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 popular lay definition outlining the mindset of persons who identify themselves as skeptics is for the most part valid. There exists a problem however, in that a sufficiently detrimental portion of those who identify themselves as ‘skeptics’ teach and purposely practice a different version of skepticism. In order to clarify the difference between false and valid skepticism, I have introduced a more rigorous professional definition of the mindset; one more clearly and effectively focused on application of the scientific method. One which I call Ethical Skepticism:
/ Epoché Vanguards Gnosis / : A means of preparing the mind and data sets in order to accomplish science. The positivist technique of developing a neutral disposition based phylogeny around extant and new data. An aversion to obsessing over disposition of subjects, people and claims, while rather focusing on accruing field research and underlying data. Defense of sponsors of the knowledge development process through application of plurality under full scientific methodology. Opposition to all thinking which seeks to surreptitiously establish power through errant method, religion, institution, cabal, oligarchy, intimidation or ignorance – regardless of how ‘critical’ or ‘rational’ it purports to be.
Ethical Skepticism – Part 1
Explained how skepticism is a method of preparing the mind and data sets to do science. That it has nothing to do with simplest explanations or defending why the right answer is correct. It is a form of disciplined receptive thought; a way of handling new data without resorting to deniability or defending pat/institutional answers.
Ethical Skepticism – Part 2
Explained how ethical skepticism is a clarity and value oriented assemblage of the best of Philosophical, Empirical and Cartesian Skepticism developed in side a Kuhn Theory of Revolution context, focused on employment of the entire scientific method, not simply the experimental method.
Skepticism: The Philosopher’s View of the Knowledge Development Process
Now we will discuss the perspective of Ethical Skepticism and its interplay with and dynamic as contrasted with beliefs and religions. In Ethical Skepticism Part 1 we examined a chart called “The Epignosis” or more plainly The Knowledge Development Process. Within that section, the contention was made that the role of skepticism is to defend the Knowledge Development Process and to challenge the Ignorances of religion. Specifically, pseudo-skepticism, credulity, fanaticism, denial, plausible deniability, cynicism, mores, and doctrine. These are the presumptions of a person enforcing a religion. Robert Nozick, former Pellegrino University Professor at Harvard University, avers regarding skepticism:
“The skeptic argues that we do not know what we think we do. …Given [the variety of causal knowledge] [how then] is knowledge possible? In answering this question, we do not seek to convince the skeptic [or our self], but rather to formulate hypotheses about knowledge and our connection to facts which show how knowledge can exist…” ~Nozick¹
In other words, the purpose of skepticism, whether preparing our own mind to develop knowledge, or demonstrating to others a necessity that they develop knowledge as well, is not to defend the right answer, but rather to defend the integrity of The Knowledge Development Process, or science – as we more commonly call it.¹
The Chief Enemy of Science: The Illusion of the Absolute
Noted philosopher Georg Wilhem Friedrich Hegel cited in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion that religion was defined as “The Image of the Absolute.”² In this context he expounds about religion in that
“Still [religion] always remains a certainty, and its rays stream as something divine into this present temporal life, giving the consciousness of the active presence of truth, even amidst the anxieties which torment the soul here in this region of time.” ~Hegel²
In other words, religion as defined by Hegel, is the illusion of the presence of absolute truth, which counteracts the anxiety of our present. Notice that Hegel sets his reference to the divine as more metaphorical and not literal inside this context of definition. Religion is a defense mechanism against fear of the unknown. Indeed, one of the tenets of Ethical Skepticism is the contention that all religion, stems from the same set of common fears.² If both man A and man O are afraid of the same thing P, then the fact that they devise two diametrically opposed solutions to that anxiety, Pª and Pº, does not dismiss the reality that they have both devised an illusion of truth by which to protect them self from the incumbent current anxiety. What they have devised makes no difference in terms of their ontology constituting a religion. One believes that benevolent frogs will welcome us into the afterlife, so we should not be afraid of death. The other believes that there is no afterlife so we should not be afraid of death. In the Robert Nozick definition of skepticism, both man A and man O have manufactured knowledge from the unknown, independent of fact, based upon anxiety. Both are not skeptics.
Man A develops knowledge Pª (RED) to counter fear P
Man O develops knowledge Pº (GREEN) to counter fear P
Both Pª and Pº are therefore religions
Ethical Skepticism seeks to remove the mind of the participant from this process of fear (P) and Hegel’s ‘Illusion of the Abosolute’ (Pª and Pº)
This principle plays out in the graphic to the right, wherein we employ the Hegel-Nozick definitions of religion and skepticism to illustrate that all beliefs, adopted to quell the anxiety of the present, are religions. You can see those belief sets which qualify as a means of deflecting anxiety by means of the illusion of truth, marked with a red star in the chart to the right. Further then, the Ethical Skeptic defines a religion in terms of how it is expressed in the social discourse, by means of two qualifiers:
- If you do not accept my illusion of truth, you are ignorant, silly or unacceptable in some fashion, and
- My truth cannot be approached by means of falsification testing.
A Prison of Their Own Mindset – Never Aware That They Could Leave at Any Time
In other words, what the religious participant is really saying is “I must protect my ‘knowledge from the unknown’ (Pª and Pº) at all costs. The alternative (P) terrifies me.” It does not matter that their life practices might not keenly adhere to the tenets of the religion. It is the terror, after all which must be allayed through mindset, not practice. Fundamentalists do not seek to perfect morality, and Nihilists perform very little scientific method. These are only symbols for them. For this reason, the Ethical Skeptic should bear affinity to many of the arguments from both sides of the spectrum depicted in the chart. The Ethical Skeptic understands and empathizes with the ‘why’ of all this. This understanding of the artifice (P) which has created this polarization depicted above, frees him from this fear. Part of your ethos as an Ethical Skeptic is to recognize and work to ease the bars of the prison in which people like this exist. Remember it is not a prison of their own crafting, rather it has been thrust upon them. Your voice should work to counter those who craft and sell these prisons on other people. Those are the religious.
Given this professional definition of religion, let’s examine the field of illusions of truths, beliefs. Beliefs are not excused by the apologetic that one is applying ‘critical thinking’ or ‘rationality’ or ‘the tools of science.’ When one uses ‘science’ to refuse to collect data, and to dismiss information elements they dislike one at a time, one is not performing science, rather one is allaying their terror. Such are the actions of Social Skeptics, actions of belief as defined in the chart above. Much of this claptrap is adorned no differently than are robes and talisman. It is this chosen illusion of truth, the Image of the Absolute, which protects one from anxiety (whether fear of god or simply the unknown) which qualifies the doctrine as a religion. Indeed, it is drawing absolute out of the unknown, which is the handiwork of those protecting a religious stand. Now to the degree that some of the list of ontologies shown in the chart, are not forced on others, or their tenets are set precariously on the crucible of falsification (such as in the cases of Interventionism, Atheism and Evolution for example) these ontologies are not religions for the most part, as they do not meet the two criteria.
The Ethical Skeptic intercepts this process of illusion of the absolute via two means. First, to remove the influence of fear of the unknown in their ontological development discipline, and second, to link the development of knowledge to a professionally, ethically developed set of what can be known, with nothing thrown out. It is the act of dismissal of an ‘anecdote’ which betrays the desire to enforce a religion. It the data is inconsistent with your favorite view, collect it anyway. How will it harm you? There is no need to make a MiHoDeAL claim to knowledge. Even lies can deliver a wealth of value, and eventually under diligence of accrued verity, prove themselves to be false.
The Ethical Skeptic divests him or herself from the belief business, and instead chooses to let the mystery be, until sufficient knowledge can be developed which falsifies any or all of the belief sets which he has at his disposal.
He is neither accepting, nor ruling out any particular ontology, rather being patient enough to accept new data as it arrives. His chief frustration is at the hands of those who claim they have truth because ‘god told them’ or ‘science told them.’ He does not stray unnecessarily to either the red or green extremities of this chart to the left, and moreover, removes himself from the process altogether. He eschews subjects which are prohibited falsification by existentialism or law, and refuses to enforce belief sets on others.
For me personally, you can see my ontological preferences in the boxes marked in white at the neutral center of this chart. As an ignostic, I do not know what a god is, and moreover seek falsification bases to my perceptions about the unknown. Yet as an Ethical Skeptic, neither have I ruled out the possibility of a spiritual realm, nor the necessity to develop a spiritually advancing and enlightened life. Were I forced to make a choice today, I would have to say that both Nihilism and Fundamentalism have been falsified, along with much of their spectrum of beliefs. The only reason they survive today, are the false skeptics who promote those religions in the name of their personal fear and Image of the Absolute.
¹ Nozick, Robert; Philosophical Explanations, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1981, ISBN 0-674-66448-5; pp. 167-171.
² Rosen, Stanley, Editor; The Philosopher’s Handbook: A User’s Guide to Western Philosophy, Random House, Inc., New York, NY, 2000; ISBN 978-0-375-72011-6; pp. 165-169.
Procedure is the script which allows the commonly intelligent man to pretend among the truly brilliant. Researchers are slowly finding that it is not solely the prospect of money which prompts persons to dishonest, rather it is how they are trained inside the rules of process.
In the end, it is not the diabolical but brilliant Lex Luthor’s and Dr. Evil’s of cultural mythology whom we must fear. Rather we must fear the cabals of cheating B students who inhabit the executive suites of the oligopolies and the institutions which dominate us. These are the ones who can justify evil by institutionalizing it as an aspect of the rules of process. No manner of comic book super hero, gadget or super power can overcome this force which threatens us.
Some people think that knowledge of this, constitutes musical acumen and talent:
It does not.
Some people think that knowledge of this, constitutes academic acumen and adeptness:
It does not.
Some people think that knowledge of this, is indicative of one’s business acumen and prowess:
It is not.
Some people think that knowledge of this, is indicative of scientific acumen and rationality:
It is not.
Do They Really Understand? Or is Their Proficiency Simply an Act?
One of the essentials to successfully leading a corporation of any significant size, is the vital ability to discern people; an ability learned through many years of fighting in the trenches in a successful multi-faceted and multidisciplinary career. That discernment resides around understanding the difference between those who brilliantly wield their subject, and those who must follow procedure, quotes, others’ opinions, buzzwords, articles, word, cheats, social inertia, catch phrases and propaganda in order to get by. The truly skilled, act as thought leaders inside their respective disciplines. They re-invent their subject, sometimes single handedly. They perform in their discipline as does a virtuoso playing his instrument.
Social Skeptics on the other hand, are the method dependent B-students, the script followers, of the scientific realm. They know what a grand staff is, but have never written a song, they know what a Laplace Transform is, but have never reduced an actual systemic taper curve, they know the scientific method, yet have never generated even one original groundbreaking idea in their entire lives.
All through our academic lives, we are instructed as to the importance of process and procedure. Indeed, process and procedure are of utmost importance. The standards by which we develop our technology, our taxation and finance systems, our medical understanding and scientific knowledge are rightfully procedurally driven. Early in the learning process, one needs to follow rote protocol to aid in workplace safety, or to act as the foundation inside of which to understand a profession or trade skill. Setting this agreed reality aside for a moment, as with many things when pushed as panacea, scripts and guides can also become onerous, counterproductive influences and can serve as a tool employed to undertake misdeed. In our modern education, we are not instructed so much as to how to execute specific procedures, as much as we are taught the importance of following protocols and instructions to begin with. There is no doubt that our entire lives are imbued with the overarching lesson that we must follow the rules in order to be deemed acceptable.
But why is it important to be able to distinguish those who can grasp the essence of understanding, from those who are simply good at following instructions?
The Symbiotic Nature of Procedure and Cheating: Procedure masques ignorance, provides a playground for greed
But what if this strength of standards, also resides as our most abject vulnerability? There are very few procedures I was taught in 8 years of undergraduate and grad school, which I actually can recall and recite, save for the fact that two things were paramount, or I would face a grade of C, or worse – Follow the Instruction – Master the Procedure. If these two things were not dutifully pursued, one would fail the exam, paper, test, course.
As a result, my eight years of undergrad and grad school were the LEAST educational years of my life. Save for lessons in how to date, how to drink and how to compete academically with students who cheated, and how to handle TA’s or professors who abused their newfound taste for power over others. The contacts I made with those who would become friends and associates were probably more beneficial than were any of the academic principles.
The most difficult classes, the ones which everyone dreaded, those where the instructor challenged students to observe, think, theorize, solve and create, were my best classes. These instructors could care less about what you memorized the night before. They sought to ascertain your ability to truly comprehend, learn, and apply. Fraternity word, old test copies, instructor hacks, cellphone images from the previous morning’s exam, none of this would assist those who cheated, if the instructor were truly brilliant. The rote classes, fraught with mathematical reduction methods, course notes/textbook trivia bingo, memorization, principle regurgitation, or classes which were “word” driven – old copies of instructor exams passed around in libraries at fraternities and in some study clubs and hack websites, – these were my worst classes. The latter constituting a completely useless waste of everyone’s time. Serious students studying extra hours in order to compete with the grade inflation brought on by those who sat in class like lumps on logs, and obtained the requisite ‘B’ by cheating. In other words, they followed the procedure.
Grades would consistently break out thusly:
A – The procedurally diligent
B – Smart procedurally minded students who applied methods of cheating
C – Smart procedurally minded students who did not have access to methods of cheating
A/B/C – The truly brilliant, who could care less about things which waste their focus
Drop – Smart students, who did not care
By some estimates, and according to the Education Portal, as much as 75% or more of college students reside in the Cheating B-student category above. This indeed was what I experienced, particularly in undergraduate school. Of interest to note for me, was the fact that in my experience, instructors were less displeased about the B-students who cheated, than they were about the truly brilliant A/B/C students, who just did not care to waste time on frivolous busy work. There existed a tacit turn of the back to the deeds of the cheating student, contrasted by a seething disdain for those who refused to play the game. It was not the ethics of the grade after all, which they were instructing; rather conformance to the adoption of process. One could cheat, but you had to participate in the way directed. The lack of student compliance thereof is what angered instructors even more than cheating. A conformance to protocol, not the love or ethic of knowledge, was the lesson.
In other words, procedure and protocol are fertile ground for those who cheat. They are a way of feigning knowledge of the subject, allowing those who wish to manipulate processes to hold a script which enables them to pretend to their position. A malady of ignorance which provides opportunism for those who seek a loophole or control.
An Honest Mind Trained for Dishonesty
But while students might cheat in their own industry, academia, studies show that they do not however cheat in another person’s industry, say banking. In other words, people are not inherently dishonest, they are trained to be that way by process. A recent study by Researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Zurich recruited 128 bank employees from a large international bank to anonymously cite the results of a coin toss. Obviously, given enough tosses the chaos of this binomial iterative should bring its observed mean to 50/50 balance between heads and tails. What the researchers did was split the group into two, a control and a measure group. The control group was asked genetic questions before the coin toss and the measure group asked detailed questions about their career in banking (both groups being the same bankers). They were both then instructed that the procedure would be to self-report the number of heads which came up in a series of coin tosses, and that they would received $20 for each head which they flipped. What the researchers found was that those who had been asked questions about their banking profession prior to the coin toss, even though these persons came from the same profession source pool, reported a 58.2% rate of heads, versus a report average of 51.6% from similar professionals who were not put into the mindset of ‘thinking in the mindset of their job.’
To further confirm their findings, the researchers compared the bank employees tested to a group of 222 university students, who completed this same coin-tossing test. The students in their case as well were asked either control questions or questions related to banking (e.g. naming tasks a bank employee might perform) at the start of the study.
“The primed students showed no higher level of dishonesty than the control students, suggesting that being in the banking industry, and not simply the thought of money, changes behavior.” †
In other words, it is not solely the prospect of money which prompts persons to cheat, rather the rules of process. Much like in banking. This reality of the procedurally minded cheating B-student, portends ill winds inside of society, commerce, media, government, business and finance. We have just suffered through The Greatest Theft of Wealth in History¹ during the 2007/8 collapse, wherein $1 trillion was stolen from US citizens and passed into Elite Oligarch hands and employed for bailouts.¹ This process was undertaken by persons who should have never been in the positions to which they ascended in the first place. A key example of the damage caused by venerating following the rules and playing the game, in lieu of the ethical application of true talent. These individuals were, contrary to the popular McLean and Elkind Enron scandal book moniker and premise, not “The Smartest Guys in the Room.” These thieves simply had the best grades.
Myth – People who flout the rules, and live a life of diabolical creativity, constitute the majority of economic fraud.
Reality – The majority of economic fraud is perpetrated by cabals who have been trained to know, observe and game the rules; enacted by those who only understand the compartmented process they are directed/taught to execute.
Compartmentalization and procedure are the modern version of the National Socialist Workers Party plea “I was only following orders.”
In similar fashion, Social Skeptics are the Cheating B-students, of science. They are the pawn rules gamers, speaking of it often; nonetheless the abusers of process. Not fully comprehending, but memorizing the right things to say, targeting ill gotten gains. Conducting a masquerade of self indulgence in celebrity, self aggrandizement and power, foisted in lieu of the love of the subject.
The Two Misuses of Procedure
1. As a means for scripting the cheat.
Our Tax Codes are procedurally driven. Procedures allow for cheating. The more detailed the procedure, the more iron clad is the cheat. It is estimated that $3.09 Billion has been lost through tax evasion which takes advantage of a cheater’s ability to follow the script, to avoid paying taxes.² I have been offered avenues of this nature numerous times in business, and I have refused to participate. I am not here to maximize a number. I am here to contribute what I can to the betterment of mankind and our common plight on this planet.
2. As a means of squelching undesired input or results.
The fact that there exists a list of a priori disposition on specific subjects, embargoed from being addressed or researched by science, is an indictment of the Social Skeptic agenda. I do not believe any of these subjects in particular, but my skeptic hackles are nonetheless raised, whenever someone pretends to be competent to dictate to me in advance of any research, what is considered to be ‘true,’ and ‘untrue.’³ This is epistemological fraud, and even if 99% correct, stems nonetheless from the procedural mind of those who exploit process; for the bedazzlement of others and cultivation of ignorance and personal power. It is process sleight-of-hand, taught and approved by the systems which encourage it.
¹ “The Greatest Heist in History,” Tilsen, Whitney; Business Insider, Jan 20, 2009; Business Insider, Inc., New York, NY.
² Tax Evasion: The Real Costs, April 11, 2011, Our Fiscal Security, US Government: (http://www.ourfiscalsecurity.org/taxes-matter/2011/4/15/tax-evasion-the-real-costs.html).
³ The Skeptic’s Dictionary (http://skepdic.com/).
† Bethany Hubbard, Bankers’ Bad Behavior Is Driven By Workplace Culture, Discover Magazine, Blogs, Nov 19, 2014.
The Social Skepticism movement manifests its goals through support of several specific special interest groups. These are interests of allegiance without exception, in which Social Skepticism seems to have an irrationally high focus, were it solely comprising an unstructured movement of individual ethic alone. Key among these partner special interests are the very familiar laundry list of control groups which manage our economically inflating agriculture, healthcare, health insurance, education, pharmaceuticals, universities and unions.
Merriam-Webster defines oligarchy as such:
- ol·i·gar·chy – noun \ˈä-lə-ˌgär-kē \ : a government, business, etc. in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also : a group exercising such control
Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page have applied analytical intelligence to quantified indicators within studies testing 1779 predictive United States policy enactments across 18 years. Enactments which indicate that US public policy is administered not by the influence of democratic concepts and republic will; rather by the powerful influence of an oligarchy of elitists and special interests. As you will see below, in the paper (Gilens, Page, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens; April 9 2014), special interest groups have a combined 5x greater influence on public policy than does the citizenry at large.¹ That influence is 5 times greater than ALL of us combined, not simply one individual’s will. Add to this the net effect of a small group of elites, who in reality act in concert with these same special interest groups and you see the model in play, which is not only employed by Social Skepticism to control scientific outcomes, but is also enacted by their oligopoly partners and they themselves, inside the determination of Public Policy.
As might be ascertained from the graph on the right, I contend that the “Business interest groups” can be regarded as moot, by a fortiori relationship, since every advocacy on the part of an elite or a special interest group, will ultimately express itself inside an inflating industry or business group. This intelligence signal is dependent and redundant. So the core constituencies of the principle related in the graph are in their essence, the elites and the special interests. I contend as well, that the two work in a symbiotic, non-conspiratorial, axis of control and pathological opportunism. Activities from which we all suffer inflation and economic decline.
The Resurrection of Socialist Oligarchy
As you can see in the graphic to the right,² it has not been since the heyday of the Bolsheviks and the rise of National Socialism that we have seen so much wealth aggregated into the hands of so few. Notice a key indicator in the graphic to the right, provided by The Economist on November 8, 2014 – that the aggregation of wealth into few hands, preceded our last greatest economic depression. WWII as much as anything in this graphic, served to break the chains clasped around Europe by elitists and socialists, who are the same thing – freeing us for 70 years of economic justice, which ends basically during our current period.
And what are those specific oligopoly special interests of which we speak? Aggregated from the 1779 policy enactments, and provided in the Gilens/Page Study (see list at bottom compared to Bloomberg Visual Data release to the right of that list, below as well, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-18/college-tuition-costs-soar-chart-of-the-day.html):
*** It is no coincidence that Mike Burnick at Banyan Partners, LLC (http://www.moneyandmarkets.com/inflation-on-the-rise-five-sectors-set-to-rise-44308) cites these five sectors as those with the most dominant rates of inflation in our economy. Compare this to the inflating industry vertical graphic below, posted beside the Gilens/Page Study listing of oligarch institutions. This is no coincidence. This conforms with something I have observed in my company’s work with nation after nation globally:³
Corruption Produces Inflation and Suffering
From the Gilens/Page Study itself (Martin Gilens, Princeton University, Benjamin I. Page, Northwestern University, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens; April 9 2014):
These results suggest that reality is best captured by mixed theories in which both individual economic elites and organized interest groups (including corporations, largely owned and controlled by wealthy elites) play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.
Similarly, organized interest groups (all taken together, for now) are found to have substantial independent influence on policy. Again, the predictions of pure theories of interest group pluralism are not wholly upheld, since organized interest groups must share influence with economically elite individuals. But interest group alignments are estimated to have a large, positive, highly significant impact upon public policy. (Gilens, Page, p. 16).
Special Interest Groups
American Council of Life Insurance Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers
American Farm Bureau Federation Recording Industry Association
American Hospital Association Securities and investment companies
American Medical Association Telephone companies
Association of Trial Lawyers Tobacco companies
Computer software and hardware Mass-based groups
Credit Union National Association AFL-CIO
Electric companies American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
Health Insurance Association Christian Coalition
Independent Insurance Agents of America International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Motion Picture Association of America United Auto Workers union
National Association of Broadcasters National Education Association (includes a mass base
Oil Companies of teachers but also university professors)
¹ Martin Gilens, Princeton University, Benjamin I. Page, Northwestern University, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens; April 9 2014.
² Emanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, The Economist Preview; NBER Working Paper No. 20625, Nov 9 2014.
³ Mike Burnick at Banyan Partners, LLC (http://www.moneyandmarkets.com/inflation-on-the-rise-five-sectors-set-to-rise-44308.
“You ever hear the expression ‘Simplest answer’s often the correct one’?”
“Actually, I’ve never found that to be true.”
– Gone Girl, 2014¹
Indeed, the actual role of Ockham’s Razor, the real scientific principle, is to begin the scientific method, not complete it in one felled swoop. Rational thinking under Ockham’s Razor (ie. science) is the demonstrated ability to handle plurality with integrity.
FALSE ONE-LINER which is NOT OCKHAM’S RAZOR:
“All things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the correct one.”
The above statement is NOT Ockham’s Razor. It is a sleight of hand expression (called by SSkeptics, “Occam’s Razor”) used to force a disposition, dismiss observations and data as if they were ‘claims’ and further squelch disdained topics which would otherwise be entertained for research by Ethical Skepticism. The weakness of the statement resides in the philosophical principle that the simplest answer is typically the one which falls in line with the pre-cooked assumptions. Moreover, implicit within this statement is the claim that all data and observations must immediately be ‘explained’ so that a disposition (read that as dismissal) can be assembled a priori and anecdotally; as a means of preventing data aggregation or intelligence development steps of science. In these two ways, the statement is employed to obfuscate and abrogate the application of the scientific method. This trick is a common sales technique, having little to do with rationality. Don’t let your integrity slip to the point where you catch yourself using it to deceive others. The two formal and one informal fallacies introduced via this errant philosophy are:
Transactional Occam’s Razor Fallacy
The false contention that a challenging claim or observation must immediately be ‘explained.’ Sidestepping of the data aggregation and intelligence steps of the scientific method. The boast of claiming to know which question should be asked under the scientific method.
Existential Occam’s Razor Fallacy
The false contention that the simplest explanation tends to be the scientifically correct one. Suffers from the weakness that myriad and complex underpinning assumptions, all of which tender the appearance of ‘simplicity,’ have not been vetted by science.
When simplicity or parsimony are incorrectly applied as excuse to resist the development of a new scientific explanatory model, data or challenging observation set, when indeed the participant refuses to consider or examine the explanatory utility of any similar new model under consideration.
Indeed, the actual role of Ockham’s Razor, the real scientific principle, is to begin the scientific method, not complete it in one felled swoop of denial.
“Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate” or “Plurality should not be posited without necessity.”
The words are those of the medieval English philosopher and Franciscan monk William of Ockham (ca. 1287-1347).²
This apothegm simply means that, until we have enough evidence to compel us, science should not invest its resources into outside theories. Not because they are false or terminally irrelevant, rather existentially they are unnecessary in the current incremental discourse of science. This statement is more commonly recognized in research science in the principle of parsimony:
Parsimony – the resistance to expand explanatory plurality or descriptive complexity beyond what is absolutely necessary, combined with the wisdom to know when to do so.
However, it is the latter half of this definition which is routinely ignored. Ockham’s Razor most importantly also means that once there exists a sufficient threshold of evidence to warrant attention, then science should seek to address the veracity of a an outside claim, or multiple explanatory approaches, or more complex versions of standing theory. This condition is called plurality. Plurality is a condition of science which is established by observations and sponsorship, not by questions, peer review or claims. To block the aggregation and intelligence of this observational data, or attempt to filter it so that all data are essentially relegated as fiat anecdote, is pseudoscience. It is fraud, and is the chief practice of those in the Social Skepticism movement today. The claim of “Prove it” – or Proof Gaming Fallacy, embodies this fundamental misunderstanding of Ockham’s Razor on the part of those who have not pursued a rigorous philosophical core inside their education.
This threshold of plurality and in contrast, the ‘proof’ of an idea, are not the same standard of data, testing and evidence. Muddying the two contexts is a common practice of deception on the part of SSkeptics. Proof is established by science, plurality is established by sponsors. SSkeptics regard Ockham’s Razor as a threat to their religion, and instead quote the former substitute above, which while sounding similar and ‘sciencey’, does not mean the same thing at all. An imposter principle which rather seeks to blur the lines around and prevent competing ideas from attaining this threshold of plurality and attention under the scientific method. Their agenda is to prohibit ideas from attaining this threshold at ANY cost. This effort to prohibit an idea its day in the court of science, constitutes in itself, pseudoscience.
This method of pseudoscience is called the DRiP Method.
Misuse of “Occam’s” Razor to effect Knowledge Filtering
One of the principal techniques, if not the primary technique of the practitioners of thought control and Deskeption, is the unethical use of Knowledge Filtering. The core technique involves the mis-use of Ockham’s Razor as an application to DATA and not to competitive thought constructs. This is a practice of pseudoscience and is in its essence dishonesty.
Ockham’s Razor, or the discernment of plurality versus singularity in terms of competing yypotheses, is a useful tool in determining whether science should be distracted by bunk theories which would potentially waste everyone’s time and resources. Data on the other hand is NOT subject to this threshold.
By insisting that observations be explained immediately, and through rejecting a datum, based on the idea that it introduces plurality, one effectively ensures that no data will ever be found which produces a competing construct. You will in effect, perpetually prove only what you are looking for, or what you have assumed to be correct. No competing idea can ever be formulated because outlier data is continuously discarded immediately, one datum at a time. This process of singularly dismissing each datum in a series of observations, which would otherwise constitute data collection in an ethical context is called “Knowledge Filtering” and stands as a key step in the Cultivation of Ignorance, a practice on the part of Social Skepticism. It is a process of screening data before it can reach the body of non-expert scientists. It is a method of squelching science in its unacknowledged steps of process and before it can gain a footing inside the body of scientific discourse. It is employed in the example graphic to the right, in the center, just before the step of employing the ‘dismissible margin’ in Social Skepticism’s mismanagement of scientific consensus.
Plurality is a principle which is applied to constructs and hypotheses, not data.
I found a curious native petroglyph once while on an archaeological rafting excursion, which was completely out of place, but who’s ocre had been dated to antiquity. I took a photo of it to the state museum and was unable to find the petroglyph in the well documented library of Native American Glyphs. I found all the glyphs to the right and all the glyphs to the left of the curious one. However, the glyph in question had been excluded from the state documentation work performed by a local university professor. The museum director, when I inquired replied appropriately “Perhaps the Glyph just didn’t fit.” He had hit the nail on the head. By Occam’s Razor, the professor had been given tacit permission to filter the information out from the public database, effectively erasing its presence from history. He did not have to erase the glyph itself, rather simply erase the glyph from the public record, our minds and science – and excuse it all as an act of ‘rational thinking.’
The Purpose of Ockham’s Razor is to BEGIN the scientific method, not screen data out and finish it.
Data stands on its own. Additionally, when found in abundance or even sometimes when found in scarcity, and not eliminated one at a time by the false anecdotal application of “Occam’s” Razor, can eventually be formulated into a construct which then will vie for plurality under the real Ockham’s Razor. A useful principle of construct refinement, prior to testing, under the scientific method.
As you might see below, plurality resides at the heart of scientific research. But the unsung heroes of plurality are the sponsors of original, creative, persistent and perceptive research who drive the process of plurality (Scientific Method Steps 1 – 5, below). They, even more so than authors and studies undergoing the process of Peer Review, bear the brunt of disdain from faking scientists and SSkeptics who seek to prevent the process of plurality from occurring at all costs.
Map of Deskeption 7.8.1: Misuse of “Simplicity”
Think through this comparative and your ethics will begin to change. Simplicity can be a deceptive tactic, when used to obfuscate:
1) Simple explanations have complex underpinnings. Our “simple” explanations are only simple, because we choose to contort reality in extremely exhaustive complexities in order to force simplicity. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. But if he does drink, that is not a simple action by any means, it may appear to be simple but that is an illusion on the part of the casual observer. Simplicity, many times, is only an illusion.
2) Beware of the tyranny of the simple. Simplicity as a principle of discretion is best suited for the clear application of judgments and governances, and as such is usually based on sets of laws and procedure which change only slowly and under great necessity. Laws only change as men change, and men are slow to change. Because of this, laws of governance are always behind current understandings. Unassailable principles of governance have little place in discovery and science.
3) Simplicity conveys neither straightforwardness, nor elegance; which are central tenets of understanding. “The simplest vehicle I know of is a unicycle. I’ll be damned if after all these years of trying, I still have not managed to learn how to ride one.”
4) Simplicity implies that enough data exists to warrant a conclusion regarding an observation, then further implies that a disposition must be tendered immediately. Simplicity in this fashion is sold through construction of a false dilemma, a fatal logical fallacy.
5) Simplicity which does not give way to the utility of an incrementally more complex, yet better explanatory paradigm, is not simplicity, rather utility blindness or Kuhn Denialism. Science is a progression of incrementally better utility in the explanatory basis of successive models. As this process progresses, models tend to gain more accuracy or applicability at the cost of added complexity. A focus on simplicity rather than utility can bias a person against the incremental nature of scientific explanatory progression.
When rational thinking becomes nothing more than an exercise in simply dismissing observations to suit one’s inherited ontology, then the entire integral will and mind of the individual participating in such activity, has been broken.
¹ Gone Girl, screenplay by Gillian Flynn, motion picture by 20th Century Fox; September 26, 2014; David Fincher.
² The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, William of Ockham; http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ockham/
Social Skeptics are not selling debunking of ridiculous topics like orgone energy, pyramid aliens, leprechauns and expanding Earth. What they are selling is their method of approaching the disposition of these topics. By contending that their method afforded them the basis of understanding from which to debunk these topics, they further then hope to employ that same method, before your eyes, to challenge surreptitiously a priori targeted subjects.
No, their conclusions are not necessarily wrong. The method is wrong, by which they arrived at them – AND – Indeed, it is the method itself, which they are selling.
SSkeptics are contending
if R, then Q : and if Q, given P : therefore P ≡ R
They hope that you fall for the trick of assuming that their false method is equivalent to science method (P ≡ R), justified by public displays of gladiator / arena style debunking, media domination and celebrity. This is not simply a magician’s trick, rather a sham.
noun \ˈsham\ : something that is not what it appears to be and that is meant to trick or deceive people
I would place Fair Use Act compliant thumbnails up or cite examples of famous stage magician skeptics who practice this sleight-of-hand, but their organizations scour and regularly censor my blogs of thumbnails and text without my knowledge. They are allowed to defame organizations, professionals and all manner of people, without evidence, and with significant damage to reputation and business. But no one is allowed to hold them accountable, and they have full power to censor your personal speech if they find that they do not agree with it. This has happened probably 12 – 15 times. So it is typically a waste of time for me to post observed examples.
This sham they employ is designated for further application in discrediting other very valid and pluralistic arguments, including but not limited to:
- pharmaceutical and medical cost inflation and oligarchy
- health damage from furtive food modifications targeting profits
- freedom from certain information they do not like
- destruction of religions competing with Nihilism
- control of media channels
- intimidation of scientists and researchers
- promotion of educational agendas
- restriction of supplements and treatments which compete with big pharma sponsors
- elimination of certain subjects from public and scientific discourse
- promotion of specific politics, movements and parties
- promotion of hate agendas for specific gender and races
- a shift of power from public to private hands.
All enabled via the deception techniques employed, along with the rush enjoyed, by a performing magician. Only, this process is a sham, since the difference between a sham and the work of a magician is that the magician admits that his process is one of deception.
Power is intoxicating. But power derived through sleight-of-hand is exhilarating.