The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

The Appeal to Fallacy

My goal as an ethical skeptic is not to cite a fallacy and subsequently snigger at my opponent “bwahahahaha!” That is the mental process of a child. There is a difference between arguing to win, and arguing for truth. It is paramount that the ethical skeptic keep a wary eye out for those who routinely confuse ‘fallacy’ and ‘error’.

Sometimes an assertion maker has not crafted a faulty logical contention, they have not overly focused on the opponents of their assertion – sometimes they are just simply, factually or existentially wrong. This difference between the state of being wrong, and the condition of making missteps inside logic and delivery of argument – is summed up inside a philosophical principle called the Appeal to Fallacy (or Argument from Fallacy).  The appeal to fallacy exists in two forms. First, is the instance wherein an assertion maker has crafted a failed logical construct, and an opponent (or skeptic) in the discussion surrounding that construct identifies the formal or informal fallacy which compromises the basis for the argument. To declare the assertion maker existentially or factually wrong under such a circumstance, would constitute an additional (plural) step in argument itself and would be crafted in the form of a mistake in argument, an informal fallacy of soundness called the Fallacy Fallacy.  Conversely, if the same assertion maker broaches a contention which is existentially wrong, to further then call that a logical fallacy, is itself an error in the use of the term and concept of a fallacy (note, this latter a state of being wrong – is not ‘fallacious’ per se – ergo it is error – while the former is expressed in the form of an actual modus ponens argument, which is flawed in soundness). [see note 1 regarding the colloquial use of the term ‘fallacy’]

Let’s suffer through the process of an example together, shall we?

Assertion in Argument:     All trees are green

Structure of Argument (modus ponens):     If P (latet)  ‘A great preponderance of trees I have ever observed seem to be green’  therefore Q  ‘All trees are green’

Argument Fallacy:     Fallacy of Composition (Informal)2

Assertion Validity:     Undetermined  ‘True’  ‘False’  or  ‘Inconclusive’  [see note 3 concerning Boolean Logic]

Notice that we have the assertion, and then its argument. Complimentarily, we face the issues of validity of the assertion as distinct from the soundness or logical calculus of its expression in argument. I threw a twist into the above example in order to introduce a common habit of fake skeptics. That being, an argument maker can hide the premise portion of his argument in order to make the assertion appear more acceptable (deflect from issues of soundness). A trick of the trade. Therefore many times it is up to the ethical skeptic to unmask such logical formations before they undertake the process of evaluating validity itself. Such contentions can easily slip by (wearing the costume of truth by hiding their modus ponens) and become common wisdom, Lindy Mechanisms of defacto truth in time.

Are all trees green? In fact, I do not know. My mission here in evaluating this statement was simply to elicit the exercise of identifying a fallacy (argument). This does not mean that the person who made such an assertion is existentially wrong on the point being made (assertion). If a skeptic is seriously examining the issue of green trees – he or she may choose to drop focus on the fallacy after pointing it out – and counter “While that argument bears a fallacy of composition, nonetheless it is an interesting assertion. Let’s take a look at it.”

My goal as an ethical skeptic is not to cite a fallacy and subsequently snigger “bwahahahaha!” That is the mental process of a child. There is a difference between arguing to win, and arguing for truth.

We know that the color green is the most common color associated with photosynthesis. The chlorophyll needed for photosynthesis tends to emit this color, which after some translucent lensing through the plant matter, then serves to form the typical pigmentation of most plant species.4 But while this is a very common condition of expressed color, it may not be universal (fallacy evaluation). Now in order to evaluate this contention for validity, I could play a game of induction and fact-mongering regarding the pigmentation of chlorophyll itself, pathways of light expression from reflection off and absorption-use by chlorophyll; all which show conclusively that the only color that can emit from the structure of a plant would be green. I would impress all those around me with my ability to sling around terms like ‘lattice/energy absorption wavelengths’, ‘propagation wave particle duality’, ‘scattering and angle of incidence’, ‘molecular spectral critical angle differential’.  But if I did this I would be committing the second sin of the social skeptic – ingens vanitatum (see The Tower of Wrong: The Art of Professional Lying) – knowing or relating a great deal of irrelevance. Again, not seeking the answer, rather seeking to discredit an opponent – and establish myself as the smartest person in the room. This is a process called pseudo-refutation.

Pseudo-Refutation

/philosophy : pseudoscience : argument/ : a common 1-2-3 step charade of social skeptics in false refutation structure and logical calculus; employed as a ruse of conducting science. To

1) cite any fallacy an opponent has possibly made,

2) employ that fallacy as the basis to declare the opponent ‘wrong’, and moreover then

3) issue an inductive counter of their contention, bearing ample information and hidden conjecture, which tenders appearance that the social skeptic is smarter than the opponent (ingens vanitatum) and has successfully refuted their contention.

When in fact, nothing of the sort was achieved and/or a deductive falsification approach was avoided, which was already readily at hand (see Methodical Deescalation). The focus is not on the validity of the argument or any particular truth, rather in aggrandizing the social skeptic and belittling his opponent.

As an ethical skeptic, I prefer falsification over any sort of exercise in celebrity-building and display of personal inductive brilliance. I take the most efficient critical path to resolution: go and look for a single instance of a white crow, the existence of a non-green tree (we are assuming exclusion of the fall color condition of course). I go and look (really look – not Nickell plating – amazing that THIS is the identifier for ethical versus social skepticism), and I find the American Red Maple.5 The assertion in argument as it turns out, constituted not only a fallacy of composition, but it was existentially false as well. It very easily could have turned out true, or even undetermined. I celebrate our finding with my former opponent and thank him for the chance to learn.

I did not know
I went and looked
Everything else was vanity

Therefore we have the basis of what is called the Appeal to Fallacy. You will find many people habitually (me included at times and I hope I have caught them all) confusing the terms ‘fallacy’ and ‘error’. This is part of the basis as to why The Ethical Skeptic has chosen a different method of assailing arguments (see Formal vs Informal Fallacy and Their Abuse) – an intellectual pursuit which involves more than simply evaluating the trivia surrounding how a person has formed their contention. Aside from a skeptic protecting the integrity of soundness or how a logical calculus is assembled (part of the scientific method) – the remainder of fallaciadom stands as just one slight shade above, simple childish retorts. Beyond this however, those who fall prey to an appeal to fallacy is one sure way of discriminating the pretender from the truth seeker.

Appeal to Fallacy

/philosophy : fallacy : abuse/ : one of two forms of confusing the state of an assertion being in error, with positing a faulty argument, delivery or sound basis.

Fallacy Fallacy (Argument from Fallacy)  – arguer detects a fallacy in argument and declares therefore the person to be ‘wrong’ in assertion as well.  When an arguer employs either a formal, or even more an informal fallacy, to stand as the basis to declare a whole subject or assertion in argument to be therefore, false. A formal fallacy or redress on the basis of soundness or induction inference, only serves to invalidate an opponent’s argument structure. All three flaws tender nothing regarding verity of the argument’s assertion or conclusion itself, which may or may not be independently also true. As well, any instance wherein a circumstantial, expression, personal or informal critique or other informal fallacy is inappropriately cited as a mechanism to invalidate an opponent’s argument or stand as basis for dismissal of a subject.

Fallacy Error – arguer detects a condition of being wrong and incorrectly deems this condition to constitute a ‘fallacy’. When an arguer finds an argument assertion to be wrong and declares the incorrect conclusion, error, mistake or lie to constitute a ‘fallacy’. When in reality, a fallacy is nothing but a weakness or flaw in an argument, soundness, logical calculus, structure or form – and has nothing actually to do with the validity of its assertion or conclusion.

Notice as well, the example above elicits a distinction between two differing types of (often confused) refutation. The inability to distinguish between these two types of response on the part of an opponent, serves to alert one to a condition of epistemic commitment or other bias on the part of an assertion maker:

No, you are wrong and here is the correct answer.

and

No you are wrong, the answer is still undetermined.

This will stand as the substance of a future blog.

epoché vanguards gnosis

How to MLA cite this blog post => 6

July 15, 2017 Posted by | Argument Fallacies | , , , | Leave a comment

Denial and Pseudo-Skepticism are Not the Same Thing

Pseudo-skepticism is the form of cynicism wherein a power holding group tampers with methods and science, media and social pressure mechanisms inside a domain of large unknown – in order to craft and enforce on the public, a null hypothesis or conclusion narrative, that might at best be accidentally correct. This is completely distinct from the process of denial. Suspension in denial may be existentially incorrect, but it at least stems in its originality from proper method and does not enforce a particular small-unknown domain conclusion narrative. The distinguishing difference is this: An ethical scientist might be a denialist at times, but an ethical scientist can never be a pseudo-skeptic.

I recently had a discussion on Twitter with a gentleman (and separately a brief dispute with a posing pseudo-intellectual who seemed more focused on me than this topic) about the distinguishing earmarks which separate stances of denial from the methods of pseudo-skepticism. The contention is often made inside social skepticism, that the denial of Anthropogenic Global Warming, constitutes ‘pseudo-skepticism’. This because those who oppose AGW claim to be using skepticism to support their uncertainty over that consensus conclusion. The purpose of this charade in tampering with otherwise well fitted definitions of pseudo-skepticism and denial, is to provide a misdirection with respect to understanding the actions of social skeptics on other issues (true pseudo-skepticism). Social Skeptics enjoy enormously the opportunity to misinform the public through the ridicule that can be generated over highly contentious and visible issues just such as climate change. Denialists may even borrow some of the errant methods taught by social skeptics in their desperation to keep an issue open. But just as vigilantes and police might appear to at times share methods, they are not the same thing at all. (Please note that I am an AGW advocate, I just maintain questions surrounding some of the consensus alternatives which were, or were not, researched in our process of deduction therein. Nor do I extrapolate the science into contentions that evil working Americans or Republicans are therefore worthy of violent opposition and disdain)

Denial is simply dogmatic allegiance to a refusal to accept a consensus based conclusion of science or groups claiming to represent science (dogmatic dissent). And while denial does involve avoiding selection of an alternative or promotion of the null hypothesis as a Verdrängung Mechanism, it really has nothing to do with one being ‘open minded’ – and may indeed be based cruxially upon a closed mindset. It does not mean that one is using skepticism incorrectly necessarily – rather that their dissent has ossified into a condition of dogmatic cynicism – and not that any particular feature of their skepticism is necessarily wrong. There is never a condition of skepticism wherein one just throws up their hands at any kind of questioning, basking in the bliss of the ‘right answer’ – as attractive a surrender as this might appear to the political agenda laden, weary or snowflake heart.

Skepticism itself does not mean that I must accept specific answers, it simply means that I defend the methods of science, even in the face of popular votes – and withhold disposition until a critical nexus is reached. A skeptic can simply be contending that this nexus has not yet been reached – and even disagree with inadequately supported claims to consensus. One can do this however, and still ossify into the cynical specter of denial.  In contrast, and as exhibited in the chart above (click to expand), pseudo-skepticism is the form of cynicism wherein a power wielding group tampers with methods and science, associations, media and social pressure mechanisms in order to create and enforce on the public, a false null hypothesis or conclusion narrative. This is completely distinct from the process of denial. Denial may be existentially wrong – yet still have stemmed from proper science methods originally. Pseudo-skepticism is agenda laden methodical doubt – used to identify the bad guys who don’t accept the right answer – and is only existentially correct in its conclusion by accident. Denial does not enforce any particular conclusion, only pseudo-skepticism does this.

A chief tactic of social skepticism is to blur the distinct integrity of words which might be useful in describing and communicating the methods of masquerade they employ.

A Contrast: Example of Pseudo-Skepticism

Of course, enormous uncertainty surrounds the fate of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan during the terminal leg of their journey around the world. On the team’s fateful July 2nd 1937 trip, their radio signal was picked up by a number of surrounding radio stations (Oahu, Midway, Howland and Wake islands). Despite Noonan having been trained in what is called Dead Reckoning and Radio Direction Finding navigation, they were unable to utilize the bearing of the radio direction signal from the on-station Coast Guard Cutter Itasca, in order to develop a track from their DR (navigation slang for a ‘Dead Reckoning track’ – an assumed-correct course based upon speed, bearing and time – an inductive extrapolation used frequently in navigation – I have over 7,000 practice hours in this method of navigation). A track which would lead them to a visual confirmation of Howland Island, their destination. Itasca had detected Earhart and Noonan right on the correct bearing for termination of the DR phase of their navigation plot. Yet, despite having the Itasca’s axial measurement on their RDF radio, Earhart and Noonan never showed up for the scheduled landing. A very odd occurrence given that four of five navigational variables (Howland axis, distance, speed, time) had been solved for, and only one uncertain variable remained – axial distance to Howland Island.

When you are a skeptic, who is misapplying skepticism and fail to realize that you don’t understand critical elements of dead reckoning navigation or how radio direction finding antennas work, you might assemble grand logical conjectures which are erroneous in attempting to provide a ‘simple’ explanation to this mystery (note: this is not an instance of Dunning-Kruger Error because neither celebrity skeptic communicator, Michael Shermer nor Brian Dunning are ‘peers’ to any dead reckoning navigators as a discipline group – this is simply an instance of failed skepticism, pseudo-skepticism – and great example at that). Moreover, if the club picks up your ‘rationality’ and hails it as a championing issue, then that error becomes dogmatic – ossifying, from methodical doubt in the handling of Ockham’s Razor sufficient alternatives, into the a priori bias of pseudo-skepticism. For example, in his June 22nd blog, Brian Dunning inexpertly applies apparent common sense to the issue – a grave mistake when used in lieu of actual investigative skepticism:

Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan had followed Itasca’s radio direction finding signal to get there. The water there is very deep, and it’s unlikely that much survives of the plane to ever be found. There’s never been any mystery surrounding her loss at sea.

For some reason, [TIGHAR’s] Gillespie thinks they flew instead to an island called Nikumaroro, a full ten degrees off the course they are known to have followed, and which their fuel onboard made it physically impossible to reach.1

The astute ethical skeptic will notice primarily that Dunning here is overconfident in his promotion of the single, popular, Occam’s (sic) Razor, conforming and simple Verdrängung Mechanism solution. The argument is over and no further research needs to be done as “There’s never been any mystery surrounding [their] loss at sea.” Well, as it turns out, this entire contention set is incorrect. It is pseudo-skepticism. It may make sense for the general public (the vulnerable of pseudo-skepticism) to consume the idea that a tenacious pilot and experienced navigator just flew mindlessly until they ran out of fuel, but it does not make sense to a seasoned investigator (skeptic).

Pseudo-skeptics package material for general consumption. Their goal is not truth; rather, influence.

First, Noonan followed Itasca’s radio direction AXIS, not bearing (as Dunning implies), and there is a difference which a skilled dead reckoning and RDF navigator knows, a skeptic might ascertain, but a pseudo-skeptic will never know (and more importantly, never get the feedback that their skeptical method was wrong). The ‘Loop’ or axial antenna is shown mounted on top of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra in the photo to the right.2 What this type of direction finding device gives is a two bearing axis, not a single bearing direction.3 So the information Fred Noonan would have possessed was ‘Howland Island is either 350 degrees true from us, or 170 degrees true from us’ (see map above, upon termination of the dead reckoning phase of navigation). Their next step would be to fly one of the axis bearings to see if the signal faded or strengthened. The problem is that they were using very low HF (today’s frequency standards) frequencies, of which the signal propagation will dance around and chaotically strengthen and diminish no matter where you are. I once encountered a circumstance in my communications radio operator days where a 3MHz signal just like they used here, was totally clear from Diego Garcia, 1500 nautical miles away, yet I could not hear another transmitter on that same frequency band which was just 100 nautical miles from me.  This is the way radio frequency HF direction finding works. It bears enormous risk in its interpretation.

In addition, there was no ‘there’ to be gotten to in the first place. The navigation plot was ending its DR phase (an inductive conjecture) and transitioning to a radio directed phase (a deductive measure). This transition occurs at only a theoretical ‘there’. This is why a fix (the yellow circle with a dot inside it, on the chart above) is symbolized by a full circle, and carries more confidence than does a DR (in tomato) which is symbolized by a half circle. These symbols imply confidence on the datum.

Would not such symbology help in matters of science, to distinguish conclusions of induction and abduction pushed by pseudo-skeptics, as distinct from conclusions of deduction on a Query Oriented Normalization schema? But, we learn in pseudo-skepticism that the duty of skeptics is to defend questionable inductive answers (DR half circles) as science and never look again. The DR-science is finished. So…

Second, yes all the water was deep everywhere and no, it is not ‘unlikely’ – rather prohibitive, that any wreckage of the plane survives to this day, had they ditched in open ocean as he suggests.

Pseudo-skeptics rely upon how clever a phrase sounds, rather than its probative value. They will rarely catch a circumstance wherein we have stacked deductive methods on top of inductive conclusions. This is not a sound process – despite its looking ‘sciencey’ through its equipment and analytical tools. It is as dangerous socially for mankind every bit as much as it was navigationally for Noonan and Earhart.

Third, they did not follow a ‘known’ course as Dunning describes it, as Earhart and Noonan did not find the course confirming islands they had hoped for.4 A DR is not a ‘known’ course and speed, it is rather just as in the case of ‘there’ above, an assumption. If the prevailing winds were 10 knots south rather than the 1937 era forecast 3 knots north, then that would impart a 50 nautical mile error into the ‘known & there’. This is called a ‘tail condition’ in arrival distribution science – a less common scenario, but all too possible and real. The purpose of navigation is to use discipline methods to mitigate the risk of this assumption aspect of navigation and any tail condition circumstances.5

Pseduo-skeptics habitually fail to assess risk, tail variance and significance, as well as the impact of human behavior on social systems inside objective scenarios or their own construct analysis.

Fourth, Nikumaroro is EXACTLY ON, Noonan’s RDF search axis with Howland Island, a natural island to find once one has terminated their DR, and begun an uncertain axis search (again, something a pseudo-skeptic would never know).6

Pseudo-skeptics will tamper with terminology, using large footprint equivocal words, altering the meaning of probative terms in order to emasculate them, and switching critical words so as to reduce their expository value – like here, employing ‘bearing’ in lieu of ‘axis’. They are fully aware that 97% of the population, none of their cronies, nor scientists will catch the significance of the shell game.

Fifth, as you can see on the per hoc aditum scenario chart above, if Earhart and Noonan did not have the fuel to reach Nikumaroro, then they did not have the fuel to reach Howland Island, their destination either; unless the wind was just right (emphasis here). I seriously doubt that an experienced global pilot like Earhart would have taken off without enough fuel to cover for unexpected normal circumstance wind set and drift (such as 13 knots to the north or south).

This habit of crafting apparently solid debunkings, which rely upon clever sounding one-liners, in lieu of real understanding – this is a habit of pseudo-skepticism. Once you apply short cut one-liners in one discipline, you will do them in all (see Margold’s Law). The call here is to hold epoché, not craft appeal to authority solutions without real evidence.

Finally, their fuel would have run out EXACTLY about the time of spotting Nikumaroro island, based on the theoretical DR/RDF axis search, which is the standard practice of RDF/DR navigators. They had enough fuel to take the above track and even circle the island to see where they might land; as a reasonably conservative pilot will choose a deserted island beach over a chance of an open sea landing, any day, any time. If they are in trouble, they will land in a place where survival is enhanced and not chance a total loss in trying to find something better. Earhart did not have to be ‘ten degrees off course’ as Dunning inexpertly opines, because the “off course” variation he assumes is explained by the very RDF axis search Fred Noonan was trained to execute (in yellow in the image above).

A pseudo-skeptic will fail to see the non-linear dynamic outcomes of which a system is capable. Solutions are therefore easy, common sense founded upon induction – and become  prescriptive through Lindy Effect from that point onward – most fully unaware of the thin ice upon which their grand cosmologies stand.

Not to mention of course that the final radio direction finding fix of the aggregate of all the RDB reports from the surrounding islands (see on the chart above, the grey bearings reported by Itasca, Oahu, Midway, Howland and Wake islands – collectively support an aggregate fix at the position of the yellow circle fix), much more solidly than does ‘simplest explanation’ skepticism, places Earhart and Noonan about 50 nautical miles north of a nearest proximity island, right on the Howland search axis …Nikumaroro.

What distinguishes fake skepticism, just like fake news, from the real thing – is not the facts you bring to bear; but rather the facts you choose to leave out.

Note as well, that if I use only the radio direction bearings of the two closest radio stations (Itasca and Midway), then I get a two-shot fix right on top of Nikumaroro island. This should have been one of the first places to examine. Never underestimate the impact of the human desire to survive and skilled pilot ingenuity on ‘simplest answer’ alternative hierarchies.

The problem with social skepticism is not that individuals abuse skepticism to prematurely arrive at a personal wrong conclusion. The problem does not reside in simply being wrong. With social skepticism the entire scientific and public community at large, intimidated by simple linear approved thought, arrive at and permanently affix these errant conclusions. We take Dead Reckoning style induction or abduction – and falsely regard it as proved science. Then we stack such conclusions upon each other into grand assemblies of Dead Reckoning tracks – ignorant of the error we have imparted and multiplied (see Contrasting Deontological Intelligence with Cultivated Ignorance).

It does not matter that these individuals are rational and can eventually at a later time, be brought to understand what really happened inside such mysteries. What matters is that they over-confidently estimate their ability to spot and define ‘likelihood’ – and failing to evaluate that risk, compound it by releasing such conclusions as ‘rational’, ‘factual’ and science-based – simply because they think they used skepticism.

They would have circled and landed, only minutes after these transmission bearing measurements, as a precautionary measure. Observe the graphic I assembled above which reflects these final RDF bearings, and note where their weighted three-shot fix resides.7 A very compelling theory – and this is how science actually works. Why did Brian Dunning not do this same research? Because he was applying pseudo-skepticism (see Steven Novella’s definition). He selected for one imperious and likely correct answer, to be enforced by bad method – upon us all. My citing that his biased selection of one answer, constitutes wrong method, does not serve to make me therefore a ‘denier’ – even if 97% of his cohorts support the single answer.

Pseudo-skeptics employ derision or humor, not just to motivate deniers to accede to scientific gravitas, they mostly employ humor to block critical alternatives and prohibit deductive science, because of its distinct probative & epistemic value. They do not care what is truth – they care what you believe is truth. Often the developers of pseudo-skeptic propaganda (like the above fake science tweet from a paid hashtag stuffer – someone employed to squelch disdained ideas) are hired and compensated to play such a role. Deniers typically, not always, but typically rely upon conscience.

Knee-jerk dismissing this compelling theory as a viable and testable alternative, in favor of ceasing science and adopting a simple or socially preferred/conforming explanation, ‘they crashed into the sea’ – this is pseudo-skepticism. You will see it play over and over inside society – it is not the same as denialism.

Denialism is probably being wrong; pseudo-skepticism is being not even wrong.

Dismissal of a very compelling alternative theory – one which is supported to a great degree by the intelligence, one which is rational, one which is highly plausible by expert method, one which bears mechanism and can be tested (not that an ethical skeptic assumes it as a priori correct); dismissing this in advance of sufficient knowledge horizon development or testing is …pseudo-skepticism. It is pseudo-science. More specifically, what have Shermer and Dunning done here? In specific regard to pseudo-skepticism their contentions feature a degree of Methodical Pathology combined with a knee-jerk compulsion to enforce conformity. That is, they have ossified from dissent to cynicism. Specifically many pseudo-skeptics practice the following:

Hints that one might be a pseudo-skeptic (wrong methods and only accidentally correct)

  • A pseudo-skeptic rarely understands an opposing alternative, they socially – just don’t care about soundness or logical calculus
  • Has bought into one single answer
  • Promotes conjecture and conformance inside a subject with a large horizon of unknown
  • Chooses a ceremonial issue
  • Focuses on issues which bear no productive achievement potential with respect to love, an increase in usable knowledge, or the alleviation of suffering
  • Uses non-expert skeptics, as communicators – instead of investigative reporters
  • Decides the likelihood of ideas before the preponderance of compelling theory has been researched
  • Targets groups or legitimate researchers bearing ideas they do not like, as the bad guys (TIGHAR in this case) – polarizing and corrupting the issue a priori
  • Employs hearsay, common and ‘friendly sounding’ information as the principal elements to communicate
  • Enforces a popular standing belief as the ‘simplest explanation’
  • Chooses an issue which will incite their faithful with interest
  • Selects a position which can be perceived as being the ‘rational’ approach
  • Selects a position or issue which will tender them attention
  • Chooses a topic which contains enough unknown such that bias is hard to discern or be held to account for
  • Selects an issue where Nickell Plating (doing sciencey-looking things to appear skepticky) is practicable
  • Chooses an issue where to conform to the standing explanation can be used to show why those who oppose you are ‘irrational’
  • Stands in a position to block the investigation of compelling alternatives or intelligence
  • Assigns a null hypothesis which has been assigned without merit (See The Five Types of Null Hypothesis Error)
  • Never held epoché to begin with
  • Accepts entire bundles of scientific ideas based upon what political side they appear to reinforce
  • Employs false methods of science (often with real true facts) in order to petition for cessation of further investigative activity
  • A pseudo-skeptic considers violence or legal action as a possibility at hand in the enforcement of their conclusions
  • Can never be an ethical scientist
  • Employs false science method – pseudoscience

A Contrast: Example of Denial

AGW opponents, contrary to the shtick of social skeptics who promote anthropogenic global warming social agendas, might actually use skepticism.  They might be wrong, they might reside in a state of dogged denial – but those existential circumstances do not serve to relegate their skepticism to status as pseudo-skepticism, simply because they disagree. A denialist just simply might not be willing to accept the consensus alternative. An ethical scientist might be a denialist, but an ethical scientist can never be a psuedo-skeptic. More specifically for this example, a denialist ‘denies’ that the null below has been correctly assigned; and denies further that all of the alternatives below have been falsified through ample research and processes of deductive consilience:

Null – Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, introduced by human activity and increasing from from 280 parts per million in the 19th century to more than 400 today, much more than any other greenhouse gas or factor, is the primary contributor to climate change since 18508

Alternatives –

1.  Cyclical changes in Total Solar Irradiance (TSI), on increase since 1850, is the major contributor

2.  A cyclical shift in Solar Spectral Index (SSI), towards more release of water-vapor-absorptive infrared irradiance by the sun, has occurred since 1850 and is the major contributor

3.  Primary Earth orbital dynamics (obliquity, eccentricity and axis precession), as recorded in the Milankovitch Cycles, are at least partial and not fully understood contributors

4.  Cyclical changes to the Earth’s core nuclear reactor and structural/mantle dynamics (as measurable by geoneutrinos and as observed historically in the Schumann Resonance/Earth temperature record) have served to heat the oceans from the bottom up in the Pacific Rim of Fire and equatorial thermal regions (El Niño and La Niña), and consequently the pole ice from the bottom up, and atmosphere since 18509 10 11 12 13

5.  Deforestation and/or loss of reflectiveness/ocean/ice absorption has been the primary contributor to climate change since 1850

6.  Natural processes of water vapor, carbon and methane atmospheric release, in combination with and as precipitated resulting from the Null, or 1, or 2, or 3, or 4, or 5 or any combination thereof, explain the majority of temp increases since 1850

7.  Carbon, methane and water vapor are all released as a natural sympathetic outcome of climate change, and are not primarily contributed by man – nor the principal cause, rather only a correlation with some other causal condition

Note of Clarity – A denialist denies that the Null has been chosen by valid rational or empirical processes nor that it should be rationally selected for consensus. A pseudo-skeptic denies that the alternatives are even science, or insists that they should never have been seriously investigated to begin with, or merit zero investigation now.

For me personally, I hold the Precautionary Principle as one contributor to the reason I favor taking action based upon the Null Hypothesis in the matter of climate change – and complimentarily because I have read all the material I could find on alternatives 1 – 7, and found nothing compelling enough to be considered as a falsification of the Null. Alternative 4 is interesting, but only interesting so far. I wish we had more study on it. In so far as our temperature models are now outrunning our carbon curves (see graphic I assembled at right which includes the 2017 Mauna Loa data), then we need to keep a skeptical eye on our own conclusions, in order to avoid falling into pseudo-skepticism. Denial in contrast involves ignoring climate change warnings: greenhouse gasses, and carbon dioxide in particular, are not simply a ‘correlation’ with global temperature increases, rather a fingerprint signal. A distinction point which not only denialists, but fake skeptics as well tend to misunderstand (as in the case of autism contributors for example).

I maintain skepticism around the issue and bear some concern that we have not fully investigated the contribution from all alternatives 1 – 7. But like most scientists, hold the need for precaution and the current inductive data – as bearing more concerning gravitas. Should I encounter data which develops a compelling case for Alternative 4 and 6 for instance – that does not immediately serve to make me a denialist.  If however I am protecting the null hypothesis and begin to wage a campaign to have science ignore Alternative 4, then I am indeed a pseudo-skeptic. Do you see the game they are playing with our language in order to obscure this clarification on behalf of the general public (see Wittgenstein Error and Its Faithful Participants)?

These are the kind of games for which an ethical skeptic must be ever vigilant.

Take a hint folks, fake skeptics do not hold the reasoned position I just outlined above. They are correct – but only by accident. Moreover, they employ such correctness to enact goals which have nothing really to do with the science – rather someone they hate. I respect a researching denier much more, for this simple reason. But Let’s be clear here too folks – each of these alternatives listed above are actual scientific alternatives and their investigation is done with actual science methods. In contrast, pseudo-skepticism relies upon false methods. This makes it not science. The rightness or wrongness of the conclusion has nothing to do with it. A denialist, in contrast may practice the following:

Hints that one might be a denialist (right original methods yet may be doggedly incorrect)

  • A denialist understands the alternative they are denying, as well or better than do its proponents – they disagree on its soundness
  • Has not bought into one single answer
  • Withholds conjecture and consent inside an issue of a small horizon unknown
  • Does not choose an issue, but may have it thrust upon them
  • Focuses on issues of productive achievement potential with respect to love, an increase in usable knowledge, or the alleviation of suffering
  • Uses experts who focus on the salient evidence, eschewing ‘communicators’
  • Resists a priori definitions of likelihood
  • Doesn’t target anyone – just simply disagree with either soundness or logical calculus
  • Sometimes employs hearsay, common and ‘friendly sounding’ information as the principal elements of support only
  • Does not choose a ‘simplest explanation’ – cognizant that things may be more complex than we understand
  • Does not have a faithful following
  • Does not conflate rationality with conformance
  • Does not seek attention
  • Cites and alerts the community to bias – not a specific conclusion
  • Never pretends to be or represent science, just simply skepticism
  • Does not argue ‘rationality’ and ‘irrationality’ – rather corruption and conclusiveness
  • Does not block research of any alternatives – even the one they question
  • Dissents as to the null hypothesis assigned, but may refuse to assign one as well
  • Has held epoché past its utility
  • May resist a whole set of scientific ideas they perceive to be politically motivated
  • Employs real methods of science (sometimes with errant data or assumptions) to encourage more scientific research
  • A denialist rarely or ever considers violence or legal action as an at-hand solution to their debate
  • Might be simply a mistaken ethical scientist
  • Employs science – just errs in conclusion, soundness or logical calculus

Behind the Conflation of the Two Terms

Pseudo-skepticism is an entirely distinct malicious and errant method and is not a set of errant conclusions, per se. False skeptics do not get this. They believe the notion that

The ends justifies the means, the answer justifies the methodology of arriving at the answer.

Vigilantes and Police Forces both take people into custody at gunpoint, and sometimes kill people. They both have headquarter offices, but this does not make them the same thing at all. In similar fashion, just because a denialist might use some of the tactics of social skeptics and pseudo-skeptics at times (after all this is what celebrity skeptics have been teaching the public since 1972), does not serve as a basis to identify them as pseudo-skeptics. Social skeptics will employ the use of traits common to both terminology domains, those traits in the undistributed middle, to provide a basis for conflating and confusing the terms ‘denial’ and ‘pseudo-skepticism’.  They do so, for reasoned purpose: to blur the distinct integrity of words which might be useful in describing and communicating the methods of masquerade they employ.

Characterization by the Undistributed Middle

/philosophy : formal fallacy : fallacy of composition/ : a rhetorical blending of fallacy of composition and affirmation of the consequent, wherein traits shared between two distinct groups are used to underpin the claim that the two groups are indeed identical or falsely that a person in one group actually belongs in the other group. Usually a form of rhetosophy, used to support an agenda, in its conflation. All pseudo scientists promote un-vetted data, the proponent of this argument promoted un-vetted data, therefore the promoter of this argument is a pseudo scientist.

Being right all the time, is not the goal of an ethical skeptic. Investment in such ego and fear assets – introduces bias into the deliberative processes we undertake. I would rather be a mistaken denialist, who pressed their epoché just a little bit more than they should – than a mindless, bad methods, unethical pseudo-skeptic any day.

epoché vanguards gnosis

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July 9, 2017 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies, Ethical Skepticism, Institutional Mandates | , , , , | Leave a comment

Formal vs Informal Fallacy and Their Abuse

One can only truly understand how a formal fallacy is qualified, by understanding the relationship between first order logic and formal theory construction.  This allows the philosopher to examine flaws which might serve to negate propositions because of a failure of formal theory. These are called formal fallacies. Informal ‘fallacy’ on the other hand – is an ignominious title ascribed to every bit of circumstantial critique which falls outside of this class of fatal proposition error – or might be boasted as inappropriate basis for an attempt at refutation.
Formal fallacies are fatal to their associated proposition, but in no way serve to prove nor disprove any purported truth. Informal ‘fallacies’ most of the time are abused by those pretending to cite something fatal to the argument at hand. Such is rarely the case; ironically demonstrating a formal fallacy of its own in the offing.

First Order Logic – Predicate Calculus

In First Order Logic, one entity possesses an effect resulting in another entity or entity state via a principle or a mechanism; or simply by means of an observed relationship if the principle or mechanism is not clearly defined or understood. This relationship between one individual entity and another is called a condition of Predicate Calculus.  An apple, released from its tree branch, will fall to the earth. I do not have to identify nor understand the M-theory mechanism(s) which cause this, rather just simply observe it to be (consistent) true. This order of reason is known commonly in philosophical prior art as the modus ponens or ‘If P then Q’ proposition. (1 Rosen)

Modus Ponens

/philosophy : argument : formal structure/ : the necessity that an argument follow a form of claim such that its soundness and formal structure can be followed by others. A discipline featuring the formal structure ‘If P then Q‘ premise in its expression such that claims may not be slipped by surreptitiously inside a condition of poor scientific method, fallacy or little or no actual study or supporting fact whatsoever.

I have made an effort to demonstrate the simple and elegant nature of Predicate Calculus below, in term of cracker crumbs (Q) and cracker eating (P). Please note that in the context of Predicate Calculus, for the sake of parsimony and reduction clarity and/or value, ‘crumbs’ is excluded necessarily – as it is an entity class – and entity classes serve to violate the singular nature of a Predicate Calculus. Whereas ‘cracker crumbs’ and cracker eating are individual entities. Always bear in mind that we, in order to avoid the ambiguity or organic untruth practiced inside social skepticism, are restricted to an individual entity in First Order Logic and typically want to avoid propositions involving unqualified entity classes (see Discerning Sound from Questionable Science Publication). (1 Rosen)

    Eating Crackers Seems to Always Produce Cracker Crumbs (modus ponens)

Example of modus ponens discipline usefulness in detecting deception ambiguity or organic untruth:

Ambiguous Statement             “There is no evidence for this claim”

Proposition form                      Q

modus ponens version            “[specific studies completed showed] there is no evidence for this claim”

Proposition form                      [If P then] Q

Claim validity                            Not Sound – premises are assumed or are incorrect

Formal Theory = Predicate Calculus + Logical Calculus

Predicate Calculus as we have seen, establishes the relationship between two individual entities. This type of parsimonious proposition usually stems from an empirical observation set. Newton is credited with formulation of the theory of gravity, through his observing of an apple falling from an apple tree. Hence definition of the “If two massive bodies, then attractive acceleration by formula of characteristic mass and distance” (If P then Q) proposition by observation. (2 Newton) Note that the principle or mechanism which creates the relationship, or even the characteristic mathematics of such a relationship, if either or both are known, is called the Logical Calculus. (1 Rosen) Below we have depicted both a Predicate Calculus and a Logical Calculus packaged into what is commonly known as The Formal Theory of Gravity:

Soundness

Apples and gravity are salient to arguments about force and acceleration (salience)

Predicate Calculus

An apple, released from its tree branch, will fall (accelerate) to the earth. (modus ponens)

Objects accelerating are consistent in context and mathematical mechanism to physical action of gravity (sequitur)

Logical Calculus

If two massive bodies, then attractive acceleration by formula of characteristic mass and distance, given by the following (3 Wikipedia):

note: the above represents an observation proof through straightforward replication and mathematical confirmation. Most arguments are not so easily resolved. Other types of logical calculus might involve mathematical derivation, or assembly of arrival distributions, premises, constraints, logical relationships and mechanisms which justify a proposed conclusion.

So when we as professors of philosophy have stepped beyond a condition of Predicate Calculus and developed a proposition which explains such Predicate Calculus, ie. the Logical Calculus, we have the basis of what is called Formal Theory. When we screw up the calculus, salience or sequitur which is crafted to make such a proposition, this is called a Formal Fallacy.

Formal and Informal Fallacy

Skepticism therefore, is not a process by which one decides consensus or falsification outcomes (science), rather it is a process of identifying when the predicate calculus or logical calculus has been abrogated inside a claim to truth (proposition). For instance, were Newton to cite that

  1. Object A and B attract each other.
  2. Men and women are objects.
  3. Therefore men and women are attracted to each other.

This proposition would feature three formal fallacies: 1) affirming the consequent, 2) entity class characterization by single entity and 3) two equivocal substitutions of logical entities (Masked Man fallacy. Please note that employment of equivocation in order to accomplish a substitution of equivalents, is a formal fallacy, despite the fact that equivocation itself is an informal fallacy of ambiguity. In this context, equivocation is not employed inside a context of solely ambiguity). The distinguishing formal factor here is that each flaw is FATAL to the critical path logical calculus of the argument itself. The conclusion just happens to accidentally also be true, but its logical critical path is invalid. Accordingly, the answer or ‘truth’ versus ‘untruth’ entailed as the conclusion of a formal fallacy, still may or may not be correct, regardless of the status of the proposition under examination. This serves to elucidate what should be going on in the mind of the ethical skeptic:

Our job as skeptics therefore is not to probe truth itself, nor to pretend to step in and act in lieu of science; rather, our job is to bear vigilance inside the processes by which we arrive at scientifically derived truths. A skeptic who enforces uncertain truth at face value, or by appeal to fallacy (fallacy fallacy), or does so by means of surreptitious advocacy (rhetoric), or by means an inverse negation (informal fallacy), is not a skeptic at all – rather an agenda bearer. This is best discerned in how the supposed ‘skeptic’ deals with an ability to suspend judgement as to what is held as truth – regardless of a particular proposition’s state – or what is called epoché.

A formal fallacy therefore is the singular state wherein, a skeptic can indeed declare a proposition to be in error by means of its predicate (modus ponens), sequitur or logical construction. This does not mean that the truth attempting to be sought is wrong – simply that the means employed to getting there is fatally flawed inside its own structure (the orange box in the graphic above). An argument from fallacy, or fallacy fallacy, would be an instance wherein a faking skeptic employs either a formal, or even more a general critique or informal fallacy, to declare a subject or truth to be therefore, false. Also know as an ‘appeal to fallacy’, such an error in predicate calculus is also itself, a formal fallacy.

Appeal to Fallacy (Fallacy Fallacy)

/philosophy : argument : formal fallacy : pseudo-invalidation/ : when an arguer employs either a formal, or even more an informal fallacy, to stand as the basis to declare a subject or claimed truth to be therefore, false. A formal fallacy or redress on the basis of soundness or induction inference, only serves to invalidate an opponent’s argument structure. All three flaws serve to tender nothing about the verity of the argument’s conclusion, which may or may not be independently also true. As well, any instance wherein a circumstantial, expression, personal or informal critique or other informal fallacy is inappropriately cited as a mechanism to invalidate an opponent’s argument or stand as basis for dismissal of a subject.

An unsophisticated arguer’s flawed attempts for instance, to justify the nearby-Earth existence of aliens, does not serve to justify a position therefore that aliens do not exist nearby Earth. Only science can validate/invalidate such an argument – and not an armchair philosopher. That is why I do not delve into the subject of nearby-Earth aliens often. As an ethical skeptic I possess scant information on nearby aliens with which to work. I cannot make any comment on the matter – save to observe the chicanery of the religious certainty on both sides of the construct (belief on the part of UFO fanatics and null hypothesis abuse on the part of those seeking UFO denial). I have been in every single continent on this Earth except for Antarctica, and almost every one of its deserts and jungles, save for a few I still have on my bucket list. There are rather astounding mysteries to be found. Why people have such an emotional investment on such an issue, with scant investment in their own research, is beyond me. But I digress…

“A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning.  This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts.  To be more specific, a fallacy is an “argument” in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support.”   (Michael Labossiere, philosophy professor, Florida A&M)

“However, not just any type of mistake in reasoning counts as a logical fallacy.  To be a fallacy, a type of reasoning must be potentially deceptive, it must be likely to fool at least some of the people some of the time.  Moreover, in order for a fallacy to be worth identifying and naming, it must be a common type of logical error.” (Gary Curtis, author, The Fallacy Files)

Formal Fallacy

/philosophy : predicate or logical calculus : paralogism/ : a violation of any rule of formal inference —called also paralogism. Any common flaw in the sequitur nature of premise to conclusion, logical or predicate structure which could be cited as the fatal basis of a refutation regarding a given proposition or argument.

The proposition that is formally fallacious is always considered wrong. However, the question in view is not whether its conclusion is true or false, but whether the form of the proposition supporting its conclusion is valid or invalid, and if its premises provide for logical connection into the argument (i.e. sequitur context, and not the validity per se of the premises themselves, which pertains to salience and soundness). The argument may agree in its conclusion with an eventual truth only by accident. What gives unity to different fallacies inside this view is not their characteristic dialogue structure, rather the nature of integrity inside the concepts of deduction and (non-inductive) proof upon which the proposition is critically founded. (4 Hansen, SEOP) (5 Wikipedia)

One thing to be made clear here is the issue of soundness and premises. The soundness of an argument relates to the validity of its premises. However, the linkages in sequitur logic which make the premises salient to the argument, do pertain to formal fallacy. Many fallacy definitions miss this distinction – that the salience or sequitur nature of a premise does not solely relate to the issue of soundness. It is part of the Predicate Calculus as well. The graphic above helps me differentiate between informal fallacy soundness (yellow box) and formal logic (orange box) and circumstantial informal critique (grey box).

This circumstantial informal critique category in the graphic above, introduces an even weaker from of counter argument, perhaps even more appropriately cited as a ‘criticism’ or ‘disputation’ involving a focus on informal ‘fallacies’. An informal fallacy does not serve to fatally invalidate an argument, rather only cast suspicion onto the nature of its expression.

Informal ‘Fallacy’

/philosophy : proposition expression : flaws/ : flaws in the expression, features, intent or dialogue structure of a proposition or series of propositions. Any criticism of an argument by means of other than structure (formal) flaws; most often when the contents of an argument’s stated premises fail to adequately support its proposed conclusion (soundness), or serious errors in foundational facts are presented.

An informal fallacy is generally considered to be ineffective at countering a logical calculus; however, when an argument is presented in the form of a Narrative (Rhetoric), since it is not presented in a modus ponens/tollens structure in the first place, informal fallacy is sufficient (and possibly effective) at addressing or negating the such an ‘argument’. Hence the basis of the apothegm, What is propositioned without formal basis, can be counter-argued without formality.

Informal Couter-Narrative

/philosophy : argument : rhetoric : pseudo-argument/ : the principle that cites that narrative rhetoric lacking formal structure can sufficiently be counter argued by informal fallacy and logic. What is propositioned without formal basis, can be counter-argued without formality.

Below you will see in ‘The Ethical Skeptic Alternative’, that the formal basis of an argument is ranked much higher than is the informal framing of an argument for this reason. A Narrative is not really an argument at all, and can be dismissed as such without formal fallacy in the first place. An informal fallacy is really anything else which is circumstantially wrong with an argument, which does not relate to its predicate, salient, sequitur or logical construction. For instance, relevance is an informal fallacy (ad hominem or an appeal to skepticism as examples of irrelevant informal ‘fallacies’). When the contents of an argument’s stated premises fail to adequately support its proposed conclusion – this relates to the soundness of the argument. It has nothing to do with the logical calculus or predicate modus ponens (the yellow box in the graphic above). Nor in reality, is citing a lack of soundness a form of informal critique. It rises to a position of equal significance with both factual error and error in structure. This certainly a much more important feature set than say, an ad hominem ‘fallacy’.

The Ethical Skepticism Alternative

However, in philosophical circles, this raises the question as to whether or not ‘informal fallacies’, aside from issues of argument soundness, are even fallacies at all – or simply an attempt to promote the perception of technicalities into the appearance of invalidating an argument (by conflating anything and everything to involve the soundness or logic of the argument), which they do not indeed invalidate. This is a common magician’s trick of social skepticism.

One exception exists however in the form of the informal fallacy of ‘lacking soundness’. Soundness is the condition wherein supporting assumptions solidly underpin the validity of an argument’s logical calculus, and not the strength of the logical calculus itself. Therefore, a lack of soundness, despite not being regarded a formal fallacy of logic, is fatal to an argument just as is a formal fallacy (not fatal however to its conclusion necessarily). So soundness is an all important first step in the evaluation of an argument’s strength, despite its existence as an informal fallacy.

Moreover, if we hold this as one bookend of deception, the false employment of formal and informal fallacy, on the other end of deception is the use of purported ‘facts’ inside a science which is unsound, logically a failure,  and provides no inductive strength. Facts in this situation are useless. They are mere tidbits of propaganda which happen to be correct, but their domain of induction extends very little. The fact spinner will never relate this weakness and imply the contention that fact ≡ science. This is nowhere near the case. Most of science revolves around a principal called plenary condition.

Plenary Science

/philosophy : scientific method : inductive and deductive strength : completeness/ : a conclusion of science or a method of science which is fully researched, complete in alternative address, entire in its domain of necessity-based research, absolute in its determinations and unqualified by agenda, special pleading or conditions. A conclusion which is complete in every reasonable avenue of examination; fully vetted or constituted by all entitled to conduct such review/research. This plenary entitled group to include the sponsors who raised Ockham’s Razor necessity in the first place, as well as those stakeholders who will be directly placed at risk by such a conclusion or research avenue’s ramifications.

Therefore, we see that the simply playground of ‘fallacy and fact’ is not sufficient basis from which to determine sound scientific conclusion. Instead, I carry in mind a framework of argument theory, involving a hierarchy of the five primary argument issues in descending order of importance, which is prioritized like this

Argument Theory

/philosophy : argument strength : evaluation heirarchy/ : the formal and informal methods of evaluating the robust, weak or fatal nature of argument validity.

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

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

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

4.  Inductive Strength – sufficiency of completeness and exacting inference which can be drawn

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

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

Articles 1 through 3 above are often potentially fatal to an argument, while article 2 is the only Formal Fallacy concerned item. Articles 4 and 5 may only serve to weaken an argument or its propositions. However, articles 4 and 5 may also be used as pretense and distraction.

    This is why fake skeptics scream so often about ‘facts’, ‘evidence’ and (informal) ‘fallacies’, because

  • Facts constitute a relatively weak form inference as compared to soundness, predicate and logical deduction; offering a playground of slack and deception/diversion in the process of boasting about argument strength or lack thereof, and
  • Most faking skeptics do not grasp principles of soundness, predicate and logical calculus, nor the role of induction inference in the first place. ‘Facts’ are the first rung on the hierarchy which they possess the mental bandwidth to understand and debate.
  • A deductive falsification finishes its argument at the Soundness and Formal Theory levels of strength assessment. It is conclusive regardless of circumstantial informal issues. These are rendered moot precisely because falsification has been attained. Faking skeptics seek to distract from the core modus ponens of a falsification argument by pulling it down into the mud of circumstantial ‘facts’ instead; relying upon the reality that most people cannot discern falsification from inference.
  • Informal ‘fallacies’ sound like crushing intellectual blows in an argument, when in fact most of the time they are not. These are tool of those who seek to win at all costs, even if upon an apparent technicality. An arguer who possesses genuine concern about the subject, is not distracted by irrelevant or partially salient technicality.
  • Provided that articles 1 through 4 are sound, observation is always stronger than philosophy. This includes instances of accusation of anecdote, once an Ockham’s Razor necessity is established. Fake skeptics hold this relationship in reverse, and in the resulting promotion of article 5 above its normal importance, conduct pseudoscience.

It is not that facts and evidence are not important, rather it is the critical modus ponens in how they are employed, which is salient (see The Tower of Wrong). So the philosopher must be careful about how such mechanisms as informal critique and facts are employed. It is usually ethical to maintain discipline around your formal and informal critiques of an opponent’s argument. Point out fatal flaws – but only ask questions concerning informal fallacies and facts, because they may be immaterial to the issue at hand. In the end, either technique is employed so as to help the opponent become more clear (and hopefully valuable) in their argument, and not as a means of destroying and bashing a person, nor an attempt to make one’s self appear to be ‘smart’.

Such motives are not indicative of a concern over the subject at all, rather simply an ego which is out of control (an informal ‘fallacy’).

epoché vanguards gnosis


1.  Rosen, Stanley; The Philosopher’s Handbook: Essential Readings from Plato to Kant, Random House Reference, New York, April 2003; pp. 581 – 589.

2.  Newton, Sir Isaac; Mathematic Principles of Natural Philosophy (The Principia); Propositions: Proposition 6, Theorem 6; London, 12 Jan 1725.

3.  Wikipedia: Newton’s law of universal gravitation; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_law_of_universal_gravitation.

4.  Hansen, Hans, “Fallacies”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2015/entries/fallacies/>.

5.  Wikipedia: Formal Fallacy; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_fallacy.

March 11, 2017 Posted by | Argument Fallacies | , , | Leave a comment

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