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The timing of a book’s publication about the Maui wildfires is not proof that the fires were planned. Details in the book’s online summary and introduction appear to be drawn from publicly available information already reported by the media and Maui County.
The author’s name appears to be a pseudonym, and a person using the same pseudonym published at least 15 other books within a three-month period, including one the day after the Maui book was published.
This led to speculation that the books might have been produced using artificial intelligence, which draws from information already available online.
Social media users sounded alarms about the Aug. 10 publication of a book about the Maui wildfires that started Aug. 8, baselessly claiming the island may have been intentionally set on fire as part of a conspiracy.
"You guys wanna think that this is all an accident? OK. You wanna think that our government wasn’t involved? OK… But this, this is bugging me," a woman said in an Aug. 15 TikTok video. "How in the actual F did they write and release a book about the fires in Maui?"
Another man in an Aug. 15 Instagram post said, "Anyone else find this weird? So the Maui fire started on Aug. 8. Yet there’s a book about it already. Even in the description of the book, the book chronicles the events from Aug. 8 to Aug. 11 of 2023, the Maui fires. But the publication of the book was Aug. 10, so how did you chronicle the events of Aug. 11 when the book was published on Aug. 10?"
The Instagram post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The book, titled, "Fire and Fury: The Story of the 2023 Maui Fire and its Implications for Climate Change," was released on Amazon.
But the existence of a book that was independently published — by an author whose name appears to be a pseudonym and who includes no identifying details — is not proof that the wildfires were planned. A person using the same pseudonym published at least 15 other books within a three-month period, including one the day after the Maui book was published.
Other social media users speculated that the books might have been produced using artificial intelligence, which draws from information already available online. There has been an increase of AI-written e-books on Amazon because tools such as ChatGPT allow users to create books in a matter of hours. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service allows authors to publish books on their own, without requiring literary agents or publishing houses.
Details in the book’s summary — that the fire was fueled by drought, heat and hurricane winds; experiences of people who lived through the fire; and the efforts of firefighters and rescuers — have been reported by the media and local government. In fact, the summary said that the book draws on "scientific research, eyewitness accounts, official reports and media coverage," all of which are publicly available.
The book’s author is identified as "Dr Miles Stones," whose author bio on Amazon reads, "I’d rather not say."
The introduction of the "Fire & Fury," which can be viewed on Amazon as a sample, said the fire "took the lives of six individuals" and "decimated over 270 structures." Maui County had provided this information in press releases published Aug. 9.
According to the Maui Police Department, the death toll has risen to 106 as of Aug. 15.
We rate the claim that a book published Aug. 10 on Amazon about the Maui wildfires is proof the wildfires were planned False.
TikTok video, Aug. 15, 2023
Instagram video, Aug. 15, 2023
Amazon page, Fire and Fury: The Story of the 2023 Maui Fire and its Implications for Climate Change, accessed Aug. 16, 2023
Amazon page, About Dr Miles Stones, accessed Aug. 15, 2023
County of Maui, Search and rescue team bolsters efforts in Lahaina, Aug. 9, 2023
County of Maui, Six fatalities discovered today amid active Lahaina fire, Aug. 9, 2023
County of Maui, 8/15 County of Maui Wildfire Disaster Update as of 8:30 pm, Aug. 15, 2023
CBS News, How did the Maui fire start? What we know about the cause of the Lahaina blaze, Aug. 16, 2023
The Washington Post, Power lines likely caused Maui’s first reported fire, video and data show, Aug. 15, 2023
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