October 21, 2015

Post-jail, Brian Dunning still hasn't changed a bit

Brian Dunning, kind of a
Huck(ster)berry Finn
Dunning, one of the favorites of the Skeptics™ crowd, was convicted of federal felony wire fraud, then sentenced to 14 months in the stir. (Unfortunately, he didn't get the 27 months prosecutors sought.)

He's now out, and Dunning, one of the leading pseudoskeptic libertarians in the crowd, is already showing he's not learned a thing.

He's already boo-hooing about how eBay was, essentially, a bigger, more powerful libertarian than him. The fact that he calls eBay's civil suit "bogus" is part of that. (I'm surprised that he didn't get his wife, mom, and mother-in-law, since they were on his payroll from his ill-gotten booty, to add their testimonials to his piece.

The boo-hooing, as in the past, seems to shade toward the lying. And, from near the start:

(The cookie stuffing) seemed like a cheesy, fly-by-night kind of thing. But my partner pressed hard, and an acquaintance kept telling me how much money he was making.
So, let's unpack all of this.

Yours for just $15, in one of many
Dunning website ripoffs
It's "cheesy," so the man known for selling cheesy crapola, as pictured at left, on his website, wouldn't be interested. Got it.

His partner Swengali-ed a skeptic. Got it.

Money is addictive, as well as being SCOTUS-approved as "speech." Got it.

THERE's some bullshit, Brian. Sell it!

Dunning goes on from there to blame middlemen, big bad eBay for aiding and abetting his cookie-stuffing, then changing the game, and more. Very much more. In a new level of both irony and hypocrisy for an alleged skeptic ...

Dunning goes on into full-blown conspiracy theorizing:
Our rep at eBay, whom I'll call "K," sometimes gave suggestions on things to try. ... But (after my arrest) things took a dark turn. ... (W)e wanted to depose K. Turns out K had disappeared with a mysterious, unknown illness. When she resurfaced six months later, eBay had transferred her overseas to their London office.
Sure, Brian, and the melting point of steel proves al Qaeda crashing airliners couldn't have caused 9/11.

He then claims other eBay reps made "provably false statements to the FBI." They'd probably sue you, if you named them, Brian. Why don't you go ahead?

Finally, Dunning claims the conviction rate for federal wire fraud is 97 percent, so he just had to cop a plea. No choice.

The true "bogus" is that he's a quasi-guru and now, after federal jail time, he's going to have struggle to try to rebuild his old financial empire.

The true "bogus" or rather "bullshit," including what at least used to be the overpriced $15 bullshit at his website, as noted at left, is a man making enough by his cookie-skimming (and Internet cookie stuffing is the second bane of the commercialized Net after banner ads) to pay his wife $10K a month (possibly to shelter money), to pay his mom and mom-in-law both $2,500 a month and more.

(But, per Brian, they were "traumatized" by the FBI. Ahh, a libertarian conservative having sympathy with the victim, but not real, poor, minority victims before that, as far as I know. That's OK; even if they were actually victimized some small bit, $10K a month buys good psychotherapy. Maybe Dunning has that for sale on his website, for all I know? Doorknob, I'm in fine snark today.

That and more about his "shells" for his nefariousness (and it ain't alleged nefariousness, Brian, you're a convicted criminal) is at my second-last blog post about him. It's long, but, if you're just seeing Dunning, and his would-be "explanation" from his freshly-scrubbed, Hucksterberry Finn face, and think his freckly-like self could never tell a lie, a half-lie, or close to it, you need to know differently.

It's important to expose the reality of his history, and not let him take control of his narrative right away like this.

That's true because he's not alone. He's a "type." He's the one person of this type who's visible within pseudoskeptical libertarianism, and true skeptics, who think beyond narrow debunking of pseudoscience of the Skeptics™ movement, will know that's part of why the actions of a likes of Dunning, whether he's as bad as Jesse Willms or not, must be pointed out.

As must his mental doubling-down on denialism.

Hence, this response to him.

The reality? Per my last post about him before his incarceration, he tried to shield his nefariousness behind seeking nonprofit status, never had an iota of repentance, and generally saw events through Dunningesque glasses that he probably sells for $399 on his website.

"Welcome back," Brian. I'll take pleasure in punching you in the intellectual "face" if you keep uttering such stupidities.

Per that photo-poster at left, Dunning's not the only "skeptic" to confuse, or else deliberately conflate, skepticism and libertarianism. Far from it.

Among "names," Penn and Teller and Michael Shermer come immediately to mind.

Dunning is useful to me, as a reminder of the fact that the Dunning-Kruger event is about overestimating one's intelligence. I remember that it has the names of a cartoonish horror monster ... and Freddy Kruger!

Thanks, folks, I'll be here all week.

And, Brian, it will give me pleasure to continue to slap you down.

Add in that you, as on your website in general, make your webpages so your text can't be copied and pasted, guaranteed to increase my piss-off factor, and I'll slap you down.

And, slap down supporters of you, including among the Skeptics™ crowd, libertarian quasi-skeptics and libertarian pseudoskeptics. You know who you are, the D.J. Grothes, Shane Bradys and others of that world, besides more prominent names already mentioned.

In case I didn't mention you, or didn't know to mention you, please let me know


Update, Dec. 27, in reference to comments below, but not just to the particular person who's making them, in part extrapolating from my replies.

1. I've heard again and again from the commenter, and it may be believed by others, that "Dunning wasn't guilty."
1A. If you're a lawyer and a personal friend, why didn't you defend him yourself?
1B. If you're not, whether you want to admit it or not, I am point-blank telling you that Dunning had the money for a criminal defense better than 99 percent of Americans. He may not be 0.1 percenter, but he was a 1 percenter. Period and end of story. Therefore, if his lawyer worked out a plea deal for him, it was almost certainly because Dunning was guilty and this was the best plea bargain available. And, if that's not good enough, given the cult-like nature of Dunning's followers, why didn't one of you start a Kickstarter for his legal defense fund.

2. Because of that, I am not accepting further comments that don't argue new ground. That's not only about this post, but any about Brian Dunning.

3. To the best of my awareness, and certainly on this post, I have called bullshit on ideas and actions first, individuals second (if at all, besides Dunning himself). I have called a bunch of people "pseudoskeptics." And? Deal with it.


Shane Brady said...

I only noticed recently that you've insulted me in a few blogposts and comments. Against my better judgement, i'm leaving a comment here now.

I am not a friend of Brian's, I've met him in person exactly once for 30 seconds. My only motivation for writing anything is that a lot of skeptics wrote about this case and didn't know what they were talking about.

Simply put, as I said originally, what was in the FBI's complaint certainly didn't happen, and that has pretty much been shown to be the case. I also said that there was no way Ebay and Commission Junction didn't know what he was doing. That has also shown to be true.

So if Ebay and CJ knew what Brian was doing, how did this come to end up as wirefraud? Well, it's doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to explain what happened, just experience. New regimes come into companies and clean out past programs. Sometimes they sue people who think they too advantage of them. I've never heard of a case rising to a federal wire fraud charge before this, but I've seen hundreds of civil suits occur.

Note, there is nothing illegal with setting cookies itself, there was never any time Brian should have thought he was breaking a law. Maybe a contract, but I contend that the emails he received from Ebay constitute an amendment to their contract. Again, this happens all the time. You like an affiliate, you might let them do things you don't let other affiliates do. This is not illegal.

You've let your own personal biases about politics shade your view of Brian, myself and others. Let's be clear. You don't know me at all. You don't really know my politics, you don't really understand my experience in the industry. Still, you decided, based on your own limited knowledge, to insult me on multiple posts and comments. I wrote all my pieces about Brian based on inside knowledge of the industry and a technical understanding of what Brian's scripts were doing that no one else bothered to check out. They had nothing to do with me being a libertarian, a kind of libertarian I will once again point out, you don't have any knowledge of, because you don't know me.

If you have something specific to my claims about how Ebay and CJ work, then please address it.

Gadfly said...

The fact that Dunning pleaded guilty despite making a fair amount of money speaks against most your claims.

If it's "insulting" to say that you have these legal issues wrong, fine, you're insulted, and I gladly insult you.

If it's "insulting" to guess that part of why you have these legal issues wrong is because of libertarian political stances, fine, you're insulted again and I gladly insult you again.

Beyond that, go argue with the FBI, not me.

You have your own personal biases about politics too, to quote you back to yourself, and don't pretend you don't.

I have nothing further to address. As noted, on the legal facts at hand, go argue with the FBI. On the political facts at hand, admit you have political biases yourself, Shane.

Gadfly said...

One other thought, per the legalities. The face that eBay and CJ may have known what Brian was doing doesn't make it legal. Red herring.

It may well have. But, when Dunning and friends got egregious with the amount/degree of cookie-stuffing, that's when it decided to take criminal action.

A greedy criminal usually becomes a criminal that falls in the crosshairs of the law.

And, per everything I've pointed out about Dunning's website and overpriced swag, he trafficked pretty heavily in greed.

Shane Brady said...

"The fact that Dunning pleaded guilty despite making a fair amount of money speaks against most your claims."

Right, because innocent people never plead to anything after considering the cost of expensive legal defenses.

"If it's "insulting" to say that you have these legal issues wrong, fine, you're insulted, and I gladly insult you.

If it's "insulting" to guess that part of why you have these legal issues wrong is because of libertarian political stances, fine, you're insulted again and I gladly insult you again."

You haven't said I was "wrong", you've called me a bullshitter, a conspiracist, and a pseudo skeptic.

"One other thought, per the legalities. The face that eBay and CJ may have known what Brian was doing doesn't make it legal. Red herring"

Actually, it does. There is nothing illegal about setting cookies, or modifying civil contracts. If eBay and CJ knew and allowed Brian to do things, then how could Brian "defraud" eBay. eBay itself may had exposure to other affiliate marketers, if people inside eBay cut better deals with other affiliate marketers.

I'll point this out again, whether or not I have personal biases about politics, you chose to insult me despite the fact that you know little to nothing about me. Admitting I have biases doesn't change the fact that you don't know what they are, so you to call me, again a "bullshitter", a "conspiracist", and a pseudoskeptic based on your own incorrect, uninformed version of me you have concocted, reflects poorly on you, if you claim yourself to be a skeptic.

Gadfly said...

If it's insulting to have the biggest issues of typical libertarianism pointed out by a left-liberal, you must have a thin skin at times.

And, you use the word "if" while still not discussing your own actual political biases on this issue

As for the legal defense, I've already pointed out that Dunning had the money, based on his income, to mount a legal defense better than 99 percent of Americans.

Because you won't admit your own political biases on this issue, among other things, and the legal defense issues have been asked and answered before, don't be surprised if I don't post future comment from you if you don't have anything new to say.