Unpicking a Pupspiracy: Part 1 [Updated]

I’m currently near to finishing an update to the Puppy Kerfuffle timeline. The update includes Sp4 stuff as well as some extra bits around the 2013 SFWA controversies.

One issue I thought I hadn’t looked at what was a key piece of Puppy mythology: basically that their enemies are being tipped off by Hugo administrators to enable shenanigans of a vague and never entirely explained nature. A key proponent of this Pupspiracy theory is Mad Genius Dave Freer. In particular this piece from mid April 2015 http://madgeniusclub.com/2015/04/13/nostradumbass-and-madame-bugblatterfatski/

Freer’s piece has two pupspiracies in it; one from Sad Puppies 2 and one from Sad Puppies 3. I’m going to look at the first here and the second in Part 2. However, both use a particular odd kind of fallacious reasoning that we’ve seen Dave use before. It is a sort of a fallacy of significance testing mixed with a false dichotomy and not understanding how probability works. If it has a Latin name then I don’t know it but it goes like this.

  • Either…
    • Event X happened completely by chance or…
    • Event X happened by [INSERT HYPOTHESIS].
  • Event X happening by chance is really, really unlikely – just imagine all the coincidences!
  • Therefore…
    • Event X happened by [INSERT HYPOTHESIS]

Of course Event X being really unlikely does point to it not happening purely by chance but the fallacy above forgets that there are LOTS of ways things can happen by something other than chance.

Let’s look at the first pupspiracy. Quoting Dave Freer:

Here is the first fact, easily verified. On the 11th of April 2014 Larry Correia got his notification of being shortlisted from the Hugo Administrators (very honest people, see quote 2) for LonCon 2014, a WorldCon held in the UK. On the same day the UK left-wing newspaper “The Guardian” – more famous for its typos than the quality of its journalism, but still a large newspaper, a reporter called Damien Walters launched a furious tirade at an American author he had never mentioned before (Damian is frequent in his praise singing for Charlie Stross, and more recently Alex Dally McFarlane who writes sometimes for Tor.com to name two people associated with him (Alex one of the few people named as a co-conspirator to the internet troll and bully ‘Requires Hate’ aka Benjanun Sriduankaew some of whose work appeared in a collection edited by Ann Leckie, and also seems a favorite on Tor.com – all these people seem to know or have worked with each other). He accused the author (Larry Correia) of racism, misogyny and all round being a rubbish writer, and evil to boot.

The chances of a ‘hit’ piece, intended to denigrate, on an American populist author with little impact on his British scene, in a publication that tends to Ahrt, are slim. The chance of it happening the very day that the Hugo Nomination shortlist is released, targeting an audience who might possibly go to LonCon, but probably would not have heard of Larry Correia? In other words, to poison minds well before they saw their voter packets…

The chance that this happened purely by accident – about the same as a fully armed nuclear missile turning into a Sperm whale a few seconds before impact.

Hmm. You’ll note the clause “The chance that this happened purely by accident…”.

Re-reading this many months later, I realized that I had a glaring omission in my timeline: the ‘hit piece’ by Damien Walters! Obviously a key part of the Sad Puppy story –  a major newspaper attacking a Hugo nominee AND getting a scoop on who had been nominated prior to that being publicly released! So, Damien Walters, April 11 and…wait…hold on…I already DO have an April 11 Guardian piece by Damien Walters in the timeline.

The entry says:

The Guardian publishes an article called ‘Science fiction needs to reflect that the future is queer ‘ by Damien Walter. The article criticises Larry Correia’s position.

And here is the link: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/11/science-fiction-needs-to-reflect-queer-fluid-gender-identity Notably Dave Freer did NOT include a link to the article. Why not? Well, I suggest you read Walter’s article first.

While Dave misrepresents the article and  doesn’t include the link, he does actually provide the relevant detail to the supposed mystery: “Damian is frequent in his praise singing for Charlie Stross, and more recently Alex Dally McFarlane”

Alex Dally McFarlane is also in the timeline because of this article at Tor.com late January: http://www.tor.com/2014/01/21/post-binary-gender-in-sf-introduction/ An article that Larry Correia had then fisked here: http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/01/28/ending-binary-gender-in-fiction-or-how-to-murder-your-writing-career/ and to which Jim C Hines had counter fisked: http://www.jimchines.com/2014/01/fiskception/

So Damian Walters who does write about Alex Dally McFarlane, writes a piece on gender/sexuality in SF in the newspaper that he regularly writes about SF in and mentions Larry Correia. Indeed the article overtly mentions McFarlane’s piece and Jim Hines reply to Correia. Indeed Correia is only mentioned in defense of McFarlane’s piece.

How unlikely is it that a Guardian writer who writes about SF issues and is a fan of McFarlane’s piece should mention Larry Correia? Quite high, I’d think, at least not so exceptionally improbable that it requires some special motivation. But…who knows…maybe I got the wrong April 11 Guardian piece by Damien Walters with Larry Correia in it. I guess I must have because it doesn’t match Dave Freer’s description very well: “He accused the author (Larry Correia) of racism, misogyny and all round being a rubbish writer, and evil to boot.” Nope – that is the right article and here is Larry Correia’s more contemporary reaction to it: http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/04/15/larry-f-correia-international-lord-of-hate/ (Larry also suggests that it is an evil plot to make him look bad because Hugos)

Even so, why Walters would mention Correia in any piece is no mystery (even if we ignore Larry’s two-year public campaign for a Hugo award).

But, but, what about the coincidence of the article being on the VERY day Larry received his notification that he’d been nominated for a Hugo! Well, there is a reason we have the word ‘coincidence’ in English. Dave would have us believe that Walter’s was tipped off in advance (indeed for it to be published in the Guardian on April 11 it would have needed to be before Larry knew) and get his editor to agree to an article etc etc. Or, on the other hand, we can think ‘what is the chance that an article that could have been relevant over a few months might have been published on one specific day in those few months’ and come up with a figure that is low but not so freakishly low that a conspiracy is required to explain it.

In addition, to what purpose? Dave Freer, of course, characterizes it as more exhaustive ‘hit’ on Larry’s character. Presumably to dissuade all the Guardian readers not to vote for Larry Correia. A simpler way of doing this would have been to wait till Larry’s nomination had been announced and simply link to Larry’s blog. [Note: 2014 was LonCon ie. Worldcon was in London so the proportion of active Guardian readers voting would have been higher – so that aspect isn’t quite as bonkers]

What is more interesting than Walters motives is what were Dave Freer’s motives? Apart from the general ‘us poor pups are persecuted’, it appears to be part of a general and repeated attack on the integrity of the Hugo administrators. I find that both sad and disappointing from Dave.

More in part 2 when we leap forward to 2015.

[Update] Nicholas Whyte has pointed me to a piece he wrote in his LiveJournal on April 15 2015 entitled “On how and when the Guardian was informed about the 2014 Hugo shortlist” http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2453218.html

Nicholas writes: “I know for sure that the timing of Damien Walter’s piece was definitely not because the Guardian knew the details of the Hugo ballot before 11 April. I know this because, in my capacity as Loncon 3’s Director of Promotions, it was I who sent that information to the Guardian on 17 April, six days after Damien Walters’ article was published, and two days before the ballot was announced on 19 April. I myself saw the shortlist for the first time only on 14 April, three days after the publication of Damien Walters’ article (which I don’t think I had read until just now).”

He also has a moon landing picture 🙂

[ETA: “awarded” changed to “nominated”]

[ETA2: It has been pointed out that Damien Walter’s column in the Guardian appears fortnightly on a Friday – and yes April 11 2014 was a Friday]

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23 comments

  1. David Brain

    But, but, what about the coincidence of the article being on the VERY day Larry received his notification that he’d been awarded a Hugo! I assume you meant “notification that he’d been shortlisted for a Hugo”?
    (Also, thanks for the link to the Jim Hines piece, which I missed first time around. It’s jolly good fun, but I think the tone veered too much between genuine comment and OTT satire, meaning that they were too easy to confuse, as the comments demonstrate.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Archbishop Laudanum

    Whoa! April 11th !! Did you say that the Groan-iad’s crybully hit piece came out on April 11th? Dave’s right, that’s no coincidence. It’s all painfully clear now. Bear with me, the SJWs have gone to almost-Stalinesque lengths to “vanish” these “truths” from “history” by using “facts” and generally ignoring “crazy” rants. Well, who’s crazy now, you stupid cucks.

    ** pushes Glenn Beck out of the way, grabs chalk and turns to chalkboard **

    OK, so on April 11 in the year of Our Lord 1079, Krakow Bishop Stanislaus was executed by the order of Boleslaw II. Do you see? Boleslaw spelled backward is walselob, a word that seems to have no meaning. But upon closer inspection, it cannot be coincidental that Queen Elizabeth’s chief spy was Lord Walsingham and combined with the second syllable of Michelob beer – a beverage favoured by Poles that just happens to include part of the name of their national hero Mickiewicz – spells, you guessed it – walselob. What I am trying to point out to you should be obvious by now. Keep foreigners out of your literature.

    ** takes deep breath, continues on even though most of the audience has changed channel **

    But it’s even more serious than that. April 11th is nothing but the calendrical gate to the evils of gamma rabbit failed social justice experiment hell. To wit: on April 11 in 1689, William and Mary were crowned in the Glorious Revolution. I have it on good authority and therefore do not need to provide sources that like another vile couple who have crowned themselves tastemakers of science fiction, these so-called glorious monarchs liked to erase and unperson thr crtcs b rmvng vwls frm ll rfrnces nd tkng away their blue checkmarks. Zounds! The coincidences flow like a mighty river that flows mightily while a pious man bestrides it like a mighty lamb fighting orangemen and something something victory condition.

    ** spittle starts to fly**

    The scum and villainy of the perfidious date of April 11 resounds through the ages. It is too much to be asked to believe what is clearly a pattern is just mere coincidence. On April 11th 1868, the great military shogunate of Tokugawa surrendered their fortress to imperial forces backed by the effeminate West. And so one more manly world falls and becomes unrecognizable by turning into manga man-children with their sad sterile tamagochi lives. I’ve heard seppuku is still a thing, not sayin’, just sayin’.

    But there’s more! My head is spinning. On April 11, 1871, Spelman College opened its doors with the intent of educating African American girls. And now, just a mere 150 years later, some of them want to write novels and win awards. Our awards! The unmitigated gall. On this hell date in 1913, suffragettes (I won’t give the PC thought police the pleasure of calling them “suffragists”) invaded and attacked a cricket field. Go home ladies, and leave the men to their feats of skill and privilege. I am sure by now it will not surprise you that the International Labour Organization was founded on – wait for it – 11 April 1919.

    Enemies of great warrior empires, people of colour, feminists, lazy socialist union thugs – what do they all have in common? April 11. That commie fascist rag Guardian, which inexplicably still has a blue check mark, will never allow this truth to come out because they are in bed with the toads of Tor and share burritos with Scalzi and got invited to GRRM’s invite-only party which I totally do not want to attend unless they really want me there in which case I should probably go just so I can tell them how stupid they are and how boring message fiction is and maybe get a selfie with some of them so I can put it on my award shelf along with the special hand-presented invitation. I mean it’s still an award shelf even if there are no awards there yet. I think this is gonna be my year.

    Make science fiction great again! Free Milo! Quit Twitter (at least for six days – which would be …dun, dun, dunnnnnnn….. April 11). Coincidence? Hardly.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Archbishop Laudanum

    I genuinely admire your work and your creativity. I may not know pivot tables or syllogisms but I’m a natural with historical timelines. Good night. Laudanum out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark

    Interesting. I’d never bothered following that particular thread, probably because Dave never bothered giving a link. I’m not sure if he and the other MGC writers avoid linking or citing as much as possible to avoid people seeing that their facts are wrong, or it’s just general laziness-in-ranting, I’m not sure.

    Another nail in the coffin of his “The chance of it happening the very day” argument – It was published _Friday_ April 11th, in Walters semi-regular column, which comes out on (dun-dun-DUN) Fridays in alternating weeks. So, really, Walters wrote about some SF stuff and emailed it in at some time in the same fortnight that some news about some SF stuff came out.

    I got intrigued by the mention of “‘Requires Hate’ aka Benjanun Sriduankaew some of whose work appeared in a collection edited by Ann Leckie” mostly because I didn’t know Leckie had ever edited a collection. And (dun-dun-DUN) it turns out she hasn’t. She did edit Giganotosaurus though, which published a couple of early BS stories _prior_ to the whole unveiling-as-RH incident. As connections go, that’s pretty weak sauce.

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. lunarg

    I think the target here is at least as much TNH as it is the integrity of WorldCon volunteers, but it’s rather difficult to tell. And I was awestruck by the degree to which the Guardian article only peripherally mentioned Correia. Weaksauce.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. George Kirby

    The chances of anything happening that has actually happened is always… 1.

    I see this fallacy all the time. It is particularly bad with gamblers. We call these people ploppies.

    To Me: “So I walked into this Casino Boat in Shreveport and every one of the numbers displayed above the roulette wheel were red. Everyone was red. So I guess you know what I did…”

    Me: “No, what did you do”. Whatever he did cost him 5.25% on average.

    You see it in conspiracy theories as well. Lee Harvey Oswald gets a job and the route just happens to get changed so that Kennedy passes beneath him? And he has recently gone for training in the Soviet Union? What are the odds of that. The odds are one.

    You see it in religion. How could a fly’s eye just evolve? How could all of this be just chance? It must be the hand of God not some evolution.

    Puppies are basically ploppies.

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  8. NickPheas

    But that only makes sense if Larry C is massively thin skinned and paranoid and his acolytes prepared to accept any old tosh without the first hint of question.

    If, for the sake of fun, we accept the theory, what would the impact be? Apart of raining on Larry’s happy day, so what? The nominations were fixed, the voting was three months away.

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