The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

Inflection Point Theory and the Dynamic of The Cheat

A mafia or cartel need not cheat at every level or in every facet of its play. The majority of the time such collapsed-market mechanisms operate out of necessity under the integrity of discipline. After all, without standardized praxis, we all fail.
However, in order to effect a desired outcome an intervening agency may only need exploit specific indigo point moments in certain influential yet surreptitious ways. Inflection point theory is the discipline which allows the astute value chain strategist to sense the weather of opportunity and calamity – and moreover, spot the subtle methodology of The Cheat.

Inflection Point Theory

In one of my strategy firms over the decades of conducting hundreds of trade, infrastructure and market strategies, I had the good fortune to work as colleague with one of our Executive Vice Presidents, a Harvard/MIT graduate whose specialty focused in and around inflection point theory. He adeptly grasped and instructed me as to how this species of analytical approach could be applied to develop brand, markets, infrastructure, inventories and even corporate focus or culture. Inflection point theory in a nutshell, is the sub-discipline of value chain analytics or strategy (my expertise) in which particular focus is given those nodes, transactions or constraints which cause the entire value chain to swing wildly (whipsaw) in its outcome (ergodicity). The point of inflection at which such signal is typically detected is called an indigo point.

As an example, one can observe the disastrous net impact of the Centers for Disease Control’s ignoring a very obvious indigo point regarding the dynamic between aggressive vaccine schedule escalations and changes in diagnostic protocol doctrine, in this chart data from an earlier blog post. An indigo point is that point at which one should at the very least plan to take take pause and watch for any new trends in their industry/market/discipline – to make ready for a change in the wind. Even as a tactic of precaution. When one is responsible for at-risk stakeholders, stockholders, clients or employee families, to ignore such inflection points, borders on criminally stupid activity. Later in this article, we will outline three cases where such inflection point ignorance is not simply a case of epistemological stupidity, but rather planned maliciousness. In the end, when large groups of stakeholders are at risk, ignorance and maliciousness become indistinguishable traits.

Columbia Business School Strategic advisor Rita McGrath defines an inflection point as “that single point in time when everything changes irrevocably. Disruption is an outcome of an inflection point.”1 While this is not entirely incorrect, in my experience, once an inflection point has been reached, the disruption has actually already taken place (see the oil rig example offered below), and an E-ruptive period of change has just precipitated. It is one thing to be adept with the buzzwords surrounding inflection point theory, and another thing altogether to have held hands with those CEO’s and executive teams while they have ridden out its dynamic, time and time again.

The savvy quietly analyzes the hurricane before its landfall. The expert makes much noise about it thereafter.

Such is not a retrospective science in the least. Nonetheless, adept understanding of business inflection point theory does in a manner allow one to ‘see around corners’, as McGrath aptly puts it.

Those who ignore inflection points, are destined to fail their clients, if not themselves; left wondering why such calamity could have happened in such short order – or even denying that it has occurred. Those who adeptly observe an indigo point signal may succeed, not through offering a better product or service, rather merely through the act of making their organization robust to concavity (Black Swans) and exposed to convexity (White Swans). Conversely under a risk strategy, a risk strategy inflection point savvy company may revise their rollout of a technology to be stakeholder-impact resistant under conditions of Risk Horizon Types I and II and rapid (speed to margin, not just speed for speed’s sake) under a confirmed absence of both risk types.2 Much of my career has been wound up in helping clients and nations address such daunting decision factors. In the end, inflection point theory allows the professional to construct effective definitions, useful in spotting cartels, cabals and mafias. Skills which have turned out to be of help in my years conducting national infrastructure strategy as well.

Inflection Point

/philosophy : science : maths/philosophy : neural or dynamic change/ : inflection points are the points along a continuous mathematical function wherein the curvature changes its sign or there is a change in the underlying differential equation or its neural constants/constraints. In a market, it is the point at which a signal is given for a potential or even likely momentum shift away from that market’s most recent trend, range or dynamic.

An inflection point is the point at which one anticipates being able to thereafter analytically observe a change which has already occurred.

Inflection Point Theory (Indigo Point Dynamics)

/philosophy : science : philosophy : value chain theory : inflection point theory/ : the value chain theory which focuses upon the ergodicity entailed from neural or dynamic constraints change, which is a critical but not sufficient condition or event; however, nonetheless serves to impart a desired shift in the underlying dynamic inside an asymmetric, price taking or competitive system. The point of inflection is often called an indigo point (I). Inside a system which they do not control (price taking), successful players will want to be exposed to convexity and robust to concavity at an inflection point. Conversely under a risk horizon, the inflection point savvy company may revise their rollout of a technology to be stakeholder-impact resistant under conditions of Risk Horizon Types I and II and rapid under a confirmed absence of both risk types.

An Example: In March of 2016, monthly high capacity crude oil extraction rig counts by oil formation, had all begun to trend in synchronous patterns (see chart below extracted from University of New Mexico research data).3 This sympathetic and stark trend suggested a neural change in the dynamic driving oil rig counts inside New Mexico oil basin operations. An external factor was imbuing a higher sensitivity contribution to rig count dynamics, than were normal market forces/chaos. This suggested that not only was a change in the math in the offing, but a substantial change in rig dynamics was underway, the numerics of which had not yet surfaced.

Indeed, subsequently Enverus DrillingInfo confirmed that New Mexico’s high capacity crude extraction rig counts increased, against the national downward trend, by a rate of 50+% per year for the ensuing years 2017 and into 2018 – thereby confirming this Indigo Point (inflection point).4

I was involved in some of this analysis for particular clients in that industry. This post-inflection increase was driven by the related-but-unseen shortfall in shallow and shale rigs, lowering production capacity out of Texas during that same time frame and increasing opportunity to produce to price for New Mexico wells – a trend which formerly had served to precipitate the fall in monthly New Mexico Rig Count to an indigo point to begin with. Yet this pre-inflection trend also had to end because the supply of rigs in Texas could not be sustained under such heavy demand for shale production.

Astute New Mexico equipment planners who used Inflection Point theory, might have been able to head this off and ensure their inventories were stocked in order to take advantage of the ‘no-discounts’ margin to be had during the incumbent rush for rigs in New Mexico. This key pattern in the New Mexico well data in particular, was what is called in the industry, an inflection point. My clients were able to increase stocks of tertiary wells, and while not flooding the market, were able to offer ‘limited discount’ sales for the period of short supply. They made good money. They were not raising prices of plywood before a hurricane mind you, rather being a bit more stingy on their negotiated discounts because they had prepared accordingly.

To place it in sailing vernacular: the wind has backed rather than veered, the humidity has changed, the barometric pressure has dropped – get ready to reef your sails and set a run course. A smart business person both becomes robust to inflection point concavity (prepares), and as well is exposed to their convexity (exploits).

The net impact to margin (not revenue) achievable through this approach to market analytics is on the order of 8 to 1 in swing. It is how the successful, make their success. It is how real business is conducted. However, there exists a difference between survival and thriving due to adept perspective-use concerning indigo points, and that activity which seeks to exploit their dynamic for market failure and consolidation (cartel-like behavior).

There exists a form of inflection point analytics and strategy which is not as en milieu knight-in-shining-armor – one more akin to gaming an industry vertical or market in order to establish enormous barriers to entry, exploit consolidation failure or defraud its participants or stakeholders. This genus of furtive activity is enacted to establish a condition wherein one controls a system, or is a price maker and no longer a price taker – no more ‘a surfer riding the wave’, rather now the creator of the wave itself. Inflection points constitute an excellent avenue through which one may establish a cheat mechanism, without tendering the appearance of doing so.

Inflection Point Exploitation (The Cheat)

/philosophy : science : philosophy : agency/ – a flaw, exploit or vulnerability inside a business vertical or white/grey market which allows that market to be converted into a mechanism exhibiting cartel, cabal or mafia-like behavior. Rather than the market becoming robust to concavity and exposed to convexity – instead, this type of consolidation-of-control market becomes exposed to excessive earnings extraction and sequestration of capital/information on the part of its cronies. Often there is one raison d’être (reason for existence) or mechanism of control which allows its operating cronies to enact the entailed cheat enabling its existence. This single mechanism will serve to convert a price taking market into a price making market and allow the cronies therein to establish behavior which serves to accrete wealth/information/influence into a few hands, and exclude erstwhile market competition from being able to function. Three flavors of entity result from such inflection point exploitation:

Cartel – an entity run by cronies which enforces closed door price-making inside an entire economic white market. Functions through exploitation of buyers (monoopoly) and/or sellers (monopsony) through manipulation of inflection points. Points where sensitivity is greatest, and as early into the value chain as possible, and finally inside a focal region where attentions are lacking. Its actions are codified as virtuous.

Cabal – an entity run by a club which enforces closed door price-making inside an information or influence market. Functions through exploitation of consumers and/or researchers through manipulation of the philosophy which underlies knowledge development (skepticism) or the praxis of the overall market itself. Points where they can manipulate the outcomes of information and influence, through tampering with a critical inflection point early in its development methodology. Its actions are secretive, or if visible, are externally promoted through media as virtue or for sake of intimidation.

Mafia – an entity run by cronies which enforces closed door price-making inside a business activity, region or sub-vertical. Functions through exploitation of its customers and under the table cheating in order to eliminate all competition, manipulate the success of its members and the flow of grey market money to its advantage. Points where sensitivity is greatest, and where accountability is low or subjective. Its actions are held confidential under threat of severe penalty against its organization participants. It promotes itself through intimidation, exclusive alliance and legislative power.

Three key examples of such cartel, cabal and mafia-like entities follow.

The Cartel Cheat – Exemplified by Exploitation of a Critical Value Chain Inflection Point

Our first example of The Cheat involves the long-sustained decline of US agricultural producer markets. A condition which has persisted since the 1980’s, ironically despite the ‘help’ farmers get from the agricultural technology industry itself.

Cheat where sensitivity is greatest and as early into the value chain as possible, at a point where attentions are lacking. Codify the virtue of your action.

Indigo point raison d’être: Efficiency of Mixed Bin Supply Chain

The agriculture markets in the US are driven by one raison d’être. They principally ship logistically (85%) via a method of supply chain called ‘mixed bin’ shipping. This is a practice wherein every producer of a specific product and class within a region dumps their agri-product into a common stock for delivery (which is detached from the sell, by means of a future). Under this method, purportedly in the name of ‘efficiency’, the farmer is not actually able to sell the value of her crop, rather must sell at a single speculative price (reasonable worst case discounted aggregate) to a few powerful buyers (monopsony).

Furthermore, the farmer faces a condition wherein, the only way to improve her earnings is through a process of ‘minimizing all (cost) inputs’. In other words, using excessive growth-accelerant pesticides and the cheapest means to produce as much caloric biomass as possible – even at the cost of critical phloem fulvic human nutrition content and toxin exposure. After all, if you exceed tolerance – your product is going to be mixed with everyone else’s product, so things should be fine. Dilution is the solution to pollution. In fact, such nutrient content and growth accelerant actual ppm’s are never actually monitored at all in the cartel-like agriculture industry. This is criminal activity, because the buyer and consumer are not getting the product which they think they are buying – and they are being poisoned and nutritionally starved in the process of being defrauded.

The net result? Autoimmune diseases of malnutrition skyrocket, market prices go into decades-sustained fall, microbiome impacts from bactericidal pesticide effects plague the global consumer base, nations begin to reject US agri-products, farms trend higher in Chapter 12 bankruptcies, and finally global food security decreases overall – ironically from the very methods which purport an increase in per acre yields.

The industry consolidates and begins to effect even more cartel-like activity. A death spiral of stupidity. 

This is the net effect of cartel-like activity. Activity which is always harmful in the end to either human health, society or economy. These cartels exploit one minor but key inflection point inside the supply chain, the virtuous efficiency of shipping and freight, in order to extract a maximum of earnings from that entire economic sub-vertical, at the harm of everything else. This is the tail wagging the dog and constitutes a prime example of inflection point exploitation (The Cheat).

Such unethical activity has resulted in enormous harm to human health, along with a sustained decades-long depression in the agriculture producer industry (as exemplified in the above ‘Chapter 12 Farm Bankruptcies by Region’ graphic by Forbes)5 – but not a commensurate depression in the agriculture futures nor speculator industry.6 Very curious indeed, that the cartel members at Point Tau (see below) are not hurt by their own deleterious activity at Point Indigo. This is part of the game. This is backasswards wrong. It is corruption in every sense of the word.

In order to effect The Cheat, one does not have to be a pervasive cheater.
One only need tweak specific inputs or methods at a paucity of specific points in a system or chain of accountability.

Thereafter an embargo on speaking about the indigo point must be enforced as well,
or an apothegm/buzzword phrase must be introduced which serves to obfuscate its true nature and impact potential.

The Cabal Cheat – Exemplified by Exploitation of Point Indigo for the Scientific Method – Ockham’s Razor

Our second example of The Cheat, cites how science communicators and fake skeptics manipulate the outcomes of science, through tampering with a critical inflection point early in its methodology.

All things being equal, that which fits what I superficially understand, tends to be the scientifically authoritative explanation.

Indigo point raison d’être: ‘Occam’s Razor’ Employed in Lieu of Ockham’s Razor

Point indigo for the scientific method is Ockham’s Razor. This is the point, early in the scientific method, at which a competing theory is allowed access into the halls of science for consideration. Remember from our definition above, that cheating is best done early, so as to minimize its necessary scale. Ockham’s Razor is that early point at which both a sponsor, and his or her ideas are considered worthy members of ‘plurality’ – those things to be seriously considered by the ranks of science.7 The method by which fake skeptics (cartel members, or cabal members when not an economy) manipulate what is and what is not admissible into the ranks of scientific endeavor, is by means of a flag they title ‘pseudoscience’. By declaring any idea they dislike to be a pseudoscience, or failing ‘Occam’s Razor’ (it is not simple) – skeptics game the inflection point of the entire means of enacting science, the scientific method. They are able to declare a priori, those answers which will or will not arrive at Point Tau, for tipping into consensus at a later time.

Most of the stakeholder public does not grasp this gaming of inflection theory. Most skeptics do not either, they just go along with it – failing to even perceive that skeptics are to be allies at the Ockham’s Razor sponsorship point, not foes. They are there to help the competitiveness of alternatives, not to corruptly certify the field of monist conclusion. This is after all, what it means to be a skeptic – to seriously consider alternative points of view. To come alongside and help them mature into true hypothesis. They want to see the answer for themselves.

If I do not like a particular avenue of study, all one need do is throw the penalty flag regarding that item’s ‘not being simple’ (Occam’s Razor). Thereafter, by citing its researchers to be pseudo-scientists, because they are using the ‘implements and methods of science to study a pseudoscience’, one has gamed the system of science by means of its inflection exploit mechanism.

They have effectively enacted cartel-like activity around the exercise of science on the public’s behalf. This is corruption. This is why science must ever operate inside the public trust – so that it does not become the lap-dog of such agency.

Seldom seek to influence point Tau as that is difficult and typically conducted inside an arena high visibility – your work should always focus first on point Indigo – where stakeholders and monitors are rarely yet paying attention. One can control much, through the adept manipulation of inflection points.

Extreme measures taken to control Point Tau are unnecessary if one possesses the ability to manipulate Point Indigo.

The final step of the scientific method, consensus acceptance, constitutes more of a Malcolm Gladwell tipping point as opposed to an unconstrained inflection point. A tipping point is that point at which the past trend signal is now confirmed as valid or comprehensive in its momentum. An inflection point is that point at which a change in dynamic has transpired, and what has happened in the past is all but guaranteed not to happen next. Technically, a tipping point is nothing but a constrained inflection point. But for the purposes of this presentation and explanatory usefulness, the two need to be made distinct. The graphic to the right portrays these principles, in hope that one can relate the difference in ergodicity dynamic between inflection and tipping points, to their specific applications inside the scientific method. We must, as a scientific trust be extraordinarily wary of tipping points (T), as undeserved enthusiasm for a particular understanding may ironically serve to codify such notions into Omega Hypothesis – that hypothesis which has become more important to protect, than the integrity of science itself. In similar fashion, we must also protect indigo points (I) from the undue influence of agency seeking a desired outcome.

Having science communicators deem what is good and bad science, is like having a mafia set the exchange rate you get at your local bank. Everyone fails, but nobody knows why.

The art of the Indigo-Tau cheat works like this:  Game your inflection dynamics sparingly and only until such time as a tipping point has been achieved – and then game no further. Lock up your inflection mechanism and never let it be accessed nor spoken of again. Thereafter, momentum will win the day. Do all your dirty-work, or fail to do essential good-work (Indigo), when the game is in doubt, and then resume fair play and balance, after the game outcome is already fait accompli (Tau). Such activity resides at the very heart of fake skepticism and its highly ironic pretense in ‘communicating science’.

Indigo Point Man (Person) – one who conceals their cleverness or contempt.

Tau Point Man (Person) – one who makes their cleverness or contempt manifest.

Based upon the tenet of ethical skepticism which cites that a shrewdly apportioned omission at Point Indigo, an inflection point early in a system, event or process, is a much more effective and hard to detect cheat/skill, than that of more manifest commission at Point Tau, the tipping point near the end of a system, event or process. Based upon the notion ‘Watch for the gentlemanly Dr. Jekyl at Point Tau, who is also the cunning Mr. Hyde at Point Indigo’. It outlines a principle wherein those who cheat (or apply their skill in a more neutral sense) most effectively, such as in the creation of a cartel, cabal or mafia – tend do do so early in the game and while attentions are placed elsewhere. In contrast, a Tau Point man tends to make their cheat/skill more manifest, near the end of the game or at its Tau Point (tipping point).

Shrewdly apportioned omission at Point Indigo is a much more effective and hard to detect cheat,
than that of more manifest commission at Point Tau. This is the lesson of the ethical skeptic.

Watch for the gentlemanly Dr. Jekyl at Point Tau, who is also the cunning Mr. Hyde at Point Indigo.

Which serves to introduce and segue into our last and most clever form of The Cheat.

The Mafia Cheat – Exemplified by NFL’s Exploitation of Interpretive Penalty No-Call Inflection Points

Our final example of The Cheat cites a circumstance demonstrating how The Cheat itself can be hidden inside the fabric of propriety, leveraging from the subjective nature of shades-of-color interpretations and hard-to-distinguish absences which are very cleverly apportioned to effect a desired outcome.

Cheating is the spice which makes the chef d’oeuvre. Cheat by omission not commission, only marginally enough to enact the goal and then no further, and while bearing a stately manner in all other things.

Indigo point raison d’être: Interpretive Penalty No-Calls at Critical Indigo Points and Rates which Benefit Perennially Favored Teams

I watched a National Football League (NFL) game last week where the entire outcome of the game was determined by three specific and flawed penalty calls on the part of the game referees. The calls in review, were all invalid flag tosses of an interpretive nature, which reversed twice, one team’s (Detroit Lions) stopping a come-from-behind drive by the ‘winning’ team (Green Bay Packers). Twice their opponent was given a touchdown by means of invalid violations for ‘hands-to-the-face’, on the part of a defensive lineman. Penalty flag tosses which cannot be changed by countermanding and clear evidence, as was the case in this game. The flags alone artificially turned the tide of the entire game. The ‘winning’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a man of great talent and integrity, when interviewed afterwards humbly said “It didn’t really feel like we had won the game, until I looked up at the scoreboard at the end of the game.” Aaron Rodgers is a Tau Point Man. Such elicits the indigo point nature and influence of penalties inside of America’s pastime of professional football. However, most of the NFL’s manner of exploitation does not present itself in such obvious Tau Point fashion, as occurred in this Lions-Packers game.

An interpretive penalty is the most high sensitivity inflection point mechanism impacting the game of professional football. For some reason they are not as impactful in its analogue, the NCAA of college football. Not that referees are not frustrating in that league either, but they do not have the world-crushing and stultifying impact as do the officials inside of the NFL. NFL officials sole-handedly and often determine the outcome of games, division competitions and Super Bowl championships. The NFL Oakland Raiders have consistently been the ‘most penalized’ team by far, over the last 50 years of NFL operations. Year after year they are flagged more than any other team. For a while, this was an amusing shtick concerning the bad-guy aura the Raiders carried 40 or 50 years ago. But when one examines the statistics, and the types of penalties involved – consistent through five decades, multiple dozens of various level coaches who were not as highly penalized elsewhere in their careers, two owners and 10 varieties of front offices – the idea that this team gets penalized, ‘because they are supposed to’ begins to fall flat under the evidence.

In the case of the Raiders, as in most all the cases I have analyzed concerning NFL penalty imbalances over the years, the overcall/undercall of penalties is not a matter of coaching discipline, as one might fairly presume at first blush – rather the vast majority of the penalty incident imbalances involve calls of merely subtle interpretation. Things which can be called on every single play, but for various reasons, are not called for certain teams, and are more heavily called on other teams.

Calls for objective violations, such as delay of game, too many players and false starts – things which are not subject to interpretation – analyze these penalties and suddenly every NFL team groups together near the average, including extreme signals in New England and Oakland. These penalties cannot be employed in The Cheat. They cannot be used as inflection points of control, so their statistics trend toward a reasonable profile.

Accordingly, this falsifies the notion that one team is less or more penalized than others because of differences in coaching disciplines. If this were the case, there would be no differential between the objective versus interpretive penalty-type stats.

When you examine the history of such data, this pattern remains consistent, decade after decade. It is systemic. It is agency. One can find and download into a datamart or spreadsheet for intelligence derivation, the history of NFL penalties by game, type, team, etc. here: NFL Penalty Tracker. Go and look for yourself, and you will see that what I am saying is true.

Let’s address another example from the data set; the case of a perennial NFL Officials’ call-favored team, the New England Patriots. As one can see in the above chart, the New England Patriots team that traveled to the 2017 Season Super Bowl, was flagged (from game 10 of the season through to the Super Bowl) at a rate which exceeded 2 standard deviations below, even the next least-flagged team inside the group of 31 other NFL teams. Two standard deviations below even the second best team in terms of penalties called against them. That is an enormous bias in signal. If one removes the flagrant, non-inflection-point-useful and very obvious penalties from the Patriots’ complete penalty log (non-highlited penalty types in the chart to the right), this further then means the Patriots were called for 29 interpretive penalties in these final 12 games – the average of which was not called until late in the 3rd quarter, after the game’s outcome was already determined in many cases.8

For those penalties (in yellow in the chart above) which can be called on any play, comparatively an average penalized NFL team for those same games earned 6.6 interpretive penalties per game, in those same weeks in which New England was flagged 2.4 times on average. This equates to 36% as many interpretive penalties as the average NFL team during that timeframe. As well, most teams average their interpretive penalties late in their second quarter of play (as statistically they should), while New England averaged their interpretive penalties with less than 5 minutes left in the third quarter of each game on average.

This means that New England was very seldom interpretive-penalized during any time in a game in which the outcome of that game was in doubt. This is ‘exploitation of omissions at Point Indigo’ by means of an absence of interpretive calls against them, for on average of the first three quarters of each game played in late 2017.  This factor, as much as being a good team, is what propelled them to the Super Bowl.

Exploiting the Tau Point on specific critical plays near the end of a game, constitutes ironically a less effective and more obvious mode of cheating – one which will simply serve to piss-off alert fans, as happened in the January 20th 2019 Rams-Saints ‘No Call’ game. One cannot Indigo Point cheat viscerally – the cheat must be in the form of an exploit conducted when attentions are not piqued.

Indigo Point Exploitation: The New England Patriots received their interpretive penalties at 36% the rate of the average NFL team, a full quarter later into the game than the average NFL team, most typically when the game outcome was already well in hand. This constitutes exploitation through omission at the Indigo Point.

In fact, for the entire AFC Championship and Super Bowl, New England was only flagged twice for any type of violation – a total of 15 yards. Their opponents? The Jaguars and the Eagles were flagged 10 and 7 times more yards respectively, than were the Patriots in each game.

To put it in gambling terms, or seriously tested means of quantification upon which bookies rely – the Patriot’s opponents that year, on average for games 10 through the Super Bowl, were given 4 more penalties in each game than were the Patriots themselves (3 less awarded to them + 1 higher awarded to their opponent on average). Using the Net Drive Points for the most common interpretive penalty types (highlighted in yellow) from the chart immediately above (published at Sports Information Solutions)9, this equates to awarding 10.8 extra points to the Patriots, per game, every game, all the way from game 10 of the 2017 season, through to and including the Super Bowl. No wonder they got to the Super Bowl.

This equates to awarding the Patriots an extra 10.8 points per game in the second half of the season thru the playoffs.

Half the teams in the NFL could have gotten to the 2017 Season Super Bowl if they were given this
same dishonest two touchdown per game advantage afforded the New England Patriots by league officials that year.

Once again, as in the case of the Oakland Raiders earlier, one can make up the pseudo-theory that ‘hey they are more disciplined team, so they are penalized less’. That is, until one examines the data and observes that this condition has gone on for five decades (ostensibly since, but in reality much further back than the notorious ‘Tuck Rule’ AFC Championship Game, the video of which can no longer be found in its original form because the NFL edited out over 2 minutes in order to conceal the game’s penalty no-call Tau Point intervention fraud). The penalties which are called or not-called are of an interpretive nature – again those that occur every single play, but are called on some teams consistently, and on other teams not so much. Again here as well, the penalty classes which are not subject to interpretation, delay of game, false start, etc. – surprise, New England is just average in those ‘no doubt’ classes of penalty.10 If this were a matter of coaching discipline, New England should also therefore be two standard deviations below the mean for objective-class penalties as well. They are not. The subjective-class (yellow) penalty calls and no-calls have nothing whatsoever to do with coaching discipline, and everything to do with bias on the part of the league and its officials.

To annually bill customers who are being misled that they are watching or wagering upon unbiased games of skill, chance and coaching – $1200 to DirectTV and $400 to NFL Sunday Ticket (both purchases are required) – purchasing a product which is touted to be one thing, but is delivered as a form of dishonest charade – this constitutes consumer and gambling fraud.

The NFL has actually counter-argued this very consumer fraud accusation before the Supreme Court, as recently as 2010, contending that they are merely ‘a form of entertainment’. Accordingly they contend this gives them contractual rights to be able to advantage or disadvantage a team without having to address their own bias or cheating. Further, that the league is legally entitled to do what is needed to entertain their audience, such as in the creation and promotion of certain ‘storylines’.11 Storylines of the evil people and the good people (sound familiar?) in order to stimulate ticket and media purchases. A farce wherein ironically, the league office actually thrives upon the brand-premise that they are administering a game of skill, chance and coaching. The reality is that NFL officials pick and choose who they want to win and who they want to lose, the same teams, decade in and decade out. None of its at-risk members (players, organizations, staff and coaches) are allowed to speak of this gaming, for threat of fines or their career. At least in professional wrestling, the league leadership and participants admit that it is all an act. In professional wrestling no one is fooled out of their money.

It took me a while in order to come to the realization that, because of this closed door oppression, monopolistic exploitation of its customers and under the table cheating in order to manipulate the success of its organizations and the flow of grey market money, the National Football League is actually not a cartel, rather they are therefore a mafia by definition.

This is a pivotal reason why I dumped NFL Sunday Ticket and DirectTV. I am not into being defrauded out of hard-earned household money by a mafia.

Such shenanigans as exemplified in the three examples above represent the everpresence and impact of agency (not merely bias). Bias can be mitigated; however, agency involves the removal and/or disruption of the power structures of the cartel, cabal and mafia. These case examples in corruption demonstrate how agency can manipulate inflection dynamics to reach a desired tipping point – after which one can sit in their university office and enjoy tenure, all the way to sure victory. The only tasks which remain are to protect the indigo point secret formula by means of an appropriate catch phrase, and as well ensure that one does not have any mirrors hanging about, so that you do not have to look at yourself.

An ethical skeptic maintains a different view as to how championships, ethical markets, as well as scientific understanding, should be prosecuted and won.

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October 20, 2019 Posted by | Institutional Mandates, Tradecraft SSkepticism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Art of Knowing Nothing

The nihilist is a person who claims specific revelation knowledge as to that which is comprised by all conditions of Nothing. The ethical skeptic on the other hand is a student of Nothing before he or she can ever claim to bear expertise at anything.

A friend was challenged by his son the other day, with the contention that the number zero (0) was not really a number at all, rather that it represented the concept of nothing – and that therefore, all of our numeric systems needed to be revised in order to reflect this principle of reality. This approach of course presupposes that non-zero numbers, indeed are real in themselves – a predicate contention which the philosopher cannot grant free pass (and of course the mistake which the Romans made with I II III IV, etc.). The numeral ‘zero’ bears a specific function which is mathematics related. As such, and given that maths involves the manipulation of symbols/placeholders/numbers/numeral digits – concepts or symbols thereof which serve as placeholders for series concepts – therefore, zero is indeed a series number and is not akin to ‘nothing’. Without the number 0, the series -2, -1, 0, 1, 2… would have no coherency, and advanced sets of maths/computer science would fail due to the resulting lossy glitch in that logical/computational series.

The numeral ‘1’ for instance is merely the next series symbol for the condition of a single instance of a domain, set, entity or (quality or quantity) state – all concepts which are useful in defining the conditions of Nothing, below. The numeral ‘1’ too is merely symbolic – quad erat demonstrandum the number ‘zero’ bears all the same elements of validity as a number, as does the number ‘1’ or any other numeral.1

What my friend’s son was doing, was to conflate a ‘condition of Nothing’, with the numerics of zero. While the equivocal concepts of both do indeed overlap, this overlap is much less in magnitude than the layman might first assume. It behooves the ethical skeptic to fathom and adeptly ply the difference between zero and nothing.

There is zero, and there is Nothing – wherein the two are not necessarily the same thing at all.

Zero is an issue of series. Nothing is an issue of state. Intent is sticky and robust, more so than either zero or Nothing –
and may persist well beyond the boundary conditions introduced by each of those limited concepts.

The Conditions of Nothing

But fathoming the depths of this tenet of philosophy serves to give pause in the mind of the ethical skeptic: What other concepts of Nothing exist, and how are they defined under a Wittgenstein level of clarity as well? Further then, how does this help us define the term ‘nihilism’? Below I outlay my most recent foray into defining the depths of Nothing. The list begins with the most objective and ends with the most subjective concepts. The Wittgenstein anchor terms used herein are set, entity, (quantity or quality) state, domain, known, unknown, number, transaction, condition, member and series.

Make Sure That You Know Nothing (The Conditions of Nothing)


  0/Zero/Aught – a number which place-holds for termination of a quantitative series

  Nil/Zilch/Love/Zot – a state of attainment represented by no quantity of a known entity

            aleph_0/Aleph Zero – the termination (cardinality) of the series set of natural numbers

Sets & Domains

  Nought/Naught – any set or entity which produces no associated quantity or quality

  None – a known set or entity which exhibits an absence of quantity or quality

  Blank – a set which is devoid of its associated entities

  Void – a defined domain which contains no set, entity nor quantity or quality

  Nada – a void of known entities or sets inside a known domain

  Non-Existent – the state of a known set or entity in which it is absent in all known domains

  Non-Entity – a putative member of a set which does not actually belong to that set

  ∅/Empty Set – a set of a known entity, quantity or quality which does not exist in a given domain

Nothing States

  Non-Extant – a set or entity, known or unknown, which is absent in all domains

  Oblivion – a condition in which the complete set of an entity is rendered non-extant

  Absent – a set, entity or state which is prohibited detection in a domain

  Emptiness – a domain in which all sets or entities are prohibited detection

  Nihil – a state of inability to exist, regardless of domain

  Nothingness – the domain of all sets or entities which are nihil


  NaN – not a number. A value that is undefinable or unrepresentable

  Idempotent – a transaction which contributes no change in (quantity or quality) state

  Nix/Exterminate – to render a set or entity to one of the various conditions of Nothing

  Annihilate – to render a set or entity to the sate of nihil

  Nihilism – a faith, that all Conditions of Nothing fully describe that which appears absent

As the astute observer may notice herein, nihilism, because of its desperate claim to grasp all that is Nothing, without any evidence of such knowledge, is indeed a personal choice of faith. A hunch, a metaphysical selection, just as believing in God is a metaphysical selection. Which is fine. However, when one enforces that personal choice upon others (by mandating it as an outcome of logic, rationality or science), it also becomes a religion often called Atheism (distinct from agnosticism or ignostic atheism).

So now that you the ethical skeptic have plumbed the depths of Wittgenstein’s Nothing, and have perceived just how impossible it is to know Nothing; therefore stand firm against those who purport to possess short-cut revelation knowledge as to the entirety of Nothing.

That sure would be something.

     How to MLA cite this article:

The Ethical Skeptic, “The Art of Knowing Nothing”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 30 Sep 2019; Web,

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , , | 4 Comments

The Scientific Method

The scientific method – a method of knowledge development bearing traits of process accountability which serve to transcend mere casual inquiry, mitigate bias and proscribe surreptitious agency masquerading as knowledge.

In my four decades of rather intense and results-oriented professional work, inside a variety of disciplines to include lab and research work, as well as technology and infrastructure rollout strategy – I have found a certain positive set of deliberations to constitute the actual scientific method. They are outlined as faithfully as I can philosophically reconstruct, below.

The key features which differentiate this method from the oft-touted and seldom challenged version of sciebam (Latin: I knew), is that it does not presuppose a hypothesis nor question, is robust to various states of pluralistic ignorance and regards the impact on stakeholders as paramount in the consideration of those things which we consider to be our conclusions of science. Moreover, it begins the process of knowledge development with the often neglected first steps of observation, intelligence and necessity – key steps without which, science’s chances of landing upon an invalid or only partially valid conclusion are precipitously high.

This scientific method serves to filter out the surreptitious hand of agency masquerading as science. Such activity can be found here: The Lyin’tific Method – The Ten Commandments of Fake Science.

Maintain a distinction in your mind between this strategic method of developing mankind’s knowledge, and the more tactical methodologies of experimental hypothesis testing and the experimental method itself. These valid expressions of professional science are often conflated with the process outlined below, much to our confusion and detriment as a species.

Finally, one should take note that the first five steps of the Method cited in the graphic above pertain to sponsorship of alternative ideas. The very heart and soul of science. It is the job of the skeptic to be an ally in this process, obtollent – and not an opponent. Watch for this key warning flag, as fake skeptics seldom ever grasp this principle of ethical science.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. The time of science or scientists is not wasted through
competing nor even fringe sponsored theories or observations. The ‘time’ of science is wasted
through the dogma and intransigence of those who patrol its discourse, enforcing single answers
under a pretense of ‘science communication’.

The Scientific Method

/philosophy : science : method/ : A method of knowledge development bearing traits of process accountability which serve to transcend mere casual inquiry, mitigate bias and proscribe surreptitious agency masquerading as knowledge. A strategic process, which employs direct observation, analysis, ethics, skepticism, as well as experimental methodology and hypothesis testing, as tools inside a broader more comprehensive set of diligence.

I.  Observation – Domain Observation

What prior art has been developed inside this observation domain?
What do we not know about this topic?
What do we not know that we do not know about this topic?
What is the neglected or embargoed observation set?
What observation does skepticism mandate (go and look)?
Is the body of presiding study scientific, or merely academic?

II.  Intelligence – Intelligence Gathering/Schema Construction

Is there structure and patterning to the domain observations and data?
Have key observations been dismissed as ‘claims’?
Does the presence of agency exist?
Does a state of Chekov’s gun exist?
Does a state of amplanecdote exist?
How can I creatively frame and reduce the data set into intelligence and not simply data?

III.  Necessity – Establishment of Necessity

If we were wrong on this topic, would we even know it?
If we were wrong on this topic, would this be enabling harm to stakeholders, especially those who are innocent?
Has harm or ignorance now surpassed a critical point of inflection?
Do existing explanations feature elements of pseudo-theory?

Is there another Necessary Alternative?
Is another alternative necessarily compelling?
Can ‘simplicity’ no longer be claimed to exist?
Does a state of necessary ethical action exist?

IV.  Construct Formulation (by Sponsors)

What alternative placeholder idea (construct) can be established which could theoretically resolve this? (Apperception)
How can this idea be constructed in a Wittgenstein defined, rigorously logical form and be interrelated with prior art? (Crafting)
How can this idea be expressed in such a way that practitioners can understand and teach it, without compromise of its critical essence? (Posing)
Are sponsors being unfairly quashed or individually targeted by agency players claiming to represent science?

V.  Ockham’s Razor/Peer Support (Skeptics are allies not opponents)

Does an Omega Hypothesis state exist around an existing answer/explanation?
Are skeptics obtollent or are they anchoring-biased opponents of anything novel (faking)?
Has the formulated Construct been a priori deemed an Embargo Hypothesis?
Is plurality now necessary?
Do current understandings feature cultivated ignorance?
Does the suggested/sponsored alternative feature elegance?

VI.  Hypothesis Development

How do I mature this construct to a framing of epistemic strength; one which features the key Elements of Hypothesis?
What is the critical path necessary in evaluating and reducing this alternative and the complete alternative set?

VII.  Inductive and Statistical Study

What types and modes of inference will help address the next critical path question in the hypothesis series structure?
How do I avoid linear induction, utile absentia and other confirmation biases?
How mature is the observed domain data and can it currently and ethically be used to answer a critical path question?
Does gathering more data improve or harm the ability to address the critical path question?
Can we do more than simply analyze data? Can we get into the field and study by direct observation and experiment?

VIII.  Competitive Hypothesis Framing

How does the field of remaining explanatory hypothesis stack up?
Is there an ethical null hypothesis or does a dual-burden inferential dynamic exist?
What type and mode of inference will be necessary to resolve and reduce the hypothesis set?

IX.  Deductive Testing/Inductive Consilience

What style and approach to experimental testing is necessary to resolve the next critical path question entailed?
How do I avoid methodical deescalation – ie. favor falsification over deduction, deduction over induction, induction over abduction?
What other disciplines need to examine this hypothesis in order to bring critical path constraint?

X.  Hypothesis Modification/Reduction

How do I modify my hypothesis to address its weakness or address weakness in the process of hypothesis reduction?
Is it necessary that we return to Step VI – Hypothesis Development?

XI.  Falsification Testing/Repeatability

How do I apply falsification in order to relieve science of having to constantly keep addressing zombie alternatives?
How do I structure and express my analyses, tests and methods so that a third party can reproduce their results?

XII.  Theory Formulation/Refinement

What features of competing alternatives bear merit and/or inclusion/accommodation?
What have we learned and how must we neutralize parties desiring to codify an alternative prematurely?
What feature of the alternative can be adjusted in order to reduce entropy of understanding?
What objective next steps and replications necessary?

XIII.  Peer Review

Has the sponsor fairly addressed all of the above questions?
Is the analytical and experimental inference base sound?
Is this contention mature enough to be considered as an increment in our domain knowledge base?
Have the authors framed concerns and limitations to constrain the implications around their case?
Is it necessary that we return to readdress Steps VI – XII?

XIV.  Publication

Each conclusion of science, never being able to rest upon its laurels – as it must be brought into this set of plurality again and again. Not that we ‘question everything’ like a babbling idiot, rather that we regard the truth that there exists no theory or construct, which resides in perpetual state of non-questionability.

     How to MLA cite this article:

The Ethical Skeptic, “The Scientific Method”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 28 Sep 2019; Web,

September 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | | Leave a comment

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