The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

Sign Posts on The Road Less Traveled By

One who’s boots bear the mud of the road less traveled by, should carry also a loam of ideas less thought.

Today’s blog involves simply musings over Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken.

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This bifurcation stands as metaphor for the fantabulated drama of self-deception which the bromidic mind plays upon those who fall prey to its choices for their lives.

You see, Frost was lamenting the snare of commonplace experience; the de rigeur mud clung fast to the boots of those who all to frequently chose the road not taken.

Each perceives himself as poetic hero, choosing boldly the path not taken – only to find in reality that the hero’s every step, every word, every thought, his every brave deed – all of the original vim and vigor he so earnestly judged to be harvested as gold from deepest settlings of purest soul – was canned, processed, packaged and swallowed as a manufactured product. Not only was their every action not of their own crafting, but each had been done, thought, expressed and believed millions to billions of times before. The road not taken betrays itself to be in actuality, the path most frequently followed – so oft traversed as to become itself, trite, hollow and clichéd.

You see, a man can accept the ill fate of his choices, the wages of risk and a life served fearlessly; but what he cannot accept is to find that in the end, his suffering constitutes simply the latest meaningless drudgery in a long line of unheeded cautionary lore. No battles won, no hills surmounted, no dragons vanquished. Simply another sword and bones bleaching upon the heap of banal and lost humanity.

In Frost’s poem, there exist two roads: 1. the road less traveled by, and the subject of the poem, 2. the road not taken. You see, Frost’s poetic hero chose the road less traversed upon, so the road he elected to decline, was, quod erat demonstrandum, The Road Not Taken.

Sign Posts One Should Have Read on The Road Less Traveled By

 1. He chuckles at the impending gravitas of a ‘disagreement’.

2. The loneliness of the path less traveled, earns one a deep appreciation for engagement and understanding.

3. One who has fallen victim to harmful misrepresentation, will wish to place no one else in the same predicament.

4. The feet weary of the path less traveled seldom find arguing to be invigorating entertainment.

5. Anyone who has traversed the road less traveled should possess some ideas less thought.

6. He cannot help but be an autodidact; fully realizing that this is ironically the essence of every learned and wise man.

7. His realization is that it is certainty, which is killing us more assuredly than is the unknown.

8. If you were once on the right and switched over to the left path, then you should

a. understand the path you departed, much better than do your peers (never allow straw man), and

b. possess a keener understanding of why you are on the path which you have chosen, as compared to your peers – who simply inherited it (never use canned, memorized or scripted party talking points).

9. Stand in the gap for those who are harmed, above all else.

10. Always smile; never mock.

These are the signposts one has read, if indeed they have taken the path less traversed. The majority of those who claim such – wishfully clamor on the whitewashed bones of commonplace destiny. The road I have not taken.

May 30, 2017 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , | Leave a comment

Ten Reasons People No Longer Find Skeptics Credible

Skeptics are losing the argument; losing the war for the American mind, and for good reason. Their actions appear to indicate confidence in the strategy of screaming louder, accusing everyone of being anti-science, conducting more personal attacks and pushing more idiot-but-celebrity personalities into the journalistic limelight; hoping that this approach will somehow rescue themselves in their plight.
However, in the end all this bray will prove to constitute is not a defense of science, rather simply the squeaking noise of their fingers desperately clutching at the metal surface, descending down the slide of irrelevance into posterity.

t1larg.angry.toddler.thinkstock - Copy - CopyVirtually all skeptics believe that, in order to improve the quality of life experienced by those who inhabit this world, then the scientific literacy of our leadership and that of the general population must be enriched. I agree with this sentiment. This Kantian a priori reasoning is belied however, as skeptics are frustrated by an ever increasingly difficult or opposition-minded audience with regard to the conclusions they attempt to foist under such a guise – on both the American population, as well as their elected representatives.

Scientific American published a series of articles recently by Joe Horgan, director of the Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology. The articles revolved around an original work criticizing the skeptic movement for focusing too much on soft/easy targets, and contending that ‘the skeptic movement needs shaking up’.  Coupled with a complete change of landscape towards specific issues of social conscience since the Social Skepticism movement was launched to protect corporate/social/political client interests in 1972, specific mistakes are combining to change the dynamic of how the public conscience is swayed regarding critical issues of research and epistemology. Ways which were not anticipated by the smarter-than-thou leadership the skeptic community hails; indicating an ominous foreboding for Social Skepticism. For instance, celebrity skeptic PZ Meyers has decided he is done with the ‘asshole skeptic’ movement for good. Fake skeptics, science communicators, MSNBC, CNN are all being collectively filed in the circular file of the American public mind. Heck, even celeb-wanna-be and journeyman skeptic Sharon Hill has thrown in the towel over disgust with the intransigence and fecklessness of the ‘skeptic’ community:

I am not happy with the status quo in what is termed the “skeptical community” and have removed myself from group activities. My beef has been with the lack of effectiveness of promoting a skeptical worldview. The reason for this ineffectiveness has multiple factors. I’ll leave that longer discussion for some other time (or never, since I might as well talk to a wall for all the good it does). But here, in a nutshell, is what is going on in my head right now on the topic:

The fundamental shortcoming of the various organizations and the collective network is that it is missing a thoughtful mission with coherent goals.

I’d suggest such a mission would be simply to promote skeptical evaluation of questionable claims for the benefit of society.

This mission has nothing to do with secularism, humanism or atheism at all and it’s not simply cheerleading for science and reason. If anyone thinks that progress has been made by skeptical organizations to make society better, show me the metrics. I would be so happy to see them.‡

To her credit, Sharon gets that there exists a problem in the community; however she does not yet grasp the philosophical and scientific bad habits which have served to precipitate this problem. Perhaps this failure in mission on the part of Social Skepticism (not real skepticism) is indeed not indicative so much of a decline in the rational/scientific mindset of the general population, as it is reflective of a specific set of mistakes being wrought inside the skepticism movement itself. ‘Worldview’ in their jargon has increasingly come to be associated with a specific political party, a specific paranormally-obsessed religion, specific medical diagnoses/obfuscation and specific view on failed economics; all compressed inside the circumspection and experience lacking footprint of arrogant cubicle-constrained and celebrity infatuated academia. Americans get this.

Our feckless, low value/soft target fake skeptics do not get this. As a skeptic, if you are worried about tin-foil hats, bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, brainwashing children and how stupid everyone is, you are going to lose credibility, period. Americans are smarter than this, and they demand more than rhetosophy dressed up as science.

Skeptics are Losing the Battle for the American Mind and Here are Ten Reasons Why

Why do leading periodicals such as National Geographic today decry the “War on Science?”  Perhaps this conclusion is not so much an outcome of diligent epistemology, as it is a push propaganda message on the part of social skepticism’s effort to dominate the media. An effort we have observed to be riddled with critical and harm-enabling mistakes. Through our research conducted over the past decades across a wide range of social topics, we have drawn this conclusion: Cognitive biases cause skeptics to habitually skip past critical research, fail to understand the actual scientific method, focus too much on correctness and control, instruct others as if they are idiots, try too hard to fit in with each other (ironically as if a ‘community’), chronically seek celebrity status and depend too much on experts in a single sub-field to provide a basis for opinion on broad venues of life and social discourse. All serious mistakes of non-science and Popper/Wittgenstein Error. In this article we discuss how these deeply ingrained skeptic foibles interfere with their message—through ten specific weaknesses in message and practice which have manifested over the last 20 years.

     Skyrocketing Medical Debt and an Increasingly Sick Young US Demographic

so-much-more-important-copyAside from the argument surrounding the latest “1 in 45” autism parental survey, an entire list of new diseases has not only sprung up, but have become the top ten most prescribed-for maladies; and only in the United States for the most part, and within the last 20 years.(1) (2) In their report “U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health (See more at: http://iom.nationalacademies.org/Reports/2013/US-Health-in-International-Perspective-Shorter-Lives-Poorer-Health.aspx#sthash.BMz0Py3C.dpuf) the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine cites the condition wherein Americans are watching our selves and our children grow increasingly sick as a nation. And as we watch our loved ones suffer and die from a new class of diseases which did not exist 80 years ago, and as our family medical budgets rise by an average of $3,185 per year† and destroy our lifestyles (not to mention economy), the arrogant screams of the self-proclaimed ‘skeptics’ at Science Based Medicine begin to ring hollow and appear more and more malevolent to the average American. With autism skyrocketing in our children, IBS skyrocketing, alimentary canal cancers growing, diabetes skyrocketing much faster than calories, sugar and lethargy can explain, and our loved one’s beginning to die earlier, people are beginning to doubt what oppressive groups claiming to represent medical science in the media have to say. This is not a Baby Boomer phenomena, as these diseases are now regularly striking victims in high school and college. Being a skeptic is one thing, and most of us will afford you the leeway to play your virtue signalling game into bounds of intellectual arrogance, so long as it does not affect our families. But now it is personal, deadly and despair inducing. People are no longer tolerating the arrogance of voices of denial and correctness when it pertains to national health moving in the wrong direction.

And while parents and their children suffer, as if the ‘movement’ was rubbing salt and taunt into the public’s wounds, they insist on using their holier-than-thou science minds and superior knowledge of scientific reduction to what?  …waste copious amounts of time debunking the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, for the 400,000th time. People get the malicious insult, perhaps even more than do the social skeptics themselves. This fakery and misplaced priority set may serve to do more damage to the ‘community’ than any other single issue.

     The Social Pressure Crucible They Created Around Fringe Subjects Has Been Shattered

The internet and social media is serving to shatter the social pressure crucible that has traditionally bound us from speaking of our paranormal experiences.(3) Ghost hunting, ancient mystery and bigfoot hunting shows are the rage. Despite the fact that every single social media site which even remotely discusses fringe topics, is assigned a team of 3 to 6 token skeptics to patrol the site and ensure that secular nihilism is taught as if it were true science, people are not buying this. They are rejecting the message along with the arrogant meatpuppet patrols who act as their prison keepers. They are buying the evidence instead. Society no longer regards the 768 subjects condemned by the Skeptic’s Dictionary (with very little real research), as all invalid. I have had four close friends, friends who have died – dead – on the operating table, all of whom have come to me (because they trust my ability to be objective and not call them crazy) and shared privately the extraordinary experiences they had. Experiences during, and only during the time in which they were dead.  Four incredible, honest and information verifiable experiences. Were this thirty years ago during the golden age of methodical cynicism, they would never have come forward to anyone. How do I dismiss their observations (they are not ‘claims’)? As a skeptic I do not dismiss them. I ponder, catalog and watch for further information. These four persons are no longer afraid to come forward, much to the chagrin of the fake skeptic crowd of thugs seeking to enforce their religious choice, Secular Nihilism. Most everyone is understanding that two things now are invalid responses to such challenging observations: Knee-jerk denial, and Noelle-Neumann’s Spiral of Silence-styled oppression. Those days, along with those fake skeptics are all a thing of the past.

     Statistics Show that People are Not Buying ‘Big-A’ Atheism

Despite the fact that a recent Pew Research study elucidates that a full 50 million Americans have departed or declined traditional religion(4), fewer than 12% of those in this newly apostate population even privately profess atheism when queried. Given the enormous amount of vitriol spewed by the group claiming scientific knowledge as to the basis of their belief validity concerning religion and gods, why then the refusal by even the most open minded of the general population to accept what this group has to say? The simple fact is that ‘Big-A’ Atheism (as it is commonly called – the A standing for a variety of terms) is shallow, arrogant and every bit as dogmatic and religious as is fundamentalism.(5) It is a fundamentalist religion after all. ‘Big-A’ Atheism (Secular Nihilism) is a religion; but quietly, rational people regard ignostic atheism as not constituting a religion, rather simply a thinking disposition regarding gods only. This allows them to ponder something besides the false dilemma of Atheism and Theism. Something more intellectually challenging and stimulating; something which does not boast of knowledge one cannot possibly hold.

     Science is Being Abused to Enslave Not Free Us

The University of California Berkeley cites in its guidance on science, that “Science doesn’t tell you how to use scientific knowledge” and “Science doesn’t draw conclusions about supernatural explanations.”(6) Despite this, science under the SSkeptics’ watch since 1972, is not being employed to free us and our minds; rather is being abused to support specific oligarch businesses, an oppressive religion and to harm/economically enslave families.(7) The Social Skepticism movement manifests its goals through support of several specific special interest groups. These are interests of allegiance without exception inside the ‘community’, in which Social Skepticism seems to have an irrationally high focus, were it solely comprising an unstructured movement of individual ethic and science alone. Key among these partner special interests are the very familiar laundry list of control groups which manage our economically inflating agriculture, healthcare, health insurance, education, asset insurance, pharmaceuticals and universities. Science in the hands of, and under the watch of Social Skepticism, has played a key role in precipitating economic predation inside these seven hyper-inflating verticals, damaging Americans, their families, their nation. Most people are beginning to see this manifestly.

     Skeptics Tend to Scream Conclusions and Not Conduct Research of Ideas

As ‘fringe’ and ‘paranormal’ researchers bring a continuous flow of higher and higher quality evidence, skeptics do absolutely nothing but scream louder and continually demonstrate that they do not possess the grasp of science nor scientific method of which they all-too-frequently boast.(8) Increasingly, the Baloney Detection Kit produced by Carl Sagan in 1995, is simply being employed to enact the squelching of thought, observations, research and ideas. Ideas which social skeptics do not favor, and seek to have blocked from access to science. Proof gaming (demand to see final proof before research ever starts) and squelching of Sponsors and Discovery Science Methodology are the chief tactics of fake skeptic. Americans get this hypocrisy intuitively, and sense a reason to distrust this group. This is one reason why skeptics are not well liked people – and not because they represent science. People grow in their insistence regarding observations under a paranormal moniker, and grow increasingly tired of being called delusional, stupid or liars by those in the arrogant Social Skeptic community. Besides the role models are often horrible persons, ones whom most Americans find shallow, attention seeking and mean.(9)  Celebrities, blogs, defamation and social exclusions are no longer enough weaponry in the Social Skeptics’ arsenal, wholly now insufficient to keep the population in line. The community is viewed as a cabal of spoiled screaming children. Sorry Social Skeptics, it’s just not working anymore.

     Employment of Trolling Punks Obsessing Over Persons & Politics and Not Science

Social Skeptics coordinate through specific social media sites such as Reddit and patrol a variety of popular fringe topic forums. According to Google Ad Planner the median Reddit user is male (59%), 18–29 years of age, and is connecting from the United States (68%). Pew Research has stated that 6% of all American adult Internet users have used Reddit and males were twice as likely to be Reddit users as females.(10) Reddit is a notorious hangout for the arrogant, inexperienced, shallow and criminally defamatory. These are persons who suffer Fanaticist’s Error. Skeptic ranks increasingly comprise inexperienced, thug minded, Reddit-styled-gang mentality, ignorant, hot-headed, overconfident punks. Most Americans either sense or see this, fully cognizant of meaning behind the Shakespearean quote “Methinks he doth protest too much.” When the number one circulated presentation at TAM2014 involved instructing Social Skeptics how to “Not be A Dick,” you know that there is a high-visibility problem in the Cabal with this.(11) Social Skeptics mistakenly think that this negativity will constitute a strategy of success. They routinely underestimate the ethical quality of Americans, presuming us all to be exactly like themselves. This approach will not succeed with Americans. The last few years have seen our first serious lawsuits requiring Social Skeptics to establish legal defense funds because of tortious interference and business tampering litigation regarding persons and businesses. People of science, like me, have already seen the political motivation, and the puppet show of fake science. We are not buying the poser posture.

     The People Impacted are the New Peer Review

The availability of information and scientific studies is allowing diligent common persons to conduct in-depth research on their own. Contentions can be readily presented and refuted. Mom’s in particular are the primary observers of their childrens’ health for example, in contrast to ‘Science Based Medicine,’ who is not. They are disagreeing and are speaking up. Fake skeptics will tell you that skepticism is about the ‘simplest explanation’ (see the fake Occam’s Razor) and then turn around and tell smart mom’s that they are too dumb to understand the science, so shut up. Let’s be ethically clear here: if  you are the victim, impacted by a new action of science – then by default – you ARE the peer. These stakeholder peers are questioning when government regulators take Vice President and higher jobs inside the corporations for which they just crafted legislation. They are elucidating the malfeasance, financing and a priori influences on authors involved in studies touted as being ‘unbiased’. They are not intimidated by extraordinary claims that others represent science, and that mom’s are stupid or delusional. Again, it is just not working. Moms are the scientists now, they are making the first hand observations and doing the testing – mostly because they have to. Social Skepticism has abandoned them, for the Potter’s Gold of celebrity and career promotion. In comparison, the fakers are simply talented at making 80 year out-of-date noise. Activist organizations such as Thinking Moms’ Revolution are making a big splash – a manifest of the increasing health and financial pressure on us which has resulted from the abuse of science by Social Skepticism since the 1970’s.

     Scientists Quietly No Longer Support Social Skepticism

Scientists do not think as does the Cabal of Social Skeptics and studies make this clear.(9) (12) Scientists after all are people. Their kids get sick, their food damages their health and they have paranormal experiences too. A recent Edge Survey of science journalists and real scientists reveal an enormous schism developing between these two groups as to what constitutes good science, and the chief concerns of scientific endeavor.(12) In fact, the number one regarded issue among real scientists expressed inside that study was concern over ‘Screening of Information/Control of What is Regarded as Acceptable Science’. This contrasts dramatically with science communicator top two concerns focusing on ‘pseudoscience/religion promotion’ and ‘conspiracy theory/anti-big institution activism’.  At a certain point to the ethical mind, tenets of philosophy must yield to sound evidence. The evidence is around us every day – we are being media manipulated by social skeptics. Scientists have strange occurrences in their houses, some have seen Sasquatch and UFO’s or have children who have had vaccine injuries or an entire neighborhood with allergies, cancer and diabetes. Does this make them immediately credulous on such issues? Does this mean they are making a claim to proof? No, of course not. They simply may desire some of the 768 forbidden subjects of skepticism be in fact, …I dunno, maybe researched? An inverse negation fallacy in contrast is a condition wherein you decry the de rigueur 768 topics, and the set left standing after all this rancor, just happens to overlap 100% with the religion you adopted at age 14. This fakery is tantamount to making a pseudoscientific claim – and dressing up as a scientist in an attempt to belie that reality. It cannot be defended by masquerading an Omega Hypothesis through a ‘Oh it’s the null hypothesis’ baloney – real scientists get this. All this does serve to give them pause, and opens the question: “Are our arrogant voices of conclusive certainty, maybe premature?”  The resounding answer to the ethical scientific mind, is Yes.

     People Now Think Outside the Box and are No Longer Intimidated by a Claim to Represent Science

Media is discovering that not only are people interested in the strange; moreover, and even more importantly, they possess an increasing thirst to know more about the world around them. They are not afraid of out of the box thinking or tough questions; a fear socially enforced through Bernaysian Engineering 150 to 50 years ago. This public sentiment makes Social Skeptics scoffing and furious – the 1972 handbook on fake science skepticism is not working! Don’t they know who we are? Why does the public not come to them, the smartest people in the room, for such information? Obviously the public is a bunch of idiots. The growth in paranormal oriented media, has not only detracted from the stream of violent soap-opera-fiction big network and fake news fare, but has spawned a whole new generation of channels dedicated solely to paranormal, science fiction and the strange.(13) The public grows ever more suspicious of people who make the extraordinary claim to represent science, yet at the same time refuse to examine the evidence on a variety of challenging issues. An interesting dichotomy in character.

     The American Public is Weary of Being Called “Anti-Science”

The American public is simply and justifiably tired of this; and they are calling out people like Steven Novella for making such grandiose and unfounded claims: “Not only do people reject the science specific to their issue, they reject science itself.”(14)  So claims Steven Novella (and yes, this is a claim and not an observation, under the scientific method). National Geographic recently produced a rather shallow and associative condemnation laden article on everyone who disagrees with five litmus scientific ideas, as all being one tin-foil-hat-wearing ‘War on Science‘ crowd. Social Skeptics everywhere giggled with joy. The simple fact is that the Anti-Science accusation crowd acts more like unto a political party and oligarchy movement, and nothing else. People sense this, and science is damaged in the process of its being used as ruse and football for these, less than scrupulous persons.(15) When one issues a MiHoDeAL Claim – people are no longer seeing such a claim as being based upon science. Religion, it is not just about a bearded grandfather in the sky anymore. We are not stupid, delusional, irrational, unscientific, anecdotal-conclusion vulnerable, not as susceptible to hoaxes nor are we liars as your ‘community’ implies. This continual insult of the American public, is nothing more than an attempt to remove constitutional rights, import votes from foreign countries and increase your client billing revenues. It is simply the squeaking noise skeptic fingers make as they desperately cling to the metal and skid down the slide of irrelevance into posterity.

Guys. You are losing the battle. Your horrid behaviors, darkened hearts, and control freak minds are sticking out like dead tree stumps in a forest. Those of us highly involved in science and the questions on the mind of the American population, are going to make sure that you do lose. Our society cannot afford your fakery any longer. In the end, Social Skepticism will prove simply to be a cautionary tale parents tell the children of the future.

TES Signature


1.  “Endocrine-Immune Disruption and the Exorbitant Cost of Social Skepticism Induced Bliss,” The Ethical Skeptic, Aug 2, 2014; https://theethicalskeptic.com/2014/08/02/the-exorbitant-cost-of-sskepticism-induced-ignorance/.

2.  “The Urgent Need to Reform the Cartel Science Around Glyphosate,” The Ethical Skeptic, Nov 19, 2014; https://theethicalskeptic.com/2014/11/19/pseudoscience-in-action-the-urgent-need-to-reform-the-science-around-glyphosate/.

3.  “Obedience, Social Pressure, and their Fatality,” Anti Essays, extracted Nov 15, 2015; http://www.antiessays.com/free-essays/Social-Pressure-425975.html.

4.  “If the New Religiously Unaffiliated are Not Atheists, Then Just Who are They?,” The Ethical Skeptic, May 15, 2015; https://theethicalskeptic.com/2015/05/15/if-the-new-religiously-unafiliated-are-not-atheists-then-just-who-are-they/.

5.  “No You are Not an Atheist, You are a Nihilist,” The Ethical Skeptic, Jan 7, 2015; https://theethicalskeptic.com/2015/01/07/no-you-are-not-an-atheist-you-are-a-nihilist/.

6.  UC Berkeley, “Understanding Science: How science really works,” extracted Nov 15, 2015; http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/0_0_0/whatisscience_12.

7.  “The Corrupt Oligarchy of Social Skepticism,” The Ethical Skeptic, Apr 18, 2014; https://theethicalskeptic.com/2014/04/18/the-oligarchical-goals-of-social-skepticism/.

8.  “Survey Shows Rise in Paranormal Beliefs,” Center for Inquiry, Dec 12, 2009; http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/survey_shows_rise_in_paranormal_beliefs_blending_of_christian_new_age_easte/.

9.  “U.K. paranormal survey shows rise in belief,” Doubtful News, Sep 16, 2013; http://doubtflnews/2013/09/uk-paranormal-survey-shows-rise-in-belief/.

10.  Duggan, Maeve, Smith, Aaron, “6% of Online Adults are Reddit Users,” Pew Research Internet Project.

11.  Phil Plait, “Don’t Be a Dick,” Discover: Bad Astronomy, Aug 17, 2010; http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/08/17/dont-be-a-dick-part-1-the-video/#.VkjIrOJOqZM.

12.  “Real Scientists Disagree with SSkeptics About World’s Top Concerns for the Future,” The Ethical Skeptic, Apr 3, 2013; https://theethicalskeptic.com/2013/04/03/real-scientists-are-not-concerned-about-the-same-things-as-are-sskeptics/.

13.  “Paranormal Media: Audiences, Spirits and Magic in Popular Culture,” Oxford Journals, vol 53, issue 4; http://screen.oxfordjournals.org/content/53/4/495.extract.

14.  “The Rising Age of the Cartel: Your Freedoms Were Simply an Experiment,” The Ethical Skeptic, Jul 7, 2015; https://theethicalskeptic.com/2015/07/07/the-rising-age-of-the-cartel-your-freedoms-were-simply-an-experiment/.

15.  “The Anti-Science Party,” MSNBC, May 15, 2014; http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/the-anti-science-party.

†  Bob Bryan, “Americans’ out-of-pocket healthcare costs are skyrocketing”, Business Insider, Sep 14, 2016; http://www.businessinsider.com/out-of-pocket-healthcare-payments-skyrocketing-2016-9 – 10% annual rise on individual average US cost (as identified by the Commonwealth Fund annual report) of $7,960 in 2011, for a family of four.

‡ Sharon Hill, “Teaching the kids critical thinking looks like the BEST place to focus efforts”; I Doubt It, May 24 2017; extracted same; http://sharonahill.com/teaching-the-kids-critical-thinking-looks-like-the-best-place-to-focus-efforts/.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda | , , , | Leave a comment

Formal vs Informal Fallacy and Their Abuse

One can only truly understand how a formal fallacy is qualified, by understanding the relationship between first order logic and formal theory construction.  This allows the philosopher to examine flaws which might serve to negate propositions because of a failure of formal theory. These are called formal fallacies. Informal ‘fallacy’ on the other hand – is an ignominious title ascribed to every bit of circumstantial critique which falls outside of this class of fatal proposition error – or might be boasted as inappropriate basis for an attempt at refutation.
Formal fallacies are fatal to their associated proposition, but in no way serve to prove nor disprove any purported truth. Informal ‘fallacies’ most of the time are abused by those pretending to cite something fatal to the argument at hand. Such is rarely the case; ironically demonstrating a formal fallacy of its own in the offing.

First Order Logic – Predicate Calculus

In First Order Logic, one entity possesses an effect resulting in another entity or entity state via a principle or a mechanism; or simply by means of an observed relationship if the principle or mechanism is not clearly defined or understood. This relationship between one individual entity and another is called a condition of Predicate Calculus.  An apple, released from its tree branch, will fall to the earth. I do not have to identify nor understand the M-theory mechanism(s) which cause this, rather just simply observe it to be (consistent) true. This order of reason is known commonly in philosophical prior art as the modus ponens or ‘If P then Q’ proposition. (1 Rosen)

Modus Ponens

/philosophy : argument : formal structure/ : the necessity that an argument follow a form of claim such that its soundness and formal structure can be followed by others. A discipline featuring the formal structure ‘If P then Q‘ premise in its expression such that claims may not be slipped by surreptitiously inside a condition of poor scientific method, fallacy or little or no actual study or supporting fact whatsoever.

I have made an effort to demonstrate the simple and elegant nature of Predicate Calculus below, in term of cracker crumbs (Q) and cracker eating (P). Please note that in the context of Predicate Calculus, for the sake of parsimony and reduction clarity and/or value, ‘crumbs’ is excluded necessarily – as it is an entity class – and entity classes serve to violate the singular nature of a Predicate Calculus. Whereas ‘cracker crumbs’ and cracker eating are individual entities. Always bear in mind that we, in order to avoid the ambiguity or organic untruth practiced inside social skepticism, are restricted to an individual entity in First Order Logic and typically want to avoid propositions involving unqualified entity classes (see Discerning Sound from Questionable Science Publication). (1 Rosen)

    Eating Crackers Seems to Always Produce Cracker Crumbs (modus ponens)

Example of modus ponens discipline usefulness in detecting deception ambiguity or organic untruth:

Ambiguous Statement             “There is no evidence for this claim”

Proposition form                      Q

modus ponens version            “[specific studies completed showed] there is no evidence for this claim”

Proposition form                      [If P then] Q

Claim validity                            Not Sound – premises are assumed or are incorrect

Formal Theory = Predicate Calculus + Logical Calculus

Predicate Calculus as we have seen, establishes the relationship between two individual entities. This type of parsimonious proposition usually stems from an empirical observation set. Newton is credited with formulation of the theory of gravity, through his observing of an apple falling from an apple tree. Hence definition of the “If two massive bodies, then attractive acceleration by formula of characteristic mass and distance” (If P then Q) proposition by observation. (2 Newton) Note that the principle or mechanism which creates the relationship, or even the characteristic mathematics of such a relationship, if either or both are known, is called the Logical Calculus. (1 Rosen) Below we have depicted both a Predicate Calculus and a Logical Calculus packaged into what is commonly known as The Formal Theory of Gravity:

Soundness

Apples and gravity are salient to arguments about force and acceleration (salience)

Predicate Calculus

An apple, released from its tree branch, will fall (accelerate) to the earth. (modus ponens)

Objects accelerating are consistent in context and mathematical mechanism to physical action of gravity (sequitur)

Logical Calculus

If two massive bodies, then attractive acceleration by formula of characteristic mass and distance, given by the following (3 Wikipedia):

note: the above represents an observation proof through straightforward replication and mathematical confirmation. Most arguments are not so easily resolved. Other types of logical calculus might involve mathematical derivation, or assembly of arrival distributions, premises, constraints, logical relationships and mechanisms which justify a proposed conclusion.

So when we as professors of philosophy have stepped beyond a condition of Predicate Calculus and developed a proposition which explains such Predicate Calculus, ie. the Logical Calculus, we have the basis of what is called Formal Theory. When we screw up the calculus, salience or sequitur which is crafted to make such a proposition, this is called a Formal Fallacy.

Formal and Informal Fallacy

Skepticism therefore, is not a process by which one decides consensus or falsification outcomes (science), rather it is a process of identifying when the predicate calculus or logical calculus has been abrogated inside a claim to truth (proposition). For instance, were Newton to cite that

  1. Object A and B attract each other.
  2. Men and women are objects.
  3. Therefore men and women are attracted to each other.

This proposition would feature three formal fallacies: 1) affirming the consequent, 2) entity class characterization by single entity and 3) two equivocal substitutions of logical entities (Masked Man fallacy. Please note that employment of equivocation in order to accomplish a substitution of equivalents, is a formal fallacy, despite the fact that equivocation itself is an informal fallacy of ambiguity. In this context, equivocation is not employed inside a context of solely ambiguity). The distinguishing formal factor here is that each flaw is FATAL to the critical path logical calculus of the argument itself. The conclusion just happens to accidentally also be true, but its logical critical path is invalid. Accordingly, the answer or ‘truth’ versus ‘untruth’ entailed as the conclusion of a formal fallacy, still may or may not be correct, regardless of the status of the proposition under examination. This serves to elucidate what should be going on in the mind of the ethical skeptic:

Our job as skeptics therefore is not to probe truth itself, nor to pretend to step in and act in lieu of science; rather, our job is to bear vigilance inside the processes by which we arrive at scientifically derived truths. A skeptic who enforces uncertain truth at face value, or by appeal to fallacy (fallacy fallacy), or does so by means of surreptitious advocacy (rhetoric), or by means an inverse negation (informal fallacy), is not a skeptic at all – rather an agenda bearer. This is best discerned in how the supposed ‘skeptic’ deals with an ability to suspend judgement as to what is held as truth – regardless of a particular proposition’s state – or what is called epoché.

A formal fallacy therefore is the singular state wherein, a skeptic can indeed declare a proposition to be in error by means of its predicate (modus ponens), sequitur or logical construction. This does not mean that the truth attempting to be sought is wrong – simply that the means employed to getting there is fatally flawed inside its own structure (the orange box in the graphic above). An argument from fallacy, or fallacy fallacy, would be an instance wherein a faking skeptic employs either a formal, or even more a general critique or informal fallacy, to declare a subject or truth to be therefore, false. Also know as an ‘appeal to fallacy’, such an error in predicate calculus is also itself, a formal fallacy.

Appeal to Fallacy (Fallacy Fallacy)

/philosophy : argument : formal fallacy : pseudo-invalidation/ : when an arguer employs either a formal, or even more an informal fallacy, to stand as the basis to declare a subject or claimed truth to be therefore, false. A formal fallacy or redress on the basis of soundness or induction inference, only serves to invalidate an opponent’s argument structure. All three flaws serve to tender nothing about the verity of the argument’s conclusion, which may or may not be independently also true. As well, any instance wherein a circumstantial, expression, personal or informal critique or other informal fallacy is inappropriately cited as a mechanism to invalidate an opponent’s argument or stand as basis for dismissal of a subject.

An unsophisticated arguer’s flawed attempts for instance, to justify the nearby-Earth existence of aliens, does not serve to justify a position therefore that aliens do not exist nearby Earth. Only science can validate/invalidate such an argument – and not an armchair philosopher. That is why I do not delve into the subject of nearby-Earth aliens often. As an ethical skeptic I possess scant information on nearby aliens with which to work. I cannot make any comment on the matter – save to observe the chicanery of the religious certainty on both sides of the construct (belief on the part of UFO fanatics and null hypothesis abuse on the part of those seeking UFO denial). I have been in every single continent on this Earth except for Antarctica, and almost every one of its deserts and jungles, save for a few I still have on my bucket list. There are rather astounding mysteries to be found. Why people have such an emotional investment on such an issue, with scant investment in their own research, is beyond me. But I digress…

“A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning.  This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts.  To be more specific, a fallacy is an “argument” in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support.”   (Michael Labossiere, philosophy professor, Florida A&M)

“However, not just any type of mistake in reasoning counts as a logical fallacy.  To be a fallacy, a type of reasoning must be potentially deceptive, it must be likely to fool at least some of the people some of the time.  Moreover, in order for a fallacy to be worth identifying and naming, it must be a common type of logical error.” (Gary Curtis, author, The Fallacy Files)

Formal Fallacy

/philosophy : predicate or logical calculus : paralogism/ : a violation of any rule of formal inference —called also paralogism. Any common flaw in the sequitur nature of premise to conclusion, logical or predicate structure which could be cited as the fatal basis of a refutation regarding a given proposition or argument.

The proposition that is formally fallacious is always considered wrong. However, the question in view is not whether its conclusion is true or false, but whether the form of the proposition supporting its conclusion is valid or invalid, and if its premises provide for logical connection into the argument (i.e. sequitur context, and not the validity per se of the premises themselves, which pertains to salience and soundness). The argument may agree in its conclusion with an eventual truth only by accident. What gives unity to different fallacies inside this view is not their characteristic dialogue structure, rather the nature of integrity inside the concepts of deduction and (non-inductive) proof upon which the proposition is critically founded. (4 Hansen, SEOP) (5 Wikipedia)

One thing to be made clear here is the issue of soundness and premises. The soundness of an argument relates to the validity of its premises. However, the linkages in sequitur logic which make the premises salient to the argument, do pertain to formal fallacy. Many fallacy definitions miss this distinction – that the salience or sequitur nature of a premise does not solely relate to the issue of soundness. It is part of the Predicate Calculus as well. The graphic above helps me differentiate between informal fallacy soundness (yellow box) and formal logic (orange box) and circumstantial informal critique (grey box).

This circumstantial informal critique category in the graphic above, introduces an even weaker from of counter argument, perhaps even more appropriately cited as a ‘criticism’ or ‘disputation’ involving a focus on informal ‘fallacies’. An informal fallacy does not serve to fatally invalidate an argument, rather only cast suspicion onto the nature of its expression.

Informal ‘Fallacy’

/philosophy : proposition expression : flaws/ : flaws in the expression, features, intent or dialogue structure of a proposition or series of propositions. Any criticism of an argument by means of other than structure (formal) flaws; most often when the contents of an argument’s stated premises fail to adequately support its proposed conclusion (soundness), or serious errors in foundational facts are presented.

An informal fallacy is really anything else which is circumstantially wrong with an argument, which does not relate to its predicate, salient, sequitur or logical construction. For instance, relevance is an informal fallacy (ad hominem or an appeal to skepticism as examples of irrelevant informal ‘fallacies’). When the contents of an argument’s stated premises fail to adequately support its proposed conclusion – this relates to the soundness of the argument. It has nothing to do with the logical calculus or predicate modus ponens (the yellow box in the graphic above). Nor in reality, is citing a lack of soundness a form of informal critique. It rises to a position of equal significance with both factual error and error in structure. This certainly a much more important feature set than say, an ad hominem ‘fallacy’.

The Ethical Skepticism Alternative

However, in philosophical circles, this raises the question as to whether or not ‘informal fallacies’, aside from issues of argument soundness, are even fallacies at all – or simply an attempt to promote the perception of technicalities into the appearance of invalidating an argument (by conflating anything and everything to involve the soundness or logic of the argument), which they do not indeed invalidate. This is a common magician’s trick of social skepticism.

One exception exists however in the form of the informal fallacy of ‘lacking soundness’. Soundness is the condition wherein supporting assumptions solidly underpin the validity of an argument’s logical calculus, and not the strength of the logical calculus itself. Therefore, a lack of soundness, despite not being regarded a formal fallacy of logic, is fatal to an argument just as is a formal fallacy (not fatal however to its conclusion necessarily). So soundness is an all important first step in the evaluation of an argument’s strength, despite its existence as an informal fallacy.

Moreover, if we hold this as one bookend of deception, the false employment of formal and informal fallacy, on the other end of deception is the use of purported ‘facts’ inside a science which is unsound, logically a failure,  and provides no inductive strength. Facts in this situation are useless. They are mere tidbits of propaganda which happen to be correct, but their domain of induction extends very little. The fact spinner will never relate this weakness and imply the contention that fact ≡ science. This is nowhere near the case. Most of science revolves around a principal called plenary condition.

Plenary Science

/philosophy : scientific method : inductive and deductive strength : completeness/ : a conclusion of science or a method of science which is fully researched, complete in alternative address, entire in its domain of necessity-based research, absolute in its determinations and unqualified by agenda, special pleading or conditions. A conclusion which is complete in every reasonable avenue of examination; fully vetted or constituted by all entitled to conduct such review/research. This plenary entitled group to include the sponsors who raised Ockham’s Razor necessity in the first place, as well as those stakeholders who will be directly placed at risk by such a conclusion or research avenue’s ramifications.

Therefore, we see that the simply playground of ‘fallacy and fact’ is not sufficient basis from which to determine sound scientific conclusion. Instead, I carry in mind a framework of argument theory, involving a hierarchy of the five primary argument issues in descending order of importance, which is prioritized like this

Argument Theory

/philosophy : argument strength : evaluation heirarchy/ : the formal and informal methods of evaluating the robust, weak or fatal nature of argument validity.

1.  Coherency – argument is expressed with elements, relationships, context, syntax and language which conveys actual probative information

2.  Soundness – premises support or fail to adequately support its proposed conclusion

3.  Formal Theory – strength and continuity of predicate and logical calculus (basis of formal fallacy)

4.  Inductive Strength – sufficiency of completeness and exacting inference which can be drawn

5.  Factualness – validity of information elements comprised by the argument or premises

6.  Informal Strength – informal critique of expression, intent or circumstantial features

Articles 1 through 3 above are often potentially fatal to an argument, while article 2 is the only Formal Fallacy concerned item. Articles 4 and 5 may only serve to weaken an argument or its propositions. However, articles 4 and 5 may also be used as pretense and distraction.

    This is why fake skeptics scream so often about ‘facts’, ‘evidence’ and (informal) ‘fallacies’, because

  • Facts constitute a relatively weak form inference as compared to soundness, predicate and logical deduction; offering a playground of slack and deception/diversion in the process of boasting about argument strength or lack thereof, and
  • Most faking skeptics do not grasp principles of soundness, predicate and logical calculus, nor the role of induction inference in the first place. ‘Facts’ are the first rung on the hierarchy which they possess the mental bandwidth to understand and debate.
  • A deductive falsification finishes its argument at the Soundness and Formal Theory levels of strength assessment. It is conclusive regardless of circumstantial informal issues. These are rendered moot precisely because falsification has been attained. Faking skeptics seek to distract from the core modus ponens of a falsification argument by pulling it down into the mud of circumstantial ‘facts’ instead; relying upon the reality that most people cannot discern falsification from inference.
  • Informal ‘fallacies’ sound like crushing intellectual blows in an argument, when in fact most of the time they are not. These are tool of those who seek to win at all costs, even if upon an apparent technicality. An arguer who possesses genuine concern about the subject, is not distracted by irrelevant or partially salient technicality.
  • Provided that articles 1 through 4 are sound, observation is always stronger than philosophy. This includes instances of accusation of anecdote, once an Ockham’s Razor necessity is established. Fake skeptics hold this relationship in reverse, and in the resulting promotion of article 5 above its normal importance, conduct pseudoscience.

It is not that facts and evidence are not important, rather it is the critical modus ponens in how they are employed, which is salient (see The Tower of Wrong). So the philosopher must be careful about how such mechanisms as informal critique and facts are employed. It is usually ethical to maintain discipline around your formal and informal critiques of an opponent’s argument. Point out fatal flaws – but only ask questions concerning informal fallacies and facts, because they may be immaterial to the issue at hand. In the end, either technique is employed so as to help the opponent become more clear (and hopefully valuable) in their argument, and not as a means of destroying and bashing a person, nor an attempt to make one’s self appear to be ‘smart’.

Such motives are not indicative of a concern over the subject at all, rather simply an ego which is out of control (an informal ‘fallacy’).


1.  Rosen, Stanley; The Philosopher’s Handbook: Essential Readings from Plato to Kant, Random House Reference, New York, April 2003; pp. 581 – 589.

2.  Newton, Sir Isaac; Mathematic Principles of Natural Philosophy (The Principia); Propositions: Proposition 6, Theorem 6; London, 12 Jan 1725.

3.  Wikipedia: Newton’s law of universal gravitation; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_law_of_universal_gravitation.

4.  Hansen, Hans, “Fallacies”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2015/entries/fallacies/&gt;.

5.  Wikipedia: Formal Fallacy; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_fallacy.

March 11, 2017 Posted by | Argument Fallacies | , , | Leave a comment

Poser Science: Proof Gaming

Science begins its work based upon a principle called necessity, not upon proof. Science then establishes proof, if such can be had. Popper critical rationality as it turns out, involves more than irrefutable proof, contrary to what gaming social skeptics might contend. Proof Gaming is a method of tendering an affectation of sciencey methodology, yet still effectively obfuscating research and enforcing acceptable thought.

im-a-skeptic-burden-of-proofIn order for science to begin to prove the existence of the strange animal tens of thousands of credible persons report roaming in the woods, I must first bring in its dead carcass.  But if I bring in its dead body, then I have no need for science to examine that such an animal exists in the first place; I have already done the science.  The demand that I bring in a dead body, given a sufficient level of Ockham’s Razor necessity-driving information, is a false standard threshold for science to begin its diligence, and such a demand constitutes pseudoscience.

Now of course, Karl Popper in his brief entitled Die beiden Grundprobleme der Erkenntnistheorie contended that science should be demarcated by the proper assignment of truth values to its assertions, or ‘sentences’: ergo, science is the set of sentences with justifiably assigned truth values.¹ This was called a mindset of ‘critical rationality’.¹ It was a step above simple scientific skepticism. The task of the philosophy of science is to explain suitable methods by which these assignments are then properly made.¹ However, one can extend the philosophy of science to construct elaborate methods, which prevent the assimilation of ideas or research which one disfavors, by gaming these methods such that philosophy stands and acts in lieu of science. One such trick of conducting science research by means of solely philosophy, all from the comfort of one’s arm chair, is called Proof Gaming. Popper contended later in his work, as outlined by the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy here:

As a consequence of these three difficulties [the problem or necessity of induction] Popper developed an entirely different theory of science in chapter 5, then in Logik der Forschung. In order to overcome the problems his first view faced, he adopted two central strategies. First, he reformulated the task of the philosophy of science. Rather than presenting scientific method as a tool for properly assigning truth values to sentences, he presented rules of scientific method as conducive to the growth of knowledge. Apparently he still held that only proven or refuted sentences could take truth values. But this view is incompatible with his new philosophy of science as it appears in his Logik der Forschung: there he had to presume that some non-refuted theories took truth values, that is, that they are true or false as the case may be, even though they have been neither proved nor refuted [William of Ockham’s ‘plurality’]. It is the job of scientists to discover their falsity when they can. (IEoP)¹

Social skeptics will cite the base logic of Popper’s first work, yet omit his continued work on induction (Logik der Forschung) – as a process of sleight-of-hand in argument. So, critical rationality as it turns out, involves more than irrefutable proof, contrary to what gaming social skeptics might contend. Science begins its work based upon a principle called necessity, not upon proof. Science then establishes proof, if such can be had. Sadly, much of science cannot be adjudicated on anything like what we would call iron-clad proof, and instead relies upon a combination of falsified antithetical alternatives or induction based consilience.

The gaming of this reality constitutes a process of obfuscation and deceit called Proof Gaming. Proof Gaming is the process of employing dilettante concepts of ‘proof’ as a football in order to win arguments, disfavor disliked groups or thought, or exercise fake versions or standards of science. Proof gaming presents itself in six speciations. In the presence of sufficient information or Ockham’s Razor plurality, such tactics as outlined below, constitute a game of pseudoscience. Posing the appearance of science-sounding methods, yet still enabling obfuscation and a departure from the scientific method in order to protect the religious ideas one adopted at an early age.

Let’s examine the six types of this common social skeptic bad science method, formal and informal fallacy.

Proof Gaming

/philosophy : argument : pseudoscience : false salience/ : employing dilettante concepts of ‘proof’ as a football in order to win arguments, disfavor disliked groups or thought, or exercise fake versions of science. Proof gaming presents itself in six speciations:

Catch 22 (non rectum agitur fallacy) – the pseudoscience of forcing the proponent of a construct or observation, to immediately and definitively skip to the end of the scientific method and single-handedly prove their contention, circumventing all other steps of the scientific method and any aid of science therein; this monumental achievement prerequisite before the contention would ostensibly be allowed to be considered by science in the first place. Backwards scientific method and skipping of the plurality and critical work content steps of science.

Fictitious Burden of Proof – declaring a ‘burden of proof’ to exist when such an assertion is not salient under science method at all. A burden of proof cannot possibly exist if neither the null hypothesis or alternative theories nor any proposed construct possesses a Popper sufficient testable/observable/discernible/measurable mechanism; nor moreover, if the subject in the matter of ‘proof’ bears no Wittgenstein sufficient definition in the first place (such as the terms ‘god’ or ‘nothingness’).

Herculean Burden of Proof – placing a ‘burden of proof’ upon an opponent which is either arguing from ignorance (asking to prove absence), not relevant to science or not inside the relevant range of achievable scientific endeavor in the first place. Assigning a burden of proof which cannot possibly be provided/resolved by a human being inside our current state of technology or sophistication of thought/knowledge (such as ‘prove abiogenesis’ or ‘prove that only the material exists’). Asking someone to prove an absence proposition (such as ‘prove elves do not exist’).

Fictus Scientia – assigning to disfavored ideas, a burden of proof which is far in excess of the standard regarded for acceptance or even due consideration inside science methods. Similarly, any form of denial of access to acceptance processes normally employed inside science (usually peer review both at theory formulation and at completion). Request for proof as the implied standard of science – while failing to realize or deceiving opponents into failing to realize that 90% of science is not settled by means of ‘proof’ to begin with.

Observation vs Claim Blurring – the false practice of calling an observation or data set, a ‘claim’ on the observers’ part.  This in an effort to subjugate such observations into the category of constituting scientific claims which therefore must be now ‘proved’ or dismissed (the real goal: see Transactional Occam’s Razor Fallacy).  In fact an observation is simply that, a piece of evidence or a cataloged fact. Its false dismissal under the pretense of being deemed a ‘claim’ is a practice of deception and pseudoscience.

As Science as Law Fallacy – conducting science as if it were being reduced inside a court of law or by a judge (usually the one forcing the fake science to begin with), through either declaring a precautionary principle theory to be innocent until proved guilty, or forcing standards of evidence inside a court of law onto hypothesis reduction methodology, when the two processes are conducted differently.

All of these tactics are common practices which abrogate the role and discipline of science.  Additionally, a key set of symptoms to look for, in determining that Proof Gaming is underway, are when

  1. one of these tactics is conducted inside a media spotlight,  and when
  2. every media outlet is reciting the same story, and same one liner such as ‘extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence’, verbatim.

This is an indicator that a campaign is underway to quash a subject.

The sad reality is, that on most tough issues, any one single person or small group of outsiders is poorly equipped to prove a subject beyond question. Popper recognized this later in his life work.  We simply do not have the resources and time to accomplish such a task.  SSkeptics know this and use it to their advantage.  The people who are calling for research for example on the connection between cognitive delays in children and the potential role which immunizations have had on this, are simply asking for science to do the research. The response they receive is “You can’t prove the link,” thus we are justified in waging a media campaign against you and scientifically ignoring this issue. This is Proof Gaming.  Complicating this is the fact that the issue is broader than simply MMR and Thimerosal (the majority body of current study), involving the demand for science to research the causes of valid skyrocketing levels of developmental delays, autoimmune disorders, and learning disabilities in our children. The issue bears plurality and precaution, but is answered with ignorance. The Proof Gamers who sling epithets such as “Deniers” and “Anti-vaccinationistas” and “Autistic Moms” are committing scientific treason. One should note that the handiwork of such SSkeptics is rarely characterized by outcomes of value or clarity, is typically destructive and control oriented, and is reliably made media-visible (see our next Poser Science series on the tandem symbiosis between virtue signalling and malevolence).

Hype and name calling has no place in pluralistic research, and the media pundits who commit this are practicing pseudoscience plain and simple. Once plurality has been established, the games should be over.  But not for Proof Gamers.   Attacking proponents who have done case research to call for further science (not proving the subject) for not “proving beyond a shadow of a doubt,” their contentions, is an act of pseudoscience.

This fake demand for proof before research is Proof Gaming, is an abrogation of the Scientific Method and is Pseudoscience.

TES Signature


¹  The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Karl Popper: Critical Rationalism”; http://www.iep.utm.edu/cr-ratio/#H2.

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies, Social Disdain, Tradecraft SSkepticism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Discerning Sound from Questionable Science Publication

Non-replicatable meta-analyses published in tier I journals do not constitute the preponderance of good source material available to the more-than-casual researcher. This faulty idea stems from a recently manufactured myth on the part of social skepticism. Accordingly, the life-long researcher must learn techniques beyond the standard pablum pushed by social skeptics; discerning techniques which will afford them a superior ability to tell good science from bad – through more than simply shallow cheat sheets and publication social ranking classifications.
The astute ethical skeptic is very much this life-long and in depth researcher. For him or her, ten specific questions can serve to elucidate this difference inside that highly political, complicated and unfair playing field called science.

the-ten-study-questionsRecently, a question was posed to me by a colleague concerning the ability of everyday people to be able to discern good scientific work from dubious efforts. A guide had been passed around inside her group, a guide which touted itself as a brief on 5 key steps inside a method to pin-point questionable or risky advising publications. The author cautioned appropriately that “This method is not infallible and you must remain cautious, as pseudoscience may still dodge the test.” He failed of course to mention the obvious additional risk possibility that the method could serve to screen science which either 1) is good but cannot possibly muster the credential, funding and backing to catch the attention of crowded major journals, or 2) is valid, however is also screened by power-wielding institutions which could have the resources and connections as well as possible motive to block research on targeted ideas. The article my friend’s group was circulating in consideration constituted nothing but a Pollyanna, wide-eyed and apple pie view of the scientific publication process. One bereft of the scarred knuckles and squint-eyed wisdom requisite in discriminating human motivations and foibles.

There is much more to this business of vetting ideas than simply identifying the bad people and the bad subjects. More than simply crowning the conclusions of ‘never made an observation in my life’ meta-analyses as the new infallible standard of truth.

Scientific organizations are prone to the same levels of corruption, bias, greed, desire to get something for as little input as possible, as is the rest of the population. Many, or hopefully even most, individual scientists buck this mold certainly, and are deserving of utmost respect. However, even their best altruism is checked by organizational practices which seek to ensure that those who crave power, are dealt their more-than-ample share of fortune, fame and friar-hood. They will gladly sacrifice the best of science in this endeavor. And in this context of human wisdom it is critical that we keep watch.

If you are a casual reader of science, say consuming three or four articles a month, then certainly the guidelines outlined by Ariel Poliandri below, in his blog entitled “A guide to detecting bogus scientific journals”, represent a suitable first course on the menu of publishing wisdom.¹ In fact, were I offered this as the basis of a graduate school paper, it would be appropriately and warmly received. But if this is all you had to offer the public after 20 years of hard fought science, I would aver that you had wasted your career therein.

1 – Is the journal a well-established journal such as Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, etc.?
2 – Check authors’ affiliations. Do they work in a respectable University? Or do they claim to work in University of Lala Land or no university at all?
3 – Check the Journal’s speciality and the article’s research topic. Are the people in the journal knowledgeable in the area the article deals with?
4 – Check the claims in the title and summary of the article. Are they reasonable for the journal publishing them?
5 – Do the claims at least make sense?

This list represents simply a non-tenable way to go about vetting your study and resource material so that only pluralistic ignorance influences your knowledge base. It is lazy – sure to be right and safe – useless advisement, to a true researcher. The problem with this list resides inside some very simple industry realities:

1.  ‘Well-established journal’ publication requires sponsorship from a major institution. Scientific American cites that 88% of scientists possess no such sponsorship, and this statistic has nothing to do with the scientific groups’ relative depth in subject field.² So this standard, while useful for the casual reader of science, is not suitable at all for one who spends a lifetime of depth inside a subject. This would include for instance, a person studying impacting factors on autism in their child, or persons researching the effect of various supplements on their health. Not to mention of course, the need to look beyond this small group of publications applies to scientists who spend a life committed to their subject as well.

One will never arrive at truth by tossing out 88% of scientific studies right off the bat.

2.  Most scientists do not work for major universities. Fewer than 15% of scientists ever get to participate in this sector even once in their career.² This again is a shade-of-gray replication of the overly stringent filtering bias recommended in point 1. above. I have employed over 100 scientists and engineers over the years, persons who have collectively produced groundbreaking studies. For the most part, none ever worked for a major university. Perhaps 1 or 2 spent a year inside university affiliated research institutes. Point 2 is simply a naive standard which can only result in filtering out everything with the exception of what one is looking for. One must understand that, in order to survive in academia, one must be incrementally brilliant and not what might be even remotely considered disruptively brash. Academics bask in the idea that their life’s work and prejudices have all panned out to come true. The problem with this King Wears No Clothes process is that it tends to stagnate science, and not provide the genesis of great discovery.

One will never arrive at truth by ignoring 85% of scientists, right off the bat.

3.  There are roles for both specialty journals and generalized journals. There is a reason for this, and it is not to promote pseudoscience as the blog author implies (see statement in first paragraph above). A generalized journal maintains resource peers to whom they issue subject matter for review. They are not claiming peer evaluation to be their sole task. Larger journals can afford this, but not all journals can. Chalk this point up as well up to naivete. Peer review requires field qualification; however in general, journal publication does not necessarily. Sometimes they are one in the same, sometimes not. Again, if this is applied without wisdom, such naive discrimination can result in a process of personal filtering bias, and not stand as a suitable standard identifying acceptable science.

One will never arrive at truth by viewing science as a club. Club quality does not work.

4.  Check for the parallel nature of the question addressed in the article premise, methodology, results, title and conclusion.  Article writers know all about the trick of simply reading abstracts and summaries. They know 98% of readers will only look this far, or will face the requisite $25 to gain access further than the abstract. If the question addressed is not the same throughout, then there could be an issue. As well, check the expository or disclosure section of the study or article. If it consists even in part, of a polemic focusing on the bad people, or the bad ideas, or the bad industry player – then the question addressed in the methodology may have come from bias in the first place. Note: blog writing constitutes this type of writing. A scientific study should be disciplined to the question at hand, be clear on any claims made, and as well any preliminary disclosures which help premise, frame, constrain, or improve the predictive nature of the question. Blogs and articles do not have to do this; however, neither are they scientific studies. Know the difference.

Writers know the trick – that reviewers will only read the summary or abstract. The logical calculus of a study resides below this level. So authors err toward favoring established ideas in abstracts.

5.  Claims make sense with respect to the context in which they are issued and the evidence by which they are backed. Do NOT check to see if you believe the claims or they make some kind of ‘Occam’s Razor’ sense. This is a false standard of ‘I am the science’ pretense taught by false skepticism. Instead, understand what the article is saying and what it is not saying – and avoid judging the article based on whether it says something you happen to like or dislike. We often call this ‘sense’ – and incorrectly so. It is bias.

Applying personal brilliance to filter ideas, brilliance which you learned from only 12% of publication abstracts and 15% of scientists who played the game long enough – is called: gullibility.

It is not that the body of work vetted by such criteria is invalid; rather simply that – to regard science as only this – is short sighted and bears fragility. Instead of these Pollyanna 5 guidelines, the ethical skeptic will choose to understand whether or not the study or article in question is based upon standards of what constitutes good Wittgenstein and Popper science. This type of study can be conducted by private lab or independent researchers too. One can transcend the Pollyanna 5 questions above by asking the ten simple questions regarding any material – and outlined in the graphic at the top of this article. Epoché is exercised by keeping their answers in mind, without prejudice, as onward you may choose to read. Solutions to problems come from all levels and all types of contributors. This understanding constitutes the essence of wise versus naive science.

“Popper holds that there is no unique methodology specific to science. Science, like virtually every other human, and indeed organic, activity, Popper believes, consists largely of problem-solving.”³

There are two types of people, those who wish to solve the problem at hand, and those who already had it solved, so it never was a problem for them to begin with, rather simply an avenue of club agenda expression or profit/career creation.

Let’s be clear here: If you have earned tenure as an academic or journal reviewer or a secure career position which pays you a guaranteed $112,000 a year, from age 35 until the day you retire, this is the same as holding a bank account with $2,300,000 in it at age 35† – even net of the $200,000 you might have invested in school. You are a millionaire. So please do not advertise the idea that scientists are all doing this for the subject matter.

$2.3 million (or more in sponsorship) is sitting there waiting for you to claim it – and all you have to do is say the right things, in the right venues, for long enough.

This process of depending solely on tier I journals – is an exercise in industry congratulationism. There has to be a better way to vet scientific study, …and there is. The following is all about telling which ilk of person is presenting an argument to you.

The Ten Questions Differentiating Good Science from Bad

better-science-1Aside from examining a study’s methodology and logical calculus itself, the following ten questions are what I employ to guide me as to how much agenda and pretense has been inserted into its message or methodology. There are many species of contention; eight in the least if we take the combinations of the three bisected axes in the graph to the right. Twenty four permutations if we take the sequence in which the logic is contended (using falsification to promote an idea versus promoting the idea that something ‘will be falsified under certain constraints’, etc.) In general, what I seek to examine is an assessment of how many ideas the author is seeking to refute or promote, with what type of study, and with what inductive or deductive approach. An author who attempts to dismiss too many competing ideas, via a predictive methodology supporting a surreptitiously promoted antithesis, which cannot possibly evaluate a critical theoretical mechanism – this type of study or article possesses a great likelihood of delivering bad science. Think about the celebrity skeptics you have read. How many competing ideas are they typically looking to discredit inside their material, and via one mechanism of denial (usually an apothegm and not a theoretical mechanism)? The pool comprises 768 items – many to draw from – and draw from this, they do.

Let’s be clear here – a study can pass major journal peer review and possess acceptable procedural/analytical methodology – but say or implicate absolutely nothing for the most part. Ultimately being abused (or abusing its own research in extrapolating its reach) to say things which the logical calculus involved would never support (see Dunning-Kruger Abuse). Such conditions do not mean that the study will be refused peer review. Peer reviewers rarely ever contend (if they disregard the ‘domain of application’ part of a study’s commentary):

“We reject this study because it could be abused in its interpretation by malicious stakeholders.” (See example here: http://www.medicaldaily.com/cancer-risks-eating-gmo-corn-glyphosate-vs-smoking-cigarettes-according-411617)

Just because a study is accepted for and pass peer review, does not mean that all its extrapolations, exaggerations, implications or abuses are therefore true. You, as the reader are the one who must apply the sniff test as to what the study is implying, saying or being abused to say. What helps a reader avoid this? Those same ten questions from above.

null-hypothesisThe ten questions I have found most useful in discerning good science from bad, are formulated based upon the following Popperian four-element premise.² All things being equal, better science is conducted in the case wherein

  • one idea is
  • denied through
  • falsification of its
  • critical theoretical mechanism.

If the author pulls this set of four things off successfully, eschews promotion of ‘the answer’ (which is the congruent context to one having disproved a set of myriad ideas), then the study stands as a challenge to the community and must be sought for replication (see question IX below). For the scientific community at large to ignore such a challenge is the genesis of (our pandemic) pluralistic ignorance.

For instance, in one of the materials research labs I managed, we were tasked by an investment fund and their presiding board to determine the compatibility of titanium to various lattice state effects analogous to iron. The problem exists however in that titanium is not like iron at all. It will not accept the same interstitial relationships with other small atomic radius class elements that iron will (boron, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen). We could not pursue the question the way the board posed it. “Can you screw with titanium in exotic ways to make it more useful to high performance aircraft?”  We first had to reduce the question into a series of salient, then sequitur Bayesian reductions. The first question to falsify was “Titanium maintains its vacancy characteristics at all boundary conditions along the gamma phase state?” Without an answer (falsification) to this single question – not one single other question related to titanium could be answered in any way shape or form. Most skeptics do not grasp this type of critical path inside streams of logical calculus. This is an enormous source of confusion and social ignorance. Even top philosophers and celebrity skeptics fail this single greatest test of skepticism. And they are not held to account because few people are the wiser, and the few who are wise to it – keep quiet to avoid the jackboot ignorance enforced by the Cabal.

Which introduces and opens up the more general question of ‘What indeed, all things being considered, makes for good effective science?” This can be lensed through ten useful questions below, applied in the same fashion as the titanium example case:

I. Has the study or article asked and addressed the 1. relevant and 2. salient and 3. critical path next question under the scientific method?

If it has accomplished this, it is already contending for teir I science, as only a minority of scientists understand how to pose reductive study in this way. If it has not done this then do not even proceed to the next questions II though VII below. Throw the study in the waste can. Snopes is notorious for this type of chicanery. The material is rhetoric, targeting a victim group, idea or person.

If the answer to this is ‘No’ – Stop here and ignore the study. Use it as an example of how not to do science.

II. Did the study or article focus on utilization of a critical theoretical mechanism which it set out to evaluate for validity?

The litmus which differentiates a construct (idea or framework of ideas) from a theory, is that a theory contains a testable and critical theoretical mechanism. ‘God’ does not possess a critical theoretical mechanism, so God is a construct which cannot be measured or tested to any Popperian standard of science. God is not a theory. Even more so, many theories do not possess a testable mechanism, and are simply defaulted to the null hypothesis instead. Be very skeptical of such ‘theories’.

If the answer to this is ‘No’ – Regard the study or article as an opinion piece and not of true scientific incremental value.

III.  Did the study or article attempt to falsify this mechanism, or employ it to make predictions? (z-axis)

Karl Popper outlined that good science involves falsification of alternative ideas or the null hypothesis. However, given that 90% of science cannot be winnowed through falsification alone, it is generally recognized that a theory’s predictive ability can act as a suitable critical theoretical mechanism via which to examine and evaluate. Evolution was accepted through just such a process. In general however, mechanisms which are falsified are regarded as stronger science over successfully predictive mechanisms.

If the study or article sought to falsify a theoretical mechanism – keep reading with maximum focus. If the study used predictive measures – catalog it and look for future publishing on the matter.

IV.  Did the study or article attempt to deny specific idea(s), or did it seek to promote specific idea(s)? (x-axis)

Denial and promotion of ideas is not a discriminating facet inside this issue stand alone. What is significant here is how it interrelates with the other questions. In general attempting to deny multiple ideas or promote a single idea are techniques regarded as less scientific than the approach of denying a single idea – especially if one is able to bring falsification evidence to bear on the critical question and theoretical mechanism.

Simply keep the idea of promotion and denial in mind while you consider all other factors.

V.  Did the study affix its contentions on a single idea, or a group of ideas? (y-axis)

In general, incremental science and most of discovery science work better when a study focuses on one idea for evaluation and not a multiplicity of ideas. This minimizes extrapolation and special pleading loopholes or ignorance. Both deleterious implications for a study. Prefer authors who study single ideas over authors who try and make evaluations upon multiple ideas at once. The latter task is not a wise undertaking even in the instance where special pleading can theoretically be minimized.

If your study author is attempting to tackle the job of denying multiple ideas all at once – then the methodical cynicism alarm should go off. Be very skeptical.

VI.  What percent of the material was allocated towards ideas versus the more agenda oriented topics of persons, events or groups?

If the article or study spends more than 10% of its Background material focused on persons, events or groups it disagrees with, throw the study in the trash. If any other section contains such material above 0%, then the study should be discarded as well. Elanor Roosevelt is credited with the apothegm “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”

Take your science only from great minds focusing on ideas and not events or persons.

As well, if the author broaches a significant amount of related but irrelevant or non-salient to the question at hand material, you may be witnessing an obdurate, polemic or ingens vanitatum argument. Do not trust a study or article where the author appears to be demonstrating how much of an expert they are in the matter (through addressing related but irrelevant and non-salient or non-sequitur material). This is irrelevant and you should be very skeptical of such publications.

VII. Did the author put an idea, prediction or construct at risk in their study?

Fake science promoters always stay inside well established lines of social safety, so that they are 1) Never found wrong, 2) Don’t bring the wrong type of attention to themselves (remember the $2.6+ million which is at stake here), and 3) Can imply their personal authority inside their club as an opponent-inferred appeal in arguing. They always repeat the correct apothegm, and always come to the correct conclusion. The will make a habit of taunting those with redaction.

Advancing science always involves some sort of risk. Do not consider those who choose paths of safety, familiarity and implied authority to possess any understanding of science.

VIII.  Was the study? (In order of increasing gravitas)

1.  increasing-gravitasPsychology or Motivation (Pseudo-Theory – Explains Everything)

2.  Meta-Data – Studies of Studies (Indirect Data Only vulnerable to Simpson’s Paradox or Filtering/Interpretive Bias)

3.  Data – Cohort and Set Measures (Direct but still Data Only)

4.  Direct Measurement Observation (Direct Confirmation)

5.  Inductive Consilience Establishment (Preponderance of Evidence from Multiple Channels/Sources)

6.  Deductive Case Falsification (Smoking Gun)

All it takes in order to have a strong study is one solid falsifying observation. This is the same principle as is embodied inside the apothegm ‘It only takes one white crow, to falsify the idea that all crows are black’.

IX.  When the only viable next salient and sequitur reductive step, post study – is to replicate the results – then you know you have a strong argument inside that work.

X.  Big data and meta-analysis studies like to intimidate participants in the scientific method with the implicit taunt “I’m too big to replicate, bring consensus now.”

These questions, more than anything else – will allow the ethical skeptic to begin to grasp what is reliable science and what is questionable science. Especially in the context where one can no longer afford to dwell inside only the lofty 5% of the highest regarded publications or can no longer stomach the shallow talking point sheets of social skepticism – all of which serve only to ignore or give short shrift to the ideas to which one has dedicated their life in study.

TES Signature


¹  Poliandri, Ariel; “A guide to detecting bogus scientific journals”; Sci – Phy, May 12, 2013; http://sci-phy.com/detecting-bogus-scientific-journals/

²  Beryl Lieff Benderly, “Does the US Produce Too Many Scientists?; Scientific American, February 22, 2010; https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-the-us-produce-too-m/

³  Thornton, Stephen, “Karl Popper”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/popper/&gt;

†  Present Value of future cash flows with zero ending balance: 456 payments of $9,333 per month at .25% interest per payment period.

February 25, 2017 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Social Disdain | , , | Leave a comment

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