The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

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’).


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/&gt;.

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

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

Poser Science: Proof Gaming

Science begins its work based upon a principle called necessity, not upon proof. Science then establishes proof, if such can be had. Popper critical rationality as it turns out, involves more than irrefutable proof, contrary to what gaming social skeptics might contend. Proof Gaming is a method of tendering an affectation of sciencey methodology, yet still effectively obfuscating research and enforcing acceptable thought.

im-a-skeptic-burden-of-proofIn order for science to begin to prove the existence of the strange animal tens of thousands of credible persons report roaming in the woods, I must first bring in its dead carcass.  But if I bring in its dead body, then I have no need for science to examine that such an animal exists in the first place; I have already done the science.  The demand that I bring in a dead body, given a sufficient level of Ockham’s Razor necessity-driving information, is a false standard threshold for science to begin its diligence, and such a demand constitutes pseudoscience.

Now of course, Karl Popper in his brief entitled Die beiden Grundprobleme der Erkenntnistheorie contended that science should be demarcated by the proper assignment of truth values to its assertions, or ‘sentences’: ergo, science is the set of sentences with justifiably assigned truth values.¹ This was called a mindset of ‘critical rationality’.¹ It was a step above simple scientific skepticism. The task of the philosophy of science is to explain suitable methods by which these assignments are then properly made.¹ However, one can extend the philosophy of science to construct elaborate methods, which prevent the assimilation of ideas or research which one disfavors, by gaming these methods such that philosophy stands and acts in lieu of science. One such trick of conducting science research by means of solely philosophy, all from the comfort of one’s arm chair, is called Proof Gaming. Popper contended later in his work, as outlined by the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy here:

As a consequence of these three difficulties [the problem or necessity of induction] Popper developed an entirely different theory of science in chapter 5, then in Logik der Forschung. In order to overcome the problems his first view faced, he adopted two central strategies. First, he reformulated the task of the philosophy of science. Rather than presenting scientific method as a tool for properly assigning truth values to sentences, he presented rules of scientific method as conducive to the growth of knowledge. Apparently he still held that only proven or refuted sentences could take truth values. But this view is incompatible with his new philosophy of science as it appears in his Logik der Forschung: there he had to presume that some non-refuted theories took truth values, that is, that they are true or false as the case may be, even though they have been neither proved nor refuted [William of Ockham’s ‘plurality’]. It is the job of scientists to discover their falsity when they can. (IEoP)¹

Social skeptics will cite the base logic of Popper’s first work, yet omit his continued work on induction (Logik der Forschung) – as a process of sleight-of-hand in argument. So, critical rationality as it turns out, involves more than irrefutable proof, contrary to what gaming social skeptics might contend. Science begins its work based upon a principle called necessity, not upon proof. Science then establishes proof, if such can be had. Sadly, much of science cannot be adjudicated on anything like what we would call iron-clad proof, and instead relies upon a combination of falsified antithetical alternatives or induction based consilience.

The gaming of this reality constitutes a process of obfuscation and deceit called Proof Gaming. Proof Gaming is the process of employing dilettante concepts of ‘proof’ as a football in order to win arguments, disfavor disliked groups or thought, or exercise fake versions or standards of science. Proof gaming presents itself in six speciations. In the presence of sufficient information or Ockham’s Razor plurality, such tactics as outlined below, constitute a game of pseudoscience. Posing the appearance of science-sounding methods, yet still enabling obfuscation and a departure from the scientific method in order to protect the religious ideas one adopted at an early age.

Let’s examine the six types of this common social skeptic bad science method, formal and informal fallacy.

Proof Gaming

/philosophy : argument : pseudoscience : false salience/ : employing dilettante concepts of ‘proof’ as a football in order to win arguments, disfavor disliked groups or thought, or exercise fake versions of science. Proof gaming presents itself in seven speciations:

Catch 22 (non rectum agitur fallacy) – the pseudoscience of forcing the proponent of a construct or observation, to immediately and definitively skip to the end of the scientific method and single-handedly prove their contention, circumventing all other steps of the scientific method and any aid of science therein; this monumental achievement prerequisite before the contention would ostensibly be allowed to be considered by science in the first place. Backwards scientific method and skipping of the plurality and critical work content steps of science.

Fictitious Burden of Proof – declaring a ‘burden of proof’ to exist when such an assertion is not salient under science method at all. A burden of proof cannot possibly exist if neither the null hypothesis or alternative theories nor any proposed construct possesses a Popper sufficient testable/observable/discernible/measurable mechanism; nor moreover, if the subject in the matter of ‘proof’ bears no Wittgenstein sufficient definition in the first place (such as the terms ‘god’ or ‘nothingness’).

Herculean Burden of Proof – placing a ‘burden of proof’ upon an opponent which is either arguing from ignorance (asking to prove absence), not relevant to science or not inside the relevant range of achievable scientific endeavor in the first place. Assigning a burden of proof which cannot possibly be provided/resolved by a human being inside our current state of technology or sophistication of thought/knowledge (such as ‘prove abiogenesis’ or ‘prove that only the material exists’). Asking someone to prove an absence proposition (such as ‘prove elves do not exist’).

Fictus Scientia – assigning to disfavored ideas, a burden of proof which is far in excess of the standard regarded for acceptance or even due consideration inside science methods. Similarly, any form of denial of access to acceptance processes normally employed inside science (usually peer review both at theory formulation and at completion). Request for proof as the implied standard of science – while failing to realize or deceiving opponents into failing to realize that 90% of science is not settled by means of ‘proof’ to begin with.

Observation vs Claim Blurring – the false practice of calling an observation or data set, a ‘claim’ on the observers’ part.  This in an effort to subjugate such observations into the category of constituting scientific claims which therefore must be now ‘proved’ or dismissed (the real goal: see Transactional Occam’s Razor Fallacy).  In fact an observation is simply that, a piece of evidence or a cataloged fact. Its false dismissal under the pretense of being deemed a ‘claim’ is a practice of deception and pseudoscience.

As Science as Law Fallacy – conducting science as if it were being reduced inside a court of law or by a judge (usually the one forcing the fake science to begin with), through either declaring a precautionary principle theory to be innocent until proved guilty, or forcing standards of evidence inside a court of law onto hypothesis reduction methodology, when the two processes are conducted differently.

Proof by Non-falsifiability (Defaulting) – by selecting and promoting a pet theory or religious tenet which resides inside the set of falsification-prohibited constructs, SSkeptics establish popular veracity of favored beliefs, by default. Since their favored theory cannot be approached for falsification, it would be pseudoscience to compete it with other falsifiable constructs and claim it to be an outcome of the Scientific Method. Therefore the scientific method is disposed of, the non-falsifiable theory is assigned a presumption of truth, and furthermore can never be disproved. A flavor of unseatable ‘King of the Hill’ status is established for pet SSkeptic beliefs.

All of these tactics are common practices which abrogate the role and discipline of science.  Additionally, a key set of symptoms to look for, in determining that Proof Gaming is underway, are when

  1. one of these tactics is conducted inside a media spotlight,  and when
  2. every media outlet is reciting the same story, and same one liner such as ‘extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence’, verbatim.

This is an indicator that a campaign is underway to quash a subject.

The sad reality is, that on most tough issues, any one single person or small group of outsiders is poorly equipped to prove a subject beyond question. Popper recognized this later in his life work.  We simply do not have the resources and time to accomplish such a task.  SSkeptics know this and use it to their advantage.  The people who are calling for research for example on the connection between cognitive delays in children and the potential role which immunizations have had on this, are simply asking for science to do the research. The response they receive is “You can’t prove the link,” thus we are justified in waging a media campaign against you and scientifically ignoring this issue. This is Proof Gaming.  Complicating this is the fact that the issue is broader than simply MMR and Thimerosal (the majority body of current study), involving the demand for science to research the causes of valid skyrocketing levels of developmental delays, autoimmune disorders, and learning disabilities in our children. The issue bears plurality and precaution, but is answered with ignorance. The Proof Gamers who sling epithets such as “Deniers” and “Anti-vaccinationistas” and “Autistic Moms” are committing scientific treason. One should note that the handiwork of such SSkeptics is rarely characterized by outcomes of value or clarity, is typically destructive and control oriented, and is reliably made media-visible (see our next Poser Science series on the tandem symbiosis between virtue signalling and malevolence).

Hype and name calling has no place in pluralistic research, and the media pundits who commit this are practicing pseudoscience plain and simple. Once plurality has been established, the games should be over.  But not for Proof Gamers.   Attacking proponents who have done case research to call for further science (not proving the subject) for not “proving beyond a shadow of a doubt,” their contentions, is an act of pseudoscience.

This fake demand for proof before research is Proof Gaming, is an abrogation of the Scientific Method and is Pseudoscience.

TES Signature


¹  The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Karl Popper: Critical Rationalism”; http://www.iep.utm.edu/cr-ratio/#H2.

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies, Social Disdain, Tradecraft SSkepticism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tower of Wrong: The Art of Professional Lying

James Joyce is credited with this wisdom, “A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” Indeed, I would choose rather to be informatively incorrect, over disinformatively or uselessly correct, any day. This contrast in type of ‘wrong’ illuminates the domain of Machiavellian ideas, The Tower of Wrong; ideas which are woven of fact, yet serve to constitute in the end only adornments of error.
Beyond the three proposition framings of Wittgenstein, there exist six mechanisms of social imposition and the football-like nature of how quasi-truth is handled, which serve as the linchpins inside professional lying. The Tower of Wrong depicts how partly correct, correct but useless or dis-informing evidence (Wittgenstein sinnlos) is to be clarified as distinct from deontological information – information reliable in being critically predictive or bearing falsification outcomes.

evidence-sculptingUnder a Popperian standard of scientific demarcation, if something is rendered moot through consilience of its opposing thesis, then it is not falsified necessarily, however we may select it to stand as either a null hypothesis or a provisionally accepted norm nonetheless – most philosophers grasp this.  Of key concern however inside such a process of knowledge development, is when the possibility exists that our resulting relegation of an opposing idea to the state of moot-ness (pseudoscience) might stand as simply a provisional assumption bearing a dangerous undetermined risk? In general, a provisional conclusion is regarded to possess informing ability if that provision then becomes critically predictive when posed inside its structure of consilience.  By ‘critically’ – I mean that the provisional assumption itself serves to produce the prediction, not that it simply resides as a feature inside a host of other predictive peer elements. Evolution is an example of one such reliable predictor. However, purely random allele mutation is not a critically reliable predictor inside evolutionary theory, despite evolution itself so being.

Thus I cannot simply declare falsification to be the sole threshing tool means by which one establishes knowledge/truth/accuracy/foundation philosophy. Given this playground of slack, just below the threshold of Popper falsification, it behooves the ethical skeptic to be wary of the ploys which can serve to deceive inside claims of ‘facts’ and ‘evidence’. It is not simply that our minds can deceive us into selecting for desired outcomes, this is a given. Moreover, our most risk-bearing vulnerability instead resides in the fact that stacks of unvetted, non-reliably predictive ‘evidence’ can provisionally stack (see The Warning Indicators of Stacked Provisional Knowledge) and serve to misinform and mislead us as to wrong or useless conclusions under a ‘scientific’ context as well. The following questions should be asked, when any proposition or claim to settled science has been issued as authority:

The Test of the Professional-Social Lie (Five Mechanisms)

1.  The (Wonka) Golden Ticket – Have we ever really tested the predictive strength of this idea standalone, or evaluated its antithetical ideas for falsification?

Einfach Mechanism – an explanation, theory or idea which resolves a contention under the scientific method solely by means of the strength of the idea itself. An idea which is not vetted by the rigor of falsification, predictive consilience nor mathematical derivation, rather is simply considered such a strong, or Occam’s Razor (sic) simple an idea that the issue is closed as finished science from its proposition and acceptance onward. An einfach mechanism may or may not be existentially true.

2.  Cheater’s Hypothesis – Does an argument proponent constantly insist on a ‘burden of proof’ upon any contrasting idea, a burden that they never attained for their argument in the first place? An answer they fallaciously imply is the scientific null hypothesis; ‘true’ until proved otherwise?

Imposterlösung Mechanism – the cheater’s answer. Employing the trick of pretending that an argument domain which does not bear coherency nor soundness – somehow (in violation of science and logic) falsely merits assignment of a ‘null hypothesis’. Moreover, then that null hypothesis must be assumed sans any real form or context of evidence, or Bayesian science cannot be accomplished. Finally then, that a null hypothesis is therefore regarded by the scientific community as ‘true’ until proved otherwise. A 1, 2, 3 trick of developing supposed scientifically accepted theory which in reality bears no real epistemological, logical, predicate structure nor scientific method basis whatsoever.

3.  Omega Hypothesis (HΩ) – Is the idea so important, that it now stands more important that the methods of science, or science itself. Does the idea leave a trail of dead competent professional bodies behind it?

Höchste Mechanism – when a position or practice, purported to be of scientific basis, is elevated to such importance that removing the rights of professionals and citizens to dissent, speak, organize or disagree (among other rights) is justified in order to protect the position or the practice inside society.

4.  Embargo Hypothesis (Hξ) – was the science terminated years ago, in the midst of large-impact questions of a critical nature which still remain unanswered? Is such research now considered ‘anti-science’ or ‘pseudoscience’?

Entscheiden Mechanism – the pseudoscientific or tyrannical approach of, when faced with epistemology which is heading in an undesired direction, artificially declaring under a condition of praedicate evidentia, the science as ‘settled’.

5.  Evidence Sculpting – has more evidence been culled from the field of consideration for this idea, than has been retained? Has the evidence been sculpted to fit the idea, rather than the converse?

Skulptur Mechanism – the pseudoscientific method of treating evidence as a work of sculpture. Methodical inverse negation techniques employed to dismiss data, block research, obfuscate science and constrain ideas such that what remains is the conclusion one sought in the first place. A common tactic of those who boast of all their thoughts being ‘evidence based’. The tendency to view a logical razor as a device which is employed to ‘slice off’ unwanted data (evidence sculpting tool), rather than as a cutting tool (pharmacist’s cutting and partitioning razor) which divides philosophically valid and relevant constructs from their converse.

Also, the instance common in media wherein so-called ‘fact-based’ media sites tell 100% truth about 50% the relevant story. This is the same as issuing 50% misinformation or disinformation.

6.  Lindy-Ignorance Vortex – do those who enforce or imply a conforming idea or view, seem to possess a deep emotional investment in ensuring that no broach of subject is allowed regarding any thoughts or research around an opposing idea or specific ideas or avenues of research they disfavor? Do they easily and habitually imply that their favored conclusions are the prevailing opinion of scientists? Is there an urgency to reach or sustain this conclusion by means of short-cut words like ‘evidence’ and ‘fact’? If such disfavored ideas are considered for research or are broached, then extreme disdain, social and media derision are called for?

Verdrängung Mechanism – the level of control and idea displacement achieved through skillful employment of the duality between pluralistic ignorance and the Lindy Effect. The longer a control-minded group can sustain an Omega Hypothesis perception by means of the tactics and power protocols of proactive pluralistic ignorance, the greater future acceptability and lifespan that idea will possess. As well, the harder it will to be dethrone as an accepted norm or perception as a ‘proved’ null hypothesis.

If the answer to any or all six of these questions is a very likely yes, it does not mean that the defended idea is necessarily invalid; rather that the methods of socially arriving at, accepting and enforcing it are invalid. These are the litmus tests of professional lying at play. Take notice that a ‘fact’ therefore does not serve to necessarily transfer or increase knowledge. Evidence is an amorphous hard to grasp principle which can be sculpted to fit an idea through the actions of a perfidious minded party. A principle which wise philosophers understand, but pseudo-skeptics do not.

dont-farm-tumbleweedsThe danger of such unethical practice sets inside of science are two-fold. Fist, at face value, incorrect ideas and tyrannical social science or public policy can be enforced as scientifically correct paradigms by means of these four mechanisms. But even more important,

even valid science can lose its public trust credibility when enforced by unethical means such as these four mechanisms.

One cannot simply run around conducting unethical social activity in the name of science, and justify it through one’s credentials being, or pretending to be scientific. The danger in discrediting valid science is simply too high – one is ‘farming tumbleweeds’, as the adage goes.  Man-made global climate change is an example of just such a situation, wherein unethical strong-arm and pre-emptive measures were used to enforce an academic idea before it was fully vetted by science (see Carl Sagan, The Cosmic Connection, 1972).  AGW turned out after the fact to have merit, but only after further studies occurred after the social chicanery, arrogance and derision had been well underway. We made enemies, rather than science. In this regard, AGW proponents, practicing these four mechanisms, turned out to be their own worst enemy – and every bit as damaging to the climate change advocacy message as are the AGW deniers today.

Which introduces now, this broader context of just what constitutes different states of being ‘wrong’. Wittgenstein identified a tri-fold disposition framework for propositions, which help the ethical skeptic work their way through this menagerie of ‘wrong’ and sort their way to the deontological goals of value and clarity. The ability to discern much of this, the critical set of nuance inside of Popperian theory of science demarcation and Wittgenstein delineation of meaninglessness, nonsense and uselessness, resides at the heart of what I call The Tower of Wrong.

Useless (sinnlos) Correctness Resides at the Heart of the Professional Lie

confused-deluded-and-the-skilled-liarSo we have established that the value of a proposition therefore relates to its nature in being critically informative or predictive. It cannot simply hide on the team of players composing a proposition or theory, it has to be THE star player when its time has come to stand at bat. What then do we do with Snoping; a condition wherein a proposition is factually correct, but because of the non-salient or useless nature of the chosen question or quickly ascertained ¡fact! surrounding it, only serves to dis-inform? The Tower of Wrong shows us how partly correct, correct but useless or dis-informing evidence (Wittgenstein sinnlos) is to be clarified as distinct from deontological information – information reliable in being critically predictive or bearing falsification outcomes.

Recently we finished a vitriolic presidential election, inside of which a particular accusation had been made from one of the candidates towards the other. Specifically, Hillary Clinton was accused of mishandling classified material at origin, by sending it through non-secure means of communication, and handling it in a non-secured environment and by means of non-secured premises and procedure.  The accusation pertained to a batch of several thousand emails which bore classified material and classified context, but were sent over personal computers and media services in violation of the National Security Act.

Clinton’s technically correct response to the allegations was issued as follows:

I have a lot of experience dealing with classified material, starting when I was on the Senate Armed Services Committee going into the four years as secretary of state,” she said. “Classified material has a header which says ‘top secret, secret, confidential.’ Nothing, and I will repeat this, and this is verified in the report by the Department of Justice, none of the emails sent or received by me had such a header.   ~Hillary Clinton ¹

Now let’s break this set of propositions down by their logical calculus under The Tower of Wrong deontological framing:

  • First sentence – true (red herring, appeal to authority)
  • Second sentence – true (serves to dis-inform – ingens vanitatum – see below)
  • Third sentence – true (ignoratio elenchi – a misdirection in argument around threatening ‘classified material at origin’ laws under national security.)

In other words,  what Ms. Clinton did here was authoritatively lie, through facts and argument misdirection.  How do I know? I was a director level Black Top Secret intelligence officer for years. I know how classified material is to be handled at origin. Ms. Clinton conveniently misdirected the argument to a context of administrative handling conditions, wherein she either originated classified material, or re-posted or discussed such material stripped of its Controlling Authority context and marking. Nice trick. Origin classified material NEVER has ‘top secret, secret, confidential’ markings. Those dispositions are only tendered later by the Controlling Authority.² However, classified material of such nature prior to disposition is handled in the same way as is all classified material – and any recitation or discussion of such materials retains the classification of the referenced material itself (recitation: Executive Order 13526 and National Security Act procedures for handling classified material at origin).² If what Ms. Clinton claimed about having ‘a lot of experience dealing with classified material [at] the Armed Services Committee’ was true, and I think it was; then Ms. Clinton knew this to be a misdirection. She lied by means of an ignoratio elenchi fallacy called ingens vanitatum. A key element inside The Tower of Wrong.

Ingens Vanitatum

/philosophy : argument : fallacy : ignoratio elenchi/ : knowing a great deal of irrelevance. Knowledge of every facet of a subject and all the latest information therein, which bears irony however in that this supervacuous set of knowledge stands as all that composes the science, or all that is possessed by the person making the claim to knowledge. A useless set of information which serves only to displace any relevance of the actual argument, principle or question entailed.

Ingens Vanitatum Argument – citing a great deal of irrelevance. A posing of ‘fact’ or ‘evidence’ framed inside an appeal to expertise, which is correct and relevant information at face value; however which serves to dis-inform as to the nature of the argument being vetted or the critical evidence or question being asked.

Hillary Clinton’s statement was a correct lie in other words. She lied with facts. The statement does not serve to inform, rather it serves to dis-inform us all. This is what is called an Organic Untruth. It is one of the tools in the utility belt of the skilled professional liar and stands as one of the stack of key elements inside The Tower of Wrong (more specifically the ’50 Shades of Correct’ below).  So without any further ado, let us expand on this towering set of conditions of incorrectness.  In the chart below, you will observe the three Wittgenstein Proposition Framings, in burgundy (bedeutungslos, unsinnig and sinnlos) – comprising the stack elements which constitute the journey from confusion, to delusion, to lying…

…highlighting the final breakthrough in the mind of the ethical skeptic: Value and Clarity. The critical deontological nature of relevant, salient and scientific critical path information, as they are enabled by knowledge and the state of being found incorrect (has value: see blue pyramid stacks below).

The Components of the Professional Lie

At the heart of the professional lie, resides the agenda they are seeking to protect, the Omega Hypothesis. This is the agenda, conclusion or theory – which has become more important to protect, than the integrity of science itself.

Omega Hypothesis (HΩ) – the argument which is foisted to end all argument, period. A conclusion which has become more important to protect, than the integrity of science itself. An invalid null hypothesis or a preferred idea inside a social epistemology. A hypothesis which is defined to end deliberation without due scientific rigor, alternative study consensus or is afforded unmerited protection or assignment as the null. The surreptitiously held and promoted idea or the hypothesis protected by an Inverse Negation Fallacy. Often one which is promoted as true by default, with the knowledge in mind that falsification will be very hard or next to impossible to achieve.

The Omega Hypothesis is enacted and supported through the following Tower of Wrong elements (Wittgenstein sinnlos) and the four Wittgenstein sinnlos Mechanisms. As a note: The definition I have crafted here for sinnlos, develops the concept into a more clear and complete fit in terms of today’s methods of misinformation – rather than solely its classic Wittgenstein framing as ‘senseless’, which overlaps too heavily inside English as opposed to German usage lexicons with his unsinnig ‘nonsense’ class of proposition. In addition I have taken the concept of sinnlos and applied it into the following four stack elements (Ambiguity, Organic Untruth, Inadequacy and Mechanism) which function to underpin a professional lie. The final elements are four mechanisms which are exercised by the most prolific, celebrity, power holding and habitual appeal-to-authority enactors of the professional lie.

Wittgenstein Epistemological Error (Proposition Framings) – the categorization of a proposition into meaninglessness, nonsense or uselessness based upon its underlying state or lacking of definition, structure, logical calculus or usefulness in addressing a logical critical path.

bedeutungslos – meaningless. A proposition or question which resides upon a lack of definition, or which contains no meaning in and of its self.

unsinnig – nonsense. A proposition of compromised coherency. Feynman ‘not even wrong.’

sinnlos – useless. A contention which does not follow from the evidence, is correct at face value but disinformative or is otherwise useless.

Ambiguity

Equivocation – the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning, sense, or use in professional context by glossing over which meaning is intended in the instance of usage, in order to mis-define, inappropriately include or exclude data in an argument.

Proxy Equivocation – the forcing of a new or disliked concept or term, into the definition of an older context, concept or term, in order to avoid allowing discrete attention to be provided to the new concept or term. Often practiced through calling the new concept/term, falsely, a neologism or brush off with the statement ‘that idea has already been addressed.’

Ambiguity – the construction or delivery of a message in such words or fashion as to allow for several reasonable interpretations of the context, object, subject, relationship, material or backing of the intended message.

Slack Exploitation – a form of equivocation or rhetoric wherein an arguer employs a term which at face value appears to constrain the discussion or position contended to a specific definition or domain. However, a purposely chosen word or domain has been employed which allows for several different forms/domains of interpretation of the contention on the part of the arguer. Often this allows the arguer to petition the listener to infer a more acceptable version of his contention, when in fact he is asserting what he knows to be a less acceptable form of it.

Uti Dolo (trick question) – a question which is formed for the primary purpose of misleading a person into selecting (through their inference and/or questioner’s implication) the incorrect answer or answer not preferred inside a slack exploited play of ambiguity, interpretation, sequence, context or meaning. The strong version being where the wrong context is inferred by means of deceptive question delivery; the weak version being where the question is posed inside a slack domain where it can be interpreted legitimately in each of two different ways – each producing a differing answer.

Amphibology – a situation where a sentence may be interpreted in more than one way due to ambiguous sentence structure. An amphibology is permissible, but not preferable, only if all of its various interpretations are simultaneously and organically true.

Context Dancing – the twisting of the context inside which a quotation or idea has been expressed such that it appears to support a separate argument and inappropriately promote a desired specific outcome.

Wittgenstein Error – manipulation of definitions, or the lack thereof.

Descriptive – the inability to discuss, observe or measure a proposition or contention, because of a language limitation, which has limited discourse and not in reality science’s domain of observability.

Contextual – employment of words in such as fashion as to craft rhetoric, in the form of persuasive or semantic abuse, by means of shift in word or concept definition by emphasis, modifier, employment or context.

Accent Drift – a specific type of ambiguity that arises when the meaning or level of hyperbole of a sentence is changed by placing an unusual prosodic stress (emphasis on a word), or when, in a written passage, it’s left unclear which word the emphasis was supposed to fall on.²

Subject Ambiguity – the construction or delivery of a message in such words or fashion as to allow for several reasonable interpretations of person, place or thing to which the message applies.

Organic Untruth

A constructive form of argument which uses concealed ambiguity at the core of its foundational structure. A statement which is true at face value, but was not true or was of unknown or compromised verity during the timeframe, original basis or domain of context under discussion. Ignoratio elenchi is a misdirection in argument, whereas an ingens vanitatum argument is a method of lying through this same misdrection or misleading set of ‘true facts’.

Ingens Vanitatum Argument – citing a great deal of expert irrelevance. A posing of ‘fact’ or ‘evidence’ framed inside an appeal to expertise, which is correct and relevant information at face value; however which serves to dis-inform as to the nature of the argument being vetted or the critical evidence or question being asked.

Lob & Slam Ploy – a version of good cop/bad cop wherein a virtual partnership exists between well known fake news ‘satire’ news outlets, and so called ‘fact checkers’ media patrols. The fake news is generated and posed to the web as satire, subsequently stripped of its context by a third party, and then inserted into social media as true – whereupon it is virally circulated. Subsequently, ‘fact checking’ agencies are then alerted to this set up (the Lob), and then slam home the idea of the fake nature of the ‘news’, as well as the lack of credibility and gullible nature of those who passed it around through social media. This in itself is a fake ploy, a form a Fake-Hoaxing and Hoax Baiting practiced by social agenda forces seeking to artificially enhance the credibility of a news ‘fact checker’.

Praedicate Evidentia – any of several forms of exaggeration or avoidance in qualifying a lack of evidence, logical calculus or soundness inside an argument.

Praedicate Evidentia – hyperbole in extrapolating or overestimating the gravitas of evidence supporting a specific claim, when only one examination of merit has been conducted, insufficient hypothesis reduction has been performed on the topic, a plurality of data exists but few questions have been asked, few dissenting or negative studies have been published, or few or no such studies have indeed been conducted at all.

Praedicate Evidentia Modus Ponens – any form of argument which claims a proposition consequent ‘Q’, which also features a lack of qualifying modus ponens, ‘If P then’ premise in its expression – rather, implying ‘If P then’ as its qualifying antecedent. This as a means of surreptitiously avoiding a lack of soundness or lack of logical calculus inside that argument; and moreover, enforcing only its conclusion ‘Q’ instead. A ‘There is not evidence for…’ claim made inside a condition of little study or full absence of any study whatsoever.

Inadequacy

tree-of-knowledge-obfuscation-smThe entire core of fallacy, crooked thinking and misrepresentation of Data, Method, Science, Argument and Assumption which is reflected inside the Tree of Knowledge Obfuscation as it pertains to a subject. This is paired as it pertains to persons with misrepresentation of Opponents, Semantics, Groups, Self and Authorities.

Any condition where a conclusion is chosen to be drawn from, or the science is regarded as settled under, a less than satisfactory representation, possession or understanding of the available evidence or under a condition where the available evidence does not satisfactorily provide for a basis of understanding, null hypothesis, Ockham’s Razor plurality, or alternative formulation (as in arguing M Theory).

Mechanism (of Social Lying)

Einfach Mechanism – an explanation, theory or idea which resolves a contention under the scientific method solely by means of the strength of the idea itself. An idea which is not vetted by the rigor of falsification, predictive consilience nor mathematical derivation, rather is simply considered such a strong or Occam’s Razor (sic) simple an idea that the issue is closed as finished science from its proposition and acceptance onward. An einfach mechanism may or may not be existentially true.

Imposterlösung Mechanism – the cheater’s answer. Employing the trick of pretending that an argument domain which does not bear coherency nor soundness – somehow (in violation of science and logic) falsely merits assignment of a ‘null hypothesis’. Moreover, then that null hypothesis must be assumed sans any real form or context of evidence, or Bayesian science cannot be accomplished. Finally then, that a null hypothesis is therefore regarded by the scientific community as ‘true’ until proved otherwise. A 1, 2, 3 trick of developing supposed scientifically accepted theory which in reality bears no real epistemological, logical, predicate structure nor scientific method basis whatsoever.

Höchste Mechanism – when a position or practice, purported to be of scientific basis, is elevated to such importance that removing the rights of professionals and citizens to dissent, speak, organize or disagree (among other rights) is justified in order to protect the position or the practice inside society.

Entscheiden Mechanism – the pseudoscientific or tyrannical approach of, when faced with epistemology which is heading in an undesired direction, artificially declaring under a condition of praedicate evidentia, the science as ‘settled’.

Skulptur Mechanism – the pseudoscientific method of treating evidence as a work of sculpture. Methodical inverse negation techniques employed to dismiss data, block research, obfuscate science and constrain ideas such that what remains is the conclusion one sought in the first place. A common tactic of those who boast of all their thoughts being ‘evidence based’. The tendency to view a logical razor as a device which is employed to ‘slice off’ unwanted data (evidence sculpting tool), rather than as a cutting tool (pharmacist’s cutting and partitioning razor) which divides philosophically valid and relevant constructs from their converse.

Verdrängung Mechanism – the level of control and idea displacement achieved through skillful employment of the duality between pluralistic ignorance and the Lindy Effect. The longer a control-minded group can sustain an Omega Hypothesis perception by means of the tactics and power protocols of proactive pluralistic ignorance, the greater future acceptability and lifespan that idea will possess. As well, the harder it will to be dethrone as an accepted norm or perception as a ‘proved’ null hypothesis.

This wiggle room between what is considered to be ‘correct’ and what is indeed true-informing, resides at the heart of the 50 Shades of Correct. As you make your journey past the confused, deluded and lying members of our society, this mental framework is useful in vetting those who are interested in pushing agendas, from those who are keenly and openly interested in the truth.

Epoché Vanguards Gnosis.

TES Signature


¹  Politifact, “Hillary Clinton says none of her emails had classification headers,” Lauren Carroll, ; http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/sep/07/hillary-clinton/clinton-says-none-her-emails-were-labeled-top-secr/

²  Executive Order 13526- Classified National Security Information/National Security Act

January 11, 2017 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies, Institutional Mandates | , , , , | 1 Comment

And I Have Touched the Sky: The Appeal to Plenitude Error

It is not that the contentions founded upon an appeal to infinity are necessarily and existentially incorrect, rather simply that the appeal itself is premature under the definition of what constitutes good science. So I replaced the word god, with the word infinity – OK, good; but have I really accomplished science through such an action? Wittgenstein challenges this notion. The context in which ‘infinity’ is abused as an obvious scientific alternative or worse, apologetic employed in order to leverage social conformity (pseudoscience), are outlined inside what is called the Appeal to Infinity (or Plenitude) error.

tes-looks-at-the-starsDon’t get me wrong, I have both pondered the mathematical, scientific and philosophical ramifications of the concept of infinity in our observable universe, as well as frequently used such precepts of expansive/endless domain as a justification behind why incredibly unlikely things are observed to have occurred. (Please note that the context of ‘infinity’ here includes use of ‘suitable large numbers’ which might allow for a special pleading instance not constituting infinity, yet still remain suitably large enough to accomplish the same goals.) Such an approach is not an invalid domain of scientific reasoning as the basis for the beginning of hypothesis formulation – but neither does such a rationale set constitute finished science according to Popper (nor in reality Wittgenstein either). Obviousness does not stand tantamount to verity for Wittgenstein, nor does simply the formulation of an idea stand tantamount to hypothesis for Popper. Infinity (also known as ‘plenitude’ based theory), as a explanatory construct rendering infinitesimally unlikely things as now likely (set aside the existential nature of its mathematical and philosophical uses) only serves as a placeholder inside science, and albeit one which can someday hopefully be matured into a truly scientific hypothesis, stands as a placeholder nonetheless.

‘You’ are a trivial happenstance wrought through an infinity of possibility; yet upon this infinite basis ‘you’ could not possibly have happened before, nor sustain, and can never happen again.

    ~ The Existential Nihilist employs the concept of infinity as a hypocritical appeal to both special plead and deny in the same breath

I remember fondly, one night staring out the back sliding glass doors of my childhood home, my father engrossed inside his nightly television routine nearby in the den of our house. I was seven years old, as to my recollection the leaves were colorful and newly removed from the trees surrounding the house, which we had also newly occupied. Our pregnant cat scurried urgently about examining every nook and cranny in the entire house for some amazing plot on her mind. This late hour and bare tree condition allowed me to observe and ponder again the nighttime sky for the first time in several months. Summer was ending and that exciting cyclical period of life where I was able to stay up past dark had commenced once again. I commented to my father as I stared through the glass doors at the nascent night sky “Dad, if there is endless time, and endless stars, why would the sky not be daylight all day and all night?” Wow consider the possibilities, playtime 24 hours a day – except for during that horrid waste of time they forced us into, called school. I hated school.

School was the place where uber-rules-followers used social demeaning as a tactic of class stratification (not that I used those words then). A tactic which some immature instructors even bought into as well. I was barely a C-average student every year of my young life until the day that I scored at a college freshman level in science, in my fifth grade achievement tests. Again in seventh grade I scored a perfect score on the science achievement tests. After asking if I had cheated (both times), my school finally broached the idea that perhaps I needed to be taught in a different way. So ended the track of memorizing spelling words and formulas and facts, and thus inaugurated the track of pursuing projects, ideas, goals and research. The spelling, facts and Laplace Transformations simply fell into place along the way. Don’t stand over me, hands on hips (figuratively) forcing me to make journal entries. Rather allow me to explore my passions through journalism, and I will teach you how to write a journal. Don’t teach me facts about the Punic Wars, let me model the Naval Battles and how they were fought, and maybe could have been prosecuted even better. Tolstoy is a far better teacher of grammar than is sentence diagramming. Anna Karenina’s winding family hierarchy bore with it kind gifts of Russian-challenged complexities in English language, both in logical calculus and structure. Such folding of reality inside out transitioned me from January of my soul into vernal brightness – an evolution of elegant whisper kissing my forehead and changing my life, forever.

why-plenitude-is-a-problemI was invested from a young age into ideas, and not simply social protocols and procedures. This is part of my nature as a philosopher. Thankfully there existed standardized tests in those days, or I would have been relegated to a dunce track. No, this perception on my part is not in any way seeking to impugn specific jobs nor career tracks, as fake skeptics are wont to suggest; rather merely to point out that such a track would have been unfulfilling to me. All a result of my failure to comply with the standard mold they so sought in education.

My dad apparently regarded my sliding glass door observation to constitute a pretty astute question. He was a trial lawyer and enjoyed skills in the art of argument. But he always plied his wisdom with me by means of a Folgerbergian ‘thundering velvet hand’. I learned the nature of argument from him, and him alone. He calmly replied “well perhaps there is not endless time and/or there are not endless stars?” I watched the sky for some time before being rushed off to bed by my mom; petitioning the same question to her, to which she replied “God made just the right number of stars and the right amount of time, so that you can enjoy the night sky.” What a great answer. That made sleeping so much more a pleasant experience. Wow, God set all this up just for us.

For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky

for-infinity-is-our-godSo there we had it. The three alternatives inside of which I was imprisoned for the next 15 some odd years of my life.  There are finite sets of stars and time, god set up the stars and time just right, or – maybe the assumptions which I brought to the argument were incorrect in the first place. It was probably around age 12 or so where I began to protest against the concept of finite-ness as compared to infinity. I often quipped to my eye-rolling buddies in high school (I had been moved a year ahead of my normal age group) – ‘The only thing less palatable than infinity, is finite-ness.’ I considered the idea that, once existence was observed, then infinity was a fortiori. For how could one then truly define a boundary, much less find it? Such a boundary was rendered absurd in an existential context, surely only a boundary-state (a brane or transition if not) and not indeed the end of infinity. “For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky” was one of my favorite Star Trek episodes (although by this time well into syndication), not only from the perspective that Dr. McCoy got it on with some hott alien chick, but also because this issue was touched. In the plot, a man crawls to the end of the ‘sky’ and touches it, only to find it a tactile boundary, a dome of deception – the sense of which drove him to an insanity of just desserts for violating the strictures of the ‘god’ which ruled their planet and forbade such arrogance – as asking questions.

One should bear in mind that in certain contexts, an appeal to infinity is no more scientific than is an appeal to God. It just appears more scientific to the non-philosopher.

Perhaps the best take-away from that Star Trek episode is one which I carry to this very day.

The universe is at least in part incomprehensible. It is not that it is simply unmeasurable, as this claim actually constitutes an organic untruth. The fact is that we cannot seek to measure that which we do not comprehend in the first place. Our skills of measure are not as limiting for man, as are our skills of comprehension – that is our boundary, our dome of deceit after all, and not this fictitious field-of-measurability which nihilists claim they have identified.

Don’t get scared, just deal with and expect it. Embrace the unknown, embrace the absurdity. Do not substitute a pretense of knowledge as a methodology towards feeling better about the unknown – this is no different than appealing to God. Your mind does not yet possess the tools to survey reality from the right perspectives. Such were the whispers which reverberated in my mind each night. Accordingly, began my track of leveraging the bookends of infinity (the absence of finite-ness) in contrast with the finite-ness of the hand of God. I roiled against such a bifurcation, again questioning infinity as an adequate argument against the ‘god’ argument which I had already come to reject in the ensuing years.

nonsenseAnd here is why I reject infinity as a bifurcating excuse of science, situations wherein it is used simply as a lever and apologetic in opposition to those who make ‘God of the Gaps’ claims (which  I equally eschew). An appeal to infinity (or suitable large number/domain thereof) is NOT a scientific idea for several reasons of demarcation:

  • Infinity does not bear a measurable nor definable set of features in an epistemological sense (the same as ‘god’ in reality under an Appeal to Elves argument)
  • Infinity is easier to propose and codify than it is to resolve, reduce, induce or deduce (this is the reverse trajectory from Wittgenstein defined science)
  • The antithetical idea can neither be defined nor tested, in order to offer Popper falsification of infinity as a null hypothesis
  • The concept of ‘infinity’ as the proposed hypothetical answer, answers the wrong question at hand under the scientific method. I am not burdened with answering the question ‘how did consciousness or life originate?;’ rather, ‘How did the 3 letter codon basis of DNA-protein synthesis originate in Archaea on Earth so quickly?’ The former question is asked out of sequence and stands as a non rectum agitur fallacy. And this would be OK, if it were not used to beat people over the head in promotion of nihilism. What created life? God! Infinity! Yawn – these are the same exact unsinnig (Wittgenstein: nonsensical) answer.
  • Infinity moves quicker as a handle, a term, than it does as a true philosophical/scientific concept. The concept is not easily intelligible nor observable, however it can be sustained under a Wittgenstein set of knowledge features. This renders the concept of infinity vulnerable to being used as a baseball bat to enforce proper thinking.
  • It can explain everything, much as Marxist class struggle theory and the Freudian psychology of sex, plenitude can explain the existence of anything and everything. This is not science.

All these things are anathema to sound science. It is not that the contentions founded upon an appeal to infinity are necessarily and existentially incorrect, rather simply that the appeal itself is premature under the definitions of what constitutes good science. But you will observe social skeptics appealing to infinity as if they are applying good science. This is not correct in the least. The context in which infinity is abused as an obvious scientific alternative or worse, apologetic employed in order to leverage social conformity (pseudoscience), are outlined inside what is called the Appeal to Infinity error:

Appeal to Infinity (Plenitude)

/philosophy : pseudoscience : argument : error in logical calculus/ : a variation of an appeal to magic wherein the infinite size (or other suitably large scale) of the containing domain is posited as the all powerful but scientific rationale behind the existence of a stack of incredibly unlikely happenstance. A closure of scientific argument and refusal to consider other alternatives, especially when an appeal to infinity hypothesis is unduly regarded as the null hypothesis – and further then is defended as consensus science, without appropriate underlying reductive science ever actually being done.

Appeal to Lotto – Informing a person who has been harmed that their instance of harm is extremely uncommon (‘they won the Lotto, simply because someone had to win’ scam). A double appeal to infinity involving convincing a target regarding the personal experience involved in a remote happenstance. A million dollars just fell out of the sky in neat little stacks and then subsequently, you just happened to be the first person to walk by and observe it – two appeals to infinity stacked upon one another. Often used as a sales pitch or con job. Any instance where a ‘Law of Large Numbers’ is used as an apologetic to justify why a person was harmed or an extremely unlikely occurrence emerged.

Omnifinity – any argument which ascribes to a theoretical god, such powers, knowledge and capability such that the god in question is simultaneously able to do anything, and at the same time evade any level of comprehension on our part. This type of god is simply a placeholder argument (the ultimate special pleading) which is a parallel argument to the Infinity of the Gaps argument below. These are twin arguments, which contrary to superficial appearances, are the same exact argument. Neither one constitutes science.

Infinity of the Gaps – any argument where an appeal to infinity is simply employed to avoid the appearance of using a ‘god of the gaps’ explanation, when in reality the employment of infinity as the explanation for an infinitesimally remote chance occurrence is virtually as ridiculous or lacking in epistemological merit as is the god explanation – see Appeal to Elves. Infinity is as convenient a deep well of logic transmutation, as if god itself.

Infinity as Science – any argument where an appeal to infinity is spun as constituting a superior scientific explanation, in comparison to, and in an effort to avoid examining the underlying assumptions which precipitated the invalid perception/belief that an event or series of events are extremely rare or statistically next to impossible in the first place.

Explanitude – the condition where a theory or approach has been pushed so hard as authority, or is developed upon the basis of unacknowledged domain uncertainty (such as Marxist class struggle theory or Freudian psychology of sex), that it begins to provide a basis of explanation for, or possesses an accommodation/justification for every condition which is observed or that the theory domain promotes. A theory or approach which seems to be able to explain everything, likely explains nothing (Popper/Pigliucci).

I am sure that I will never truly understand neither infinity nor finite-ness. It makes it very difficult however, to stomach abiogenesis now, knowing that life began right on the heels of the Heavy Bombardment period for Earth – and no, an Appeal to Infinity falls hollow in the face of such a tightening window of finite-ness. Nor however, will I gain fully an explanatory alternative to the prevailing beliefs of abiogenesis and consciousness. Such a sad state of affairs. But I can discipline my mind to be robust against falling prey to a misuse of infinity in the meantime. I can say “I do not know” or ‘I do not possess an adequate explanation/definition for that’ – and yes, be conducting real science.

I do not have to, nor will I as an ethical skeptic, pose inside such a costume of social conformity.

TES Signature

September 13, 2016 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies | , , , | Leave a comment

The Warning Indicators of Stacked Provisional Knowledge

Rather than presume as capstone upon incredibly risk-ignorant stacks of knowledge, what is true and not true, the ethical skeptic instead focuses on field observation and the suspension of doubt, belief and provisionally stacked assumption. He is not denying knowledge, rather denying the lie-spinner the raw material he so desperately needs. He is denying the tradecraft of the lie: an Omega Hypothesis. A condition wherein the conclusions themselves become more important than the process of knowledge development.

In the previous blog post we discussed the Riddle of Skepticism and a thing called the Tradecraft of the Lie. Inside this precept we are made sensitive to the role which machinated doubt, belief and ignorance of provisionally stacked risk play inside grand fantasies posed as representing (pluralistic ignorance) accepted scientific thinking. Several warning signs can be monitored to watch for such a condition wherein, social forces are seeking to promote an idea (The Omega Hypothesis) in such a fashion as to block further study and end the scientific discourse. In the process of doing so, these same forces will speak often about ‘evidence’, ‘study’ and ‘science’. Of course evidence, study and science are the foundation of our knowledge development process. But simply because one proclaims such words, does not mean therefore that their proclaimant actually understands nor represents science.

The Tower Which Cannot Be Touched – At All Costs

Below I have employed the analogy of a Jenga blocks game as illustrative of the principles comparing ideal science, the reality of fake knowledge posing as science and how its proponents undertake pseuodoscience (pretend method/action – and NOT a subject) in an effort to block competing ideas.  A shaky tower cannot be touched, at all costs. Therefore any method of obfuscating competing ideas becomes part of the ‘stack’ of provision afforded the Omega Hypothesis. The job of fake skepticism is to ensure that no competing idea nor unauthorized entity ever touches the shaky tower of blocks. As well, to ensure that the resource and obfuscation gaps inside the Embargo Hypothesis (on the right below), the Hypothesis which gets them angry – that those gaps are never addressed by science. That the question of the Embargo Hypothesis can never be raised in serious scientific discussion – at cost of severe career penalty. (Click to enlarge)

Verisimilitude Versus Field Observation

This principle is underpinned by key Karl Popper philosophy as outlined inside The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:¹

In the view of many social scientists, the more probable a theory is, the better it is, and if we have to choose between two theories which are equally strong in terms of their explanatory power, and differ only in that one is probable and the other is improbable, then we should choose the former. Popper rejects this. Science, or to be precise, the working scientist, is interested, in Popper’s view, in theories with a high informative content, because such theories possess a high predictive power and are consequently highly testable. But if this is true, Popper argues, then, paradoxical as it may sound, the more improbable a theory is the better it is scientifically, because the probability and informative content of a theory vary inversely—the higher the informative content of a theory the lower will be its probability, for the more information a statement contains, the greater will be the number of ways in which it may turn out to be false. Thus the statements which are of special interest to the scientist are those with a high informative content and (consequentially) a low probability, which nevertheless come close to the truth.¹

In contrast, you will note that it is the job of the provisional knowledge proponent, to seek out stacks of most probable conclusion. Information which

  1. Is not evaluated in terms of increasing risk-chain dependency
  2. Is not informative because it is probable; nor tolerates competing falsification work to be undertaken
  3. Cannot be assailed because of its probable superiority and critical basis for other arguments.

The key here being that as the stack of knowledge gets increasingly higher, even so more powerful become the standing 3 features above. So powerful in fact, that the conclusions themselves become more important than the process of knowledge development. This is how an Omega Hypothesis works – it must be protected at all costs, in order to not upset its multiple and tall stacks of provision. This is the job of Social Skepticism, to protect these stacks – the money, power, tenure and religious interweaving from which multiple arguments extend and thrive. This can be seen in the contrast of verisimilitude and consilience, two differing approaches to the establishment of hypothesis gravitas inside the scientific community.

A final distinguishing factor is this. While consilience is not finished science, rather an important step along the way in developing a hypothesis or understanding, sadly often verisimilitude is non-expertly regarded conveniently as finished science by fake skeptics.  This is the reason why doubt, belief and stacks of provisional knowledge are eschewed by the ethical skeptic.

Sculptured Narrative

/philosophy : pseudoscience : method/ : a social declaration which fits a predetermined agenda, purported to be of ‘weight of evidence’ and science in origin. However, in reality stems more from only the removal/ignoring of the majority or plurality of available or ascertainable evidence, in order to sculpt a conclusion which was sought before research ever began (see Wittgenstein sinnlos Skulptur Mechanism). Conducting science by dwelling only in the statistical and meta-analytical domains while excising all data which does not fit the social narrative of funding entities, large corporations or sskeptic organizations. Refusing to conduct direct studies, publishing studies which contain an inversion effect and filtering of countermanding studies out by attacking journals, authors and ignoring large bodies of evidence, consilience or falsification opportunity.

Verisimilitude (Unity of Knowledge Error)

The Omega Hypothesis:  A provisionally stacked basis supporting an apparent simple reality

/philosophy : pseudoscience : method/ : an argument establishing a screen of partially correct information employed to create an illusion of scientifically accurate conclusion. The acceptance of specific assumptions and principles, crafted in such a fashion as to lead to a therefore simple resulting explanatory conclusion.

Consilience

A dynamic enhancement of measure, observation and analysis increasingly promoting a single coherent idea

/philosophy : science : method : induction/ : is the nature or characteristic of an argument wherein its underpinning premises, data, multiple associated disciplines, avenues of research or predicates provide for independent but mutual reinforcement of its conclusion.

The Embargo Hypothesis (Hξ)

The hypothesis which must be dismissed without science because it threatens simplicity and verisimilitude

/philosophy : pseudoscience : method/ : a disfavored hypothesis which will never be afforded access to science or the scientific method no matter what level of consilience is attained. An idea which threatens to expose the risk linkages inside of or falsify a stack of protected provisional knowledge which has achieved an importance greater than science itself: an Omega Hypothesis.

Consilience is not finished science, nor does consilience stand as consensus. You will find fake skeptics conflating and twisting the two terms in order to support provisional knowledge they wish to enforce. However consilience does stand as a principal threat to those wishing to protect an agenda of verisimilitude. The Embargo Hypothesis on the other hand, is typically an elegant yet ignored robust and cogent theory. One which threatens power, tenure and money. It will never see the light of a scientific day, no matter how much consilience is developed.

Several Key Warning Signs to Look For Indicating an Omega Hypothesis at Play

A.  Mixing up the steps of or using only a portion of the scientific method

B.  Becoming irritated at calls for further competing study

C.  Over-using the term ‘settled science’ or ‘evidence’ in pluralistic debate

D.  Applying social pressure and club conclusions – feigned as ‘promoting scientific literacy’

E.  Liberal use of the prefix ‘Anti’

F.  Identifying enemies and pigeon-hole bifurcating an argument

G.  Becoming threatened by specific alternatives – calling them magic, pseudoscience, conspiracy or irrational

H.  Relying on scant, outdated or Big-Data only study

I.  Employing celebrity, journalism, funding, influence or authority (see Kilkenny’s Law) to intimidate

J.  Claiming their stack of provisional argument results from a principle of doubt and/or skepticism

K.  A complete ignorance of favored hypothesis limitations and risk.

Several Filtering Techniques Employed to Block The Embargo Hypothesis

And finally, whenever you observe the practices cited above, at play inside the methods of science employed to craft a stack of provisional knowledge and/or enforce an embargo of an eschewed but competing alternative – watch for the following filtering methods. A short definition is provided below with each.

Amplanecdote – so many observations are discarded as anecdote, that an entire science can be assembled around them

Filbert’s Law – relying solely upon single big-data, large domain or arm’s length inexpert meta-analysis to underpin a conclusion

Correlation Dismissal – assuming that all correlation is invalid and instead demanding proof as a first step in science

Effect Inversion – when the reverse question is asked inside an apparently non-significant signal data set, the opposite effect (‘curative’) shows up as a statistically significant signal

Procrustean Solution – further and further study is either modified or thrown out in order to not conflict with the current paradigm

Forward Problem Blindness – the reverse question is never asked or only predictive science is employed and falsification remains unused, despite its availability

Ignoro Eventum – failure to conduct follow-on/impact study or observe an impacted population after a major environmental change has been implemented

Ascertainment Bias – a form of inclusion or exclusion criteria error where the mechanism of sampling, specimen selection, data screening or sub-population selection is inherently flawed

MiHoDeAL Filtering – resorting too often to disposition unliked observations as Misidentification, Hoaxes, Delusions, Anecdotes and Lies

Law of Static Privation – does the provisionally stacked knowledge have a track record of improving further knowledge or alleviating suffering? – if not, it is a provisional stack

Existential Fallacy of Data – the implication or contention that there is an absence of observation or data supporting an idea, when in fact no observational study at all, or of any serious import has been conducted by science on the topic at hand

Shevel’s Inconsistency – one simultaneously contends that science has shown a research subject to be invalid, yet at the same time chooses to designate any research into that subject as constituting pseudoscience

Manipulative Rational Ignorance – an arguer contends rational ignorance applies inside an argument, or the ignoring of a pathway of science because the cost or effort entailed is too high versus the results or lack thereof to be obtained

Furtive Fallacy – undesired data and observations are asserted to have been caused by the malfeasance of researchers or laymen

Fallacy of Relative Privation – science is only the property of scientists. Dismissing an avenue of research due its waste of scientists’ time and focus

Semmelweis Reflex – the tendency to reject new evidence that contradicts one’s held paradigm

Furtive Confidence Fallacy – refusal to estimate, grasp or apply principles of statistical confidence to collected data. The act of prematurely declaring or doggedly denying a multiplicity of anecdote to be equal to data

Muta-Analysis/Studium a Studia – arm’s length, big data, studies-of-studies conducted by 3 year or less experienced analysts, presided over by money influenced directors

Dismissible Margin Fallacy – ensuring that the dissenting real experts and outlier data in a study field are of sufficiently low percentage that they can be ignored (typically cited as <5%)

Consilience Evasion – the refusal to look at a body of growing consilience in an effort to deny a disliked alternative any access to science

Hume’s Razor Error – the false presumption that a seemingly miraculous explanation is assumed to be false if any alternative explanation provided is less miraculous

Sponsorship Bias – rejection of an entire methodological basis of a scientific argument and all its underpinning data and experimental history simply because one can point to a bad personality involved in the subject

Regressive Bias – a certain state of mind wherein perceived high likelihoods are overestimated while perceived low likelihoods are underestimated

Observer Expectancy Effect – when a researcher expects a given result and therefore unconsciously manipulates an experiment or scientific method or misinterprets data in order to find that expected result

False Stickiness/Consensus – false belief that, or willingness to acceptance the claim that, scientists are all in agreement a given subject

Reactive Dissonance – when faced with a challenging observation, study or experiment outcome, to immediately set aside rational data collection, hypothesis reduction and scientific method protocols in favor of crafting a means to dismiss the observation

Unity of Knowledge Error – to conflate and promote consilience as consensus, in absence of having diligently falsified or even studied any competing hypothesis

All of these may be found in the Glossary or Tree of Knowledge Obfuscation Pages of this blog.

TES Signature


¹  Thornton, Stephen, “Karl Popper”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2015/entries/popper/&gt;.

August 24, 2016 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies, Social Disdain | , , , | Leave a comment

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