Brian “Skeptoid” Dunning Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Fraud
I’ve followed Brian a long time, and retweeted him, posted links etc. and I somewhat regret that now that it turns out that he’s a criminal fraud. This is a black eye for skeptics, and it might take a long time to get past it since he’s got a large body of work that now is all in question, and fodder for supernatural and pseudo-scientific frauds everywhere to throw in other skeptics faces.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Brian Dunning, creator of the Skeptoid podcast and the world’s worst “science” rap video, pled guilty to wire fraud that had allowed him to collect more than $5 million. Sentencing has finally occurred, and the result is 15 months in prison starting on September 2, 2014, followed by three years of supervised release.
This is great news for the skeptic community at large, since it may be a long enough sentence for Dunning to fade from memory and stop publicly representing the very people who are supposedly trying to stop people from defrauding others.
Meanwhile, this case had brought to light an actual skeptical activist who appears to be smart, hilarious, and actually effective at stopping frauds: Assistant United States Attorney David R. Callaway. In the government’s sentencing recommendation to the court last week, Callaway* argued beautifully against the idea that Dunning deserves to be insulated from the consequences of his actions, saying that “There is no “Get out of Trauma Free” card for white-collar criminals or, unfortunately, their families.” In fact, Callaway argues that Dunning should be punished harshly in part because his crime wasn’t motivated by desperate need:
The crime in this case was motivated by pure greed….This was no “smash and grab,” motivated by poverty, hunger, or substance abuse, but rather a clever, sophisticated, calculated criminal scheme carried out over several years by a man who certainly had no pressing need for the money.
See my 2013 post on this here :