It is in the nature of the ethical skeptic to challenge normatives and foster an environment in which our knowledge of what is certain inside of poorly understood asymmetric systems, is shattered by new and deliberate radical construction, framed with empirical intelligence. A scientist differentiates himself from a technician by creating revolution. His dissatisfaction with the status quo drives him past the Rubik’s Cube pattern recognition and compliant rationality of the boastful technician and diagnostician. His ability to spot and grapple with fake skepticism, even within himself, is the first joust which he must undertake.
Why do we celebrate the heretical insensibility of Don Quixote? Within each of us resides the Quixotic heart, the romanticist longing to be free from the prison which progressively adapts its walls to our observing of the reality in which we reside. A Schrödinger’s Cat entrapment. Bars which afford us emancipation, only to reveal that our escape has served simply to introduce us to another prison cell of observation and paradox. It is the keen intellect and ethical nature of the true skeptic, the true scientist, which prompts him to tilt his lance toward such phantoms. He does not mock; rather, he laughs. He recognizes that conformity is simply a resignation, a giving up; and is nothing akin to the purity of Taoist surrender. In defiant errand of mercy, he succumbs to an irresistible dissatisfaction; a labor of understanding that pattern solving and conformance serve to produce nothing but the walls and bars of the prison itself. This is our appel aux armes, the call to arms of the ethical skeptic.
A true scientist can discern the prison walls. It is in his nature to rebel. The technician and the diagnostician observe only arms waving in the wind.
This rebellion of course is not tantamount to Shermer’s ‘whimsy;’ an exercise foisted to elicit the compliant and false version of skepticism. Whimsy is simply a tennis ball employed inside a game of self entertainment. A flailing of arms in the wind, deriving comfort at the striking of strawman and scarecrow constructs. Whismy is the shotgun skeet of the pseudo-intellectual and pattern recognition intoxicated. Endlessly reminding themselves of how smart they are through a repetition of offering up ridiculous notions and successfully shooting them down via the ceremonial and marital art of denial. Mocking is the surety that knowledge is something to be possessed, when the whole of the universe teaches us the abject lesson that such is not true (see Deutsch, The Fabric of Reality). The ethical skeptic must first spot this game in himself. It is the first dragon he must slay; and whether of stone or flesh it makes no matter. In such day, he becomes an ethical skeptic.
Thomas Kuhn accordingly laments in his work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions :
“…my most fundamental objective is to urge a change in the perception and evaluation of familiar data…” ¹
Are Kuhn’s data windmills or dragons? In one frame of reference we mock, inside the other we effect resilience. This is what the mind yearning to be free, recognizes in Hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha. The second lesson of ethical skepticism is to understand this. Revolution does not, nor even most often, reside in the upturning of groundbreaking new measures or discoveries. It resides instead within our collective ability to recognize the recursive delusional entrapments of our scientific circles. Our love for Don Quixote resides not in celebration of the tilting at windmills, rather the comedic changement de cap, which allows him to exercise his tragic quest inside a realm of agreed containment.² We weep at the containment of the resilient will. We celebrate ethical skepticism.
See the wise and wicked ones
Who feed upon life’s sacred fire
See the soldier with his gun
Who must be dead to be admired
Reaching for his saddlebag
He takes a rusty sword into his hand
Then striking up a knightly pose
He shouts across the ocean to the shore
Till he can shout no more ∈
The Legacy of Scientific Rebellion: Resilience
Today we are undergoing a revolution in the science surrounding intestinal health, auto-immunity and this amazing and diverse new organ we have discovered called the microbiome. This discovery was made despite the efforts of, and not by, Science Based Medicine. Instead it was precipitated by the Don Quixote’s of health – the consumers – the patients. Those who’s children are injured, those who suffer and those who are ethically skeptical of being forced to endure endless, expensive, side-effected and useless symptom treatments, passed off as ‘medicine.’ Science Based Medicine has sought to do nothing but criticize the ethical actions of these victims and seek to enact legislative prohibition of their rights. This is the true delusion – the mandatory thinking that they own, represent and are, science.
/philosophy : nature of science : ethics/ : ability of a society to perceive and deliberate a course of discovery and development which targets the alleviation of suffering; one which rehabilitates its scientific methodology and knowledge gracefully and robustly to misfortune, mistake or change.
Reaching for our scabbard blade
We find another hand to ease the chore
Then striking up our knightly pose
We shout across the ocean to the shore
Unified our voices mean much more
Resilience is defined as the ability of an entity to both recover from and adjust its future course gracefully and robustly in relation to error and change. Scientific resilience is the ability on the part of its clients, to unify, understand, grow and manage the challenge set before us as a culture; to no longer be victims – rather participants in the method. It is not the hoarding of science into the domain of a few Monsanto’s and Novartis’s. The Khun-loss of science is demonstrated only in the very nature and level of its ability to effect this resilience.³
Ethical Skepticism recognizes that the whole of life is one tumult, a crescendo of misfortune and change. Our will to effect enthalpic benefit inside this chaos not only serves to prove that we exist as consciousness, but moreover are a precursor and independent actor inside the interplay of tragedy and comedy. Our prison is a tragedy, and we transcend through the freedom of comedy, extant before such tragedy ever dawned on our mind. In the same way, science must be directed by the collective will of our society and not by those who declare themselves and their cronies to indeed be science. The same principle applies to skepticism. Resilience will come by handing the ethical direction of science back into the hands of those it is meant to serve. This elicited in no better fashion than by delineation of the difference between mocking and comedy:
Comedy is the protest of consciousness over the tragedy of paradox. Mocking is the abject refusal to see it.
Today we observe that it is mocking, which is the chief tool of those who seek to squelch and control the direction of science for their own selfish ends. Senator Dick Durbin is one such individual who believes that the public has no right to access to supplements of their choice, possess the freedom of press/information by means of the internet, and visibility and rights into what they consume in their food.† His minions and the control freaks among us, refuse to see the true nature and need of scientific revolution and resilience.
They are just two examples of the the fakers, the mockers, the ‘anti-science’ among us all. They perceive only mundane windmills to their last ineffectual breath. Whereupon Planck acceptance renders everything they resisted, commonplace knowledge.
Resilience is the fruit of the hard earned stripes of revolution. In the end, laughter is stronger than mocking, and the will mightier than the arrogance of all power.
¹ Kuhn, Thomas S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1996, 3rd edition, ).
² Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra; El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha; Public domain.
³ Bird, Alexander, “Thomas Kuhn”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2013/entries/thomas-kuhn/>.
† Senator Durbin to Reintroduce Bill to Restrict Supplements; extracted 12 Dec 2015; http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/senator-durbin-to-reintroduce-bill-to-restrict-supplements/#sthash.k6ujR8Py.dpuf.
∈ Songwriter: Gordon Lightfoot, Don Quixote lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.