The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

A New Ethic

Skepticism, as philosophy, is the complement of sound science method, not the privilege sword of a few pretenders culling and provisionally promoting conclusions in lieu of science. Skepticism is the hallmark discipline of those who possess the grace, integrity and acumen requisite in the wielding of great ideas.

When philosophers speak of skepticism standing as the foundation of scientific reason, they are not referring to the inept spewing of methodical cynicism, prejudicial doubt and stacks of risky provisional knowledge, which is practiced by those who today pose as if communicating on behalf of science. Skepticism possesses no agenda ax to grind, save for the idempotent ethic of defending the knowledge development process. With the exception of inalienable natural rights, philosophy, despite standing as the foundation of science, cannot be abused to supplant or act in lieu of the methods of science. Skepticism therefore, as philosophy, is equally bound by this construct. Skepticism is the complement of sound science method, and is not the privilege sword of a few pretenders deriding targeted people and subjects, all the while promoting their preferred conclusions in lieu of science. Skepticism is the hallmark discipline of those who possess the grace, integrity and acumen requisite in the wielding of great ideas.

The philosophy of ethical skepticism is not ‘doubt’ – especially doubt which is nothing more than methodical cynicism. Instead ethical skepticism is founded upon this essential principle of deontological doubt, called epoché.

epoché

/philosophy : skepticism : deontological doubt/ : (Gr. ἐποχή, “suspension”) – a suspension of disposition. The suspended state of judgement exercised by a disciplined and objective mind. A state of neutrality which eschews the exercise of religious, biased rational or critical, risky provisional and dogmatic dispositions when encountering new observations, ideas and data.

It is the step of first being skeptical of self, before addressing challenging or new phenomena. Underpinned by both a examination of the disciplines of true knowledge development (epignosis) and the repository of vetted and accepted knowledge (gnosis). If someone relates a challenging observation to you, you suspend disposition, and catalog it. If you toss it out based upon a fallacy or trivial flaw – then you are a cynic, not a skeptic.

cwv0dmqxgaaz6wsOf course the ethics (practice methods) of Ethical Skepticism are not really new. However, to most people, because of the false form of skepticism (cynical doubt) thrust upon them daily by agenda driven forces, Ethical Skepticism does appear to be novel and heretical thinking. An ethical skeptic examines the practice methods of those purporting to deliver a set of information which is being claimed as false, to discern their skill in applying epoché in such a process. This because, the modern pop/lay definitions outlining the mindset of persons who identify themselves as skeptics often include some version of the task of ‘carefully scrutinizing claim validity,’ ‘doubting’ and ‘demanding proof’ as a response to novel intelligence. Those who substitute their skepticism in lieu of science, hunger for premature conclusiveness and exploit convenient ambiguity in science method; a tacit permission which justifies just about any oppressive action of denial one chooses. It affords any jerk, know-it-all or activist the ability to promote their religious or political ideas under the luxury of cozenage as a scientist – all through the simple act of declaring themselves to be a skeptic. This form of false skepticism revolves around a disinforming practice set implying that you personally must derive a conclusion on any and every mystery in the here and now, with only the information you have been given. This is a pressure sales pitch – usually involving identifying the bad people. This is dishonesty. This is pseudoscience. It is skepticism derived for the sole sake of being identified as a skeptic. It is a pretense, purposed for power.

Ethical Skepticism in contrast, focuses on application of the scientific method to produce consequentialist outcomes of

clarity – agenda free and critical path cataloged essential schema, regardless of whether or not the insights therein are liked or disliked, probable or improbable, favored or disfavored,

value – as measured by three goals: love, understanding and the alleviation of suffering,

discipline – consistency in the integrity of both the methods of developing and the handling of information, principles and ideas, and

risk mitigation – as measured by the ethical discernment of process design and outcome monitoring, which serve to mitigate method failure and suffering.

Skepticism is a practice discipline of the ethical scientist. However, being skeptical does not therefore make one a scientist. Indeed rather, such self-regard without circumspection can serve to mislead one into obsessing about skepticism itself; to stand in lieu of actual understanding or qualification history. This is the cause of much extremism in our society today, falsely in the name of science. Therefore, Ethical Skepticism can be viewed as a personal practice set which seeks to avoid the pitfalls portrayed inside application variants of Neuhaus’ and Goodhart’s Laws:

Neuhaus’s Law

/philosophy : skepticism : fallacy/ : where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.

Therefore, by this principle, we see how skepticism, as a goal in and of itself will always escalate to extremism. Because anything which can be encompassed inside a halo of ‘doubt’ will eventually be ‘debunked’ by default, whether or not research is done inside the subject at all. All it takes is a bit of club self-delusion and a little shove of doubt. This is encompassed then as an outcome of Goodhart’s Law:

Goodhart’s Law (of Skepticism)

/philosophy : skepticism : fallacy/ : when skepticism itself becomes the goal, it ceases to be skepticism.

Both of these principles become favorable leverage angles for the adept forces seeking to conduct Bernaysian social engineering. The social skeptics they target to participate in this ploy are smart enough to support the agenda, but not smart enough to spot the methods of counter-intelligence and the role they play therein. Nassim Taleb’s ‘Intellectual Yet Idiot‘ class of smartest people in the room. Ethical Skepticism challenges those who fall prey to these fallacies. The manipulation of opponents, semantics, data, method, science, argument, assumption, groups, authorities and perception of self on the part of agenda carrying agents. These agents enforce a fiat knowledge agenda through intimidation, defamation, ridicule, surreptitious malevolent activity, social control, ethnic disdain, tortious interference, business tampering, murder, targeting of ideas, observations or persons, media domination, propaganda, mafia and elite corporate power. This all oriented towards the desired set of social goals enacted under a particular cultivated ignorance. Our job is to highlight the methods of, and dispel such cultivated ignorance.

The First Duty of Ethical Skepticism

In the same way that science is a method, even so ignorance is also a method. But the scope of cultivated ignorance extends further than that of science itself, in that it is also a method of conditioning and contagion. It propagates through exploiting all manner of cunning and deceit. As an ethical skeptic, your first duty of philosophical acumen is not to execute the scientific method per se, which is straightforward in comparison. You are not here to promulgate conclusions, as that is the habit of your foe. Your ethical acumen is necessary rather, in spotting the clever masquerade of science and knowledge.

The ethical skeptic is therefore armed with a deep philosophical understanding of knowledge, human nature and discernment, which is embodied inside The Riddle of Skepticism:

The Riddle of Skepticism

Through claiming skepticism, one has struck the tar baby and can no longer plead denial of their action in contending philosophy. With the exception of man’s inalienable natural rights, the discipline of philosophy, even an examination as to how we go about developing knowledge, cannot be employed as a means to bypass science and pretend to act in its place, as this is not the purpose of philosophy. Skepticism, the philosophy in defense of the knowledge development process (science), is likewise bound by this construct.

The question one must ask them self, before venturing into this hall of mirrors called skepticism is not, whether or not I can establish a likelihood of being right or wrong on a matter. The question in the mind of the ethical skeptic should be ‘If I were wrong, would I even know it?” and “If I were wrong, would I be contributing to harm?” This is the focus of the philosophy of skepticism and not this indolent business of leveraging one’s current limited knowledge into a pretense of ‘evaluating claims’ demanded upon a silver platter. Such self deception constitutes merely cynicism and a pretense of representing science. Therefore, defending the integrity of the knowledge development process is betrayed once one starts tendering conclusions in lieu of it.

Science is the process of knowledge development and the body of accepted knowledge such process serves to precipitate. Pseudo science is a process of corrupted science method employed inside a pretense of representing science – but inside that same constraint can never be ‘a body of unacceptable knowledge’ as this violates objective logic, domain theory as well as skepticism itself. Pseudo skepticism therefore, is a process of corrupted philosophy employed inside a deciding in lieu of or pretense of representing science.

Doubt, belief, ignorance of risk, along with social pressure to accede to stacked provisional knowledge; therefore, stand as the raw materials which are spun into the fabric of the lie. This is why the ethical skeptic relies upon the suspension of these things – embodied in the philosophy of epoché. Rather than decide for himself what is true and untrue, instead he robs the lie spinner (even if himself) of the raw material he desperately needs. He is not denying knowledge, rather denying the tradecraft of the lie.

Once plurality is established inside an argument, if something indeed be false, it should eventually betray its falsification through accrued intelligence. And in being found wrong, become highly informative in the process. If we choose instead to maintain an a priori intolerance of a subject as being wrong, and then further choose to block its research through the authority of clever apothegm, then no probative critical path development (intelligence) can ever be undertaken consequently.  Wrong and seeing, is a world better state than is correct and blind.

This untrod horizon of pure skepticism therefore lies fallow and misunderstood through the sleight-of-hand wherein Pyrrhonistic epoché is straw man defined as a ‘denial of knowledge’. This is philosophical domain ineptness – and creates the false dilemma that methodical cynicism is therefore the only bifurcated alternative offered to the seeker of truth. Much of our ignorance and suffering today stems from a misunderstanding of these key principles.

There are three types of person. Those who create great ideas, those who pan them, and those who take the credit for them. Strive always to be the former. The latter will most often secretly reward an ability to create value through ideas; while at the same time ignoring the midmost: the doubter, debunker and cynic. These characters reside in a perpetual state of resentment towards creatively intelligent minds, accentuated by a ripe frustration over the lack of recognition their ‘critical thinking skills’ beget. Their distress mandates the formation of clubs which offer the means of celebrity and self aggrandizement they so desperately crave. Never fathoming that their ilk come at a dime-a-dozen. Therefore, take this as the lesson of skepticism as well. It is a discipline of value creation, and not one of critique.

     ~ The Ethical Skeptic

Much of our false skepticism and scientific pretense today stems from a misunderstanding of or ignorance around these key principles. Therefore, in order to clarify the difference between false and valid skepticism based on this understanding, I have introduced a more rigorous professional definition of the mindset; one more clearly and effectively focused on application of the scientific method. One which I call Ethical Skepticism. So let’s revise the pop misunderstandings of skepticism and the “scrutinizing validity/proof” boasts above, into the true definition; in a way that transforms it from a shill pretense, acting in lieu of science – and into real professional skepticism:

Ethical Skeptic

One who practices the method of suspended judgment, engages in dispassionate evidence gathering and objective unbiased reasoning in execution of the scientific method; shows willingness to consider opposing explanations without prejudice based on prior beliefs, and who pursues goals of clarity, value, discipline and the assessment of risk, in support of our knowledge development.

Ethical Skepticism

/epoché vanguards gnosis/ : Inquiry prompted by genuine curiosity under a suspended disposition of judgment, through dispassionate evidence gathering and objective unbiased reasoning in the process of executing the scientific method. A willingness to consider opposing explanations without prejudice based on prior beliefs, and a sincere pursuit of the goals of clarity, value, discipline and the assessment of risk, in the process of our knowledge development.

Two key questions of Ethical Skepticism:

1.   If I was wrong, would I even know it?

2.  If I was wrong, would I be contributing to harm?

What Ethical Skepticism does not involve:

  • any form of ‘denial of knowledge’
  • using existing personal knowledge to ‘critically scrutinize’ and filter out disliked data
  • obtaining knowledge by means of skepticism itself
  • using systematic doubt to achieve anything novel
  • ‘testing’ as a pretense of science, before gathering any intelligence or knowing what to test in the first place
  • pretense of knowing what question to ask, without any research and period of unbiased intelligence development
  • not a ‘mode of inquiry’ – it is inquiry itself
  • no decisions or dispositions, based upon skepticism itself
  • no targeting of subject or persons as being ‘pseudoscience’
  • claims of limitations of human knowledge are no more ‘claims’ than is 2+2=4
  • any uninformed or armchair version of ‘critical thinking’.

Ethical Skepticism is a personal choice of scientific professional character which is expounded upon in the series parts below:

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – The Eight Tropes

Explained how skepticism is a thirst to know and authentically investigate. An extreme distaste for man’s propensity for self deception, social power, posing and contrivance. Not solely for the sake of simply knowing; but moreover to in small part, help in easing the pain of mankind’s suffering and lack of knowledge about the realm in which he finds himself unwilling participant.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 1 – The Octavus Thesauri and What it Means to Be an Ethical Skeptic

Explained how skepticism is a method of preparing the mind and data sets to conduct the Knowledge Development Process. That it has nothing to do with simplest explanations or defending why the right answer is correct. It is a form of disciplined receptive thought; a way of handling new data without resorting to the errant method of deniability or defending pat/institutional answers.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 2 – The Riddle of Skepticism

Explained how Ethical Skepticism is a clarity and value oriented assemblage of the best of Philosophical, Empirical and Cartesian Skepticism developed in side a Kuhn Theory of Revolution context, focused on employment of the entire scientific method, not simply the experimental method.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 3 – Ethical Skepticism Detailed Through the Knowledge Development Process

The purpose of skepticism is not to defend the correct answer; rather to defend the integrity of the Knowledge Development Process, and to challenge the imposition of ignorance. The Ethical Skeptic must ever be vigilant for abrogation of the scientific method and surreptitiously promoted religion.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 4 – Ethical Skepticism and How it Relates to Religion and Belief

Explained how Ethical Skepticism’s being defined philosophically as Defense of the Knowledge Development Process, only affords room for definition of belief and religion in one way. A way in which those who pretend to represent science are correctly framed in the light of the same religious mindset as the theist religious minded opponents.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 5 – Ethical Skepticism and The Real Ockham’s Razor

The actual role of Ockham’s Razor, the real scientific principle, is to begin the scientific method, not complete it in one felled swoop. Rational thinking under Ockham’s Razor (ie. Parsimony) is the demonstrated ability to handle plurality of argument with integrity. The ability to wield great ideas and not drop them through incompetence.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 6 – Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to ensure that people’s words are not implied as club weapons to enforce specious religious doctrines. It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to understand their own employment of such words inside a context of ethical clarity; to disarm the social inference that such words mean more, than they really do. To err either way, is the source of fanaticism.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 7 – The Unexpected Virtue of Allow-For Thinking

The practice of Allow-For thinking is not tantamount to a confirming belief nor a denial belief on the part of the ethical skeptic. It is not a belief at all. Rather, a practical allegiance to science, a pledge to allow a matter of coherently observed plurality its day in the court of science, no matter what methods our personal prejudices, provisional knowledge, bunk intolerance, and social pressures might tempt us to bias.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 8 – The Watchers Must Also Be Watched

One of the tenets of Ethical Skepticism is “Monitor those who do the monitoring.” Two pitfalls derive from a monitoring process which has gone out of control. In-group biases tend to reinforce in the mind of the watchers, the need for their quality entity (external skepticism in lieu of science) and they may fail to be able to recognize a quality outcome – becoming the source of error themselves.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 9 – Skeptive Dissonance

The heart which is only focused upon itself, eventually tires of such a subject. There exists a discomfort one experiences in overcoming anosognosia. This is considered the first step in the journey of ethical skepticism.
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epoché vanguards gnosis

April 8, 2015 - Posted by | Ethical Skepticism, What is Ethical Skepticism | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Reverend Dr. Ronald Eastwood
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Reverend Dr. Ronald Eastwood

I expect that the notations above will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. I have an I.Q. of well over 140 and found reading the above tedious. The text is obviously well considered and shows excellent thoughtfulness. However, most readers are neither literate enough or motivated enough to wade through the brilliance to glean the basic propositions set forth. I once had a philosophy professor (PhD) who suggested to us that if we wanted to make a difference in the world we must speak and write to others as if we were addressing junior high school youth. If we… Read more »

The Ethical Skeptic
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Reverend and Dr. Eastwood, I could not have written a better critique of my own work. Every point well taken. I too bear the curse of an IQ of 145+ (the test I took only went to 145). Having delivered an extraordinary amount of technical writing in my professional background, that certainly flavors my writing style. It does therefore become tedious and sometimes verbose or complex, through my attempts to be precise in the message related. But I would counter, as I do in my inner monologue, with two things. First, the purpose of a blog is not simply to… Read more »

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