Skeptic in user name

subpage of anglo-pyramidologist/darryl-l-smith/skeptic-from-britain/

In discussions of the Darryl L. Smith Wikipedia sock, Skeptic from Britain (contributions for renamed account — almost 5000), some pointed out that the spelling was not British and that the user was probably from the U.S., and a U.S. candidate was promptly proposed by suspicious accounts and then SfB announced he was again renaming his account and retiring, because of his real name being exposed on those blogs. This was a glorious and effective red herring. The real person behind the account does that kind of thing, though this example shows some development over what he had done before, and he abandoned an account that he had invested many, many hours in.

The facts:

His twin brother, Oliver D. Smith had indirectly outed him on Encyclopedia Dramatica (ED) 19 December, 2018, by accusing me of being the second incarnation of Skeptic from Britain. (He also accused Rome Viharo of the same.) That caused me to look at this account, and what I saw was, by the duck test, Oliver’s twin brother Darryl. Nobody active on Wikipedia seems to have noticed, there was no checkuser request. If there is one (it could be done any time in the last few months), it might turn up something interesting. This user would be a sock of Goblin Face, already de-facto banned as Anglo Pyramidologist, the filing would be on this page. 

It always occurs to me to consider the possibility that an account that admits to being Oliver (such as MrStrong) is an impersonator. However, Oliver knows my email address and could easily deny it, disclosing a real account on Encyclopedia Dramatica to me, and then posting on ED. I would confirm the real account based on the known email. There is always a way to be truthful and even to expose impersonations. However, if Oliver maintained the constant lying (which he also did from the known email account, this would lose some strength.

Darryl would have known that a semitruck was coming down the ‘pike, with his name on it, because he knows full well what I would do, at this point. I’d investigate! I would not just complain to Oliver on ED.

These brothers have cooperated on occasion and occasionally edit the same articles, but their more natural inclinations are quite different. Rome Viharo was onto them before I even knew they existed.

(Wikipedia has long been confused about Anglo Pyramidologist, because at times the brothers edited from the same IP, so they were checkuser-identified as the same user. But there are two different behavioral profiles, if one looks more carefully. )

So Darryl decided, I infer, to use the occasion to create more confusion by setting up a baseless accusation. Part of his motive would be to use the response to “prove” that “fringe believers,” a common target of his, were “conspiracy theorists,” ready to believe anything. So he made anonymous comments accusing the fellow, and then his retirment message blamed his “real name” being outed in discussions. And those discussions were easy to find, and there was only one “real name” given.

And it was not his real name. Few people would anticipate such a plan. Generally, on Wikipedia, when an account makes an “admission” like this, they assume it is correct and that the user was simply clumsy, because they tend to assume that sock masters are actually stupid. If that had been his real name, he would have been announcing it to the world, anyone who actually checks. And that’s how I found it, of course. I simply googled “Skeptic from Britain” and it was easy to find! But I knew their history and knew that they create blatant impersonation accounts in order to attack their targets. In this case, there was a transparent motive, which I won’t discuss.

Darryl’s recent activity had been obscure. I was not aware of any recently active accounts, after Debunking spiritualism went out in a blaze of (glory?) on RationalWiki. I was immediately accused of being DS, which, to anyone familiar with my history and his history, and who looks at what DS actually did in that last couple of days, was preposterous. But RationalWiki is a “skeptic” web site, and it happens to be, too often, a collection of the kind of skeptics that give skepticism a bad name, i.e., people who are skeptical only of ideas that are “fringe” or “not mainstream” or whatever they hate.

An argument that appeared on the blogs was that “Skeptic” was an American English spelling and that therefore the user was not British at all, but an American.  That was an ignorant comment, or deliberately deceptive, pick one.

Here is a Guardian article on the subject. It’s right on, definitive, and undeniable. See the web page of an organization founded in the UK in 1997, the Association for Skeptical Inquiry.

Further, the Smith brothers are British and live near London, and “Skeptic” turns up in many user names for accounts shown or strongly suspected of being Darryl L. Smith. Here are some:

On Wikipedia:

Many accounts considered Goblin Face may be Oliver Smith, not Darryl. There are characteristic user names for Oliver, often easy to recognize. That’s not definitive and there could be some crossover, but these names are from  Category:Wikipedia_sockpuppets_of_Goblin_Face with “skeptic” in the name:

Then there is RationalWiki. From my own RW suspected sock puppet list:

And then, seeing if there are users with “Scep” as the first letters of their user name, I find 8. Only 1,with 1 edit looks like it could be Darryl. I would not include this in a list of AP socks, but it is simply possible:

  • Scepticon led me to one other user I am not listing, the suspicion could exist, but is low. I will watch the other account, but it is inactive.

Beginning with “Skep” there are many more accounts. Skipping accounts with no contributions, and ones with no grounds for suspicion:

I would actually suspect more strongly is Oliver, from contributions. There is a hidden edit, his last, the text is: is troll Mikemikev. He’s been on this page for years. [[User:Skeptic Jon|Skeptic Jon]] ([[User talk:Skeptic Jon|talk]]) 18:37, 2 April 2014 (UTC)

That is characteristic Oliver Smith. But crossover is possible. I have not tracked this down exactly, but it appears that the edit was hidden by Debunking spiritualism (Darryl) in his terminal deletion spree. DS attempted to hide many comments by his brother Oliver (there were many other ones hidden.) Many of his deletions were reverted, but not all.

Skeptic elsewhere in the name is more difficult to find. However, WTF, there are only 63,552 registered users. I looked at all of them and found only these accounts that could be suspected.

  • Pseudoskeptic_Jon weak suspicion, would be Darryl
  • RationalWikiSkeptic weak suspicion, claims to be Jon Donnis. Notice Skeptic Jon above.
  • Waller_joel_skeptic allegedly Mikemikev, who is also British. Troll account, which could also be Darryl impersonating an enemy. He does that.

The point: Darryl L. Smith (Goblin Face and Skeptic from Britain) has often used “Skeptic” in names. Even other British users apparently not Smith, have used “Skeptic.” The point: on social media, and blog commenting is a form of social media, people often make meaningless and ignorant arguments without researching fact.

This makes it easier for trolls to fit in. The most damaging trolling: trolling that shows evidence that can fool a casual reader who doesn’t check context, and most of all, doesn’t consider contrary evidence.

Basic rule: never trust the claims of anonymous users without clear verification, beware of being fed conclusions before evidence. Ideally, don’t “believe” anything, but verify and weigh evidence. Beware of someone who claims “proof” (or who claims “there is no evidence”, when evidence is actually presented.) Do not confuse evidence with “proof.” Proof exists in mathematics, within careful definitions and logic. Elsewhere, there is judgment “beyond a reasonable doubt.” And that can fail. People are wrongly convicted of murder. It happens.

Journalists do not need “proof” to report what they find and conclude. To avoid libel claims, they must have a reasonable basis for what they write. They can be mistaken, even, and still escape libel claims if their intention was to be truthful and they exercised reasonable caution.

I am claiming that I am “100% certain” that Skeptic from Britain (Wikipedia) is Debunking spiritualism (RationalWiki), but I have not revealed the evidence that makes it so, not yet, at least. Rather, the suspicion was strong, strong enough to even make the claim, but it only became “certain” when I saw evidence that hardly anyone ever looks at, in many years of working on Wikipedia, I only saw this technique used once, and even then with what I consider low sophistication (comparable to the edit timing histograms I show on the Skeptic from Britain page.

So, then, the value of this information may depend on how much one trusts me to be truthful. And this should never create certainty, because anyone can make mistakes. If you need certainty, ask me for evidence. I will not provide it to those who are anonymous, and I will be careful about even known persons, but . . . it’s more possible.

I have not done it yet, but in an attempt to prove myself wrong — I follow the scientific method when it’s important, not necessarily for everything — I will study and compared the editing of Bongolian on RationalWiki, whom I have never suspected of being a Smith sock (I would consider the possibility ridiculously remote). It is not impossible that Bongolian knows more about the Smith brothers than he has revealed, and may be politically aligned with them, in some ways, so after now, once it is known that there can be scrutiny, it would be easy to fake evidence. But that would be very, very difficult to do with wiki history. Insanely difficult, but never say “impossible.” Not reasonably expected.