'Scorpion' Walter O'Brien Finally Tries To Respond To Inconsistencies In His Many Claims

from the not-very-convincing dept

I really thought we were done writing about Walter O'Brien -- the claimed "inspiration" for the TV show Scorpion. We already wrote two separate posts detailing the questionable, unbelievable or obviously false claims that he has made recently. And we did another post calling out the "professional journalists" who simply repeated his claims without any skepticism. And, once again (since this comes up every time), I have absolutely no problem with CBS making whatever TV show they want. The problem I have is with O'Brien using the obviously bogus claims to try to build a business on false premises, leading people to believe that giving him money will get you results not unlike those in the obviously farcical TV series.

In that last post, we noted that a couple of the journalists who had originally written fawning profiles had taken the concerns to heart and had tried to reach out to O'Brien to respond about the inconsistencies. Susan Karlin, at Fast Company, had written a profile about O'Brien that repeated many of the claims. When many of us raised questions, that story was briefly dropped behind an unimpeachable paywall (it said it was behind the paywall, but offered no way to pay) and then reemerged with a note acknowledging the questions raised and saying that Karlin was reaching out to O'Brien for a followup. We were skeptical that any followup would happen, but alas, late last week Karlin had a new story describing O'Brien's weak attempts at responding to the questions about his life story.

It appears he avoided most of the really damning stuff -- ridiculously claiming that "non-disclosure agreements" prevented him from discussing them. On the IQ question:
IQ: Regarding his absence from IQ lists, O'Brien wrote: “I was about nine years old when a teacher administered my IQ test," said O'Brien. "Unfortunately, as I was nine, I didn't know that I needed to keep the paperwork for future reference.”

O'Brien did not respond to a follow-up question asking, since he was using his IQ as a marketing element, why he didn’t later take a Mensa-endorsed test in case that figure got challenged.
First off, this proves what we said in our last post, that all of his claims about being "the fourth smartest" are complete bunk. Elsewhere, he had admitted that it was the Stanford-Binet test he took. At age 9, in 1983, the version of the Stanford-Binet that was out was known as the L-M version (two versions ago), in which the scores were not based on standard distributions, but rather a ratio scoring system (i.e. "this score at this age, compared to a normal person at this age"). And yet, to back up his claim of being the 4th smartest, he pointed to this chart, which uses the modern Stanford Binet "standardized" scoring system to compute "rarities." So he's mixing his metrics. Worse, research has shown that scores on the L-M test (especially at the high end) correspond to lower scores on the current Stanford-Binet test (SB5). So, even if the test was accurate, his score would be lower. On top of that, all the test showed was that at age 9 Walter was probably much brighter than other kids his age. It means nothing about him being particularly smart today. At the very least, for someone who puts so much weight on his IQ score and claims to be so smart, you'd think maybe (just maybe) he'd actually have a working understanding of how IQ scores work.

O'Brien did clear up some of the inconsistencies about his appearance in the International Olympiad in Informatics in Argentina, showing that he absolutely did attend (he has a "participant" certificate). O'Brien completely ignored the question about why his visa application to come to the US claims he came in 6th place in that competition, when it's clear he did not. At best there are reports that he came in 90th, though the explanation for why that 90th place doesn't show on the website for the Olympiad doesn't make much sense:
“The application from Ireland to compete had just missed the cut-off deadline,” said O’Brien. “We applied for an exception and it was granted, that's why Ireland doesn't appear in the registry, but did compete, and I certainly was there.”
But, clearly, the website was updated after the competition to show who won, so it's difficult to understand why they did not add his results.

O'Brien does admit to having faked the picture of the headquarters, as we pointed out, but says that the company was run virtually and he never thought people would think it was real:
Regarding the Photoshopped German building, he added, “I apologize if the building image on the website was misleading, as it was just a cool graphic that our website designer provided years ago. To me it was clearly a made up image since it has a large scorpion tail reflected in the glass and no sky in the background, but I can see how you could think it was our headquarters.”
Regarding the bogus number of 2600 employees and the UPS Store as his address:
O’Brien said Scorpion was run virtually, to reduce overhead, utilizing approximately 2,600 pre-screened independent contractors on an as-needed basis to solve large software problems for companies, individuals, and governments. “Most of our systems are either in the cloud (like Amazon's) or at a large customer's data center (like a military base), so we spend our time either at a customer site or telecommuting from our laptops,” he said. "Because we are virtual (and for security reasons), as with many companies, we use a P.O. box for our address.”
I'm all for virtual businesses running online, but there is no business in the world making over a billion dollars that can run entirely virtually without at least some semblance of a real office -- and various stories have claimed that Scorpion makes over a billion dollars in revenue. You don't run a billion dollar business out of a UPS store box. No one does. Small businesses run out of such things -- which is great for them. It's logistically impossible to run a large business that way.

The "2,600 pre-screened independent contractors" excuse is also bogus. First of all, I'm quite familiar with the expert network business, and I've never seen an expert network so careless as to come even close to suggesting that the network members are the equivalent of employees. But, more importantly, with every expert network, it's very common for the members of that network to promote that they're members on things like LinkedIn. And yet, it seems that almost none of these folks associated with Scorpion do so. It's possible that the rolodexes of the very small number of people (it appears to be less than 10) who actually do work at Scorpion may total up to 2600 people, but that's a very misleading way to promote the business.

Speaking of incredibly misleading ways to promote your business, O'Brien also responds to the hilarious claim that Scorpion was a venture fund with $204 billion under management:
O’Brien also stood by the $204 billion venture fund. That figure “was true at the time,” said O’Brien. “That statement simply referred to the total net worth of all the investors and venture capitalists that Scorpion had a relationship with and often hire Scorpion for due diligence. This is collectively referred to as a fund source as we are allowed to show these investors any new companies or inventions that we thought were worth the investors taking a closer look at.”
That's bordering on fraud -- to the point that it seems like the SEC might be interested. You don't get to claim "because I sometimes work with these investors, I can claim to have a fund worth the value of all their assets."

He also never bothers to explain why -- if he was managing a fund with over $200 billion and building up a company with over $1 billion in revenue (out of a UPS store) and 2,600 "independent contractors" -- he was still working a day job doing QA for The Capital Group.

Karlin also turns up some other lies from O'Brien that we had missed. O'Brien claimed that the following happened back in 1992:
1992 Presented A.I. discoveries, Invited to speak at the Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science conference at the University of Limerick (A.I.C.S.), by special invite from Dr. Padraig Cunningham. The youngest Scientist ever invited to present his SPEAKART project. This project was a fifth generation computer application, in the Dublin Hitachi research lab which resulted in being offered an apprentice position at HITACHI.
Karlin contacted Dr. Cunnigham and found a rather different story:

“That’s not true that I invited him to speak,” said Padraig Cunningham, now a professor in computer science at University College in Dublin, when contacted by Fast Company. “And he wasn’t offered an apprentice position at the Hitachi Dublin lab. I’d just finished working there in September, 1992, and he was not offered a job.

“I Googled his name and found this softer version of events in a news article published on one of his sites,” he added. (It reads: “Later that year [1992] Dr. Padraig Cunningham of T.C.D. invited him to attend the two-day Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science Conference in Limerick University.”)

“It appears he later hardened his claims that he was invited to speak and got a position at Hitachi,” said Cunningham. “This is a really old item, but it’s consistent with the idea that he’s become more effusive about his claims.”

This is the same thing that seems to keep coming up with O'Brien. He takes snippets of reality and extends and extends and extends those claims, embellishing the story each and every time. Being invited to attend a conference eventually turns into being invited to speak and then into getting a job.

In regards to all the other obviously bogus claims -- including the ones about "catching the Boston Marathon bombers," stopping wars, having his software misused leading to 2,600 civilian casualties in the Gulf War (yes, same number of "independent contractors" he now claims to have), stopping soldiers in Afghanistan from drinking water laced with arsenic from local drug lords... O'Brien doesn't want to respond to any of it.
“Much of our company’s work, especially with military/government clients is subject to strict Non-Disclosure Agreements, so we can’t say more than has been cleared for news.

“I’ve answered all the questions I have time to right now,” he replied in response to follow-up questions. “All that remains to be said is that I’m proud of and stand by my career, my company, and all the good we have done.”
It appears the strict non-disclosure agreements allow him to promote things that are extraordinarily dubious (and debunked by other information), but not to actually present any evidence to confirm. How convenient.

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  • identicon
    Marak, 20 Oct 2014 @ 3:16pm

    Pardon my language but,

    Ahem. . .

    What a bumbling fucknut.

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  • icon
    murgatroyd (profile), 20 Oct 2014 @ 3:19pm

    These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 20 Oct 2014 @ 3:39pm

    I think he and his reality bending glasses should do an oozalum bird and disappear up his own arse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2014 @ 4:06pm

    The explanation is obvious...

    He must return to Ireland regularly to kiss the Blarney stone. With each iteration, the "facts" get a bit more embellished....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    amoshias (profile), 20 Oct 2014 @ 4:23pm

    Why does this guy bug you so much?

    I mean, it's bordering on weird at this point.

    Some dumb guy makes up some dumb stories about how smart he is. I, and you, and probably everybody who comes to this website has met a dozen like him. They're obviously fake - anyone who understands enough about this world to understand what he's saying can see that he's pretty transparently full of crap.

    I got a great laugh out of the first article - it's fun to see someone like that laid out for the chump they are. The second article really made me wonder why you would bother to spend so much time digging. I mean, again, it's obvious that what he's saying is BS. More proof doesn't make it much more obvious, it makes it ever so slightly more obvious. Maybe four nines instead of three - awesome if we're talking uptime, not that useful if we're talking about 'sure this guy is a BSer.'

    At this point, though, like I said, it just feels weird. You should know as well as I do - liars don't stop lying when you show them proof that they're lying. They lie more. And that's exactly what he did. No amount of proof is going to make him renounce a lifetime of lies.

    Yeah, it kinda stinks that some idiot is getting famous off of a pack of lies, and it kind of stinks that it's happening in an area tangentially related to our little corner of the world. But I feel at this point you're running the risk of creating some weird double-inverse Streisand, where by trying to debunk something which is not at all debunkable - because everyone who cares enough to listen can see it for themselves, and the people who don't, don't - you're just making it more likely that it will get heard. And in the meantime, you're wasting your own time doing it.

    Let it go, man. Or am I missing something?

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    • icon
      Keroberos (profile), 20 Oct 2014 @ 4:41pm

      Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

      Because this dumb guy is getting a lot of press saying he's something he's not. Some other idiot (in the government or the military or some corporation) will listen to this idiot and fuck something royally up. This isn't some fool bragging about how he's a Navy Seal on some unknown forum. He's trying to get people to give him money by claiming to be something he's not, and able to do things that he can't.

      Hopefully by writing about his lies it will filter up to the "mainstream media" that keep letting him spout his nonsense without fact checking.

      Would you let a person claiming to be a top medical expert keep spouting bull-crap if you knew he's never been to a doctor's office let alone med school?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Digitari, 20 Oct 2014 @ 5:20pm

        Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

        you are SOO right, Just look in the White House right now.....

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        • identicon
          David, 21 Oct 2014 @ 4:37am

          Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

          Are you trying to pull a birther tea party, or do you allude to the prez being a Constitution wrangler?

          At least he managed to dupe a majority without needing his minions to sabotage the vote tallying.

          That's democracy. Someone being able to pull the wool over the Nobel Peace Prize committee should be able to dazzle the Hoi Polloi.

          The only test that counts is: "will they eat it up"? If the answer to that is "yes", you get the job. Whether your name is Barack Obama or Walter O'Brien.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Zonker, 20 Oct 2014 @ 5:22pm

      Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

      Because guys like this typically get hired to do some very expensive projects like the F-35 Strike Fighter or Healthcare.gov based on their false assertions being taken at face value, resulting in some billion dollar disasters at taxpayer (our) expense and the fraudster's gain.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2014 @ 5:43pm

      Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

      I can't speak for Mike Masnick's motivation, but personally, I can't stand the sight of people that lie, cheat, and deceive for a living, and I won't hesitate to call them out on it. But just because I can spot a scam doesn't mean I should walk on by and ignore it. I don't care if "everyone lies" it's nothing less than fraud in my book, and should be treated as such.

      Sites like Techdirt perform a crucial public service by unspinning the spin that unfortunately infects most every facet of life.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 20 Oct 2014 @ 6:14pm

      Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

      Read article, then comment.

      'The problem I have is with O'Brien using the obviously bogus claims to try to build a business on false premises, leading people to believe that giving him money will get you results not unlike those in the obviously farcical TV series.'

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 20 Oct 2014 @ 10:09pm

      Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

      Why does Mike's investigation of this guy's shady shenanigans bug you so much?

      Let it go, man. Or am I missing something?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2014 @ 10:37pm

        Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

        In your zeal, you have succumbed to they very thing the producers want: more eyes watching the show. Now all of this audience will watch a show they never would have watched just to disprove the bogus plotlines.

        By the way, if you know he's lying, it's not fraud. Fraud = lying + intending to deceive + someone reasonably believing the lie + harm. Miss any one of those and it doesn't add up to fraud. If someone offers to sell you a unicorn for $100 and you give them $100, they lied and you are out $100, but it's not fraud because no reasonable person believes in unicorns.

        In this case, it would seem pretty clear that no one reasonably could believe these claims, so no one can be defrauded. And if the lies are being told only to get you to watch the TV show, rather than to hire him, he probably lacks the requisitie intent.

        The proper focus of this story should be the reporters mindlessly accepting this story as true, not the unbelievable claims of one person. Have any of these reporters done similar things in the past? Have their publications? That's where the story might be.

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        • icon
          MrTroy (profile), 21 Oct 2014 @ 1:06am

          Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

          By the way, if you know he's lying, it's not fraud.
          Is that actually true, in a legal sense?

          Mike's comment on fraud was: "That's bordering on fraud -- to the point that it seems like the SEC might be interested."... which doesn't really suggest the "too luls to be illegal" defense to me, in regards to claiming to be a venture fund with billions of dollars under management.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2014 @ 10:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

            Yes, it's true legally that if I don't believe your lie, you are not liable for fraud. It doesn't make lying any more acceptable, it just means I can't sue you for your lie.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              MrTroy (profile), 22 Oct 2014 @ 2:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

              What a weird law. The intent of my own actions does not determine the legal outcome, but instead the degree to which you react?

              Isn't that like attempted murder not being a crime if you're too incompetent to succeed?

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        • icon
          techflaws (profile), 21 Oct 2014 @ 1:28am

          Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

          Reply fail?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 21 Oct 2014 @ 5:10am

          Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

          In this case, it would seem pretty clear that no one reasonably could believe these claims, so no one can be defrauded.

          Nearly a dozen reporters absolutely believed his claims, as have many others (just check Twitter). So, I don't think that's accurate at all.

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          • identicon
            ZW Wolf, 21 Oct 2014 @ 9:24am

            Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

            We evolved to cooperate and to punish cheaters. Status and achievements are important social commodities. False claims of such are cheating and set off a reaction.

            http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/2012/08/16/punishing-cheaters/

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2014 @ 10:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

            No, the issue is not whether reporters believed him but whether a paying customer believed him. A reporter believing a lie and reporting it equals bad journalism.

            What no one has shown is any evidence of any government, police department, or businessperson believing this guy's claims and paying him money. Absent that, no fraud.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2014 @ 11:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

            "Nearly a dozen reporters absolutely believed his claims"

            Many of the mainstream media puff pieces are essentially paid content, even if no money explicitly changes hands. Whether journalists, talk-show hosts, or whatever else, these people learn early in their careers that if they want to have a successful career, it's unwise to peer too deeply behind the curtain. Even the 'true' investigative journalists know what topics are off limits.

            The biggest problem is that the average person is unaware of the corporate media's inherent conflict-of-interest, and trusts Big Media over alternative media (like Techdirt) which has no such conflicts.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2014 @ 12:20pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

              Which goes to the point that someone should focus on the reporters rather than continue to beat this dead horse of an example. O'Brien's claims fell apart at "4th smartest."

              For everyone who is so concerned about the public being misled, they should investigate one of these reporters and see if any trends can be identified. For example, has Karlin (named only because she is referenced in the post) fallen for this before? If she has, that would be a story worth documenting. If not, why did she fall for it this time? Interview her and see what she has to say. Interview her editors at Fast Company. What do they have to say?

              At this point, that would make for a far more interesting story. As for O'Brien, please, please, please let his fifteen minutes run.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2014 @ 1:16pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

                "As for O'Brien, please, please, please let his fifteen minutes run."

                On the contrary, Mike needs to continue following this rabbit hole and see just how deep it goes.

                People like Walter O'Brien don't just wake up one morning and suddenly decide to become die-hard bullshitters. I'll bet dollars to donuts that Walter O'Brien's lies extend much further than his website and recent interviews. More than likely, he's been a consummate liar for most of his life. If anyone needs to be tracked down and interviewed, it's O'Brien's former co-workers, bosses, and business associates. There could be many more revelations to come.

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              • icon
                John Fenderson (profile), 21 Oct 2014 @ 1:36pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

                "At this point, that would make for a far more interesting story."

                Calling out the reporters for their terrible reporting is important, but hardly newsworthy because basically all reporting is terrible. Since we live in a society where terrible reporting is the norm rather than the exception, it is equally important to call out people who are intentionally taking advantage of the state of journalism today.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 21 Oct 2014 @ 9:47am

          Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

          Why does it bother you so much that attention is being paid to how duplicitous O'Brien is? In light of the reemergence of the Shiva Ayyadurai "I invented email" bullshit, it seems to me that the need to call out people who claim achievements and expertise they don't have is even stronger than ever.

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        • icon
          nasch (profile), 22 Oct 2014 @ 6:05am

          Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

          In your zeal, you have succumbed to they very thing the producers want: more eyes watching the show. Now all of this audience will watch a show they never would have watched just to disprove the bogus plotlines.

          Speak for yourself. I'm certainly not planning to watch it.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2014 @ 8:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

            I think you took "all" a bit too literally.

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            • icon
              nasch (profile), 22 Oct 2014 @ 8:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

              Well, I know he didn't mean every single reader will watch the show, but I'm sure there many other people like me who are not remotely inspired to watch the show by learning about it in this way.

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              • icon
                SwagCoffin (profile), 22 Oct 2014 @ 11:56am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

                I think this type of reporting is important because it results in these titles being higher up in the Google results list when you search on "Scorpion" or "Walter O'Brien".

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                • icon
                  nasch (profile), 22 Oct 2014 @ 1:11pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

                  I think this type of reporting is important because it results in these titles being higher up in the Google results list when you search on "Scorpion" or "Walter O'Brien".

                  I agree.

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        • identicon
          Jennifer Bailey, 3 Jan 2015 @ 11:19am

          Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

          My mother has dementia. So, you're saying it's legal to defraud her because in her form of dementia she knows who Dad and I are but asks daily what the door she can see from her bed is goes to (the bathroom) and yesterday was trying to get into her wheelchair having forgotten she's a paraplegic and cannot sit up without assistance? Because, after all,no one would believe the person who the news is presenting as real (as shown in multiple articles here)...

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          • icon
            nasch (profile), 3 Jan 2015 @ 4:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why does this guy bug you so much?

            My mother has dementia. So, you're saying it's legal to defraud her...

            Where the hell did you get that?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2014 @ 5:05pm

    Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

    It's such an odd coincidence that whenever these highly-public people have their credibility challenged, they suddenly become too busy to respond to their critics. And if they give any interviews at all, it's only to the people who write the kind of gushing articles about them that started the whole controversy.

    That's two self-proclaimed geniuses that got their heads deflated in short order. (Mike gets two more notches in his belt) I predict that both 'Mr. Scorpion' Walter O'Brien and that guy who claimed to have single-handedly invented email are now going to go quiet for a few years, just like that other shameless poseur Lily Allen did after her humiliating drubbing on Techdirt 5 years ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2014 @ 5:37pm

    Well, to be fair...

    claiming that "non-disclosure agreements" prevented him from discussing them
    Who here hasn't done the same thing?

    I know that the first thing I do after signing an NDA with the largest military on the planet is launch a TV show on a major network detailing my exploits. It's just human nature, you know?

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  • identicon
    Melody Shabpareh, 20 Oct 2014 @ 6:41pm

    Scorpion is a great show

    I don't care about Walter Obrien or who he is or not I love this show because of the psychological part, for those narrowminded individuals who think people who lack social skills are weird or whatever they call them. This show is about people who are too smart but lack social skills and can do things that people with social skills can't even understand. They are what makes this world advance, so that is why I think this is a great show.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2014 @ 7:04pm

      Re: Scorpion is a great show

      There are other media that express this concept without having to bolster the absurd claims of a self-aggrandizing individual. Smart people with poor social skills aren't trying to prop up their street cred with self-promotion; they're busy actually using their skills for demonstrable achievements.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      MM_Dandy (profile), 20 Oct 2014 @ 7:17pm

      Re: Scorpion is a great show

      This show is about people who are too smart but lack social skills and can do things that people with social skills can't even understand.

      A premise also found in The Big Bang Theory. The difference being that Lorne Michaels isn't also claiming that he could spearhead the next breakthrough in physics if only you just paid him enough.

      Of course, you are free to watch whatever you please. I enjoyed Burn Notice, even though I'm sure it contained absolutely no correlation with the real life activities of covert operatives.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2014 @ 7:22pm

      Re: bullshit from a Walter O'Brien apologist

      "I don't care about Walter Obrien or who he is or not"

      Really? Then why would you even bother to comment in a story about Walter O'Brien?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      art guerrilla (profile), 21 Oct 2014 @ 7:05am

      Re: Scorpion is a great show

      actually, there have been a HUGE spate of such shows, none of them i watch, but you can't miss the commercials...
      that series monk, house is another example, big bang theory is too, and any of a half dozen other 'detective'/mystery dramas where there is a sherlock holmes type guy with endearing eccentric behavior that passes for some sort of aspie, etc...
      a LOT of such shows...
      whether you 'like' scorpion for whatever reasons, is BESIDES THE POINT with the exposure of obrien as a scam artiste...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2014 @ 7:23am

      Re: Scorpion is a great show

      Right, because there have never been any other television shows featuring characters who lack (some or all) social skills. There are no such things as Monk, Seinfeld, MASH, House, the A-Team, All in the Family, the Big Bang, Hill Street Blues, Scrubs, Red Dwarf...and about half of the rest of the series that have been on TV for the past fifty years. Yep, Scorpion is the very first one, a true groundbreaker, daring where no no others have gone.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 21 Oct 2014 @ 9:48am

      Re: Scorpion is a great show

      This isn't about the show.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2014 @ 6:58pm

    I like this guy's style of absurd embellishment. I'm going to rewrite my past in the manner of his questionable claims (with the reality in parentheses):

    At a very young age, I began experimenting with advanced structural engineering concepts (I played with Legos a lot as a kid). When my parents saw how brilliant (quiet) I was when I engaged with these tools (I made awesome castles and dungeons), they encouraged me to pursue more advanced technological concepts involving astrophysics (they bought me space-themed Legos in addition to the castle-themed Legos).

    When I took an IQ test as a child, I scored above most of my classmates (actually true) and was chosen as the leader of an elite cadre of scholars (I was the shortest kid in my gifted classes). I advanced quickly and outpaced my peers to the point that I left the elite cadre to pursue more advanced interests (I dropped out of my gifted classes because [unbeknownst to me] I had ADD and couldn't pay attention to boring advanced crap any more than boring remedial crap and instead daydreamed of playing video games during class and doodled awesome stick figure battles).

    In high school, I became such an expert computer programmer (I used Frontpage Express to create crappy 90's webpages on Geocities) that I was actually barred from using the school computers out of the fear that I would reprogram them (the bell rang to indicate the period was over and my teacher told me to leave the computer lab). During this time, I was a founding member of early internet startups that forged the world wide web into the vast international communications medium that it is today (I chatted with other nerds in sci-fi forums on Compuserve). I also funded many strategic communications and technologies companies until I got bored with the whole thing and moved on to the next big technological advancement (I ran up significant usage bills and tied up the phone lines enough that my parents canceled the service).

    By the 2000's, my technological genius had gained a reputation of its own among the most elite tech companies and they all sought my wisdom for the advancement of their product lines whenever they ran into roadblocks they couldn't have solved without my help (I filled out a customer survey card for Windows Vista and suggested Microsoft just start developing the next version of Windows instead of trying to fix Vista).

    I'm available for consulting if anyone wants to turn my epic childhood into a movie or TV series. My rates are quite reasonable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous-Coward, 21 Oct 2014 @ 12:37am

    apologists, trolls, and socks

    It's funny how so many visitors have come here to defend Walter O'Brien, attack Mike Masnick, try to lead the discussion off-topic, and spew some of the lamest arguments I've ever seen. Here's a brief rundown of a few of them:


    *Everyone lies, what's the big deal?

    *His lies are so over-the-top that any normal person can see it's just a harmless gag.

    *No harm done. No one has been robbed. No animals have been killed ...

    *It's a TV show, it's just entertainment ... Relax, don't take everything so seriously.

    *The show performs a valuable service to society, and that's what counts.

    *By criticising Walter O'Brien, you're actually promoting 'Scorpion' and therefore putting money in his pockets, so stop it. (now replace 'Walter O'Brien' and 'Scorpion' with 'Mike Masnick' and 'Techdirt' and see if that doesn't make just as much sense)

    *Mike seriously needs to let go of this obsession of his, get a life and move on.


    It certainly seems that Mike's biting commentary is ruffling some feathers backstage at CBS, which has no doubt invested considerable time and money in this show, only to have some nay-sayer spoil it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2014 @ 7:32am

      Re: apologists, trolls, and socks

      And with all the NSA problems Americans are having how many people who aren't computer savvy are being sold on this being accurate, which in turn could have been spun to think the NSA spying is needed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    New Mexico Mark, 21 Oct 2014 @ 3:47am

    Smart?

    IQ: Regarding his absence from IQ lists, O'Brien wrote: “I was about nine years old when a teacher administered my IQ test," said O'Brien. "Unfortunately, as I was nine, I didn't know that I needed to keep the paperwork for future reference.”

    Hmmm... You'd think he would be smarter than that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      art guerrilla (profile), 21 Oct 2014 @ 7:08am

      Re: Smart?

      he didn't realize that would be on his PERMANENT RECORD ! ? ! ?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 21 Oct 2014 @ 9:53am

      Re: Smart?

      Maybe he was too smart for his own good! All other things being equal, an individual's prepubescent IQ score can differ markedly from their postpubescent IQ score. Perhaps he was smart enough to know this as a child, so knew that keeping documentation was not valuable. His failure may have been not knowing that he would be trying to sell the public a bill of goods later in life.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2014 @ 8:34am

    ...invited to speak at the Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science conference at the University of Limerick (A.I.C.S.)...
    Limerick, Limerick...isn't that the place where all papers have to be presented in the form:
    I once met an A.I. named Chuck...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ZW Wolf, 21 Oct 2014 @ 9:30am

    Here's another claim which is easy to check. A meeting with the Queen of England. Has to be soon.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/media/scorpion-walter-o-brien-on-his-life-off-screen-1.195077 6?page=2

    He misses Ireland. “I’m a typical Irishman, in that I only get home for weddings and funerals. Since that original Irish Times article” – we first reported in August the details of the show and O’Brien’s life – “I’ve been getting loads of messages from old school friends and people I used to know. I’ve a meeting with the queen of England in October, so I’ll get home then.


    No doubt it will turn out that he was too busy and had to blow-off his visit to the old gal. Those wars don't prevent themselves, you know.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous1, 6 Nov 2014 @ 4:57pm

      Re: ZW Wolf

      Nah. He probably did have a trip planned & will count seeing the Queen wave to the people from the balcony as a "personal visit with the Queen".
      No doubt we'll soon be hearing him claim he was knighted while there on "business". Personally, I can't wait. This is better than any fiction novel my favorite author has written!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ZW Wolf, 21 Oct 2014 @ 9:33am

    ZW Wolf, Oct 18th, 2014 @ 2:58pm


    Mike, how about checking on just one story - the Boston Marathon Bombing. Did O'Brien actually have anything to do with the investigation? I've found the best two people to contact. I'd try these contacts myself, but I'm just your average Joe with no credentials so not likely they'd give me the time of day.


    Grant Fredericks
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/grant-fredericks/15/592/58a

    He didn't participate in the actual investigation but he's deep inside the industry.

    Fredericks has been interviewed on the subject. One such story.
    http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-04/how-analyze-thousands-hours-boston-bombing-video

    His video analysis company.
    http://www.forensicvideoexpert.com/index.php?option=com_contact&view=contact&id=1&am p;am p;Itemid=132



    Richard DesLauriers was the FBI special agent in charge of the case. He retired from the FBI some time after
    https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=133434401&authType=NAME_SEARCH&authToken=aFln& amp; amp;locale=en_US&srchid=3783267351413667584061&srchindex=8&srchtotal=19&trk=vsrp_peo ple_res_name&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A3783267351413667584061%2CVSRPtargetId%3A133434401%2CVSRPcmpt %3Aprimary


    For good measure:

    Boston PD
    Office of Media Relations
    (617) 343-4520
    mediarelations@pd.boston.gov

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ZW Wolf, 21 Oct 2014 @ 9:34am

    This article talks about video analysis.

    http://gcn.com/Articles/2013/04/18/How-video-analytics-reconstruct-Boston-Marathon-bombings.aspx?Pag e=1

    "Video Synopsis, a tool for CCTV surveillance systems from Briefcam, an Israel-based company with offices in Connecticut, lets investigators pinpoint an area of interest and show only the moments where something was different in that picture."

    "BRS Labs’ AISight, a behavioral analysis system for video surveillance, adaptively “learns” behavior patterns in complex environments. The video surveillance software uses a reason-based approach versus legacy rules-based technology, company officials say."

    No mention of Scorpion Computer Services or WO.

    Dave Mulholland
    https://www.linkedin.com/pub/dave-mulholland/91/901/a27

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ZW Wolf, 21 Oct 2014 @ 9:35am

    This article points out that video analysis wasn't the only technology used.

    http://fcw.com/Articles/2013/04/26/big-data-boston-bomb-probe.aspx?Page=2

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2014 @ 10:26am

    A few things to remember about Mr. O Brien's claims on government work. First his so called NDAs can be verified with an active security clearance (which he doesn't have). Second, if his company has done business with the military and etc...lets not forget the government isn't known for making the most prudent of business choices when it comes to tech. Remember when the government bought fake bomb detector the AE651? Or the time it spent millions of dollars on refurbished laptops that claimed to be "lie detectors" (that one's my favorite), or the FBI's big data center that cost nearly a billon dollars, but never worked? And lets not forget the health care web site. His company may have scored some type of government consulting work but that's not necessarily a ringing endorsement

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Grtwhite, 21 Oct 2014 @ 12:15pm

    Hmmmm

    I wonder if one of his other many achievements was developing healthcare.gov

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Johnny B. Goode, 21 Oct 2014 @ 3:12pm

    Why 2600?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2014 @ 11:16pm

    About as convenient as saying a foreign country is planning to attack the US then promise to show evidence, never doing so and invading said country. All the while claiming national security means we can't show you any evidence to back up the bullshit we used as reasons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MrTroy (profile), 22 Oct 2014 @ 2:45am

    But it's not fraud because nobody actually believed there was any evidence, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Spesifikasi Harga Advan, 22 Oct 2014 @ 10:28pm

    What a weird law. The intent of my own actions does not determine the legal outcome, but instead the degree to which you react?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Spesifikasi Harga Lenovo, 22 Oct 2014 @ 10:31pm

    "At this point, that would make for a far more interesting story."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nick Evans, 11 Nov 2014 @ 9:25pm

    Walter OB

    A journalist's job is to find the truth, in O'Brien's case this can be accomplished by untangling a PR dump or unraveling the ramblings of a fantasist.

    The job of a megalomaniac is to spin a morsel of truth, or a glimmer of an idea into a world changing event; this is often how people get book deals, TV shows, promotional tie ins, and yes, how they build brands such as 'Scorpion'.

    So, welcome to LA Mr. O'Brien & it will all work out if you just keep dancing as fast as you can.


    -nick

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lenkie (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 10:28pm

    Such a shame....

    I only got to know about Walter O'Brien when the TV show Scorpion aired in the UK. Although I liked the techie bits, the general treatment was, honestly, a bit cringe-worthy. Car chases?? I put this down to the director having also directed The Fast and Furious - not something I'd watch. It appears though that Walter himself was, if not the instigator of these silly scenes, he was very much complicit. In his interview on the red carpet for the launch of the show he told the interviewer that he set land speed records. I think I'm right in saying that Richard Noble currently holds the word land speed record and is currently preparing for another challenge. I checked out Walter's statement online and found he'd clarified his statement by saying he'd set a land speed record in a Toyota. Even if he did drive a Toyota faster than anyone else has driven a Toyota then for him to make this claim believable, this achievement should have been verified and recorded by Guiness World Records. It's like him claiming his IQ of 197 was measured at his primary school. I think pressure should be put on Walter to have his IQ verified by MENSA. All this is such a shame because we do need some hero's. We do need more good guys and if he's doing half of what he claims then that's a good thing. So Walter, please sort yourself out, calm down and set all these dubious records straight. You don't need to be a superhero, just a hero.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Macdaddy, 12 Feb 2015 @ 9:46am

    The Walter O'Brien thread

    Most of the comments regarding Walter O'Brien are amusing to say the least. My first question is whether he is in anyway related to Brian Williams of NBC?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Todd, 13 Feb 2015 @ 12:26pm

    Scorpion Walter o'Brien

    One thing I found curious are the testimonials on his corporate web site. I only watched the first 3 or so (presumably the ones that the advertising corporation would want to stand out the most).

    Two of the high-level executives (or are they?) identify themselves by first name only, none mention their business location (beyond somewhere in "Orange County"), two do not mention their corporation's name (which would really lend the weight to a testimonial), the one corporate name mentioned is fairly obscure and inconsequential.

    I'll assume for a moment that these testimonials are accurate, that these are not just actors or friends of Walter's, and that Walter's firm actually did work for these folks as claimed.

    This still begs one question: So Walter runs, by his own claims, a top-notch consulting business. Such a business bills at high $ rates (renting out geniuses is expensive!) and is usually only utilized by high-powered corporations. Why aren't the testimonials those of Fortune 500 corporations who could indeed afford the services of the type of business that Walter claims to run? The interviewees, without exception, seem like the mom-and-pop online enterprises who would indeed need consulting help--from a cut-rate run-of-the-mill shop hiring out relatively junior and unexceptional talent out of a UPS Store!

    Nothing wrong with that line of work; but a far cry from the "Genius R Us" claims Walter makes!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zed1 (profile), 15 Feb 2015 @ 8:03pm

    You know

    Here is a challenge Walter. If u are as smart as you claim. Delete me. I'll make it easy. All you have to do is hack this site to gain access to Dmv and other banking sites. You know what to do?
    Fucking fake

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    =just|me=, 13 Mar 2015 @ 5:28pm

    Use your brain, WOB

    Shit airs in France, was just curious. Well... I sort of like this series. At least for 5 reasons:

    - The main actress is really cute. I mean, really. Wow... I'm in love.

    - Dunno why, but that guy playing the cop character - I always find him soooo cool.

    - There are other interesting characters - the funny guys, like the psycho-whatever-ist.

    - It's based on an hilariously fake asshole lies and bullshitting. Guiness-book-worth bullshitting. That tells us many stories, behind the scenes. Interesting, indeed.

    - I thought it could get an important message across. I thought. That, hhmmm yeah, kids with high IQ are not always happy fellows. And don't necessarily get successful when they grow up.

    And that's where things got nasty. Where I find Mike's work not just right, but absolutely necessary. Where I come to simply *hate* that O'Brien farce of a human being.

    Not fraud? Because nobody will ever believe? Because no money changed hands? Come on. This guy is hurting me, and others. Directly. I was like this kid in the series. I'm in IT, now - haha. OK, I'm kinda socially challenged, to put it mildly. And people think I'm way brighter than I actually am. That I can perform kinds of miracles, because, you know, in a way, this is magic, right? And they are suspicious, too. Such mighty powers, in the hands of a rather mysterious guy... Oh, and a sexy nerd, on top of that. He must be on to something ... So sad.

    While I'm your simple, kind dude. Naive, too. No agenda, no hidden purposes, etc. Willing to explain/demythify anything when given the chance, with simple words. Like how it's all about electricity driven by reasonable logic.

    Can you imagine, then - the impact of what is conveyed in this series and its "based on something/someone real" gimmick? The damage it can cause? The fear it injects again, in people's mind? Because it's "real"?

    This WOB hurts me, and I'm sure I'm not alone in there. He hurts us, bad. Some may not have the words, I have not all the words. Others would have different ways to express it.

    Oh, he's not the first cheater, is he, you asked? Sure. Sure. But give me another example of such a cheater being given that much publicity. Major networks, a rather nice series with good actors, good production, etc (really good photography, btw, congrats for that).

    This guy should hide, deep, really deep, now. I think. I'm not sure but I guess I'm not finished with him.

    Fun stuff - Go to site, read page code, see that "web designer" Brandon Lavere doesn't even know how basic old Dreamweaver JS works, hahahaha. IT experts... Sure. Site hosted on GoDaddy's "secureserver". That's good, got it now. All related sites are so simple to bring down as well.

    Hhhmm, but no hacking, there. Good time for another kind of reaction. More appropriate, and perfectly legit. I would have told you, WOB. 7 days for CBS to remove "Based on your life crap", and you're the expert, so you'll read this, right? So, it's fair to say you've been warned, OK?

    WOB, I hate this. I was in Ireland, working/living there, dealing with MS and Trados when you were also there. Met with Oracle execs, etc. Could have met with you. I know about all this stuff. Awwww, good ol' times. Please, please step down. Gracefully. Please. Ultimately, I'm sad for you, and what I'm about to do. 7 days. That's a luxury for a lightning fast programmer, right? Do the right
    thing, terminate the vicious circle and get back to your basic, simple, yet valuable gifts. I could help you, honestly.

    Either way, I'll help you. Your 7 day choice. Counting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    =just|me=, 13 Mar 2015 @ 7:00pm

    Mr Masnick. Mike, I'd be

    sorry, if you thought I'm using your post/platform to settle this.

    Fact is. I had a gut feeling problem with our WOB friend, began investigating, and you ended up being the very, very best at debunking that poor thing. Thanks for that, I mean it.

    Now... We're not really good at explaining how/why it actually, genuinely hurts us, hhhmm, are we?

    We could keep this story going, just for the fun, but frankly I'm not in the mood. I think it should end ASAP. Hopefully you'll agree this is the best option for all of us - I mean *all* of us. You've been really helpful and will deserve a great share of the credit, when the case is closed. Hey... Just thx, dude.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    =just|me=, 16 Mar 2015 @ 5:54pm

    counting

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2015 @ 8:07am

    The anticipation is KILLING me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2016 @ 9:22am

    It is very easy to confirm that no teacher, currently or when O'brien was 9, teaching at a small rural school in Ireland had training in, or was certified to, the administration of so complicated a battery to administer as any version of the Stanford Binet.As a member of the World Genius Directory, the Epimetheus Society and the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry, and as someone whose IQ result is available for review ( scoring, as many who maxxed out IQ tests, simply as greater than or equal to 160 ), we are routinely on the lookout for anyone who is injuring the good name of IQ metrics and high IQ societies as a function o an horrible hybridization of hubris, impulsivity, and self promotion.
    So,I urge you to simply contact that teacher and/or the school to simply confirm his quite falsifiable origin myth.
    Anything else, as relates IQ standardization, extrapolation, etc. is relatively trivial and harder to process compared to "Oh, no - no teacher we had was trained in or had access to the Stanford Binet".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    steve, 14 Mar 2016 @ 7:31pm

    walter

    does all that"crap" really matter? its an AWSOME show!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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