Many of you will have heard of David Mabus. Especially if you use Twitter. You’ve may even been “Mabused” as we came to call it.
A tweet sent to many depending on hastags used, an insult or threat and a link to incomprehensible forum rants and/or videos was his modua operandi. Dawkins, Shermer and Randi we’re cited often – and in his forum rants. Apparently he reckoned he’d earned Randi’s $1 million prize – cause for a little lie down in itself. So ridiculous were these tweets and posts many thought they were mere Poe’s. But the lad isn’t well, and the fact that Mabus is the name for Nostradamus’ anti-Christ which has now been shown to be central to his ranting confirms this.
David Mabus is the name used by Dennis Markuze who has been trolling, spamming and threatening scientists, skeptics and atheists for around fifteen years. PZ Myers is (or rather was) a regular target and in 2009 squeezed all the emailed threats in small font onto 61 pages.
Certain issues recently led to the patently unwell Markuze to become the subject of an organised campaign to have him dealt with. Rants went from barely coherent to incoherent. He personally fronted up at an atheist convention in October last year at which PZ was speaking (pictured left).
Finally he discovered Twitter in January this year using it to exhaustive effect. Easy to track, he was often reported. Montreal police originally did nothing.
Promises of torture, doom and death for those who didn’t agree with Markuze’s creationist world view were common. The more one tweeted the more likely he was to serve up a personal threat. Tim Farley of Skeptical Software Tools does an awesome job of breaking down the entire saga and the crucial role Twitter played. Also he calculates the devotion to obsession Markuze had doing this by hand;
Near as I can tell, all this posting was done by hand. The posts would be marked as having come from the Twitter web site, and there is no evidence that he was using a script or a robot to do the work for him. He would just sit there and cut and paste.
He would spend hours at it. For example, on February 25th I found 25 separate accounts he used. Based on the timestamps of the posts, he started around 7:30am, and posted more or less continuously until about 10am. He continued somewhat more slowly until noon, when I presume he took a break for lunch. He resumed at 3pm, and posted until 9pm that night. I counted almost 700 tweets. And because of the way Twitter was deleting each account (and all its output) when they noticed the spamming, all of that output from that day was gone within minutes. Disappeared.
He also notes the obsession with the initials “DM”, which also signify a date in a Nostradamus quatrain. Quatrain 8-66 begins: “When the inscription 500 A.D. is revealed”. In old French it was written: Quand l’enscriture D.M. trouvee.
In the “oh but of course” reasoning of Nostradamus fans, many have claimed old Nostra’ predicted 9/11 as the beginning of the age of the anti-Christ. Others go as far as now arguing he predicted three. Napoleon, Hitler and Mabus – whom we still don’t know. David Markuze had his own delusions. He himself may well be the anti-Christ and possibly thinks he predicted 9/11. His obsession with the [D.M.] Depeche Mode video atop a World Trade Tower fits in nicely. Discussed here on the JREF forum.
Despite complaints being filed, it wasn’t until journalist William Raillant-Clark became involved that things escalated. He tweeted about to get a handle on things and decided “this is unacceptable to me”. Phil Plait confirmed his complaints had gone nowhere. Unhappy with police apathy Raillant wrote a piece on Tumblr about police doing nothing as Montrealer threatens to murder science journalists. Skeptic, Kyle VanderBeek works at change.org, and spotted an opportunity on his work desk. He got a petition going which was retweeted over 500 times. The petition was set up so each signature meant Montreal police received an email. Eventually they could bear no more.
Interestingly enough they did have their suspect under investigation. No better proof that they’d had a little chat than these different toned tweets, on August 11. The registering and deleting of accounts is reflected in the random numbers on his Twitter handles;
A week later came an arrest.
Still later, he was charged. Dennis Markuze now faces two charges of making death threats. I recommend reading Tim Farley’s breakdown for more information on the role Twitter played. Or Robert Mackey’s piece on The New York Times blog, The Lede. Reading Twitter recently it’s clear some want him punished, whilst many want him helped.
Either way the era of Mabus appears to be over.