April 03, 2004

ChatNannies update

If you are a connoisseur of AI hoaxes or bad science reporting, you'll want to keep up with the ChatNannies story. As a long-time aficionado of both, I'm enjoying the show immensely.

This waxy.org page has been following the story since 3/23/2004, and has an ongoing cornucopia of fascinating links and comments, including several striking comments apparently from Mr. ChatNannies himself, Jim Wightman; Michael Williams has an analysis; Cameron Marlow has a report of his own chat with a NannieBot. Ray Girvan has a series of interesting posts. Ray makes the important point that more than two weeks after the original (March 17) articles in New Scientist, the BBC and Reuters, and a week after a skeptical piece by Ben Goldacre in the Guardian, none of these allegedly responsible news outlets has issued a correction or a retraction.

It appears that Wightman, when not reeling in journalists, has spent his time posting on alt.revisionism, both under his own name and under the pseudonyms of "Death's Head" and "Totenkopf". It also seems that in the past, he's made some dubious software claims -- apparently-infeasible software mods to TiVo and XNews -- though nothing on the scale of ChatNannies.

Among Wightman's (apparent) comments on the waxy.org site:

Hehe you guys make me wish for nuclear holocaust, really.
Your arguments are below me.
It is your kind of attitude I attempted to challenge on alt.revisionism (and hey, guess what - if you call me names such as 'antisemite' or 'revisionist' I don't give a f**k because I know the truth) and was increasingly frustrated by the bigotry and ignorance of those that claimed to be 'intelligent'. People that when faced with a 'fact' (whether real or not) would argue that it can't possibly be true because _history_ forbids it. More like herd mentality. And in truth thats the only 'ism' i'm guilty of..antisheepism.
Run along little sheep, your masters are waiting for you! Baa! Baaaaa! Baaaa!

Who could make this stuff up? Well, maybe Thomas Pynchon in his younger days.

Posted by Mark Liberman at April 3, 2004 06:41 PM