Incumbent with new awareness are the susurrations of wonder
Lacking promenade in savage writhe, muse’s dance it remains
The rejoinder of the immature cries ‘Nary such a thing!’
‘In intimate illusions are they, ignis fatuus in all manner of such folly!’
Yet whisper vexes us with duplicitous offense
Its absurdity she bears schism, mocking our surety, erasing the proud
One of Truth, One of Myopics, both stumbling stones
Betrayed each by canard of pompous might, or adornment of elite proxy
Nonetheless its matron cries birth screams of an unknown pang, immune to excuse
a Siren’s Song of Hydrogen beckoning in the vast darkness; bride of all that we are to be and become: ‘Find me, young mind; even so, …find me’
Trust no longer your own eyes, should they gaze upon a tree for such a time that they can now see nothing else
Smile warmly and step passed those who have drunk of the fruit of its intoxication
It is the heeding of the call, the humility of seeking without fear
Only it is wonder born of deliberate paradox and our will to find her,
…which proves we are.
The accusation is cast inside social discourse almost continually: atheism is a religion. Retorts arguing that atheism is not a religion generally range from citing its rejection of any deity, to the defense that atheists do not hold beliefs, rather are only adhering to the teachings of science. Well as ethical a choice as the objection to a personified deity might be, it in no way can be claimed to have been made based on science. Science has no definition for god, so it cannot comment in advisement of the atheist. Further, by no means does the absence of veneration of a deity, remove a belief from holding the status of a religion. Nonetheless, atheists are correct in that their belief of choice is not a religion, for three specific reasons. In the dark deep angry and plotting corridors of Nihilism however, there resides another story completely. Atheism is to Nihilism as Charity is to Christianity.
Atheism is not a religion for three specific reasons. Reasons which stand as the litmus test of what qualifies a personally adopted philosophical ontology as constituting a religion. But before we review the rationale as to why atheism is not a religion, first let’s take a look at why Abrahamism indeed stands as the quintessential example of a religion, and probably the worst religion to have ever been introduced onto the planet. The reasons why this 3500 year old movement is an oppressive religion have nothing to do with its veneration of a ‘god.’ This is a red herring argument, the whole concept of this undefined element called god. Don’t focus on epistemological validity of my argument, focus instead on the grand loving old man in the sky. I mean who can reject a simile to their grandparents after all? The concept of god is simply a meme, an artifice employed to distract and motivate good men to ill deeds, analogous to how a Nihilist might invoke an extrapolation of science in an invalid fashion, in order to justify their actions. Three elements of practice render Abrahamism an oppressive religion.
1. Abrahamism is addressable by falsification tests.
2. Abrahamism has sought for millennia to control and block science which it did not accept, or which could ostensibly falsify its tenets.
3. Should one not accede to the correct choice presented inside the false dilemma offered by an Abrahamic religion, one is fully unacceptable for entry into humanity’s destined reward, Heaven.
These are the oppressive elements which qualify a religion.
Religion: The compulsory adherence to an idea around which testing for falsification is prohibited.
Now regarding atheism, none of its tenets bear qualification traits analogous to those listed above for Abrahamism. Regarding atheism,
1. One cannot falsify the presumption that there are no such things as gods. Even if one were to possess an ultimately fast spaceship and sufficient amount of time and lifespan; and went forth and found a character in the universe which matched the deity described in holy writ, this begs the question, is that a god? No. Science has no definition for the term god, so no matter what entity you coaxed into traveling back with you on the spaceship, they would more than likely not be a god.
2. Atheism as a choice, takes no position on research. It does not seek to block science, change definitions, manipulate academics and the media, or change the nature and ethic of the scientific method in order to protect itself from potential falsification. Atheism is a simple choice of ethic. One does not believe in deities. The ignostic might bristle at the boast of presuming a definition of the term god on everyone’s behalf – and then choosing not to believe in that defined entity. Even though to the ignostic, this seems like a bit of a cheat, nonetheless he will still sympathize with the atheist.
3. Finally, atheism is a free choice. It may object when children are forced to accede to Abrahamism, but it generally does not seek to intimidate legislatures or children into becoming atheists, and it is not mandatory before one can be deemed acceptable in any particular club, elite society or circle. One can even join an atheist organization, and not even be an atheist. Atheism is a personal choice, to not believe in deities. That is it.
As you can see in the graphic above, atheism, the ethical rejection of the idea of a deity, in no way bears the traits and elements of a religion. Atheism however, only deliberates the issue of whether or not to venerate or believe in the existence of deities. Now again, set aside the issue that science holds no definition of the terms deity or god, and focus now on the realistic application of atheism.
Most Social Skeptics and people who call themselves “atheists,” while technically indeed being atheists, are in fact believers of Nihilism. Nihilism, not atheism, is the cult and religious doctrine enforcing absolute knowledge as to those things which are deemed ‘natural;’ moreover that nothing exists outside the materials, energies, life forms, features and principles comprised inside a pre-approved realm of understanding. Nihilism is the religion of choice of those who would seek to enact specific social, belief, and egalitarian goals in the name of science. Goals which tender their group mandatory power, through the unification of science as government, and is characterized by the planned lack of your participation therein.
Atheism is to Nihilism as Charity is to Christianity.
Atheism is therefore, the Lie of Allegiance of the Nihilist; the attractive cover philosophy which draws the unsuspecting in, before forcing them into the deeper, angrier and more control oriented aspect of the religious doctrine set, in order to obtain acceptability.
Now lets place Nihilism into that same crucible by which we just now condemned Abrahamism and exonerated atheism, in terms of their status as potential religions. Regarding Nihilism:
1. Nihilism can be tested for falsification. Only one confirmed extant alternative intelligent life form or medium of information transfer is required. Just one.
2. Nihilists vehemently seek to block subjects in falsification group 1. above from being afforded access to the scientific method or gaining attention in peer review. This is their number one priority, as demonstrated through deed, media, intimidation, propaganda and very infrequent but highly visible and controlled predictive studies.
3. Nihilsm is forced on children, the media and post graduate candidates. It is mandatory as a belief before one can be published, accepted into academia, or regarded as a media science reporter or peer review expert. It is enforced by angry acolytes and intimidating celebrities with a media hammer.
There you have it, all three characteristic traits of an oppressive religion. Very much in the precedent set by its forerunner, Abrahamism, the proponents of Nihilism saw the advantage in keeping control of those who are allowed admittance into science. Most universities at one time were sponsored financially, and controlled by major Western church denominations. Now these institutions are controlled by the new religion of Nihilism. A control which is so angry and oppressive, that if we ever do, or have ever to date, falsified their religion under tenet 1. above, we will never hear about it.
At the least Christians will for the most part bear the ethical honesty to say “I am a Christian who practices Charity,” and not in actuality secretly teach Christianity, but only advertise themselves as social workers. For the most part this does not happen, except in countries where it is quasi-illegal to be a Christian. Yet Nihilists practice Nihilism, and habitually mis-identify themselves as atheists. This is why an Ethical Skeptic is very wary of those who profess to be atheists, yet surreptitiously act as Nihilists. If you cannot be honest with yourself, first, then in no way will you be honest with other people. And by Margold’s Law, the deception you employ to protect your religion in one discipline, you will employ in all disciplines.
I doubt, therefore I am (superior)
The taxonomy of the Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy, as with many informal fallacies, pertains to relevance of argument framing, rather than deductive veracity of data or material structure of the argument itself. There are four taxonomy clads comprised by The Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy, below. The first pertains to relevancy of simple identity as a claim of merit, the second to the relevant argument position of doubt, the third pertains to flaws relating to deceptive ontology and the fourth pertains to ethic of argument method. The last, the Truzzi Fallacy of Argument is a quasi-formal fallacy, named in honor of Marcello Truzzi, related to the cited quote.
Most of the time, an Appeal to Skepticism is employed when no real data is possessed and no real research has been conducted on the part of the challenging claimant; instances where the integrity of a prima facia counter-claim could be called into question (e.g. attempting to deny an observation made by a third party, without direct evidence). It is in its essence, simultaneously an intellectually lazy boast, a pretense of self promotion to that status equivalent to a scientist (without the qualifications) and finally an implicit or explicit disparagement of a targeted disliked party. It is employed as a method to circumvent the conventions of evidence, block the methods of science and to attempt to establish immediate unjustified credibility on the part of an arguer who must win at all costs.
The Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy
Ergo Sum Veritas Fallacy (of Irrelevance)
1a. The contention, implication or inference that one’s own ideas or the ideas of others hold authoritative veracity simply because their proponent has declared themselves to be a ‘skeptic.’
1b. The assumption, implication or inference that an organization bearing a form of title regarding skepticism, is exempt from defamation laws or immediately holds de facto unquestionable factual or ideological credibility over any other entity having conducted an equivalent level of research into a matter at hand.
1c. The assumption, implication or inference that an organization or individual bearing a form of title regarding skepticism, adheres to a higher level of professionalism, ethics or morality than does the general population.
Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy (of Irrelevance)
2a. The declaration, assumption or implication that a consensus skeptical position on a topic is congruent with the consensus opinion of scientists on that topic.
2b. The argument assumption or implication that an opinion possesses authoritative veracity or a proponent possesses intellectual high ground simply through allegiance to a consensus skeptical position on a topic.
3. The presumption or contention that taking a denial based or default dubious stance on a set of evidence or topic is somehow indicative of application of the scientific method on one’s part, or constitutes a position of superior intellect, or represents a superior critical or rational position on a topic at hand.
Inverse Negation Fallacy (of Presumption)
4. The strategy of undermining any study, proponent, media byte, article, construct, data, observation, effort or idea which does not fit one’s favored model, in a surreptitious effort to promote that favored model, along with its implicit but not acknowledged underpinning claims, without tendering the appearance of doing so; nor undertaking the risk of exposing that favored model or claims set to the scientific method or to risky critical scrutiny.
Truzzi Fallacy (of Argument)
5. The presumption that a position of skepticism or plausible conformance on a specific issue affords the skeptical apologist tacit exemption from having to provide authoritative outsider recitation or evidence to support a contended claim or counter-claim.
“Pseudo-Skeptics: Critics who assert negative claims, but who mistakenly call themselves ‘skeptics,’ often act as though they have no burden of proof placed on them at all. A result of this is that many critics seem to feel it is only necessary to present a case for their counter-claims based upon plausibility rather than empirical evidence.” – Marcello Truzzi (Founding Co-chairman of CSICOP)
Explanation of Two General Forms
An Appeal to Skepticism is an Irrelevant Appeal which in one of three ways, cedes control of an argument high ground artificially to the person attempting leverage by deception or means other than the evidentiary base. Negations and Denials are control mechanisms, and in their truest sense, can be used to control the direction of science; however, when this control is ceded into individuals, it can be abused. The Appeal to Skepticism is the implicit or explicit boast by the claimant that simply through the act of doubting, I have assumed a superior argument position, all things being equal. This allows for a claim of default victory in undetermined pluralistic arguments, where there legitimately is no suitable basis of authority from which to declare such. The focus by the claimant is typically on winning arguments, not in deriving clarity or value. There are two general forms of this Fallacy of Relevancy.
Declaring Myself As A Skeptic Defaults Me Unearned and Unassailable Credibility
Whether I use my self-awarded moniker as ‘skeptic’ to attempt to drive home a political goal, or squelch a subject I dislike, or improve my standing and notoriety, self developed claims to skepticism are designed to serve exactly that: self. Most commonly, self appointed skeptics are only skeptical about the set of data and ideas they do NOT believe, and tender their favorite subjects a coddling and shallow appearance of scientific veracity. In similar fashion to the Texas Barn Logic Fallacy, where one shoots at the barn wall and then draws the target bullseye around the bullet holes, the faker skeptic will challenge every subject EXCEPT those which they surreptitiously are promoting. So rather than taking the ethical pathway of developing hypothesis and methodical testing of their favored claims, the faker skeptic shoots at everything except their favored claim. The only thing left standing, is that which they wished to promote in the first place. This is called the Inverse Negation Fallacy approach to agenda sponsorship, and is a method of deception; and when used in this context by SSkeptics, is Deskeption.
(1) Astronomer Phil Plait is a skeptic, by his own admission.
(2) Astronomer Phil Plait should be published as an authority on a variety of subjects aside from Astronomy, such as issues of health practices, gun control, and bigfoot.
Assuming A Position of Doubt Affords Me Immediate Rational Gravitas
It is a damaging and deceptive tactic to create un-level argument playing fields simply for the benefit of personal victory and ego. It is fallacious to presume that taking a denial based or default dubious stance on a set of evidence or topic is somehow indicative of application of the scientific method on one’s part. Yes science uses doubt as a lever. But science also understands when data has produced a sufficient threshold of plurality. SSkeptics do not grasp this, as understanding was not the goal in the first place. Inside the notorious Climate Change denial antics, those who defended Climate Change data – were quick to disallow “Deniers” the high ground of being called ‘skeptics’, as they knew the deceptiveness wound up in this moniker tactic well. Taking a position of denial or cynicism does not guarantee one a position of superior intellectual approach, nor does it represent a superior rational position on a topic at hand. As with most arguments, the mere presence of plurality, the fact that science has not yet definitively answered or addressed the question, means that ‘doubt’ can unethically be used as a battering ram, just as easily as it can be used to enforce an ethical falsification hierarchy under the scientific method.
(1) Evidence has been purportedly gathered that ulcers are caused by a bacterium, helicopter pylori. I am in an association which represents antacid manufacturer interests.
(2) Denial of this claim as false, implies that there is a current understanding of what causes ulcers, which has evidence, and will tender our stalling the appearance of being a legitimate facet of ethical science.
This argument is fallacious because it only serves to aggrandize the person making the appeal to skepticism, and tenders the false appearance of science. It suffers from the diminishing gains failure problem in that:
When the one making the Appeal to Skepticism is incorrect: Damage is done through obfuscation OUTCOME = LOSS
This is why, on average, skepticism should be used as a technique which aids in good science. But to take on the identity of being a skeptic, to chest-pound, dominate discourse and to begin to wield such self declaration as a political or argument position basis, causes no net benefit to mankind and science; only loss.
Neither the Developmental Scientific Method, nor the Experimental Method are wrong necessarily. But what those two subsets of the scientific method fail to address are several vital steps of Discovery Science Methodology. Our regard of the scientific method as simply being a big lab experiment constitutes a logical fallacy; one which blinds and binds our professionals and emasculates our ability as a culture to address the key questions which face humanity today.
Search for the scientific method in Google and you will find an enormous amount of misinformation and conflation of the scientific method with the experimental method. This confusion is an example of well meaning but of sophomoric guild individuals or cabals attempting to explain incorrectly, what is indeed science. I suppose that this is how these same people might describe the method of making love:
Making Love Method:
- Obtain a Naked Person
- Examine Various Body Parts
- Rub Genitals Together
- Ask if It Was Acceptable
- Exchange Phone Numbers
This is not making love. There is so much that is missing what is happening here, such as to render this process invalid, despite its apparent correctness. This is a method which is touted by someone who has never made love.
In the same way, science is not an experiment, rather it is the process and body of knowledge development. And as such, its applied acumen resides to the greater degree outside the lab, not in it. Anyone who has managed a scientific research organization knows this. A team can refine an experimental insight only so many times, but if they have not asked the right question or obtained the right resources and data, then this is simply lots of activity executed by technicians masquerading as scientists. Regarding the scientific method as simply an extended experiment, can leave it open to ineffectiveness at best, or even worse manipulation by ill-meaning forces who seek to direct the body of predictive knowledge in certain directions (see Promotification below). Science demands that its participants be circumspect and prepared, before they pretend to be competent at testing its first questions.
Wikipedia, in similar form, defines the “Scientific Method” as below (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method). I have called it by its more accurate name here in red:
Scientific Method: (Developmental Scientific Methodology)
- Define a question
- Gather information and resources (observe)
- Form an explanatory hypothesis
- Test the hypothesis by performing an experiment and collecting data in a reproducible manner
- Analyze the data
- Interpret the data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
- Publish results
- Retest (frequently done by other scientists)
While this step series is generally correct and close, this actually represents really only an expansive form of the Experimental Method and focuses on Developmental Science only. In other words, what Wikipedia and its academic authors have defined here is what one does to improve our knowledge of existing and established paradigms, in highly controlled environments, and in cases where we already know what question to ask in the above Step 1. Define a Question. This is simply a method of refining existing knowledge focused on essentially technology development. And that is indeed a valid approach, since what are we going to do if we cannot turn our science into beneficial application? Certainly a large part of science necessarily centers around this diligent technical incrementalism and existing paradigm development process.
But this is NOT the scientific method. It is a PART of the scientific method, more focused and centered on specific procedure from what the authors learned in school, that of the Experimental Method (below, mostly courtesy of Colby College (http://www.colby.edu/biology/BI17x/expt_method.html). To be fair, Wikipedia does address this issue in part of their excellent writeup on Experimental Methodology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experiment) and its ethical employment and limitations.
Experimental Method: (Look Familiar?)
- Ask a Question
- Form a Hypothesis
- Define a Test/Variables
- Perform an Experiment
- Analyze the Results
- Draw a Conclusion
- Report Results
But what if we do not have the necessary set of observations which could educate us to even know what question to ask in the first place? What if by asking the question as the first step, we bias the participants or the outcome, or blind ourselves to the true experimental domain entailed? What if we were able to conduct a series of initial falsification tests in the early data sets, which would preclude an entire series of predictive tests in the classic developmental methodology later? Moreover, what if we did not know because we collected the wrong data, all because we asked the wrong questions to begin with, or failed to learn from past mistakes made by competitors on the subject. These confusing challenges are common to every lab in a variety of industry verticals.
But Science is About Discovery, not Simply Incremental Development of Current Paradigms
In some of my labs, in the past, when we have made major breakthroughs, or turned an eight month research program into a 3 week discovery process, we did not employ the above process as expressed by academia and Wikipedia. We took a step back and asked three important circumspect questions which differentiate scientists from lab technicians, which occur commensurate with Discovery Scientific Methodology, Step 3 – Aggregation of Data:
Three Critical Questions Scientists Ask When They Really Want an Answer:
- What is it that we do not know, that we do not know?
- What should we test and/or statistically aggregate and analyze before we boast that we can competently ask the question?
- What missteps have we or our competitors made to date?
The Wikipedia Developmental Science Methodology presumes that there is only a small set (s) of the unknown, and our task is simply to fill in that (s) blank. In discovery science this presumption of the small unknown is incorrect, as it embodies a version of the Penultimate Set Fallacy. In Discovery Science Methodology, the key is that we do not necessarily have all the information we need, and even more importantly we might not even be aware that we are not equipped to boast that we can suitably ask the right question. Proceeding in such a disadvantageous state under the Developmental Science process would be akin to one searching for Jimmy Hoffa by starting in one’s living room. It is clear that science has woefully undersold the role of the aggregation of data (Step 3 – Intelligence/Data Aggregation (The 3 Key Questions, below). Mike Huerta is the Associate Director of the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, USA cites that data is the weakness of science in the biomedical field. Probably the richest mine of field scientific data known to man, yet still, the weak link in the scientific method continues even there, to be the data – the first half of the Discovery Science Methodology process.
I think a lot of people haven’t thought broadly about the benefits that will come from data sharing. Once we have a comprehensive set of information about data, as we do about the scientific literature, it’ll let us start looking at the landscape of biomedical research from a different perspective. It will give us another metric for assessing science and progress and it will allow us to find data that might be useful for any of a number of scientific purposes. Now, for most biomedical research the public products are the conclusions and the interpretations about data, and those conceptual aspects are probably the most fragile part of that scientific process.
~ Mike Huerta, Associate Director of the US National Labrary of Medicine (http://blogs.nature.com/scientificdata/2014/08/12/data-matters-interview-with-mike-huerta/)
Without data availability, the researcher cannot even hope to ask the right question, and must simply start by acting all busy. Well yes, you can search your living room for Jimmy Hoffa, and certainly perform developmental investigation there, but you are really only performing those activities to which you are accustomed. You will see many a SSkeptic performing this type of ‘scientific inquiry.’ They have not looked at the broad set of data, nor have they asked the right question to begin with, sometimes purposefully; rather desiring only to tender the appearance of doing science. Getting themselves photographed naked, and pretending that they were in the process of making love.
Knowing how to ask the right question, if approached properly, can turn years of potentially misleading predictive study (Promotification) into a much shorter timeframe and more productive falsification based conclusions. This process is neither deliberated nor executed in the lab. Much of what is considered “pseudoscience” as a subject, suffers from this sleight-of-hand shortfall through targeting by fake SSkeptics. By not knowing how to ask the right question, one can fall susceptible to a pseudoscience called Promotification:
Promotification – One or a series of predictive experiments touted as scientific, yet employed in such a fashion as to mislead, obfuscate or delay. Deception or incompetence wherein only predictive testing methodology was undertaken in a hypothesis reduction hierarchy when more effective falsification pathways or current evidence were readily available, but were ignored.
Through asking the wrong question, power is sublimed from the hands of science and into the hands of those who do not desire an answer.
When one or more of the below steps is skipped or placed in the wrong order, in a discovery science context, then this can be an indication that SSkeptical Tradecraft is underway. It behooves the discovery science researcher to be fully cognizant and circumspect for the influences of SSkepticism in the answers he is handed. One does not even have to manage a lab, and might be simply addressing a tough question. If one is actually being held accountable by an external body of oversight, such as a board of directors who want results, not status-quo and protocol, then often necessity drives this as the true scientific method:
DISCOVERY SCIENCE METHODOLOGY:
3. INTELLIGENCE/AGGREGATION OF DATA (The Three Key Questions)
4. CONSTRUCT FORMULATION
5. SPONSORSHIP/PEER INPUT (Ockham’s Razor)
6. HYPOTHESIS DEVELOPMENT
7. PREDICTIVE TESTING
8. COMPETITIVE HYPOTHESES FRAMING (ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTION)
9. FALSIFICATION TESTING
10. HYPOTHESIS MODIFICATION
11. FALSIFICATION TESTING/REPEATABILITY
12. THEORY FORMULATION/REFINEMENT
13. PEER REVIEW (Community Vetting)
Just as corruption produces human suffering, in similar fashion, Tradecraft SSkepticism produces cultivated ignorance
How do I know that SSkeptics fully acknowledge this process as constituting the full scientific method? Because they skillfully and adeptly know how to manipulate the steps of this process such that specific desired outcomes and conclusions are produced. It is a method of corruption, not unlike that which the ministers of a country might employ, through the gaming of laws, policies and bureaucracy such that they and their cronies are enriched in the process of legislation. Just as corruption produces human suffering, in similar, Tradecraft SSkepticism produces cultivated ignorance.
The icon on the right will act as my post signature icon, tagging the entire series of posts on Tradecraft SSkepticcism. This tag will apply when the post is specifically depicting ways in which Social Skepticism manipulates through Tradecraft, academia, media, science, scientists and their Cabal faithful; spinning a false representation of the reality which encompasses the nature of man and our realm. This icon will be affixed on the top right hand side of such posts. :)
SSkeptics are fully aware at how to obviate, block access to, or eliminate any or all of the above steps, as means to a specific end. They intimidate researchers in specific embargoed subjects involved in or considering seriously any activity under Steps 1 – 7. Further then, SSkeptics pretend that they are the only ones sufficiently equipped to ask the question framed in Step 8; which constitutes an extraordinary boast. By skipping Steps 1 – 7, SSkeptics are able to socially circumvent sound science and posit the wrong question as the first step. Amateurs researchers rarely catch this sleight-of-hand which has been foisted on them, while the public just nods in wide eyed resignation. Scientists who understand this know that they are to keep quiet. This asking of the wrong question ensures a flawed execution of the scientific method such that Steps 9 – 15 never have a realistic set of hypotheses which to test. So, SSkeptics DO understand this, the full scientific method. All too well.
Skeptic – One who practices the method of suspended judgment, engages in rational and dispassionate reasoning as exemplified by the scientific method, shows willingness to consider alternative explanations without prejudice based on prior beliefs, and who seeks out evidence and carefully scrutinizes its validity.
This definition of the makeup of a skeptic is absolutely valid. There exists a problem however, in that a sufficiently detrimental portion of those who call themselves ‘skeptics’ teach and purposely practice a different ethic.
Ethical Skepticism is a long held value on the part of those in our history who have born true brilliance in their successes inside of science, social issues, technology, government and discovery. An Ethical Skeptic first recognizes the shortcomings of those who hold power and those of his own assumptions. The Ethical Skeptic then sets about a methodology which neutralizes these shortcomings and approaches solving the riddles wrapped around our resulting ignorance as a culture and body scientific. The Ethical Skeptic is not as concerned about always being right as he is about establishing clarity and value. He is insatiably curious, yet obsessive in defending the integrity of the knowledge development process. He says “Look here, at what is predictably consistent. It may be significant. Let’s mature it enough to test, along with its counter claims, for falsification.” He tolerates the potential falsification of his own pursuit, despite the irony of having pursued it passionately.
The pretend SSkeptic in contrast has memorized the one-liners which explain why the scientific method is unnecessary. The pretend SSkeptic proselytizes children and promotes themselves through celebrity and intimidation, in a vain attempt to squelch unwelcome subjects, observations or thought. The pretend SSkeptic uses doubt like a weapon, via its selective and prejudiced application employed to promote an unacknowledged set of beliefs. The pretend SSkeptic highlights visibly and often that he is a skeptic and enforces plausible conformance claims without evidence, based on a list of disfavored subjects. He employs predictive testing supporting favored explanations, at best; and stopping there, then demands proof be the first step provided by outsiders, without the aid of science. The pretend SSkeptic is an opportunist who leverages scientists’ lack of knowledge of sister disciplines to change the message of what scientists think, then boasts in visible media that his contentions represent the consensus opinion of scientists.
It is incumbent upon us to promote genuine skeptical thought and decry pseudo-skepticism, imperious institutional doctrines and the cultivation of ignorance.
The Ethical Skeptic (Octavus Thesauri)
First and foremost finds fulfillment through disciplined pursuit of an insatiable curiosity; scrutinizing and maintaining caution around his own assumptions, regardless of where they are obtained; discriminating with discipline, ontological and religious cosmologies from actual science.
Holds his skeptic peers accountable for abusive behavior, dishonesty, conflative or extrapolative pretense with actual science, epistemological broaches and appeals to false authorities.
Challenges pat answers, one-liners, old truisms, social pressure mandates and institutional doctrines which surreptitiously evade scrutiny under the scientific method.
Does not enforce one answer, nor consider/accuse under the basis of a ‘belief;’ rather considers new data without pre-filtering, exploring several ‘constructs’ at once, some of which may be diametrically in opposition.
Acknowledges with integrity a sufficient threshold of plurality attained on a singular construct, warranting hypothesis development under the scientific method.
Is not arrogant nor disdainful, nor seeks personally aggrandizing victory over others. Rather, is self-confident enough to allow the scientific method to proceed no matter whether or not the subject threatens his own club, status, philosophies, authorship, ego, or even rational tolerance.
Does not strive to disprove, but rather allows constructs to falsify themselves through accrued verity; eschewing promotion of a favored idea solely because it is promoted by peer pressure or is the conforming, predicate confirming or simplest explanation.
Does not seek immediate forced proof before consideration of an idea, nor promote any enforced truth; but rather pursues
Value – as measured by achieving beneficial outcomes in their research,
Clarity – as measured by the ability to obtain common ground or understanding with opponents when possible, and
Integrity of The Epignosis – defends the integrity of the knowledge development process and denies the cultivation of ignorance.
As I have often stated, for the most part I do not wish to come down on a side in a particular valid conflict of observation, rather only speak up and outline deceptive methods, when I observe surreptitious behavior on the part of Social Skeptics. I usually do not elicit a position on an argument unless some aspect of Social Skepticism seeks to defend a group which has harmed me or my family through their activity. Once I have shown, as I have through exhaustive method and observation, that certain food for instance, has harmed my health, and the health of my spouse and children significantly – I will be very vocal on this position, as a side issue. That will run as a kind of exception to the ethos of my blog, which is more focused on critiquing errant methodology, masquerading as science.
But what does not often come through in my diatribes, is the fact that I often and most frequently agree with the contentions of those in the Social Skepticism movement. This is not in question, as most of their ideology is founded on real science.
My hackles are stirred when the boundary of what is considered to be science is purposely blurred in order to sell a new religion, to replace the old one. Now, that being said, the old religion is being replaced for good reason.
And from time to time I need to point out that Social Skeptics are at the forefront of replacing that religion – and it is a war. They often do bravely bear the brunt of unethical activity by those who are seeking to defend the old religion.
Michael Shermer in the Twitter graphic here Tweet-cites a very cogent and cohesive address by Christopher Hitchens, a competent apologetic defense of his lifelong stance against monotheism. Unfairly, Michael is attacked by a minion inside the cadre of theists seeking to enforce their view of god on everyone else. I stand with Michael Shermer on this issue. Our planet suffers from the violence, intransigence and fatalistic/apocalyptic teachings of Abrahamic religions which have ruled mankind for the last 3600 years. I disagree with Social Skeptics that Nihilism is the bifurcated solution, as that religion carries its own set of perilous powers, which will be unquestionably wielded by the wrong hands as well. Nor do I completely reject the idea of a natural spiritual/dimensional aspect of our realm. Science has not shown anything, predictive, falsifying, aggregating, or otherwise of any kind to the pro or con, and remains mute on the topic. Therefore as a skeptic, I hold that argument open. The popular understanding that we are not offered a false dilemma, and that one does not have to choose Nihilism, upsets many Social Skeptics who angrily seek to enforce that religion as scientific truth. But then again, when you are defending a religion, as you see in the graphic above, anger will prompt a host of actions of poor character.
But in the meantime, not that Michael Shermer needs me to defend him, but this set of tweet responses is absolutely unfair, unethical and uncalled for. Michael is fighting the good fight here.
He is a decent man. It is just, as a skeptic I cannot simply swallow 100% of his religious choice until science has had adequate time to examine the issues more exhaustively.
Skepticism is a discipline of preparing the mind and observation sets in order to perform science; it is not an artifice to be used as a substitution acting in lieu of science. It does not tender conclusions, as only science can do that. Nor does skepticism serve as a justification of one’s personal ontological beliefs and politics. It does not afford the practitioner a claim of representing science or the opinion of scientists.
The more I read through the blogs and substantive descriptions of skepticism published by prominent Social Skeptics, the more I gain a keen understanding that, these attention seekers really have no idea what skepticism is at all. Below is simply a short tally of my disgust after reading through about a dozen published false understandings of what constitutes skepticism, promoted by people who hold no technical or scientific advanced degrees yet insist on speaking on behalf of science. Unfortunate persona who have been mentored by dishonest, agenda laden professional cynics. Trust me, most of these high visibility “skeptics” have no idea as to what constitutes true scientific skepticism. Some of the actual scientists who are included in this group apparently did not have a rigorous philosophical core to their postgraduate work.
Social Skeptics habitually fail to understand that science remains mute on topics inside of which the scientific method has not been rigorously applied; regardless of the reason why it has not been applied. Instead of this essence of the Greek Pyrrhonistic application of the Epoché, the essential and ethical core of professional scientific thinking, the fake skeptic falls prey to their own mental deceptions and religious mindset. They attempt to establish a smug plateau of veracity upon which they perch and enforce their favored arguments on others.
It never fails to amaze me how people can feel they are ‘oh so smart’ and rational, and yet not see when they are being used as a pawn to accomplish corporate, political or social ends.
This is fake pawn skepticism. A checklist one can employ to spot a fake skeptic:
- If you think that skepticism “is a process of evaluating claims” …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you proselytize children with your version of ‘critical thinking:’ one heavy with conclusions …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you do not understand the statement ‘Epoché vanguards Gnosis’ …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you speak about “Occam’s Razor” promoting the simplest explanation …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you cannot quote Ockham’s Razor, explain concisely what it means and give an example …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you insist on garnering media spotlight to shed the light of dismissive conclusion into a valid conflict of evidence … then you are not a skeptic.
- If you behave like a groupie and travel in gaggles of fandom for celebrity skeptics or science spokespersons …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you behave like a ‘paparazzi of science’ obsessing over and doing dirty work attacking those you see as the enemy …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that nominating a single hypothesis and then conducting predictive studies which support it, is the scientific method …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you demand ‘proof’ before you will consider or research an idea, then publicly discredit the idea because there is no ‘proof’ …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you have never made an investigative trip into the field to see first hand …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you have spent 90+% of your time in your home country or state …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you have never sat with African villagers at evening prayer, worked alongside followers of Ganesha in India, or held a person in your arms as they died …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you do not understand the difference between skepticism’s being used as a tool inside of science, and its being employed in lieu of science …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you believe that science has proven why Republicans, or conservatives or Fox News are an assemblage of morons …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that ‘critical thinking’ involves applying your current knowledge to dismiss challenging first hand observations by others …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that every first hand observation is a “claim” and don’t understand the difference …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that capitalism is evil, and tout the wonders of academic socialism …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you must pepper your discourse with technical terms from disciplines other than your own, in an effort to show that you are a smart ‘scientist’ …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you find joy in bashing Christians or Islamics or obsess over Jesus believers …then you are not a skeptic.
- If your ‘skeptic’ insights bear a habit of pointing out how evil men are or how stupid mothers or women are …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you do not understand the difference between predictive studies and falsification testing …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you tout a study as evidence for a position and have not read its Abstract and Methodology …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you are quick to claim that your opinion reflects the consensus opinion of science …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you contend that all your beliefs are underpinned by systematic observations and reason …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you believe that a conclusion must be reached at the end of a skeptical process …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you fail to regularly employ the principle of a construct, and instead habitually promote everything to the state of ‘hypothesis’ …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you habitually grant your favored conclusions, which cannot be addressed by falsification testing, the default status as the Null Hypothesis …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that only Atheism and God based religions are the two choices offered us all …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that Atheism means a complete rejection of alternative life or realms or spirituality …then you are neither an atheist nor a skeptic.
- If you immediately ‘doubt’ every first hand observation which you hear or read, which does not fit your preferred model …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that your preferred model is the same one carried by the consensus majority of scientists …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that you understand most every subject well enough to identify what question should be asked first …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you apply skepticism to subjects such as music, art and literature …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you term anything which contradicts your natural model ‘supernatural’ …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you must always force a conclusion to observations which adheres to only your ‘natural’ explanation …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that all memory is fallible and do not differentiate observations by the 6 types of memory …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you have never caught yourself in a logical fallacy …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that evolution is random …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you deny global warming or believe science is wrong and the Earth is 6,000 years old …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that observations of events, even from trustworthy people, make for very poor evidence on their own, and you refuse to aggregate them so that they are forever on their own …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that the majority of doctors support all the views of Science Based Medicine or pharmaceutical or health care companies …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that everyone who raises a question about our food, is an evil pseudo scientist …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you cannot cohesively and quickly explain why you are not a cynic or debunker …then you are not a skeptic.
- If the first things which come to mind, when thinking of examples of applied skepticism, are ghosts, Bigfoot or UFOs …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that a skeptic doubts everything, and you cannot articulate a state of suspended or mute disposition, and contrast that with doubt …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you believe that everything in Classic Greek Skepticism was ‘doubted’ …then you do not understand skepticism.
- If you think that skepticism and atheism and humanism are essentially the same ethic …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that skepticism is something you can best apply from your university office, study or lab …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you often dismiss observations via the Law of Large Numbers, but cannot articulate the difference between the strong and weak variants …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you do not hold your skeptic peers accountable and rather, celebrate the camaraderie of their shared beliefs …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that holding a skeptic accountable for scientific malfeasance or bad behavior only stems from some anger over a debunking of a pet topic …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that science has an opinion on realms and ideas which cannot be tested …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you use skepticism to seek celebrity and attention under the excuse of ‘promoting science’ …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you use your skeptically based notoriety to push personal political agendas …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you conflate philosophical skepticism with scientific skepticism, in hopes that others infer that your philosophies are science based …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you point out trivial faults in a broad array of assembled observation, as a basis to refute the observations …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you believe that skepticism is something which tells you how you should think about something to get to the conclusion that has the best possibility of being true …then you are not a skeptic.
- If every idea which is outside your favored model, is to you, a ‘belief’ held by others …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you divide the world and its observations in to the bad people and the good people …then you are not a skeptic.
- If celebrity promotion of one side in a controversial topic or issuance of a popular one liner make you feel all warm and satisfied …then you are not a skeptic.
- If feminism, socialism, atheism, liberalism, sexual preference rights, anti-gunism, party-ism and a host of other ‘ism’s’ are your skeptical focus, even though these may stand for good things …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you obsess over the Bible, Obama or Richard Nixon and how good versus evil it all is …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that the promotion of science only centers around physical science and chemistry lab experiments …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you adopt skepticism simply to resist change …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that a religion must venerate a god …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you think that calling yourself a ‘skeptic’ affords your opinion or politics or personal philosophy more merit …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you tout your skepticism as a way to imply to others that your opinion bears equal merit with a scientist or expert in a particular field …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you force all observers of things which make you uncomfortable to provide evidence, and accept your skeptic peer contentions at face value …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you believe that punishing or chiding or mocking people, is productive …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you go around saying ‘Burn the Bible or Koran or Constitution or Bhagavad Gita,’ even in jest …you are not a skeptic.
- If you immediately accept Monsanto as always correct …then you are not a skeptic.
- If anyone who does not agree with your conclusions is a purveyor of pseudoscience …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you believe that a pseudoscience is a topic …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you cannot quickly explain the act of pseudoscience, what qualifies it and cite an example …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you believe that science as social activism can determine your values, politics, economics and morality …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you contend that science has demonstrated that free will or self awareness are an illusion …then you are not a skeptic.
- If you do not perceive the concealed religion being foisted by Richard Dawkins and James Randi …then you are not a skeptic.
The essence of skepticism in reality involves several beautiful character traits. Traits which are in no way exhibited by members of Social Skepticism. The term “skeptic” derives from a Greek noun, skepsis, which means examination, inquiry, consideration. It has very little to do with doubt, rage, personal religion, hate, proof, claims, self or idea promotions and campaigns. Skepticism is a discipline of preparing the mind and observation sets in order to perform science; it is not an artifice to be used as a substitution acting in lieu of science.
1. The ability to tolerate fear and suspended uncertainty (Epoché),
2. The ability to withhold judgement, and dispassionately consider several models at once,
3. A fairness of mind and listening, compassionate nature,
4. Intense curiosity, and ethic of gathering, not dismissing, observations, which forces one into the field to see for one’s self,
5. The backbone to not immediately accept every institutional doctrine or mandatory claim you are handed as true,
6. A joy which celebrates all the fine experiences of mankind, before following the desire to draw conclusions
7. An intolerance for narcissistic, fake, hate filled, angry, abusive, gang-mentality or negative and control oriented people.