The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

Necessity – A Case for Plurality

Necessity and plurality are the critical elements inside Ockham’s Razor, and not this business of the simplicity of any particular explanation. How does agency block the introduction of a necessary alternative, and how does the ethical skeptic go about establishing a case for such necessity in response? These are the critical questions which face groundbreaking science today.

Ockham’s Razor is the mandate that, inside reductionist science: plurality should not be posited without necessity.1 In straightforward terms this means that, in order to conserve parsimony, one should not propose study of a new explanatory alternative, nor add features to an existing alternative or the null, without a well established case of necessity to do so. Both of these flavors of additions in conjecture if you will, constitute conditions of what is called ‘plurality’. Plurality means in this context, ‘more than one’ or ‘more than currently exist’. Ockham’s Razor therefore is asking the researcher, ‘When is it indeed necessary to add another explanation, or to add features which should be tested in order to improve an existing explanation?’

This principle of course has nothing to do with simplicity and everything to do with epistemological risk. A state of being apparently ‘simple’ can be just as risky in epistemology as can a state of being ‘complicated’. Ockham’s Razor therefore, leverages its application upon this fulcrum – this threshold of a Wittgenstein logical object called necessity.  Of course, implicit in this apothegm is the principle that, once a solid case for necessity has been established, then both the consideration of a new explanatory alternative, or added features to an existing alternative, become justified inside any pathway of research. The purpose of this blog article is to address that threshold, that fulcrum upon which Ockham’s Razor leverages its wisdom – the Necessity of Plurality. When and how do we achieve such a feat, and what are the symptoms of a condition wherein forces of fake skeptical agency are at work feverishly to prevent such a critical path step of science from ever occurring in the first place? Possessing the skill to discern a condition of plurality is critical to any claim to represent the philosophy of science, skepticism.

Its Abrogation: The Circular Simplicity Sell

God exists. This is the critical thesis of Question 2 inside Saint Thomas Aquinas’ The Summa Theologica.2 That such a critical path assumption is ‘simple’, is the critical thesis of Question 3 inside that same foundational work of Christian apologetica.3 Finally, Saint Thomas Aquinas begins that work with the provision that such a simple presumption is ‘necessary’.4 The theological argument outlined in The Summa Theologica flows along the following critical path of logic:

Question 1:  God is necessary as an explanatory basis for all that we see

Question 2:  God is self evident

Question 3:  God as a principle in and of itself, is simple (return to Question 1)

The sequence of actual logic employed in Aquinas’ argument here starts with Question 3, flowing into Question 1 and finally to Question 2. However, he purposely places these out of order in an effort to conceal from his reader the circular nature of the contention, along with the subsequent basis from which he drew necessity. The actual flow of Aquinas’ argument proceeds thusly:

And thus Aquinas’ argument circularly complies with ‘Occam’s Razor’, in that since God is by manifest evidence (this is not the same thing as ‘probative observation’), a simple principle, therefore now it is also a necessary one. You draw attention to and speak of yourself. Everyone knows that drawing attention to or speaking of one’s self is the practice of a narcissist, therefore it is a simple explanatory option, and now the necessary null, that you be regarded as a narcissist. Furthermore, since that accusation is assumed now ‘necessary’ it can be shown to be self evident, through this new attention towards your every action, along with the resulting linear confirmation bias (see below) – that you will ultimately be confirmed as a narcissist.5 Under this same logic, there does not exist one thing now that I will encounter in my life, which cannot be framed or re-explained inside the conforming context of my desired conclusion (see Qualifying Theory and Pseudo-Theory). This is how the circular simplicity sell works.

Now, set aside of course the premature contentions made inside Questions 2 and 3, that ‘God is self evident’ and ‘God is simple’, and focus instead on the first trick of this pseudo-philosophy. The sleight-of-hand proffered in this form of casuistry, is embodied in a violation of Ockham’s Razor called an invalid ‘necessity of plurality’. Saint Aquinas begins his work in Question 1 by assuming necessity. A nice trick, and one I would love to pull off inside a laboratory setting. Things would always go my way; conclusions would always turn out as planned – as long as I can dictate the necessity of the questions I want asked.

As a note, the ignostic atheist does not object to the idea of God as does the nihilist Atheist. They simply object to logically invalid or manipulative pathways of arriving at such knowledge as a predefined destination. If one is to discover God, the above pathway is not the way of going about such a task. Logic’ing your way into a proof or disproof of God is foolishness; the self-aggrandizing fantasy of the theist and Atheist.

Moreover, as long as you afford me exemption from having to establish a case for necessity, I can invalidly swing the direction of research towards any particular conclusion I desire. Both the religious and the nihilist use this technique in order to squelch thinking they find offensive. Both cults have learned how to employ this technique of linear induction, along with its interpretive confirmations (see below), to control the direction of science. Hence existence of the obtuse form of parsimony, ‘Occam’s Razor’.

Allow me the privilege of establishing the necessity of the questions asked, and I can prove absolutely anything that I want.

This is much akin to the philosophical apothegm ‘Grant me one miracle and I can explain all the rest’. It behooves the ethical skeptic to understand the role of necessity in the development of an alternative – and in particular, understand when an agency has bypassed the burden of necessity (as has been done by Aquinas above), or even more importantly when a case for necessity has indeed been established – and is being artificially blocked by fake skeptics.

It is not proof which they are in reality demanding, contrary to what fake skeptics contend
(in science there is really no such thing as proof), rather it is plurality of explanation which they fear most.

As it pertains to fake skepticism, it is this case for necessity of plurality which must be blocked at all costs.
They cannot afford to have more than one explanation (their simple one) be researched by science.

A Case for Necessity

It is a set of observations, and nothing else, which ultimately serves to establish a case for necessity. This is why the scientific method must begin with observation and not by means of the ‘asking of a question’. When one asks a question – one assumes necessity; much akin to the trick played by Saint Aquinas above. For example ‘Are you beating your dog?’ is not a scientific question, because it exposes itself to the ad hoc nature of arrivals of confirming evidence (conforming confirmations), and does not rely upon the epistemological principle of a model’s predictive or probative power. This contrast between confirmatory versus predictive model development – in essence the contrast between Occam’s Razor and Ockham’s Razor, is exhibited below.

Predictions are derived in advance from inductive modeling, and are placed at risk. Confirmations are ad hoc in nature, and further then are reinterpreted to fit according to an anchoring bias. Necessity (N) therefore, is something one establishes – and can never be something that a researcher assumes.

So, given the abject reality of confirmation basis which inhabits The Confirmative Model ‘Occam’s Razor’ above, when indeed does a body of observation, therefore lead to a case for necessity? There are five conditions wherein a case for scientific plurality can be established through observational necessity. It is important to remember however, that in none of these cases is any particular answer proved (in other words, plurality exists or persists). Nor is any claim being made that science has been completed – as a case for necessity constitutes the beginning of the scientific method and not its completion.

   The Five Cases for Necessity

I.  When a consilience of observation has implied/predicted that the null may indeed possibly be false.

Example:  The idea that our current 53 event vaccine schedule is ‘safe’, has been brought into question through a myriad of observations by parents and administering medical professionals. This does not mean that vaccines do not work – but rather straightforwardly, that the unchallenged null hypothesis, that vaccines do not also bear unintended and long term health consequences, has been brought into legitimate scientific question.

II.  When one or more null-falsifying/probative observations have been recorded.

Example:  Observing the presence of something assumed to be absent. Finding one incident of permanent cerebral injury (encephalitis) immediately after receipt of a vaccine. Such an observation serves to introduce necessity of plurality.

III.  When risk incumbent with the null is greater than any particular alternative’s risk in epistemology.

Example:  Deploying a pesticide under a presumption of safety, backed up by a couple confirmatory studies conducted by the company which stands to profit from the deployment of that pesticide. Despite immaturity of the study suggesting a lack of safety, such plurality must be assumed under a principle of precaution.

IV.  When the null hypothesis, in order to avoid being falsified, has become more complicated than any of its alternatives.

Example:  Monarch butterflies are being impacted indirectly by man made global warming and not by the direct impact of glyphosate on their annual migratory breeding grounds.

V.  When the credibility or unbiased nature of the science which served to establish the null, has come into question.

Example:  When Monsanto internal communications shifted from a theme of promoting scientific studies, to an oppressive policy of ‘no challenge left unanswered’ – countering and squelching opposing viewpoints in the media at all costs.

This therefore serves to introduce the condition wherein agency attempts to manipulate necessity so as to control the reigns of science.

   The Four Abuses of Necessity on the Part of Fake Skeptics

Blocking Necessity – the principal tactic of fake skepticism. By asking for ‘proof’, the fake skeptic is in essence attempting to block access to the subject by science. This is a Catch 22 Proof Gaming or non rectum agitur fallacy.

Equating Simplicity with a Lack of Necessity – another key tactic of fake skeptics. An appeal to ignorance is an example of this tactic. Because we see no evidence for something, the simplest explanation is that it does not exist.

Equating Simplicity with Necessity – a tactic of fake skepticism. The existential Occam’s Razor fallacy appeal to authority is an example of this. Because an explanation is simple, therefore it is the truth. No further science is warranted.

Assuming Necessity – a final tactic of fake skepticism. The Confirmative Model (above) is an example of this. Because an idea tickles me emotionally, therefore it is granted immediate necessity – not having to justify itself nor satisfy the rigor of probativeness, consilience nor predictiveness.

All of these conditions are conditions of corruption of the scientific method, for which the ethical skeptic must be ever vigilant.

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May 19, 2019 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , | Leave a comment

The Plural of Anecdote is Data

A single observation does not necessarily constitute an instance of the pejorative descriptive ‘anecdote’. Not only do anecdotes constitute data, but one anecdote can serve to falsify the null hypothesis and settle a scientific question in short order. Such is the power of a single observation. Such is the power of wielding skillfully, scientific inference. Fake skeptics seek to emasculate the power of the falsifying observation, at all costs.

It is incumbent upon the ethical skeptic, those of us who are researchers if you will – those who venerate science both as an objective set of methods as well as their underlying philosophy – incumbent that we understand the nature of anecdote and how the tool is correctly applied inside scientific inference. Anecdotes are not ‘Woo’, as most fake skeptics will imply through a couple of notorious memorized one-liners. Never mind what they say, nor might claim as straw man of their intent, and watch instead how they apply their supposed wisdom. You will observe such abuse of the concept to be most often the case. We must insist upon the theist and nihilist religious community of deniers, that inside the context of falsification/deduction in particular, a single observation does not constitute an instance of ‘anecdote’ (in the pejorative). Not only do anecdotes constitute data, but one anecdote can serve to falsify the Null (or even null hypothesis) and settle the question in short order. Such is the power of a single observation.

See ‘Anecdote’ – The Cry of the Pseudo-Skeptic

To an ethical skeptic, inductive anecdotes may prove to be informative in nature if one gives structure to and catalogs them over time. Anecdotes which are falsifying/deductive in nature are not only immediately informative, but moreover they are even more importantly, probative. Probative with respect to the null. I call the inferential mode modus absens the ‘null’ because usually in non-Bayesian styled deliberation, the null hypothesis, the notion that something is absent, is not actually a hypothesis at all. Rather, this species of idea constitutes simply a placeholder – the idea that something is not, until proved to be. And while this is a good common sense structure for the resolution of a casual argument, it does not mean that one should therefore believe or accept the null, as merely outcome of this artifice in common sense. In a way, deflecting observations by calling them ‘anecdote’ is a method of believing the null, and not in actuality conducting science nor critical thinking. However, this is the reality we face with unethical skeptics today. The tyranny of the religious default Null.

The least scientific thing a person can do, is to believe the null hypothesis.

Wolfinger’s Misquote

/philosophy : skepticism : pseudoscience : apothegm/ : you may have heard the phrase ‘the plural of anecdote is not data’. It turns out that this is a misquote. The original aphorism, by the political scientist Ray Wolfinger, was just the opposite: ‘The plural of anecdote is data’. The only thing worse than the surrendered value (as opposed to collected value, in science) of an anecdote is the incurred bias of ignoring anecdotes altogether. This is a method of pseudoscience.

Our opponents elevate the scientific status of a typical placeholder Null (such-and-such does not exist) and pretend that the idea, 1. actually possesses a scientific definition and 2. bears consensus acceptance among scientists. These constitute their first of many magician’s tricks, that those who do not understand the context of inference fall-for, over and over. Even scientists will fall for this ole’ one-two, so it is understandable as to why journalists and science communicators will as well. But anecdotes are science, when gathered under the disciplined structure of Observation (the first step of the scientific method). Below we differentiate two contexts of the single observation, in the sense of both inductive and deductive inference.

Inductive Anecdote

Inductive inference is the context wherein a supporting case or story can be purely anecdotal (The plural of anecdote is not data). This apothegm is not a logical truth, as it could apply to certain cases of induction, however does not apply universally.

Null:  Dimmer switches do not cause house fires to any greater degree than do normal On/Off flip switches.

Inductive Anecdote:  My neighbor had dimmer switched lights and they caused a fire in his house.

Deductive Anecdote

Deductive inference leading to also, falsification (The plural of anecdote is data). Even the singular of anecdote is data under the right condition of inference.

1.  Null:  There is no such thing as a dimmer switch.

2.  Deductive Anecdote:  I saw a dimmer switch in the hardware store and took a picture of it.

3.  Falsification:  An electrician came and installed a dimmer switch into my house.

For example, what is occurring when one accepts materialism as an a priori truth pertains to those who insert that religious agency between steps 2 and 3 above. They contend that dimmer switches do not exist, so therefore any photo of one necessarily has to be false. And of course, at any given time, there is only one photo of one at all (all previous photos were dismissed earlier in similar exercises). Furthermore they then forbid any professional electrician from installing any dimmer switches (or they will be subject to losing their license). In this way – dimmer switches can never ‘exist’ and deniers endlessly can proclaim to non-electricians ‘you bear the burden of proof’ (see Proof Gaming). From then on, deeming all occurrences of step 2 to constitute lone cases of ‘anecdote’, while failing to distinguish between inductive and deductive contexts therein.

Our allies and co-observers as ethical skeptics need bear the knowledge of philosophy of science (skepticism) sufficient to stand up and and say, “No – this is wrong. What you are doing is pseudoscience”.

Hence, one of my reasons for creating The Map of Inference.

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May 1, 2019 Posted by | Argument Fallacies, Tradecraft SSkepticism | , , | Leave a comment

A Poem of Learning

 

In abrupt habit does fear congeal, as if winter’s precocious first frost
Whose facile merit may serve but to daunt and plague
Those drawn in quarters through muddy slough of the preliminary
Failing in abundance, taught doubt and blinded in ironic belied ardour.

Mute were it to be spoken and blind were it to be seen
Lessons mandate one know hither and believe not to be
Allons! Stand and examine – the field is not flat, the end line not set
Such contest is mastered in proving rules and not merely their let.

A word in wise offer seldom is match to one inward derived
For were I to excel in Plato, yet it remains, would he excel in me?
Myriad may arrive at the doorstep of song, swaying in their lament
Yet not one harmony have they issued of a familiar sought quaver.

Soft grasses caress bare feet, while supple lips send heroes seaward
Yet still does measure of the world scatter madly at its bound
The formulaic grows insoluble as the question increases in import
The maid quivers most for that man she can have not.

For our purpose hardens her brick and our love gives bind to her mortar
Not one celestial dancer dares even spiral save for its admiring onlooker,
She is adorned in elegant sequined starlight dress, woven of persistent fabric
Visible not for her bars, heard not for her warden’s call; Calypso is she.

While guards of our expectation adorn many an evanescent mask
They encircle us and presume we know not their game
Curiously their feet stumble, their hands fail in the grasping
For the envious inveigle whom they despise and the needful pursue gain.

Pull back its veil of mischief, her debility reclines within as a virgin lover
Cajole me no more, and wail amuck at the striking of your blush veneer
My heart and its loves are your privation no longer, not of pride but promise –
Its steelblade flash reflecting amidst the clinkshales where shackles lay shattered.

  

 

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April 22, 2019 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , | 2 Comments

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