Garbage Skepticism: The Definition
The role of those who identify as ‘skeptic’ is to act in lieu of science in tendering and rigorously and openly enforcing provisional personally preferred conclusions and beliefs. Bullshit.
The following is an amateurish and shallow attempt at defining skepticism, on the part of technician-masquerading-as-science-expert-extraordinare, the Emperor himself, Steven Novella. It is actually a concise framing of methodical cynicism all adorned in its glorified ¡fact! dress, hoping that those who are not familiar with philosophy, nor possessing of a skeptical eye, nor having participated in any actual scientific discovery, will fall for its chicanery.
The following definition, is brought to you by the man who does not appear to know what a p-value is, cannot consistenly define correlation and habitually mis-frames the methods of science so as to favor and dis-favor subjects according to his likes and dislikes. But we take his word on skepticism, in exemplary credulousness. Yes, celebrity ‘skeptic’ Steven Novella, pretty much sums up the whole fake skepticism movement below. His preferred definition’s reduction, as it contrasts with ethical (scientific) skepticism, follows thereafter.
A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient, and therefore rigorously and openly applies the methods of science and reason to all empirical claims, especially their own.
A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance of any claim to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence, and studies the pitfalls of human reason and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves.
Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion.
First, an authentic skeptic does not identify themselves as ‘a skeptic.’ To do so raises the specter of bias and agenda before one even begins to survey the world around us all. Skepticism, is something an active researcher employs inside the method of science, it is not something you are. Why? Because of two very important laws of human nature, which those who apply real skepticism understand, and fake skeptics do not get:
/philosophy : skepticism : fallacies/ : where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed. Skepticism, as a goal in and of itself will always escalate to extremism.
Goodhart’s Law of Skepticism
/philosophy : skepticism : fallacies/ : when skepticism itself becomes the goal, it ceases to be skepticism.
is one who prefers
A person who practices skepticism does not prefer anything. A person who practices skepticism defends a knowledge development process which is consistent with the ethical practices of science. He or she does not prefer:
beliefs and conclusions
A person who practices skepticism does not hold beliefs and conclusions – rather they recognize the valid outcomes which have arisen as a result of sound scientific method. Nothing else. Beliefs and conclusions are for the religious among us. Those seeking to promote a pre-cooked cosmology and block the ethical actions of science one does not like.
that are reliable and valid
Reliability inside science only applies when a set of knowledge accomplishes one or both of two things: 1) helping to underpin further knowledge development, or 2) helping alleviate suffering (which includes ignorance as suffrage). Outside of this context, to start by declaring that one supports beliefs and conclusions which are reliable and valid is the same thing as saying “I believe only truth.” This is the exact same thing that religious fundamentalists declare. So far into this diatribe, no basis for this claim to truth-of-the-‘skeptic’ has been offered inside this definition framing.
to ones that are comforting or convenient
In this statement, the one who has identified them self as a ‘skeptic’ has made the claim that any attestation outside what they personally hold to be ‘reliable and valid,’ is the result of personal emotional or easy pathways of philosophy or verity. This is both a bifurcation (my way or the highway) and a rather extraordinary claim, implicit in this poorly crafted amphibious and equivocal sentence. Everyone besides me composes an entire realm of seething, mindless, moaning, religiously orgasmic protoplasm. How wonderful I am (you will notice that the promotion of self is key – inside fake skepticism)!
and therefore rigorously and openly applies the methods of science and reason
And there you have it: The job of skepticism is to act in lieu of science to tender and enforce personal provisional conclusions. Sophomoric and incorrect philosophy. Amazing that this person ever successfully pursued a dissertation.
Moreover, implicit inside this statement is the provision, wherein, if one does not want to go through the bother of using the methods of science in order to derive a conclusion, then the magic of ¡reason! can also be used (equally valid to scientific method). Therefore, one can also sit in their university office, or basement, or celebrity convention and completely fabricate their scientific conclusions, and this all still stands as valid – beliefs and conclusions from reason, acting in lieu of science! Will wonders never cease. Our entire knowledge base as humanity, derived at my keyboard, and shoved down the throats of anyone who is comforted or convenienced by even pondering anything different.
Rigorously, as cited here can mean – that one drives home a conclusion, even in absence of sufficient evidence to do so. Openly means, to declare your results on Twitter and in ‘science’ blogs to all the world; nay promulgate this to your malevolent minions, once you have reasoned your conclusion through the insufficient but ‘rigorous‘ evidence which allowed for its adoption.
So, far 100% bullshit – a moron’s definition of skepticism – but let’s continue.
to all empirical claims, especially their own.
Now here, a slip up of sanity encroaches on this fantasy of personal power and aggrandizement. Yes, skepticism is applied to ‘claims’ and not observations, not intelligence and data, not faith, not hopes, not art, not music and drama, not subjects and not persons. It is applied to the process of vetting hypotheses, asking procedural and contextual scientific questions and undertaking the scientific method, on the part of someone qualified inside the research at hand. If this is what Novella means by ‘empirical claims,’ or more accurately, claims to empiricism, then this is correct. The purpose of skepticism is not to prove that someone is right or wrong, or to prove or disprove religions, nor act as the whip of authority proffered by external observers, nor to settle arguments. These are the abuses of skepticism by the dilettante and malevolent.
If by ‘their own‘ he means: “First and foremost finds fulfillment through disciplined pursuit of an insatiable curiosity; scrutinizing and maintaining caution around his own assumptions, regardless of where they are obtained; discriminating with discipline, ontological and religious cosmologies from actual science.” Then he is correct on this point. If however, the contention that one examines their own claims, rises tantamount to an apologetic as to why one’s beliefs and conclusions are therefore correct through purported self-examination, then this is not what skepticism involves. Skepticism is never employed as a boast, and fake skeptics do not get this.
A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance
A skeptic does no such thing. A skeptic is averse to any such action. A skeptic may entertain some constructs as possible or likely, but they do not call those assessments conclusions nor do they accept them as science or skepticism – even provisionally. Such activity inevitably leads to large ‘simplest explanation’ houses of cards. These houses of cards further then becoming proscribed orthodoxy, under Neuhaus’s Law. This is the methodical process of a pretend skeptic.
to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence
Again, all the fake skeptic needs in his quiver under this framing, is to declare something logical, and to base a prematurely forced conclusion upon the ‘available evidence.’ This constitutes a Transactional Occam’s Razor fallacy. Its being ‘thorough‘ in no way excuses the pseudoscience entailed therein. The phrase is an amphibology crafted so as to excuse any mode of thought one or one’s club chooses (describing this as ‘fair‘), as qualifying to stand in lieu of science. This is institutionalized dishonesty plain and simple.
and studies the pitfalls of human reason
Aha! Finally some actual study! So far the definition framer has completely ignored the ‘researching and exploring several diametrically opposed constructs’ actual research work, the hallmark of real skepticism, and placed their sole effort in actual study – into the discipline of understanding why everyone else is so stupid besides themself. This is a game of pretense and malevolence. It is the hallmark of a spoiled and arrogant person.
and the mechanisms of deception
Whoops, they missed this definition.
so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves.
One does not avoid being deceived by ‘provisionally proportioning acceptance to beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid’ – this simply means that you are just another one of the con men yourself. Just with a different flim-flam pitch, called ‘skepticism.’ Fake skepticism: The best con job in the business. Con yourself first, con a club of con men, then con others.
The surest way to bring a con job into inception, is to begin to enforce it by means of an non-dissent-tolerant and punitive club.
In true skepticism, one avoids being deceived by holding pre-scientific dispositions in an attitude of suspended judgement, epoché. One meticulously avoids joining clubs of consensus. Hence the statement Epoché Vanguards Gnosis. Errant information will eventually step on its own dick and falsify itself, all you have to do is be patient. This is the process of skepticism, it does not involve prematurely adopting and shooting down things we choose as valid and invalid. It is not something you are, it is a discipline you practice. Its virtues are curiosity, intelligence, tolerance and patience.
Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion.
Close, but no cigar. This is referential to methodical cynicism, not scientific method. True skepticism values qualified knowledge, ie. that which is effective at underpinning the further improvement of understanding or in alleviating suffering, and the scientific method. Over anything else. Even their own provisionally proportioned acceptance of beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid. What hogwash.
The definition framed here by Steven Novella is not what skepticism is at all. This is childishly obvious to a graduate level philosopher or anyone who has reduced a set of hypotheses to isolate an actual scientific discovery. Understandably, most people do not bear these qualifications, and fall easy prey to this errant pop-definition. But this is the fight we ethical skeptics must undertake. Changing the minds of those who have been media brainwashed. Allowing them see the farce for what it is, maybe for the first time.
The Emperor Wears No Clothes.
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