David Silverman Vs the Mob

In what is becoming something of a pattern, Buzzfeed goes after a leading atheist with various allegations, and people in the atheist/skeptic community are surprisingly unskeptical when it comes to certain claims. There’s a bit more meat on these bones though.

#Gamergate – Is Games Media Corrupt?

More conversations with the ‘opposition’, leading to conversations about the flaws in pseudo-academia raised in the previous blog. Now, I’m not a scientist or an academic. I’m a writer, game designer and, perhaps more applicably, a skeptic and rationalist. As such I don’t expect to be able to meet genuine academic standards, but I do expect self-proclaimed academics to conduct themselves in an honest and rigorous fashion. I see it as my ‘job’ to find errors and suggest ways to fix them. Still, I agreed to go along with requests to address some topics with evidence.

Show that corruption in the gaming media exists.

I do not think

(Kotaku, hostile site on the question of journalistic corruption so an article from there that admits that is a more effective evidential source. The writer – a games journalist – admits aspects of corruption as a primary source and links to further evidence of corruption in the form of Gerstmann-Gate, Doritogate and more with direct references to supporting evidence from places like Neogaf, Eurogamer, promotional tweets on Twitter, legal threats from Lauren Wainright and more. It also links to discussion blogs about problems in game journalism – secondary sources. There’s more, but this all rather demonstrates that anyone rejecting the source hasn’t looked at it).

at this point

(MTV Multiplayer, a site that has avoided the controversy so far but provides a reasonable summary – again with links – as a secondary source on Gerstmann-gate, also referenced and supported above. While it contains denials it also contains links to further data and evidence and as such provides a decent overview and curated list of further evidence).

that this is

(Erik Kain is neutral on Gamergate and one games reporter who has come through the scandals with reputation relatively intact from all sides. Again, Gerstmann-Gate is referenced, further reinforcing the previous sources on this issue. Again it acts as a usefully curated storehouse of evidence of this particular sub-scandal, Shadows of Mordor, including Totalbiscuit’s comments and those of Jim Stirling who also provides access to contract details. Kain is also a primary source on corruption himself, discussing a case of a review requiring approval prior to publication, which he refused. Boogie is another direct, primary source on this issue listed and presented in this article. Another reason to pick this source is that while admitting corruption again, as above, it is broadly hostile to GG and saying it should have taken this seriously. A hostile source – singly or collectively – that admits the case of its opponent has greater value. EG a first century Jew talking about Jesus and his miracles as a hostile witness carries more value than a first century Christian, precisely because it would be a hostile source).

in doubt.

(This ten minute video is a primary source, Alex Lifschitz. He is very much a hostile source and this is one of the presentations he made surrounding the whole issue. Side note, I found it interesting he used Magritte in the opposite way I do. About 4:50 is where he admits press junkets and corrupt attempts to pay off journalists.He then goes on to encourage his audience of journos and writers to overtly become corrupt on a political basis, rather than a ‘payola’ basis. To force a particular narrative – something that has already been going on for some time).

(Sources chosen, largely, to demonstrate that when they’re not the ones being corrupt the press is happy to tackle the issue or to openly admit corruption and to call for more, albeit on a different basis). I have also personally witnessed corruption in the form of threats to withdraw access to early-access and review copies if a review score was not changed (upward). Unfortunately I cannot go into detail on this issue, at least not publicly.

As a side note it is worth mentioning that out-and-out corruption is not the only issue. Loathe as I am to reference Zoe Quinn she makes a useful example, known to most people as a point of reference. If Ms Quinn got her positive coverage in exchange for sex (something virtually impossible to discern beyond reasonable doubt) that is corruption. What isn’t in doubt is that she did get positive coverage from people she had romantic/sexual/financial ties to. That is not corruption, but undeclared conflicts of interest are a breach of ethical standards. One which, fortunately, as a bare minimum, Gamergate seems to have gotten sites to enforce.

As a final commentary/opinion I would like to state that in my eyes I think Gamergate has been a hugely wasted opportunity for games sites. Here was a popular uprising against corruption which could have been used to free the sites in question from the AAA level corruption as well as the ideological corruption. Rather than leverage audience outrage to everyone’s advantage, they instead decided to turn on their audience and, well, here we all are.



The challenger’s reply in the comments provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the original problem that the challenge addresses. Namely that of bias in pseudo-academia. I’ll replicate it here beneath the article to cover and support that point, and as a future citation of flaws and unwillingness to accept evidence that contradicts pre-existing bias in pseudo-academia.

Now, your first paragraph is saying you don’t expect to meet academic standards, but since the challenge you agreed to provide proof for was that academics don’t adequately research things YOU know are true, and must therefore be able to prove, I’mma hold to you to them.

And this remains the case, and this reply adds further evidence to support that conclusion.

There are the sum total of the links you provided, w/ the text you used in quotes. Ignoring how profoundly you broke all the citing rules (bc, as you said, you are not educated in doing them), here is why exactly NONE are valid as direct proof of any claim you made.

Irrelevant. What’s relevant is whether they support what’s being claimed and, as such, provide evidence towards it. Placing song-and-dance over substance would appear to be another issue that would require addressing. It’s also a pointless distraction and an attempt to make a fallacious argument from authority. Argue the evidence.

“I do not think”(The Contemptible Games Journalist) – Secondary source. Does cite evidence for some stmts, but it isn’t a DIRECT first-person source. Arguably an op-ed. Not directly on-point.

It contains links and references to the story, allowing the reader to follow up (as do all the other sources). Of course, you have to bother to do the research. Something which seems… weirdly… to be anathema to people self-styling as academics. I’ve gone into further detail underneath the source above.

“At this point” (Gamespot’s Top Reviewer Fired) – Old, secondary source, I have yet to see confirmation of this being true, and you provided none. (Certaintly indication of corruption, I may personally BELIEVE it is true, but it isn’t PROVEN, so it could be part of cites for an indication the trend exists, not definitive proof.

Again, references links and support exist within the article and it’s child’s play to find more. See above.

“That this is”(Shadows of Mordor) – Relevance? Secondary source. You cited an op-ed article that cited a video of a guy saying he saw a contract that was given to someone else that proved companies are trying and failing to corrupt a Let’s Play-er, who is, by GG definition, not a reviewer.

See above.

“In Doubt” (The Treachery of Games) – Alex Lifschitz – Relevance? Failure to support point in correlation to citation. Seems to just be an op-ed you dislike, but at least it is a direct source.

Primary source damned out of his own mouth and calling for more corruption. You won’t really find much better witness evidence than that. Witnesses have their own issues and aren’t especially reliable, but nonetheless, it does support the contention that gaming is corrupt.

“Zoe Quinn got her positive coverage”: This is a cite to a wiki and therefore wholly invalid for academic purposes or as proof.

Same species of logic fail by arguing the source rather than the information, which is also referenced and linked from the wiki for more direct sources. An academic should know that dismissing information simply because it is referenced from a Wiki is not a logically defensible act but this kind of snobbery appears to also be part of the problem in pseudo-academia.

“Gamergate Seems to have gotten sites to enforce”: This is a secondary source, not on point, op-ed, among the organizations being accused of inaccuracy, and it quotes a broad spectrum of ppl w/o providing links to all of their stmts, or any form of citation for verification.

That’s actually me stating an opinion. The source contains a disclosure, thereby demonstrating that sites and writers – even those who have long been opposed to Gamergate – are now acceding to these basic demands.

“Turn on their audience” – This is a cite to a wiki and therefore wholly invalid for academic purposes or as proof.

Poisoning the well again, same logical fallacy as above. Argue the evidence, not the source.

You provided zero adequate citations, and therefore demonstrated no facts of any kind.

These are all citations and references to evidence which combined (and not even comprehensive) leave no reasonable doubt whatsoever that there is corruption in games journalism. Only an unreasonable person with massive pre-existing bias could ignore such. As such this reply now forms direct evidence of problems in academia surrounding logic, bias and refusal to accept evidence that contradicts that bias.

On a personal note, I had hoped I would be able to bridge this gap with this person and as such be able to start to address some of the broader problems. I feel like an idiot now for extending that trust.


The person in question gave their version of how they would go about it, which is functionally identical. Just like my initial post it contains primary sources, secondary sources and collations/opinion pieces with links and citations of their own. In effect – other than length, there is no significant difference in methodology or content. See here.

If held to her own standard…

State press is a secondary source, which apparently is enough to dismiss it if she’s held to the same standard she applies to others. This is also true of Gamefront, igameresponsibly, Boston Magazine, Kotaku and so on.

Links are given to Totalbiscuit and Jim Stirling, whose evidence is also present in my links. Presumably it can be dismissed similarly here because ‘reasons’.

Some additional sources that I, personally, would accept are also present, but they’re primary sources of the same ilk of Lifschitz damning himself and his industry out of his own mouth, which is somehow not valid.

The Zoe Post is referenced, which seems peculiar as I don’t consider it slam-dunk evidence of corruption, but rather other ethical breaches such as conflicts of interest. It was the spark that would lead to the uncovering of corruption, but what it provides is evidence towards a different concern – ethics and professionalism.

Of the sources presented I see nothing that is functionally any different to anything I provided, which goes to illustrate the double standard that games ‘academia’ – such as DiGRA – operates under, failing to apply the same rules and consider their own material to the same standard that they do critics of them. There are more sources and more detail is gone into than in my original post, but corruption is so egregious in games media, as proven by both articles, that this is just unnecessary.