The Critical Role of Sponsors in the Scientific Method
In true research, the diligent investigator is continually bombarded by huge amounts of data, in the form of facts, observations, measures, voids, paradoxes, associations, and so on. To be able to make use of this data a researcher typically reduces it to more manageable proportions. This does not mean we need to necessarily tender a claim about that data. Instead science mandates that we apply the principles of both linear and asymmetric Intelligence as part of the early scientific method. Our goal in Sponsorship is not to force an argument or proof, rather to establish a reductionist description through which the broader observational set may be reproduced or explained, as possible. This reductionist description is called a construct. Constructs are developed by laymen, field researchers, analysts, philosophers, witnesses as well as lay experts and scientists alike. The science which ignores this process, is not science.
It is the job of the Sponsor in the scientific method, to perform these data collection, linear and asymmetric Intelligence and reductionist development steps. In absence of robust regard for Sponsorship, science is blinded, and moreover the familiar putrefied rot of false skepticism takes root and rules the day of ignorance.
(scientific methodology) an individual or organization gathering the resources necessary and petitioning for plurality of argument under Ockham’s Razor and the scientific method.
When we speak of ethics at The Ethical Skeptic, we speak less of features of personal moral character, and more of the broader application context. A professional allegiance and adherence to a clear and valuable series of deontological protocols which produce results under a given knowledge development process. In other words, fealty to the scientific method, above specific conclusions. Ethically I defer; I surrender my religions, predispositions and dogma to the outcome of the full and competently developed knowledge set. This is ethics. It really has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with the character of curiosity. I do not have the universe figured out, and I would sincerely like to know some things.
Type I Sponsor: Lay Science
A key component of this ethical process are the portions of science which involve Sponsorship. Don’t be dissuaded by the title. A sponsor is a very familiar participant in the protocols of science. Sky watching lay astronomers for example are a vital part of the scientific method, depicted in the chart to the right under Type I Sponsors. These lay researchers perform key roles in monitoring, collecting and documenting of celestial events and bodies. Many new comets are named after the actual layman who spotted them and provided enough information for science then to further prove the case at hand. The Sponsor in astronomy does not prove the hypothesis per se, rather simply establishes the case for a construct: the proposed incremental addition of celestial complexity beyond the reasonableness of parsimony (see: Ethical Skepticism – Part 5). Science then further tests, reviews and proves the lay astronomer’s sponsored construct by means of a hypothesis. The layman in astronomy in essence ‘gathers the resources necessary and petitions for plurality of argument (a new celestial moving body) under Ockham’s Razor and the scientific method.’ It is this Type I Sponsor realm, inside of which Big Data will unveil its most remarkable revolution.
“In everyday life we are continually bombarded by huge amounts of data, in the form of images, sounds, and so on. To be able to make use of this data we must reduce it to more manageable proportions.”¹ This does not mean we need to make a claim about that data. It means we need to apply the principles of asymmetric intelligence. Our goal in [Sponsorship] is not to make a claim necessarily, rather to “establish a reductionist description through which the observational set may be reproduced.”¹ – Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science
Asymmetric Challenges Demand Asymmetric Intelligence Approaches
In similar fashion, Sponsors function as a critical contributor group to science under a number of more complex, and less linear fields of study than astronomy. A woodsman who has hunted, fished and lived in the Three Sisters region of Oregon, can stand as both an expert in terms of resource and recitation, and moreover can become a sponsor of an idea regarding the domain in which they have spent their entire life conducting data collection. Wise local university researchers will meet locals on Cascade Ave. in order to collect observations on some of the region’s geologic history. The lay researcher him or herself can perform citizen science as well, yes. But more importantly he or she might aid science by developing an idea which has never been seriously considered before. Perhaps they have observed changes in total Whychus Head spring water volume flow prior to magnitude 3.0 and above earthquakes. Perhaps they want to formalize these observations and ask a local university to take a look at their impression (construct). This is Sponsorship. Establishing a case that science should address their own version of a comet, in the natural domain which they survey.
The role of the Sponsor is not to prove a particular case, rather to surpass Ockham’s Razor in petitioning science to develop and examine a set of hypotheses
Indeed, problems even more complex, such as the studies of patterns and habits of wildlife, rarely advance via the handiwork of one organization or individual. The task is simply too daunting. Citizens provide critical inputs as to the habits of the Red Wolf or Grizzly Bear.² In similar fashion, medical maladies and successful means of addressing them, are many times asymmetric in their challenge, involving a many faceted contribution and mitigation element series. The role of the lay researcher, moms and dads with respect to their children, is critical. To ignore this lay resource under the guise of fake skepticism and ‘anecdote’ is not only professionally unwise (unethical), but cruel as well (immoral). These stand as examples of the asymmetric challenge entailed in the majority of scientific knowledge processes we face as a society. It is this preponderance of asymmetric challenge therefore which promotes the Sponsor into the necessary roles of both inventor and discoverer, and not simply the role of science clerk.
Type II: Tinkerer Sponsors As Lay Scientist
The second category of Sponsorship involves the work of lay tinkerers and garage inventors (Type II Sponsor in the graphic above). Arguments vary as to the magnitude of impact of this class of researcher, but no one can dispute the relatively large impact that this class of Sponsor has had on various industry verticals. A key example might be 17 year old layman Michael Callahan, who lost his voice in a skateboarding accident, and subsequently developed a device called Audeo, to aide the plight of those who have suffered a similar loss of vocal function (see: Top Ten Inventions). But lay science does not have to bear simply the consequentialist result of a technological device (Type II) or simply observation inside a well established domain of science (Type I) . A sponsor can perform the role of discovery as well.
Type III: Sponsor As Discoverer
A more powerful and controversial role of the Sponsor, and a role which The Ethical Skeptic believes stands as the Achille’s Heel of science today, is the role of the discoverer or Type III Sponsor under the scientific method. This person performs both the inception and broad case petition roles for plurality under the scientific method. In my labs historically, we have had two significant discoveries which were sponsored by outside parties who brought their petition for hypothesis development to my labs, for both validation/application testing and funding. Were I a fake skeptic, this would have never happened. One was a method of changing a clinical compound and another a groundbreaking approach for material development. Each was not a technological development, rather a scientific breakthrough that would ultimately change technology later. These were discoveries, not inventions. This agent of science, the discoverer, exercises the Bacon-esque Novum Organum which resides at the heart of discovery science. This is the aspect of science which Social Skeptics and their crony oligarchs perform desperate gymnastics in order to deny and squelch. Pharmaceutical companies and competing labs/organizations fought us hard to deny or steal the development of technologies surrounding these discoveries. For the most part they failed, but they caused damage. Damage to society and all of us ultimately. They wanted to control and overprice the technology application and deployment.
The freedom to discover wrests control from the hands of Social Skeptic cronies and into those of ethical small enterprise and mercy based organizations.
Should their cronies in Social Skepticism gain control of science and government fully, then the Sponsor and lay researcher will become an endangered species. A compliant herd, caged in an oligopoly cubicle zoo, milked of their intellectual potential, mulling the shallow, instant-grits, Social Skepticism literature upon which they graze. SSkeptics are professionals at socially mandating that something not exist. They are a mafia after all; if they cannot kill you or your message, then they will ensure that no intellectual trace of either exists. Such constitutes the bright and wonderful promised future of Social Skepticism.
Nonetheless this less touted and critical part of the scientific method, the discovery contribution of the lay researcher, has contributed vastly more to our understanding of life, health and our realm than oppressive SSkepticism will ever allow to be admitted into history. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy opines thusly about the data collection, reduction, intelligence and discovery process as outlined by, lay scientist, Roger Bacon (Type III Lay Scientists):
Bacon’s account of his “new method” as it is presented in the Novum Organum is a prominent example. Bacon’s work showed how best to arrive at knowledge about “form natures” (the most general properties of matter) via a systematic investigation of phenomenal natures. Bacon described how first to collect and organize natural phenomena and experimental facts in tables, how to evaluate these lists, and how to refine the initial results with the help of further experiments. Through these steps, the investigator would arrive at conclusions about the “form nature” that produces particular phenomenal natures. The point is that for Bacon, the procedures of constructing and evaluating tables and conducting experiments according to the Novum Organum leads to secure knowledge. The procedures thus have “probative force”.†
Indeed, it is the lay researcher who may well possess the only domain access under which to make such “form natures” observations which can be crafted into “probative force,” or that of a testable Construct or Hypothesis. To ignore these inputs, to ignore the input of 10,000 lay observers who inhabit a particular domain, even in the presence of uncertainty and possible chicanery, is professionally unwise (unethical). To the Ethical Skeptic, it is unwise to set up conferences which function only in the role of teaching people how to attack these researchers, even if the conclusions on subjects these conferences regard as bunk, are 95% correct in their sponsors’ assessments.
Fake Skeptics, those who have a religion and an ontology to protect, bristle at the work and deontological impact of Type III lay researchers. Roger Bacon was a lay philosopher and researcher in his own right, and accordingly so, bore his own cadre of detractors and ‘skeptics.’ Yet his work had a most profound impact on modern discovery science thought. It is this type of researcher which challenges and changes the landscape of science (see: Discovery versus Developmental Science). It is in this domain where we first encounter the Ethical Skeptic paradoxical adage “Experts who are not scientists and scientists who are not experts.” It is this social and methodical challenge which we as a body of knowledge developers must overcome, in order for discovery to proceed. It is our duty to resolve this paradox and move forward, not habitually attack those involved.
Social Skepticism: Exploiting the Paradox for Ignorance
This absolutely essential element of ethics therefore, under the scientific method, is the process of Sponsorship. The Craft of Research, a common guide recommended by advisers in candidate dissertation prosecution, relates “Everything we’ve said about research reflects our belief that it is a profoundly social activity,”³ That simply means that, the majority of science, research and the knowledge development process resides outside the laboratory, in an asymmetric and highly dynamic realm. Given this abject complexity of playing field, it becomes manifest that it is our fealty to process which effectively distinguishes us from the pretender, and not how correct we are on bunk subjects. The role of the Ethical Skeptic is to defend the integrity of this knowledge development process. Which brings up the circumstance where, what if various persons and groups do not desire knowledge to improve? What then is the role of the Ethical Skeptic?
If you demand ‘bring me proof’ before you would ask ‘bring me enough intelligence to form a question or hypothesis’ – then I question your purported knowledge of science. ~TES
Part of our job as well at The Ethical Skeptic is to elicit, to shed light on circumstance wherein pretenders circumvent and abrogate this ethical process of science. Instances where false vigilante skeptics use the chaos of research, against the knowledge development process itself. Unethical actions which target elimination of Type III research and defamation/intimidation of Type III both lay and scientist researchers. Below are listed some of the tactics employed on a deleterious path of willfully and purposely vitiating the Sponsorship (in particular Type III Sponsorship) steps of the scientific method:
Tactics/Mistakes Which Social Skeptics Employ to Vitiate the Sponsorship Portion of the Scientific Method
1. Thinking that the craft of research and science solely hinge around the principle of making final argument.³
2. Promoting an observation to status as a claim.
3. Thinking that a MiHoDeAL or Apophenia claim to authority can be issued without supporting evidence.
4. Routinely accepting at face value associative, predictive or statistical proofs while eschewing and denying falsifying observations.
5. Lack of acknowledging the full set of explanatory possibilities under the sponsorship Peer Input step.
6. Presuming that a Sponsor is only pursuing one alternative explanation during Peer Input.
7. The inability of SSkeptics to recognize true experts in other than academic/oligarch contexts.
8. The errant habit of false skeptics in citing and deferring to non-experts.
9. Vigilante thinking in mistakenly believing that the role of skepticism is to squelch Sponsorship.
10. Amateur error in applying pretend Peer Review tactics in the Sponsorship stage of science.
11. Failure to demonstrate circumspection to own contradictions or weaknesses in own Peer Input argument.
12. Failure to define/address significance versus insignificance by observational context.
13. Fake Skepticism: Asking “Here is what we need to prove this” rather than “Here is what we need in order to develop a hypothesis.”
14. Committing the Vigilante Mistake: Killing just as many innocent Sponsors as one does Bad Science Sponsors.
¹ a. Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science, Wolfram Media, Inc. Champaign, IL; p. 548.
¹ b. Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science, Wolfram Media, Inc. Champaign, IL; pp. 557-576.
² Defenders of Wildlife, Red Wolf Fact Sheet; professional and layperson wildlife advocates, (http://www.defenders.org/red-wolf/basic-facts)
³ a. Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research, Third Edition; The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL; p 285.
³ b. Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research, Third Edition; The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL; pp 114-123.
† The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Scientific Discovery, March 6 2014, No. 2 Scientific Inquiry as Discovery, (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-discovery/)
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