasn't recorded a single episode since he went to prison.  All of those are pre recorded


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Then I guess he made positive progress before he went to prison!
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Guillermo on July 28, 2015, 11:56:42 AM
I've liked the show. And Dunning going to prison never deterred me from listening to the show, mostly because it is well produced and managed it's sources well.

I really disliked the first host. He was horrible, but I guess that wasn't just me as when he came back on more episodes, he did a much better job at it.

I really liked Dr. Atlantis as a host, but that's mostly cause I'm a fan of him and Monster Talk. He is a good orator.

I find that Dunning's voice is pretty good for the series, but hosts are fine and I treat them on a case by case bases. Whatever Dunning has done should not affect his work, especially when both are kinda not in the same field.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: UnicornPoop on August 11, 2015, 03:29:30 PM
I enjoyed Skeptoid initially, as a light skeptic snack. Then Dunning mentioned he was interviewed on Joe Rogan's podcast. There were times Brian was reduced to babbling. Funny thing is...I've stopped listening to Skeptoid and started listening to The Joe Rogan Experience, trading a 15 minute podcast for a 3 hour one . I skip the comedian and MMA interviews. And it's how I first heard of Cara Santa Maria--been listening to hers ever since.




-1st
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Loren on August 11, 2015, 05:52:32 PM
I'm pretty sure his prison term is close to being up, isn't it?

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, Dunning's release date is scheduled for October 3.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on August 12, 2015, 01:22:13 AM
I'm pretty sure his prison term is close to being up, isn't it?

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, Dunning's release date is scheduled for October 3.

Unless he gets into a fight with a born-again Christisn meth-head and they extend his sentence.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 12, 2015, 08:28:48 AM
Jeff Wagg has done a few of the more interesting interim episodes. If you're not familiar with Jeff, he is the curator of the College of Curiosity and has his own podcast, called Oddments. He's a really interesting guy.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on August 12, 2015, 08:40:37 AM
Wagg used to be a big time member of the Randi Org. He's one of those lower profile work horse skeptics.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 13, 2015, 09:04:06 AM
Wagg used to be a big time member of the Randi Org. He's one of those lower profile work horse skeptics.

Indeed, though he doesn't associate as much with overt skepticism any more, preferring to focus on curiosity and wonder. Which is a nice way to be, in my opinion.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: xenu on August 13, 2015, 10:12:00 AM
I'm pretty sure his prison term is close to being up, isn't it?

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, Dunning's release date is scheduled for October 3.

When Dunning gets out do you all think he will he be sporting a "gangsta" prison tattoo? ;)
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer on August 13, 2015, 11:35:55 AM
Indeed, though he doesn't associate as much with overt skepticism any more, preferring to focus on curiosity and wonder. Which is a nice way to be, in my opinion.

I'll bet. it's like not being a police officer and starting a charity or something.
much nicer to not fight against a whole category of bullshit existing all around you, but instead avoid conflict and just focus on the positives in society.
it's more self-serving and not necessarily as helpful, but ya can hardly blame a person.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on August 13, 2015, 12:03:27 PM
Indeed, though he doesn't associate as much with overt skepticism any more, preferring to focus on curiosity and wonder. Which is a nice way to be, in my opinion.

I'll bet. it's like not being a police officer and starting a charity or something.
much nicer to not fight against a whole category of bullshit existing all around you, but instead avoid conflict and just focus on the positives in society.
it's more self-serving and not necessarily as helpful, but ya can hardly blame a person.

I'm not sure that "not being a police officer and starting a charity" is the metaphor you're looking for.  Most people have as much respect for good charities as they do for non-thuggish police officers, and the former are far more plentiful than the latter.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 13, 2015, 11:53:02 PM
Indeed, though he doesn't associate as much with overt skepticism any more, preferring to focus on curiosity and wonder. Which is a nice way to be, in my opinion.

I'll bet. it's like not being a police officer and starting a charity or something.
much nicer to not fight against a whole category of bullshit existing all around you, but instead avoid conflict and just focus on the positives in society.
it's more self-serving and not necessarily as helpful, but ya can hardly blame a person.

Yeah, if that's what you think then I'd definitely suggest that you should start listening to Oddments. Go on a Field Trip if you can - he's just announced a trip to Africa. Actually have a conversation with him, and see what he's really like.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 13, 2015, 11:55:49 PM
I'm pretty sure his prison term is close to being up, isn't it?

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, Dunning's release date is scheduled for October 3.

When Dunning gets out do you all think he will he be sporting a "gangsta" prison tattoo? ;)

I think he's exactly the kind of person who would do exactly that. :D

I've met him, actually. He's a nice guy. A guy who made a mistake quite a few years ago that happened to be illegal. When he gets out he will have paid his debt to society.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on August 14, 2015, 10:14:35 AM
That's a pretty minimalist way of describing perpetrating and on going fraud. It's not like ops, he took the wrong exit off a highway or forgot to pay for something at the bottom of his cart. He demonstrated a complete lack of integrity and honesty two traits vital to a public skeptical figure. I really don't understand how anyone, epeacilly in the skeptically community can give him a pass or say it was a simple mistake. He is a convicted fraudster who stole millions and not only lied about it, but employed his family with his ill gotten gains. That is ethically gross and not to be so lightly glossed over. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Belgarath on August 14, 2015, 11:50:58 AM
That's a pretty minimalist way of describing perpetrating and on going fraud. It's not like ops, he took the wrong exit off a highway or forgot to pay for something at the bottom of his cart. He demonstrated a complete lack of integrity and honesty two traits vital to a public skeptical figure. I really don't understand how anyone, epeacilly in the skeptically community can give him a pass or say it was a simple mistake. He is a convicted fraudster who stole millions and not only lied about it, but employed his family with his ill gotten gains. That is ethically gross and not to be so lightly glossed over.

You certainly killed that straw man dead dead dead.

No one is saying he should get a pass.  What they are saying is that he has served his debt to society.  It's almost like the christian idea of hell.  Forever damned, no redemption.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer on August 14, 2015, 12:19:48 PM
What they are saying is that he has served his debt to society.

if you happen to be in agreement with the sentencing judge and the writers of the laws he had to act in accordance with.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on August 14, 2015, 12:35:27 PM
That's a pretty minimalist way of describing perpetrating and on going fraud. It's not like ops, he took the wrong exit off a highway or forgot to pay for something at the bottom of his cart. He demonstrated a complete lack of integrity and honesty two traits vital to a public skeptical figure. I really don't understand how anyone, epeacilly in the skeptically community can give him a pass or say it was a simple mistake. He is a convicted fraudster who stole millions and not only lied about it, but employed his family with his ill gotten gains. That is ethically gross and not to be so lightly glossed over.

You certainly killed that straw man dead dead dead.

No one is saying he should get a pass.  What they are saying is that he has served his debt to society.  It's almost like the christian idea of hell.  Forever damned, no redemption.

Funny how white people get to pay their debt to society by by going to jail but people of colour get to keeping paying it by not being allow to vote or get a job or walk down the street without getting shot by a cop.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on August 14, 2015, 02:21:12 PM
Lots of white people on sex offender registries that can never pay off their debt to society either.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on August 14, 2015, 02:39:30 PM
Lots of white people on sex offender registries that can never pay off their debt to society either.

Yeah, that is bad, too.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Belgarath on August 14, 2015, 04:57:45 PM
That's a pretty minimalist way of describing perpetrating and on going fraud. It's not like ops, he took the wrong exit off a highway or forgot to pay for something at the bottom of his cart. He demonstrated a complete lack of integrity and honesty two traits vital to a public skeptical figure. I really don't understand how anyone, epeacilly in the skeptically community can give him a pass or say it was a simple mistake. He is a convicted fraudster who stole millions and not only lied about it, but employed his family with his ill gotten gains. That is ethically gross and not to be so lightly glossed over.

You certainly killed that straw man dead dead dead.

No one is saying he should get a pass.  What they are saying is that he has served his debt to society.  It's almost like the christian idea of hell.  Forever damned, no redemption.

Funny how white people get to pay their debt to society by by going to jail but people of colour get to keeping paying it by not being allow to vote or get a job or walk down the street without getting shot by a cop.

If you find that funny, you're a horrible person.

Here, let me post something that is just as relevant to the thread:

"In 1884,  meridian time personnel met
 in Washington to change Earth time.
First words said was that only 1 day
could be used on Earth to not change
 the 1 day bible. So they applied the 1
day  and  ignored  the  other  3 days.
The bible time was wrong then and it
 proved wrong today. This a major lie
  has so much evil feed from it's wrong.
No man on Earth has no belly-button,
  it proves every believer on Earth a liar."

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on August 14, 2015, 05:06:26 PM
I think he's exactly the kind of person who would do exactly that. :D

I've met him, actually. He's a nice guy. A guy who made a mistake quite a few years ago that happened to be illegal. When he gets out he will have paid his debt to society.
This is a charitable sentiment, and you may not be wrong. We won't know until enough time passes that he hasn't continued fraudulent behavior, or until he does it again. We certainly would be right to think a lot (most?) fraudsters get released and go on to other fraudulent activities. Certainly the big ones the skeptical community picks on never learn, or if they do learn anything, they learn how to better navigate the authorities and the rules to continue.

I think seeing how a lot of the big guys like Popoff and Trudeau continue on the skeptical community has the right to be skeptical of Dunning, for a time at least.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho on August 14, 2015, 05:29:27 PM
I think he's exactly the kind of person who would do exactly that. :D

I've met him, actually. He's a nice guy. A guy who made a mistake quite a few years ago that happened to be illegal. When he gets out he will have paid his debt to society.
This is a charitable sentiment, and you may not be wrong. We won't know until enough time passes that he hasn't continued fraudulent behavior, or until he does it again. We certainly would be right to think a lot (most?) fraudsters get released and go on to other fraudulent activities. Certainly the big ones the skeptical community picks on never learn, or if they do learn anything, they learn how to better navigate the authorities and the rules to continue.

I think seeing how a lot of the big guys like Popoff and Trudeau continue on the skeptical community has the right to be skeptical of Dunning, for a time at least.

One major difference though--Trudeau and Popoff continued on doing the things for which they got busted (both legally and skeptically), scams that were publicly debunked. It's a testament to their gall, and humanity's gullibility. 

Dunning's crime reflects upon his character, but whether or not he's a jerk doesn't affect the skeptical content he puts out (though it may understandably put people off).
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on August 14, 2015, 06:44:16 PM
I think he's exactly the kind of person who would do exactly that. :D

I've met him, actually. He's a nice guy. A guy who made a mistake quite a few years ago that happened to be illegal. When he gets out he will have paid his debt to society.
This is a charitable sentiment, and you may not be wrong. We won't know until enough time passes that he hasn't continued fraudulent behavior, or until he does it again. We certainly would be right to think a lot (most?) fraudsters get released and go on to other fraudulent activities. Certainly the big ones the skeptical community picks on never learn, or if they do learn anything, they learn how to better navigate the authorities and the rules to continue.

I think seeing how a lot of the big guys like Popoff and Trudeau continue on the skeptical community has the right to be skeptical of Dunning, for a time at least.

One major difference though--Trudeau and Popoff continued on doing the things for which they got busted (both legally and skeptically), scams that were publicly debunked. It's a testament to their gall, and humanity's gullibility. 

Dunning's crime reflects upon his character, but whether or not he's a jerk doesn't affect the skeptical content he puts out (though it may understandably put people off).
I wasn't speaking at all to the validity of his skeptical podcast, just on whether or not he has paid a debt to society and his character should be let off the hook for "making a mistake."
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 14, 2015, 06:59:55 PM
He was charged on one count of wire fraud. One, which occurred almost ten years ago. There was nothing "ongoing" - or at least he wasn't charged with that and there is no evidence of it.

If you think his crime was in any way comparable to those of Popoff and Trudeau, then you really need a perspective check.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Harry Black on August 14, 2015, 07:14:34 PM
I think there are those who have let it go and those who are unlikely to.
What interests me is how his work will fare from now on in terms of really achieving anything more than a quick 10min distraction for the converted. Will he add any value to the community in terms of drawing new members? Or find a way to change direction and make himself less dispensible?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Belgarath on August 14, 2015, 07:24:52 PM
I think there are those who have let it go and those who are unlikely to.
What interests me is how his work will fare from now on in terms of really achieving anything more than a quick 10min distraction for the converted. Will he add any value to the community in terms of drawing new members? Or find a way to change direction and make himself less dispensible?

So a criteria of being a skeptic is to draw new members?

I suggest a lot of people on this board leave the skeptic movement then.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Caffiene on August 14, 2015, 08:24:55 PM
So a criteria of being a skeptic is to draw new members?

I suggest a lot of people on this board leave the skeptic movement then.

You certainly killed that straw man dead dead dead.

Harry was very clear that he was talking specifically about being interested in how the work will fare, not about prescribing criteria to be a skeptic.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 14, 2015, 09:04:08 PM
So a criteria of being a skeptic is to draw new members?

I suggest a lot of people on this board leave the skeptic movement then.

You certainly killed that straw man dead dead dead.

Harry was very clear that he was talking specifically about being interested in how the work will fare, not about prescribing criteria to be a skeptic.

Yes, but he implied that unless it drew in new members, it was valueless.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Caffiene on August 14, 2015, 09:20:31 PM
Yes, but he implied that unless it drew in new members, it was valueless.

Still not seeing the connection to "criteria of being a skeptic".
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 14, 2015, 09:24:50 PM
Yes, but he implied that unless it drew in new members, it was valueless.

Still not seeing the connection to "criteria of being a skeptic".

I agree, it probably would have been better if he had asked if a criterion of being a useful skeptical podcast was to draw in new members, but you know, shortcuts and stuff.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Harry Black on August 14, 2015, 10:27:13 PM
Jeez. I duno. I will still probably listen now and then. But its likely to have less impact given the controversy no?
I mean its fine for it to exist as just a nice distraction and short cut for people who are already skeptical and/or dont judge his work by his past. But I feel like prior to this whole thing, he might have been achieving a bit more and it was a handy resource to point people to.
Whether people are right or wrong to not want anything to do with Dunning now, it doesnt change the actual outcome that many dont and it may change the role or impact of his work.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on August 15, 2015, 02:38:15 AM
I think there are several different issues here that people are conflating?

1) Does Dunning's conviction affect the accuracy of Skeptoid?
2) Does Dunning's conviction affect the credibility of Skeptoid?
3) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to be a leader within the skeptical movement?
4) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to reach out to those outside the skeptical movement?
5) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to be a good skeptic?

My short answers to those questions are:

1) No
2) Maybe a Little
3) Maybe a Little
4) Probably
5) Not at all

I also think that because their have been several controversies involving Dunning's ability to listen to legitimate criticism and learn from his mistakes in the past, some people might see his fraud conviction as part of a pattern of anti-social behaviour which reflects poorly of the skeptical movement and is generally off-putting.

While I have been a harsh critic of Dunning in the past, I think that I have heard a genuine change in his attitude during the last few episodes the he recorded himself, and I am willing to give Skeptoid the benefit of the doubt when he returns -- based on his actions, not because of some abstract ethic of him having "paid his debt to society" which, as I have pointed out earlier, is bullshit (and is also completely relevant to this conversation even though it seems to make some people uncomfortable).
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer on August 15, 2015, 09:21:41 AM
So a criteria of being a skeptic is to draw new members?

that was something I was cringing about in the Swiss interview in the recent episode of SGU. the whole 'we shouldn't demand too much skepticism of skeptics, because that just makes the club too exclusive'.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on August 15, 2015, 11:09:45 AM
So a criteria of being a skeptic is to draw new members?

that was something I was cringing about in the Swiss interview in the recent episode of SGU. the whole 'we shouldn't demand too much skepticism of skeptics, because that just makes the club too exclusive'.

I think the idea there was that a lot of people are interested in skepticism and start calling themselves skeptics before they really understand what skepticism is, and the response to those people should be to teach them what Skepticism is rather than tell them they are not Skeptics, but to do that we need to assure that those who actually write skeptical articles and produce skeptical podcasts meet certain minimum standards.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: xenu on August 15, 2015, 11:25:03 AM
I think there are several different issues here that people are conflating?

1) Does Dunning's conviction affect the accuracy of Skeptoid?
2) Does Dunning's conviction affect the credibility of Skeptoid?
3) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to be a leader within the skeptical movement?
4) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to reach out to those outside the skeptical movement?
5) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to be a good skeptic?

My short answers to those questions are:

1) No
2) Maybe a Little
3) Maybe a Little
4) Probably
5) Not at all



I would like to add one more:

6) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to market his brand and get donations?


6) I would say yes.

This might effect his ability to cover his costs for his podcast. I don't know what his subscription base was before the court ruling or if his paying subscription base has dropped. I think that most people who might give or donate will have second thoughts now. It's going to take awhile for him to gain the trust of the market.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on August 15, 2015, 12:10:43 PM
I think there are several different issues here that people are conflating?

1) Does Dunning's conviction affect the accuracy of Skeptoid?
2) Does Dunning's conviction affect the credibility of Skeptoid?
3) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to be a leader within the skeptical movement?
4) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to reach out to those outside the skeptical movement?
5) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to be a good skeptic?

My short answers to those questions are:

1) No
2) Maybe a Little
3) Maybe a Little
4) Probably
5) Not at all



I would like to add one more:

6) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to market his brand and get donations?


6) I would say yes.

This might effect his ability to cover his costs for his podcast. I don't know what his subscription base was before the court ruling or if his paying subscription base has dropped. I think that most people who might give or donate will have second thoughts now. It's going to take awhile for him to gain the trust of the market.

Judging from the vehemence with which he is often defended, I suspect that any decrease in donations due to his conviction may well be offset by and increase in donation for "supporters", similar to the way gay-bashing business owners and murderous cops generate thousands of dollars on kickstarter -- not that Dunning's crime is anywhere near as bad as gay-bashing or murder, just that the same sort of "circle the wagons" mentality may apply.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Belgarath on August 15, 2015, 01:07:20 PM
I'm guessing that you haven't heard his latest feedback episode....


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Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on August 15, 2015, 03:29:15 PM
I'm guessing that you haven't heard his latest feedback episode....


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I did.  I'm guessing you did not read the first comment (http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4478#discuss) in the comments section of the transcript to that episode.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: UnicornPoop on August 15, 2015, 08:09:36 PM

I think there are several different issues here that people are conflating?

1) Does Dunning's conviction affect the accuracy of Skeptoid?
2) Does Dunning's conviction affect the credibility of Skeptoid?
3) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to be a leader within the skeptical movement?
4) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to reach out to those outside the skeptical movement?
5) Does Dunning's conviction affect his ability to be a good skeptic?

My short answers to those questions are:

1) No
2) Maybe a Little
3) Maybe a Little
4) Probably
5) Not at all

1) No
2) No
3) Yes
4) No
5) Hell no

The nice thing about his monotone podcasts are that they are short and that's a rare offering these days. I do also thoroughly enjoy his musicals. They've been very well produced and often funny. I do feel his episodes, even before he started serving time, we're drifting off into obscure topics. I know he pretty much has an inexhaustive list based on what he's said in the past...but I'm just not interested in the THREE TOED GHOST PIG OF PATAGONIA (made up example).

I think he's really good at multimedia so maybe he should start branching out. Perhaps garner a YouTube audience and deliver content once/month. Regardless, he has found a business model in skepticism and owns the niche in short podcasts. If he can continue to make money in that venue and sustain his lifestyle then...well, it remains to be seen.



-UPC
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer on August 15, 2015, 10:43:31 PM
The nice thing about his monotone podcasts are that they are short and that's a rare offering these days.

and they have a topic -- meaning you can skip whole episodes, picking out just the ones you're interested in.

I ain't downloading no ghost pig episodes. ...but if there's a ghost pig segment on SGU, I'm just going to lie there and suffer through it like a quickie with bob.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on August 16, 2015, 12:18:54 AM
I do think the conviction hurts his credibility and there's just no getting around that. We can play with the words all we want but the fact is that he actually did commit fraud and he was convicted of it. That the fraud was against some faceless corporate entity is besides the point; if anything, it elucidates what he's capable of doing to others if he's managed to dehumanize them. This is a person who will pretend to be something or someone that he is not to get his way. How can that *not* throw his credibility into question? Seriously, if I listened to his podcast now knowing what I know, even if he was talking about something I already agree with him on I'd still find myself having to go out and research the claims on my own just to make sure. And yes, that is something that we skeptics prefer to do already, but it's miles from Dr. Novella or Cara Santamaria citing a relatively obscure study or science article and you accepting that they probably know what they're talking about and don't have a history of lying to you or others for fun and/or profit.

I'm glad to hear that he's changed his tune but I think there are certain lines certain people can't cross. If you're in the truth industry, you can't commit fraud. Sorry.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 16, 2015, 03:37:21 AM
Enough people think it hurts his credibility that it has in fact damaged his reputation in the community.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on August 16, 2015, 04:07:25 AM
Enough people think it hurts his credibility that it has in fact damaged his reputation in the community.

Which hurt is credibility more, his criminal fraud or his God-awful music video?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 16, 2015, 06:41:19 AM
Enough people think it hurts his credibility that it has in fact damaged his reputation in the community.

Which hurt is credibility more, his criminal fraud or his God-awful music video?

Well, the only thing I'll say about that is that he should never do either again.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on August 17, 2015, 01:29:36 PM
He was charged on one count of wire fraud. One, which occurred almost ten years ago. There was nothing "ongoing" - or at least he wasn't charged with that and there is no evidence of it.

If you think his crime was in any way comparable to those of Popoff and Trudeau, then you really need a perspective check.
No, not really IMO. In fact I kind of feel like you perhaps need a perspective check on this issue, so where does that leave us?

I don't know about your experiences, but to be frank, I had a long time friend who stole enough from to cover my grad school loans and put a down payment on a house. He was exceedingly good at justifying what he had done and minimizing his criminal actions. He left me depressed and nearly suicidal. As Slick notes, if he can downplay it because it's a large, faceless, greedy corporation, IMO it's all the worse. Those who are certain they're good people can justify anything to themselves.

In my experience, people who engage in criminal activity will engage in it again, especially when it's a "victimless" crime. I added the caveat that we have to wait and see, only time will give him his credibility back. I'm not into persecuting him, I also don't think he just gets a pass, especially when he's part of a community that spends so much time and energy convicting fraudsters. And this wasn't stealing a few thousand, Brian fraudulently took millions and employed family members in the scheme to cover his tracks, so his braying that he didn't realize he was doing something bad looks stupid. Unless you believe that corporations like bleeding millions for no added value and giving your spouse a six figure income for doing basically nothing. The cookie jar he was caught with his hand in was quite large. He paid his debt, I agree. But fool me twice...
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Harry Black on August 17, 2015, 01:55:15 PM
In your opinion people who offend once will do it again, and the facts kind of bear that out. Reoffending rates are higher the lower down the socioeconomic ladder you go. Mainly due to peoples attitudes to ex cons.
Dunning is not that far down the ladder and there isnt really any reason to think he is likely to offend again.
Now you have no real sway one way or the other I presume, he isnt asking you for a job or an apartment and you arent going out to publicise and push your opinion on him, but overal I think its easy for us to talk about getting over the stigma wrt ex cons to reduce reoffending rates (not that Im saying anyone here has expressed an opinion on that specifically) but when we are faced with a person we feel let us down, it can be hard to get over the emotional side of that.
Tookie Williams was an absolute monster in his youth, it just so happens that he didnt do the specific thing he was arrested for. When it came time for his execution it was likely to be far more beneficial to society to release him than to kill him. The governator (who expressed very racist sentiments to a good friend of mine a few years earlier) decided to kill him.
Now I was up for giving Tookie Williams a second shot at life and he made Dunning look like a saint at the time of his imprisonment so Id be a bit out of line if I wasnt willing to give Dunning a chance and assume that he will likely obey the law until proven otherwise.
But Im not sure what that means, behaviour wise on my part. Or on anyone elses.
I think what the aforementioned con artists do/did is orders worse than what Dunning did. Their intentions and modus operandi were far far worse as far as Im concerned and they have proven themselves seemingly incapable of honest dealings. That kind of evidence doesnt yet exist for Dunning.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on August 17, 2015, 03:49:11 PM
In your opinion people who offend once will do it again, and the facts kind of bear that out. Reoffending rates are higher the lower down the socioeconomic ladder you go. Mainly due to peoples attitudes to ex cons.
Dunning is not that far down the ladder and there isnt really any reason to think he is likely to offend again.
Now you have no real sway one way or the other I presume, he isnt asking you for a job or an apartment and you arent going out to publicise and push your opinion on him, but overal I think its easy for us to talk about getting over the stigma wrt ex cons to reduce reoffending rates (not that Im saying anyone here has expressed an opinion on that specifically) but when we are faced with a person we feel let us down, it can be hard to get over the emotional side of that.
Tookie Williams was an absolute monster in his youth, it just so happens that he didnt do the specific thing he was arrested for. When it came time for his execution it was likely to be far more beneficial to society to release him than to kill him. The governator (who expressed very racist sentiments to a good friend of mine a few years earlier) decided to kill him.
Now I was up for giving Tookie Williams a second shot at life and he made Dunning look like a saint at the time of his imprisonment so Id be a bit out of line if I wasnt willing to give Dunning a chance and assume that he will likely obey the law until proven otherwise.
But Im not sure what that means, behaviour wise on my part. Or on anyone elses.
I think what the aforementioned con artists do/did is orders worse than what Dunning did. Their intentions and modus operandi were far far worse as far as Im concerned and they have proven themselves seemingly incapable of honest dealings. That kind of evidence doesnt yet exist for Dunning.
No, clearly I think he should be reincarcerated.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Harry Black on August 17, 2015, 04:28:37 PM
Well I was hardly implying that.
I just think its important that everyone coming out of prison gets a fair shake and if we struggle to do that in a case like this then I just wonder if it isnt indicative of why we have some of the problems we do as a society.
I dont think anyone would ever call me a forgiving person, but I see this more as a practical issue where putting some trust on the line may be worth it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 17, 2015, 09:24:30 PM
Criminality is binary? Once you have committed a crime, no matter how minor, you are irredeemably criminal for the rest of your life?

I was brought into the Principal's office on my last day of school for a prank that I was part of that involved a teacher's car. Am I forever now a delinquent, equal to the kids who were suspended for violence or bullying? Is a harmless drunk who spends a night in a cell the moral equivalent of someone who habitually gets into drunken fights and repeatedly puts people in hospital?

Yes, Dunning committed fraud. It's a crime, and he has gone to jail for it. He is in no way the moral equivalent of someone like Kevin Trudeau who is a habitual and unrepentant criminal with several jail terms (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Trudeau#Legal_proceedings) - and who, incidentally, makes a whole pile more money from his frauds than Dunning ever did.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 17, 2015, 09:27:18 PM
I am all about rehabilitation in the criminal justice system, and I am not arguing that Dunning should never be released from prison or that he should stigmatized in a way that prevents him being a productive member of society.  But there are many ways that one can be a productive member of society without being a leader in the skeptical movement, and I believe he should find one of those ways.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on August 18, 2015, 01:47:22 AM
Criminality is binary? Once you have committed a crime, no matter how minor, you are irredeemably criminal for the rest of your life?

I was brought into the Principal's office on my last day of school for a prank that I was part of that involved a teacher's car. Am I forever now a delinquent, equal to the kids who were suspended for violence or bullying? Is a harmless drunk who spends a night in a cell the moral equivalent of someone who habitually gets into drunken fights and repeatedly puts people in hospital?

Yes, Dunning committed fraud. It's a crime, and he has gone to jail for it. He is in no way the moral equivalent of someone like Kevin Trudeau who is a habitual and unrepentant criminal with several jail terms (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Trudeau#Legal_proceedings) - and who, incidentally, makes a whole pile more money from his frauds than Dunning ever did.
Yes, this exactly. Enjoy your life on the work farm, delinquent.

The fact you can compare a long term fraud and scam to an impulsive night out drinking and then completely mischaracterize everything that has been said makes me wonder why you have so much emotional skin in this game.

So maybe we disagree on the morality of what he did. Why do you so vehemently defend him as a one time, mistake maker? Especially considering I said we should have a wait and see approach to whether he does this again or not and you (chiefly, but others too seemingly) act as if I am condemning him to a life of living on the fringes of society or in a penal colony. Sheesh.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 18, 2015, 03:09:05 AM
Criminality is binary? Once you have committed a crime, no matter how minor, you are irredeemably criminal for the rest of your life?

I was brought into the Principal's office on my last day of school for a prank that I was part of that involved a teacher's car. Am I forever now a delinquent, equal to the kids who were suspended for violence or bullying? Is a harmless drunk who spends a night in a cell the moral equivalent of someone who habitually gets into drunken fights and repeatedly puts people in hospital?

Yes, Dunning committed fraud. It's a crime, and he has gone to jail for it. He is in no way the moral equivalent of someone like Kevin Trudeau who is a habitual and unrepentant criminal with several jail terms (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Trudeau#Legal_proceedings) - and who, incidentally, makes a whole pile more money from his frauds than Dunning ever did.
Yes, this exactly. Enjoy your life on the work farm, delinquent.

The fact you can compare a long term fraud and scam to an impulsive night out drinking and then completely mischaracterize everything that has been said makes me wonder why you have so much emotional skin in this game.

So maybe we disagree on the morality of what he did. Why do you so vehemently defend him as a one time, mistake maker? Especially considering I said we should have a wait and see approach to whether he does this again or not and you (chiefly, but others too seemingly) act as if I am condemning him to a life of living on the fringes of society or in a penal colony. Sheesh.

You said "In my experience, people who engage in criminal activity will engage in it again". So I'm not entirely sure where I got the idea that you believe that once a person is a criminal, they are always a criminal. Oh wait, there it is, right there. That clears that up.

Oh, and you might want to check your facts. Specifically, your claim that "he took millions". This is a popular and oft-repeated lie. In fact, his company took between $200,000 and $400,000, and he personally received a third share of that. I'm not sure where the "millions" idea came from, but it certainly is not true.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Harry Black on August 18, 2015, 07:10:40 AM
Im not sure I ever considered him a Skeptical leader. He was always just a resource I used.
Im less likely to share that resource now (though it was normally the transcript anyway) but his work could still give me a shortcut to information I would have had to find for myself. Sometimes, he is the only skeptical commenter on a topic of interest to me.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on August 18, 2015, 09:04:51 AM
I think when we talk about leaders in the community we need to all agree we use the term with implied "". We're a leaderless movement but there are certainly high profile individuals people reference. People cite skeptoid in arguments, for example. Which makes him a defacto leader, I guess.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Harry Black on August 18, 2015, 10:22:57 AM
Well skeptoid should really be no more referenced than wikipedia. But yeah, if thats the metric then he probably cant be a skeptical leader any more.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on August 18, 2015, 01:54:37 PM
Well skeptoid should really be no more referenced than wikipedia. But yeah, if thats the metric then he probably cant be a skeptical leader any more.

That might have come up in this thread before but here's my wiki and skeptoid citing policy:

"This link provides, in my opinion, a good summary of the issues and evidence. If you have a summary you feel is better, please share it. If you have a problem with the summary or the cited evidence, could you detail it?"
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Harry Black on August 18, 2015, 04:28:22 PM
I like it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 18, 2015, 08:35:29 PM
Well skeptoid should really be no more referenced than wikipedia. But yeah, if thats the metric then he probably cant be a skeptical leader any more.

Neither skeptoid nor wikipedia should be used as academic references. However, both contain citations to genuine references, and both can be a good starting point to finding out about a thing.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: UnicornPoop on August 18, 2015, 09:12:04 PM

Well skeptoid should really be no more referenced than wikipedia. But yeah, if thats the metric then he probably cant be a skeptical leader any more.

Neither skeptoid nor wikipedia should be used as academic references. However, both contain citations to genuine references, and both can be a good starting point to finding out about a thing.

So this goes back to who you should choose as the most trusted. Latest news says that Global Warming, Evolution, and The Ozone Hole are among the most edited topics in Wikipedia, sometimes seeing as many as 30 edits per day. WHEN you click determines what truth you get with Wikipedia on these topics.

Not so with Dunning's references.

So who do you choose for accuracy?


-UPC
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 19, 2015, 01:10:18 AM

Well skeptoid should really be no more referenced than wikipedia. But yeah, if thats the metric then he probably cant be a skeptical leader any more.

Neither skeptoid nor wikipedia should be used as academic references. However, both contain citations to genuine references, and both can be a good starting point to finding out about a thing.

So this goes back to who you should choose as the most trusted. Latest news says that Global Warming, Evolution, and The Ozone Hole are among the most edited topics in Wikipedia, sometimes seeing as many as 30 edits per day. WHEN you click determines what truth you get with Wikipedia on these topics.

Not so with Dunning's references.

So who do you choose for accuracy?


-UPC

Depends on whether you want accuracy on those three subjects, I guess.

If you're concerned about accuracy, like I said, both Wikipedia and Skeptoid list their sources. You can check accuracy for yourself.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on August 19, 2015, 02:25:02 AM

Well skeptoid should really be no more referenced than wikipedia. But yeah, if thats the metric then he probably cant be a skeptical leader any more.

Neither skeptoid nor wikipedia should be used as academic references. However, both contain citations to genuine references, and both can be a good starting point to finding out about a thing.

So this goes back to who you should choose as the most trusted. Latest news says that Global Warming, Evolution, and The Ozone Hole are among the most edited topics in Wikipedia, sometimes seeing as many as 30 edits per day. WHEN you click determines what truth you get with Wikipedia on these topics.

Not so with Dunning's references.

So who do you choose for accuracy?


-UPC

Unfortunately, some of my favourite Dunning episodes -- the ones on GMOs and Organic Food -- when I followed up the cited sources so I could defend his arguments, it turned out that they did not actually says what he said they said.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on August 19, 2015, 08:29:37 AM
I thought this last one on the "Nazi of Nanking" was  pretty good
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on August 19, 2015, 08:58:04 AM
I thought this last one on the "Nazi of Nanking" was  pretty good

Yeah. I was bracing for him to reveal a lot of what was said in Chang's book was legend but he didn't really do that. There wasn't actually any skeptical content in that ep, as far as I can tell, other than "be skeptical of claims all nazis are pure, pure evil!"

I also didn't realize Chang had died. Seems like she suffered from depression and killed herself according to wiki. Her suicide notes seemed to implicate the CIA. Paranoid, maybe. But I would suppose her book did vastly complicate trilateral relations between the USA, China, and Japan and maybe someone was looking in to see what she might do next.

Oh, I also made the mistake of ordering her Rape of Nanking from Amazon.com. For years after, Amazon assumed I was really interested in all sorts of books about raping and killing Asians in large numbers.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on August 25, 2015, 07:00:17 PM
You said "In my experience, people who engage in criminal activity will engage in it again". So I'm not entirely sure where I got the idea that you believe that once a person is a criminal, they are always a criminal. Oh wait, there it is, right there. That clears that up.
From my experience? Does that clear it up? And then I went on in multiple posts to clarify and add nuance to my opinion that we should be skeptical for a time of his character... oh nevermind.  :P
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on August 25, 2015, 07:21:26 PM
You said "In my experience, people who engage in criminal activity will engage in it again". So I'm not entirely sure where I got the idea that you believe that once a person is a criminal, they are always a criminal. Oh wait, there it is, right there. That clears that up.
From my experience? Does that clear it up? And then I went on in multiple posts to clarify and add nuance to my opinion that we should be skeptical for a time of his character... oh nevermind.  :P

For how long?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on August 26, 2015, 12:55:09 PM
You said "In my experience, people who engage in criminal activity will engage in it again". So I'm not entirely sure where I got the idea that you believe that once a person is a criminal, they are always a criminal. Oh wait, there it is, right there. That clears that up.
From my experience? Does that clear it up? And then I went on in multiple posts to clarify and add nuance to my opinion that we should be skeptical for a time of his character... oh nevermind.  :P

For how long?
Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then forgivest thou thy Dunning, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on October 08, 2015, 10:29:14 PM
I did want to say that the podcast about "global cooling" and the 1970s was really good. . . . I have had that thrown at me. The problem is of course that global warming deniers do not want to hear the complex answer.   
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on October 08, 2015, 11:15:28 PM
I did want to say that the podcast about "global cooling" and the 1970s was really good. . . . I have had that thrown at me. The problem is of course that global warming deniers do not want to hear the complex answer.   
It may be one of the best skeptoid episodes yet and answered a mystery I've been confused about.  I had distinct memories of global cooling fears of my youth but most articles I've seen that mention it are either AGW deniers or denied that such fears actually existed. 

(click to show/hide)

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on October 09, 2015, 08:59:06 AM
I love "climate change" was actually coined by a climate change denier. Amusing because climate change deniers seem to think the popularity of climate change over global warming is some dodge cooked up by science.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on October 09, 2015, 01:34:20 PM
I love "climate change" was actually coined by a climate change denier. Amusing because climate change deniers seem to think the popularity of climate change over global warming is some dodge cooked up by science.

And that is why I use the term "Global Warming."
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on October 09, 2015, 01:35:16 PM
I use "gorebull frauding".  ::)
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: xenu on October 09, 2015, 08:57:34 PM
I like Climate change. It is easier to explain that some places will be a little cooler while others will be warmer.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on October 09, 2015, 09:33:52 PM
I like Climate change. It is easier to explain that some places will be a little cooler while others will be warmer.

The problem is that the total energy into the system is increasing. On a worldwide basis, it is getting warmer even if your little slice is not.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: xenu on October 10, 2015, 09:23:56 PM
I like Climate change. It is easier to explain that some places will be a little cooler while others will be warmer.

The problem is that the total energy into the system is increasing. On a worldwide basis, it is getting warmer even if your little slice is not.

Agreed but some places in the world will be colder at times. The Great Lakes and the East coast(USA) have had some very cold winters of late but the whole world on average is much hotter. That is why I like the term "Climate Change".
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on October 14, 2015, 12:48:29 PM
I only just stumbled on this thread. With apologies for having read only parts of it and skimmed others, I have a comment on Dunning's blog on the issue (http://www.briandunning.com/message.html). My quarrel with him there is the way he accepts responsibility while at the same time saying that everybody was doing it, and that folks at eBay even helped him fit what he was doing into the rules. He admits that "everybody was doing it" is no excuse, but complains that nobody else doing the same thing was charged.

He's clearly trying to excuse himself even as he admits his crime.

I don't have a strong emotional reaction to what he did. On the long list of blame-worthy people, he's pretty far down. He didn't kill anyone or impoverish anyone. He didn't rape any kids or pollute any rivers. He stole some money, was forced to give it back, and did a year in prison. Prison is not as bad as a lot of folks make it out to be, but it's no fun either. (I speak from experience here: six months in Federal prison for protesting nuclear weapons.)

I'm not sure whether or not this will impact my (very small) annual donation to Skeptoid. I do enjoy the program. It's probably in my top half-dozen or so, SGU being my favorite.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on October 14, 2015, 02:08:40 PM
Brian went into the klink Sept 2014. He should be out pretty soon.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on October 15, 2015, 12:05:02 AM
My understanding is that he has been released from prison
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on October 15, 2015, 12:56:32 AM
The latest eps have been by dunning.  I assumed that meant he was out.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on October 15, 2015, 02:00:28 AM
I am pretty sure that he was released based on that. I don't really need 100% confirmation in this case.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho on October 21, 2015, 10:07:52 PM
Dunning's side (http://www.briandunning.com/message.html). He makes a pretty convincing case, imo.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on October 21, 2015, 11:20:16 PM
I'm glad he's out
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on October 21, 2015, 11:25:45 PM
Even if I am not completely convinced by what he wrote, I think we have all played fast and loose with the rules in various situations.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho on October 21, 2015, 11:54:14 PM
Even if I am not completely convinced by what he wrote, I think we have all played fast and loose with the rules in various situations.

Yeah, he at least provides a very plausible story. He admitted to breaking the civil contract, an action which he thought was sanctioned by eBay, and got thrown in Federal prison for it. Seems excessive, if it's as simple as that.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on October 22, 2015, 01:03:14 AM
I am not completely convinced by his story, but I think Skeptoid is improving.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Andrew Clunn on October 22, 2015, 02:21:49 AM
Alright, I guess I'll give Skeptoid another go.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on October 22, 2015, 10:01:52 AM
If you play with a cat, you're going to get scratched. If you play with a big cat you're going to get scratched hard and deep. Dunning was playing with big cats and he knew it. He thought they wouldn't scratch him because they seemed so warm and fuzzy. But as we all said when I was in prison: "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

That said, it sounds as though the feds played fast and loose with the facts. The feds pretty much always play fast and loose with the facts. The cops in general play fast and loose with the facts. Sometimes it benefits the "criminals," like when a guy gets arrested with a kilo of marijuana or an ounce of cocaine and then finds himself charged in court with only half that, and the other half has "disappeared." Other times they get a confession by threatening to charge a spouse who is actually innocent. All of which is why I believe Dunning's version. His description is how they normally work.

And of course, the really big dogs never get charged. Corporate execs who steal hundreds of millions, or who sell products they know will kill people rather than spend the money to recall and fix them, never get charged, and never have to give back the money. The criminals who brought down the economy in the sub-prime crisis were never charged, and got to keep all the money they stole. It looks as though Dunning was a small player so he took the fall. He broke the law. He knew he was breaking the law. He got singled out to take the fall and he did his time. He tried to make some money in a manner he knew was not quite right, and he lost because he was too small a player to get away with it.

And if my own experience is anything to go on, the years of waiting while the whole thing went through the legal system (in my case it was 11 months) were worse than the actual time spent in prison.

So now it's water under the bridge. I still enjoy Skeptoid. The last couple of episodes have been less interesting, but there's always some better than others.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on October 22, 2015, 10:34:31 AM
I wonder why he's not identifying K at EBay by name?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho on October 22, 2015, 05:00:02 PM
I wonder why he's not identifying K at EBay by name?

He remarked that he's aware that eBay could still make his life hell if they wanted to.

... He broke the law. He knew he was breaking the law. He got singled out to take the fall and he did his time. He tried to make some money in a manner he knew was not quite right, and he lost because he was too small a player to get away with it. ...

He admitted to and was convicted of breaching the civil contract, according to his post; he was not convicted of breaking any laws and insists his that he did not.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on October 22, 2015, 10:00:48 PM
To be straight, the government should be the one entity who shoudl not be allowed to play "fast and loose" because that is how you get wrongful convictions.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on October 23, 2015, 10:22:44 AM
To be straight, the government should be the one entity who shoudl not be allowed to play "fast and loose" because that is how you get wrongful convictions.

Who is there to stop them? Governments are formed by the strong to control the weak. Thereafter the top priority of a government is to stay in power.

The Supreme Court has ruled that it is legal for cops to lie to citizens, and it is part of standard operating procedure. And cops have developed very effective methods of inducing suspects to confess to crimes they never committed. Some of it is psychological manipulation exploiting the deficiencies of memory, and some of it is threats of longer prison terms if you don't confess, or threats to involve loved ones. Sometimes it happens because the cops really believe a person is guilty, and sometimes it happens because the cops are under pressure to close a case.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on October 24, 2015, 12:44:30 AM
I have this crazy conspiracy theory for you. The lead prosecuting attorney was one of those Bush appointees in 1998 who Obama (in one of his well-meaning gestures of bipartisan cooperation) didn't fire. We all know how the Bush administration was never shy about allowing their religious beliefs influence policy.

Maybe, just maybe, this particular prosecutor is a religious zealot, who didn't appreciate Dunning's snarky tone when debunking religious claims. That would explain a lot.

Of course, since it's a conspiracy theory, Dunning would dismiss it out of hand, but just saying'

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on October 24, 2015, 08:44:56 AM
To be straight, the government should be the one entity who shoudl not be allowed to play "fast and loose" because that is how you get wrongful convictions.

Who is there to stop them? Governments are formed by the strong to control the weak. Thereafter the top priority of a government is to stay in power.

The Supreme Court has ruled that it is legal for cops to lie to citizens, and it is part of standard operating procedure. And cops have developed very effective methods of inducing suspects to confess to crimes they never committed. Some of it is psychological manipulation exploiting the deficiencies of memory, and some of it is threats of longer prison terms if you don't confess, or threats to involve loved ones. Sometimes it happens because the cops really believe a person is guilty, and sometimes it happens because the cops are under pressure to close a case.

With a slightly different legislature, one could make a law where cops cannot lie to suspects during interrogation. While they try to find ways to bend it, this is the case with at least several countries in Europe. In addition, as soon as you are considered a suspect, you are suppose to be given a lawyer. 

Whenever you give a law enforcement agency freedom, they will take advantage of it in ways you never intended for them to use it. Therefore, don't give it to them.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on October 24, 2015, 10:23:00 AM
To be straight, the government should be the one entity who shoudl not be allowed to play "fast and loose" because that is how you get wrongful convictions.

Who is there to stop them? Governments are formed by the strong to control the weak. Thereafter the top priority of a government is to stay in power.

The Supreme Court has ruled that it is legal for cops to lie to citizens, and it is part of standard operating procedure. And cops have developed very effective methods of inducing suspects to confess to crimes they never committed. Some of it is psychological manipulation exploiting the deficiencies of memory, and some of it is threats of longer prison terms if you don't confess, or threats to involve loved ones. Sometimes it happens because the cops really believe a person is guilty, and sometimes it happens because the cops are under pressure to close a case.

With a slightly different legislature, one could make a law where cops cannot lie to suspects during interrogation. While they try to find ways to bend it, this is the case with at least several countries in Europe. In addition, as soon as you are considered a suspect, you are suppose to be given a lawyer. 

Whenever you give a law enforcement agency freedom, they will take advantage of it in ways you never intended for them to use it. Therefore, don't give it to them.

If you are arrested, they do tell you that you have the right to remain silent, and that you have a right to a lawyer. Then they try to talk you out of it with lies. And if you are "detained" rather than "arrested" they can lie to you about the above.

I had friends who were "detained" as witnesses during a protest involving nonviolent civil disobedience. The person who broke the law (i.e. did the civil disobedience) was Mirandized and in this case was treated according to the law. But my friends, who were not breaking the law, were "detained" as "witnesses" and held in custody for several hours. They were not permitted to make phone calls. They were told emphatically that since they were not being charged with a crime or "arrested" they did NOT have the right to remain silent. This was a lie. Nobody is ever required to speak to the police. They were further told that if they did not cooperate with the police they could be charged with conspiracy.

Note that the man who was arrested was charged with a misdemeanor, but the witnesses who were detained and lied to were threatened with felony conspiracy charges if they did not speak to the police. There is no way that their legal presence at a protest could be construed as conspiracy, but the police were hoping to scare them by lying to them. The police also probably violated their rights by denying them a phone call, though I don't actually know if detained witnesses are supposed to be allowed to use the phone.

All this was because of a misdemeanor trespass charge against another person at a peaceful protest. And my friends were treated a hell of a lot better than black kids in the ghettos of this country are treated when they are arrested for suspicion, because white cops in black neighborhoods suspect everyone.

Yes, the legislature could make it illegal for cops to lie to citizens. But this is Amerika.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on October 24, 2015, 10:48:07 AM
I have seen something like this with many cases so nothing too strange. However, all of this argues that it is actually not in the public's best interest to really cooperate with the police.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on October 24, 2015, 02:30:26 PM
Yes, the legislature could make it illegal for cops to lie to citizens. But this is Amerika.
Its also reality, that would make any kind of undercover work impossible. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on October 24, 2015, 03:26:54 PM
Yes, the legislature could make it illegal for cops to lie to citizens. But this is Amerika.
Its also reality, that would make any kind of undercover work impossible.

No, you don't make lying never allowed just during the interrogation of a suspect / witness. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on October 24, 2015, 04:08:06 PM
Yes, the legislature could make it illegal for cops to lie to citizens. But this is Amerika.
Its also reality, that would make any kind of undercover work impossible.

No, you don't make lying never allowed just during the interrogation of a suspect / witness. 
Reasonable, although I think I'd be ok with some lies as long as there's a defense attorney around.  Also, I think a more useful reform would be recording all police interviews. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on October 24, 2015, 04:30:18 PM
asI wrote previously, in some European nations, the cops are not allowed to lie to a suspect (or witness) during interogation yet there is still generally justice.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on October 24, 2015, 04:44:16 PM
It's not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. The lies often happen when a police officer stops a citizen on the street. As yet there's no arrest, just the cop trying to get a person to agree to something or admit to something. Maybe the cop wants to search your car and threatens to take you down to the station if you don't agree to the search, even though he really might not have the right to do that. Maybe it's a pair of FBI agents trying to intimidate a person into ending perfectly legal social-justice activism by threatening to have the person deported, even though they cannot actually do that. (This happened to my mother. It was the 1940's. The feds knew they could not deport her, but they were counting on her not knowing that and being scared. Too bad for them, my mom was not easily scared.)

Undercover work can be legitimate infiltration of a mob or gang; but it can also be a sting operation that tries to induce a law-abiding person to break the law. There are plenty of people in prison today whose "crime" was that they agreed to introduce an under-cover cop to the local drug dealer. The cop pretends to be an addict suffering from withdrawal. In the ghetto people know who the local dealer is. If you take pity on the cop, who you think is a suffering addict, and take him to the dealer, you can end up spending years in prison for conspiracy to distribute drugs.

People arrested in a sting should not be convicted if the only crime they've committed was the one the undercover cop convinced them to commit. But our legal system is broken. And here's an additional kicker: If you are in possession of a legal, properly-registered gun when you take that undercover cop to the local dealer, now you've committed a felony while in possession of a firearm, and that five years for conspiracy becomes fifteen.

The root problem is not the lying. The root problem are police forces that care more about arrest and conviction statistics than about preventing crime or protecting the people. In many places in the U.S. the police are the biggest threat that ordinary law-abiding citizens face.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: xenu on October 24, 2015, 06:01:46 PM
I would add that it is the Police and the District attorney who care more about an arrest/ conviction and less about the person who actually did the crime.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer on October 29, 2015, 12:12:27 PM
They were told emphatically that since they were not being charged with a crime or "arrested" they did NOT have the right to remain silent. This was a lie. Nobody is ever required to speak to the police.

AFAIK in NZ a cop has the right to arrest you if you won't give them your name (and maybe one or two other identity details, I think), but _other than that_ you have the right to remain silent.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on November 25, 2015, 11:51:25 PM
Thoughts on the latest one on black mold. . . .I know I butted against a number of people in a forum when they went into panic mode about a forum member finding black mold and I tried to tell them that they need to pause and make sure their facts are solid. Many in the forum are atheists as well and many would like to consider themselves skeptics.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on November 26, 2015, 08:54:27 AM
Yeah, I've been skeptical about mold fears myself. Molds might be bad if they're aerosolized but that takes some real effort. And, indeed, be skeptical of anyone telling you to be afraid of something and also offering you an expensive fix.

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on November 26, 2015, 09:07:11 AM
I heard the episode. This was new to me. I learned stuff.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on November 26, 2015, 09:23:56 AM
Yeah, I've been skeptical about mold fears myself. Molds might be bad if they're aerosolized but that takes some real effort. And, indeed, be skeptical of anyone telling you to be afraid of something and also offering you an expensive fix.

A while back in my previous house, the line from the water heater began leaking. I fixed the line but there was some mold on the walls in the compartment where the water heater was located.

This was before the crash and I had asked on the forum and some people here gave me some useful links. Basically, use some bleach and clean it up as best you can. Don't sweat it too much.

On another forum somebody had an issue  and I posted some of the links which had been posted here to try to elevate fears. Got hatred back for questioning the scare stories. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: xenu on November 26, 2015, 08:52:41 PM
Moved into a new house about 5 years ago. The Wife was getting sick right when we moved in. Found the down stairs shower had a water leak and there was black mold all over the place inside the wall. Replaced the wood that I could and then sprayed the rest down with bleach. Fixed the water leak remodeled the bath room and haven't had an issue with it since. My wife could have had an issue with the carpets or anything else being in a different house and all. I still am not sure if it was the mold that was making her sick. She did feel better after the remodel.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Fast Eddie B on November 26, 2015, 09:10:02 PM

If you are arrested, they do tell you that you have the right to remain silent, and that you have a right to a lawyer.


Not always, nor necessarily.

Its only required before interrogation.

When we arrested someone for a crime that a specialized unit might be handling - homicide, robbery, sexual battery to name a few - we were instructed NOT to Mirandize. That way any "spontaneous utterance" by the subject while in our custody could be used in court. The detectives were very big on this, and wanted to be sure Miranda was read in the right way and at the right time.

As an aside, though most of us memorized Miranda over time, we were told to always read it word for word from the provided card. A single word missed or transposed could jeopardize a case.

Also, the moment you are not free to leave, it's technically an "arrest". Maybe not a "custody arrest", but still an arrest. Even a traffic stop is an arrest if you are not free to drive off. You do see this often in police procedurals and the like where the person says, "Charge me or I'm walking out that door". If an officer or detective physically prevents that without charging a crime, they are likely guilty of false imprisonment, a pretty serious charge.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Guillermo on November 27, 2015, 09:56:24 AM
Moved into a new house about 5 years ago. The Wife was getting sick right when we moved in. Found the down stairs shower had a water leak and there was black mold all over the place inside the wall. Replaced the wood that I could and then sprayed the rest down with bleach. Fixed the water leak remodeled the bath room and haven't had an issue with it since. My wife could have had an issue with the carpets or anything else being in a different house and all. I still am not sure if it was the mold that was making her sick. She did feel better after the remodel.
Likely a billion more stuff given that it was a new house with new things in it. Plus a bit of placebo in there for a mix. After some time she acclimatized and felt better, coinciding with you fixing the mold. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on November 27, 2015, 09:57:28 AM

If you are arrested, they do tell you that you have the right to remain silent, and that you have a right to a lawyer.


Not always, nor necessarily.

Its only required before interrogation.

When we arrested someone for a crime that a specialized unit might be handling - homicide, robbery, sexual battery to name a few - we were instructed NOT to Mirandize. That way any "spontaneous utterance" by the subject while in our custody could be used in court. The detectives were very big on this, and wanted to be sure Miranda was read in the right way and at the right time.

As an aside, though most of us memorized Miranda over time, we were told to always read it word for word from the provided card. A single word missed or transposed could jeopardize a case.

Also, the moment you are not free to leave, it's technically an "arrest". Maybe not a "custody arrest", but still an arrest. Even a traffic stop is an arrest if you are not free to drive off. You do see this often in police procedurals and the like where the person says, "Charge me or I'm walking out that door". If an officer or detective physically prevents that without charging a crime, they are likely guilty of false imprisonment, a pretty serious charge.


My friends were categorically told that they were not under arrest, and they were told categorically that for this reason they had no right to remain silent. They were also denied the right to make phone calls. They did remain silent and were released later that same day, however.

Sadly, the law does allow the police to lie to citizens. Perhaps the behavior of the police would have made any statements of theirs inadmissible in court, but I think the intent was to intimidate, not to gather testimony. Indeed, they were threatened with felony conspiracy charges if they kept silent and were later served with Grand Jury subpoenas, even though their testimony was entirely unnecessary to any case against me.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Fast Eddie B on November 27, 2015, 10:15:52 AM

My friends were categorically told that they were not under arrest, and they were told categorically that for this reason they had no right to remain silent. They were also denied the right to make phone calls. They did remain silent and were released later that same day, however.

Sadly, the law does allow the police to lie to citizens. Perhaps the behavior of the police would have made any statements of theirs inadmissible in court, but I think the intent was to intimidate, not to gather testimony. Indeed, they were threatened with felony conspiracy charges if they kept silent and were later served with Grand Jury subpoenas, even though their testimony was entirely unnecessary to any case against me.

This goes into a whole 'nother area, but I will stipulate this sort of thing can and does happen.

My overall experience is most officers will stick to the letter of the law and procedures most of the time. It is not in their interest to jeopardize their livelihoods for some penny ante arrest or conviction.

But it does happen and from your account that was a case of overstepping their authority.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on November 27, 2015, 04:59:09 PM

My friends were categorically told that they were not under arrest, and they were told categorically that for this reason they had no right to remain silent. They were also denied the right to make phone calls. They did remain silent and were released later that same day, however.

Sadly, the law does allow the police to lie to citizens. Perhaps the behavior of the police would have made any statements of theirs inadmissible in court, but I think the intent was to intimidate, not to gather testimony. Indeed, they were threatened with felony conspiracy charges if they kept silent and were later served with Grand Jury subpoenas, even though their testimony was entirely unnecessary to any case against me.

This goes into a whole 'nother area, but I will stipulate this sort of thing can and does happen.

My overall experience is most officers will stick to the letter of the law and procedures most of the time. It is not in their interest to jeopardize their livelihoods for some penny ante arrest or conviction.

But it does happen and from your account that was a case of overstepping their authority.

I strongly suspect that the police were acting on instructions from the county and federal prosecutors. I and others were engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience, protesting against the nuclear weapons in North Dakota, where I lived at the time. I was viewed as a nuisance. A six-month stint in federal prison had not discouraged me from doing it all again, so they might well have felt that harassing my friends would discourage me.

If this is the case, they were right. After my friends (who had been observing, but were not themselves breaking any law) were served with Grand Jury subpoenas, and told informally that they "might" be charged with felony conspiracy, supposedly for allegedly being aware in advance of my intention to commit misdemeanor trespass, leaving one of them terrified that her life was ruined, I phoned the prosecutor (a man aptly named Lynn Crooks) and agreed to plead guilty in return for an end to the harassment of my friends. I was willing to accept any consequences for my actions, but when it became clear how ruthlessly the authorities would harass my friends, I chose not to continue that line of protests.

So I do believe the prosecutors very likely instructed the cops to lie to and threaten my friends. They never could have charged them as threatened, but the terror they caused with their threats was life-altering for one of them, who believed the threats.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: xenu on November 27, 2015, 06:20:16 PM
Moved into a new house about 5 years ago. The Wife was getting sick right when we moved in. Found the down stairs shower had a water leak and there was black mold all over the place inside the wall. Replaced the wood that I could and then sprayed the rest down with bleach. Fixed the water leak remodeled the bath room and haven't had an issue with it since. My wife could have had an issue with the carpets or anything else being in a different house and all. I still am not sure if it was the mold that was making her sick. She did feel better after the remodel.
Likely a billion more stuff given that it was a new house with new things in it. Plus a bit of placebo in there for a mix. After some time she acclimatized and felt better, coinciding with you fixing the mold.
Sorry miss typed. Not a new house but a new house to us. I agree with you though.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on November 27, 2015, 07:15:42 PM
Moved into a new house about 5 years ago. The Wife was getting sick right when we moved in. Found the down stairs shower had a water leak and there was black mold all over the place inside the wall. Replaced the wood that I could and then sprayed the rest down with bleach. Fixed the water leak remodeled the bath room and haven't had an issue with it since. My wife could have had an issue with the carpets or anything else being in a different house and all. I still am not sure if it was the mold that was making her sick. She did feel better after the remodel.

Take you about two weeks?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: xenu on November 28, 2015, 04:44:58 PM
It took me about 10 weeks to do the remodel. I didn't start the remodel for at least a month or 2 after we moved in. It might have been dust or mold in the carpets or something else. She was better after the remodel. Then again winter had set in too. My wife was prone to getting sick a lot. That is why it is hard to tie it into the mold in the shower.  She was sick a lot at our other house too.For the last 4 years she has been really healthy. So who knows.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: jhighl on December 01, 2015, 08:37:06 AM
Just started listing to skeptoid really good podcast I really like it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 01, 2015, 08:48:44 AM
Just started listing to skeptoid really good podcast I really like it.

There are some loser episodes such as on DDT and the polygraph and he seems unwilling to accept the criticism.
Usually when he has criticism episodes as well, he takes the bad criticism not the more solid ones.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on December 01, 2015, 09:54:53 AM
I don't remember the polygraph one being controversial, what was the issue? 

On second thought, I don't remember the polygraph episode at all.  Wasn't it invented by a bit of a nut, (the guy who created Wonder Women) and it doesn't have much in the the way of evidence?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 01, 2015, 10:34:37 AM
I don't remember the polygraph one being controversial, what was the issue? 

On second thought, I don't remember the polygraph episode at all.  Wasn't it invented by a bit of a nut, (the guy who created Wonder Women) and it doesn't have much in the the way of evidence?

That I can recall, I believe he gave it some value and was not as hard on the polygraph as he should have been.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer on December 01, 2015, 11:39:10 AM
I was surprised to see the polygraph mentioned in the latest season of Homeland. lazy writing, I guess.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on December 01, 2015, 12:34:04 PM
I was surprised to see the polygraph mentioned in the latest season of Homeland. lazy writing, I guess.
Lots of law enforcement types still use it, so its not necessarily lazy righting. 

I might go re-listen to the polygraph episode of skeptoid.  It doesn't fall into Brians typical blindspot.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on December 01, 2015, 12:39:30 PM
With the usual caveat about memory, I remember the polygraph episode concluding that it's total bunk. It does actually measure certain physical reactions, and those may be stress-related, but they have nothing to do with whether you're lying or telling the truth. It's really just the examiner using his judgement, with the polygraph being there for intimidation, which it would be if you believed in it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 01, 2015, 02:02:51 PM
Weren't there issues with his Alcoholics Anonymous episode as well?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on December 01, 2015, 02:14:32 PM
Weren't there issues with his Alcoholics Anonymous episode as well?

I don't remember what he said on that one, but I don't recall any issues. Didn't he just say that when it works, it's the peer support that does it? Or maybe I heard that somewhere else. I do think it's true, and I think they could chuck the steps, and just be a support group and it would work as well or better.

My understanding is that AA works for about 10% of the people that try it. There's a serious problem in that AA claims to be the only effective way for an alcoholic to stay dry. OTOH, there's no charge.

I went to Overeaters Anonymous for a while. OA uses the same 12 step program as AA. It didn't help me because about half of the 12 steps are meaningless if you do not believe in a "higher power." And there's a big difference because you can quit drinking, but you cannot quit eating.

I quit drinking on my own. I lost weight with the help of Weight watchers.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on December 01, 2015, 02:37:13 PM
Oh. Odd. Got an email from Skeptoid encouraging me to click on some kind of Amazon referral plan. Isn't this how all the trouble started in the first place?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 01, 2015, 03:24:59 PM
Oh. Odd. Got an email from Skeptoid encouraging me to click on some kind of Amazon referral plan. Isn't this how all the trouble started in the first place?

Well, if I give to charity, which I plan to, it will either be Planned Parenthood or Doctors without Borders
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on December 01, 2015, 03:37:09 PM
With the usual caveat about memory, I remember the polygraph episode concluding that it's total bunk.

Polygraphs, or lie detectors, are not total bunk, though. They are useless in detecting if someone is actually lying, but they are a valuable tool for investigators.

A skilled polygraph operator is like a con-man or a psychic. He uses all the cold reading techniques he can and gives very broad readings (the test reveals deception). For people who believe they might work, and have something to hide or are being deceptive, the test can spark a confession or a revelation that otherwise may not have come forward.

They're a tool that is most effective on people who think they are effective.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 01, 2015, 03:38:47 PM
The trouble is that trained investigators have odds approximately equal to chance to detect deception so that does not work either.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on December 01, 2015, 04:08:19 PM
Oh. Odd. Got an email from Skeptoid encouraging me to click on some kind of Amazon referral plan. Isn't this how all the trouble started in the first place?

Well, if I give to charity, which I plan to, it will either be Planned Parenthood or Doctors without Borders

This Canadian donated to Planned Parenthood in the USA. I think I will give again after these recent events.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on December 01, 2015, 06:36:59 PM
The trouble is that trained investigators have odds approximately equal to chance to detect deception so that does not work either.

That's not the point. It's not that it is any better at detecting deception. That's irrelevant.

It's that the subject being tested is often fooled by all the gadgetry into believing it works and is tricked into confessing or at least providing more information.

Trained investigators my have the same chances of detecting deception, but they're not as good at making suspects believe they have been caught out.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 01, 2015, 06:54:00 PM
Again, there is a problem  because they are as likely to convince innocent suspects to confess as guilty suspects. . . .Watch "The Confessions (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/the-confessions/)" on PBS
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on December 01, 2015, 07:33:14 PM
It depends on your perspective, DF.  If you're after a conviction and can convince someone to confess by telling them they failed a polygraph, you will consider it a useful tool.  If you're more interested in finding the truth, then you will not.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on December 01, 2015, 07:56:17 PM
It depends on your perspective, DF.  If you're after a conviction and can convince someone to confess by telling them they failed a polygraph, you will consider it a useful tool.  If you're more interested in finding the truth, then you will not.

Exactly.

Although, guilty people are a little more likely to confess than those who are innocent.


Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on December 01, 2015, 09:11:39 PM
Oh. Odd. Got an email from Skeptoid encouraging me to click on some kind of Amazon referral plan. Isn't this how all the trouble started in the first place?

This is different. Amazon Smile is a program you sign up for with Amazon. You pick your charity. Then you use the web site smile dot amazon dot com instead of amazon dot com. Every time you buy a qualified item, Amazon donates an unspecified amount to the charity of your choice. Maybe they donate a dime for every thousand dollars you spend. I do not know. The scandal with Brian involved shenanigans with ad clicks. If you clicked on an ad from his web page and later bought something, he got a cut. But he managed to finagle things so he got credit when you had not clicked on an ad in his web site. In this case, YOU pick your charity, and whenever you buy from the smile-Amazon web site, your charity gets a cut.

I picked the National Center for Science Education.

Don't make the mistake of thinking you're giving very much this way. It's not a substitute for your normal giving.

It depends on your perspective, DF.  If you're after a conviction and can convince someone to confess by telling them they failed a polygraph, you will consider it a useful tool.  If you're more interested in finding the truth, then you will not.

Exactly.

Although, guilty people are a little more likely to confess than those who are innocent.

If only this were true! Sadly, getting innocent people to confess has become a science assiduously studied and practiced in law enforcement. Nowadays, a confession has little to do with actual guilt and everything to do with the skill of the interrogator. Your best bet with the cops is to remain silent. Even if you've broken no law. They may be fishing for something they can use to accuse you of something you didn't do.

Note: In my personal case, I was always guilty of everything I was arrested for, and never tried to deny it or evade responsibility. A major point of nonviolent civil disobedience is to accept the consequences. On the two occasions when I did not plead guilty, I admitted to the facts, and argued that nuclear weapons are the crime, knowing that I would be convicted as a foregone conclusion. But in normal day-to-day life, to paraphrase the Miranda warning, everything you say will be used against you in one way or another.

And polygraph machines are just a psychological tool they may use to try to intimidate you.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on December 02, 2015, 10:34:45 AM

Although, guilty people are a little more likely to confess than those who are innocent.

If only this were true! Sadly, getting innocent people to confess has become a science assiduously studied and practiced in law enforcement. Nowadays, a confession has little to do with actual guilt and everything to do with the skill of the interrogator. Your best bet with the cops is to remain silent. Even if you've broken no law. They may be fishing for something they can use to accuse you of something you didn't do.

I think this is overstating quite a bit.

It is true that police have skills that help elicit a confessions (and the lie detector can be used as a tool to help) and it is true that false confessions are a problem, but there is no evidence that the problem is so bad that confessions are just as likely to be false as genuine as you suggest.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on December 02, 2015, 12:09:15 PM
^ Clearly, we disagree on the value of confessions.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 02, 2015, 12:44:52 PM
^ Clearly, we disagree on the value of confessions.

The European Court of Human Rights only considers confessions where it is recorded and your personal lawyer is present to be valid.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Def-Star on December 10, 2015, 01:06:32 AM
Oh, and you might want to check your facts. Specifically, your claim that "he took millions". This is a popular and oft-repeated lie. In fact, his company took between $200,000 and $400,000, and he personally received a third share of that. I'm not sure where the "millions" idea came from, but it certainly is not true.

I went ahead and checked that fact


Quote
How did this work out for me? Well, the total amount of our contract with eBay US was $5.3 million over several years. Our biggest expense was ad placement. Payroll was our next expense; we had five employees and a major contractor with 10-12 employees that did the bulk of our software programming. And then we had the same overhead that every small business has. Nevertheless I was the second highest paid employee, and over the course of the contract I was personally paid about $1.1 million, gross before taxes. About what a good corporate job would pay, only I got to work at home in a T-shirt.

Dunning scammed $5,300,000 over several years, but only claims $1,100,000 because he has business expenses? A rather dishonest statement. The number you quoted was the settlement, 4-8% of Dunning's take. Dunning, in his own words, took millions. Over several, ongoing years.

Source: https://www.briandunning.com/message.html (https://www.briandunning.com/message.html)


And the way to tell if someone is convicted of fraud rather than just breach of contract is if the person receives a felony conviction. That would indicate a fraud, specifically wire fraud, in this case.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Guillermo on December 10, 2015, 10:11:29 AM
Oh, and you might want to check your facts. Specifically, your claim that "he took millions". This is a popular and oft-repeated lie. In fact, his company took between $200,000 and $400,000, and he personally received a third share of that. I'm not sure where the "millions" idea came from, but it certainly is not true.

I went ahead and checked that fact


Quote
How did this work out for me? Well, the total amount of our contract with eBay US was $5.3 million over several years. Our biggest expense was ad placement. Payroll was our next expense; we had five employees and a major contractor with 10-12 employees that did the bulk of our software programming. And then we had the same overhead that every small business has. Nevertheless I was the second highest paid employee, and over the course of the contract I was personally paid about $1.1 million, gross before taxes. About what a good corporate job would pay, only I got to work at home in a T-shirt.

Dunning scammed $5,300,000 over several years, but only claims $1,100,000 because he has business expenses? A rather dishonest statement. The number you quoted was the settlement, 4-8% of Dunning's take. Dunning, in his own words, took millions. Over several, ongoing years.

Source: https://www.briandunning.com/message.html (https://www.briandunning.com/message.html)


And the way to tell if someone is convicted of fraud rather than just breach of contract is if the person receives a felony conviction. That would indicate a fraud, specifically wire fraud, in this case.
You seemed to have stopped reading there. It doesn't say that Dunning Scammed 5,300,000. It says that that was what was earned in the contract. When Ebay was asked, what was scammed, then they put the 200K-400K number. So the real number should lie between 200K and 5.3M, depending on who you believe. Considering that the business itself was legitimate with a side of ill gotten income, that means that not everything ofthe 5.3M was scammed. Some of it, should have been legit. I'm pretty sure e-bay knows their numbers, could the value be above 400K. Probably, but not nearly as close as the 5.3M you mentioned.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on December 10, 2015, 10:21:15 AM
He screwed up. He served his time. Had to give back his share of the take. End of story. I would not trust him to manage my money, but I still like his podcast, and I donate what I consider the podcast to be worth to me. His character is not relevant to my valuation of the program.

The people who run our banks, the people who run the oil companies, the people who run our country, the people who run the major retail companies, are all far worse than Dunning, and we deal with them every day. We don't put people in prison for standing in pulpits telling little children that they will burn in hell for all eternity if they touch their own genitals. The people who caused the collapse of our economy in 2008 are still free and enjoying the piles of cash they grabbed.

Put in perspective, what Dunning did was nothing. A minor scam that he was caught and punished for.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Def-Star on December 10, 2015, 10:49:34 PM

You seemed to have stopped reading there. It doesn't say that Dunning Scammed 5,300,000. It says that that was what was earned in the contract. When Ebay was asked, what was scammed, then they put the 200K-400K number. So the real number should lie between 200K and 5.3M, depending on who you believe. Considering that the business itself was legitimate with a side of ill gotten income, that means that not everything ofthe 5.3M was scammed. Some of it, should have been legit. I'm pretty sure e-bay knows their numbers, could the value be above 400K. Probably, but not nearly as close as the 5.3M you mentioned.

Cheers, Guillermo.

I did read and quote it, however I don't assume that Brian Dunning, in his defense of himself, was attempting to do anything other than justify felonious behaviour. The amount is a settlement. No one knows how or why that specific amout was calculated out of 5.3 million (which was just a year and a half take January 2006 to June 2007). However Dunning admits that the affiliate program only earned him a few hundred dollars/month prior to his cookie stuffing scheme, and that once he put the scheme into place.

Quote
For our first few years we had very little success, making perhaps a few hundred dollars per month. But then, working in close association with eBay and with Commission Junction (the company that managed eBay’s affiliate program) we developed a pair of useful widgets: ProfileMaps, that showed a map of visitors to your MySpace page; and WhoLinked, a WordPress plugin that showed who has linked to your blog.

There is no reason those useless widgets would increase his commission from less than a thousand dollars per year to over two million dollars a year if it wasn't doing something else entirely. Of course, did not work closely with E-Bay to cookie stuff. That is a lie on his part to put the blame on E-Bay.

You can read the indictment where it lays out how much he took illegally:
http://www.benedelman.org/affiliate-litigation/dunning-indictment.pdf#page=4 (http://www.benedelman.org/affiliate-litigation/dunning-indictment.pdf#page=4)

The man is just a dishonest person. He won't admit his crime and will brazenly lie about it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Belgarath on December 10, 2015, 11:17:20 PM
And the thing you're missing is that indictments and things stated there are wrong and completely inaccurate all the time.  You take the indictment as gospel and don't think that hmm, sometimes prosecutors lie and exaggerate.

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on December 11, 2015, 07:56:51 PM
Dunning scammed $5,300,000 over several years, but only claims $1,100,000 because he has business expenses? A rather dishonest statement. The number you quoted was the settlement, 4-8% of Dunning's take. Dunning, in his own words, took millions. Over several, ongoing years.

Add to that that Dunning's "five employees" included himself and, if I'm remembering right, at least three family members.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on December 12, 2015, 05:15:02 AM
I find the whole debate over his "crimes" to be pointless.  Whether you accept either the "best" or "worst" case scenario of what happened (which scenario is which may differ depending on your preconception of Dunning), it is irrelevant to both the effect of the charges on his credibility and to the effectiveness of his podcast.

Whether the charges were accurate or not, Dunning's credibility is damaged by them.  This may not be fair, but it is the way things are.

However, the content of his articles and podcast still stand (or fall) on their own.  While it may be annoying that direct links to his content may not always be the best way to share information on controversial topics, they can still be valuable tools for exploring those topics.

There are plenty of criticisms one can make of Dunning that are relevant to the topics of science of skepticism, e.g., his history of being unwilling to engage with relevant experts on errors in his content, his tendency to highlight only the most mockable -- rather than the most insightful -- of his listener feedback, and his absurdly incompetent attempt at producing a rap video.  Fortunately, he has recently shown signs of improvement in at least one of those areas.

That being said, I have found his post-prison episodes to be rather unremarkable.  A welcome part of my podcast rotation, but nothing to write home about.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 12, 2015, 10:51:16 AM
OMG is it rapping? Please tell me he made another rap video.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on December 13, 2015, 04:13:30 PM
OMG is it rapping? Please tell me he made another rap video.

No, sorry... it is not rapping.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on December 14, 2015, 08:52:51 AM
OMG is it rapping? Please tell me he made another rap video.

No, sorry... it is not rapping.

I like his skepticism. Mostly. I don't like his musical videos.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Fast Eddie B on December 14, 2015, 09:56:59 AM

I like his skepticism. Mostly. I don't like his musical videos.

I appreciate his enthusiasm, but I find the musical podcasts almost painfully unlistenable after about 15 seconds!
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on December 14, 2015, 12:08:57 PM

I like his skepticism. Mostly. I don't like his musical videos.

I appreciate his enthusiasm, but I find the musical podcasts almost painfully unlistenable after about 15 seconds!

Yeah. It's like I like George Hrab but his music mostly doesn't do it for me. I avoid any shows that are all music and pretty my FF through any music he does on the podcast.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Fast Eddie B on December 14, 2015, 12:57:30 PM

Yeah. It's like I like George Hrab but his music mostly doesn't do it for me.

He offered an album for free and I downloaded it. Trebuchet?

Wanted to like it, but was not my cup of tea at all. Maybe listened to two songs before giving up.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Belgarath on December 14, 2015, 01:02:08 PM

Whether the charges were accurate or not, Dunning's credibility is damaged by them.  This may not be fair, but it is the way things are.



I think there are degrees of damage based on the actual crime. And I also think that there is such a thing as forgiveness based on behavior.  If this is his only incident, then in a few years, he should be just as credible as before. (Maybe more so)

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 14, 2015, 01:17:07 PM
I am also not a big fan of Shelley Segal
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on December 14, 2015, 07:01:06 PM

Whether the charges were accurate or not, Dunning's credibility is damaged by them.  This may not be fair, but it is the way things are.



I think there are degrees of damage based on the actual crime. And I also think that there is such a thing as forgiveness based on behavior.  If this is his only incident, then in a few years, he should be just as credible as before. (Maybe more so)

Of course reasonable people should weigh the facts and severity of the circumstances, but that is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about his effectiveness as an advocate for science and skepticism.  His record is a distraction from that.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Belgarath on December 15, 2015, 07:48:00 AM
Are you stating a trivial fact or advocating that he shouldn't advocate for science and skepticism?   I'm really confused now. 

Let's say Mike Adams suddenly had an epiphany and started advocating for scientific medicine.  Would his record be a distraction?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 15, 2015, 07:51:55 AM
A far number of the more prominent speakers for atheism used to be ministers
Now he does not appear to be using that however like one would expect if Mike Adams turned around.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on December 15, 2015, 08:42:16 AM
Of course reasonable people should weigh the facts and severity of the circumstances, but that is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about his effectiveness as an advocate for science and skepticism.  His record is a distraction from that.

Depends on what you're looking for in an advocate for skepticism. Would I use him as a source? No. If congress needed someone to testify about some skeptical topic, would anyone go "send in Brian Dunning?" I like to think there's not enough beer in the world. Does he bring to light interesting topics that I go out and double check his facts? Yep.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on December 17, 2015, 02:27:33 AM
When talking about his credibility in this context I am referring to his perceived credibility to peoplensure who do not necessarily already embrace a skeptical mindset.  Which I kind of thought was the point of the skeptical movement -- to reach outhe to those people.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 17, 2015, 04:32:29 AM
When talking about his credibility in this context I am referring to his perceived credibility to peoplensure who do not necessarily already embrace a skeptical mindset.  Which I kind of thought was the point of the skeptical movement -- to reach outhe to those people.

I think most people will be sucked in by the story first so do not see that as a serious issue.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on December 17, 2015, 09:24:45 AM
When talking about his credibility in this context I am referring to his perceived credibility to peoplensure who do not necessarily already embrace a skeptical mindset.  Which I kind of thought was the point of the skeptical movement -- to reach outhe to those people.

I've viewed the role of the lay skeptic as helping people find sources for the scientific consensus in cases where someone is bypassing the scientific process and taking outlandish claims straight to the public.

So, like, "Interesting idea about free energy, however, these links indicate to me the scientific consensus is this device can't possibly work and maybe you should first consider fraud or the person is deluding themselves."

How many people are on the fence, encounter Brian Dunning, and then find out about his crime, and decide "fuck skepticism!" or have some subconscious lowering of trust to future skeptical claims. During my own transition to skepticism would I have been turned off if I found out Carl Sagan or Randi spent time in jail for fraud? Maybe.

Anyway, I just don't see Brian Dunning as being anyone's gateway introduction to skepticism.

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 17, 2015, 09:50:42 AM
I really wonder what his purpose is, then. TBH I have never been a great big fan of his show as I've always found it to be about that easy, boring flavor of skepticism that covers (for the most part) obvious topics and gets along playing the "whack a mole" game. That's fine; that line certainly has a place in skepticism as a whole, but if you're dealing with one of these people who is coming up with what they think is a new idea and you can't even send them to a Brian Dunning link because you, the skeptic, are skeptical of his perceived credibility, how much does he really help? If you are to memorize and repeat/paraphrase his arguments, then you come to the notion that his arguments are often just not very good and not likely to get better because he does not respond to valid criticism - shouldn't you just go to another source for that kind of thing?

That leaves him, I guess, as entertainment for the already-skeptical community. Which, again, has its value, but TBH I think there are much more informative and entertaining podcasts and other media out there about skepticism in general and the stuff that Dunning covers in particular. Unless you find really bad rap entertaining, although he probably won't "entertain" us with another song any time soon after the flak over the last one. We're down to the level of preferring Two Broke Girls over The Big Bang Theory at this point anyway, so meh.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on December 17, 2015, 11:56:50 AM
That leaves him, I guess, as entertainment for the already-skeptical community.

That's about what I get out of Skeptoid. It's entertaining for a true believer like me.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on December 17, 2015, 02:45:35 PM
Its value is that its short.   It has introduced me to a few brands of woo I hadn't heard of so, its interesting on that regard. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 20, 2015, 12:52:18 PM
I don't think that one of his latest items hit real well. . . . ."Bad Skepticism"
I am not sure that he should be one to talk on that issue with some of the problems in the past. Besides, I don't see that as something which should be a lecture but instead a discussion between skeptics.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on December 21, 2015, 01:09:07 PM
I don't think that one of his latest items hit real well. . . . ."Bad Skepticism"
I am not sure that he should be one to talk on that issue with some of the problems in the past. Besides, I don't see that as something which should be a lecture but instead a discussion between skeptics.
It would be a great topic for Steve to cover though. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 21, 2015, 01:19:59 PM
I don't think that one of his latest items hit real well. . . . ."Bad Skepticism"
I am not sure that he should be one to talk on that issue with some of the problems in the past. Besides, I don't see that as something which should be a lecture but instead a discussion between skeptics.
It would be a great topic for Steve to cover though.

Even with Steve, I would take it under advisement.  :P
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: xenu on December 22, 2015, 05:01:39 PM
Just wondering if you all are seeing this. I get the podcast from Itunes. I noticed that all the skeptoid episodes are starting to reissue from the beginning. Every time that I down load/ delete one, another one fills in. Just curious.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Guillermo on December 23, 2015, 08:41:30 AM
I think, that's because iTunes sucks managing podcasts. It doesn't happen to me with Skeptoid, but it happens on other shows I listen to. Especially after an update.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 23, 2015, 09:09:10 AM
I have not seen any issues with Pocketcast with regards to Skeptoid.
I did end up deleting Serial and then resubscribing though.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on December 23, 2015, 11:37:14 AM
I use podcatcher and haven't had any similar issues.

One more defense of Brian Dunning and bad skepticism.  He often repeats the notion that before you try and come up with a rational explanation for something, you need to verify it actually exists.  The best example is the bermuda triangle, which isn't a real phenomena but folks have tried to explain it none-the-less.  I think that's a useful message that I don't hear very often from anyone else. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on December 23, 2015, 01:02:33 PM
The idea you should not debunk stuff that doesn't even exist isn't a new idea. Ray Hyman has been "preaching the "categorical imperative" for decades.

http://www.skeptic.com/insight/history-and-hymans-maxim-part-one/

That said, it's something people tend to over look in a rush to offer a rational explanation, which can come across as seeming desperate, convoluted, and less believable. But bless Dunning for reinforcing this time and time again.

His most recent ep about the Christmas Truce was interesting, although he seems to think WWII killing technology was different from WWI killing technology. However, pretty much all the realities of combat for the foot solider, besides nukes, were pretty much introduced in WWI: rifles with magazines, machine guns, tanks, long range artillery, and aircraft. WWI was horrifying not because, as Dunning implied, killing was about poison gas and bayonets, but it was horrifying because the generals were still stuck for most of the war in a Napoleonic war strategy. Assuming throwing well disciplined waves of men at machine guns will work just as well as throwing columns of soldiers at other columns of soldiers.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Gerbig on December 23, 2015, 01:12:02 PM
I use Itunes, that happens with random podcasts all the time to me. Ill come back to my computer just to find it has downloaded every episode of a 200+ episode podcast.

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 23, 2015, 01:47:42 PM
His most recent ep about the Christmas Truce was interesting, although he seems to think WWII killing technology was different from WWI killing technology. However, pretty much all the realities of combat for the foot solider, besides nukes, were pretty much introduced in WWI: rifles with magazines, machine guns, tanks, long range artillery, and aircraft. WWI was horrifying not because, as Dunning implied, killing was about poison gas and bayonets, but it was horrifying because the generals were still stuck for most of the war in a Napoleonic war strategy. Assuming throwing well disciplined waves of men at machine guns will work just as well as throwing columns of soldiers at other columns of soldiers.

Actually even during the ACW, that was mostly true. Even if officers did not learn it, soldiers did by the end of the war. The spade was almost a more useful weapon than the riflw.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 23, 2015, 04:49:41 PM
His most recent ep about the Christmas Truce was interesting, although he seems to think WWII killing technology was different from WWI killing technology. However, pretty much all the realities of combat for the foot solider, besides nukes, were pretty much introduced in WWI: rifles with magazines, machine guns, tanks, long range artillery, and aircraft. WWI was horrifying not because, as Dunning implied, killing was about poison gas and bayonets, but it was horrifying because the generals were still stuck for most of the war in a Napoleonic war strategy. Assuming throwing well disciplined waves of men at machine guns will work just as well as throwing columns of soldiers at other columns of soldiers.

Actually even during the ACW, that was mostly true. Even if officers did not learn it, soldiers did by the end of the war. The spade was almost a more useful weapon than the riflw.
Yeah, Grant's Wilderness campaign was basically one long piece of trench warfare, where Lee would get into place, entrench, have Grant try to get around his flank or attempt frontal assaults (including one feat of engineering turned debacle in which Union troops sapped the Confederate position, then were unable to exploit the situation because the explosion created too large of a crater), then see that he was about to get outmanuevered and pull back to a different defensive position. Essentially the second Lee found a place, his men were fast at work building trenches that, except for their hasty construction, could have been mistaken for anything in World War II. And it didn't even take machine guns - the Union had the Gatling gun but it wasn't widely used or terribly good - just rifles. Even early on in the war Lee was referred to as the "Ace of Spades" - derisively at first, then, once it became clear that entrenching was a great way to inflict heavy casualties with minimal losses, affectionately.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 23, 2015, 05:12:46 PM
Actually you have the Battle of the Crater a bit wrong. . . . .There was a unit of black troops specifically trained what to do. The idea was that as soon as the crater was blown, they were suppose to keep going. The problem is that one of the generals, might have been Mead, decided to replace the prepped black troops with unprepped white troops as the initial wave. They did not follow through with the charge.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer on December 24, 2015, 03:14:02 AM
One more defense of Brian Dunning and bad skepticism.  He often repeats the notion that before you try and come up with a rational explanation for something, you need to verify it actually exists.  ...  I think that's a useful message that I don't hear very often from anyone else. 

that's some super old school SGU right there. could google 'cart before the horse' if the transcript project was done
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 25, 2015, 05:15:58 PM
On the issue of the American Civil War, there was plenty of fraternization between Union and Confederate soldiers. They often had a live and let live philosophy as well. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on December 28, 2015, 09:27:54 PM
... the Union had the Gatling gun but it wasn't widely used or terribly good - just rifles. ...

Did they have rifles? I thought they just had muskets. I don't really know. That was just my impression. In high school I had a classmate who owned a civil-war-era musket or two. Or did the Union have rifles and the Confederacy not?

I use iCatcher, and have had no problems with any of my podcasts. It lives on my iPod Touch and grabs podcasts directly from the net so they don't have to go onto my computer first, so I can bypass iTunes. This is a big improvement over my old iPod that I had to plug into the computer and use iTunes.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 28, 2015, 10:08:54 PM
The union had repeaters available but the generals were against issuing soldiers them because they would waste ammunition. There are cases of Union soldiers holding off many times their numbers with repeaters however and the Confederates could not produce ammunition for them.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 29, 2015, 12:02:19 PM
... the Union had the Gatling gun but it wasn't widely used or terribly good - just rifles. ...

Did they have rifles? I thought they just had muskets. I don't really know. That was just my impression. In high school I had a classmate who owned a civil-war-era musket or two. Or did the Union have rifles and the Confederacy not?

I use iCatcher, and have had no problems with any of my podcasts. It lives on my iPod Touch and grabs podcasts directly from the net so they don't have to go onto my computer first, so I can bypass iTunes. This is a big improvement over my old iPod that I had to plug into the computer and use iTunes.
Rifles were probably *the* major innovation of the war and the thing that above anything else made trench warfare so powerful and deadly over the conflict's second half. Both armies basically started with muskets but rifled stock was slowly introduced to both sides once it became clear that there was a huge advantage in accuracy to be gained. I believe, though, that even from the early days of the war specialist groups like Sharp's Shooters utilized rifles.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on December 29, 2015, 12:08:54 PM
I was of the understanding that rifles, albeit single shot versions, were common at the start of the US Civil War.  I'm relatively certain they were common by the end. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: SkeptiQueer on December 29, 2015, 12:19:13 PM
By 1865 you had lever-action repeaters, and bolt actions had been around for almost two decades IIRC. I inherited a non-functional cavalry carbine that saw service in the Civil War and on the Frontier afterwards before retiring to live over someone's fireplace along side a cavalry saber.

They didn't see service in the US, but if you're a history/engineering nerd you should check out the Girandoni air rifle. 20 round magazine with quick-change air bladders and enough power to compete with black powder cartridge rifles...and it predates the United States. I don't care who you are that's fukkem cool.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 29, 2015, 02:27:22 PM
Yeah, I think that maybe what people were thinking about there was repeaters vs single-shot muzzle-loaded rifles, although it *is* true that for the first year or two of the war a *lot* of the soldiers fought with unrifled muskets, the idea (I think) being that for a lot of people they weren't going to be all that accurate anyway so why go to the expense of giving them something with a rifled barrel. Incidentally, if memory serves one of the first breech-loaded rifles (still single-shot but a hell of a lot easier to reload than muzzle-loaded guns) that got used by the Union was invented by supreme Civil War fuckup Ambrose Burnside (also known as the villain of the Battle of Fredericksburg, the mind behind the Battle of the Crater, and the guy who stubbornly tried to take a bridge without checking that the creek it was running over was fordable at Antietam, among other things).
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on December 29, 2015, 03:47:50 PM
Have we stumbled into a civil war re-enactors' thread?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on December 29, 2015, 04:09:35 PM
So were there rifled muzzle-loaders? I don't mind showing my ignorance. I know there were muskets without rifling, which were muzzle-loaded and not very accurate. As I mentioned, a classmate of mine had one or two. They were functioning guns, which he would occasionally take down into the canyon at my horrid private high school for target shooting. One time, angry at another classmate, he loaded one of these muskets with a very light charge and wad (no ball) and shot the kid in the back with the wad. Judging from the reaction, it was like getting punched hard. It was also LOUD and filled the kid's room with filthy black smoke. Yes, he used black powder for his guns.

Anyway, I know about non-rifled muzzle-loaders, and obviously modern breach loaders. But I'd never heard of a muzzle loader with rifling. I kind of thought you'd need a modern bullet-shaped projectile, rather than a ball, to get the advantage of rifling.

Again, I know nothing of these things.

Oh, my second step-father had a muzzle-loading revolver. The powder, ball, and wad were pressed directly into the revolving chamber by means of a lever mounted below the barrel. I never fired the thing because I was afraid it might blow up, which I gather was actually a risk with these things. But I did watch from a distance as he fired it on one occasion. I don't remember if he used black powder or something more modern. Eventually my mother convinced him to get rid of his guns. He kept all of his regular (modern) guns loaded, reasoning that you always hear of accidental shootings involving guns thought to be empty. So he made it clear that his were never empty. He also didn't keep them locked up. This was before people had gun safes.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 29, 2015, 04:14:33 PM
There have long been muzzle loading rifles. . . . .Americans during the revolution war often used them against British troops.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Harry Black on December 29, 2015, 04:18:06 PM
Edit- Wtf?!! I was reading and following the thread and somehow my brain farted and thought the discussion was about ww1!! It made zero sense.
I was just doing something unrelated and it hit me that I had posted what must have seemed like it was in the wrong thread!
How embarrassing. Yet interesting.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 29, 2015, 06:36:53 PM
That is thread drift for you  :P
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Harry Black on December 29, 2015, 08:00:58 PM
That is thread drift for you  :P
So weird. My brain just replaced the civil war with ww1 and my memory of the context!
This little anomalies make me far more excited than I ought to be.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on December 29, 2015, 09:42:33 PM
Oh, my second step-father had a muzzle-loading revolver. The powder, ball, and wad were pressed directly into the revolving chamber by means of a lever mounted below the barrel. I never fired the thing because I was afraid it might blow up, which I gather was actually a risk with these things. But I did watch from a distance as he fired it on one occasion. I don't remember if he used black powder or something more modern. Eventually my mother convinced him to get rid of his guns. He kept all of his regular (modern) guns loaded, reasoning that you always hear of accidental shootings involving guns thought to be empty. So he made it clear that his were never empty. He also didn't keep them locked up. This was before people had gun safes.
I guess, technically not a muzzle loader but I don't know what that would be called.  The muzzle is the front end of the barrel IIRC. 

Also, nobody used to lock up guns unless you count a glass display case.  It's kinda like seat belts and the like, some things change for the good. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 30, 2015, 03:16:58 PM
That sounds like a breech-loader to me, similar to Burnsides's invention.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on December 30, 2015, 04:43:52 PM
Yeah. I don't remember what he called it. I was just using a term that came to mind. It was kind of a scary piece of hardware, though, because there's the possibility that a spark from the chamber being fired sets off the powder in one or more other chambers, causing the whole gun to explode. Fortunately, that never happened while my step-father had the gun.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: SkeptiQueer on December 31, 2015, 02:32:28 AM


Yeah. I don't remember what he called it. I was just using a term that came to mind. It was kind of a scary piece of hardware, though, because there's the possibility that a spark from the chamber being fired sets off the powder in one or more other chambers, causing the whole gun to explode. Fortunately, that never happened while my step-father had the gun.

Cap and ball is the nomenclature. The old hand's trick was to use some grease to seal the gaps around the caps after loading a cylinder to prevent the rare case of a contagious spark. Interestingly, the extremely slow reload times spurred two neat get-arounds, either the shooter would carry extra cylinders already loaded (save for the caps) and just replace the cylinder, or carry several extra guns, referred to commonly as the New York Reload.

Uberti makes replicas of the most popular old models, available either by Internet or at Cabela's and Gander Mountain. They can hook you up with everything you need to make enough smoke to completely obscure whatever you're shooting at. Popular at Cowboy Action Shooting events, which I recommend if you like greasy food from an iron skillet and a show. It's like LARP with fewer deities and fewer injuries.

Interestingly black powder firearms arw subject to a lot less regulation, generally on part with crossbows and air rifles, should you want to take up one of the target sports and wear deerskin.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Fast Eddie B on December 31, 2015, 07:54:20 AM
The old hand's trick was to use some grease to seal the gaps around the caps after loading a cylinder to prevent the rare case of a contagious spark.

They sell special lube for that, but Crisco is touted as just as good and is what we use.

Most times, the round balls "shave" off a tiny bit of lead as they seat in the cylinder, ensuring a tight fit and making a "contagious spark" very unlikely in any case.

Anyway, black powder shooting is a hoot. Here's Karen:

http://youtu.be/eMSoCWFuAgQ (http://youtu.be/eMSoCWFuAgQ)
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on December 31, 2015, 09:30:45 AM


Yeah. I don't remember what he called it. I was just using a term that came to mind. It was kind of a scary piece of hardware, though, because there's the possibility that a spark from the chamber being fired sets off the powder in one or more other chambers, causing the whole gun to explode. Fortunately, that never happened while my step-father had the gun.

Cap and ball is the nomenclature. The old hand's trick was to use some grease to seal the gaps around the caps after loading a cylinder to prevent the rare case of a contagious spark. Interestingly, the extremely slow reload times spurred two neat get-arounds, either the shooter would carry extra cylinders already loaded (save for the caps) and just replace the cylinder, or carry several extra guns, referred to commonly as the New York Reload.

Uberti makes replicas of the most popular old models, available either by Internet or at Cabela's and Gander Mountain. They can hook you up with everything you need to make enough smoke to completely obscure whatever you're shooting at. Popular at Cowboy Action Shooting events, which I recommend if you like greasy food from an iron skillet and a show. It's like LARP with fewer deities and fewer injuries.

Interestingly black powder firearms arw subject to a lot less regulation, generally on part with crossbows and air rifles, should you want to take up one of the target sports and wear deerskin.

Yes. That's right: My step-father used some kind of grease. I couldn't remember clearly, and I was thinking wax, but that didn't seem right since you wouldn't want to pour hot wax over black powder. But when I read your post, I remembered it was grease. I don't remember what kind.

And I do not remember if his was a replica or an original old-time gun. Knowing him, it could have been either. For a while he owned and drove a 30-plus-year-old Rolls Royce, so he might have bought a genuine antique gun. OTOH, he was very safety-conscious, so he might have bought a replica as being safer.

I won't be going to any of those events. I don't like loud noises. I did enjoy watching a trebuchet throwing watermelons at the last renaissance fair I went to.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Fast Eddie B on December 31, 2015, 11:06:46 AM
This is what Karen was firing, in the stainless steel version:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruger_Old_Army (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruger_Old_Army)
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on December 31, 2015, 02:58:45 PM
Interestingly black powder firearms arw subject to a lot less regulation, generally on part with crossbows and air rifles, should you want to take up one of the target sports and wear deerskin.

You seem to suggest that modern firearms are subject to a lot more regulation.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 31, 2015, 09:04:23 PM
Interestingly black powder firearms arw subject to a lot less regulation, generally on part with crossbows and air rifles, should you want to take up one of the target sports and wear deerskin.

You seem to suggest that modern firearms are subject to a lot more regulation.

If you have a felony conviction, owning a firearm is a "no no" but at leats in some states you can own a black powder weapon.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on December 31, 2015, 09:26:11 PM
Interestingly black powder firearms arw subject to a lot less regulation, generally on part with crossbows and air rifles, should you want to take up one of the target sports and wear deerskin.

You seem to suggest that modern firearms are subject to a lot more regulation.

If you have a felony conviction, owning a firearm is a "no no" but at leats in some states you can own a black powder weapon.

That would be a bit disturbing if I believed that there was any relation between having a felony conviction and actually having committed a felony. But I suppose they figure that criminals are not likely to want to use a black powder weapon in the commission of a crime. Or maybe they figure that felons are not smart enough to use one. Or maybe they figure such weapons are too inaccurate to be useful in the commission of a crime???

(I've read that the firearms the conquistadors brought with them were less accurate and less useful than the bows and arrows of the Indians, but I suppose that in the 500 years between then and now black powder firearms have improved.)
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: SkeptiQueer on December 31, 2015, 11:41:19 PM
Interestingly black powder firearms arw subject to a lot less regulation, generally on part with crossbows and air rifles, should you want to take up one of the target sports and wear deerskin.

You seem to suggest that modern firearms are subject to a lot more regulation.
They are.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on January 01, 2016, 02:40:45 AM
Interestingly black powder firearms arw subject to a lot less regulation, generally on part with crossbows and air rifles, should you want to take up one of the target sports and wear deerskin.

You seem to suggest that modern firearms are subject to a lot more regulation.

If you have a felony conviction, owning a firearm is a "no no" but at leats in some states you can own a black powder weapon.

That would be a bit disturbing if I believed that there was any relation between having a felony conviction and actually having committed a felony. But I suppose they figure that criminals are not likely to want to use a black powder weapon in the commission of a crime. Or maybe they figure that felons are not smart enough to use one. Or maybe they figure such weapons are too inaccurate to be useful in the commission of a crime???

(I've read that the firearms the conquistadors brought with them were less accurate and less useful than the bows and arrows of the Indians, but I suppose that in the 500 years between then and now black powder firearms have improved.)

It does vary by state as well but Federal law does not necessarily make it illegal for a felon to have a black powder weapon.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on January 01, 2016, 11:44:05 AM
Modern guns are not well regulated in this country. Felons are barred from doing various things, including owning guns, but that's regulation of felons, not guns.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: SkeptiQueer on January 01, 2016, 12:09:47 PM
Modern guns are not well regulated in this country. Felons are barred from doing various things, including owning guns, but that's regulation of felons, not guns.
Black powder non-cartridge firearms are exempt from the NFA of 1934, GCA of 1968, and every other law modifying those two on the federal level.

Kindly keep your personal gun crusade to the appropriate threads.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on January 01, 2016, 12:29:23 PM
To call those "a lot of regulation" is BS and I will call you on your BS no matter what thread you post it in
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on January 01, 2016, 02:53:47 PM
If he is being accurate, I did not realize that the story of the Hope Diamond was almost all fiction. I thought it was more or less accurate but just that things happen in life.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on January 04, 2016, 02:05:31 PM
If he is being accurate, I did not realize that the story of the Hope Diamond was almost all fiction. I thought it was more or less accurate but just that things happen in life.

Yeah I assumed it was a case of cherry picking the "hits" as well as loose time lines. You can pick any point in time and then any bad life event after that point in time and go "see! you should have never got that haircut! Your mother died six years after!" The legend of King Tut's curse is pretty much predicated on it. As well as the Clinton Body Count conspiracy.

But I didn't realize the stories of bad events are themselves largely fiction.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: God Bomb on January 10, 2016, 11:57:13 AM
can't stand the episodes withe the transgender narrator.  Having a good voice is a pre-requisite for narrating a podcast.  And I want to be inoffensive but blunt at the same time.  A genetic male trying to sound like a woman is really distracting.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Gerbig on January 10, 2016, 01:16:58 PM
Eh,  doesn't bother me.

A thick accent would bother me much more,  but as long as I can understand the words,  and they don't sound like that woman from jeopardy, I'm fine.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: God Bomb on January 10, 2016, 11:27:10 PM
There's a few other podcast voices that made their shows unlistenable.  I dunno if it's still around but there was one called skeptically speaking or something, which featured a guy who would speak really fast for 10 seconds, stop mid sentence and swallow a ton of saliva then resume, over and over again and I found myself just waiting for the swallow and not listening.
Another one was one of those 'how stuff works' spinoff shows.  It had two american ladies hosting it and they had the most high pitched whiny nasal voices I'd ever heard.  It was unbearable.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer on March 03, 2016, 05:31:21 AM
Naked Scientists had one of the most wonderful broadcaster voices in the podverse, but I just couldn't stomach how child-oriented their content was.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on March 03, 2016, 05:49:21 AM
The latest Skeptoid about Knights Templar is not bad.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on March 03, 2016, 01:02:12 PM
The latest Skeptoid about Knights Templar is not bad.

Indeed. Interesting how people have taken the clamp down on the templars, sort of compressed a decade of clamping down and pressure of them to merge with other orders, into basically one long night of the knives sort of thing.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on March 03, 2016, 11:05:35 PM
The latest Skeptoid about Knights Templar is not bad.

Indeed. Interesting how people have taken the clamp down on the templars, sort of compressed a decade of clamping down and pressure of them to merge with other orders, into basically one long night of the knives sort of thing.

I once saw the simultaneous arrest of Templars in France compared to the Tet Offensive. And to my chagrin, I believed it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: briandunning on June 11, 2016, 09:44:04 PM
to my surprise, he seems to have finally started taking the criticism he has been getting for years seriously.

Curious about this, what type of criticism are you referring to? Thanks.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: briandunning on June 11, 2016, 09:49:39 PM
Jeff Wagg has done a few of the more interesting interim episodes. If you're not familiar with Jeff, he is the curator of the College of Curiosity and has his own podcast, called Oddments. He's a really interesting guy.

Agreed. Jeff does great work. He is also a board member at Skeptoid Media.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: briandunning on June 11, 2016, 09:55:44 PM
One more defense of Brian Dunning and bad skepticism.  He often repeats the notion that before you try and come up with a rational explanation for something, you need to verify it actually exists.  ...  I think that's a useful message that I don't hear very often from anyone else.

That is actually from Ray Hyman. "Hyman's Categorical Imperative: Do not try to explain something until you are sure there is something to be explained."
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on June 12, 2016, 03:55:15 AM
to my surprise, he seems to have finally started taking the criticism he has been getting for years seriously.

Curious about this, what type of criticism are you referring to? Thanks.

Thanks for messaging me about this thread, Brian, I have not been on this forum for some time, and would have missed it if you had not given me a heads up.

First of all I need to point out that i have not listened to Skeptoid for several months now.  Not because I have a problem with the podcast, its just that my listening habits have simply migrated from science towards the arts & humanities of late.

Back when I wrote the comment in question, I was referring to the once-common perception that you had a tendency to lump legitimate criticism from fellow skeptics in with the crazy rantings of conspiracy-minded types, and dismiss it all with a few sarcastic remarks.  This tendency was most dramatically manifest in the whole DDT kerfuffle from about half a decade ago, but showed up on a smaller scale in many of your listener feedback episodes.

However, like I said, it seemed to me that the last few listener feedback episodes before I stopped listening were lighter on the dismissive sarcasm and dealt more directly with legitimate criticism.

Sorry that I cannot be more specific right now, as it has been a while since I have listened to Skeptoid.  Maybe I should put Skeptoid back into my podcast queue and catch up.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer on June 12, 2016, 07:31:03 AM
One more defense of Brian Dunning and bad skepticism.  He often repeats the notion that before you try and come up with a rational explanation for something, you need to verify it actually exists.  ...  I think that's a useful message that I don't hear very often from anyone else.

That is actually from Ray Hyman. "Hyman's Categorical Imperative: Do not try to explain something until you are sure there is something to be explained."

nice.
I'd only ever heard of that from a really early ep. of SGU
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on June 13, 2016, 08:50:07 AM
Hyman may have been the first to introduce this concept to the larger body of skepticism but I do appreciate Dunning has also helped popularize it and offers a weekly reminder.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho on October 20, 2016, 01:44:38 AM
Hadn't listened to Skeptoid in a few years, but have listened to quite a few eps this week... man, this is a good show. My memory of Skeptoid is, "this week we learn why ___ is BS," (which I almost always enjoyed), but now it seems to be, "this week we learn about the facts regarding ____," which I've been enjoying even more.

I feel like it's transitioned from a show I'd reference for information to a show I listen to for enjoyment.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on October 20, 2016, 11:29:15 AM
Hadn't listened to Skeptoid in a few years, but have listened to quite a few eps this week... man, this is a good show. My memory of Skeptoid is, "this week we learn why ___ is BS," (which I almost always enjoyed), but now it seems to be, "this week we learn about the facts regarding ____," which I've been enjoying even more.

I feel like it's transitioned from a show I'd reference for information to a show I listen to for enjoyment.

I stopped listening when Brian was out of the office. I'll give it another try.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on October 20, 2016, 12:29:41 PM
I kept listening throughout. My opinion of him took a hit with the shenanigans, but I've always enjoyed the show and still do.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on October 20, 2016, 04:55:58 PM
I kept listening throughout. My opinion of him took a hit with the shenanigans, but I've always enjoyed the show and still do.
Me too, What ever his faults, he's a better host than his fill ins were and the show is mercifully short. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on October 24, 2016, 08:39:27 AM
I just came back to the SGU forum to see what people were saying about Skeptoid these days.

I had been very critical of Dunning in the past, but thought that after his prison stint the show started getting a bit better, and Dunning himself seemed more self-critical.

Then I stopped listening for a while, not for any particular reason, I just started listening to more history and fiction during my podcast time.

Yesterday I downloaded a bunch of the episode that I've missed, and I am very impressed, I think the show it better than it has ever been.

Strangely, however, Dunning appeared as a guest on Star Wars Minute Weekend Edition this week, and I found him be an utterly unbearable blowhard.  Even though he was just talking about Star Wars and not arguing about skepticism, it reminded me of the time he made a fool of himself on Joe Rogan.  I guess he really just needs to stick to working off a script!
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on October 24, 2016, 09:03:10 AM
He also recently wrote a post along the lines of "hey white men! Skepticism is a safe space for us again!". Fuck that guy.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on October 24, 2016, 10:07:04 AM
He also recently wrote a post along the lines of "hey white men! Skepticism is a safe space for us again!". Fuck that guy.

Could you link to that post?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on October 24, 2016, 11:03:43 AM
https://skeptoid.com/blog/2016/03/19/are-you-frustrated-that-tam-the-jref-are-no-more-and-the-skeptical-community-has-disintegrated/
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on October 24, 2016, 11:48:11 AM
https://skeptoid.com/blog/2016/03/19/are-you-frustrated-that-tam-the-jref-are-no-more-and-the-skeptical-community-has-disintegrated/

Ummm... how did you get that out of that?  I mean, it was not a very thoughtful or insightful piece, but I don't see where you get "hey white men!" Out of it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on October 24, 2016, 11:52:45 AM
Quote
The fractioning off of splinter groups whose priorities were other than “Better living through less woo” is not a sign that critical thinking is crumbling. In fact it’s almost the opposite; it’s a cleansing, like one of those organic gluten-free detox coffee enemas we all love. For now, when we do attend a conference, we’re less likely to get punched in the face with some drama that has nothing to do with the reason we attended.
When you couple that with the fact that the "drama" was "why are women and minorities not going to TAM anymore?", a highly dramatic, SJWish question that is at least partially answered by "because TAM kept inviting rapists", it's easy to see who he was dog whistling at.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on October 24, 2016, 01:19:47 PM
From the Dunning article:
Quote
The fractioning off of splinter groups whose priorities were other than “Better living through less woo” is not a sign that critical thinking is crumbling. In fact it’s almost the opposite; it’s a cleansing, like one of those organic gluten-free detox coffee enemas we all love. For now, when we do attend a conference, we’re less likely to get punched in the face with some drama that has nothing to do with the reason we attended.

If the "splinter groups" Dunning refers to are the people who want women to be safe at these events, and the "drama" is calls for people to stop molesting women, then I agree with Johnny.

If the splinter groups are the conspiracy nuts who want us to be "skeptical" of the official story about 9/11 etc., then I agree with Dunning.

It would be interesting to know which splinters he's talking about. Has he written about this before in terms that would tell us where he stands on women's safety at these events?

He does make a good point that the end of TAM and the JREF, while sad, is not an indication that skepticism is dying; it's just one great elder statesman of skepticism taking a well-deserved retirement.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on October 24, 2016, 02:15:50 PM
Conspiracy nuts were not infiltrating TAM, he's referring (probably not super subtly) to Rebecca Watson and Skepchick types among others - the SJWs whom he lumps in with rage bloggers...
At any rate, I'd like to make a more charitable reading of his statement too, but I know the history all too well.
interestingly the JREF's organized shindig couldn't stay afloat, mainly for the reason they fomented the drama by inviting rapists, gropers, and the like, but the SGU events are going strong. Dr Novella seems a lot more in-tune with the demands of representation, and that's what makes it through the gauntlet. Seems the wrong lesson may have been learned here...
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on October 24, 2016, 03:09:59 PM
I wasn't a fan before he was convicted of fraud and nothing I've read since has temped to me to give him anther shot.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on October 24, 2016, 03:47:45 PM
I missed that bit.  You're right, fuck that guy.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on October 24, 2016, 04:34:27 PM
Conspiracy nuts were not infiltrating TAM, he's referring (probably not super subtly) to Rebecca Watson and Skepchick types among others - the SJWs whom he lumps in with rage bloggers...
At any rate, I'd like to make a more charitable reading of his statement too, but I know the history all too well.
interestingly the JREF's organized shindig couldn't stay afloat, mainly for the reason they fomented the drama by inviting rapists, gropers, and the like, but the SGU events are going strong. Dr Novella seems a lot more in-tune with the demands of representation, and that's what makes it through the gauntlet. Seems the wrong lesson may have been learned here...

I do enjoy his podcast, but if he's really complaining about the people who want to make skeptical conventions a safe place for women, then he's a total asshat fuukwad. And I'm not even a woman. However, I'm open to clarifications, if anyone has a link to any postings of his on the matter. I'm 100% with Rebecca on this.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: PANTS! on October 24, 2016, 04:46:49 PM
:munch:
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on October 31, 2016, 09:05:07 AM
Granting charity, Dunning may only be referring to people who attack him personally for the things he served time in jail for, maybe not the whole sexism thing. It's a vague statement and could be taken various ways. I'm fully in support of efforts by skeptical conferences to make them safe places for women, i.e., there are clear rules of conduct, what you can be ejected for, staff trained to handle issues of harassment, how to treat more gently, say, a socially inept love struck nerd versus a predator.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on November 03, 2016, 12:39:04 PM
Well, at that, while I wouldn't attack him personally for committing fraud, the fact of the conviction coupled with his continued attempts to downplay it is one huge reason why I don't listen to the guy (I guess reason #1 is that his podcast, the last time I bothered listening to it, seemed to be firmly in the "lol bigfoot r dum" wing of the skeptical movement, a wing which bores me to tears). it seems to just not be part of his character to accept that he has done major wrongs in his life and take full responsibility for those. I'm told that he's better now at admitting minor wrongs in his actual podcasts than he used to be, but that being said I've just plain got no evidence or other reason to believe that he's not white-whinging about all of his detractors, not just the ones who are detractors due to his criminal record (and again, I think it's perfectly reasonable to not want to associate with a self-proclaimed skeptic who has also committed fraud and behaves about it in a manner similar to how Pete Rose behaves about gambling on baseball games while he was a manager).

I guess that overall I'm not willing to grant the guy charity. I do think he kept it as vague as possible so that he could later exclaim that it wasn't the SJWs or whatever he was whinging about, but that makes it worse to me, not better.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on November 04, 2016, 05:13:30 AM
I feel a little ripped off by his podcast. Early days I subscribed with micro payments but not enough now to get the ad free version. I just see a 15 minute podcast with ads as bugging me for some reason. I guess I should stop giving money to him. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on November 04, 2016, 09:48:38 AM
I feel a little ripped off by his podcast. Early days I subscribed with micro payments but not enough now to get the ad free version. I just see a 15 minute podcast with ads as bugging me for some reason. I guess I should stop giving money to him. 

I just skip past the ads. Except on Oh No, Ross & Carrie, because they actually make the ads fun.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on November 04, 2016, 10:21:52 AM
I must just tune them out, I didn't realize he had ads. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on November 04, 2016, 02:27:54 PM
I must just tune them out, I didn't realize he had ads. 

In the most recent episode he began by asking listeners to support his advertisers, but then there were no ads. Otherwise, there are usually ads. Unless you are a donor at a high enough level to get the ad-free version. I'm ambivalent enough about him that I don't. Maybe he screwed up this time and put the ad-free version on the unpaid stream.

I enjoy the show enough to listen, though some episodes are much less interesting than others.

My rule for supporting podcasts:

I ask myself if I'd be disappointed if the podcast disappeared. If the answer is no, I don't donate. Otherwise I ask myself if the ads are annoying enough to make me dislike the podcaster. If yes, I don't donate. I subscribe to my local public radio station, so I don't donate separately to NPR programs, since I figure my subscription covers them, even though I never listen to the radio. This leaves maybe half a dozen podcasts I donate to. The ones I'd be sad to lose.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on November 04, 2016, 03:41:11 PM
I feel a little ripped off by his podcast. Early days I subscribed with micro payments but not enough now to get the ad free version. I just see a 15 minute podcast with ads as bugging me for some reason. I guess I should stop giving money to him. 

I just skip past the ads. Except on Oh No, Ross & Carrie, because they actually make the ads fun.

I added a slight skip on the Thinking Atheist
If I ever get through their entire back catalog, I will likely do the same with Thank God I am An Atheist
I do like many of the GEICO Swedish techno commercial however
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRjTYBRjKnI
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on November 04, 2016, 05:15:47 PM
Geico has some great ads. But that one does nothing for me. Where's the lizard?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on November 04, 2016, 07:22:52 PM
Geico has some great ads. But that one does nothing for me. Where's the lizard?

It is a radio type add, so no video. The Gecko commercials are best with video
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on November 05, 2016, 11:15:43 AM
Geico has some great ads. But that one does nothing for me. Where's the lizard?

It is a radio type add, so no video. The Gecko commercials are best with video

I like the one with Mrs. Lincoln asking "Honest" Abe if her dress makes her look fat. ;D I'd never buy insurance from them, but they give good commercial.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on November 05, 2016, 09:34:28 PM
Geico has some great ads. But that one does nothing for me. Where's the lizard?

It is a radio type add, so no video. The Gecko commercials are best with video

I like the one with Mrs. Lincoln asking "Honest" Abe if her dress makes her look fat. ;D I'd never buy insurance from them, but they give good commercial.

I don't know if they are any worse than any other. . . .I am with progressive because I had to jump through more hoops for Geico so went through Progressive.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Tassie Dave on November 05, 2016, 11:06:32 PM
I must just tune them out, I didn't realize he had ads.

He has said the ad revenue only makes up about 15% of the money he gets to produce the show,. The rest comes from the people who "donate" to get the ad free version.

They are not that intrusive and are short. Not long enough to bother skipping through.
Not like the TWiT network that likes to have 2 minute + adds. Which is ok if they weren't all US only content. I skip through them.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on November 06, 2016, 03:12:19 AM
He has said the ad revenue only makes up about 15% of the money he gets to produce the show,. The rest comes from the people who "donate" to get the ad free version.

For the record, I believe most donors were donors before the ads. They did not become donors in order to get the ad-free version. It's a subtle difference, but I guess I'm just pedantic.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on November 06, 2016, 08:00:06 AM
Geico has some great ads. But that one does nothing for me. Where's the lizard?

It is a radio type add, so no video. The Gecko commercials are best with video

I like the one with Mrs. Lincoln asking "Honest" Abe if her dress makes her look fat. ;D I'd never buy insurance from them, but they give good commercial.

I don't know if they are any worse than any other. . . .I am with progressive because I had to jump through more hoops for Geico so went through Progressive.

To clarify: I have no opinion, good or bad, about Geico as an insurance company. It's just that I would never buy insurance based on its advertising. I have a total crush on Flo, in the Progressive ads, but I won't buy from them either. I have State Farm because my step-father recommended them when I got my first car, and they've always done right by me, no hassles. So I'm sticking with the company that's treated me well.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on November 06, 2016, 08:40:57 AM
To clarify: I have no opinion, good or bad, about Geico as an insurance company. It's just that I would never buy insurance based on its advertising. I have a total crush on Flo, in the Progressive ads, but I won't buy from them either. I have State Farm because my step-father recommended them when I got my first car, and they've always done right by me, no hassles. So I'm sticking with the company that's treated me well.

I can understand that argument. I don't know if I would have ever heard of Progressive if it was not for commercials however.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic on November 07, 2016, 11:58:14 AM
Geico has some great ads. But that one does nothing for me. Where's the lizard?

It is a radio type add, so no video. The Gecko commercials are best with video

I like the one with Mrs. Lincoln asking "Honest" Abe if her dress makes her look fat. ;D I'd never buy insurance from them, but they give good commercial.

I've been a Geico customer for 20+ years.  I've always had great service and good rates.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: stonesean on November 07, 2016, 01:20:49 PM
Geico has some great ads. But that one does nothing for me. Where's the lizard?

It is a radio type add, so no video. The Gecko commercials are best with video

I like the one with Mrs. Lincoln asking "Honest" Abe if her dress makes her look fat. ;D I'd never buy insurance from them, but they give good commercial.

I've been a Geico customer for 20+ years.  I've always had great service and good rates.

Love Geico.  They've been terrific.  Really.  My wife got clobbered by an uninsured motorist a few years back and they really went above and beyond to meet all our requests.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on November 07, 2016, 01:29:48 PM
Geico has some great ads. But that one does nothing for me. Where's the lizard?

It is a radio type add, so no video. The Gecko commercials are best with video

I like the one with Mrs. Lincoln asking "Honest" Abe if her dress makes her look fat. ;D I'd never buy insurance from them, but they give good commercial.

I've been a Geico customer for 20+ years.  I've always had great service and good rates.

Love Geico.  They've been terrific.  Really.  My wife got clobbered by an uninsured motorist a few years back and they really went above and beyond to meet all our requests.

Glad to hear that.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on December 15, 2016, 01:09:20 AM
He did a pretty good job with simple evidence for global warming. . . .
Similar to how I have argued with some libertarians in the past and half got them to agree.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on April 04, 2017, 08:30:59 AM
It's been months since there's been a complaint about Skeptoid and Brian Dunning. What gives?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on April 04, 2017, 09:20:17 AM
^ We're a forgiving bunch? As an ex con myself, I can't really criticize him too much for his criminal past. ;D
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Johnny Slick on April 04, 2017, 09:24:15 AM
^ We're a forgiving bunch? As an ex con myself, I can't really criticize him too much for his criminal past. ;D
Not the point to me, or at least only a tiny part of it. This is a guy who has a podcast that at its core is about telling the truth who, while he was in the middle of making it, created a computer program that in essence lied to eBay about the origins of transactions. I'm relatively forgiving of criminals but I also think that Jayson Blair, for instance, doesn't get to write for a newspaper ever again.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on April 04, 2017, 11:00:18 AM
^ We're a forgiving bunch? As an ex con myself, I can't really criticize him too much for his criminal past. ;D
Not the point to me, or at least only a tiny part of it. This is a guy who has a podcast that at its core is about telling the truth who, while he was in the middle of making it, created a computer program that in essence lied to eBay about the origins of transactions. I'm relatively forgiving of criminals but I also think that Jayson Blair, for instance, doesn't get to write for a newspaper ever again.

I believe the Podcast came well after the fraudulent activity.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Gerbig on April 04, 2017, 11:30:27 AM
Skeptoid has fallen pretty far on my listening priority.

Its pretty much my "'I have a 10 min drive" podcast.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on April 04, 2017, 11:47:18 AM
Yeah I no longer care enough to bash or complain about him. He is as relevant as a pigeon fart half way across the world.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho on April 04, 2017, 01:05:58 PM
I still like the podcast--he's done a good job of finding some topics to keep things fresh, and his most recent global warming episode gave some great ammo vs. a few of the more popular anti-AGW talking points right now.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning on April 05, 2017, 12:31:13 AM
I stopped listening during his DDT and Scientology feuds, well before this whole case came up.  I was more turned off by his apparent inability to deal with evidence and arguments that conflicted with his views and opinions.  Also, his "corrections" episodes really, really rubbed me the wrong way for a skeptical podcast.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on April 05, 2017, 05:22:16 PM
I still listen but one issue I have is that he wants money and with commercials, a large percentage of his podcast is ads. No longer give money as a result. I thought PBS and Planned Parenthood needed my donations more.

Speaking about the pay model though. . . .Most of the podcasts I listen to ask for money.  It is simply impractical to give them all money.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: 2397 on April 05, 2017, 05:34:34 PM
Speaking about the pay model though. . . .Most of the podcasts I listen to ask for money.  It is simply impractical to give them all money.

When I hear the same ad on multiple podcasts (over and over), I'm left thinking that if I did actually want this product/service, I can only use one of the tracking codes, and I don't get how it's worth it for all the actors involved to have the ads piled on the way that they are. The more ads, the less value each ad has, given a limited audience with finite discretionary expenses. But specifically for the content providers who are disrupting their own content, certainly with regards to audience members like myself, the more ads that they include, the more annoying it is and the less enjoyable it is to be part of the audience.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on April 05, 2017, 06:00:50 PM
Speaking about the pay model though. . . .Most of the podcasts I listen to ask for money.  It is simply impractical to give them all money.

When I hear the same ad on multiple podcasts (over and over), I'm left thinking that if I did actually want this product/service, I can only use one of the tracking codes, and I don't get how it's worth it for all the actors involved to have the ads piled on the way that they are. The more ads, the less value each ad has, given a limited audience with finite discretionary expenses. But specifically for the content providers who are disrupting their own content, certainly with regards to audience members like myself, the more ads that they include, the more annoying it is and the less enjoyable it is to be part of the audience.

They can't do it for free though. . . .There also is some variety with the podcasts I listen to because I listen to some true crime, innocence projects, etc. There are bra ads on one for example. There is a new one with renting clothing which gets sent to you as well. SGU is kind of limited in what they can actually support though.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on April 05, 2017, 09:32:31 PM
I still listen but one issue I have is that he wants money and with commercials, a large percentage of his podcast is ads. No longer give money as a result. I thought PBS and Planned Parenthood needed my donations more.

It seems to me that a relatively small amount of his podcast is ads. I just skip through them. Some others have far more ads. Of the podcasts I listen to, only one (Oh, No, Ross & Carrie) makes their ads fun to listen to, so I don't skip through them.

I don't give to the NPR podcasts I listen to, because I figure that my contribution to my local station covers NPR in general. For independent podcasts, I give to all the ones that I feel I would be disappointed to lose if they disappeared. I give once a year. SGU is the one exception, where I subscribe and make automatic monthly payments, in order to get the ad-free version and premium content. It doesn't take me more than a couple of hours one day a year to make all my contributions.

As noted, except for Ross & Carrie, I skip the ads. The other podcasters would do well to study them and make their ads fun to listen to. Or maybe it's just Carrie's insane cheerfulness that make me want to listen to her even when she's plugging a product I have no interest in.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox on April 06, 2017, 05:22:00 AM
I don't support NPR podcasts specifically just PBS in general through my local station.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: daniel1948 on April 06, 2017, 10:18:23 AM
I suppose that's what I'm doing as well by supporting my local station. I support them on principle, even though I never listen to the radio anymore. Having to tune in at a certain time to catch the program I like? What an anachronism! But there are a lot of podcasts that are also radio programs, and it's an easy way to support them collectively.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: God Bomb on July 13, 2017, 05:48:38 AM
the skeptoid podcast itself always seems good to me.  I think people have valid reasons for disliking or disagreeing with Dunning personally, but most of those things aren't to do with the content of the podcast and are more to do with his other activites.  Though I'm sure there are specific examples of controversial claims or comments in particular episodes, they seem to be isolated unconnected incidents rather than a theme that runs through the show.  So I find it still interesting to listen to sometimes.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: mindme on July 13, 2017, 08:54:17 AM
the skeptoid podcast itself always seems good to me.  I think people have valid reasons for disliking or disagreeing with Dunning personally, but most of those things aren't to do with the content of the podcast and are more to do with his other activites.  Though I'm sure there are specific examples of controversial claims or comments in particular episodes, they seem to be isolated unconnected incidents rather than a theme that runs through the show.  So I find it still interesting to listen to sometimes.

I said it before, I'll say it again. I don't always agree with Brian Dunning. But I do appreciate he reminds us a lot of an important approach to skepticism. Don't start debunking stuff until you've gone to the primary resources. Don't start debunking stuff until you've established the thing even happened in the first place.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: God Bomb on July 13, 2017, 09:10:56 AM
the skeptoid podcast itself always seems good to me.  I think people have valid reasons for disliking or disagreeing with Dunning personally, but most of those things aren't to do with the content of the podcast and are more to do with his other activites.  Though I'm sure there are specific examples of controversial claims or comments in particular episodes, they seem to be isolated unconnected incidents rather than a theme that runs through the show.  So I find it still interesting to listen to sometimes.

I said it before, I'll say it again. I don't always agree with Brian Dunning. But I do appreciate he reminds us a lot of an important approach to skepticism. Don't start debunking stuff until you've gone to the primary resources. Don't start debunking stuff until you've established the thing even happened in the first place.

Do you remember when he was a guest on SGU and Rebecca strongly disagreed with him about not always being able to go to primary sources?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on July 13, 2017, 09:41:07 AM
Do you remember when he was a guest on SGU and Rebecca strongly disagreed with him about not always being able to go to primary sources?
I do not, but what was there to argue about, sometimes you can't go to primary sources. 

I agree with mindme, there is a great deal of value in reminding people that sometimes there isn't even a mystery to be solved.  I don't think Dunning invented the idea but he certainly promotes it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: xenu on July 13, 2017, 10:52:44 AM
I do agree with Dunning in how you go about skepticism.  Ask the right questions and go from there.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: UnicornPoop on July 13, 2017, 04:04:39 PM
I still listen to him for the variety of topics but, for me, his star has fallen after his interview on Joe Rogan's podcast a couple of years ago. He backs his podcast up with links to relevant research but he was miserable when being challenged. Then again, that may be due to Rogan's far better skills because even Shermer was demolished recently on Rogan's podcast. It was painful to listen to.


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Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Belgarath on July 13, 2017, 04:08:13 PM
I still listen to him for the variety of topics but, for me, his star has fallen after his interview on Joe Rogan's podcast a couple of years ago. He backs his podcast up with links to relevant research but he was miserable when being challenged. Then again, that may be due to Rogan's far better skills because even Shermer was demolished recently on Rogan's podcast. It was painful to listen to.


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Shermer is and never has been a good debater.  He tends to just go 'oh ok' whenever challenged. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: UnicornPoop on July 13, 2017, 04:26:39 PM
I still listen to him for the variety of topics but, for me, his star has fallen after his interview on Joe Rogan's podcast a couple of years ago. He backs his podcast up with links to relevant research but he was miserable when being challenged. Then again, that may be due to Rogan's far better skills because even Shermer was demolished recently on Rogan's podcast. It was painful to listen to.


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Shermer is and never has been a good debater.  He tends to just go 'oh ok' whenever challenged.

Which he did in spades on that podcast, throwing the author of an article in Skeptic Magazine under the bus.


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Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 15, 2017, 04:22:11 PM
Shermer is a good interviewer but not a good debater.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 15, 2017, 04:34:40 PM
^ We're a forgiving bunch? As an ex con myself, I can't really criticize him too much for his criminal past. ;D

Not the point to me, or at least only a tiny part of it. This is a guy who has a podcast that at its core is about telling the truth who, while he was in the middle of making it, created a computer program that in essence lied to eBay about the origins of transactions. I'm relatively forgiving of criminals but I also think that Jayson Blair, for instance, doesn't get to write for a newspaper ever again.

I believe the Podcast came well after the fraudulent activity.

There is some overlap. He launched Skeptoid in October 2006 and was busted for wire fraud in August 2008. So he was raking in the money from his click farming malware for almost the first 2 years of the podcast.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Dunning_(author)

Dunning has also expressed views of questionable ethics regarding the peddling of woo (https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4003) in his Skeptoid podcast.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on July 15, 2017, 09:35:52 PM
^ We're a forgiving bunch? As an ex con myself, I can't really criticize him too much for his criminal past. ;D

Not the point to me, or at least only a tiny part of it. This is a guy who has a podcast that at its core is about telling the truth who, while he was in the middle of making it, created a computer program that in essence lied to eBay about the origins of transactions. I'm relatively forgiving of criminals but I also think that Jayson Blair, for instance, doesn't get to write for a newspaper ever again.

I believe the Podcast came well after the fraudulent activity.

There is some overlap. He launched Skeptoid in October 2006 and was busted for wire fraud in August 2008. So he was raking in the money from his click farming malware for almost the first 2 years of the podcast.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Dunning_(author)

Dunning has also expressed views of questionable ethics regarding the peddling of woo (https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4003) in his Skeptoid podcast.

I'm not sure on the timeline. My understanding was that the arrest was for things that happened long before the arrest, and the "fraud" had ended before he started the podcast. (But my memory may be faulty).
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 15, 2017, 09:48:32 PM
^ We're a forgiving bunch? As an ex con myself, I can't really criticize him too much for his criminal past. ;D

Not the point to me, or at least only a tiny part of it. This is a guy who has a podcast that at its core is about telling the truth who, while he was in the middle of making it, created a computer program that in essence lied to eBay about the origins of transactions. I'm relatively forgiving of criminals but I also think that Jayson Blair, for instance, doesn't get to write for a newspaper ever again.

I believe the Podcast came well after the fraudulent activity.

There is some overlap. He launched Skeptoid in October 2006 and was busted for wire fraud in August 2008. So he was raking in the money from his click farming malware for almost the first 2 years of the podcast.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Dunning_(author)

Dunning has also expressed views of questionable ethics regarding the peddling of woo (https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4003) in his Skeptoid podcast.

I'm not sure on the timeline. My understanding was that the arrest was for things that happened long before the arrest, and the "fraud" had ended before he started the podcast. (But my memory may be faulty).
That's my understanding too. I was following the situation closely at the time because we were planning on flying him out for the Australian Skeptics National Convention in 2013, of which I was on the organising committee. We ended up getting Chris French instead.

Seriously. He did a bad, he got busted, he did his time. It was one count of wire fraud, he's never done it a second time. Does it mean that his podcast is suddenly less factually reliable? I don't get the grudge that some people seem to bear.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: UnicornPoop on July 15, 2017, 10:04:11 PM
The latest podcast of Skeptoid I listened to (not the latest release...I'm a few episodes behind) was phone calls from his listeners describing strange lights in the sky they've experienced. So...from his fan base. As he approached the topic, in effect he said "I wasn't there. I can't speculate on what they saw. But let's review some key critical thinking skills..." (not a direct quote despite the quotation marks).

But in many of his podcasts about topics for which he wasn't there, he DOES speculate. It could've been this or it could've been that...the fact is that we just don't know but that doesn't mean we should default to (insert woo here).

I agree with him. I think he was sucking up to his fans though. "I can't speculate" - oh but you do Brian. As do I. Nothing wrong with it, but don't deny it.


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Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning on July 15, 2017, 11:36:57 PM
I'll just post what I posted in the wire fraud thread when it happened:

The biggest complaint I have against the man is not on any one point, but rather how he reacts to disagreement with his positions.  He either ridicules, ignores, or completely misses the point with ignoring being the most common.  If he were in any other community, I'd say he wouldn't need to respond to all the comments on blog posts, but being in the skeptical community you should be expected to respond to numerous valid and politely put complaints and especially be expected to admit an error and offer a statement to that effect.  (Not to start a tangent on those who disagree on this point) When Randi said the global warming was incorrect and got called out on it, he recanted and explained how and why he was mistaken within a day or so and then went on with his life.  That made me respect him so much more than if he'd ignored it.

His wire fraud conviction doesn't really impact my decision to not listen to his show anymore.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on July 16, 2017, 01:14:17 AM
Suppose he never responded to listeners or students but just did his topical episodes would that be a better podcast?  (I think so)


Your mileage may vary.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 16, 2017, 01:55:34 AM
I'm not sure on the timeline. My understanding was that the arrest was for things that happened long before the arrest, and the "fraud" had ended before he started the podcast. (But my memory may be faulty).

2006 was the year the FBI first began investigating Dunning (http://marketingland.com/top-ebay-affiliate-sentenced-5-months-prison-wire-fraud-82553) and it was also the year he founded Skeptoid (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Dunning_(author)#Skeptical_activism).

Do you think he had already terminated his Ebay Affiliate account and stopped receiving any profits by then?

Why would he have done such a thing? One of the key points of his defense was the allegation that Ebay knew all about the fraud and never told him to stop, so he assumed they were okay with it. His partner Shawn Hogan and he were already the world's #1 and #2 top earners in the Ebay Affiliates program. What reason would they have had to halt such an effortless and lucrative gravy train?

But who knows, maybe he did. We could give him the benefit of the doubt about that. 

But as I pointed out before, that Skeptoid episode where he made a bunch of lame excuses to justify ripping people off by knowingly promoting lies (https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4003) was enough for me to decide to stop wasting any more attention on him.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 16, 2017, 04:45:25 AM
But as I pointed out before, that Skeptoid episode where he made a bunch of lame excuses to justify ripping people off by knowingly promoting lies (https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4003) was enough for me to decide to stop wasting any more attention on him.
I'm just going to say that you took away a very different message from that episode from the one I did.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 16, 2017, 05:49:29 AM
Quote from: Brian Dunning
Most of the time, people who buy paranormal products or services — be it goddess worshiping seminars, homeopathy, acupuncture, or psychic readings — are buying completely harmless services. It's not something I would do, because I want different things from my career. But as long as the paranormal businesses are going to exist whether we like it or not, I hope to see even more Ethical Skeptics entering the business. Less harm would be done, and even if it's only every once in a while, people would be actually helped instead of merely tricked into thinking they were helped.

The message I took away is that to him, deceiving people into giving you money is okay so long as you believe that what you're telling them is in their better interest. I find that arrogant and repugnant. 

What message did you take away from it?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 16, 2017, 07:46:29 AM
Quote from: Brian Dunning
Most of the time, people who buy paranormal products or services — be it goddess worshiping seminars, homeopathy, acupuncture, or psychic readings — are buying completely harmless services. It's not something I would do, because I want different things from my career. But as long as the paranormal businesses are going to exist whether we like it or not, I hope to see even more Ethical Skeptics entering the business. Less harm would be done, and even if it's only every once in a while, people would be actually helped instead of merely tricked into thinking they were helped.

The message I took away is that to him, deceiving people into giving you money is okay so long as you believe that what you're telling them is in their better interest. I find that arrogant and repugnant. 

What message did you take away from it?
Quote from: Brian Dunning
But the reason this argument doesn't convince me is that it's irrelevant — the net result is exactly the same. The personal beliefs of the provider have no bearing on the transaction (just like the supermarket manager), and focusing on this question is ignoring the elephant in the room: the person wants to buy nonsense. The personal feelings or opinions of the person selling it are simply not part of the equation. Once the rubber meets the road, the seller's beliefs have no impact on the buyer's experience.

Now, it's time to address the point that's probably foremost on your mind. What about the cases where the pseudoscience being purchased is either harmful, or takes the place of essential medical or psychiatric care? I said at the very beginning: This is about cases where no harm is done. And this is the vast majority of cases: Grandma thinks her poodle talks with her dead goldfish.
What I took away from it it is that we as skeptics shouldn't be sweating the small stuff. That we should be more worried about the real harms that are done from pseudoscience and not about Grandma who isn't hurting anyone. What I took away from it is that not all pseudoscience is harmful. What do I care if Granny thinks her poodle talks to her dead goldfish? She wants to buy a product, the free market allows her to buy that product, even if that product is nothing more than someone saying soothing words. Who is harmed by that?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: PANTS! on July 16, 2017, 08:23:09 AM
Quote from: Brian Dunning
Most of the time, people who buy paranormal products or services — be it goddess worshiping seminars, homeopathy, acupuncture, or psychic readings — are buying completely harmless services. It's not something I would do, because I want different things from my career. But as long as the paranormal businesses are going to exist whether we like it or not, I hope to see even more Ethical Skeptics entering the business. Less harm would be done, and even if it's only every once in a while, people would be actually helped instead of merely tricked into thinking they were helped.

The message I took away is that to him, deceiving people into giving you money is okay so long as you believe that what you're telling them is in their better interest. I find that arrogant and repugnant. 

What message did you take away from it?

I got a  similar message.  It seemed to me he was saying; I'd have no problem duping some yokels so long as it wasn't for cancer medicine.

Thats not where I stipped listening, but it was the beginning of the end for me.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on July 16, 2017, 11:07:59 AM
Very akin to: "First, do no harm"




Your mileage may vary.
Title: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on July 16, 2017, 11:41:20 AM
I'm not sure on the timeline. My understanding was that the arrest was for things that happened long before the arrest, and the "fraud" had ended before he started the podcast. (But my memory may be faulty).

2006 was the year the FBI first began investigating Dunning (http://marketingland.com/top-ebay-affiliate-sentenced-5-months-prison-wire-fraud-82553) and it was also the year he founded Skeptoid (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Dunning_(author)#Skeptical_activism).

Do you think he had already terminated his Ebay Affiliate account and stopped receiving any profits by then?

Why would he have done such a thing? One of the key points of his defense was the allegation that Ebay knew all about the fraud and never told him to stop, so he assumed they were okay with it. His partner Shawn Hogan and he were already the world's #1 and #2 top earners in the Ebay Affiliates program. What reason would they have had to halt such an effortless and lucrative gravy train?

But who knows, maybe he did. We could give him the benefit of the doubt about that. 

But as I pointed out before, that Skeptoid episode where he made a bunch of lame excuses to justify ripping people off by knowingly promoting lies (https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4003) was enough for me to decide to stop wasting any more attention on him.

I think you're right. Dunning had laid out in a couple of posts the timeline of events, but those seem to have been taken down (apparently at the Government's request), but it seems the FBI raided his home in 2007, and he was still engaged in the eBay scam at that time.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 17, 2017, 05:43:43 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.


That we should be more worried about the real harms that are done from pseudoscience and not about Grandma who isn't hurting anyone.

The fallacy of relative privation appears to be quite popular around these forums.


What I took away from it is that not all pseudoscience is harmful.

Yeah, that's where I think Dunning is wrong. Pseudoscience is harmful because it's dishonest, and because it promotes false beliefs and magical thinking, which do impede people's ability to think critically. Also, Dunning actually said that he thinks it's okay to con people out of their money by lying to them.

Which is something we already know he thinks is okay, because he actually served time for wire fraud, for spreading malware on the Internet in order to receive monetary rewards under false pretenses.


What do I care if Granny thinks her poodle talks to her dead goldfish? She wants to buy a product, the free market allows her to buy that product, even if that product is nothing more than someone saying soothing words. Who is harmed by that?

It's not just "someone saying soothing words." It's someone capitalizing on her grief and gullibility by lying to her in exchange for money.

That's unethical. It was unethical when Sylvia Browne and Uri Geller did it, it's unethical when John Edward does it, and it would be just as unethical if some self-described "skeptic" does it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 17, 2017, 07:07:05 PM
Well, I think that's merely your own opinion that you're finding words in someone else's work to support. I'm pretty sure that Dunning wouldn't hold the view that you attribute to him - and I base this opinion off several unrecorded direct face-to-face conversations with the man.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 17, 2017, 07:50:36 PM
I'm going by what he said in that podcast.

I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that perhaps his own views have changed since he wrote and recorded that. If that's the case then he really ought to remove that episode from his website because it reflects very poorly on his character.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 17, 2017, 08:00:47 PM
I'm going by what he said in that podcast.
What I'm saying is that you're judging him based on one example of his language, which I contend you have misinterpreted.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 17, 2017, 08:33:52 PM
I remain unconvinced that I have misinterpreted it.

I've listened to the podcast and read the transcript several times now. I strongly disagree with what he literally said. His entire line of reasoning is based on a fallacy of relative privation, and proposing flimsy pretenses to justify taking people's money in exchange for lying to them.

You even paraphrased his position in your own words, and I disagree with that wording as well. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 18, 2017, 04:48:30 AM
Fair enough. It's not important enough for me to want to try and convince you otherwise.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on July 18, 2017, 09:27:54 AM
I remain unconvinced that I have misinterpreted it.

I've listened to the podcast and read the transcript several times now. I strongly disagree with what he literally said. His entire line of reasoning is based on a fallacy of relative privation, and proposing flimsy pretenses to justify taking people's money in exchange for lying to them.

You even paraphrased his position in your own words, and I disagree with that wording as well.

Agreed, his apologist seem like the are really stretching credulity to validate him. I've also meet him and it did not change my impression of the situation. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 18, 2017, 01:48:17 PM
It doesn't require good ethics or morals to be personable and charming.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic on July 18, 2017, 02:24:13 PM
He's trying to reconcile his libertarian economic beliefs with his skepticism.  It's kind of a lame argument, for sure.  While I disagree with this idea, it does not invalidate his other episodes.  I still listen to the show, and mostly enjoy it.

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 18, 2017, 06:03:54 PM
He's trying to reconcile his libertarian economic beliefs with his skepticism.  It's kind of a lame argument, for sure.  While I disagree with this idea, it does not invalidate his other episodes.  I still listen to the show, and mostly enjoy it.
And this is the thing. Is the quality of the show compromised because of his brief imprisonment? Does it somehow make his research and his conclusions invalid? Even if you think that he is an unrepentant fraudster by nature (which is an accusation that I have definitely seen levelled), does it change the facts that he reports? Is the show any more unreliable because of it?

I contend that it is not. Good evidence-based research is good evidence-based research even if it's done by the most awful person.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on July 18, 2017, 06:31:41 PM
He's trying to reconcile his libertarian economic beliefs with his skepticism.  It's kind of a lame argument, for sure.  While I disagree with this idea, it does not invalidate his other episodes.  I still listen to the show, and mostly enjoy it.
And this is the thing. Is the quality of the show compromised because of his brief imprisonment? Does it somehow make his research and his conclusions invalid? Even if you think that he is an unrepentant fraudster by nature (which is an accusation that I have definitely seen levelled), does it change the facts that he reports? Is the show any more unreliable because of it?

I contend that it is not. Good evidence-based research is good evidence-based research even if it's done by the most awful person.

I used to listen to his show religiously, so to speak, and participated in his forum (I think I'm still a member but haven't been back in some time) I may have written something for his web page.

But when he went away, I wasn't thrilled with his interim replacements and just kind of gradually stopped listening. I don't think I've listened to more than a few seconds of any of his new podcasts since he's been back.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 18, 2017, 06:41:09 PM
I contend that it is not. Good evidence-based research is good evidence-based research even if it's done by the most awful person.

There are plenty of other places to hear paranormal and supernatural claims examined and debunked by people whose ethics I trust.

I avoid other libertarian podcasts for the same reason.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on July 19, 2017, 10:16:43 AM
(click to show/hide)
I avoid other libertarian podcasts for the same reason.
So libertarians are unethical then?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 19, 2017, 07:44:29 PM
I avoid other libertarian podcasts for the same reason.

So libertarians are unethical then?

Not necessarily, but I find it to be a common thread that runs through the ideology.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho on July 19, 2017, 08:22:17 PM
I avoid other libertarian podcasts for the same reason.

So libertarians are unethical then?

Not necessarily, but I find it to be a common thread that runs through the ideology.

Which ideologies are free from such unethical threads?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 19, 2017, 08:44:46 PM
I avoid other libertarian podcasts for the same reason.

So libertarians are unethical then?

Not necessarily, but I find it to be a common thread that runs through the ideology.

Which ideologies are free from such unethical threads?

Good question.

But libertarianism in particular tends to assert the importance of personal judgment over the consensus of the majority. It offers specious arguments about government inefficiency to justify the nullification of laws, regulations, official authorizations, and other assurances that have been put into place to protect the populace from harmful fraud and incompetence. At the same time, libertarians invoke the "free market" and the admonition caveat emptor as excuses to charge the individual consumer with responsibility for their own victimization. Then they turn around and shit on the idea of government aid, on the disingenuous pretense that the burden of overtaxation is the only thing preventing the private sector from heroically intervening on behalf of the underprivileged. I hear these kinds of arguments often in libertarian circles, and I find them all reprehensible.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 19, 2017, 09:05:03 PM
I've listened to almost every episode of Skeptoid there is, and I don't recall a great deal of libertarian ideology. I saw more politics when I went to see Penn & Teller that one time than I ever have listening to Skeptoid.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Fast Eddie B on July 19, 2017, 09:13:23 PM
I've listened to almost every episode of Skeptoid there is, and I don't recall a great deal of libertarian ideology.

Agreed.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 19, 2017, 09:22:41 PM
I've listened to almost every episode of Skeptoid there is, and I don't recall a great deal of libertarian ideology.

Agreed.
I'm sure there's some there that could be dug up, but it's certainly not even remotely a focus of the show.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho on July 19, 2017, 10:23:18 PM
I avoid other libertarian podcasts for the same reason.

So libertarians are unethical then?

Not necessarily, but I find it to be a common thread that runs through the ideology.

Which ideologies are free from such unethical threads?

Good question.

But libertarianism in particular tends to assert the importance of personal judgment over the consensus of the majority. It offers specious arguments about government inefficiency to justify the nullification of laws, regulations, official authorizations, and other assurances that have been put into place to protect the populace from harmful fraud and incompetence. At the same time, libertarians invoke the "free market" and the admonition caveat emptor as excuses to charge the individual consumer with responsibility for their own victimization. Then they turn around and shit on the idea of government aid, on the disingenuous pretense that the burden of overtaxation is the only thing preventing the private sector from heroically intervening on behalf of the underprivileged. I hear these kinds of arguments often in libertarian circles, and I find them all reprehensible.

"Libertarianism" is such a broad category that you can pretty much construct whatever you want to argue against (I feel like there's a word for this...) in the fashion that you just did.

My point is that you could do the same for any ideology--you're not making an effective argument that libertarianism is special or different in any meaningful way.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic on July 20, 2017, 12:41:40 PM
I've listened to almost every episode of Skeptoid there is, and I don't recall a great deal of libertarian ideology.

Agreed.
I'm sure there's some there that could be dug up, but it's certainly not even remotely a focus of the show.

I didn't mean to imply that it was the main focus of the show.  In fact, off the top of my head, this was the only time I really noticed it in the show.  I used to subscribe to Brian's newsletter and his old forum, where that type of discussion took place a little more commonly.   
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Ah.hell on July 20, 2017, 12:55:29 PM
The DDT episode was certainly....tainted by his libertarian tendencies.  But I agree, it rarely comes up on the show, not much chance in most case. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 20, 2017, 10:33:38 PM

Which ideologies are free from such unethical threads?

Good question.

But libertarianism in particular tends to assert the importance of personal judgment over the consensus of the majority. It offers specious arguments about government inefficiency to justify the nullification of laws, regulations, official authorizations, and other assurances that have been put into place to protect the populace from harmful fraud and incompetence. At the same time, libertarians invoke the "free market" and the admonition caveat emptor as excuses to charge the individual consumer with responsibility for their own victimization. Then they turn around and shit on the idea of government aid, on the disingenuous pretense that the burden of overtaxation is the only thing preventing the private sector from heroically intervening on behalf of the underprivileged. I hear these kinds of arguments often in libertarian circles, and I find them all reprehensible.

"Libertarianism" is such a broad category that you can pretty much construct whatever you want to argue against (I feel like there's a word for this...) in the fashion that you just did.

My point is that you could do the same for any ideology--you're not making an effective argument that libertarianism is special or different in any meaningful way.

I did not "construct" anything. I'm just citing some very specific, oft-repeated arguments that I've heard from prominent self-identified libertarians; some of whom are generally regarded as leaders in the movement.   

Are you really suggesting that because all ideologies are open to criticism, that makes criticizing them invalid? 


The DDT episode was certainly....tainted by his libertarian tendencies.  But I agree, it rarely comes up on the show, not much chance in most case.

Yeah it had never even occurred to me that Dunning is a libertarian until I heard about it in this thread. And now that it's been mentioned, it makes perfect sense in light of his legal troubles and some of the things he's said in the podcast.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 21, 2017, 09:36:07 AM
Yeah it had never even occurred to me that Dunning is a libertarian until I heard about it in this thread. And now that it's been mentioned, it makes perfect sense in light of his legal troubles and some of the things he's said in the podcast.
And yet he accepted the rule of law, and did his time as required by the court. So maybe small-l libertarian. Or maybe his political beliefs are just a little more complicated than that...
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on July 24, 2017, 12:09:49 AM
Yeah it had never even occurred to me that Dunning is a libertarian until I heard about it in this thread. And now that it's been mentioned, it makes perfect sense in light of his legal troubles and some of the things he's said in the podcast.
And yet he accepted the rule of law, and did his time as required by the court. So maybe small-l libertarian. Or maybe his political beliefs are just a little more complicated than that...
Really? Thats the best you got as a defense? Sad.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 24, 2017, 06:17:11 PM
Yeah it had never even occurred to me that Dunning is a libertarian until I heard about it in this thread. And now that it's been mentioned, it makes perfect sense in light of his legal troubles and some of the things he's said in the podcast.
And yet he accepted the rule of law, and did his time as required by the court. So maybe small-l libertarian. Or maybe his political beliefs are just a little more complicated than that...
Really? Thats the best you got as a defense? Sad.

The best? No. But all I'll bother with? Sure.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on July 25, 2017, 10:27:13 AM
Again, weak sauce. You are putting up a really low bar, going to jail when convinced, not running or fighting, an argument no one made, as something Dunning deserves respect for. No, he doesn't. That's just how it goes. If you are convinced, you go to jail. It doesn't make his beliefs complicated, it means he did his time so he could one day return to society.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: briandunning on July 26, 2017, 03:50:52 PM
I'd be curious to know why so many people are always speculating about my politics. Why does anyone even care??? But going by the hate I get on Twitter:

90% hate for being an evil liberal extremist (Mostly from Rogan fans)
10% hate for being an evil libertarian extremist (Mostly from other skeptics)

I just marvel that that 10% would listen to Skeptoid and conclude it's a "libertarian podcast." WTF??!!  :-)
But hey, we all hear what we want to hear!
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: arthwollipot on July 26, 2017, 06:18:12 PM
Right. As I said before, does it affect the quality of the research? Does it affect the evidence?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning on July 26, 2017, 08:33:47 PM
I think labels are like warm blankets. As soon as you wrap up someone in one, you become comfortable in knowing exactly how you should feel and deal with them.  Personally, and especially online, I try and restrain myself to just responding to the actions a person takes and not worry about what it may indicate about them unless it's relevant.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Andrew Clunn on July 26, 2017, 08:48:20 PM
In before somebody accuses Dunning of being alt-right  >:D
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: briandunning on July 26, 2017, 09:05:15 PM
I've gotten that! But really just on Twitter, from someone who knows nothing about you other than seeing some tweet they disagree with. "You don't endorse my chronic lyme disease? YOU MUST BE A TRUMP SUPPORTER!!!"
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning on July 26, 2017, 09:11:49 PM
I've gotten that! But really just on Twitter, from someone who knows nothing about you other than seeing some tweet they disagree with. "You don't endorse my chronic lyme disease? YOU MUST BE A TRUMP SUPPORTER!!!"

That's happened to me on reddit too and I'm pretty damn anti-Trump.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: PANTS! on July 27, 2017, 10:02:02 AM
In before somebody accuses Dunning of being alt-right  >:D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApppEdET2i4
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho on July 28, 2017, 01:22:08 AM
Again, weak sauce. You are putting up a really low bar, going to jail when convinced, not running or fighting, an argument no one made, as something Dunning deserves respect for. No, he doesn't. That's just how it goes. If you are convinced, you go to jail. It doesn't make his beliefs complicated, it means he did his time so he could one day return to society.

Know what does deserve respect? Showing up and answering questions from critics. You could be talking to him and addressing your concerns right now, instead of talking about him like he's just a name on a website.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on July 28, 2017, 09:16:32 AM
Again, weak sauce. You are putting up a really low bar, going to jail when convinced, not running or fighting, an argument no one made, as something Dunning deserves respect for. No, he doesn't. That's just how it goes. If you are convinced, you go to jail. It doesn't make his beliefs complicated, it means he did his time so he could one day return to society.

Know what does deserve respect? Showing up and answering questions from critics. You could be talking to him and addressing your concerns right now, instead of talking about him like he's just a name on a website.

Meh, I was questioning Art's logic, not sure why you are conflating the two? Why would Dunning care if one of his fans is using bad logic to support him, that is not his burden to defend.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 28, 2017, 12:27:09 PM
I'd be curious to know why so many people are always speculating about my politics. Why does anyone even care??? But going by the hate I get on Twitter:

90% hate for being an evil liberal extremist (Mostly from Rogan fans)
10% hate for being an evil libertarian extremist (Mostly from other skeptics)

I just marvel that that 10% would listen to Skeptoid and conclude it's a "libertarian podcast." WTF??!!  :-)
But hey, we all hear what we want to hear!

I didn't mean to imply that Skeptoid is a "libertarian podcast." As I said before, neither "libertarian" nor any other political label had even occurred to me before somebody brought it up in this thread.

I do, however, take exception to the ethic that it's okay to scam the ignorant or credulous with false claims, just because you personally feel that you know what's best for them.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic on July 28, 2017, 01:23:38 PM
I'd be curious to know why so many people are always speculating about my politics. Why does anyone even care??? But going by the hate I get on Twitter:

90% hate for being an evil liberal extremist (Mostly from Rogan fans)
10% hate for being an evil libertarian extremist (Mostly from other skeptics)

I just marvel that that 10% would listen to Skeptoid and conclude it's a "libertarian podcast." WTF??!!  :-)
But hey, we all hear what we want to hear!

I didn't mean to imply that Skeptoid is a "libertarian podcast." As I said before, neither "libertarian" nor any other political label had even occurred to me before somebody brought it up in this thread.

I do, however, take exception to the ethic that it's okay to scam the ignorant or credulous with false claims, just because you personally feel that you know what's best for them.

I think his argument is a little more nuanced than that.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 28, 2017, 02:08:07 PM
I think his argument is a little more nuanced than that.

Is it?

Quote from: Brian Dunning
Most of the time, people who buy paranormal products or services — be it goddess worshiping seminars, homeopathy, acupuncture, or psychic readings — are buying completely harmless services. [...] But as long as the paranormal businesses are going to exist whether we like it or not, I hope to see even more Ethical Skeptics entering the business. Less harm would be done, and even if it's only every once in a while, people would be actually helped instead of merely tricked into thinking they were helped.
https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4003

Please explain the "nuance" that I'm missing. He even goes so far as to encourage "Ethical Skeptics" to start peddling paranormal woo (whatever that means; lying to people for profit is not ethical in my view) on the ridiculously flawed assumption that it would result in a net reduction in harm.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning on July 28, 2017, 02:16:00 PM
I don't get it. If those services are harmless, then how would "ethical skeptics" peddling them reduce the harm caused?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: SkeptiQueer on July 28, 2017, 02:34:25 PM
I don't get it. If those services are harmless, then how would "ethical skeptics" peddling them reduce the harm caused?
They're only harmless if you presume that selling something that doesn't work foroney doesn't constitute harm in and of itself. It's an argument predicated on not questioning whether those services are really harmless.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on July 28, 2017, 03:28:47 PM
It also assumes that nonbelievers who self-identify as "skeptics" not only have superior judgment than true believers, but also have better ethics even though they're knowingly making money by scamming the credulous. Keep in mind that many woo believers also consider themselves "skeptics."

It also appears to ignore a basic fact that those of us who keep an eye on these things well know: many woo beliefs are trendy in nature. So an increase in proliferation of woo practitioners has a tendency to also increase the market for woo, while at the same time promoting magical thinking in general.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning on July 28, 2017, 03:43:50 PM
I don't get it. If those services are harmless, then how would "ethical skeptics" peddling them reduce the harm caused?
They're only harmless if you presume that selling something that doesn't work foroney doesn't constitute harm in and of itself. It's an argument predicated on not questioning whether those services are really harmless.

I'm not saying they are harmless. I'm saying that if Brian is right, and they are harmless, then how does it make sense to say ethical skeptics should sell them in order to reduce the harm caused? It's a self-contradictory statement. Either there is no harm in the products and it doesn't matter who sells them, or there is some harm and it's not ethical to cynically sell harmful products.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: SkeptiQueer on July 28, 2017, 03:53:31 PM
I don't get it. If those services are harmless, then how would "ethical skeptics" peddling them reduce the harm caused?
They're only harmless if you presume that selling something that doesn't work foroney doesn't constitute harm in and of itself. It's an argument predicated on not questioning whether those services are really harmless.

I'm not saying they are harmless. I'm saying that if Brian is right, and they are harmless, then how does it make sense to say ethical skeptics should sell them in order to reduce the harm caused? It's a self-contradictory statement. Either there is no harm in the products and it doesn't matter who sells them, or there is some harm and it's not ethical to cynically sell harmful products.
There's the presumption that the selling of products themselves can be done in a harmless or less harmful manner. If I had to hazard a guess, by turning away people with actual problems that true believers would not.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: xenu on July 28, 2017, 06:13:06 PM
You're most welcome. 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.

If anyone has a question, Brian said you can contact him and he will answer.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer on August 02, 2017, 11:52:30 PM
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)?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on August 03, 2017, 10:47:20 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 10:51:43 AM
You're most welcome. 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.

If anyone has a question, Brian said you can contact him and he will answer.

I don't want a private answer to my question. He came here and said he'd answer questions, gave one bullshit half answer, then disappeared again. I'm guessing he didn't think anyone would ask him that particular question. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on August 03, 2017, 11:29:05 AM
You're most welcome. 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.

If anyone has a question, Brian said you can contact him and he will answer.

I don't want a private answer to my question. He came here and said he'd answer questions, gave one bullshit half answer, then disappeared again. I'm guessing he didn't think anyone would ask him that particular question.

Totally agree that questions and answers should be in public.




Your mileage may vary.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on August 03, 2017, 11:40:55 AM
Again, weak sauce. You are putting up a really low bar, going to jail when convinced, not running or fighting, an argument no one made, as something Dunning deserves respect for. No, he doesn't. That's just how it goes. If you are convinced, you go to jail. It doesn't make his beliefs complicated, it means he did his time so he could one day return to society.

Know what does deserve respect? Showing up and answering questions from critics. You could be talking to him and addressing your concerns right now, instead of talking about him like he's just a name on a website.

Just wondering if you still think he deserves respect for dodging the tough questions.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Redamare on August 03, 2017, 12:25:48 PM
Did he lie to anyone to swindle money out of them? When did that happen?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on August 03, 2017, 12:40:19 PM
Did he lie to anyone to swindle money out of them? When did that happen?

Catch up man, he went to jail to for wire fraud. Deceit in the charge he was convicted of.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic on August 03, 2017, 12:44:30 PM
Did he lie to anyone to swindle money out of them? When did that happen?

Catch up man, he went to jail to for wire fraud. Deceit in the charge he was convicted of.

One could make the argument that he has paid for his crimes.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 01:01:45 PM
Nobody's saying that he should still be in jail or able to get a job or vote or anything.  We're saying that if are guilty of fraud, you shouldn't get to be skeptical leader any more.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on August 03, 2017, 01:04:38 PM
Did he lie to anyone to swindle money out of them? When did that happen?
Catch up man, he went to jail to for wire fraud. Deceit in the charge he was convicted of.

No, I don't think he lied to anyone to swindle them out of money.

As I understand the case he made in his defense, he was working with people in eBay who wanted to promote the affiliate program and wanted to show affiliate successes. He worked with an eBay official to carefully manage his process that allowed eBay computers to believe that customers had seen an eBay ad that his company had provided, and pay him if that customer actually went on to purchase something on eBay after seeing the ad. The deceit and fraud was a result of the "ad" being only one pixel in size (invisible), so some (most/all?) customers he was getting paid for referring to eBay had not actually seen his ad. And his defense is that the eBay official he had been working with was well aware of his process, therefore eBay was not being defrauded, and was more interested in promoting the affiliate program and showing affiliate successes, than actually driving business to eBay. (If true this sounds very much like getting caught in corporate infighting than breaking the law, and eBay playing hardball).

When the shit hit the fan he made a huge mistake in talking to the FBI without a lawyer, and trying to help them sort things out in a reasonable way. (The one question I had for him was if that was indeed the case, that he helped the prosecution by talking to the FBI and what he said was used against him).

Also, when all that shit hit that fan, the eBay official he was working with and was running the affiliate program that he was accused of defrauding, and who he claims knew what he was doing all along, and encouraged it in order to promote her program, was transferred overseas and was not available for subpoena, deposition or testimony, leaving Dunning high and dry.

I think that's a fair summary of the case, less biased than Dunning's or Skeptchick's.

I don't think he should have been sent to prison, or even charged and convicted of fraud, but eBay may have been justified in suing him and firing the official he indicates encouraged the practice (if that claim holds up).

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on August 03, 2017, 01:06:16 PM
Nobody's saying that he should still be in jail or able to get a job or vote or anything.  We're saying that if are guilty of fraud, you shouldn't get to be skeptical leader any more.

I agree with that, not as a moral judgement or condemnation, but simply in terms of perceptions.

I doesn't do the skeptical movement any good to have a leader and spokesperson who was convicted of fraud, even if the case against him and the circumstances are dubious.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Redamare on August 03, 2017, 01:06:56 PM
Did he lie to anyone to swindle money out of them? When did that happen?

Catch up man, he went to jail to for wire fraud. Deceit in the charge he was convicted of.

Now, hold on, we all know what he was charged with. Please don't hide behind that. Did he actually lie to anyone in order to get their money? Did that happen? I'm not asking if a person who knew nothing of the story might infer that from his criminal record. I'm asking if it happened.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 01:11:00 PM
He did not refer people to eBay.  He caused cookies to be placed on people's computers that would make it appear that he had referred people to eBay.  And he made efforts to conceal this practice from eBay.  That he colluded with an eBay employee to perpetuate the fraud does not make it any less fraudulent.  And he continues to deny that he did anything wrong in extracting commissions from eBay that he did not earn.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic on August 03, 2017, 01:27:38 PM
He did not refer people to eBay.  He caused cookies to be placed on people's computers that would make it appear that he had referred people to eBay.  And he made efforts to conceal this practice from eBay.  That he colluded with an eBay employee to perpetuate the fraud does not make it any less fraudulent.  And he continues to deny that he did anything wrong in extracting commissions from eBay that he did not earn.

What would you have him do?  Is there anything he could do to redeem himself in your eyes?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 01:35:04 PM
He did not refer people to eBay.  He caused cookies to be placed on people's computers that would make it appear that he had referred people to eBay.  And he made efforts to conceal this practice from eBay.  That he colluded with an eBay employee to perpetuate the fraud does not make it any less fraudulent.  And he continues to deny that he did anything wrong in extracting commissions from eBay that he did not earn.

What would you have him do?  Is there anything he could do to redeem himself in your eyes?

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.  He could also stop asking for or accepting any monetary support for his podcast and get a job outside of skepticism to support himself and his family.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic on August 03, 2017, 01:41:13 PM
He did not refer people to eBay.  He caused cookies to be placed on people's computers that would make it appear that he had referred people to eBay.  And he made efforts to conceal this practice from eBay.  That he colluded with an eBay employee to perpetuate the fraud does not make it any less fraudulent.  And he continues to deny that he did anything wrong in extracting commissions from eBay that he did not earn.

What would you have him do?  Is there anything he could do to redeem himself in your eyes?

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.  He could also stop asking for or accepting any monetary support for his podcast and get a job outside of skepticism to support himself and his family.

So, no is the answer.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on August 03, 2017, 01:42:14 PM
Did he lie to anyone to swindle money out of them? When did that happen?

Catch up man, he went to jail to for wire fraud. Deceit in the charge he was convicted of.

Now, hold on, we all know what he was charged with. Please don't hide behind that. Did he actually lie to anyone in order to get their money? Did that happen? I'm not asking if a person who knew nothing of the story might infer that from his criminal record. I'm asking if it happened.

Convicted, not charged. Charged implies it's pending, he plead guilty to wire fraud. Deflect much, how can you possibly say I'm hiding behind a charge HE PLEAD GUILTY TOO. The lat has already given a description of his crimes, he profited from deceit. He automated a program that profited by lying and then lied about that program and still won't admit fault about it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 01:48:36 PM
He did not refer people to eBay.  He caused cookies to be placed on people's computers that would make it appear that he had referred people to eBay.  And he made efforts to conceal this practice from eBay.  That he colluded with an eBay employee to perpetuate the fraud does not make it any less fraudulent.  And he continues to deny that he did anything wrong in extracting commissions from eBay that he did not earn.

What would you have him do?  Is there anything he could do to redeem himself in your eyes?

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.  He could also stop asking for or accepting any monetary support for his podcast and get a job outside of skepticism to support himself and his family.

So, no is the answer.

No, the answer is yes.  If he did those things, I would think much more highly of him.  They are not impossible things to do. They may be uncomfortable and require work, but I don't think they're unreasonable things to ask of someone who is guilty of the crimes he is.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic on August 03, 2017, 01:55:21 PM
He did not refer people to eBay.  He caused cookies to be placed on people's computers that would make it appear that he had referred people to eBay.  And he made efforts to conceal this practice from eBay.  That he colluded with an eBay employee to perpetuate the fraud does not make it any less fraudulent.  And he continues to deny that he did anything wrong in extracting commissions from eBay that he did not earn.

What would you have him do?  Is there anything he could do to redeem himself in your eyes?

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.  He could also stop asking for or accepting any monetary support for his podcast and get a job outside of skepticism to support himself and his family.

So, no is the answer.

No, the answer is yes.  If he did those things, I would think much more highly of him.  They are not impossible things to do. They may be uncomfortable and require work, but I don't think they're unreasonable things to ask of someone who is guilty of the crimes he is.

You said he has to go away and do something else.  How is that a yes?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on August 03, 2017, 01:57:19 PM
He did not refer people to eBay.

Not sure about this. I don't know if he never placed actual, visible eBay ads or if all of his referrals were bogus.



Quote
He caused cookies to be placed on people's computers that would make it appear that he had referred people to eBay. 

Yes, to make it appear that he referred people to eBay when he hadn't referred those people to eBay.

Quote
And he made efforts to conceal this practice from eBay. 
That is not my understanding.

Quote
That he colluded with an eBay employee to perpetuate the fraud does not make it any less fraudulent.  And he continues to deny that he did anything wrong in extracting commissions from eBay that he did not earn.

But he was "colluding" with the company official responsible for the program  he is accused of defrauding. If the company official running the program was fully aware of the practice, encouraged it and participated in making it successful, to then say he is guilty of fraud is false.

Had he been able to get a deposition or testimony from that official that supported his claim, there would have been no case against him. It's not fraud if the alleged victim knows exactly what you're doing and is helping you do it in order to fulfill their own agenda.

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Redamare on August 03, 2017, 02:01:24 PM
Did he lie to anyone to swindle money out of them? When did that happen?

Catch up man, he went to jail to for wire fraud. Deceit in the charge he was convicted of.

Now, hold on, we all know what he was charged with. Please don't hide behind that. Did he actually lie to anyone in order to get their money? Did that happen? I'm not asking if a person who knew nothing of the story might infer that from his criminal record. I'm asking if it happened.

Convicted, not charged. Charged implies it's pending, he plead guilty to wire fraud. Deflect much, how can you possibly say I'm hiding behind a charge HE PLEAD GUILTY TOO. The lat has already given a description of his crimes, he profited from deceit. He automated a program that profited by lying and then lied about that program and still won't admit fault about it.

You have to be charged before you can be convicted. You're the one playing word games.

I don't see this the way Lat does. I'm not sure why he feels that Brian no longer deserves to make a living doing something he enjoys, but at least he's tethered to reality. You seem to be going out of your way to misconstrue the facts. I'm sure when we're not talking about someone you dislike, you'll be happy to discuss how many innocent people are pressured into pleading guilty. It is a known and serious issue in this country. And if it's ever you on the docket, I'm sure you'll be very keen on the difference between the thing your rap sheet implies that you did and the thing you actually did.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on August 03, 2017, 02:09:48 PM
Did he lie to anyone to swindle money out of them? When did that happen?

Catch up man, he went to jail to for wire fraud. Deceit in the charge he was convicted of.

Now, hold on, we all know what he was charged with. Please don't hide behind that. Did he actually lie to anyone in order to get their money? Did that happen? I'm not asking if a person who knew nothing of the story might infer that from his criminal record. I'm asking if it happened.

Convicted, not charged. Charged implies it's pending, he plead guilty to wire fraud. Deflect much, how can you possibly say I'm hiding behind a charge HE PLEAD GUILTY TOO. The lat has already given a description of his crimes, he profited from deceit. He automated a program that profited by lying and then lied about that program and still won't admit fault about it.

You have to be charged before you can be convicted. You're the one playing word games.

I don't see this the way Lat does. I'm not sure why he feels that Brian no longer deserves to make a living doing something he enjoys, but at least he's tethered to reality. You seem to be going out of your way to misconstrue the facts. I'm sure when we're not talking about someone you dislike, you'll be happy to discuss how many innocent people are pressured into pleading guilty. It is a known and serious issue in this country. And if it's ever you on the docket, I'm sure you'll be very keen on the difference between the thing your rap sheet implies that you did and the thing you actually did.

What point are you trying to make? You keep deflecting and saying everyone else is misrepresenting it or its the systems fault, how are you claiming it went down?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 02:20:23 PM
He did not refer people to eBay.  He caused cookies to be placed on people's computers that would make it appear that he had referred people to eBay.  And he made efforts to conceal this practice from eBay.  That he colluded with an eBay employee to perpetuate the fraud does not make it any less fraudulent.  And he continues to deny that he did anything wrong in extracting commissions from eBay that he did not earn.

What would you have him do?  Is there anything he could do to redeem himself in your eyes?

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.  He could also stop asking for or accepting any monetary support for his podcast and get a job outside of skepticism to support himself and his family.

So, no is the answer.

No, the answer is yes.  If he did those things, I would think much more highly of him.  They are not impossible things to do. They may be uncomfortable and require work, but I don't think they're unreasonable things to ask of someone who is guilty of the crimes he is.

You said he has to go away and do something else.  How is that a yes?

You asked if he could redeem himself. I said he needs to admit what he did was wrong, apologize to the appropriate people, and stop trying to make money off of skeptical activism. That would, in my opinion, redeem him. How is that not a yes?

Actions have consequences, man. An embezzler may do his time and go on to be a productive member of society...but not as a banker or an accountant.  Like wise a fraudster may do his time and go on to be a productive member of society, but he should not be able to continue to make a living asking people to donate money to you for being a skeptic.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 02:23:06 PM
But he was "colluding" with the company official responsible for the program  he is accused of defrauding. If the company official running the program was fully aware of the practice, encouraged it and participated in making it successful, to then say he is guilty of fraud is false.

Or it means that the employee himself was committing fraud.  But this is all pointless; Dunning pleaded guilty to wire fraud.  He no longer gets to claim he didn't commit fraud.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Redamare on August 03, 2017, 02:33:32 PM
That's pretty harsh. He was forced to plead guilty to something he honestly didn't believe he was guilty of. You want to punish him for being punished.

Did he lie to anyone to swindle money out of them? When did that happen?

Catch up man, he went to jail to for wire fraud. Deceit in the charge he was convicted of.

Now, hold on, we all know what he was charged with. Please don't hide behind that. Did he actually lie to anyone in order to get their money? Did that happen? I'm not asking if a person who knew nothing of the story might infer that from his criminal record. I'm asking if it happened.

Convicted, not charged. Charged implies it's pending, he plead guilty to wire fraud. Deflect much, how can you possibly say I'm hiding behind a charge HE PLEAD GUILTY TOO. The lat has already given a description of his crimes, he profited from deceit. He automated a program that profited by lying and then lied about that program and still won't admit fault about it.

You have to be charged before you can be convicted. You're the one playing word games.

I don't see this the way Lat does. I'm not sure why he feels that Brian no longer deserves to make a living doing something he enjoys, but at least he's tethered to reality. You seem to be going out of your way to misconstrue the facts. I'm sure when we're not talking about someone you dislike, you'll be happy to discuss how many innocent people are pressured into pleading guilty. It is a known and serious issue in this country. And if it's ever you on the docket, I'm sure you'll be very keen on the difference between the thing your rap sheet implies that you did and the thing you actually did.

What point are you trying to make? You keep deflecting and saying everyone else is misrepresenting it or its the systems fault, how are you claiming it went down?

I feel pretty good about estockly's description of it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 02:35:37 PM
That's pretty harsh. He was forced to plead guilty to something he honestly didn't believe he was guilty of. You want to punish him for being punished.

No, he admits doing the things he pleaded guilty to doing.  He just doesn't think he was wrong to do them.  And that is my primary objection to considering him "redeemed."
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Redamare on August 03, 2017, 02:40:20 PM
So, he has a moral obligation to share your opinion of what constitutes fraud?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 03:02:18 PM
So, he has a moral obligation to share your opinion of what constitutes fraud?

He pleaded guilty and allocated to the facts. He accepted that what he admitted doing constituted fraud. He merely refuses to admit that committing that fraud was wrong, and offers all sorts of excuses from "everyone was doing it" to the idea that it was a victimless crime.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Redamare on August 03, 2017, 03:08:07 PM
I don't think it's appropriate to treat a court plea in the same way as a statement of fact. I don't believe he "accepted that what he admitted doing constituted fraud".
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 03:15:47 PM
I don't believe he "accepted that what he admitted doing constituted fraud".

That is literally what he did.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: moj on August 03, 2017, 03:21:52 PM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Dunning_(author)

Quote
Wire fraud case[edit]
In August 2008, eBay filed suit against Dunning, accusing him of defrauding eBay and eBay affiliates in a cookie stuffing scheme for his company, Kessler's Flying Circus. In June 2010, based on the same allegations and following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a grand jury indicted Dunning on charges of wire fraud.[23] On April 15, 2013, in the San Jose, California, U.S. District Court, as part of a plea agreement, Dunning pleaded guilty to wire fraud.[24]

From an agreement of the parties, the eBay civil suit was dismissed in May 2014 and Dunning was sentenced in August 2014 to serve fifteen months in prison for the company receiving between $200,000 and $400,000 in fraudulent commissions from eBay.[25][26] Dunning admitted that he received payments to which he was not entitled, commenting "I fully accept this determination, and fully accept and admit responsibility for every action I was involved in."[27]
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 03:23:49 PM
Exactly.  He just thinks that what he did was not wrong because...reasons.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on August 03, 2017, 04:20:35 PM
He did not refer people to eBay.  He caused cookies to be placed on people's computers that would make it appear that he had referred people to eBay.  And he made efforts to conceal this practice from eBay.  That he colluded with an eBay employee to perpetuate the fraud does not make it any less fraudulent.  And he continues to deny that he did anything wrong in extracting commissions from eBay that he did not earn.

What would you have him do?  Is there anything he could do to redeem himself in your eyes?

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.  He could also stop asking for or accepting any monetary support for his podcast and get a job outside of skepticism to support himself and his family.

As I understand the process, this would not have happened. If someone saw an eBay ad, then went to eBay, the page that displayed the ad would get credit. If someone visited a page that embedded his ad, that the customer never saw, then went to eBay, Dunning would get the credit. His ads would not overwrite someone else's ads. He wasn't stealing money from other affiliates, he was only getting money that would not have been paid out to anyone.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on August 03, 2017, 04:24:29 PM
But he was "colluding" with the company official responsible for the program  he is accused of defrauding. If the company official running the program was fully aware of the practice, encouraged it and participated in making it successful, to then say he is guilty of fraud is false.

Or it means that the employee himself was committing fraud.  But this is all pointless; Dunning pleaded guilty to wire fraud.  He no longer gets to claim he didn't commit fraud.

I agree. He is not claiming that.

I am claiming that it's not all black and white, and I am not too harsh to judge him given the particulars of this case.

But I am agreeing that because he has the fraud conviction, it's probably not appropriate that he be a leader of the skeptical movement.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho on August 03, 2017, 06:20:35 PM
Again, weak sauce. You are putting up a really low bar, going to jail when convinced, not running or fighting, an argument no one made, as something Dunning deserves respect for. No, he doesn't. That's just how it goes. If you are convinced, you go to jail. It doesn't make his beliefs complicated, it means he did his time so he could one day return to society.

Know what does deserve respect? Showing up and answering questions from critics. You could be talking to him and addressing your concerns right now, instead of talking about him like he's just a name on a website.

Just wondering if you still think he deserves respect for dodging the tough questions.

Which tough questions do you think he's dodging? I know lots of question marks have been thrown out--but I haven't seen many direct questions, so much as passive-aggressive criticisms and accusations in the form of questions--but I certainly might have skimmed past some. I do agree that questions should be answered in the public forum.

Here, I'll try:

Brian-- is there any aspect of what you did which you think harmed anybody in any way? Is there anything about what you did which you feel violated your own ethics?

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on August 03, 2017, 07:12:02 PM
Did he lie to anyone to swindle money out of them? When did that happen?
Catch up man, he went to jail to for wire fraud. Deceit in the charge he was convicted of.

In addition to that, he recorded a Skeptoid episode where he explicitly argued that it's ethically OK for self-professed "skeptics" to swindle people by knowingly peddling false beliefs, because they're fully aware that it's bullshit and therefore would cause less harm than true believers. He even ended the episode on a note of encouragement for "skeptics" to go ahead and do so.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on August 03, 2017, 07:36:51 PM
As I understand the case he made in his defense, he was working with people in eBay who wanted to promote the affiliate program and wanted to show affiliate successes. He worked with an eBay official to carefully manage his process that allowed eBay computers to believe that customers had seen an eBay ad that his company had provided, and pay him if that customer actually went on to purchase something on eBay after seeing the ad. The deceit and fraud was a result of the "ad" being only one pixel in size (invisible), so some (most/all?) customers he was getting paid for referring to eBay had not actually seen his ad. And his defense is that the eBay official he had been working with was well aware of his process, therefore eBay was not being defrauded, and was more interested in promoting the affiliate program and showing affiliate successes, than actually driving business to eBay. (If true this sounds very much like getting caught in corporate infighting than breaking the law, and eBay playing hardball).

When the shit hit the fan he made a huge mistake in talking to the FBI without a lawyer, and trying to help them sort things out in a reasonable way. (The one question I had for him was if that was indeed the case, that he helped the prosecution by talking to the FBI and what he said was used against him).

Also, when all that shit hit that fan, the eBay official he was working with and was running the affiliate program that he was accused of defrauding, and who he claims knew what he was doing all along, and encouraged it in order to promote her program, was transferred overseas and was not available for subpoena, deposition or testimony, leaving Dunning high and dry.

I think that's a fair summary of the case, less biased than Dunning's or Skeptchick's.

I don't think he should have been sent to prison, or even charged and convicted of fraud, but eBay may have been justified in suing him and firing the official he indicates encouraged the practice (if that claim holds up).

This account also leaves out a key part of the scheme which allowed Dunning and his partner Shawn Hogan to put their invisible ads in front of millions of unwitting viewers in the first place.

They designed a Wordpress plugin with hidden functionality that induced the eBay API into issuing cookies under false pretenses, then submitted that malware-containing plugin for free public download to developers of Wordpress websites. So hundreds or thousands of Wordpress developers downloaded and installed the trojan horse plugin, unwittingly adding their own servers to a botnet engineered by Dunning and Hogan for the purpose of soliciting fraudulent eBay referrer commissions. The system basically crowd-sourced the eBay accounts of all the visitors to every Wordpress site that contained their plugin, causing the eBay affiliate API to place a cookie counting them as potential ad hits. Then, whenever any of those users visited eBay to make a purchase, the eBay servers would read the fraudulently-placed cookie and credit Dunning with a commission on the sale.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/08/06/brian-dunning-host-of-skeptoid-podcast-sentenced-to-15-months-in-prison-for-scamming-ebay/


The claim that this elaborate scam was hatched in partnership with eBay to help them promote their affiliate program sounds like utter bullshit.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic on August 03, 2017, 07:54:33 PM
There is absolutely no point in re-litigating the case at this point.  All is said and done.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 07:57:07 PM
Brian dunning came to this forum and revived the issue, saying he would answer questions.  That's why we're talking about it.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic on August 03, 2017, 07:58:41 PM
That's just a rehash of the case.  I don't see a question there.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 07:59:32 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark on August 03, 2017, 08:07:53 PM
As I understand the case he made in his defense, he was working with people in eBay who wanted to promote the affiliate program and wanted to show affiliate successes. He worked with an eBay official to carefully manage his process that allowed eBay computers to believe that customers had seen an eBay ad that his company had provided, and pay him if that customer actually went on to purchase something on eBay after seeing the ad. The deceit and fraud was a result of the "ad" being only one pixel in size (invisible), so some (most/all?) customers he was getting paid for referring to eBay had not actually seen his ad. And his defense is that the eBay official he had been working with was well aware of his process, therefore eBay was not being defrauded, and was more interested in promoting the affiliate program and showing affiliate successes, than actually driving business to eBay. (If true this sounds very much like getting caught in corporate infighting than breaking the law, and eBay playing hardball).

When the shit hit the fan he made a huge mistake in talking to the FBI without a lawyer, and trying to help them sort things out in a reasonable way. (The one question I had for him was if that was indeed the case, that he helped the prosecution by talking to the FBI and what he said was used against him).

Also, when all that shit hit that fan, the eBay official he was working with and was running the affiliate program that he was accused of defrauding, and who he claims knew what he was doing all along, and encouraged it in order to promote her program, was transferred overseas and was not available for subpoena, deposition or testimony, leaving Dunning high and dry.

I think that's a fair summary of the case, less biased than Dunning's or Skeptchick's.

I don't think he should have been sent to prison, or even charged and convicted of fraud, but eBay may have been justified in suing him and firing the official he indicates encouraged the practice (if that claim holds up).

This account also leaves out a key part of the scheme which allowed Dunning and his partner Shawn Hogan to put their invisible ads in front of millions of unwitting viewers in the first place.

They designed a Wordpress plugin with hidden functionality that induced the eBay API into issuing cookies under false pretenses, then submitted that malware-containing plugin for free public download to developers of Wordpress websites. So hundreds or thousands of Wordpress developers downloaded and installed the trojan horse plugin, unwittingly adding their own servers to a botnet engineered by Dunning and Hogan for the purpose of soliciting fraudulent eBay referrer commissions. The system basically crowd-sourced the eBay accounts of all the visitors to every Wordpress site that contained their plugin, causing the eBay affiliate API to place a cookie counting them as potential ad hits. Then, whenever any of those users visited eBay to make a purchase, the eBay servers would read the fraudulently-placed cookie and credit Dunning with a commission on the sale.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/08/06/brian-dunning-host-of-skeptoid-podcast-sentenced-to-15-months-in-prison-for-scamming-ebay/


The claim that this elaborate scam was hatched in partnership with eBay to help them promote their affiliate program sounds like utter bullshit.

You are right. That is a very important factor.

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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho on August 03, 2017, 08:08:15 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.

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

Attack the ideas, not the people.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist on August 03, 2017, 08:13:25 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.

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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Redamare 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".
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning 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. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho 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?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Redamare 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho 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?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho 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?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer 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!'.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer 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 :(
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: GodSlayer 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?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic 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.

Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist 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
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist 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?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Swagomatic 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark 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).
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Drunken Idaho 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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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?

Quote
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?

Quote
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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark 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).
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Belgarath 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: CarbShark 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.)
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Eternally Learning 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?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert 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. 
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Redamare 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: The Latinist 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?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert 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.
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: John Albert on August 04, 2017, 10:20:05 PM
What exactly are we arguing about here, anyway?
Title: Re: Skeptoid
Post by: Desert Fox 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.