It is not that the contentions founded upon an appeal to infinity are necessarily and existentially incorrect, rather simply that the appeal itself is premature under the definition of what constitutes good science. So I replaced the word god, with the word infinity – OK, good; but have I really accomplished science through such an action? Wittgenstein challenges this notion. The context in which ‘infinity’ is abused as an obvious scientific alternative or worse, apologetic employed in order to leverage social conformity (pseudoscience), are outlined inside what is called the Appeal to Infinity error.
Don’t get me wrong, I have both pondered the mathematical, scientific and philosophical ramifications of the concept of infinity in our observable universe, as well as frequently used such precepts of expansive/endless domain as a justification behind why incredibly unlikely things are observed to have occurred. (Please note that the context of ‘infinity’ here includes use of ‘suitable large numbers’ which might allow for a special pleading instance not constituting infinity, yet still remain suitably large enough to accomplish the same goals.) Such an approach is not an invalid domain of scientific reasoning as the basis for the beginning of hypothesis formulation – but neither does such a rationale set constitute finished science according to Popper (nor in reality Wittgenstein either). Obviousness does not stand tantamount to verity for Wittgenstein, nor does simply the formulation of an idea stand tantamount to hypothesis for Popper. Infinity (also known as ‘plenitude’ based theory), as a explanatory construct rendering infinitesimally unlikely things as now likely (set aside the existential nature of its mathematical and philosophical uses) only serves as a placeholder inside science, and albeit one which can someday hopefully be matured into a truly scientific hypothesis, stands as a placeholder nonetheless.
‘You’ are a trivial happenstance wrought through an infinity of possibility; yet upon this infinite basis ‘you’ could not possibly have happened before, nor sustain, and can never happen again.
~ The Existential Nihilist employs the concept of infinity as a hypocritical appeal to both special plead and deny in the same breath
I remember fondly, one night staring out the back sliding glass doors of my childhood home, my father engrossed inside his nightly television routine nearby in the den of our house. I was seven years old, as to my recollection the leaves were colorful and newly removed from the trees surrounding the house, which we had also newly occupied. Our pregnant cat scurried urgently about examining every nook and cranny in the entire house for some amazing plot on her mind. This late hour and bare tree condition allowed me to observe and ponder again the nighttime sky for the first time in several months. Summer was ending and that exciting cyclical period of life where I was able to stay up past dark had commenced once again. I commented to my father as I stared through the glass doors at the nascent night sky “Dad, if there is endless time, and endless stars, why would the sky not be daylight all day and all night?” Wow consider the possibilities, playtime 24 hours a day – except for during that horrid waste of time they forced us into, called school. I hated school.
School was the place where uber-rules-followers used social demeaning as a tactic of class stratification (not that I used those words then). A tactic which some immature instructors even bought into as well. I was barely a C-average student every year of my young life until the day that I scored at a college freshman level in science, in my fifth grade achievement tests. Again in seventh grade I scored a perfect score on the science achievement tests. After asking if I had cheated (both times), my school finally broached the idea that perhaps I needed to be taught in a different way. So ended the track of memorizing spelling words and formulas and facts, and thus inaugurated the track of pursuing projects, ideas, goals and research. The spelling, facts and Laplace Transformations simply fell into place along the way. Don’t stand over me, hands on hips (figuratively) forcing me to make journal entries. Rather allow me to explore my passions through journalism, and I will teach you how to write a journal. Don’t teach me facts about the Punic Wars, let me model the Naval Battles and how they were fought, and maybe could have been prosecuted even better. Tolstoy is a far better teacher of grammar than is sentence diagramming. Anna Karenina’s winding family hierarchy bore with it kind gifts of Russian-challenged complexities in English language, both in logical calculus and structure. Such folding of reality inside out transitioned me from January of my soul into vernal brightness – an evolution of elegant whisper kissing my forehead and changing my life, forever.
I was invested from a young age into ideas, and not simply social protocols and procedures. This is part of my nature as a philosopher. Thankfully there existed standardized tests in those days, or I would have been relegated to a dunce track. No, this perception on my part is not in any way seeking to impugn specific jobs nor career tracks, as fake skeptics are wont to suggest; rather merely to point out that such a track would have been unfulfilling to me. All a result of my failure to comply with the standard mold they so sought in education.
My dad apparently regarded my sliding glass door observation to constitute a pretty astute question. He was a trial lawyer and enjoyed skills in the art of argument. But he always plied his wisdom with me by means of a Folgerbergian ‘thundering velvet hand’. I learned the nature of argument from him, and him alone. He calmly replied “well perhaps there is not endless time and/or there are not endless stars?” I watched the sky for some time before being rushed off to bed by my mom; petitioning the same question to her, to which she replied “God made just the right number of stars and the right amount of time, so that you can enjoy the night sky.” What a great answer. That made sleeping so much more a pleasant experience. Wow, God set all this up just for us.
For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky
So there we had it. The three alternatives inside of which I was imprisoned for the next 15 some odd years of my life. There are finite sets of stars and time, god set up the stars and time just right, or – maybe the assumptions which I brought to the argument were incorrect in the first place. It was probably around age 12 or so where I began to protest against the concept of finite-ness as compared to infinity. I often quipped to my eye-rolling buddies in high school (I had been moved a year ahead of my normal age group) – ‘The only thing less palatable than infinity, is finite-ness.’ I considered the idea that, once existence was observed, then infinity was a fortiori. For how could one then truly define a boundary, much less find it? Such a boundary was rendered absurd in an existential context, surely only a boundary-state (a brane or transition if not) and not indeed the end of infinity. “For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky” was one of my favorite Star Trek episodes (although by this time well into syndication), not only from the perspective that Dr. McCoy got it on with some hott alien chick, but also because this issue was touched. In the plot, a man crawls to the end of the ‘sky’ and touches it, only to find it a tactile boundary, a dome of deception – the sense of which drove him to an insanity of just desserts for violating the strictures of the ‘god’ which ruled their planet and forbade such arrogance – as asking questions.
One should bear in mind that in certain contexts, an appeal to infinity is no more scientific than is an appeal to God. It just appears more scientific to the non-philosopher.
Perhaps the best take-away from that Star Trek episode is one which I carry to this very day.
The universe is at least in part incomprehensible. It is not that it is simply unmeasurable, as this claim actually constitutes an organic untruth. The fact is that we cannot seek to measure that which we do not comprehend in the first place. Our skills of measure are not as limiting for man, as are our skills of comprehension – that is our boundary, our dome of deceit after all, and not this fictitious field-of-measurability which nihilists claim they have identified.
Don’t get scared, just deal with and expect it. Embrace the unknown, embrace the absurdity. Do not substitute a pretense of knowledge as a methodology towards feeling better about the unknown – this is no different than appealing to God. Your mind does not yet possess the tools to survey reality from the right perspectives. Such were the whispers which reverberated in my mind each night. Accordingly, began my track of leveraging the bookends of infinity (the absence of finite-ness) in contrast with the finite-ness of the hand of God. I roiled against such a bifurcation, again questioning infinity as an adequate argument against the ‘god’ argument which I had already come to reject in the ensuing years.
And here is why I reject infinity as a bifurcating excuse of science, situations wherein it is used simply as a lever and apologetic in opposition to those who make ‘God of the Gaps’ claims (which I equally eschew). An appeal to infinity (or suitable large number/domain thereof) is NOT a scientific idea for several reasons of demarcation:
- Infinity does not bear a measurable nor definable set of features in an epistemological sense (the same as ‘god’ in reality under an Appeal to Elves argument)
- Infinity is easier to propose and codify than it is to resolve, reduce, induce or deduce (this is the reverse trajectory from Wittgenstein defined science)
- The antithetical idea can neither be defined nor tested, in order to offer Popper falsification of infinity as a null hypothesis
- The concept of ‘infinity’ as the proposed hypothetical answer, answers the wrong question at hand under the scientific method. I am not burdened with answering the question ‘how did consciousness or life originate?;’ rather, ‘How did the 3 letter codon basis of DNA-protein synthesis originate in Archaea on Earth so quickly?’ The former question is asked out of sequence and stands as a non rectum agitur fallacy. And this would be OK, if it were not used to beat people over the head in promotion of nihilism. What created life? God! Infinity! Yawn – these are the same exact unsinnig (Wittgenstein: nonsensical) answer.
- Infinity moves quicker as a handle, a term, than it does as a true philosophical/scientific concept. The concept is not easily intelligible nor observable, however it can be sustained under a Wittgenstein set of knowledge features. This renders the concept of infinity vulnerable to being used as a baseball bat to enforce proper thinking.
- It can explain everything, much as Marxist class struggle theory and the Freudian psychology of sex, plenitude can explain the existence of anything and everything. This is not science.
All these things are anathema to sound science. It is not that the contentions founded upon an appeal to infinity are necessarily and existentially incorrect, rather simply that the appeal itself is premature under the definitions of what constitutes good science. But you will observe social skeptics appealing to infinity as if they are applying good science. This is not correct in the least. The context in which infinity is abused as an obvious scientific alternative or worse, apologetic employed in order to leverage social conformity (pseudoscience), are outlined inside what is called the Appeal to Infinity error:
Appeal to Infinity (Plenitude)
/philosophy : pseudoscience : argument : error in logical calculus/ : a variation of an appeal to magic wherein the infinite size (or other suitably large scale) of the containing domain is posited as the all powerful but scientific rationale behind the existence of a stack of incredibly unlikely happenstance. A closure of scientific argument and refusal to consider other alternatives, especially when an appeal to infinity hypothesis is unduly regarded as the null hypothesis – and further then is defended as consensus science, without appropriate underlying reductive science ever actually being done.
Lotto Appeal – a double appeal to infinity involving convincing a target regarding the personal experience involved in a remote happenstance. A million dollars just fell out of the sky in neat little stacks and then subsequently, you just happened to be the first person to walk by and observe it – two appeals to infinity stacked upon one another. Often used as a sales pitch or con job.
Infinity of the Gaps – any argument where an appeal to infinity is simply employed to avoid the appearance of using a ‘god of the gaps’ explanation, when in reality the employment of infinity as the explanation for an infinitesimally remote chance occurrence is virtually as ridiculous or lacking in epistemological merit as is the god explanation – see Appeal to Elves.
Infinity as Science – any argument where an appeal to infinity is spun as constituting a superior scientific explanation, in comparison to, and in an effort to avoid examining the underlying assumptions which precipitated the invalid perception/belief that an event or series of events are extremely rare or statistically next to impossible in the first place.
Explanitude – the condition where a theory has been pushed so hard as authority, or is developed upon the basis of pseudoscience such as class struggle theory or psychology of sex, that it begins to become the explanation for, or possesses an accommodation for every condition which is observed or that the theory domain addresses. A theory which seems to be able to explain everything, likely explains nothing (Popper/Pigliucci).
I am sure that I will never truly understand neither infinity nor finite-ness. It makes it very difficult however, to stomach abiogenesis now, knowing that life began right on the heels of the Heavy Bombardment period for Earth – and no, an Appeal to Infinity falls hollow in the face of such a tightening window of finite-ness. Nor however, will I gain fully an explanatory alternative to the prevailing beliefs of abiogenesis and consciousness. Such a sad state of affairs. But I can discipline my mind to be robust against falling prey to a misuse of infinity in the meantime. I can say “I do not know” or ‘I do not possess an adequate explanation/definition for that’ – and yes, be conducting real science.
I do not have to, nor will I as an ethical skeptic, pose inside such a costume of social conformity.
A deontologist prefers a state of ‘unknown’ over choice of a highly probable stacked provisional knowledge, because of the more informative deontology of declaring a precise answer to be unknown, over ‘probably known’ inside a context of low intelligence and unevaluated risk. According to Wittgenstein, the formulation of elemental intelligence is the critical first step of science – which steers our methods away from the pitfalls of having to employ ‘skeptics’ to defend answers derived from stacks of highly probable knowledge – which bear a high risk of ultimately turning out to be wrong – a state to which we are blinded by the processes we chose to undertake and the clowns we hire to defend its answers.
Data and Deontology: A Revolution in the Making
Another revolution is underway in the development of data structures employed by economic entities (corporations, funds, banks, trade partners and economies, etc.). Database normalization is the process of organizing the columns (attributes), rows (records) and tables (relations) of a relational database, along with the disciplining of the parsed data (answers) in order to reduce data redundancy and make data integrity more robust inside a high transaction environment (IT departments for banks, finance departments, consumer goods traders, brokerages, etc). First Order Logic normalization was employed since the 1970’s in both hierarchical and then further relational data base structures into the 80’s and 90’s. Third Order Logic, or ‘third normal form’ databases have performed as the standard for relational structures thereafter. Query languages such as SQL have traditionally been able to access answers from such third normalized structures in intuitive if not rules based lookup protocols such as single access protocols or intuitive query by example (QBE) user interfaces. Odds are, if you have used Microsoft’s Access or the user friendly dbms Airtable, then you already have had exposure to a query by example user interface. The companies I have owned/managed have thrived off the flexible and crucial role of the relational database in managing our customers, products, transactions, money and cash flows, along with other business information and intelligence (information and intelligence are two distinctly different things).
If all this sounds like gobbledygook, my apologies. It sounds like gobbledygook to me as well, and I have owned and managed corporations executing this type of information technology solution set for a portion of my three decades of work. My job as CEO or similar, was to translate the technical language of my senior IT Techs and System Engineers, and express it such a way as to allow client CEO’s to understand the transformative advantages of such technologies for their businesses. Normalization is akin to a very efficient set of file drawers – a method of disciplining how files are indexed, sorted, labeled, held and accessed in such as fashion as to allow the file drawer manager the ability to answer any and every question thrown at them, in as expedient a fashion as is possible. In addition, such discipline affords the file drawer manager the ability to quickly assess the level of integrity inside his or her stored data. This is a very satisfying situation to the mind of those crazy individuals who manage to keep their desks in tightly aligned and neat order.
But all this is changing. A new gunslinger is in town. Query Oriented Normalization (QON) is replacing the old relational normalization structure (or more specifically 3rd normal form databases), as well as the even older hierarchical database structures of data still in use in some of the older, larger institutions of science and technology. Before we address what a QON intelligence structure is, lets take a step back and examine exactly what deontology means:
/philosophy : science : knowledge development and integrity : ethics/ : an approach to the ethics of knowledge development that focuses on the rightness or wrongness of actions themselves, as opposed to the attractive or unattractive nature of the consequences of those actions (Consequentialism) or to the character, credentials and habits of the actor (Virtue Ethics). In science, the process of valuing the scientific method over any of its particular conclusions or the people/institutions claiming them.
A deontologist seeks to reduce the unnecessary complexity of a process of questioning and the associated answers or lack thereof. Then further by conformance to a set of accepted practices, induce or deduce answers to specific questions which collectively serve to reduce the overall level of ignorance (a priori doubt, belief and stacked provisional knowledge) featured inside a given topic. Principally this process results in what is called an epistemology. A deontologist prefers a state of ‘unknown’ over even a highly probable stacked set of provisional knowledge, because of the preferential deontological ethics of declaring a precise answer to be unknown, over ‘probably known’ inside a context of low intelligence and unevaluated risk. This because when the deontologist surveys the horizon of what is truly unknown, he is able then to reduce process and focus on the correct next question under the scientific method.
Now – let’s examine the three forms of database management approach in the context of deontological ethics and the development of knowledge. Ideally, a structure of knowledge (intelligence) comprises five interlinking elements (nodes and spans):¹
- A precise question – – – (‘elementary proposition’ as Wittgenstein calls it) node Q(x)
- Its answer – – – (‘atomic’ fact as Wittgenstein calls it) node A(x)
- A logical association to predicate answers – – – (‘certain relation’ as Wittgenstein calls it) spanning tree
- A linkage to a fortiori questions – – – (‘features’ as Wittgenstein calls them) spanning tree
- A logical phylogeny introducing a posteriori questions – – – (‘successor’ as Wittgenstein calls it) spanning tree.¹
In the past, both hierarchical and relational data have presumed that only answers (elements 2. and 4. above) exist, and further that they exist only in the form of object data (data repositories bearing no question which frames their context of employment) – often independent of question, and even less associated with predicate answers and a posteriori questions. You have often heard scientists remark “we answered one question only to have 6 others pop up.” Oddly enough, this is the correct state of affairs inside a knowledge development structure as it relates to the process of science. This is exactly how it should be.
Data is a set of answers without context of question. Intelligence is a framework of questions which have either certain or null answers. The latter is more informative than the former.
4.2211 Even if the world is infinitely complex, so that every fact consists of an infinite number of atomic facts and every atomic fact is composed of an infinite number of objects, even then there must be objects and atomic facts.¹ ~Wittgenstein, Ludwig; Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
The Framing of Intelligence as Opposed to Diagnostic Data
An ethically answered question should result in 6 new ethical questions. What one typically fails to account for inside this despair inducing evaluation is the reduced set of risk produced along with the overall displacement of ignorance attained through the improvement of knowledge – two of the consequentialist objectives (expressed as value and clarity respectively in ethical skepticism) of such a process of reduction. Such is the nature of gnosis in our realm, and in absence of possessing all the answers already (a priori doubt, belief and stacked provisional knowledge) – is the very nature of deontological ethics.
Let’s examine this principle below in relation to the three database structure types we outlined above then. In the QON structure we observe all 5 interlinking elements (nodes and spans) present in true Wittgenstein based knowledge development. The QON structure not only catalogs answers in the form of data – but arranges a minimum spanning tree sequence of question as it relates to answer.
QON structures serve to establish intelligence, while the two classic datalogging structures to the left only serve to catalog data.
You will notice that several features serve to distinguish the QON structure from both the hierarchical and relational database structures (catalogs).
- The QON structure frames a record (answer) in terms of both a particular question and its particular (atomic) answer, in a constrained 1:1 relationship – the older structures only frame a repository of answers in a one-to-many relationship, with no linking to question.
- The QON structure first reduces the set of questions which are to be asked (reduction), as well as conducts a minimum spanning tree configuration of those questions, so that the path to answering them is pursued in the most expedient and logical framework achievable (if ascertainable).
- The QON structure is reflexive, i.e. allows multiple questions to evolve from one successfully answered question.
- The QON structure is recursive, i.e. allows multiple questions to solve or modify each other.
- The QON structure prefers a null answer, as opposed to a probable answer inference because:
- a condition of ignorance of risk escalation with each successive probable answer
- the pseudo-enhancing of answer probability solely on the basis that the answer serves to agree with the probability of other reflexive answers (see Unity of Knowledge Error)
- the whipsaw amplification effect imbued by any error in successor relationships, or their communication or preference
- null critical paths can be targeted for prioritization by researchers – rather than being ignored because they contain plug answers.
- The QON structure possesses no accommodation for a priori knowledge – a data catalog cannot indicate the difference.
- Successive queries inside a QON intelligence structure become more informative as each link/answer is resolved. A massing of facts in contrast is not necessarily more informative in relation to its size.
This (1 thru 7) is called a Q(x) to A(x) sequence of structured intelligence – and it is highly informative in its own essence (deconvolutional in neural network terms). So highly informative that it reduces the need to rely upon ‘Occam’s’ Razor mandates, likely guesses and unwise inferences on data. Even if you call all this nonsense ‘evidence’.
5.133 All inference takes place a priori.
5.1363 If from the fact that a proposition is obvious to us it does not follow that it is true, then obviousness is no justification for our belief in its truth.
5.14 If a proposition follows from another, then the latter says more than the former, the former less than the latter.¹
~Wittgenstein, Ludwig; Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
In short, the QON model of data development more closely reflects the reality which we face in the prosecution of science. A diagnostician in contrast, will typically only demand a measuring machine and a hierarchical or relational database to address his or her scientific challenges. He or she will ‘doubt’ any catalog proposition which runs counter to their prescribed notions. This is pseudoscience as the majority of scientific endeavor does not function in this fashion.
Doubt, belief and provisional knowledge are all in reality the same exact thing. All a form of succumbing to the short cut temptation to establish ‘likely’ guesses on specific answers; guesses which conform with our other ‘likely’ (or preferred) guesses. This in lieu of doing the field work necessary in reducing the Q(x) to A(x) sequence of structured intelligence requisite under the scientific method.
The diagnostician (see Diagnostician’s Error) therefore thrives off provisional knowledge and doubt (which along with belief, comprise the fabric of the lie):
There are two forms of ‘doubt’
Methodical Doubt – the first is the questionable method of denying that something exists or is true simply because it defies a certain stacked provisional knowledge. This is nothing but a belief expressed in the negative, packaged in such a fashion as to exploit the knowledge that claims to denial are afforded immediate acceptance over claims to the affirmative. This is a religious game of manipulating the process of knowledge development into a whipsaw effect supporting a given conclusion set.
Deontological Doubt (Epoché) – if however one defines ‘doubt’ – as the refusal to assign an answer (no matter how probable) for a specific question – in absence of assessing question sequence, risk and dependency (reduction), preferring instead the value of leaving the question unanswered (null) over a state of being ‘sorta answered inside a mutually reinforcing set of sorta answereds’ (provisional knowledge) – then this is the superior nature of deontological ethics.
Most fake skeptics define ‘doubt’ as the former and not the latter – and often fail to understand the difference.
The Whipsaw Effect of Probable Stacked Knowledge and Perception
5.5262 The truth or falsehood of every proposition alters something in the general structure of the world. ~Wittgenstein, Ludwig; Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Now all of this is not to contend that the realm of information technology is ready to tackle the challenge of datalogging the entire catalog of current knowledge and next appropriate scientific question. The purpose of this contrast in data structures is to elucidate the superior nature of deontological data structures to those which serve probable elements of knowledge. Why they are superior, and why the raw materials of a priori doubt, belief and stacks of provisional knowledge serve only the tradecraft of the lie. Science is developed along the lines of the QON ethic of intelligence development. Science is the process of asking and answering the right questions at the right time, and converting those binary relationships into usable minimum spanning tree pathways to knowledge.
In short, under a deontological context, two knowns and four nulls inside a Q(x) to A(x) intelligence structure – is considered more informative and superior to 6 probables in a normal structure of data.
Carl Bergstrom of the University of Washington and Kevin Gross of North Carolina State University and their team of researchers, recently published a paper entitled ‘Publication bias and the canonization of false facts‘.² Nothing elicits the whipsaw effect of tampering with the processes of intelligence crafting, by means of provisional knowledge, more than the expose elicited inside this paper. The graphic to the right is extracted from the publication for reporting purposes only. It depicts the volatile effect which suppressing publication of negative outcome studies has upon consensus and canonization of scientific ideas. An important principle to observe here (and indeed a contention made by Gross-Bergstrom et. al.) is that the tightening of p-value measures is not a panacea in mitigation of canonizing false facts by means of false sequential method. Despite our precision of measure and tolerance, there exists a point at which, our suppression of negative outcome studies only serves to whip our consensus as a body scientific into unrealistic ranges of conclusivity. What is shown here of importance is that – the structure of intelligence afforded by inclusion of negative studies far outweighs the impact of precision increases of any particular answer contained in a positive-study-only publication approach.
In science, Q(x) to A(x) QON intelligence structures and deontological discipline are vastly more important than just making more likely p-value guesses which support our other likely guesses.
But this error in the form of publishing bias is not the only pitfall which can be encountered in mishandled science. What the deontological intelligence philosopher would note is that a series of mistakes and missteps can serve to impact or amplify this effect before negative and positive outcome publication biases are even introduced. All of them involve premature questions, and a complete ignorance of the intelligence surrounding a subject, in favor of the ‘data’ involved in the subject. Specifically they are (white numbered on the chart below as well):
- Questions may be asked in the wrong order – and serve to mislead – when assumed answered by a probable answer.
- Questions may be framed in the wrong context and seek to answer too many things at once – a condition which can be masked by a probable answer.
- Answers may be developed for the wrong question – and serve to confuse.
- a fortiori and a posteriori relationships may be assumed as a result of a probable answer being issued.
- Risk has not been evaluated in relationship to stacking of successive probable answers. Risk multiplied by the impacted a fortiori and a posteriori linkages.
This is why a null answer is preferable over a probable answer inside a structure of intelligence. Below we see an depiction wherein – tampering with probabilities and dependencies in an intelligence structure (technically a deconvolutional Restricted Boltzmann Machine progression) can serve to produce dramatically differing outcomes of conclusion from that of a more classic Wittgenstein deontological reduction/deduction. Notice that all the atomic answers in the stacked provisional knowledge were the most probable answers available inside the QON sequence chosen blindly (sans intelligence). But the conslusions were wrong. Today we non-skeptically rest upon foundations of knowledge in many arenas, developed from the method of stacked provisional knowledge depicted below. We fail to acknowledge the questions we have mishandled or skipped, and the incumbent risk we have introduced to the process, by not appropriately using intelligence as the formulative part of the scientific method – and rather ‘asking a question’ as the first step in the scientific method.
Exacerbating this is the specter of publication. Assume that the above deontology reflects the reality on a critical social issue such as food contamination or the discovery of a new species. The abysmal depiction above becomes even more dire when one introduces the impact of publication bias into this process. Not only is the conclusion set wrong, but moreover we endure the danger of publication bias further then skewing the perceptions of science, and finally – per the conclusions of the Bergstrom-Gross study – canonize a completely incorrect scientific consensus, fully unable to overturn it from that point on – because no successive questions remain. This is the sixth vulnerability in terms of mistakes and missteps inside the scientific method, followed by the seventh vulnerability, the role of social skepticism.
6. Publication and Acceptance of specific answers can serve to whipsaw the consensus conclusions or perceptions thereof, of science.
7. Introduce false skepticism, people so energized through the heady role of ‘representing science’ – that critical questions which normally should be introduced to challenge the nature of stacked provisional knowledge – can never be asked. Opponents are framed under Frank’s Law as ‘anti-_________’ and the provisional knowledge achieves the status of a fervently protected religion all on its own.
/philosophy : pseudoscience : hyperbole/ : hyperbole in extrapolating or overestimating the gravitas of evidence supporting a specific claim, when only one examination of merit has been conducted, insufficient hypothesis reduction has been performed on the topic, a plurality of data exists but few questions have been asked, few dissenting or negative studies have been published, or few or no such studies have indeed been conducted at all.
This is called in fake skepticism: ‘the evidence’. No question has really been answered in a QON reduction sequence – but we have studies, we do have studies. We therefore, are the science. A perch of power which is now necessary in defending against those who know that foundational questions have been ignored. Who needs intelligence when you have the ‘evidence’?
This is the origin of social skepticism. It is the process of cultivating ignorance.
¹ Wittgenstein, Ludwig; Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd.; New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, Inc., 1922.
² Gross, K., Bergstrom, Carl T., et. al.; Publication bias and the canonization of false facts; Cornell University Library; arXiv:1609.00494 [physics.soc-ph]; Sept 5, 2016.
Everyone lies. Even so, it is the legitimate role of the New Mind to not simply detect lies, but moreover to dethrone those entities which pretend to the role of God. The Ethical Skeptic does not know what a god even is; nor does he possess all knowledge and wisdom. However, he can easily spot a monkey with a gas can. Even and especially if that gas can serves to intimidate via means of institution, socialized rationality or specious claims to science, evidence or truth. Inside this awareness, several telltale character traits, life signatures, differentiate the poser elitist from someone who can be trusted. This is his threshing floor – upon which he exercises the disruptive nature of ethics.
To a degree, ethical skepticism can be viewed as a method of exercising a New Mind. It involves a keen survey of the landscape of animal, primate and human behavior, along with an understanding of how these roles, tactics and strategies of both survival and inhabitance, have played into our success as a species. It also involves (as does true skepticism) a keen understanding of the pitfalls of each strategy and how such pitfalls might manifest in our lives inside the societies in which we dwell. Everything of merit possesses a relevant range of application, outside of the bounds of which, even the best strategy can devolve into a practice oriented towards power; producing deception and suffering. Remember, that to a sentient intelligence species, deception-based ignorance and suffering are the same thing – one is simply the expression of the other. Lacking of knowledge is not a sin. The withholding of knowledge and denial of the right to thrive is a sin. This is a key tenet of ethical skepticism. It is not so much bunk we are fighting, as bunk will eventually falsify itself in a free information environment, rather cultivated ignorance. The ethical skeptic gets this, the small mind, no matter how rational, does not.
The Knowledge of God and Not-God
Let’s take a step back and examine the myth outlaid in the Torah, a myth which has for right or wrong, ruled much of our foundational understanding of good and evil as a western superculture. A condensed version of manuscripts taken from an older Levantine religion (I suspect from which the Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite lineage spawned) now included in what we call The Bible. In the renamed condensed later manuscript now called Genesis, we see in verses 3: 22 – 24 (NASB):
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the Tree of Life.
Now I have found manifest in my years working with nations and corporations all over the globe, that man possesses a serious dearth in ability to distinguish good from evil, nor even cozen a coherent definition of each thereof. What man understands is ‘proper’ and ‘improper’. These are simply popular constructs relating to socialized rationality. Hence the persistence of malicious religions, governments and corporations – entities which thrive on ‘rationality’ but do not serve its goals necessarily; rather ultimately their own. Were we to recognize them in the context of true good and evil, possibly we could work to mitigate their deleterious effects. But we cannot even recognize such effects, even if we did possess a knowledge of good and evil at the outset. No, we are their prey – seriously falling under the contention that we must have eaten from the Tree of Lack of Knowledge of Good and Evil, were there such a mythical flora indeed. The bottom line is that the Bible is wrong, we do not know what good and evil is. We know harm, proper and improper. That is all. Perhaps our fall after all, simply resides in our presuming of skill at good and evil discernment in the first place.
Just think to yourself, what if your family dog one day licked an electrical socket and suddenly obtained the mental clarity to ascertain your true nature and celestial position as a human being? What if in a bought of tragic rift, your beloved pet, the furry creature who used to greet you at the door with such abandon, excitement and love each day after work, became knowledgeable about just who and what you were? What if he understood that you did not really kill and prepare the food you so faithfully gave him? What if he understood that you routinely lie to your parents in order to placate them? What if he understood that you had to betray a friend and take full credit for a paper that was partly her idea, in order to make the next step in your career? What if he understood that you destroyed a friend and former lover, in order to chance a relationship with someone more attractive – and it all collapsed in a heap of angst and broken hearts? What if he knew that you habitually tolerated or promulgated lies between 10-200 times every single day – along with the rest of humanity?¹ And even lived in a state of denial of even doing so, lying even to yourself? But never mind this, what if your faithful dog – suddenly possessed even the slightest understanding of who and what you are? He would hold then the wisdom of the Knowledge of God and Not-God. He might even bite you and leave.
He would be wise to you, and no longer serve in the faithful role in which you both previously existed. Bad dog…
Everyone lies. Even so, it is the legitimate role of the New Mind to not simply detect lies, but moreover to dethrone those entities which pretend to the role of God. The Ethical Skeptic does not know what a god even is; nor does he possess all knowledge and wisdom. However, he can easily spot a monkey with a gas can. Even and especially if that gas can serves to intimidate via means of institution, socialized rationality or specious claims to science, evidence or truth. Inside this awareness, several telltale character traits, life signatures differentiate the poser from someone who can be trusted. This is his threshing floor.
The ethical skeptic knows that it is often those who adhere to the most strict appearances of honesty – who can produce the most corrupt manifestations of ignorance and suffering. They can be known by hints derived from their motivations.
Standing Up to The Monkey with the Gas Can
Ethics are therefore disruptive by this very principle alone; and in an evolutionary context actually, eruptive. And in as much as this comforting metaphor of the family dog can serve to exhibit the crucial relationship between knowledge and control, even so we as thinking and discriminating beings can fortunately now examine the playing field inside which we reside. Our task is to become more than simply the smart but formerly obedient dog. In so far as Pamela Meyer has outlined in her work “Liespotting,” the ability to spot lies in other people;¹ even moreso, the task at hand for us the ethical skeptics, is understanding the conditions when someone is pretending to the role of God in our lives. And trust me, it is not just mainstream religion which is pretending to this role. Primates seek power, pleasure and entitlement by any means they can – and uber-correctness, fake humility and social rationality can serve as great cover for such foibles.
First however, let’s examine the transitional role which primates have played in the evolution of consciousness and conscience. The stacked hierarchy of tactic and strategy inside the reality of the need to survive or thrive within this physical realm in which we find ourselves. A New Mind may perceive itself as an unwilling participant inside the grand play in which it holds a role. And whether self-deception, illusion or none of the above, it is of no matter. The reality is that we survey this landscape nonetheless.
Perhaps two examples from the natural world, the first from the Jane Goodall Institute and the second from the work of animal psychologist Penny Patterson of The Gorilla Foundation, can suffice to elicit this graphic below. (As a note, I would ignore the abysmally incompetent, paltry and biased writeups in Wikipedia on both these matters as the authors of those entries were merely doing amateurish hackjobs, and not true research expose on each topic – so the entries are useless as information other than nominal facts and fake skeptic viewpoints on the matter):
[One Chimpanzee named Mike (1938 to 1975) began a strategy of dominance through employment of a gas can.] One day as Mike was batting a gasoline can around, the loud thuds and irritating banging noises it produced resulted in a few of his fellow chimpanzees running quickly away from the strange object and the noise it produced. Mike understood this to mean that he had found a means to intimidate his fellow chimpanzees. Mike began to practice his new brand of display with two cans bouncing off trees and earth as he went running madly down the path with hair standing erect, shoulders pushed back, and face molded into a fiercely determined look. Chimpanzees cringed in fear as they heard his noisy approach and saw him running at them. They scattered off the path and out of his way.
Large high-ranking males fled up the tree trunks when Mike began his descent down the forest path slapping, kicking, and smacking three cans in front of him! The other chimpanzees had never seen or heard anything like it. It was as if the worst thunderstorm had erupted and Mike was directing it toward them. They shrieked and tried desperately to get away from him and the terrible rattling and banging noise the cans made as they flew down the hill in their direction. Not wanting to fight with the unknown, the males of Mike’s community acquiesced. Mike became the first alpha male ever to employ his brain rather than his brawn to govern his community. One year after Mike began his unusual display, he attained the position of alpha male.²
Successively then, let us regard a tale of Koko the western lowland gorilla, the primate who has single-pawed overturned our understanding of the primate mind.
Like most people, Koko has good behaviors and bad behaviors. Like most people, she takes credit for the good behaviors and blames the bad ones on someone else. The cat [All Ball] came in handy on one particularly destructive day. When no one was around, Koko managed to rip a sink out of the wall in her habitat. When the humans returned, they asked Koko who ripped out the sink.
Koko signed, “The cat did it.”³
What this indicates is then, the death of the idea of glorified but fallen-sinful humanity, and the introduction of the idea that our vulnerabilities, our proclivities for both illicit and legitimate gain – are simply expressions of natural strategies to survive and thrive. They are natural, albeit higher DNA based manifestations of expression. We were simply blinded to this by entities pretending to the role of God in our past. Bluffing into a form of control, or what might reside inside the blue levels of the primate pyramid below. Below, I have constructed a graphic depicting the less-than-dramatic schism between humanity and the natural realm, along with the challenge resident in the mind of the ethical skeptic as to how we progress from this problem of philosophy (Social Skepticism), and onto the next step. What I call, The New Mind.
Traits of the New Mind
The decision as to whether control, coaching and conscience are sufficient to the task of fostering The New Mind, or whether or not to apply the draconian measures of culling and conversion, wholly resides inside another camp altogether. So for purposes of this blog, let’s assume that coaching and conscience are the tactics which provide for success in crafting of The New Mind. In that context, for the ethical skeptic, the matter is not simply one of determining liars and lies. Everyone lies. This is the reality of the natural realm inside which we reside. Pretending to be able to counter all the proclivities of the natural realm is a matter of magic, self aggrandizement and boast. Our task is NOT to detect every single lie which is uttered, and swell our egos in a virtual cocoon of correctness. Such a state stands itself, manifest as a sort of lie of its own crafting. The key for the ethical skeptic is to detect when lies become institutionalized, when they begin to manifest suffering on a small or even grander scale.
The question on the mind of the ethical skeptic is “How do we get to the New Mind?” And more importantly, how do I take control of my intent and begin to serve a New Mind in myself? This is the essence of becoming an ethical skeptic. To become a skeptic of one’s self, and others – in so far as spotting the character traits of one who is – or is not – residing inside this New Mind:
- Possessing gumption
- Incessantly curious
- Transparent but not full disclosure
- Does not seek tenure nor guaranteed power and comfort
- Willing to re-invest/risk
- The ability to know when to not be altruistic
- Possesses a “Value for Vision” and a “Vision for Value”
- Hard working but not seeking entitlement
- Disruptive, firm but fair in the face of god proxies
- Does not instinctively seek to insult
- Examines self first
- Does not wear fake humility as a costume
- Does not wear social conformance as a costume
These are the hallmarks of the person who can be trusted, and not whether they have ever made a mistake – nor pondered pseudoscience. A person who has overcome themselves, and further then realizes that the goal of life is not simply to be happy, judgemental or controlling – and especially to not pull off primate tricks in order to amass such pleasure. Rather, possesses the quiet focus to be steadfast, faithful, compassionate, hungry and firm in the face of elite thirst for power. In a world of primate tricks, corruption, collusion and control – such traits are innately disruptive.
Epoché Vanguards Gnosis.
¹ Meyer, Pamela; “Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception”; July 2010; Pamela Meyer.
² ChimpaZoo; The Goodall Institute, Chapter 21: “Mike the Alpha Male”; http://www.chimpanzoo.org/african_notecards/chapter_21.html.
³ “A Conversation with Koko”; Nature (1999) The Gorilla Institute; http://www.koko.org/dvds – as reported through Natural News; Mike Budrant; Jan 19, 2013; http://www.naturalnews.com/038743_primates_liars_gorilla.html.
Within the Riddle of Skepticism is revealed the very nature and role of philosophy.
For me, seven character traits serve to formulate the basis of an important new philosophy. Much of this set of principles revolves around the same tenets which serve to identify good science, innovative ideas and serviceable patents. Philosophy, despite the problem of philosophy as identified by Karl Popper, is no different. Venerable thoughts should exhibit certain beneficial and ethical traits in service to mankind – regardless of whether the domain context is legal, governing, mathematical, scientific or philosophical in nature. In each of my blogs, I strive to meet these expectations for my own work. I don’t always hit the mark – but I will say it is very easy to find examples of philosophy which violate each of these tenets. We all have a long way to go.
The Seven Features of Great Philosophy
1. Distinct – Serves in an incremental or open critical-path role
2. Cogent – Is focused, concise, meaningful and useful
3. Novel – Has not been fairly addressed before
4. Non-obvious – Not really obvious to the average philosopher
5. Adeptly Addresses Prior Art – Leverages or fairly modifies prior philosophical work
6. Not a Rhetosophy – Not developed to feature nor protect an agenda
7. Teachable – Can be effectively communicated and sustained
And that being said, I leave you now with Ethical Skepticism’s “The Riddle of Skepticism”