The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

The Map of Inference

Submitted for your consideration, The Ethical Skeptic’s Map of Inference. Not all modes of inference are alike in merit. It behooves an ethical skeptic to study and understand the difference between strong and weak versions of science, and further then recognize invalid forms of inference masquerading as science.

The methods of inference are listed by strength of inferential merit, as outlined in the successive columns to the right of each mode. The table begins with the essential nature of modus ponens and tollens (pink orange background), the syllogism to the affirmation or negation which is being tested by the means of inference cited. To the left of the syllogism is its appropriateness for declaring a state/object of neutrality, presence or absence. As you may note, you cannot prove an absence, so that column (modus absens) is flagged with either red X’s or a caution warning, even in the case of the most robust form of induction, consilient induction. The ethic of the null hypothesis, resides in the first two boxes under modus absens above the Popper Demarcation. You will notice that ‘skin in the game’ gets more diluted as one moves downward on the chart. Methodical Deescalation is the process of using a lower form of inference (towards the bottom of the chart) as preferential, when a higher rigor of inference was demanded or available to use. Such a tactic is a common trick of agency employing science as a costume. (Click on the image to obtain a white background savable/clearer image)

One may notice that fake skeptics tend to dwell at the very bottom of this chart – where inference comes from basically ‘what one desires to be true’ – subsequently blaming their ex ante and a priori risks upon a thing they call ‘science’ or ‘facts’. In reality, such inference dwells with its twin, (divine) revelation. Critical thinking is nothing more than divine revelation, sans the divinity.

Linear induction is the weakest form of scientific inference, the last stop before venturing into Nelsonian inference (or pseudoscience). A meta-study, comprising 400 linear inductive studies, is still a weak form of inference regardless of what anyone tells you. The key to a meta-study’s reputed strength, resides inside its ability to amass studies all up and down the inference ranking below – and not simply aggregate inside one mode of inference (usually the lowest: ex ante statistical linear induction). Beware of ‘meta-studies’ which do not actually do this – they are no more strong than is abductive inference. Beware of anyone calling this ‘verisimilitude’; a priori verisimilitude is only valid when one draws from all or most of the forms of inference listed.

Agency and Percent of Domain Known

Please note that the above modes of inference vary in their strength depending upon two more subjective situational factors (difficult to express in the above Map). First the known portion of the domain under consideration is a critical influence upon the effectiveness of most form of inference.  Linear induction can be self deceiving if mankind has only delved about 1% into an entailed information horizon. Take the notorious case of Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction for instance. This instance of erroneous inductive inference even involved some consilience. But the domain was large, and our foray into its knowledge base was very paltry. In the case of a large domain, with little known of it, one should stay toward the top of this chart and not venture towards the bottom (save for a healthy dose of modus indifferens).

A second subjective factor which comes into play is the role and impact of agency. Agency is not conspiracy, as conspiracy is hidden and agency is manifest. It is simply that the individual hides their commitment to agency. So, in a way, agency is a ‘conspiracy of one’ if you will. When a person is surreptitiously defending agency, they will tend to hover around the bottom of this Map of Inference. Watch for, and be wary of such individuals and their habits, as they have something else in mind besides knowledge. A key example follows.

Schemers, Agency and A Conspiracy of One

For instance, most paranormal researchers dwell in the riskier realms of scientific inference, only producing a strength in draw which is modus indifferens or inductively suggestive at best. Such topics may indeed be fun (wonder instilling) and many times actually surpass Ockham’s Razor, but until science actually gets involved, these subjects will not begin to strengthen their rigor in inference. They will dwell in perpetual prison of ignorance (the verb). Fake skeptics know this well. One can see the ranges of inference used by paranormal investigators on the left below. In contrast, on the right one can see the poor quality science which is handed to us all by fake skeptics.

You will notice that the ethical skeptic is an obtollent. Latin ob – against, plus tollens – denial. Fake skeptics love to play and ply their wares in column 3 of the Map – applying science to deny that things exist (prove the null, or prove absence) – when such activity is unethical, infeasible or even unnecessary. They seek to remove any question of modus indifferens at all costs. An ethical researcher stays out of column 3 (Hempel’s Paradox) – whereas a fake researcher dwells in it most of the time.

Obtollence (The Principle of Ethical Skepticism)

/philosophy : skepticism : opposition to cyncism/ : Latin ob – against, plus tollens – denial. Fake skeptics love to ply their wares in proving an absence (Hempel’s Paradox) – applying science to deny that things exist (prove the null, or prove absence); when such activity is unethical, impossible or even unnecessary. They seek to remove any question of modus indifferens (the neutrality of skepticism) at all costs. An ethical researcher avoids any form of Hempel’s Paradox – whereas a fake researcher dwells in it most of the time.

Fake skeptics as well, tend to dwell at the bottom of the Map of Inference, inside a realm of fake knowledge (demarcated on the map above ‘Nelsonian Inference’). Such fake skeptics actually know the knowledge they are attempting to obfuscate – in the ‘you can’t awaken a person who is pretending to be asleep’ sense. Nelsonian knowledge will be the subject of my next blog article. How it works and how its tricks are plied.

Nelsonian Knowledge (Inference)

/philosophy : pretense : knowledge obfuscation/ : both, that knowledge which is used as a placeholder for the sole purpose of displacing other critical knowledge which could ostensibly serve to alleviate ignorance (and therefore suffering) – as well as, that displaced critical knowledge itself. The latter is taken to actually be known on the part of a poseur. It is dishonest for a man deliberately to shut his eyes to principles/intelligence which he would prefer not to know. If he does so, he is taken to have actual knowledge of the facts to which he shut his eyes. Such knowledge has been described as ‘Nelsonian knowledge’, meaning knowledge which is attributed to a person as a consequence of his ‘wilful blindness’ or (as American legal analysts describe it) ‘contrived ignorance’.

Again, be armed and skilled in your battle with pretend skepticism. This chart is not an easy study – nor should it be. It is the result of decades of thought, work and proving out. Use it wisely.

     How to MLA cite this article:

The Ethical Skeptic, “The Map of Inference”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 4 Mar 2019; Web,


March 4, 2019 - Posted by | Ethical Skepticism |

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