The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

42 Critical Knowledge/Experience Qualifications of a Philosopher – Ancient or Modern

For me, and maybe this is just for me and perhaps too stringent a general requirement; but there exist certain things which a philosopher needs to know. Knowledge and experience sets which prepare him or her to ask the right questions, understand the habits of men – along with the uncertain nature of our reality. The awareness to know, that there are things which we do not know that we do not know. Things which distinguish the sophist from the real philosopher.

In one of my projects overseas I encountered an odd set of circumstances wherein, a very large opposing country had taken issue with some of my work. Work which disfavored their plans for empire, limited effect mega-projects which enriched only their socialized corporations, population abuse, product dumping and mineral monopolization. The representatives of this nation had convinced some of the ministers in the minority of their host nation (my client) to sequester my passport at the Ministry of Emigration during its processing of my extended visa. Their intelligence agents had even invited themselves on short notice, to join me at breakfast one morning in my hotel; in order to make it clear that my interests might be interpreted as standing in opposition to what constituted their ‘compassionate goals’ for the country. “Please let us know if we can be of assistance in your strategic work Mr. TES. We are only here to help. Coincidentally, we are right in the rooms next door to yours.” Indeed, you have not studied anything but the national mineral base, the new mineral railway, key assays and NI 43-101 documents, yet you are here to help the people. I’m convinced, I really am.

The situation would have been Hollywood shtick-to-comique if not for the backdrop of a mile long strand of polio victims along with levels of abject poverty which most liberal Westerners do not even acknowledge exist. I was essentially stuck in the country, indeed the hotel, without my passport, indefinitely.  Subject to arrest at any moment, if the political winds blew in a slightly different direction. To me it was clear, continuing the cycle of abuse by empire nations, upon defacto colonies – this needed to end. I was a deeply experienced markets and trade strategist & implementer, head of my firm, backing some of the most successful brands and nations in the world. I could see what others could not. These victim nations were rife with mafia and crime; all justifying their existences through a promise of big projects a decade out, all of which never seemed to manifest – commensurate with the certainty of endless boxcar loads of mineral ores, riding on brand new rail systems employed solely to move them about, rolling to and out of the country’s ports. It was amazing how the formula repeated itself over and over again across this impoverished continent.

Population dumping had become a pastime for the rich elite of such third world proliferating hell holes. A game of dumping their unwanted on the West, whilst their ‘partner nation’, robbed them blind of their mineral wealth – through paying off the few mafia socialist warlords/ministers who instigated the population dumping at this Empire’s behest to begin with. Global domination brilliance which our Western university and government cubicle liberals fail to grasp, nor even know that they do not know.

In the end, our strategy of smaller modular power systems, a focus on education and training, a variety of local food and clean water infrastructure, healthcare, post harvest perishment and teen pregnancy mitigation – these elements turned out to be the right solution for that nation.  They did not need to dump all their mineral wealth into the hands of one Empire, as this price was neither ethical nor necessary – all for a promise of something monumental a full 9 years later. A magic beans project which had failed the last three times this region had attempted the same thing.

So as events warranted, by means of our best call on the situation, in the middle of the night I went with one of the tribal leaders – and broke into the Ministry of Emigration on a mission to retrieve my passport and quickly exit the country. I starkly recall the night janitor pleading with me not to kill him as I came down the hallway in the wee hours.  I paid him to let me into the passport vault.  There I was able to ascertain the location of my passport and abscond with it in short order, for a 6 am flight to Johannesburg. I was gone before the corrupt ministers had even awaken. They are all now either in prison or out of power. Certain events unfolded thereafter, which proved our strategy to be the best course. A small victory won. A very pissed off Empire with hopefully a short, compartmentalized memory.

I had a brief discussion with a celebrity Stoic PhD Philosopher about this very issue of whether or not a ‘sense of justice’ was sufficient and comprehensive in underpinning what leads a person to undertake real world changing action. I contend that it takes more than simply a cocooned sense of justice to motivate a person to intercede on behalf of those oppressed.  We have tons of outraged and spoiled people carrying a loam of sense of justice and looking for a cause to anoint with it. To justify their pointless existence. Yet ironically a complete global lack of anyone motivated enough to stand up to the many malicious forces which oppress us. 

Yes, constructive anger is different – contrary to what Seneca contended – and has a proper place and form of expression inside our world reality. A sense of justice is simply and unequivocally not enough. A ‘sense of justice’ would not have been enough, for me to have made it through this harrowing event. This PhD lacked the life experience required to be an effective philosopher, and was rendered vulnerable to incomplete understandings, which were just simply wrong. Passed as common wisdom by philosophers, who do not really know; and more importantly do not know that they do not know.

But recollection of these events brought to my mind one evening, this very concept of strength of one’s philosophy and how it relates to their life exposure. It is simply not enough to get a PhD, grade papers and write books. I have expounded before on the Nine Features Which Make for Great Philosophy. So perhaps it is time to relate what I believe to be the qualifications for a great philosopher as well. I suppose that Seneca the Younger, father of the Stoicism movement, would be my best candidate – among all the academic and spoiled celebrities who posed as Mediterranean/Anatolian/Levant philosophical torch holders – for one who had earned their philosophical stripes, if you will.  Ironic perhaps since he was the seminal philosopher who decried the very role of anger which I outlined as being beneficial above. Seneca to his credit however, had at least been a tragedy playwright, Roman senate member and advisor to an Emperor.1 Qualifications which most philosophers of antiquity do not commonly hold. You will find in the About section of this blog, that I bear a dearth of respect for ancient and religious philosophers. Finding their ramblings shallow or moot in most cases. Teachings about how to argue about arguing or how the natural world proves god or proves a lack of god. Blase, lacking in human depth and life experience. Academic and cocooned pablum; bereft of scientific insight, discipline or even a grasp of the right questions to ask. A rhetoric about social ‘oughts & naughts’ regarding which they possessed meager qualification basis, save for discussions with academy peers and being recorded as having attending famous lectures. Sophistry if you will.

Don’t let someone who has done nothing, tell you how to do (nor how you did) anything.

    ~ Ejike Henry Akuneziri

For me, and this is just for me and perhaps too stringent a requirement, there exist certain things which a philosopher need know. Things which prepare him or her to ask the right questions, understand the nature of man – and the uncertain boundaries of our reality. The awareness to know, that there are things which we do not know that we do not know.  The following is my list of such qualifications/understandings/experiences. 42 of them to be exact, 42 things which have nothing to do with PhD’s, meditation nor religious studies.

42 Critical Knowledge/Experience Qualifications of a Philosopher – Ancient or Modern

1.  Predictive strength of evolutionary phylogeny/Historical extent and influencing factors inside evolution

2.  Planck intervals, spacetime and boundary conditions

3.  Turing principle and nature of computation

4.  Expansive and extensive nature of our universe/Probable ubiquity of other life in universe

5.  Archaea/cyanobacter appearance timing and development

6.  DNA/RNA replication, stops, codons, transcripterase, conservation, expression

7.  3rd letter of the DNA codon codex boxing & protein progression

8.  Inflationary universe and time-space malleability/dimensionality

9.  LaPlace transformation calculus and higher mathematics

10.  Solar and post-solar mass gravitation/Chandrasekhar Limit

11.  Theories of special and general relativity

12.  Wealth of paleontological data

13.  Wealth of pre-Biblical archaeological and civilization data

14.  Managed a scientific lab or been on a team making a significant scientific discovery

15.  Extent of hominin lineages and overlap/progression with homo sapiens sapiens

16.  Quantum Entanglement: Spooky Action at a Distance/Observer Effect

17.  Have advised a head of state on what his/her nation should do & be held accountable for the results of that advisement

18.  The absence of evidence for a Worldwide flood

19.  Warfare/Faced death/Been shot at

20.  Have played an instrument, written, played and sang a real, complex and heartfelt song

21.  Have taught a class and had students remember you

22.  Lived in more than 1 or 2 countries

23.  Have grown a garden

24.  Have designed a super-large structure & then lived or operated in it

25.  Have designed, managed & been accountable for a process involving 1,000 people or more

26.  Have observed first hand, grand scale corruption in governance/power

27.  Sailed at least 3 oceans/survived in wilderness at least 3 days

28.  Been over 120 ft deep in the ocean

29.  Periodic table of the elements in detail/organic chemistry/metallurgy/exotic materials

30.  Binomial distribution, bounded distributions and theories of probability/arrival distributions

31.  Hypothesis testing theory/p-value amaurosis and risk/anti-fragile/tail theory

32.  Modeling, simulation and outcome theory

33.  Have started and run a business and failed

34.  Have started and run a business and succeeded

35.  Have had families and lives believing in and depending upon you

36.  Had someone they love die in their arms/Had your children severely injured or killed through social malice

37.  Have had a Near Death Experience/Seen a UFO

38.  Exhibited difference-making leadership under dire circumstances, while leading more than a handful of people

39.  Have overcome through their own research and discipline, a major health/threat to life issue or almost died

40.  Have put their life on the line for the innocent, and against an empire

41.  Volunteered for a homeless shelter/been homeless

42.  Have saved someone from dying

Perhaps these are not fair. Perhaps, nor should they be.

epoché vanguards gnosis

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January 3, 2018 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , | 2 Comments

The Sophistry Fallacy

When a poorly skilled or experienced philosopher loses an argument, they will inevitably resort to an accusation of sophistry on the part of their opponent. They may not even grasp the fact that their ‘opponent’ is not an opponent at all; rather a peer simply seeking to issue a word of caution, not disagreement. Caution which they interpret to be a threat; an advisement they possess a dearth of intellect with which to grasp.

I have run into numerous instances recently wherein, poor philosophers will position an initial claim in so bull-headed a fashion, such that they cannot perceive a simple word of skeptical caution, as anything other than a threat to their very existence.  Arguments such as ‘infinity proves god exists!’ and ‘infinity proves there is no need for a god!’ or ‘proves there is no god!’ or ‘absence of evidence stands as disproof’ or ‘my hypothesis is true until someone proves to me that another hypothesis is true’ – these types of baseless sophist (rhetoric) arguments to begin with, foisted at such a ridiculous level of the sublime that they stand absurd or Wittgenstein incoherent in their very offing. This last argument ‘my hypothesis is true until someone proves to me that another hypothesis is true’, was even foisted on my by a celebrity PhD in Philosophy, out selling Stoicism for income, of all people. I remain a bit disillusioned over that bit of Philosophy 1001 pseudoscience inhabiting the halls of academia.

Sophistry (ancient) – as defined by Plato, by means of its contrast to philosophy “The philosopher is happy to be refuted if that leads to better understanding; wisdom, and not just striving to “win” the argument (rhetoric), is the goal.”3

Sophistry (modern) – as defined today is the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving. The art of convincing an audience with the best sounding argument, regardless of its soundness or logic.4

Sophistry (false) – to the dilettante, is any argument or caution which sounds unnecessarily philosophical, hard to understand, employing lofty phrases or big words (no matter how applicable and accurate), and inconveniently appears to disagree with the point they are attempting to slip by as proved truth.

I even had this last, invalid dilettante definition of sophistry thrown at me by a teacher of ancient Catholic religious philosophy, merely for the act of issuing a caution on trying to prove the existence of god through the principle of ‘infinity’. She never got that I was not proposing a counter, nor trying to convince anyone of anything; rather, simply issuing a warning about the limits of what ‘infinity’ as a concept can relate to us as an epistemic base. I was not proclaiming that there was or was not a god, nor even that she was wrong. Simply that there were differing and widely recognized schools of thought on the subject; eight to be exact. Some agreed, some disagreed and some were inconclusive. I was seeking clarity, not victory – but in her fanatic (victory seeking) state of mind, she could not discern this. She started preaching (screaming) at me, with some obvious third party audience in mind. Plenitude proves god! If some of our best and brightest PhD and collegiate level academics, cannot fathom what sophistry truly means, to the point of even committing it (Plato definition) themselves in the process – it is no wonder that the average person will not as well (and will reject their religion because of the poor example).

‘Sophistry!’ is the cry of the rhetorician, when a philosophical mirror is placed in front of their face, and they catch a glimpse the insincerity before they recognize the character in the mirror.

When I assert that the null hypothesis is not the ‘true’ hypothesis, rather a threshing board for science, for example. When I counter with a word of caution, not that I am contending they are wrong, rather simply a caution for example, around employing Plenitude as an epistemological base of understanding. These are cases wherein one caught up inside this fallacy will inevitably retreat into defensive mode to protect their committed agenda or income stream.  They will yell “sophistry!” They lack the skills and/or position footing necessary to argue the point at face value. They are arguing to win, and not for clarity, value and a reduction of epistemic risk. Plato’s sophistry itself.

They begin the tired old rehearsed exit dance. The Shuffle Off to Buffalo, The Sophistry Fallacy. A pseudo-argument (can always be levied in any circumstance) of last recourse, based upon the false definition of sophistry above, which normally goes like this:

Sophistry Fallacy

/philosophy : argument : bias : fallacy: pseudo-argument/ : when a poorly skilled or experienced philosopher loses an argument, they will inevitably resort to an accusation of sophistry on the part of their opponent. They may not even grasp the fact that their ‘opponent’ is not an opponent at all; rather a peer simply seeking to issue a word of caution, not disagreement. Caution which they interpret to be a threat; an advisement they possess a dearth of intellect with which to grasp.

1.  One introduces the philosophical level of discussion in the first place,

2.  One banks their ‘win’ on the assumption that no one else is around who is sufficiently skilled to discuss the issue (an appeal to self-authority),

3.  One perceives a word of open-minded skeptical caution, incorrectly as an argument in opposition,

4.  One perceives (correctly or incorrectly) that an inner hypocrisy is now potentially exposed and they are now in danger of losing the argument which they started,

5.  The discussion resides now at a level above the original claimant’s intellectual or experiential capacity, and

6.  Its last recourse argument is foisted, after exhausting all other memorized arguing scripts (save for the sophistry claim itself).

A less sophisticated but related variant to this would be, the instance where an argument or its requisite vocabulary is completely over the head of someone who started the argument to begin with, otherwise known as the ‘Word Salad’ Fallacy:

brevis lapsus (‘Word Salad’ Fallacy)

/philosophy : argument : bias : fallacy : pseudo-argument/ : the inability to understand technical or precise writing, mistaking it for constituting a pleonasm. This in favor of simplistic writing which is, either with or without the intent of the opponent, subsequently rendered vulnerable to equivocation. An accusation made when a dilettante person fails to understand philosophical or technical writing, wherein the base argument or its requisite vocabulary reside completely over the head of the individual who started the argument to begin with.

Yawn…

epoché vanguards gnosis

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January 1, 2018 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , | Leave a comment

8 of 10 Self-Made Millionaires Were Not ‘A’ Students. Instead, They Share 1 Trait

Resilience in the form of adaptability, circumspection and mental toughness. These are the lessons of struggle. Those students with nutrient methylation issues, brain injury, or learning disabilities – they learn the pathway of struggle early on in their lives. Academics who scoff at this retort ‘Oh I could have been successful in this manner too, I just chose a more enlightened pathway’. A key lesson one learns on the road of struggle (whisper): those who memorize and follow lesson plans with ease, learn to adapt to ease… but sadly, the fecklessness of ease is never enlightened.
Fake skepticism is the rationality one fabricates to compensate for the decay of resentment inhabiting one’s soul. The decay from easy A’s and princess praise. ‘I’m the smartest in the room; damn you, I’m the smartest in the room!’

published on Linked In, December 17, 2017

Listen to most teachers — and most parents — and it’s easy to assume that getting good grades in school is a requirement for professional success.

Nope.

Tom Corley, an accountant and financial planner, surveyed a number of high net-worth individuals. Many of them are self-made millionaires. (Not that you have to be a millionaire to be successful, of course.) He found most of the people surveyed did not earn high GPAs in school.

In fact, only 21% of the self-made millionaires were “A” students. 41% reported they were “B” students, and 29% were “C” students.

That’s right: More of the self-made millionaires were C students than were A students.

And if you’re wondering if family background played a part, 59% of the self-made millionaires came from middle-class households and 41% came from poor households — proving where you start does not dictate where you finish.

As Corley writes:

“…success in life does not come easy. It is fraught with pitfalls, obstacles, failure, and mistakes. Success requires persistence, mental toughness and emotional toughness in overcoming these pitfalls. Its pursuit pushes you to the edge emotionally and physically. You must grow a thick skin and become accustomed to struggle if you hope to succeed.

“Individuals who struggle academically may be more accustomed to dealing with struggle and making it a daily habit to overcome pitfalls.”

In short, they become mentally tough, which creates a foundation for long-term success.

For example, successful people are great at delaying gratification. Successful people are great at withstanding temptation. Successful people are great at overcoming fear in order to do what they need to do. (Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t scared — that does mean they’re brave. Big difference.) Successful people don’t just prioritize. They consistently keep doing what they have decided is important.

All those qualities require mental strength and toughness, so it’s no coincidence those are some of the qualities of remarkably successful people.

So if you didn’t get great grades in school, that’s OK. The past doesn’t define you. The past is just training. Think about what you didn’t do well, about mistakes you made, but only in terms of how you will make sure that next time, you know what to do to make sure things turn out the way you want.

And never forget that “school” is really never over. Successful people are lifelong learners. As Corley also writes:

“It is now clear that one’s IQ can change over their lifetime. It’s not fixed. Just because you were a “C” student at age 17 with an IQ of 100 doesn’t necessarily mean you will stay that way. You can increase your IQ all during your life, even into your 80s.

“Self-made millionaires do certain things every day that improve their brains and continuously increase their intelligence during their lifetimes.”

And you can, too.

You can purchase Jeff Hayden’s new book THE MOTIVATION MYTH, here.

epoché vanguards gnosis

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December 28, 2017 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , | Leave a comment

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