Fact Check: Speed Of 'Fire and Fury' Book Publication Does NOT Prove Maui Fire Was Planned Or Foretold

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Speed Of 'Fire and Fury' Book Publication Does NOT Prove Maui Fire Was Planned Or Foretold Fast Tract

Is the unusually fast publication speed for the book "Fire and Fury: The Story of the 2023 Maui Fire and Its Implications for Climate Change" a sign that something is suspicious -- that the author either was tipped off the disaster was going to happen, was in on it, or supernaturally predicted it? No, that's not true: The 44-page book was published on August 10, 2023, while the fires were still burning on Maui. There is very little known about the author with the name Dr. Miles Stones. The author's bio on Amazon, without a profile image or punctuation, says simply, "I'd rather not say." Many additional books bearing Stones' name were published in the summer of 2023. While it is not impossible for a person to write 44 pages in a day, or 18 books in a summer, it is not only possible, but probable that a self-published book such as this was composed with assistance from an artificial intelligence writing program such as Chat GPT.

The book "Fire and Fury: The Story of the 2023 Maui Fire and Its Implications for Climate Change" by Dr. Miles Stones was published and listed as a Kindle book on Amazon.com on August 10, 2023. Soon after publication many people were questioning how a book could be written and published so quickly, even as the fires were still burning. One example is a post on Instagram published by @the_texan0 on August 15, 2023. The post was captioned:

Anyone else find this weird? Maui fires started August 8th but there's a book out already...

This is how the post appeared at the time of writing:


(Image source: Instagram screenshot taken on Thu Aug 17 13:28:07 2023 UTC)

In this greenscreen video, @the_texan points out the description of the book, which claims that it chronicles the events of August 8-11, 2023, and asks, "So how did you chronicle the events of August 11th when the book was published on August 10th?" He doesn't suggest how or why this was accomplished. Some people commenting on the post shared conspiracy ideas about the Maui fires, suggesting that they were planned and not a natural disaster. Among the top comments on the post at the time of this writing:

  • "The fires were intentional to force generational Hawaiians out and bring developers in after the devastation"
  • "Because the government did it. They always put it in our face"
  • "Because the elites wanted their property. So sad. The generational families are certainly powerful I want to see the locals rebuild. People need to band together to support the local rebuild and show the elites who has the power."
  • "Intentionally started, like Paradise Ca....burned on purpose...some big developer wants the land!"

The answer to this author's ability to produce a book in a day may have much less to do with special inside knowledge about the Maui fires and much more to do with the low barrier of entry on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) on Amazon, and advances in AI technology. The author, with a fictitious sounding name, Dr. Miles Stones, does not have a history online to speak of, and the author's biography page on Amazon (pictured below) only says, "I'd rather not say."

(Image source: Amazon.com screenshot taken on Thu Aug 17 15:26:04 2023 UTC)

The list of books by this author on Amazon (archived here) are not presented in a specific order, so Lead Stories has arranged the 18 titles by the publication date. At the end of May, Stones published a book a day for four days running. Ten books were published in the month of June 2023, and two more books have been published since "Fire and Fury" on August 11 and 14.


(Image source: Lead Stories spreadsheet screenshot taken on Thu Aug 17 15:35:07 2023 UTC)

Stones has published books on a wide variety of subjects, including "Vegan Weight Loss" and 16 biographies. Lead Stories compared some of the biographical titles with other books about those people and discovered a pattern. Stones is publishing biographies just days before or after the person publishes their own autobiography or when a book goes on sale as a pre-release, coat-tailing his quickly-put-together eBooks into search results for the genuine book that may be getting some publicity.

Examples: On June 13, 2023, retired Navy Seal Drago Dzieran published his autobiography, and on June 20, 2023, Stones published a book about Dzieran. Michael G. Vickers' autobiography was reviewed on Publishers Weekly on March 21, 2023, and published on June 20, 2023; Stones' book about Vickers was published on June 2, 2023. On June 27, 2023 Jason Derulo published a book about his own "inspiring story" and two days later Stones published "Jason Derulo Biography Book: The Rise of a Pop Star". On August 15, 2023, author Patti Hartigan's book about poet August Wilson was published by Simon & Schuster. One day earlier two very short Kindle Edition books about the poet appeared on Amazon, one of them by Stones. Gambler Billy Walters' autobiography was published August 22, 2023, but his life story was scooped by Stones, whose 53-page book on Walters was published on August 11, 2023.

Further emphasizing the speed that KDP books can be turned out, on August 15, 2023, a 14-page book was published by J.J. Thompson in response to Stones'. It is titled, "Summary of Fire and Fury: The Story of the 2023 Maui Fire and its Implications for Climate Change by Dr Miles Stones EXPOSED." Although the book cover teases the question, "Who is Dr. Miles Stones?" it offers no answer.


(Image source: Amazon.com screenshot taken on Thu Aug 17 15:26:04 2023 UTC)

The cover image for "Fire and Fury" and the illustration for chapter one are both AI-generated images, according to the Hive Moderation AI-generated content detection tool. fandfcoverai.jpg

(Image source: Lead Stories composite image of Hivemoderation.com screenshots taken on Wed Aug 16 20:31:21 2023 UTC)

The hive moderation tool also can detect text that was composed with an AI writing program such as Chat GPT. The "Fire and Fury" book description text scanned with the highest probability -- "99.9% likely to contain AI generated text." But a sample of text from the body of the book only scored "48%, not likely to contain AI generated text". This middling score does not prove that the text was entirely written by a human -- authentic human writing should return a score of 0 percent. The detection tool may be less effective if the text or images have been manipulated to a certain degree after being generated by an AI.


(Image source: Lead Stories composite image of Hivemoderation.com screenshots taken on Wed Aug 16 20:31:21 2023 UTC)

Lead Stories tested the text on zerogpt.com, which found a 13.39 percent chance the text was AI-generated, and gptzero.me found only a 1 percent probability for that (pictured below). On the writer.com/ai-content-detector tool (not pictured) the text was determined to be 100% human generated.


(Image source: Lead Stories composite image of zerogpt.com and gptzero.me screenshots taken on Wed Aug 16 20:31:21 2023 UTC)

Lead Stories frequently encounters articles that have been altered with a program called an article spinner. These programs substitute words and phrases to defeat plagiarism detection programs. Clickbaiters monetizing web traffic use this technology to provide a fresh stream of trending content on their website without needing the time or staff to produce articles. While it is not possible to know conclusively if the text of "Fire and Fury" was put through an article spinner, many of the phrases used in the text are an awkward "second choice" for the words that one might expect. The example sentence below from the second page of "Fire and Fury" seems to contain word substitutions:

Moreover, the fire posed a grave menace to other parts of Maui, comprising residential zones, agricultural lands, and natural ecosystems.

This could have originally been:

Moreover, the fire posed a threat to other parts of Maui, comprising neighborhoods, farms, and forests.

Lead Stories conducted an experiment. We asked Bing's AI Chatbot to generate several paragraphs of text. The Hive Moderation tool correctly identified the text as 99.9 percent likely to be AI-generated. We then used the rewritertools.com/article-spinner to substitute some words in Bing's AI text. This time the Hive Moderation tool did not detect the AI origins of the text the result was 0 percent -- not likely to contain AI-generated text. It seems an article spinner not only defeats plagiarism detection, but AI generated content detection as well.

Lead Stories has debunked numerous other claims related to Maui wildfires. Those stories are here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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