Epoché is the suspended discipline of the ethical skeptic, which prevents the handedness of information from impacting what he or she discerns to constitute suitable theory. It is the active inquiry of one who goes into the field and observes, crafts intelligence and frames necessity. A journey of curiosity and opposition to agency in which the ethical skeptic will disappointingly find himself alone – while the religious, both believer and cynic alike, refuse to undertake any venture of the sort.
If you are even the most casual reader of The Ethical Skeptic, you probably have observed that I begin my signature with the salutation ‘epoché vanguards gnosis‘. Epoché is the discipline wherein an ethical skeptic actively goes back to the first hand source and dispassionately and neutrally looks for themself. An ethical skeptic is never satisfied with apathetically wallowing in a mystery (this is not the same as wonder), nor celebrating its debunking as part of an effort to increase a cynical club ranking. An ethical skeptic, goes and looks, gathers intelligence, asks critical path questions, seeks novel perspectives, themself – they do not rely upon social skeptic nor true believer literature to digest and explain challenging observations for them. Aside from specious forms of Nickell Plating, it is indeed a rare sight to see a ‘skeptic’ out in the field investigating, other than to be able to say that they did, or simply on symbolic excursion to search for a priori plausible deniability in the interest of club social ranking. Aside from this I have never once seen a skeptic out with various groups I have visited, regardless of the type of extraordinary claim I seek to research.
One outcome of this disappointing reality, is the realization that most all knowledge which is held by both believer and social skeptic alike, is knowledge they have received second, third, fourth or even ninth hand from different social and agency contributors. Parties who have altered (handed) that information set through its propagation. Information transference is rarely an idempotent process. If you can find a researcher who is able to assimilate intelligence, without changing the gist of its story, hire them and keep them. This skill is rare. The arrow in the quivery of the ethical skeptic, which he or she employs to combat the role of what is known as ‘handed information’, is called epoché.
/philosophy : skepticism : deontological doubt/ : (Gr. ἐποχή, “suspension”) – an active suspension of disposition. The suspended state of judgement exercised by a disciplined and objective mind, in preparation to conduct research. 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. In contrast with a wallow in passive neutrality or apathy, epoché is a form of active investigation based upon a discipline of impartiality. A desire to find the answer, tempered by the wisdom that answers do not come as easily as most people believe.
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, trivial flaw or terminal disinterest – then you are a cynic, not a skeptic.
The bottom line is, epoché is a discipline of ‘going back to the source, and looking for yourself’. It is a methodology which seeks to circumvent the stacked plurality of what is known as the ‘handedness of information’. And in doing so, is the vanguard to what qualifies as our body of accepted knowledge, gnosis. Therefore, in order to understand why and how epoché is important, lets examine that key principle involved, the handedness of information.
Information Handedness: Social and Agency
We are used to speaking in terms of first and second hand information, socially. We as elementary school kids are taught and typically understand what the addition of a degree of separation from the source, tends to do in terms of information integrity. This principle is akin to the Ockham’s Razor axiom cautioning about adding ‘entities’ to an argument. Adding levels of exchange or conflict of interest to an information set is much akin to adding entities to an argument – it may or may not add value, but it certainly will always serve to add more uncertainty. Certain loss, combined with uncertain gain – do not go there. This risk versus benefit parsimony gives broach to the expanded idea of information ‘handedness’ (first hand, second hand, hearsay, etc.) as it relates to the entropy of intelligence.
/philosophy : bias : pseudo-philosophy/ : an activated, intentional and methodical form of bias, often generated by organization, membership, politics, hate or fear based agenda and disdain. Agency and bias are two different things. Ironically, agency can even tender the appearance of mitigating bias, as a method of its very insistence. Agency is different from either conflict of interest or bias. It is actually stronger than either, and more important in its detection. Especially when a denial is involved, the incentive to double-down on that denial, in order to preserve office, income or celebrity – is larger than either bias or nominal conflict of interest.
One common but special form of agency, is the condition wherein it is concealed, and expresses through a denial/inverse negation masquerade called ideam tutela. When such agency is not concealed it may be call tendentiousness.
ideam tutela – concealed agency. A questionable idea or religious belief which is surreptitiously promoted through an inverse negation. A position which is concealed by an arguer because of their inability to defend it, yet is protected at all costs without its mention – often through attacking without sound basis, every other form of opposing idea.
Tendentious – showing agency towards a particular point of view, especially around which there is serious disagreement in the at-large population. The root is the word ‘tendency’, which means ‘an inclination toward acting a certain way.’ A tendentious person holds their position from a compulsion which they cannot overcome through objective evaluation. One cannot be reasoned out of, a position which they did not reason themselves into to begin with.
Agency and The Handedness of Information
/philosophy : Ockham’s Razor : entities : sources/ : any increase in the entropy of the integrity of a purported information set as it is developed, communicated or codified. Handedness often is expressed in terms of stacked layers of sourcing, any introduced source layer or modifier which bears a conflict of interest regarding the integrity of the information, and/or any non-idempotent exchange of that information – collectively as a series group, known as the ‘hands’ of influence. There are nine hands of information exchange. The first four hands are typically regarded as the least corrupted – expressing merely as a phenomenon of social handling, The last five hands of agency constitute the least reliable hand-offs of information; and are moreover, earmarked by any goal to exploit ‘handed’ information for organizational or personal gain or power.
Social Handedness (The ethical skeptic maintains epoché on this information)
1st Hand – Something you personally observe
2nd Hand – Something related to you by a reliable witness or trusted friend
3rd Hand – Something related to an interested group by a knowledgeable and involved party
4th Hand – Something commonly or controversially discussed/rumor
Agency Handedness (The ethical skeptic is not required to maintain epoché on this information)
5th Hand – A prejudicial spin, straw man, disinformation, or exaggeration which is extracted from 4th Hand information
6th Hand – A transformed, misleading, witness disparaging and cherry picked set of 1st – 5th Hand information
7th Hand – Codification, club review or false authority derived from 5th and 6th Hand information
8th Hand – Ongoing doctrine and pseudo-philosophy which is enforced upon the basis of official 7th Hand information
9th Hand – Power, monetary income, club authority or personal celebrity which is derived from 8th Hand information
Please notice that the first four hands of information exchange are a normal part of the function of a group of social humans. This is what we are taught in elementary school about the escalations and adaptations which occur during the spread of gossip. But also note, with hands following fourth hand information, a new agent is introduced. Beginning with the agent who seeks to cherry pick extract, exaggerate and straw man translate the material (aka ‘digest’), so that it may be used ultimately for gain – these constitute the hands who are purposing part (not typically all) of the information set, for power. These are your dogmatists who produce agency handedness. They seek more than truth. They seek the power, celebrity and income that their twist on corrupted information can serve. Benefits in terms of cabal, its authority, and their celebrity ranking therein.
Religious Information Handedness
Let’s first elicit this chain of increasing risk, in verity (handedness – a form of plurality under Ockham’s Razor) by examining an example of 7th Hand Information as it pertains to religion. Specifically, with the New Testament Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verses 1 thru 4 (New International Version).
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. ~ The New Testament Gospel of Luke, 1:1-4 (NIV)
As you may derive from (you must unshackle yourself from religious defensive bias first) this heavily equivocal-worded preamble to the history documented inside the Gospel of Luke, three elements of concern arise:
1. The recount is delivered in a defensive and obfuscating pleonastic form. Instead of delivering a message in straightforward fashion, such as, ‘I was a 5 year-long daily associate of Jesus and this is what I saw and remember’, the delivery of information is couched in code phrases which cajole the reader into inferring a second and third hand verity to it, but never actually tenders claim to such a sound basis for its origin. This is Antoneqsue rhetoric in fine form, delivered so as to impress the reader with authoritative sounding credibility – but which actually says nothing.
2. The information sources are neither fourth nor fifth hand, as the version the author is assembling for the reader, Theophilus, is chosen from a body of versions which are exonerated and exaggerated (hyperbole collectively) as well as compliant to a bias he holds. He implies that, sifting through this disorderly body of material (containing normal human exchange hyperbole) has been no small task.
3. Finally the author, Luke the Historian, makes it clear that this is his version of the recount which resulted from this chaotic set of material. In this matter he has had to translate some of the hyperbole he struggled with, and then sought to formalize what he found into a codice for delivery to posterity (through Theophilus). Clearly sixth and seventh hand information sets.
As an ethical skeptic, I am not required to hold suspension on this type of information, especially as it relates to a claim to truth and action (acceptance and action on my part). This information above in Luke’s preamble, is presented as absolute authority upon which I must take action. If another agent then further pushes that information upon me (apologetics) as a doctrine or accuses me of failing science/knowledge/truth in some way by not accepting it – this is Eighth Handed Agency. It just keeps getting worse.
This verse in the Bible gave me great consternation (as did the appearance of an olive leaf Noah scraped from the dove’s beak, a mere 43 days after the first mountain tops emerged from Noah’s Flood – when it takes a 7 full months for an olive pit to ‘come true’ and produce its first leaf as a viable tree sproutling – if the ‘whole world’ was flooded, then where did this leaf come from?). Consternation because I sensed prevarication and high handedness being spun inside its text. It bothered me enormously in my sincere, god-seeking youth. Why would god prevaricate, equivocate and wax pleonastic? Just say what you mean and mean what you say; otherwise people could miss the point completely, and end up in hell. A problem with which I found the Bible to be replete.
Eventually I had to conclude that men wrote this material – men alone; not through any non-human inspiration; but rather in the same state as all information as spun by men; that the material suffered from every bit the handedness, as which does all forms of disinformation and hyperbole. It was capped off finally, in later years, by the signature earmark of being exploited for gain. It was religious Ninth Handed information – the science communication of the day.
When one undertakes such a journey of integrity, this process does not stop at neutralizing only Abrahamic religious messages – those who pretend to represent god. There are others who purport to represent truth under a burden of ‘high handedness’ as well: social skeptics. Those who pretend to represent the science-god. But before we address these quasi-religions, let us examine a corollary principle inside the concept of handedness. That of the inside player or intra ludio.
/philosophy : rhetoric : agency : telltales/ : the telltale of the inside actor. If someone is truly an expert proponent of a subject, then that proponent should also be able to offer his subject’s most profound expert critique as well – and be forthcoming about unanswered daunting questions inside that subject. The key is to watch for this honesty in conviction – the faker does neither of these things – an only defends his precious argument. As an evolutionist, I do not believe that you support evolution, nor really even know it – if you cannot offer up a cogent and accurate summation of its current challenges and shortfalls. You may offer them up as ‘gaps’, but to totally ignore them tells the ethical skeptic that their opponent is both ignorant and dishonest as well.
So with that definition of the telltale of agency and handedness in mind, let us broach the topic of the agency with regard to the social skeptic.
Social Skepticism Information Handedness: No Different Than That of Religion
The seeker of truth, once in grasp of this Ockham’s Razor based tenet, often in a mild funk over failure of religion to deliver under a context of handedness – should next turn and set his or her newfound lens upon the Cabal of Social Skepticism. What the sincere ethical skeptic will find, is that in terms of the handedness of information, and the earmarked goal of personal or club gain, social skepticism is indeed no different than any religion.
The social skeptic agent, much as in the instance of the agency of religious interpretation, is on a mission to build his club through debunking, translating (cherry picking and straw man framing), and promulgating a twisted version of actual events, in order to enforce a doctrine which brings his club, power and money. You will notice that the same exact social dynamics and players – all the way through to the club exploitation of the digested version of the information for power, notoriety and money – they all exist in the exact same fashion as are deployed in the religious versions of information handedness.
For an example see Not So Fast: Anatomy of a Skeptic Hack Job
Social Skepticism is a form of Agency Handedness. Perhaps you can call this process underhandedness as well. They deal with nothing but 4th Hand information at best. And what 1st through 3rd Hand information they do employ, is cherry picked and selectively informed. Such skeptics are expert at the organic lie (telling a lie through selective facts or only a subset of the truth).
Agency Handedness of Social Skepticism
5th Hand – Disinform – a prejudicial spin, straw man, disinformation, or exaggeration which is extracted from 4th Hand information
6th Hand – Debunk – a transformed, misleading, witness disparaging and cherry picked set of 1st – 5th Hand information
7th Hand – Spin Propaganda – codification, club review or false authority derived from 5th and 6th Hand information
8th Hand – Enforce Social Skepticism – ongoing doctrine and pseudo-philosophy which is enforced upon the basis of official 7th Hand information
9th Hand – Enrich Self, Club, Celebrity Skeptics and Science Communicators – power, monetary income, club authority or personal celebrity which is derived from 8th Hand information
Epoché and The Handedness of Information
With epoché the principle is very simple – one remains neutral and level minded in response to handed information. Neither believing nor disbelieving it. This is not prejudicial doubt, rather deontological doubt – and the two are different. The principle, simply put, involves – going and looking for yourself. Understanding that answers do not come as easily as most people believe they do. The world, upon closer and closer examination, tends to become stranger and stranger. This, a seasoned and qualified philosopher, understands. Epoché therefore, is an active disposition of neutrality and suspension, meaning one desires to go and look, at any time during the process of handedness, short of having used it’s uncertainty for personal power or money. Once the ninth hand is reached, it is impossible to maintain epoché.
This is our mission – to go, to see, to catalog and observe, to listen, to find, to develop intelligence and necessity. To oppose agency. In this lonely journey you may find yourself surprised at how many things which ‘cannot exist’ – likely do exist, and how many creeds of certainty, fall to question. I leave you now with The First Duty of Ethical Skepticism.
The First Duty of Ethical Skepticism
The First Duty of Ethical Skepticism is to oppose agency. 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. Ethical Skepticism’s first duty therefore resides not solely in the examination of ‘extraordinary claims’, but also in examining those claims which serve to harm through the clever masquerade, hidden in plain sight, as if constituting ordinary ‘settled science’.
The Ethical Skeptic, “Epoché and The Handedness of Information” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 19 Aug 2018; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-89e