The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

Reduction: A Bias for Understanding

A bias for understanding is demonstrated no better than by an ethical researcher’s ability to say ‘I do not know.’ Beware of anyone who makes a claim to critical thinking, yet habitually shortcuts reducing the subject being assessed into its cause and risk constituents. Such persons are nothing but salesmen.

It is fully acceptable, nay it is scientific to say, ‘I don’t know.’ Inside ethical skepticism, one should first assume the disciplined epoché of ‘I don’t know’, until an examination of the process of reduction and critical path incremental risk progression is undertaken. This reveals one’s preference for understanding in lieu of fiat knowledge. In similar ethic, reduction is the process of disassembling a macroscopic object into its cause, effect and risk constituents. Reduction is essential to the establishment of mechanism, and mechanism is essential to the establishment of hypothesis. Reduction is a critical part of the first three steps of the scientific method: Observation, Intelligence and Necessity.

Is a rock nothing more than the assembly of quantum states, valences, electrons and bosons comprised by its lattice structure? Is a legal case nothing more than finding a guilty appearing or unpopular party upon which to blame a tort? Is a paradox really a paradox, or are there more surreptitious contributors at play? A habit of reduction in approaching such mysteries reveals a bias for understanding on the part of the sincere researcher. Put another way, by Martyn Shuttleworth and Explorable:1

“Scientific reductionism is the idea of reducing complex interactions and entities to the sum of their constituent parts, in order to make them easier to study.”

Reduction is the path taken by the ethical skeptic who eschews abductive and panductive inference (the habit of social skeptics). Accordingly, the purpose of reduction is four-fold:

  1. Distinguish critical factors, risks & effects from merely influencing or irrelevant ones
  2. Identify the critical path of inquiry and possible inductive or deductive syllogism
  3. Detect the presence and eliminate the contribution of agency
  4. Establish robust study design/Mitigate testing or analytical noise.

There is a philosophy of science which cites that, determining the answer to an asymmetric dilemma is relatively straightforward, once one has successfully identified all the elemental contributing factors and their relationships. In absence of the process of scientific reduction, one cannot faithfully pursue the powerful forms of inference known as deduction and induction. One must instead resort to the appeal to authority of abduction, or the appeal to ignorance denials of panduction. Under this line of philosophy, the instinct to reduce a complex argument into its basic syllogistic elements, in advance of ‘assailing the facts’ (see Why Sagan is Wrong) or even hypothesis development, reveals a very ethical disposition on the part of the true skeptic: a bias for understanding.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a fan of just such thinking, elicited no better than by four of his most famous quotes, expressed through his fictional persona, Sherlock Holmes:

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” – A Case of Identity

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” – The Sign of Four

What Arthur Conan Doyle has outlined in this second quote is the process of deduction. Eliminate the entire subset of plausibility which can be falsified, and what you have left is the truth – or the domain of truth at the very least. Arthur Conan Doyle certainly appreciated the role which reduction played inside the escapades of his most notable character, Sherlock Holmes. The reason being, that reduction is necessary before one can undertake the processes which result in inductive and deductive inference. One can undertake abduction and panduction however, without any prior research or work – which is why fake skepticism prefers those methods of inference. Panduction and abduction involve a practice set against which Doyle’s famous detective character warns with utmost effulgence:

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” – A Scandal in Bohemia

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” – The Bascombe Valley Mystery

Upon any semblance of depth in reading Arthur Conan Doyle, one would correctly infer that he possessed a bias for understanding. His pursuits involved subjects which were sure to piss off most social skeptics. Social skeptics typically fail to grasp this irony as well.2 But we will leave that topic for another time. Suffice to say, how could a person this objective and skeptical, rationally dare to venture into the ‘paranormal’? The principle behind this escapes fake skeptics to this very day. Beware of those who promulgate final answers, and then claim a defense of the ‘facts’. Science is much more than this. Therefore, the axiom of ethical skepticism proceeds as such:

One cannot conduct critical thinking nor craft a critical path of incremental risk of conjecture and testing, without first reducing asymmetry into its series of cause and risk elemental bases. Beware of anyone who makes a claim to critical thinking, yet habitually shortcuts reducing the subject being assessed. Such persons are nothing but salesmen.

This process of disassembly of an asymmetrical object into its cause and risk series elements, is called the process of reduction. A bias for understanding is demonstrated no better than by a person who exhibits the patience and discipline to reduce a complex argument, before attempting to formulate a construct, and much less pretend to foist a conclusion about it.

The Reluctant Dowser

After a sixteen year period of living in my house, I had long since misplaced the location of my sprinkler control valves buried under the grass. They are a cluster of 3 electro-servo controlled water valves which my central control unit operates to automatically turn my sprinklers on and off during the spring and summer seasons of grass growth. One of them had malfunctioned, and the section of sprinkler heads which were operated by this electro-servo control, had consequently failed to operate. I called upon a highly recommended local sprinkler repair specialist to come out and take a look. After testing the system under a couple different scenarios (also reduction itself), he confirmed “Yessir, your zone 2 valve has gone bad. Can you tell me where your sprinkler servo units are buried?” I just grimaced and shrugged in reply.

Now I have a rather large yard, where the water main arrives at a completely different entry point than the footprint of most of my grass. Poetically, the master control unit in my garage, is also nowhere near the majority of my yard and sprinkler heads. Determining the location of the set of control valves was going to be a daunting task. Most often they are located in a bundle buried under the ground, but because of my yard configuration and size, this could not be assumed. The sprinkler tech offered to locate the valves for a fee of $75. He directed his son who was working with him, to run to the truck and get a particular machine which is used to accomplish just such a task (eg. Amazon: Armada Pro300 Sprinkler Valve Locator). The reason being offered, that he would have to scan the entire set of possible locations for the valves, and eliminate false positives which will inevitably be generated by underground wires/metal as well. This process would take some time. Therefore the fee.

Now, my grandfather had been a dowser. The process of finding well locations, septic tanks and other formations of underground water, was a service he had regularly provided to the family and neighbors back in the day. Dowsing was something I had been used to, as a robust and reliable form of underground water detection. It was not until I got so smart that I was able to enter graduate school, that I was instructed that dowsing was a form of ‘magical thinking’. But since I am a skeptic of imperious wisdom, and a reductionist at heart, I asked the sprinkler tech with a contemplative push of the bottom lip “Is there a chance perhaps that you might possess say, another more traditional way of finding water under the ground?” Cocking my head slightly while I spoke the word ‘traditional’. The sprinkler tech smiled and said “I might. But I typically don’t do that in neighborhoods like this, ’cause people start yelling at me and calling me names and then stop using my service. As long as no one’s gonna get bent out of shape over it, I can try and dowse this thing if you want.”

I wanted. He dowsed the yard for free. He walked perpendicularly from the property line with his two bent copper wires in hand, stopped mid yard, turned right, walked about 30 paces to a spot in the grass, then slammed his shovel head down right at his toes.

Shtaunk! He found the sprinkler servo-valves, in the middle of nowhere, in less than 3 minutes of work.

I tipped him and his son $30 for the entertainment, lesson and effort in tradition. I don’t know how it works, all I know is that it does work. As the sprinkler tech and his son departed, he shook my hand and said “By the way, those people who used to yell at me for proposing a dowse of their yard, I charged them $125 to use the machine.” He chuckled as he walked off.

The Skeptic’s Dictionary of course, promulgates its abductive and panductive pearls of wisdom, handed down to them by god (see ethical skepticism’s Definition of God), in order to warn against the use of the witchcraft of dowsing, as it could damn your soul to magical thinking hell. From The Skeptic’s Dictionary:3

Since dowsing is not based upon any known scientific or empirical laws or forces of nature, it should be considered a type of divination and an example of magical thinking. The dowser tries to locate objects by occult means.

Translated: ‘We don’t understand it, therefore it is evil‘.

Hmm… this seems familiar to me. I have run into this type of religious (non-reductive) thinking before, and it was not inside science. People who think like this often conceal more awesome insistence than simply the one subject at hand. They want to own your thinking, what you communicate, what you study, and your pursuits as well. Their focus is not the subject, their focus is you. Being mistaken at times, bears less calamity, than is being under their auspices, trust me.

Being correct on 95% of one’s awesome insistence that others comply, stands as poor recompense for the harm one creates through the 5% instance in which one is wrong.

Of course a typical dowser would make no such claim, that dowsing is ‘locating objects by occult means’. I find it funny that, pseudo-skeptics will accept that a machine can find the location of water valves under the ground based upon established principles of science, and simultaneously then contend that a man with a simple device can only claim to accomplish the same thing via ‘occult means’. I smell a lack of reduction (panductive inference) at play. Most dowsers, including Albert Einstein, believe the effect to originate from natural phenomena.4 I don’t know the answer to this. All I know is that it worked for my grandfather, and it worked for my lawn sprinkler maintenance guy. These are no nonsense people – far from being ‘occultists’. I would call them reductionist science practitioners. I would not call the people at The Skeptic’s Dictionary anything but pseudo-skeptics. Dowsing saved me $45. The task now, is to figure out why it appears to consistently work – not start gas can banging and chest pounding about what it is, and what it is not.

Just because I ponder the potential efficacy and epistemology of something you don’t like, does not serve to make my thinking ‘magical’.

Sherlock Holmes comments about this type of crooked thinking, exhibited on the part of the panduction-minded authors at The Skeptic’s Dictionary:

In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the every-day affairs of life it is more useful to reason forwards, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically…Let me see if I can make it clearer. Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you what the result would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass. There are few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically. – A Study in Scarlet

Their habitual denial, the refusal to reduce certain phenomena which are robust, or which persist in our observational base, stems in essence from a lack of skill at scientific critical path logic. They do not possess the patience and disciplined method, requisite in the disassembly of the asymmetrical aspects of dowsing into its series elements of risk and conjecture. They refuse to apply any form of logical critical path, and instead choose only to adorn themselves with the lab coats and accoutrements of science, while lazily declaring the answer a priori. Identity warfare, very much the same thing as is virtue signaling.

The Critical Path Role of Reduction

Therefore, in light of Doyle’s penchant for ‘reasoning backwards’, let us define the role of reduction, and its place in the process of science, prior to the assembly of a construct or hypothesis. Reduction is the process of allowing one to see, scientifically. To unravel the factors which are salient to a result.

Reduction (Philosophy of Science)

/philosophy : science : critical path/ : the disassembly of asymmetry between logical objects such that each maybe be examined individually and in relation to their series contribution to the whole in terms of cause, effect and risk. The process of ex ante predicting or ex poste observing the macroscopic characteristics of a logical or physical object by identifying and manipulating the characteristics and interplay of its microscopic components, ostensibly at the lowest level of inspection which can be defined. Reduction must be pursued before a process which may result in a claim to induction, deduction or assessment of risk can be successfully undertaken. Reduction reveals a bias for understanding.5

Reduction is the path taken by the ethical skeptic who eschews abductive and panductive inference (the habit of social skeptics). Accordingly, the purpose of reduction is four-fold:

  1. Distinguish critical factors, risks & effects from merely influencing or irrelevant ones
  2. Identify the critical path of inquiry and possible inductive or deductive syllogism
  3. Detect the presence and eliminate the contribution of agency
  4. Establish robust study design/Mitigate testing or analytical noise.

Now there are a variety of reductionist approaches inside the sciences, and they differ by the general subject. Reduction inside cosmological sciences is not the same thing as reduction inside the biological sciences for instance. Nor does pursuing reduction guarantee resolution of a paradox or inquiry. Reduction is a tool and not necessarily a panacea – which is why you will not see me using the word ‘reductionism’. As this form of extrapolation/equivocation abuse of the term serves to cause much confusion.6 The prevailing principle I use is – reduction is a bias for understanding, which even if academic, inaugurates the researcher into the intelligence domain they will need in order to develop novel approaches and potential hypotheses. You will find that, in short order you appear to have deeper insights than even do the ‘experts’. Reduction involves testing, getting out into the field, being quiet, and the skill to observe. So, even if reduction is not prima facia effective, its exercise is beneficial nonetheless. The process I have employed in the past – in study, and in life and in labs, involves the following steps of breaking down elements of cause, effect and risk (using a test of dowsing as the example):

1.  Elemental-ize – Identify all of the hard elements comprised by the asymmetric object.

eg. formation of water, earth, test human, search grid, depth, device, metal, weather, time of day, temperature, etc.

2.  Filter – Filter elements in critical dependency from merely influencing elements.

eg. formation of water, test human, device, metal.

3.  Identify Critical Path – establish a base critical path among those critical dependency elements:

eg. human to device to metal to water formation

4.  Sensitivity Test Influencing Elements/Regression – Alter all and only the influencing elements in series, without changing the primary elements in dependency, and observe the dependency effect in each alteration. Measure and record the effect for influencing relationships (sensitivity regression analysis).

eg. change location, grid, depth, time of day, human, etc.

5.  Control Test Dependency Elements/Arrival Distributions – Repeat 4 with a control version of the dependency elements – however eliminating those influencing elements which showed no effect in step 4.

eg. the same series of tests with NO formation of water actually present and with a change of device metal

One may discern here, that by reducing the dowsing issue to its critical and influencing-only elements and proceeding accordingly, one has achieved robustness in study design and provided sound basis for the possible development of valid inference. But there is another strength offered by this approach as well; that is, the identification of agency and its surreptitious contribution.

Detecting Agency and Pretend Reduction

Now that we have examined one possible method of reduction regarding dowsing, let’s use this same topic to inspect a scenario of pretend reduction. Will actual ethical study prove a significant effect for dowsing? I do not know the answer to this. Sadly we may never know, as too much agency is wound up inside such testing (see the problem of Club Quality). A small group of tests have been completed, which indicated significant results for some dowsers and ‘no differentiation from random’ for others (Wagner, Betz, and König, 1990 Schlußbericht 01 KB8602, Bundesministerium für Forschung und Technologie).7 In this study, self-purported dowswers were given a hit or miss shot at locating a pipe filled with water concealed under a barn floor. To the right, you can see the results graphic from that study; results which are used by skeptics to issue final disposition on the topic of dowsing. The employment of the ‘misses’ in the graphic to the right constitutes a form of study noise pseudoscience called torfuscation (Saxon for ‘hide in the bog’). I question a study design which tests the mechanism of how accurate a first try is (hits and misses in the graphic to the right) – as such a measure would contain a boat-load of noise.

The hits and misses in the graphic to the right bear a high risk of study noise. Either of two results can be merely a consequence of accident, however the misses have a greater chance of being generated accidentally. It is not simply that this is too small a sample size. No provision for the contribution of noise, regardless of sample size, was made in the study. The misses were then used as evidence of absence. This is torfuscation. It is study fraud.

This is not how scientific testing is done. Part of the objective of a study design is to conduct tests which serve to neutralize, or in the least mitigate, observation noise. The proper way to test this paradigm is to assess whether or not, in repetitive trials, good dowsers can consistently beat efficient pattern searches (JP 3-50 Search and Rescue grids or crime scene search patterns for example) in terms of success arrival distributions on a scale of time (τ). The next step would be to take those who showed very significant results, and conduct a time/grid testing series per the example of reduction I related above. Conducting repetitive regression analyses on alteration of influencing factors, upon signal detection provides more reduction depth, than does a single level hit or miss test. Instead fake skeptics took partial results from the noise of a single level measure (hit or miss), bearing no control reference arrival distribution – a subset of reduction which tendered some convenient facts for their propaganda – and ran with a final answer. No wonder we are ignorant as a race of beings.

I found some people who are bad at dowsing (study noise), therefore dowsing is magical thinking. Who developed this study design, a college freshman? or maybe James Randi? This is not science in the least, and reeks of ‘The JREF Million Dollar Challenge‘ type of idiocy.

Torfuscation

/philosophy : pseudoscience : study fraud : Saxon : ‘hide in the bog’/ : pseudoscience through inappropriate or shallow study design. A process, contended to be science, wherein one develops a conclusion through cataloging study observation noise as valid data. Invalid observations which can be parlayed into becoming evidence of absence or evidence of existence as one desires – by taking the appropriate hit or miss grouping as basis for inference.  A refined form of praedicate evidentia employed inside statistical studies which exploits the study noise generated through first level measurements, as the basis for a claim that something does or does not exist. See also utile absentia.

Example: If you take the SAT a day on which you woke up severely ill, and you get a low score consequently, this is not evidence of your inadmissibility to quality universities. A fake skeptic will use such a circumstance to declare you dumb, by means of the ‘facts’.

Of course, fake skeptics like to make a final declaration of ‘pseudoscience’ as quickly and as shallowly into the data as is possible. They bear a habit of never saying, ‘I do not know’ and a history of attempting to prevent such research from being done in depth, at any cost. This is not skepticism in the least, and smells of desperation – it is debunking. A form of pseudo-reduction. You will note consistency in this, as celebrity skeptics consistently undertake a lazier short-cut process of science, when applied to topics or subjects which they have been assigned to discredit. This process of pseudoscience called pseudo-reduction, otherwise known as debunking (a more detailed methodological outline of this activity can be found here: The New Debunker: Pseudo-Skeptic Sleuth), stands as one of the primary tactics of fake skepticism.

Pseudo-Reduction (Debunking)

/philosophy : pseudoscience/ : the non-critical path disassembly of a minor subset of logical objects as a pretense of examination of the whole. A process which pretends that a robust observation is already understood fully. Which consequently then ventures only far enough into the reducible material to a level sufficient to find ‘facts’ which appear to corroborate one of six a priori disposition buckets to any case of examination: Misidentification, Hoax/Being Hoaxed, Delusion, Lie, Accident, Anecdote. This process exclusively avoids any more depth than this level of attainment, and most often involves a final claim of panductive inference (falsification of an entire domain of ideas), along with a concealed preexisting bias.

Knowing what constitutes sound reduction, how it is applied and how to spot its exercise – stands as a key aspect of ethical skepticism. The ability to spot the faker and distinguish him from the one actually conducting science.

epoché vanguards gnosis

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The Fermi Paradox is Babysitting Rubbish

The curtains of paradox are woven of the fabric of ill assumption and intent. So goes this apothegm of ethical skepticism. Our assumptions surrounding the promotional rhetoric of the Fermi Paradox are immature and lacking in skeptical circumspection. The odds are, that a civilization long determined to not exist, will contact us well before we are equipped to resolve any questions raised inside the Fermi Paradox’s very posing to begin with.

Primate sign language existed long before we taught American Sign Language to Koko the Gorilla, and well before we even knew that many primates possessed both a vocal and gestural language all their own.1 2 It took us a mere 30,000 years to figure out that animals and plants on our very own planet communicate by means around which we did not bear the first inkling of awareness.3 How much more time will mankind need in order to understand a potential communication means, which is completely alien to anything we have ever experienced? How do we go about establishing a probability that we will be able to discern such an incongruous construct to our own forms of communication, and easily distinguish it from all forms of background noise inside our cosmos?

The reality concerning the rhetorical ‘Fermi Paradox’, as it is called, centers around the tenet of ethical skepticism which cites that our most dangerous weakness resides in the fact that we do not know what we do not know. We have signal-searched an infinitesimally small segment of our galaxy, and an even smaller segment of time.4 Yet, in our lack of wisdom we begin to demand of the cosmos, pseudo-reductionist answers which we are not prepared to accept in the least. The Fermi Paradox, along with its rhetorical resolution, stand exemplary of just such an exercise in pretend epistemology. The Fermi Paradox proceeds as such (from Wikipedia):5

The Fermi paradox is a conflict between arguments of scale and probability that seem to favor intelligent life being common in the universe, and a total lack of evidence of intelligent life having ever arisen anywhere other than on the Earth.

Totally. In a blog earlier this year for the SETI Institute, Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer for the SETI Institute, opines that the Fermi Paradox, and in particular the ‘total lack of evidence of intelligent life having ever arisen anywhere‘ component itself, constitute ‘strong arguments’.6

The fact that aliens don’t seem to be walking our planet apparently implies that there are no extraterrestrials anywhere among the vast tracts of the Galaxy. Many researchers consider this to be a radical conclusion to draw from such a simple observation. Surely there is a straightforward explanation for what has become known as the Fermi Paradox. There must be some way to account for our apparent loneliness in a galaxy that we assume is filled with other clever beings.

A lot of folks have given this thought. The first thing they note is that the Fermi Paradox is a remarkably strong argument.

Please note that the idea that ‘they don’t exist’ as a scientific construct is simple, but it is not straightforward, as Shostak incorrectly claims. It is a highly feature stacked alternative. His thoughts in this regard lack philosophical rigor. Moreover, that the Fermi Paradox, and in particular its last component boast in the form of an appeal to ignorance, constitute any form of ‘strong argument’ is laughable pseudoscience to say the least. An amazing level of arrogance. However, since Seth has made the claim, let’s examine for a moment the Fermi Paradox, in light of ethical skepticism’s elements which define the features of a strong argument.7

   The Fermi Paradox Fails Assessment by Features of a Strong Argument

1.  Coherency – argument is expressed with elements, relationships, context, syntax and language which conveys actual probative information or definition

The Paradox is simple. But never confuse simple with the state of being coherent. This is a common tradecraft inside social skepticism. The statement bears no underpinning definition. It seeks a free pass from the perspective that everyone knows what ‘intelligent life’, ‘evidence’, ‘scale’ and ‘probability’ are, right? For me, as an ethical skeptic, I fear what I do not know, that I do not know. I possess no definition of how evidence of this type would appear, nor the specific measures of probability and scale entailed in such a search. I cannot presume such arrogance of knowledge on my part – and certainly cannot pretense a resolution in its offing, before I even start looking.

This is no different than saying ‘God is Love’. Simplicity does not convey coherence (in the eyes of an ethical skeptic) – as it can constitute merely a charade. The principle is not coherent because it has been issued as law before any of its foundational elements of soundness have been framed; much less measured. This is what renders the principle both an Einfach Mechanism as well as a Imposterlösung Mechanism. Incoherent pretenses of science. A null hypothesis which has not earned its mantle of venerability.

2.  Soundness – premises support or fail to adequately support its proposed conclusion

The premise that there exists ‘a total lack of evidence of intelligent life having ever arisen anywhere other than on the Earth‘ is unsound. Notice the prejudicial modifier ‘total’, employed in framing a supposed ‘lack of evidence’. Total lack, not just a lack, but a total lack – well now I believe you then. This is prejudicial language feeding into casuistry; it is agency – and does not stand as a derivation of science by any means. The term ‘common in the universe‘ is also not constrained, relegating the Paradox artificially into a divergent model structure. This as well renders the syllogism unsound.

A similar conjecture could be made in terms of a personal accusation in this form: There is absolutely a paradox surrounding your claim to never have beaten your wife, yet we can find absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support such a claim on your part that you have never beaten anyone’s wife.

3.  Formal Theory – strength and continuity of predicate and logical calculus (basis of formal fallacy)

The Formal Theory of the model consists simply of a rhetorical syllogism citing that there exists a paradox. What is being sold are the premises and not the inert syllogism itself: the statement ‘a total lack of evidence of intelligent life having ever arisen anywhere other than on the Earth‘. This is a syllogistic approach to reverse-selling an unfounded premise assumption without due rigor of science, also know as rhetoric.

4.  Inductive Strength – sufficiency of completeness and exacting inference which can be drawn (as a note, deductive inference when it exists, relates to 3. Formal Theory)

Since observation has not been completed in reality (see below, the Parce-Ames equation), there exists no inductive strength for the Fermi Paradox rhetorical argument.

5.  Factualness – validity of information elements comprised by the argument or premises

Since observation has not been completed in reality (see below, the Parce-Ames equation), there exists no factual strength for the Fermi Paradox rhetorical argument.

6.  Informal Strength – informal critique of expression, intent or circumstantial features

The Fermi Paradox as it is currently expressed (and there is a future in which it can exist as an actual scientific principle) bears several forms of informal fallacy:

It constitutes non rectum agitur fallacy of science method
It stands as an appeal to authority
It stands as an appeal to ignorance
It is both an Einfach Mechanism as well as a Imposterlösung Mechanism (as there exists a very paltry set of ‘factualness’ surrounding this subject)
It is an Omega Hypothesis

To an ethical skeptic, the presence of technique involving reverse-selling a premise by means of structured rhetoric, inside a context of tilted language and equivocal definition, bearing a complete lack of soundness, and finally featuring the five fallacies at the end of this list, all collectively hint at one thing – A LIE.  Lies are sold socially, by social skeptics. With that idea in mind of a social construct being sold as science, examine for a moment many of the explanations for the Fermi Paradox (which also assume it to be a strong argument – which it is not), which include placing galaxy-inhabiting civilizations inside the same dilemma context in which mankind currently resides. Alien civilizations all blow themselves up with nukes at some point. They all die from carbon harvesting global warming. They pollute themselves into extinction. They all could not exit their solar system as intact beings. They could not solve mass/energy to speed of light relativism, etc. This habit of judging novel observations in light of current and popular controversies is an exercise in socially constructed science, called the familiar controversy bias. It is a key indicator that social skepticism, and not science, is attempting to sway the perception of the public at large inside an issue. A rather humorous example of such socially induced bias can be found here. And in light of the Fermi Paradox constituting rhetoric itself – such extrapolations of current controversies off of its presumptive base, form sort of a double layer cake of rhetoric. An amazing feat of organic untruth (lying with facts).

Familiar Controversy Bias

/philosophy : informal fallacy : habituation : bias/ : the tendency of individuals or researchers to frame explanations of observed phenomena in terms of mainstream current or popular controversies. The Fermi Paradox exists because aliens all eventually blow themselves up with nuclear weapons right after they discover radio. Venus is a case of run-away global warming from greenhouse gasses. Every hurricane since 1995 has been because of Republicans. Every disaster is God’s punishment for some recent thing a nation conducted. Mars is a case of ozone depletion at its worst, etc. Every paradox or novel observation is readily explainable in terms of a current popular or manufactured controversy. Similar to the anachronistic fallacy of judging past events in light of today’s mores or ethics.

Continuing with the Shostak blog article then, Seth whips out another extraordinary claim casually near its end.

Consequently, scientists in and out of the SETI community have conjured up other arguments to deal with the conflict between the idea that aliens should be everywhere and our failure (so far) to find them.

One does not have to ‘conjure up arguments’ to his ontological-preference Fermi Paradox resolution (advanced extraterrestrial civilizations do not exist at all), as Shostak claims8 – as such alternative arguments are mandated by Ockham’s Razor. They should be studied, and do not need to be forced or conjured in any way. The Paradox itself in no way suggests that there ‘aren’t any advanced extraterrestrial civilizations out there’, as Shostak all-too-eagerly opines as well. This idea of complete absence bears no scientific utility, neither as a construct nor as a null hypothesis. So why push it so hard? Perhaps, again in fine form of rhetoric – far away advanced extraterrestrial civilizations are not the target of this lazy abductive inference at all. Rather the real focus is on promoting the concept of non-existence of nearby advanced civilizations, or even visiting ones. A very familiar target set comprising a curiously large portion of Shostak’s vitriol, air time and professional focus.

These are all extraordinary claims, made by a person with zero evidence to support them – coupled with a high anchoring bias in squelching this issue before the public at large. Seth Shostak’s entire mind, purpose and reason for being, is based upon a psychological obsession with the dissemination of propaganda surrounding this issue. He was selected for the symbolic role and the suit he inhabits precisely because of these foibles. He is babysitting a symbolic issue, passing out pablum to the public and helping obfuscate the answer to a question which his sponsors do not want asked in the first place.

Remember, that in order to get the right answer, one need only ask a wrong question (see Interrogative Biasing: Asking the Wrong Question in Order to Derive the Right Answer). The Fermi Paradox is an example of just such a tactic of obfuscation. It is a religious action – stemming from a faith, which we will outline below.

The Faith of the Fermi Paradox

The fact that we accept the Fermi Paradox, given the following conditions, renders it more a statement of faith than a statement of science by any means.

Critical Path Logic: Fatal

The preferred rhetorical conclusion it entails employs the implicit concepts ‘alien’, ‘extraterrestrial’, ‘scale’, ‘probability’, ‘evidence’ and ‘life’ in rhetorical, prejudicial, incoherent and unsound syllogism. While the topic is valid, the question in its current form, is not.

However, let us presume this condition of fatality to be irrelevant, and continue down its logical critical path in reductionist series risk:

Reductionist Series Risk: Extremely High

α:  It presumes mankind to know the relevant range of what constitutes an inhabitant life form

β :  It presumes mankind to know the means by which inhabitants would ostensibly communicate

γ :  It presumes that all inhabitants are distant

δ :  It presumes that technology takes only a single path and direction similar to mankind’s own

ε :  It presumes that all communication media throughout the galaxy are similar to ours

ζ :  It presumes that we would recognize all forms of communication similar to ours

η :  It presumes that inhabitants would broadcast in omnidirectional and powerful EM signals or would be directing their EM energy straight toward us only

θ :  It presumes that inhabitants would broadcast ‘in the clear’ (i.e. unencrypted outside the cosmic background radiation)

ι :    It presumes that broadcasting inhabitants would have also presumed that no one was listening to them and/or would not care

κ :  It presumes that life can exist inside only our relative frame of reference/dimensionality

λ :  It presumes that we have examined a significant amount of space

μ :  It presumes that we rigorously know what space and time are, and its reductive inference upon radiation to be

ν :  It presumes that we have rigorously studied the timeframe in which an advanced civilization could broadcast during its development history

Finally we address key elements of the same logical critical path in macroscopic or parallel risk

Macroscopic Parallel Risk: Fatally High

  •  It presumes that mankind’s life originated only upon Earth through abiogenesis 
  •  It presumes that all intelligent life is noisy
  •  It presumes that all universal inhabitants are full time bound by our frame of reference/dimensionality
  •  It presumes that we have actually looked for inhabitant signals
  •  It presumes that humankind’s existence is lacking in agency
  •  It presumes that science/skepticism is lacking in agency
  •  It presumes that those who might have observed such communication in the past (distant or recent), would expose this circumstance
  •  It precludes the idea that a subset of mankind is already communicating

The Omega Hypothesis therefore – the idea being artificially enforced at all costs – is expressed no better than by Seth Shostak himself, its proponent and babysitter:9

“Some even insisted that there was no paradox at all: the reason we don’t see evidence of extraterrestrials is because there aren’t any.”

This is what is known inside ethical skepticism as babysitter rhetoric – false wisdom promulgated to stand in as a proxy for wisdom one desires to block. It is wishful thinking; pre-emptive thinking. The better-fit (least convoluted in necessary assumptions) explanation is, that ‘they’ are already aware of us, and have been for some time. This actually is a very elegant resolution for the Fermi Paradox at a local level, along with a battery of robust observations which lay fallow and unattended inside of so-called ‘fringe’ science – a hypothesis which requires significantly less gymnastics in denying data and twisting philosophy, than comparatively that required to enforce a single mandatory ‘nobody is home’ Omega Hypothesis. In this regard, I am not a proponent of enforcing one, Ockham’s Razor violating answer, over the condition of plurality which would dictate examining two possible solutions. I remain open to both ideas, as this is the ethic of skepticism – anathema to the cadre of pretenders who oppress this subject.

Babysitter

/philosophy : rhetoric : pseudoscience : science communicator/ : a celebrity or journalist who performs the critical tasks of agency inside a topic which is embargoed. The science communicator assigned a responsibility of appeasing public curiosity surrounding an issue which the public is not authorized to research nor understand. A form of psychosis, exhibited by an individual who is a habituated organic liar. A prevarication specialist who spins a subset of fact, along with affectations of science, in such as way as to craft the appearance of truth – and further then, invests the sum of their life’s work into perpetuating or enforcing a surreptitious lie.

So let’s develop a kind of Reverse Drake Equation why don’t we, based upon the above cited criteria of probability then (the Greek alphabet labelled items above as opposed to the bullet pointed items). This is a kind of risk chain assessment. Remember that risks in a risk chain in series are multiplicative as you add them into the mix. However, some of the above risks are in parallel, so they cannot be added into the series based formula below (Parce-Ames equation). The series based risks are highlighted by their corresponding Greek alphabet characters above, and are assigned a serial factor used inside the formula below.  Parallel risk elements cannot be added into a risk reductionist critical path (as they are subjective and duplicative in nature and therefore are not able to be employed inside a reductionist approach) and are therefore excluded from the equation. Beware of those who intermix parallel and series risk arguments, as they are plural arguing. A sign of lack in intellectual rigor, and a key sign of agency.

Parce-Ames Probability Dynamic

The Parce-Ames equation demonstrates the ludicrous folly of the Fermi Paradox. It serves to expand the dynamic regarding the probability that we would have detected even one (x) of the total population (N) of advanced civilizations (from the Drake Equation) in our galaxy by this moment in our history. The Parce-Ames Probability Dynamic therefore, hinges off of the probability around fourteen low-confidence and independent input variables, as factored into 250 billion stars, all compounding risk in series and according to the following equation:

P(N(x))  =  N/2.5 x 10¹¹  ·  Σ(Ψ)  ·  α  ·  β  ·  γ  ·  δ  ·  ε  ·  ζ  ·  η  ·  θ  ·  ι  ·  κ  ·  λ  ·  μ  ·  ν

where:

P(N(x)) = the probability that we would have detected even one (x) of N advanced civilizations in our galaxy by this moment in our history

Σ(Ψ) = the sum total of all stars (Σ) studied by all observation apertures (Ψ) on Earth

and

α :  the chance that we grasp adequately what constitutes an inhabitant life form
β :  the chance that we have correctly assumed how inhabitants would ostensibly communicate
γ :  the chance that inhabitants are inside our search band
δ :  the chance that a given inhabitant technology takes a path and direction similar to mankind’s own
ε :  the chance that any communication is similar to ours
ζ :  the chance that we would recognize all forms of communication similar to ours
η :  the chance that inhabitants would broadcast in omnidirectional and powerful EM signals or would be directing their EM energy straight toward us only
θ :  the chance that inhabitants would broadcast ‘in the clear’ (i.e. unencrypted outside the cosmic background radiation)
ι :    the chance that broadcasting inhabitants would have also presumed that no one was listening to them and/or would not care
κ :  the chance that life can exist inside only our relative frame of reference/dimensionality
λ :  the chance percentage of signal-detectable space we have examined
μ :  the chance that we rigorously know what space and time are, and its reductive inference upon radiation to be
ν :  the chance that we have rigorously studied the timeframe in which an advanced civilization could/would broadcast in a detectable form during its development history

The journalists at Science News sum this equation dynamic up in one recitation:10

A new calculation shows that if space is an ocean, we’ve barely dipped in a toe. The volume of observable space combed so far for E.T. is comparable to searching the volume of a large hot tub for evidence of fish in Earth’s oceans, astronomer Jason Wright at Penn State and colleagues say in a paper posted online September 19 at arXiv.org.

Another way to put this, in terms of the discussion herein is that, the Parce-Ames equation always approaches zero, unless a majority of answers are ascertained and refined in accuracy by an observing civilization. We as a civilization are nowhere near the dynamic range of the Parce-Ames curve progression. We are in the first hot tub of ocean water, swimming around looking for fish and yelling ‘a total lack of any evidence!’ as bubbles come streaming up in sequence with our underwater declarations. And we have on our smart sciencey swim trunks too.

The stark reality is – that in absence of a civilization coming alongside and teaching us many of the objective elements of the Parce-Ames equation, we face very little chance of ever striking out on our own and finding (even by means of radio-telescope) a nearby, much less galactic, civilization. As you can see in the graphic above, the inflection point of knowledge which would equip us to answer the Fermi Paradox is far past the more likely state of our being contacted first.

The dramatically higher odds are, that an intelligence inhabiting life form will find us, long before we ever find even one, ourselves. The idea therefore, that another advanced culture is aware of or has visited Earth, is well supported by Ockham’s Razor, and should stand as a construct of science, even now. To avoid this alternative, is a form of pseudoscience. The more likely realities are that either:

1. they will find us first, by detecting the gamma ray bursts from our 2243 nuclear weapon detonations, long before we resolve even the first variable inside the Drake Equation – or

2. they already were engaged with ‘us’ a long time ago.

Both of these explanations are much less feature stacked than is the ‘they do not exist’ alternative being promoted by social skepticism.

We have no idea how an alien might exist, communicate or travel. We possess no compelling argument which falsifies the very possible hypothesis that they were already here long ago, and are still hanging around. Not one shred of science – therefore, plurality under Ockham’s Razor is mandated. And if you do not understand what this means, neither are you ready to argue this topic.

The First Duty of Ethical Skepticism, is not to promulgate answers. I do not hold an answer inside this subject. Rather it is to spot and to oppose agency. Especially the rhetoric of babysitting agency. Foolishness, dressed up as science. Wonder in the purported offing – but oppressive in its reality of enforcement.

Fake skepticism.

epoché vanguards gnosis

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How to MLA cite this blog post =>

The Ethical Skeptic, “The Fermi Paradox is Babysitting Rubbish” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 2 Oct 2018; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-8jd

October 2, 2018 Posted by | Argument Fallacies, Institutional Mandates | , | Leave a comment

Ten Common Misconceptions About Science

Your mission as an ethical skeptic, is to oppose agency. Ten top apothegms of agency follow.

If you approach any typical skeptic, and ask them to enlighten you as to the core principles of science, odds are that many or most of these precepts below will crop up inside the discussion. Below are my top ten favorite misconceptions about science – which are sold by social skeptics. What you will find after a couple decades of experience in debating plurality, is that these gems of a lie are most commonly spun by persons promoting some form of agency. Your task as an ethical skeptic, is to oppose agency – and allow genuine science method to do its job. No matter who is conducting it, what question they seek to address, nor the results suggested from their study.

 

1.  Science starts by asking a question

The process of science begins through observation, the crafting of intelligence frameworks and finally the establishment of necessity. In absence of a well framed necessity inside a schema of intelligence inside a domain of research – a question, asked prematurely will simply serve to bias the process of research or mislead researchers.

2.  The simplest explanation tends to be the correct one

The only way one would buy this apothegm, is if their entire life had been relatively simple up unto the point of first being presented it. This circumstance occurs most often inside of academia.

3.  The most rigorous form of science is a meta-study

A meta-study, in absence of risk assessment or study author engagement, is the most dangerous and misinforming version of science.

4.  Data science

Science involves the use of data, converted into information, which is then framed into intelligence schema – but that does not mean that those who handle data, are therefore scientists, nor are they doing science.

5.  Science seeks reliable information

Science seeks probative information, and then seeks to establish means to improve the reliability of incremental conjecture based upon that probative information. The seeking of only reliable information constitutes a procedural fallacy called streetlight effect.

6.  Myth of the excited scientists

The common misconception that, upon discovering groundbreaking evidence or unprecedented observations inside a ‘fringe’ subject, scientists would immediately draw close with interest and thereafter dedicate their lives to the study of that subject.

7.  Bigger science is better science

The misconception that adding more data to a study or more studies to a meta-study, will therefore increase the accuracy, salience or verity of that study.

8.  The conclusions of science are the propriety of scientists

The misconception that only scientists are qualified to understand, discuss or socially disposition a privation of science, and that the conclusions of scientists cannot be over-ruled by the public at large, stakeholders, nor their representatives.

9.  Science hinges upon the burden of proof

The vast majority of science hinges upon incremental Bayesian probability and induction. These forms of inference in no way constitute the same level of proof which deduction can offer. While deductive proof is nice, and a desired goal – it is seldom attained. Therefore it is misleading to claim or imply that science is based solely upon such a concept, or to burden outsiders with such a Herculean ‘proof’ task before they can be considered to be doing ‘science’.

10.  Our current scientific body of knowledge originated from science itself

The vast majority of our knowledge does not originate from formal university, corporate or government labs. Our knowledge is derived from specialty laymen, ancient practitioners, garage tinkerers, contract employees, three forms of hypothesis sponsors and hobbyists. Science simply takes possession of their discovery and work, after the fact.

epoché vanguards gnosis

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How to MLA cite this blog post =>

The Ethical Skeptic, “Ten Common Misconceptions About Science” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 29 Sep 2018; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-8iK

September 29, 2018 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda | | Leave a comment

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