Skeptoid’s Dunning: The Story of a Man Who Hoodwinks Unskeptical Skeptics*

It’s a very good thing other folks have written things about Brian Dunning’s wire fraud shenanigans, because you won’t find anything about it on his site. Not even his it’s-my-fault-only-kinda-not-and-everybody-was-doing-it-and-it-didn’t-really-make-me-any-money-and-who-cares-about-eBay-never-mind-the-other-affiliates-I-probably-ripped-off-and-anyway-I-once-helped-some-people-who-got-stuck-and-hey-listen-to-my-podcast-while-I’m-in-prison! letter. In fact, if you’re only a Skeptoid fan, you may not really know anything about what’s going on, especially since he or someone in his organization has set up the Twitter feed to neverever let on that anyone’s talking about him being a big fat fucking fraudster:

This lovely little screenshot our own Jason Thibeault got shows that the Twitter feed widget's set to exclude words like -cookie -ebay -fraud -cookies -criminal -jail -prison - y'know, all mentions of Brian Dunning's fraudulent ways. Can't have the rubes - I mean, skeptics - finding out!
This lovely little screenshot our own Jason Thibeault got at shows that the Twitter feed widget’s set to exclude words like -cookie -ebay -fraud -cookies -criminal -jail -prison – y’know, all mentions of Brian Dunning’s fraudulent ways. Can’t have the rubes – I mean, skeptics – finding out!

I’ve not paid much attention. Brian Dunning means jack diddly shit to me – I never even knew his podcast existed before it came out that he’d been defrauding eBay out of a lot of money. Clever people doing stupid things to rake in illicit dollars doesn’t surprise me a bit. And the brigade of screaming howler monkeys constantly attacking some of my favorite atheists, combined with a bunch of Big Names turning out to be horrible people, has given me a certain immunity to crushing disappointment. Skeptics can be just as bad as the rest of humanity, news at 11. Brian Dunning’s story is an old, tired one: making his way in the world by hook, but mostly by crook, and not owning his crimes in the end.

But due to the fact that people I like are being trodden on by self-declared Skeptics™ who cannot believe their own Hero is a criminal jackass, I figured I’d go ahead and signal boost. And hey, one or two of you may have missed the news that Brian Dunning is a big fucking fraudster, someone you cannot trust, because he is willing to lie to your face, even in his supposed mea culpa. Skeptics deserve better. Skeptics should be better. So read up on this ratfucker, so that when he returns after his 15 or so months in the Big House, he doesn’t sucker you in.

Fraudster skeptic Brian Dunning’s shell game

The Worst Thing Brian Dunning Has Done for Skepticism

Brian Dunning Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Fraud

A Critical Analysis of Brian Dunning’s Explanation

The virtual radio silence on Brian Dunning’s fraud

Why won’t you “skeptics” let Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning put his misdeeds into the memory hole!?

The sophistry and revisionist history in Skeptoid Brian Dunning’s statement 

And, as a reminder that even as a skeptic (minus the fraud) he fails, just one example of Brian Dunning doing it rong:

Brian Dunning’s DDT Fail

Surely the skeptic community is not so hard-up for skeptic entertainers that we can’t boot fraudsters out.

Brian Dunning, wire fraudster. Image courtesy DarylNickerson via Wikimedia Commons.
Brian Dunning, wire fraudster. Image courtesy DarylNickerson via Wikimedia Commons.

*I don’t mean you, if you liked his podcast but, when news broke of his perfidy, carefully considered the evidence against him, and waited to see how the trial shook out before coming to a conclusion, and are not, now he’s convicted and sentenced, trying to tell yourself he’s a really great guy who just happens to have maybe done some shady things to a big rich company, so no big. You’re not unskeptical if you didn’t catch on from the very first podcast. You’re only unskeptical if you’re now trying to spin the facts in this con artist’s favor.

Attention Brian Dunning’s Loyal Fan Club: Yes, he committed a serious crime. Yes, he deserves to go to jail. Yes, you really are a rotten skeptic if you think his actions are defensible, but a psychic’s claims they can talk to your-dead-relative-whose-name-begins-with-j-no-wait-maybe-a-w are not. Yes, you are a sucker if you read that “explanation” of his and didn’t have every this-asshole’s-got-a-thick-wool-sack-and-is-coming-at-my-eyes-with-it-whilst-preparing-to-reach-for-my-wallet alarm. And yes, it is a fact that you won’t be allowed to whine all over the comments here. Go elsewhere.

Skeptoid’s Dunning: The Story of a Man Who Hoodwinks Unskeptical Skeptics*
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5 thoughts on “Skeptoid’s Dunning: The Story of a Man Who Hoodwinks Unskeptical Skeptics*

  1. rq

    When this all came out, and I read a post on PZ’s blog on the topic, I was all ‘Brian who?’ and even now I’m all ‘meh’ because yeah… Prominent people breaking the law (or, you know, just being assholes) is just so ordinary. Why is this such a kerfuffle? He defrauded people of their money. Jason at the Lousy Canuck did a pretty good run-down of the evidence, which I read through because I was wondering about the case in general. Sometimes people do bad things; it’s not always a conspiracy, no matter who they may be. *shrug* Why is that so hard to accept (for the fan club)?
    Anyway, good summary, Dana. Or, you know, well said (as Ichthyic already pointed out). :)

  2. 3

    I liked his podcast; it was usually well-researched and always clearly presented. But I heard about his indictment more than a year ago and with sadness took it out of my iTunes list and unsubscribed from his mailing list. It really felt like treachery that someone so articulate and enthusiastic in presenting the skeptical viewpoint should turn out to be a crook. His conviction has just erased what could have been the considerable value of his library. How could you now direct some credulous person to a Skeptoid podcast debunking some scam?

  3. 4

    The big news here is not that Brian Dunning is a big fat fucking fraudster (and, judging by his mea minima culpa, a conman,) but that a bunch of so-called skeptics–some of whom have been doing the skeptical investigation schtick for years–are defending him and rationalizing his behavior. Without, apparently, noticing what a liar he is.

    Bad Skeptics. No cookies.

  4. 5

    Of course the same people who are swallowing Dunning’s emanations are the same people who howl with ridicule at the thought of Kent Hovind still having followers while serving a prison sentence for tax fraud.

    Motes and beams: It’s positively biblical.

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