Breaking the Spell of Adissonance

‘Critical thinking’ and ‘rationality’, notorious weapon words of fake skepticism, merely serve to exploit the ignorance of one’s existing knowledge, coupled with the natural human proclivity to seek a resolution of dissonance as quickly and easily as possible. Ignorance serves goals of predatory power in ways which an ethically discerning population would never tolerate.

A corollary principle we broached in one of our latest articles, The Distinction Between Comprehension and Understanding (The Problem of Abduction), contended that the purpose of comprehension, is not to increase one’s understanding by means of the familiar and simple. As well, we observed that the purpose of comprehension is not to necessarily resolve the discomfort incumbent with the dissonance over paradox or not knowing. Our entire universe is crafted to challenge us by means of dissonance in the first place. Whether by mere happenstance, intent, or design is uncertain – and one must tolerate dissonance over that uncertainty as well. Nonetheless, the reality remains – we face the necessity of learning to surf the tempestuous froth, the disquieting anomie, and the abject discomfort, of dissonance.

Adissonance – the natural human desire or state of escape from the discomfort of dissonance.

Adissonance is a form of skeptical intoxication. Dissonance in contrast, is the learning person’s fuel. Never allow a debunker or fake skeptic to dilute your fuel with simplicity and comfort. In my life I have failed more times at business startups, than I have succeeded. Yes these instances were painful. These processes would not have been improved in the least by a clueless outsider contending, ‘it’ll likely fail’, even if they happened to turn out to be correct in the end. Such a process adds no value in terms of actual knowing. During my experiences, the lessons learned therein pertained not to balance sheets nor technical system constraints, but rather to the reality around business verticals, the financial world, and the nature of humanity. I also honed those new talents under difficult circumstances, developing skills which constituted more than simply the base of ability I started with out of college. Now influential and powerful people pay me well for my insight and startup implementation abilities. But I have also learned that my purpose in life is no longer to make the rich, even richer.

It’s not what you are capable of, it’s what you are willing to do.

~ Mike Tomlin, NFL head coach

The most brilliant of person is the one who has, through proactive and constructive method, found themself to be wrong, again and again until they encountered success. The most ignorant among us, knew the answers from day one – enjoying their role as the smartest person in the room, stumbling their way through life on scripted obviousness, privilege, and luck. Burying their credential in the ground, whipping it out as their main basis of credibility, or upon being challenged as to the value of their contribution. Often the threat is not ‘being (found) wrong’ per se, as being wrong is an element which serves to inform; rather, our challenge is the comfort of wallowing in and cultivating ignorance – passed off as rationality.

And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’

~ New Testament (ESV), Matthew 25: 20

Beware of those who peddle lists of commonly-taught fallacies as wares of the huckster, and as if this somehow demonstrates prowess on their part. “You can believe me, because I published this list of canned rationality I copied off the internet.” Such philosophers have never really done anything in their life. What you will find through a successful and engaging career, is that contrary to what fake skeptics might suggest, the purpose of their malicious misrepresentation is to cultivate ignorance – not address irrationality. A trading cartel does not seek to make everyone ‘bad at business’, rather only to render them ignorant of how to circumvent their lock on specific industry advantages. The tricks of developing a buyer letter of credit overseas, driving the right combination of x-factory terms yet still efficient as to freight consolidation, how to insure both product and at-risk money, and finally get it all serviced through one of the big accredited global banks despite the reality that they may ignore even a properly developed transaction submitted by a no-name entity – such skills are not outlined in textbooks for a reason.

The Tradecraft of the Huckster – Debunker and Fake Skeptic

Along the same line of principle, your suddenly becoming a ‘rational’ or ‘critical thinker’ will not serve to resolve one’s ignorance in the least. Sitting in a pub drinking pale ales with other critical thinkers, although fun and flush with exciting group-think, will not alleviate this condition as well. Mere failures in formal and informal logic can be detected and resolved, but as one will eventually discover, ignorance is a much more difficult challenge in dispelling. If your formal theory, serves also to decrease the level of information – then you are the problem, no matter how many formal fallacies you have memorized to impress others.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

~ Steven Jobs, commencement speech to Stanford University 2005 graduating class

What one learns after leaving academia is that it is not simply fallacy which you have to watch for inside scientific, or even daily communication. Rather, the astute successful researcher, executive, scientist, or businessperson need perceive the full array of crooked, manipulative, smoke and mirrors, and narrative-ninny agency which seeks to cultivate ignorance. A focus on just ‘fallacies’ indicates one has never really done anything, as such lists are circulated commonly throughout academia to stand in as substitute for actual competence.

Thus, when we in ethical skepticism speak of ‘Huckster Tradecraft’, we refer to a learned and broad set of cognitive tricks and misrepresentations which are habitually exploited to lead the quarry into the comfortable ignorance of adissonance. Such techniques are outlined here (click on The Tree thumbnail to open the header page):


The Tree of Knowledge Obfuscation

Over 3,000 Fallacies, Errors, and Methods of Crooked Thinking Grouped by Category of Misrepresentation
                                                

As one may observe in the two-axis chart to the upper right hand side of this article, the purpose of ethical skepticism is to displace a person from out of the comfort of ignorance and through the process of comprehension. Such an ethic eschews any process which seeks to capitalize upon the familiar and simple, as a means to static and abductive understanding. ‘Critical thinking’ and ‘rationality’, notorious weapon words of fake skepticism as it turns out, merely serve to exploit the ignorance of one’s existing knowledge, coupled with the natural human proclivity to seek a resolution of dissonance as quickly and easily as possible. We all naturally seek a state of adissonance. Fake skeptics realize this, and exploit such a human foible in order to peddle whatever religion it is they are selling.

The role of the narrative ninny and fake skeptic is to mislead you into substituting the state of comfort, simplicity, and familiarity – in lieu of the uncomfortable process of comprehension. One still wallows in ignorance, however no longer bears the dissonance to even detect that sad reality. The purpose of ethical skepticism is to challenge the mind to break such a habit or spell.

The Ethical Skeptic, “Breaking the Spell of Adissonance”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 19 Jan 2022; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=60678

Le Petit Bateau

“Your Highness, I beg your indulgence but I only have a few minutes in which to present an idea to you. An alternative to the undertaking upon which your ministers are about to embark. We believe this action to constitute a very large mistake, on behalf of your nation and its people.”

Graham lay low in the back of the vehicle, almost into the floorboards, staring at the worn fabric floor mat and contemplating his decision. Both the plaintive straining of the vehicle’s four cylinder engine as well as seven days of poor sleep, hampered his ability to think clearly. This was unfortunate, given the situation. No, he was absolutely sure of it, a large powerful craft was not in the cards. No noise, no fast boats, no attention gathering exceptions from the background of daily commerce. If we were to do this, extraction by local fisherman was in order. Someone whom we could trust, a local who operated a reliable working skiff. The notion had broached by means of a gentle dawn whisper, at breakfast on the hotel balcony overlooking a newly sunlit bay. Graham took the opportunity to capture a picture of its thousand unspoken words onto his otherwise useless phone.

He would rather stink like fish on an air-conditioned flight to Paris, than rot in an African jail for weeks, or even… Graham put the thought progression out of his mind. Scolding himself for agreeing to enter this shit-storm for ‘expenses incurred’ only, he vowed to never undertake such a project again. ‘We’ll sip on a couple Tuskers, have a few laughs – and Gray, we will owe you big time…’ he repeated to himself, mocking a secondary antagonist in absence. ‘Pro bono‘, Graham reminded himself, was the official term. Yes, this term worked, as it sounded appropriately competent and made him feel better about the whole sordid affair. After all, it is a Latin expression. It suggested professional serendipity, as opposed to the milieu of stupidity wound up in the concept of giving something away for free. A rose by any other name.

It was of no matter anyway, as the repeated heaving of the car’s engine along with its winding turns and reduced number of potholes, indicated that it had broached the palace grounds. Graham slid his brief into position beside the back passenger door, readying for a quick exit of the vehicle. Distant memories of disembarking Seahawk helicopters in the Middle East wafted through his mind. The car’s tires issued a distinct growl as they rolled onto a more dense crushed rock gravel surface. This must be it, he thought, raising his head slightly to catch a glimpse.

“Shh, shh.” Chris, the Nigerian driver and critical part of the team, issued caution with a hand held steady in Graham’s direction. “We should wait until we are called Mr. G.” A tall and well-built staff-member in kitchen garb emerged from a set of beige double doors, crossed the loading service lot behind the palace, and approached the vehicle. Guards adorned in Royal Defense Force uniforms patrolled the extremities of the loading area. The man glanced casually towards the roadway and around to the building ramparts. Once satisfied, he quickly opened the rear passenger door and bade Graham to exit. The staff-member swung his long white-sleeved arm outward, directing Graham towards the set of double doors. Graham scrambled from the vehicle and towards the palace rear entrance, brushing the dust from his knees and sleeves. He supposed that his dark green button-down shirt, jeans, terrain boots, and six-day beard would not make for the most executive of impressions upon the Princess. Graham breathed deeply through his nose to allay the anxiousness. It had come to the point in experience where he could time his body’s adrenaline rush. One minute and forty seconds. Don’t do anything for one minute and forty seconds. Then, begin your work. Fretting was one of the strategist’s seven labors, a constant envisioning of how any particular scenario might play out, and how to respond accordingly. An ever-present specter of what could be, haunted mind and soul as so many moths to a flame.

As the entourage moved quickly through the service areas and kitchen, curious staff members scurried about stainless steel work tables, at once glancing and then deliberately looking away; aware that another Western dressed man surely involved something to which they had no desire to be privy. Only trouble lay in store for those choosing to know or see things. This man in kitchen garb was clearly in charge, and for that matter was more than simply a cook or chef. His mere raise of a hand sent military guards scrambling to open a panel in the wall. Graham, the chef, and one guard stepped into a hold area while the wall panel was shut quickly and quietly behind them, blocked deceptively once again by an attending mop and bucket. Graham took notice that this ‘entrance’ lobby appeared to actually constitute an emergency exit for important palace residents. Graham could feel the adrenaline rush ease, and although the space was small, he appreciated the fresh conditioned air flow. A stark contrast to the last seven days of heat, grassland, humidity, Subarus, calls to prayer, and mosquitoes. He found the red walls curious. Red walls would appear white under red lamp lighting and be highly visible at night, yet at the same time not interrupt the night vision which was critical as soon as one stepped outside. Blank security monitors adorned the ceiling line of the holding area. Graham could hear the rush of air through his nostrils as they stood in silence. Suddenly, the panel on the other end of the space began to move.

“We go.” uttered the chef with urgency. Graham was escorted down a very tight, shoulder-width hallway which exited through yet another wall partition into a modern living-room with long plush sofas, a large glass coffee table, and large screen monitor. “Please Mr. Graham, sit.” beckoned the chef. “I am Bachir, here to aid you with whatever you need for your presentation to Her Highness.” Bachir was no kitchen staff to be sure. Graham straightened his materials and glanced at his watch. Not much time before his deadline to be back at the hotel and then further, the boat launch. The presentation he had developed over the last week and completed during the last 22 hours, was framed neatly inside a place cloth at the Royal end of the coffee table. Or what he assumed must be the seat of honor in the unexpected living room like setting. Ironically, the presentation document itself was a necessary but mere formality. No names, no sponsorship, no business logos, just the basics – precis, argument, summary recommendation. All anonymous. Graham was the actual presentation.

A large and ornate glass-paned door swung open at the long end of the room. One by one, smiling members of the First Lady’s cabinet filed into the room, as if so many beauty pageant contestants. Members of the entourage stood, and Graham followed suit, reminding himself again to breath deeply. Her Highness entered the room gracefully, smiling at Bachir, who grasped the back of the large end chair as if to move it on her behalf despite its massive structure. She sat and then bade with one hand that everyone in the room should be seated. Bachir leaned forward to the right ear of the Princess and uttered a low growling whisper, indecipherable to Graham.

The Princess nodded and looked directly at Graham. Her light-toned skin and green eyes took him aback slightly. It struck Graham, the Princess was Ebo, ancient Nigerian royalty, R1b haplogroup stemming from Egyptian pharaohs. In her eyes he read recognition, wisdom from an education to which even most Westerners are no longer privy. She was of Royal blood, deep heritage, and although never acknowledged, politically-leverageable beauty. She had been trained for this office since the age of four. Graham sensed the importance of her marriage to the President. This was part of the practice tradition of an ancient empire with ties across many nations, an empire older than either the US or China. Something Graham had to heed in his dealings with its leadership. Something as well, the Chinese had failed to understand. Arriving in flag-adorned stretch limousines, with dozens of black-suited thugs in sunglasses. A bad Hollywood act, one which had ignored tribal elders, chiefs, the First Lady, and finally her President. No courage, only greed, intimidation, and implicit threat of violence. Such aggressive pretense was not something by which ancient and silent Royalty was comforted in the least.

Her English was perfect. “Mr. Graham, you have come to visit during a trying time, and I must say, at a degree of risk to your own life. I also understand that you have met with our three tribes’ elders and chiefs over the last week. I am told that went well. Now since you have undertaken such an effort, how may I be of assistance?” Her eyes gleamed with deep interest and curiosity. She was flattered. Graham found her stare unnerving.

“Your Highness, you are correct. I beg your indulgence in that I only have a little time before I must leave. It’s anticipated that a Chinese backed paramilitary force will make an assault on our hotel this evening and attempt to take my team captive. We need to leave well before that time, and we have made arrangements to do so. Nonetheless, you must understand that your cabinet of ministers has adopted a plan, one submitted by a world power, a plan which will demand a very steep price of your nation and your people. This is a practice of the past. My nation, is proposing a different approach. Your Highness, I am here to present that approach, to you.”

Graham pulled the straplock tight on his technical pack and set it quickly by his briefcase at the hotel room door. The phone rang, and he spun around looking for anything forgotten as he answered it. His “Hello” was curt and serious.

“Sir, this is Monsieur Lebatt, the hotel proprietor. I have a gentleman here who wishes to speak with you. He is from the Armée.”

“Alright, I’ll be right down.” ‘The Army?’ Graham thought to himself. He quickly called a colleague, to inquire as to whether he had any knowledge of the visitor. “Evan, what’s up with this Army person at the front desk?” Evan, along with others, had refused to leave Graham alone at the hotel, when the threat of the paramilitary force had been communicated to the team.

“Well I guess you haven’t heard. Government forces raided our adversary’s camp tonight and took them out. They set up a buffer zone around the entire hotel district with 2,000 armed military guards. We are now ‘official guests of His Excellency’. Look, I’ll meet you down at the front desk. See you in a sec.”

The hotel’s front portico was abuzz with vehicles and guests in a state of hasty departure. Evan quickly spotted and walked up to Graham and the Army representative who were engaged in discussion. He arrived just in time to hear the core engagement. “Monsieur Graham, I am Capitaine Igwe. His Excellency the President, has instructed my team to remain at your service this evening. He also offers you his deepest regrets that he was not able to receive you earlier today, and bids you earnestly to stay the evening and conduct your presentation with him tomorrow morning.”

It was 1938 once again, save for Humphrey Bogart no longer being around to advise.

Where Were the ‘Skeptics’?

It is oft said that fortune favors the brave. But what society witnessed during the last two years of raging human rights abuse, was a feckless ‘skeptic’ community, formerly raging with swagger of doubt – now silent and groveling, prostrate before their bare-naked Emperors.

Our contemporary form of skepticism since the time of Descartes has been defined as

Philosophical views which advance some degree of doubt regarding claims that are elsewhere taken for granted.

But what happens when those who have assumed the task of ‘methodical doubt’ on everyone’s behalf, fail to undertake even basic forms of the very skepticism with which they formerly intimidated all around them? Such a charade now reveals itself to all concerned, as constituting nothing more than a huckster’s act. ‘Why assume the risk of doubting? Let’s let the people we disdain take the flak.’ Having cowered in their basements for two years, my regard for pop skeptics hit rock bottom during the Covid-19 pandemic – and I did not think it could possibly sink any further. Cowards.

Cowardice, has displaced doubt in skepticism.

Fortune Favors the Huckster. Why take a chance leap, when you have a much greater chance of finding a patsy who will leap on your behalf?

Fear doesn’t change people. In fact, it exposes them.

~ Ann Bauer, Author @annbauerwriter

The Ethical Skeptic, “Where Were the Skeptics?”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 8 Jan 2022; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=60162