Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bigfoot Lunch Club Gets Skeptically Pwnd

First, let's talk about the word Pwnd (pronounced like owned, but with a P), a derivative from the word "Pwnage". You wont find it in the dictionary. We have to rely on the definition from the Urban Dictionary:
Pure Ownage as used in online gaming to stress your superiority on all levels. Spawned from the root word pwn, which originated as a misspelling of the word own. Hence this stupid word is two screw-ups away from anything close to english.

We will get back to the word Pwnd in a second, let's go to the beginning.

In our post "'Skeptics' Late to Debunking Bigfoot" We noted, how Bigfooters are usually the first to be skeptical about encounters and claims. The theme was that simple, and it was succinct in the post title. We can break it down though. Skeptics, (in quotes because we are not talking about real skeptics) were later than others to debunking a Bigfoot hoax. Simple. It seems Brian Dunning at SkepticBlog had issue with this theme.

To be fair, in our post we went further and critiqued Dunnings credentials as a skeptic. This is why we used "skeptic" in quotes, because real skeptics make better assumptions than Brian Dunning.

Dunning pushed back a few days ago and unfortunately, it turns out, that he still hasn't done his homework. He poorly ASSUMED Autumn Williams' synthetic hair analyses of a Bigfoot hoax was based only on the viewing of a you-tube video. Her analysis was, in fact, based also on hair photos that were emailed to her. If Dunning had read the post he was quoting, he would have figured that out. In this age of information how hard would it have been for Dunning to do this one-click research?

We think skeptics are honorable, pragmatic, critical and good at researching applicable evidence (or lack there of). Brian Dunning we wish we had empirical proof that you are deficient in these qualities, instead we can only provide evidence that you make poor assumptions due to laziness or ability.

Now, back to Pwnd.
Dunning admits to cooperating with John Rael of SkepticallyPwned.com to promote the Bigfoot video hoax. He called it, "a fun little lark." Just to be clear the definition of lark is: a harmless prank. A "skeptic" that promotes hoaxes and then waits a week before admitting involvement?

Rael, who produced the video, claims in his own words, his objective:
I decided a few months ago to create my very own hoax video...I thought this might inspire some crypto’s to ‘defend’ or ‘promote’ the hoax.

Well, according to his site, the only person who "bit" was Tom Biscardi, a known hoaxer. What a coup! You got a known hoaxer interested in possibly cooperating with you in your hoax! That said, even Tom insisted on meeting Rael personally before committing any effort.

We don't know who got Pwned, since nobody was fooled by John Rael's video. He didn't achieve his self-defined objective. Rael admits he poorly assumed "a crypto's would 'defend' the video".

The only revealing thing from all of this was: two people who call themselves "skeptics" make poor assumptions, due to lack of will or ability to investigate/evaluate evidence.

Dunning's assumption fest
John Raels assumption confession

1 comment:

  1. First off, thank you for the mention.

    Dude, No one mailed Autumn anything!!!
    She was judging it to be synthetic based on the video and a crappy jpeg that I "E"-mailed her. She was making presumptuous critiques where she had no right to be making them. She could have said that the video bares 'no evidence,' but to attempt to debunk untestable specifics... that's just bad science... even for a crypto :)

    Brian Dunning's work on Skeptoid and the skepticblog speaks volumes about his mad-skillz as a skeptic. He's earned the respect and partnership of people like Michael Shermer and Phil Plait; people Autumn could barely get an autograph from. The minute that you or her put together a online journal with Jeff Meldrum you let me know.

    ps. At least tell the folks that the follow up vid was hilarious


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