Unconscious bias occurs with everyone and inside most deliberation. Such innocent manifestation of bias, while important in focus, is not the First Duty of the ethical skeptic. The list of fallacies and crooked thinking below outline something beyond just simple bias – something we call agency. The tricks of obfuscation of evidence for which ethical skeptics keep vigilant watch.
Michael Shermer has outlined in his November 2018 editorial for Scientific American, a new fallacy of data which he calls the ‘Fallacy of Excluded Exceptions’. In this informal fallacy, evidence which does not serve to confirm one’s a priori conclusion is systematically eliminated or ignored, despite its potentially robust import. This is a form of, not unconscious bias, but a more prevalent and dangerous mode of corrupted thinking which we at The Ethical Skeptic call ‘agency’. The First Duty of Ethical Skepticism is to oppose agency (not simply bias).
Fallacy of Excluded Exceptions
/philosophy : pseudoscience : data manipulation/ : a form of data skulpting in which a proponent bases a claim on an apparently compelling set of confirming observations to an idea, yet chooses to ignore an also robust set of examples of a disconfirming nature. One chisels away at, disqualifies or ignores large sets of observation which are not advantageous to the cause, resulting only seeing what one sought to see to begin with.
“Excluded exceptions test the rule. Without them, science reverts to subjective speculation.” ~ Michael Shermer 1
Despite his long career inside skepticism, Michael is sadly far behind most ethical skeptics in his progression in understanding the tricks of fake epistemology and agency. That is because of his anchoring bias in that – he regards today’s ‘skepticism’ as representative of science and the scientific method, as well as all that is good in data reduction and syllogism. He is blinded by the old influences of bandwagon hype. Influences as master which he must still serve today, and which serve to agency-imbue his opinions. The celebrity conflict of interest.
Agency and bias are two different things.
Ironically, agency can even tender the appearance of mitigating bias, as a method of its very insistence.
Well we at The Ethical Skeptic have been examining tricks of data manipulation and agency for decades, and already possessed a name for this fallacy Michael has been compelled to create from necessity on his own – precisely because it is a very common trick we have observed on the part of fake skeptics to begin with. Michael’s entrenchment inside social skepticism is the very reason why he could not see this fallacy until now – he is undergoing skeptive dissonance and is beginning to spot fallacies of agency his cronies have been committing for decades. Fallacies which he perceives to be ‘new’. Congratulations Michael, you are repenting. The next step is to go out and assist those your cronies and sycophants have harmed in the past through fake skepticism. Help them develop their immature constructs into hypotheses with mechanism, help them with the scientific method, help them with the standards of how to collect and reduce data and argument. Drop the shtick of a priori declarations of ‘ you are full of baloney’ and help them go and find that out for themselves. Maybe. 2
Agency versus Bias
Bias is the Titanic’s habit of failing to examine its ice berg alerts.
Agency is the Titanic telling the ship issuing ice berg alerts to ‘shut up’.
If all we suffered from was mere bias, things might even work out fine.
But reality is that we are victims of agency, not bias.
Just maybe as well, embarking upon such a journey you will find as I did – that you really did not understand the world all that well, nor have things as figured out as you had assumed. Your club might have served as a bit of a cocoon, if you will. Maybe in this journey you have so flippantly stumbled upon, you will observe as ‘new’ a fallacy that ethical skeptics have identified for a long time now; one which your cabal has routinely ignored.
Evidence Sculpting (Cherry Sorting)
/philosophy : pseudoscience : data manipulation/ : has more evidence been culled from the field of consideration for this idea, than has been retained? Has the evidence been sculpted to fit the idea, rather than the converse?
Skulptur Mechanism – the pseudoscientific method of treating evidence as a work of sculpture. Methodical inverse negation techniques employed to dismiss data, block research, obfuscate science and constrain ideas such that what remains is the conclusion one sought in the first place. A common tactic of those who boast of all their thoughts being ‘evidence based’. The tendency to view a logical razor as a device which is employed to ‘slice off’ unwanted data (evidence sculpting tool), rather than as a cutting tool (pharmacist’s cutting and partitioning razor) which divides philosophically valid and relevant constructs from their converse.
Your next assignment Michael, should you choose to accept it, is to learn about how agency promotes specific hypotheses through the targeting of all others (from The Tower of Wrong: The Art of Professional Lying):
Embargo Hypothesis (Hξ)
/philosophy : pseudoskepticism/ : was the science terminated years ago, in the midst of large-impact questions of a critical nature which still remain unanswered? Is such research now considered ‘anti-science’ or ‘pseudoscience’? Is there enormous social pressure to not even ask questions inside the subject? Is mocking and derision high – curiously in excess of what the subject should merit?
Entscheiden Mechanism – the pseudoscientific or tyrannical approach of, when faced with epistemology which is heading in an undesired direction, artificially declaring under a condition of praedicate evidentia, the science as ‘settled’ and all opposing ideas, anti-science, credulity and pseudoscience.
But Michael, as you begin to spot agency inside purported processes of epistemology, we have to warn you, there is more – oh, so much more which you do not know. Let’s take a brief look shall we?
Agency as it Pertains to Evidence and Data Integrity
So, in an effort to accelerate Michael’s walk through the magical wonderland of social skepticism, and how it skillfully enforces conformance upon us all, let us examine the following. The fallacies, modes of agency and methods of crooked thinking below relate to manipulations of data which are prejudices, and not mere unconscious biases – such as in the case of anchoring bias, wherein one adopts a position which is overly influenced by their starting point or the first information which arrived. They may hold a bias, but at least it is somewhat innocent in its genesis, i.e. not introduced by agency. Prejudicial actions in the handling and reduction of evidence and data, are the preeminent hint of the presence of agency, and the first things which the ethical skeptic should look out for inside a claim, denial, mocking or argument.
Unconscious bias happens with everyone, but the list of fallacies and crooked thinking below, outline something more than simple bias. They involve processes of pseudo-induction, panduction, abduction and pseudo-deduction, along with the desire to dissemble the contribution of agency. You can find this, along with agency-independent and unconscious biases, all defined at The Tree of Knowledge Obfuscation: Misrepresentation of Evidence or Data
And of course, all of these fallacies, biases, modes of agency and crooked thinking can be found and defined here:
And as well, more modes of agency can be found at The Tree of Knowledge Obfuscation itself.
A compendium of fallacy and corrupted thought commonly employed inside Social Skepticism
The Ethical Skeptic, “The Spectrum of Evidence Manipulation” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 2 Nov 2018; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-8wy
- Shermer, Michael; Scientific American: The Singular of “Data” Is Not “Anecdote”; Nov 2018; https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-singular-of-data-is-not-anecdote/
- To be fair, Michael has ventured into the ‘pseudosciences’ field in the past. But this has merely been a form of shtick. The Pseudo Skeptic Sleuth – there to teach the unwashed masses how unscientific they are – not there to actually learning anything or help with the processes of science in any way.