The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Agency of Pseudo-Skepticism & Cultivated Ignorance

What Constitutes Belief?

A believer is not one who ponders, considers, or investigates. The believer is one who mocks the investigator, refuses to reveal the reasons why they would demean the curious and their ideas, and meticulously avoids acknowledging their own protected notion or exposing it to risky critical scrutiny.
The skeptic in contrast honors the ethic of the investigation, and chooses to remain neutral until they know more.

In an ancient mythology a certain man befriended a horse who happened to graze in the same valley as the one in which the man lived. One day the man decided to impress his friend the horse with his ability to create and maintain fire for his purposes. So he did just this, creating fire from a stone flint and some dry leaves he had gathered beforehand. But he did not show the horse this process, rather merely brought the horse to witness the fire once it was well ablaze. The horse’s reaction was so immediate, fearful, and visceral that the man was slightly taken aback. It was at this point that the man hatched a plot in his mind.

A potential difference is always useful, not simply between energy states, but between entities as well. The man therefore insisted to the horse that, unless the horse could also create and control fire, the horse could never be the man’s real equal as a friend. The horse’s lack of articulating fingers and abject inability to create and exploit fire was a shortfall or miss (sin) on the horse’s part. Thus their friendship must now be modified to that state of skilled-master and servant as well. The man reassured the horse that he was a degreed, qualified, just, forgiving, and loving master – so not to worry. If the horse would obey the man, there would be no trouble at all. The horse, seeing that he had no option at hand, and that the valley was critical to his food supply, therefore acquiesced. The horse had undertaken the working burden of a premature conclusion of science, called a ‘belief’.

For the (ancient) Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:16, Bible – New Living Translation (added context)

In this mythology, the horse had been coerced by a magician’s stage act into adopting what is called a belief. The horse was burdened by the man into becoming his lesser being and servant. The man did so knowing that it will take hell and high water to remove this entrenched notion from the mind of the horse. The horse will now defend this notion at all costs – the man really need do nothing further. The goal has been accomplished. The horse will obediently plow his fields and offer a life of ease for the man, for the remainder of time.1 Such is the power of belief.2

The Litmus Characteristics of Belief

Now a belief is differentiated from other ideas which might be entertained in the mind of man by several distinguishing characteristics. It is critical that the ethical skeptic understand these characteristics so as to defend those researchers who are accused of being motivated by a ‘belief’, as distinct from the accuser or finger-pointer who is ironically indeed exercising a belief themself. These litmus characteristics include the following:

  • A belief is the solely tolerated alternative, so important that it sustains itself in the mind of the believer at the expense of all other ideas, science, and forms of inquiry (see: Omega Hypothesis).
  • The belief-holder seeks to debunk initial inquiry which would consider/research any alternative idea – at its very inception (see: Inverse Negation Fallacy and Debunking).
  • The belief-holder assigns labels of condemnation (woo, pseudoscience, bunk, etc.) to any competing idea and those who investigate such ideas.
  • The belief-holder applies this constraint to other persons aside from self, rendering their defacto conclusion an enforcement upon others and not merely a personal opinion (a debunker operates upon their belief in this manner).
  • The belief-holder enforces this by citing or implying an appeal to authority which substantiates the belief itself (even if an unacknowledged one) and justifies their actions in its enforcement upon others.
  • The belief-holder will often enforce their belief surreptitiously (not acknowledge it, rather simply enforce it as default truth or the null-hypothesis-as-truth).
  • The belief-holder constrains or undertakes actions or adopts other beliefs based upon the belief (or can be coerced into doing so).
  • The belief-holder coerces others to undertake actions or to adopt other beliefs based upon the belief – through building celebrity and an implicit threat towards others’ professional or social acceptability.
  • A belief always confers a burden or dissonance upon its holder, whether acknowledged or not.

In essence, the believer can only function under the ‘truth’ of one notion at a time. The actual validity of that notion thereafter is indeed irrelevant, as a belief can be either true or untrue. It is what belief does to the believer, and what the believer does to others, which actually serve to betray the pathos of belief itself.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

One is free to ponder the realm of ideas, unshackled of oppression from those who promote their belief through an inverse negation stage act or pretense of ‘science enthusiasm’. As the ethical skeptic might notice within this Wittgenstein framing of definition, belief has nothing whatsoever to do with hunch, guess, notion, theory, hypothesis, sponsorship, investigation, consideration, research, conspiracy theory, nor even more importantly, faith. Faith is a personally cherished idea one holds for self, despite a substantive lack of evidence for its veracity. The difference however, is that a faith is not enforced upon others, because its adopter understands or acknowledges its incumbent epistemic weakness. Whether or not such a habit as faith constitutes indeed a virtue remains a matter under heavy debate. But no one can deny that our relationship with the universe implicitly encourages the existence of faith. Willfully so? Well, that remains a matter of faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1, Bible – New King James Version

If a person is out in the field researching an idea which you find distasteful, and your innate reaction is to attempt to debunk all that he has observed, then that person is not the believer …you are. You are the tricked, mythological horse who carries the unacknowledged burden – the exploitation and enslavement of belief.

The Ethical Skeptic, “What Constitutes Belief”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 23 Jul 2021; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=51810

July 23, 2021 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , | 1 Comment

The Sleight-of-Hand StageCraft of the Debunker

The debunker craves science-celebrity with such a blood lust, that any form of deception will suffice, provided the great preponderance of those who witness their stage act will fail to spot the incumbent sleight-of-hand.
The debunker is spinning a facade of cherry-picked anecdotal anti-data, which is then used to linearly claim that something isn’t. This backwards method of outference runs anathema to the practices of science, evidence, and inference; a method plied by someone who possesses no interest in truth whatsoever.

Debunking is a form of social activism which seeks abuse of science through a masquerade of its underlying philosophical vulnerability, skepticism. At its heart, debunking is nothing but weaponized fake skepticism deployed by useful idiots to further the agency (not simply bias) of their sponsors. The debunker is a catalyseur who actively seeks to foment conflict between science and the lay public regarding an embargoed topic, who then exploits such conflict to bolster their celebrity and false form of go-to authority.

Inside this article we draw witness to the debunker’s alchemy, wherein they transmute their fantasy and obsession with trivia into accepted claims of science. It’s backbone serving only purposes of discrediting and ridicule, the form of oppressive dialogue outlined below ironically serves to most often disparage courage and curiosity inside the very arenas in which these virtues are most sorely needed.

The process of debunking at its heart constitutes an abject mockery of science. It centers upon the fabrication of anti-data from extreme agency and anchoring bias, along with employment of this anti-data inside an argument from ignorance to enforce a fake form of null hypothesis called an Omega Hypothesis. Not even featuring the integrity of cynicism, this process is outference, an antithetical ethic to critical-path syllogism and inference. This is depicted below:

Debunking is the abuse of methodical doubt and mere plausibility to fabricate cherry-picked anti-data (?), which extrapolates into an empty-set (Ø) appeal to ignorance and supposedly proves (enforces) a fake form of null called the Omega Hypothesis. Debunking doubts and embargoes contending ideas before they can be tested for merit by science, yet never exposes its own ‘null hypothesis’ to any kind of accountability. Debunking is the antithesis of science.

In contrast, science is the use of robust, corroborative, and repeating observational data to develop sound inference along a critical path of inquiry, which all serve to falsify the Null Hypothesis. Science doubts the Null Hypothesis.1

Debunking would be ‘cleverness pretending to be wise’, if it even rose to the level of being clever to begin with. (note: this is not the same as heteroduction, because as shown above heteroduction cannot be employed to prove the null hypothesis). Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen may I present the method of the debunker, The Pseudo-Scientific Method.

       Fabricate Supposed Flaw in Observation

Fallacy of Exclusion/Sowert’s Law – (Fallacy of Suppressed or Isolated Evidence) – one of the basic principles of argumentation is that a sound argument is one which presents all the relevant, and especially critical-path, evidence. A debunker will seek to isolate one single facet of an observation and then pretend that it is weak, when stripped of its corroborating observations, context, and facets of credibility. This is the warning flag that the above pseudo-scientific method is at play. Ignorance + Trivia = “Fact” in the compromised mind of a person bearing agency (Sowert’s Law).

Fallacy of Opposition/MiHoDeAL Claim – presuming that someone is wrong, including trained and qualified scientists measuring direct observation in a controlled environment, because they appear to reside in an opposing camp. Dismissing a single (or all) observation(s) as ‘Misinterpretation, Hoax, Delusion, Anecdote, and Lie (MiHoDeAL)’ – based solely upon a disdain for what was observed or who did the observing. A fallacy where an untrained, unequipped, ignorant ‘skeptic’ is suddenly instructing experts on how to correctly conduct observations in their field, on systems and in environments where the ‘skeptic’ has zero relevant experience.

       This Evidence is Disqualified

Semmelweis Reflex – the tendency to reject by informal, incomplete, or invalid basis new evidence that contradicts one’s held paradigm.

Truzzi Fallacy – when a cynic, debunker, or denialist regards that it is only necessary to present a case for their counter-claims based only upon their notion of plausibility, fictitious versions of Occam’s Razor, or probability no matter how slight it may be, rather than any actual empirical evidence.

Subception – a perceptual defense (martial art) that involves unconsciously applying strategies to prevent a troubling stimulus from entering one’s personal gestalt.

       All Evidence is Disqualified

Fallacy of Composition – when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is (possibly) true of some part of the whole or anecdote thereof.

Dietrologia – an insistence that the obvious or repeatedly observed explanation, cannot possibly be the truth. Invoking as a first response and without any evidence, that ‘conspiracy theory’ spinning must be the motivation behind any repeated interpretation other than a preferred conventional one.

Cherry Sorting/Data Skulpting – applying diligent doubt, investigation, and skepticism to all instances of observation one disfavors, while relaxing and offering a free pass to all observations or interpretations which fit one’s preconceived notion. Skulpting the answer one desired in advance from skillful and selective ‘doubting’ of the observation/evidence base.

       Quod Erat Demonstrandum: ‘No Evidence Exists’

praedicate evidentia – hyperbole in extrapolating or overestimating the preponderance of evidence supporting a specific claim (even to convention), when few examinations of merit have been conducted regarding a hypothesis, or few or no such studies of the subject have indeed been conducted at all.

Appeal to Ignorance – an argument for a conclusion based on a lack of evidence, or the insistence that a lack of observed evidence means there is not evidence to be observed at all.

       Subject and Researchers are Therefore Discredited (A Scientific Claim)

Appeal to Skepticism – the invalid employment of skepticism to act in lieu of science. The employment of skepticism, in absence of any form of scientific study, in order to derive a scientific conclusion. Philosophy (skepticism) cannot be used to supplant science, as that is neither its capability nor role. Also, when one does not hold a science qualification, the pretense that one’s use of skepticism implies therefore that one’s opinions still represent science or scientific consensus.

Appeal to Ridicule – an argument is made by framing the opponent or opponent’s argument in a way that makes either appear ridiculous.

One should notice that the debunker most often ends this process with two implicit (and often explicit) scientific claims, issuing such offenses inside the masquerade of a staid and erudite demeanor:

1. That the subject and the one who approaches that subject as an open-minded researcher, are both now discredited scientifically (debunked), and

2. The debunker themself bears the qualifications necessary to represent the scientific method, scientific consensus, critical thinking, skepticism, and science itself.

‘Debunking’ in this context is defined as ‘the habit of the debunker’. While there is a small context of legitimate use for the term, its equivocal and pejorative connotations render it an unwise choice as a professional or philosophical term. Debunking in the manner cited above is an illicit form of martial art (see ‘subception’ above). Most often as well, it is a form of exploitation of the innocent, theft/obfuscation of common intellectual property, and lying on the part of a self-appointed authority – a fairly heinous set of actions given their casual issuance. A stage magician who has taken it upon themselves to apportion the proprietary knowledge development of mankind as they solely desire, by means of their tattered magic hat and worn-out stage act.

Wherein one is corrupt in their skepticism, there also will they be corrupt in their heart.

Most people sense the incumbent dishonesty in their gut. However, like myself years ago possess neither the philosophy nor ethics deliberation skills requisite in a Wittgenstein sufficient framing of such deceptive tactics. Hence, the reason why ethical skepticism continues to grow in popularity.

The Ethical Skeptic, “The Sleight-of-Hand StageCraft of the Debunker”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 3 Jul 2021; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=51488

July 3, 2021 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , | 8 Comments

Ethical Skeptic’s Take on the Preliminary Assessment of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has issued its long awaited Report on the UAP phenomenon. Sorry pseudo-skeptics, but you lost this round of the argument. In addition, you were implicated by government and military officials for oppressive anti-science sociocultural stigmas surrounding the issue.
Do not allow the convoluted and prosaic nature of the ODNI Report’s delivery to deceive you – its ultimate implication is nothing short of amazing. A long-embargoed idea domain is now officially, a domain of science.
Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena report cover

As directed by Senate Report 116-233 and stipulated in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, on June 25th 2021 the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released its much-anticipated, unclassified Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena report. The Report’s charter and scope were issued to both the DNI as well as Secretary of Defense by a directive on behalf of the American People and their constituencies to whom these agencies report. The Report was issued directly to the Congressional Intelligence and Armed Services Committees. The scope identified a ‘Director, UAP Task Force’ which would be accountable for ‘understanding the threat posed by UAP’, as well as ‘develop[ing] relevant processes, policies, technologies, and training for the U.S. military and other U.S. Government personnel if and when they encounter UAP’.

Despite what may be spun on the part of oppressive voices regarding the conclusions of this Report, its implications are rather astounding and merit particular attention on the part of science. Although the document was deemed ‘preliminary’ in its release title, it also unequivocally identifies eight monumental Disclosures within its structure – indeed six of an observational and two of an ontological nature.1 However reader be warned, do not allow the convoluted and prosaic nature of the ODNI Report’s delivery to deceive you – the ultimate implication of these eight Disclosures is nothing short of amazing.

The Preliminary Assessment Disclosures

In this Report the UAP Task Force concentrated its efforts on UAP reports which occurred from 2004 through 2021, because of the higher sophistication of sensors deployed in military platforms after 2004. In addition, the UAP Task Force focused its analysis on those reports which were validated as real objects (by multiple sensor and expert eyewitness accounts). Particular focus was given to reports that ‘involved UAP largely witnessed firsthand by military aviators and that were collected from systems we considered to be reliable’. In other words, scientific observational equipment operated by trained and qualified scientists exercising their craft in their field. In this Report, both the U.S. Government, as well as its intelligence agencies and Department of Defense have made their first disclosures stemming from these qualified observations regarding the UAP topic.

Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Report to the Congressional Intelligence and Armed Services Committees

In particular, several ‘conclusions and patterns’ regarding the studied UAP phenomena were noted inside eight Disclosures issued by the Report. Unfortunately, the Report’s convoluted mésa éxo structure made it difficult to draw out a logical sequence of intelligence from the material. So we have done that for the reader below (see footnote 2):2

Disclosure #1: 144 UAP observational episodes were assessed, wherein one single incident resulted in a conventional resolution. The other 143 were not able to be resolved under four versions of null hypothesis explanation (Airborne Clutter, Natural Atmospheric Phenomena, USG or Industry Development Programs, Foreign Adversary Systems). These four domains being ruled out, therefore 143 of the reports were identified as ‘Other’ in terms of via negativa categorical deduction (this is distinct from via positiva ‘attribut[ing] incidents to specific explanations’ – for which the Report cited there was not sufficient evidence).

Disclosure #2: Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon therefore are ‘probably real physical objects’.

Disclosure #3: Some UAP ‘Demonstrate Advanced Technology’, exhibiting ‘unusual flight characteristics’ and maneuvered without a ‘discernible means of propulsion’ and/or observed means of ‘acceleration’.

Disclosure #4: Some UAP ‘Demonstrate Advanced Technology’, exhibiting a ‘degree of signature management’ (active stealth capability) and ‘radio frequency (RF) energy’ (natural phenomena having already been ruled out in Disclosure #1).

Disclosure #5: None of the data or analysis indicated that the UAP studied were ‘part of a foreign collection program or indicative of a major technological advancement by a potential adversary’.

Disclosure #6: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena ‘may pose a challenge to U.S. national security’ (unconstrained context – foreign adversary threats having being ruled unlikely by Disclosure #5).

Disclosure #6 above was issued along with commentary regarding the importance of detecting ‘breakthrough technologies, disruptive capabilities, or sophisticated means of intelligence collection, on the part of foreign adversaries’. However, Disclosure #5’s dismissal of such an idea along with the cited extreme physics involved in Disclosures #3 and 4, make it very clear that this qualification was issued as an example of the rationale behind Disclosure #6 and not as a constraint thereof. This is called an autoaufheben appeal. It is a method of rhetoric employed when one needs to encode their disclosures and implications, so as not to alert oppressive monitoring eyes.

autoaufheben appeal – a compound logical proposition or self-refuting argument. It means both to cancel (or negate) and to preserve at the same time. A form of rhetorical argument which serves to cancel itself through additional apologetic issued commensurate with its primary claim. An instance wherein a subsequent claim is issued to falsify or further qualify an earlier claim, but the issuer does not want this to be readily apparent.

In other words, the potential ‘other-than-human threat’ scenario (see Figure 1 below) is implied by the Report in Disclosure #6. However, this must be deduced through means of the Report’s rhetorical structure (Disclosures #3, 4, and 5 constitute the ‘autoaufheben’). In this manner the Report deflects the cynical disdain characteristic of those suffering from cognitive dissonance on this issue.

Therefore, the report was not ‘inconclusive’ in the least.

Be wary of those who spin the commentary about ‘foreign adversaries’ regarding Disclosure #6 as a constraining principle, because the context of ‘challenge to national security’ was left open-ended (a silent permissive argument). The foreign adversary context was neutralized as a constraint by the Report itself through Disclosure #5. To wit, the Report leveraged this justification basis and then doubled-down on the ‘other-than-human’ conclusion through the ethic of its next two Disclosures (and a follow-up Directive below):

Disclosure #7: ‘Sociocultural stigmas’ (exempli gratia Social Skepticism) constitute a main obstacle to UAP research science. Risk of ‘disparagement and reputational’ harm ‘serves to keep many observers silent’. The Report stipulated that this suppression is waning, but also needs to be ended by means of formalizing a ‘recognized UAP reporting process’.

In essence, the Report implicates (absent of my typical fanfare) those who pretend to represent the opinion of science or scientists on the UAP phenomenon, as constituting the chief obstacle to science being conducted on the matter in the first place. Of course, quod erat demonstrandum the pretext to such a claim is that the Report is both implying and clearly stating that scientific study regarding the UAP issue does indeed bear serious merit. In fact it recommends specific next steps in such regard.

Hence its final Disclosure: UAP/UFOs are real.

Disclosure #8: ‘Rigorous scientific analysis and increased investment in research and development’ for the study of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena bears scientific merit.

On a final note, as if to place an exclamation point on the credibility and seriousness of Disclosures #7 and 8, the Department of Defense has issued on the very same day as this ODNI Report, a New Directive to formalize the UAP Task Force mission.

In other words, Ockham’s Razor has been surpassed regarding the UAP issue.
One can no longer armchair plausibly-debunk individual observations,
and deem such activity as representative of science nor skepticism regarding the UAP/UFO phenomenon.

Sorry Michael Shermer and Mick West – but you lost this argument.
Your worn out stage magician’s act, its celebrity-building, and canned sleights-of-hand – no longer apply to this issue.

The Implications and a New Science

The above Disclosures are unequivocal and direct excerpts from the ODNI Report cited, organized into sequence of context and epistemic dependency.3 In order to derive the inference domain tree portrayed visually in Figure 1 to the right, one first has to actually have read the Report, and further then sincerely attempted to understand its Wittgenstein elements, the process of deduction, and finally the decision-tree structure of a set of via negativa logical propositions. In other words you have to possess some skills in logical calculus and then do some actual work, not simply issue a memorized apothegm or informal fallacy you and your club brought to the party. Boasting as a media go-to authority that the ‘Report is inconclusive’ or ‘We don’t have very solid evidence of anything amazing’4 – all while meticulously avoiding identification of the context and evidence for such statements will not carry water in the face of this evidence provided by the Report.

There is nothing which is not ‘amazing’ that resides in the ‘Other’ box on the
bottom right of Figure 1.

“When it came to the ‘Other’ category, some of the observed behaviors were so
dramatically exotic that they required not only additional study and additional
analysis but perhaps additional physics…”

Gideon Lewis-Kraus, New Yorker Magazine: Daily Comment, 26 Jun 2021

At times I get the sense that pseudo-skeptics merely skim evidence such as this, contributing only enough review sufficient to find backing for the memorized fallacy they have prepared in advance. Figure 1 clearly reveals such ‘inconclusive’ and ‘nothing amazing’ rhetoric to be prevarication, deception in order to promote self – relying upon the certainty that most listeners won’t catch the entailed dishonesty nor really understand the Report well enough to spot it. The Report is indeed inconclusive, however not regarding the above eight Disclosures. It is inconclusive as to what ‘specific explanations’ reside in the ‘Other Non-Human’ box at the bottom right in Figure 1. It is being appropriately parsimonious and incremental in its risk in conjecture.

Neither are these Disclosures ‘cherry picked’ elements/points.5 Figure 1 represents the entire domain of reasonable possibility as identified by the Report. Each element therein is then matched to each Report Disclosure regarding that possibility. Each via negativa decision-tree matchup in Figure 1 must be addressed and not be left unattended (they are critical path to the argument). An informal accusation of this nature is intellectually incompetent, akin to a criminal citing that he is innocent because his acts of extortion, rape, and murder constitute cherry picked moments from his life. If one cannot handle a simple informal logical fallacy correctly, then one should not posit one’s self in the media as a go-to authority on evidence and inference regarding this topic.

The Report itself was not intended as a ‘proof of interstellar/interdimensional/intertemporal craft’ nor ‘space aliens’. Do not listen to anyone who criticizes it in that regard, as that type of fake skeptic betrays their lack of understand of the scientific method by means of this very objection.

The Report was a ‘petition for plurality under Ockham’s Razor’. It is the introduction step of a new hypothesis (or hypothesis domain in this case) under the scientific method. An early step of entry into science which pseudo-skeptics have worked feverishly for decades to block and embargo.

That argument is now over. UAP/UFOs are now a legitimate part of science, like it or not.

Below is a graphic from another article (See The Sleight-of-Hand StageCraft of the Debunker) wherein I have outlined the method and set of fallacies which have been employed in the past by fake skeptics in order to enforce the close-hold embargo around this subject. This method is no longer a viable method of skepticism nor science on the matter of UAP/UFOs.6

Pseudo-skeptics you have lost this important round of the argument regarding the UAP/UFO phenomenon. In addition, your syndicate was implicitly fingered by the Report for its oppressive and pseudo-scientific impact on both witnesses and evidentiary process. Today you got an old fashioned butt-whooping no doubt. You had better get used to this, because this ‘hypothesis’, long-embargoed by means of your nefarious social activity, has now been given permission to be developed and researched as official science.

This article was updated through 3 Jul 2021 with more recent quotes/events as well as added explanatory graphics

The Ethical Skeptic, “Ethical Skeptic’s Take on the Preliminary Assessment of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 28 Jun 2021 (update 3 Jul 2021); Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=50936

June 25, 2021 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , | 6 Comments

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