The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

How and Why We Know What We Know

Undertaking the (ethical) skepticism of understanding of how and why we know what we know, is not tantamount to usurping scientists at their job. It is not a philsophy of ‘doing the science all over again, in order to believe it’. Such prattle is agency lined straw man. Nonetheless, the question arises for concerned citizen and science communicator alike, ‘How do we know, how we know what we know, and why then it should be regarded as science?’

Rights come with responsibilities. The right to pursue profit in the name of science, comes commensurate with the responsibility to execute such activity under the burden of unadulterated public scrutiny. In compliment, the right of a common citizen stakeholder to have a say in the deployment of science and technology upon society, comes commensurate with the duty to understand how and why we know what we know.

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. ~John F Kennedy

Undertaking the (ethical) skepticism of developing an understanding of how we know what we know, is not the same thing as usurping scientists at their job. It is not tantamount to ‘doing the science all over again, before we believe it.’ Such are straw man framings lined with agency. Nonetheless, the question arises then, ‘How do we know, how we know what we know, and why then it should be regarded as science?’ How can we differentiate claims such as ‘The Earth is a sphere’, from ‘Dioxin is safe when employed under appropriate application protocols’ or ‘vaccines do not cause cerebral injury’? You might even see a person wearing a T-shirt, walking down the grocery store aisle, which says ‘We landed on the Moon, The Earth is Not Flat, Chemtrails are Not a Thing, Dioxin is Safe’. Well the first thing to note, is that truth does not come in bundles like this. Any person wearing such a t-shirt is scientifically illiterate to begin with. Lies and abuse come pork-barreled, always.

But, what if the discernment of truth is not as easy as is this visceral t-shirt example for the average member of the public? What questions should we as public stakeholders and ethical skeptics, those who bear a love for their neighbor and their children – what should we ask in order to discern strong science, from that science which is developed under a social masquerade? Now that we live in the era where the media censors voices which issue caution around science it favors, how do we tell valid plenary science, from its agency-infused imposter? When a single scientific study is being touted as the basis for truth the ethical skeptic must bear in mind, the disciplines of science. The following seven questions most often apply.

    1. How near is the researcher to the topic?
    2. How new is the topic and do we really understand much about it?
    3. Did the researcher stay focused and constrained on a single relevant aspect of the topic?
    4. Did the researcher conduct observations which would serve to fully inform, or to only partially inform?
    5. Does the work support the researchers’ conclusions, or did they bundle, exaggerate or extrapolate its results?
    6. Was the researcher’s primary objective to intimidate an issue into closure and embargo?
    7. Is the researcher influenced by agency of any kind?

The bottom line: If you are a citizen, you need to be asking these seven questions about the science being foisted upon you. It arrives every single media-propaganda operating day. If you are a science communicating journalist (or even a scientist), and you don’t understand these questions nor why they are important, then you are pretending at your craft.

Discerning Plenary Science from Imposter Science – Seven Questions

How near is the researcher to the topic?

1. Is the researcher close to the observation domain? Would you trust a two-year experienced intern in molecular biology, to scour 10,000 studies and determine what the opinion of the study authors were regarding a particular highly-charged political question? I would not. But this happens every day inside so-called ‘meta-study’. Highly compensated science celebrities, with little database and information technology skill, rarely possess the resources necessary in such detailed work. Young professionals often do however. They know that they will get ahead by simply tendering the results their mentor desires. The arrogance of extrapolation is then added by means of the pseudo-wisdom that ‘meta-analysis is the most rigorous form of scientific study’.1 What a load of hogwash. If a researcher conducts their first study out of the gate as a massive ‘statistical analysis’, and has never interviewed parents, doctors, kids, victims, never conducted decades of any direct physical observation at all, the odds of their statistical study bearing any gravitas are very low. If it goes straight to the media as ‘finished science’ thereafter, that broaches a case of court-defined oppression in the name of science.

See: Distinguishing Scientific from Academic Study

See The Lyin’tific Method: The Ten Commandments of Fake Science

How new is the topic and do we really understand much about it?

2. How large is the relevant subject domain relative to what we have currently observed of it? A four year-old can probably inform me as much about Heaven as can an 80 year-old (note: ‘Heaven’ being defined as ‘all that is, but remains unknown’). The reason for this is that the topic of Heaven is such a large domain, that one lifetime does not serve to place even a dent into its discernment. More tactically, inside topics such as Dark Matter versus Quantum Interference we have only begun to scratch the surface of the necessary understanding – I would be remiss to attempt to enforce a conclusion therein. This demonstrates the folly of certainty expressed inside a domain of substantive unknown. Similarly, were I to encounter a researcher who was sure he knew everything which was needful concerning Fast Radio Bursts, and had concluded exactly what they are – given that we have only detected them for less than a decade, and only for a few milliseconds at a time (and only two instances wherein they repeat), then I would not regard that researcher’s contentions as being plenary science.

See: The Fermi Paradox is Babysitting Rubbish

See: The Map of Inference

Did the researcher stay focused and constrained on a single relevant aspect of the topic?

3. Did the researcher employ actual critical path scientific hypothesis? Was there an actual necessity which drove the study? Were its terms well defined and disciplined? Was it conservative in its reach and implication? Did it address the critical path of prior art on the topic and inform its audience of any contrast or corroboration regarding that prior art? Did it combine a robust set of intelligence data with a set of direct observations and probative tests? Did it establish a proposed mechanism at risk and seek to hold that contention up to the light of accountability? It does not matter whether or not a study uses p-values to test its statistical hypothesis versus the null hypothesis – if the preceding questions are not answered in the positive, one should be concerned that they are examining propaganda, and not science.

See: Reduction: A Bias for Understanding

See: The Elements of Hypothesis

Did the researcher conduct observations which would serve to fully inform, or to only partially inform?

4. Was an appropriate study design employed? Did the study author use a longitudinal data study when a directly observed cohort study would better differentiate the critical argument at hand? Did the study authors avoid deductive study in favor of statistical induction, because it cost less or bore less risk of deriving a controversial result? Did the study authors sample an inordinately large population as their first and only data analysis, never establishing protocols to mitigate Yule-Simpson effect? Did the authors study two cohorts which were differentiated only by a trivial factor, and then declare that a major differentiating factor was actually studied by this method? Did the study authors ask the right question and do the appropriate background research? Did the abstract summarize the results, or simply preach about other study results as a pretext – or how this study was not necessary but anti-science forces mandated that it be done? Did the study contain a ‘Limitations and Qualifications’ section? Was the study passed straight to the media upon completion?

See: Interrogative Biasing: Asking the Wrong Question in Order to Get the Right Answer

See: Torfuscation – Gaming Study Design to Effect an Outcome

Does the work support the researchers’ conclusions, or did they bundle, exaggerate or extrapolate its results?

5. What type and mode of inference was drawn? Did the researcher seem to be aware of both the type (vertical axis of the Map of Inference) as well as mode (horizontal axis on the Map of Inference) of inference being drawn? Was methodical deescalation performed? Did the researcher seek to bundle-associate their scientific question with other, more established ones, or manifestations of virtue and correctness (did they wear the t-shirt)? Did the researcher use a small question inside a very large domain and then extrapolate its results to apply to that entire domain? Did the researcher claim that something was ‘not’ or that something ‘did not exist’ – when good argument as been made as to that entity’s possible reality? Did the researcher understand the difference between plurality and proof, under Ockham’s Razor?

See: The Map of Inference

See: The Three Types of Reason

Was the researcher’s primary objective to intimidate an issue into closure and embargo?

6. Did the researcher appear to distinguish a claim to proof from one of simply plurality? A very common philosophical sleight-of-hand proceeds along this line ‘I doubt, therefore my preferred and implicit conclusion is true.’ Its proponent will not admit this false syllogism at face value, however – watch for this tacit contention, as this is a key tactic of fake skeptics. In similar fashion always ask yourself, does the researcher involved make it clear what they are actually claiming? Are they suggesting that an argument be opened up for further deliberation, or are they suggesting that the entire issue is now closed? Even worse, are they appealing to an embargo of all competing ideas. Fake skeptics will gravitate towards the latter two. The burden of evidence in the case of the latter two far outweighs the burden of evidence sufficient for the former. A curious skeptic should regard with keen interest, any petition for plurality – the idea that ‘an additional explanation should now be considered, and here is why’. This versus the resistance they should tender in the face of a claim to conclusivity, especially premature conclusivity. Fake skeptics and fake scientists use such conclusivity as a method of embargo of ideas they dislike. Watch for this form of chicanery.

See: Ethical Skepticism – Part 5 – The Real Ockham’s Razor

See: Embargo of The Necessary Alternative is Not Science

Is the researcher influenced by agency of any kind?

7. Is the researcher well known for publishing studies of this expected result in the first place? Would the researcher be now negatively perceived if they showed a different result? Did the study start in the abstract by targeting or blaming disliked persons or ideas? If the researcher has found the antithesis to be indeed the case, would they have lost their job or community respect? Was the study funded by a group who stood to gain revenue or political power from the study’s touted implication? Is the study author well known for a position upon which they would need to double-down, if other threatening studies were to surface? Then perhaps you are witnessing agency (not simply bias) at play inside the process of supposed science.

See: A Handy Checklist for Distinguishing Propaganda from Actual Science

See: Epoché and The Handedness of Information

Although this responsibility of course is simple in it expression as seven specific questions – it can be rather complex in regard to its actual execution. Ethical skepticism is a life journey, and not a light undertaking by any means. One does not have to grasp all of this inside one day. Nonetheless, it is our duty. War is never fought casually, nor should it be. We are in just such a battle for mind, power, money and influence.

Arm yourself accordingly ethical skeptic.

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April 3, 2019 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , | Leave a comment

What Happens After?

Who is more terrified by the possibility of disclosure of alien life? Skeptics contend that it is the public at large which ‘risks going bonkers’ under the existential tumult of such a discovery. However, increasingly it is the open-minded and curious publican who regards the fake skeptic as the agency at risk of such duress.  What will so-called skeptics do with their endless plagiarized articles and investments into denial? In what ways will they adjust their propaganda in order to preserve their power? In short, we deal inside this article with the critical question of disclosure: What happens after?

The term ‘disclosure’ is one of those rare instances wherein a single word suffices to embody an entire composite of endeavor surrounding a single idea – the validation of alien life as a fact based and accepted reality for mankind. Journey with me for a while down the path of contemplation regarding this subject of disclosure. One hinging upon speculation to be sure; but also one of actual sponsorship science method. A pathway irrationally shunned by the typical consumer of Shermer, Nickell or the Skeptical Inquirer – the comic posturing of such celebrity dispatch, standing as decisive rationale supporting the idea to undertake consideration of the very journey itself.

No other subject in the entire litany of human existence, aside from sex, elicits so much visceral reaction from various agencies of mankind. It is as if we built a gigantic box in the middle of town square, fully clad in yellow police line tape, and placed a crier with a sounding bell on top of it, exclaiming ‘Don’t look inside this box!’ Disclosure. If experts in the martial art of cynicism rank a subject as their number one target of evisceration, then you should probably look into it and find out why. How does that old adage go?

It is said that a secret not worth sharing, is a secret not worth keeping. In this same vein perhaps, a disdained topic not worth studying, is also a topic not worth embargoing.

And should you agree to partake here along my suggested per hoc aditum sojourn of reason, you may find the comforting compartments of your mind slightly broached from this point forward. This is a healthy thing. The key to intelligence resides in the ability to stay grounded, but most importantly also not be afraid of what you may find.

If skeptics have invested so much effort into mandating that a subject is not worth knowing, then perhaps it behooves the ethical skeptic to investigate that which is not worth knowing, so that he can know exactly what it is he is supposed to not-know.

And so, this is what we as ethical skeptics do. When everyone says that ‘you can research anywhere you please, but the windfall-of-truth does not reside in there’ – that ‘there’ is indeed often the first place he or she should look. In keeping with such philosophy then, consider with me for a moment the possibility that mankind will sooner or later detect and/or be forced to disclose, the existence of extraterrestrial life inside our galaxy – and very possibly even, ‘nearby’. Inside this journey we will apply our study on the existential natures of mankind, and how those might both impact, and be impacted by discovery of life in our local universe. If you are part of the Cabal of critical thinkers who now regard me as a ‘believer’, for the mere sin of undertaking such contemplation, then stop reading right now and go elsewhere. There are thousands of regurgitated echochamber ‘articles’ though which you may comfort your self (again). I am not a believer in aliens. I do not pretend to know any particular truth about either the potential nor nature of any exceptional life form. Rather, as you will find herein, I am an observer of man – his foibles, power lust, avarice and tendencies towards self-deception.

The Two Types of Disclosure

An article by Yasemin Saplakoglu, former intern for Scientific American, published in an editorial from February 2018, partitioned the topic of discovery/disclosure of alien life into two macroscopic buckets: One entitled for our purposes ‘Threatening Disclosure’, and the other entitled ‘Less-Threatening Discovery’.1 ‘Threatening to whom?’ is of course the critical question. The only parties threatened by the disclosure of alien life are larger governments and those heavily invested into an a priori conclusion on the topic; i.e. fake skeptics. The common person kinda already suspects the reality; therefore, I suppose the public at large will not be as threatened as will be those skeptics who seem to have the most emotional investment in the right answer regarding this issue. A shift of blame as to who is actually threatened most, from fake skeptic to public-at-large, is expressed no better than by Seth Shostak in that very same Scientific American article.

“There’s this feeling amongst the public—a very large fraction of the public—that the discovery of intelligent life at least would be kept secret by the government because otherwise everybody would just go bonkers,” says Seth Shostak, an astronomer at the SETI Institute who was not involved with the study. Perhaps it might make sense for our brains—tuned by millions of years of evolution to be wary of predators—to freak out over immensely powerful alien beings arriving on our cosmic doorstep from parts unknown.

But let’s say the situation hasn’t gone full “alien invasion” yet and malevolent starships aren’t sailing toward Earth, but rather we have read news of a definitive discovery of extraterrestrial life. How might we react then? Psychologists at Arizona State University (A.S.U.) used language-analyzing software to gauge feelings associated with 15 news articles about past discoveries that could have potentially been attributed to extraterrestrial life—reports covering items such as newfound Earth-like planets, mysterious astrophysical phenomena and possible life found on Mars.

Any study of potential detection or disclosure of alien life, as it turns out, constitutes merely a pretext for a deeper study in the character of man. The more we look into the cosmos, the more in a sense, we see ourselves staring back. This Nitzschean insight might very well happen well before we, and especially our science communicators, are fully prepared with ready-explanations for such an event. In the celebrated 1970’s western High Plains Drifter we find a related key existential question being posed. Set upon by the burden of anticipating an upcoming deadly conflict between citizens of the mining town of Lago, and three marauding gunfighters, one of the town folk (played by Billy Curtis) inquires of the gun-slinging hero (played by director Clint Eastwood), as to what happens after the big day of the battle is over. (Photos above and to the right property of Universal Studios, Fair Use employment – 17 U.S.C. § 107)2

Mordecai:  What happens after? What do we do when it’s over?

The Stranger:  Well, then you live with it.

Within this article we contemplate, not simply the visceral and immediate reactions on the part of various factions inside mankind, such as were outlined in the infamous Brooking’s Institute Report,3 but rather – the long term chronic existential stress involved and how such realization will express itself inside mankind’s institutes and durable social fabric. Accordingly, the ‘Brooking’s Report’ briefly touched on the danger of just such a discovery with regard to those who ‘have their minds made up as to how things are’, thusly.

Societies (agency) sure of their own place in the universe have disintegrated when confronted by a superior society, and others have survived even though changed.

How will we as a collection of societies react to various scenarios of detection or disclosure? Who will change and who will disintegrate? How will various factions live with such knowledge? How will various agency respond; and in particular, heavily invested fake skeptics – so sure of their near-total grasp of the natural realm? How will they adjust their propaganda in order to preserve power (and no doubt they will)? In short, given their past embargoes and nefarious activities, what can we anticipate to hear from social skeptics, once the reality of (nearby) alien life has irrevocably impacted our perception of our relationship to the cosmos at large?

My fear is that, once disclosure occurs, people will react so viscerally to mainstream skeptics – that actual skepticism may be tossed to the wind. I almost fear the opposite therefore – that we may enter a conspiracy-laden dark age wherein every event or thought will be suspected as being of alien in origin. We will need real open minded skeptics and scientists – and not this cabal which has misled us for decades.

What We Can Expect to Hear from Skeptics Threatened by Detection or Disclosure

Thus in keeping with the framework outlined by Scientific American’s Saplakoglu, we will divide the potential response by social skepticism into two groupings. First, their response talking points under a context of Post-Detection Protocol (Saplakoglu’s ‘Less Threatening’ scenario), and then secondly, their response under the more visceral condition of Post-Disclosure Protocol (Saplakoglu’s ‘Threatening’ scenario). Given the more orderly and power-preserving path of the former, one would anticipate this to constitute the pathway of choice on the part of professional skeptics. But you know, the universe, or a higher form of intelligence therein, might just have a different agenda in mind. Should the process of disclosure be forced from a government or an outside influence, expect three phases of denial to be undertaken by social skepticism:  Pseudo-Skepticism, which progresses on to Exculpatory Apologetica and/or an Appeal to their Authority as Skeptics.

A.  Fake Skeptics’ Post-Detection Protocol (Less Threatening Scenario)

Any kind of post-detection protocol will involve two categories of incremental scientific discovery, as outlined below:

Subjacent Life – technological detection of viral, microbial, plant or animated lower life forms nearby to Earth

Passive Superordinate – observation in the cosmos: intelligent signals, technological signatures, device noise, macroenergetic activity, purposeful beacons, war, transportation effects

You can expect skeptics to fight tooth and nail against any potential disclosure of life on the surface of Mars, or inside an ancient space rock for instance. Even though social skeptics posture as if they are looking for signals from space, such activity merely constitutes Nelsonian Inference and Cultivated Ignorance. It is a way of saying ‘look ma’ there’s nothing here!’. In such a circumstance, we have already seen – not a parsimonious defense of science – but rather a religious and angry reaction to any and all speculation that testing for signs of life might be warranted in the case of a planetary surface sampler or inside a collected meteoroid artifact. Expect such policy to exhibit stickiness, especially as regards institutions which are most highly connected to, or influenced by, fake and celebrity skeptics.

The Subjacent or Passive Superordinate Response

Skeptics will fight (often right alongside Bible-thumpers) to squelch the disclosure of detection of any form of subjacent life. Post-Detection quotes, many which are also correct, but only stand as exculpatory rhetoric in the case of bullying skeptics, will include:

Pseudo-Skepticism

These fossils originated from Earth in an ancient meteor strike, casting life-containing rock into space.
These findings have not been reviewed by real scientists (antagonistic peers).
The publishers feared or refused to use the scientific method (peer review by antagonistic peers).
They published the report in a minor or questionable journal.
Experts have not certified that the signals contain any form of recognized intelligence or structure.
These findings need to undergo replication, which they have not.
The evidence was ‘contaminated’ (not understanding what that even means).
This is simply one anecdote.
The authors are believers and/or are not credible.
If anything of merit existed therein, scientists would be all over this (see Myth of the Excited Scientists)

See also:

The Lyintific Method: Ten Commandments of Fake Science
The New Debunker: Pseudo-Skeptic Sleuth
Myth of the Excited Scientists

Exculpatory Apologetica

Only conspiracy theorists or anti-science shills bring up these myths of our refusal to acknowledge this.
Where are all the old articles? We need recitation (pretending that the old wives tale paradigm never existed).
“The science arrived right on time” baloney.
Scientists always scoff at the first introduction of a new or unproven idea.
The discovery was accepted right on schedule, and only after appropriate initial skepticism.
The history of denial and pseudo-skepticism cited is mythical.
The lacking number of consensus citations did not merit the idea’s consideration at the time.
Even the discoverers had some doubts and conflicting evidence early on.
The ‘scientific method’ and standards of progression were not followed or took time to execute properly and by the right people.
It had to be replicated (ignoring the decades of refusal to do so).
Time was required to ensure that the discovery showed as reliable and repeatable.
Peer review was a necessary task which could not be rushed.
This was not a simple task.
A case for absolute proof needed to be established.

See also:

What’s the Harm: The Lifecycle of Fake Skepticism

B.  Fake Skeptics’ Post-Disclosure Protocol (Threatening Scenario)

This more visceral scenario of disclosure or even worse, forced disclosure will not only serve to destroy the 1972 fake skepticism movement, but moreover the psychologies of the individuals within those affiliated movements. Any form of Post-Disclosure scenario will involve either a disclosure on the part of a social institution of authority, or the forced disclosure by the subject entities themselves. Either evolution will shake the foundations of the smartest people in the room. This will transpire as one of the following two speciations of event.

Local Superordinate – Admission by a leader of a nation that direct contact, interplay, engagement or competition with extra-terrestrial life, present on Earth, has been, is, and/or will be ongoing.

Supernumenal or Other – A unilateral and unequivocal action on the part of some form of higher intelligence, results in purposeful disclosure of its presence to the majority of the planet.

These are the scenarios we speak of when we as ethical skeptics talk about ‘a disdained topic not worth studying, is also not worth embargoing‘. These topics are heavily embargoed, and an enormous amount of resource is input into their suppression. Yet, the curious and non-threatening existential nature of the actual topic exposes the ludicrous psychology wound up therein. In that light, let’s take a look at a magazine article in a key science and skepticism publication of a future in which a Local Superordinate event has transpired.

The Local Superordinate or Supernumenal Response

Fake skeptics, feel free to copy and paste as you need – and advertise as if this were your own original thinking. You guys are really good at that. The following is extracted from Skeptic Eurmerican magazine, March 2033. Celebrity editorialist Seth Shermer has returned from retirement, inspired by his disgust over announcements of ‘alien contact’ and the like – in order to strike some sense into wayward and credulous voters and their equally credulous elected anti-science officials.

Appeal to Skepticism (Authority)

Bottom Line: The battle against cultivated ignorance will not end, with Disclosure. Skeptics will apply their appeal to authority under 95% of its scenarios. What follows, is an example of the cheap pulp editorial one should anticipate; the shallow Appeal to Skepticism (Authority) drivel which will follow such an Event. This is what happens after.

Does the article above look familiar? It should, its ilk is lazily promulgated daily in compliance enforcing tabloids worldwide. The articles target 756 subjects, many linking back to a common theme – which threatens their religion, sol-nihilism. What the ethical skeptic should infer from this process outlined under the two forms of threat-disclosure above, is that the progression from 1. Pseudo-Skepticism, to 2. Exculpatory Apologetica and finally to 3. Appeal to Skepticism (Authority) – when purposed to squelch, obfuscate and stall – are indeed hints that the ‘skeptic’ is not a skeptic at all. Our prior engagement with Abrahamism proved to mankind that such a process of activity, stems from existential terror alone. We crafted gods from our terror of being alone, and now we are terrified of not being alone? …or maybe, someone is terrified of the plans those agencies have in mind?

They are employing techniques of methodical cynicism in order to screen specifics from their reality; specific Nelsonian knowledge of which someone is enormously terrified.

Such Existential Skeptical Terror Begs the Question: Is Mankind Then Ready or Perhaps Even Sustainable?

So, given our well-evidenced and abject resistance to this subject, the inability of our smartest people in the room to ‘live with it’? – Regardless of the evidence to the pro or contrary (I am not rating the quality of such evidence here in this article), what does this portend for us as a species and what does this communicate to any erstwhile aliens who might be monitoring us from nearby?

1.  Visceral reaction versus chronic existential stress

Mankind is ready to handle the visceral reaction of a Supernumenal Disclosure event; however socially we are not yet mature enough to handle the chronic existential stress which might result. In other words, we won’t destruct a mere week after such an announcement – rather we would implode from psychotic denial and crises of competence, a couple decades or even a century after the disclosure event. We would lose our unique soul as a species.

The fear exhibited by our arch skeptics, very visibly inside the media, should make any erstwhile species out there who is pondering an involuntary disclosure, think twice or three times before considering such an event.

2.  We are a religious people

We tend to adopt gods like a cat lady adopts cats. We thirst for gods. Even in the circumstance where we pat ourselves on the back for having only one of them. They do not even have to be personified – we adopt them. We appoint them. We crave them. Any ethical civilization knows that – to pretend inside a role as god, to a lesser being – is probably one of the most heinous acts which can be committed by a creature or society. For this reason at the very least, they must refuse to interact with us.

3.  Grief does not fade, only our perception of it

We know ourselves much less accurately and deeply than we believe. Grief never fades, it simply grows less intense in comparison to what has transpired since. Just like the days seem shorter and shorter as we age, yet they are not – so too, permanent is our grief. Grief over our dethroning as the Apple of God’s eye. Grief as to our apparent non-parity in the universe. Grief over our having to depend upon another race, in order to propel ourselves to the stars. Grief over the inevitable loss of our genetic identity in the ensuing eons. Grief over the loss of primacy of our Tolstoy, Joyce, Pauli, Dostoevsky and Einstein – and most of all the celebrity of being the smartest person in the room.

No, the aliens (per hoc aditum) are a full two orders of magnitude smarter than are you, and they could care less about you ‘skeptic’. What a sound dethroning that will be.

Perhaps a grief they know well from experience, experience derived from a hundred civilizations who have come this pathway before (including their own). You see it is a formula after all.

Perhaps a grief of which we are already subconsciously aware inside ourselves. Perhaps a grief, long ago a memory of an edifice building mankind.

“It’s what people know about themselves inside that makes them afraid.” ~The Stranger, High Plains Drifter

Ethical Skepticism, it is all about courage. Courage of method. Courage of existential need, of which one may not even be fully conscious.

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March 22, 2019 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | 2 Comments

The Map of Inference

Submitted for your consideration, The Ethical Skeptic’s Map of Inference. Not all modes of inference are alike in merit. It behooves an ethical skeptic to study and understand the difference between strong and weak versions of science, and further then recognize invalid forms of inference masquerading as science.

The methods of inference are listed by strength of inferential merit, as outlined in the successive columns to the right of each mode. The table begins with the essential nature of modus ponens and tollens (pink orange background), the syllogism to the affirmation or negation which is being tested by the means of inference cited. To the left of the syllogism is its appropriateness for declaring a state/object of neutrality, presence or absence. As you may note, you cannot prove an absence, so that column (modus absens) is flagged with either red X’s or a caution warning, even in the case of the most robust form of induction, consilient induction. The ethic of the null hypothesis, resides in the first two boxes under modus absens above the Popper Demarcation. You will notice that ‘skin in the game’ gets more diluted as one moves downward on the chart. Methodical Deescalation is the process of using a lower form of inference (towards the bottom of the chart) as preferential, when a higher rigor of inference was demanded or available to use. Such a tactic is a common trick of agency employing science as a costume. (Click on the image to obtain a white background savable/clearer image)

One may notice that fake skeptics tend to dwell at the very bottom of this chart – where inference comes from basically ‘what one desires to be true’ – subsequently blaming their ex ante and a priori risks upon a thing they call ‘science’ or ‘facts’. In reality, such inference dwells with its twin, (divine) revelation. Critical thinking is nothing more than divine revelation, sans the divinity.

Linear induction is the weakest form of scientific inference, the last stop before venturing into Nelsonian inference (or pseudoscience). A meta-study, comprising 400 linear inductive studies, is still a weak form of inference regardless of what anyone tells you. The key to a meta-study’s reputed strength, resides inside its ability to combine the data of parallel species of study design. The key to a systematic review’s ability to improve inferential leverage resides in an ability to amass studies all up and down the inference ranking below – and not simply aggregate inside one mode of inference (usually the lowest: ex ante statistical linear induction). Beware of ‘meta-studies’ which do not actually combine the data of same species study designs – they are no more strong than is abductive inference alone. Beware of anyone calling this ‘verisimilitude’; a priori verisimilitude is only valid when one draws from all or most of the forms of inference listed.

Agency, Percent of Domain Known and Bootstrap Strength/Index

Please note that the above modes of inference vary in their strength depending upon two more subjective situational factors (difficult to express in the above Map). First the known portion of the domain under consideration is a critical influence upon the effectiveness of most form of inference.  Linear induction can be self deceiving if mankind has only delved about 1% into an entailed information horizon. Take the notorious case of Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction for instance. This instance of erroneous inductive inference even involved some consilience. But the domain was large, and our foray into its knowledge base was very paltry. In the case of a large domain, with little known of it, one should stay toward the top of this chart and not venture towards the bottom (save for a healthy dose of modus indifferens).

A second subjective factor which comes into play is the role and impact of agency. Agency is not conspiracy, as conspiracy is hidden and agency is manifest. It is simply that the individual hides their commitment to agency. So, in a way, agency is a ‘conspiracy of one’ if you will. When a person is surreptitiously defending agency, they will tend to hover around the bottom of this Map of Inference. Watch for, and be wary of such individuals and their habits, as they have something else in mind besides knowledge. These factors, along with the derivative strength of each mode of inference, combine into what is known as the Bootstrap Strength or Index for each mode of inference. Developed inside genomics upon a scale of 0 – 100, the higher the Bootstrap Index, the stronger is the inference one can validly derive. A key example follows.

Bootstrapping (Index/Strength)

/philosophy : science : skepticism : strength of inferential basis/ : from the tall tales about the 18th-century German nobleman Baron Munchausen and his wartime exploits against the Ottoman Empire; specifically wherein he pulled himself up out of a well by his own bootstraps. A computational technique for estimating a statistical set for which the underlying distribution is unknown, or a sampling technique which estimates sampling distribution by repeatedly sampling data from the original observation set. It is most often employed as a means to estimate confidence levels of clade structures within a phylogenetic tree in genetics. However, it can be used to describe an inference which is measured as to its risk in draw. A 50 Bootstrap index bears significant risk, whereas a 90/100 Bootstrap index implies a greater degree of confidence in the inference, and therefore less risk.

Schemers, Agency and A Conspiracy of One

For instance, most paranormal researchers dwell in the riskier realms of scientific inference, only producing a strength in draw which is modus indifferens or inductively suggestive at best. Such topics may indeed be fun (wonder instilling) and many times actually surpass Ockham’s Razor, but until science actually gets involved, these subjects will not begin to strengthen their rigor in inference. They will dwell in perpetual prison of ignorance (the verb). Fake skeptics know this well. One can see the ranges of inference used by paranormal investigators on the left below. In contrast, on the right one can see the poor quality science which is handed to us all by fake skeptics.

You will notice that the ethical skeptic is an obtollent. Latin ob – against, plus tollens – denial. Fake skeptics love to play and ply their wares in column 3 of the Map – applying science to deny that things exist (prove the null, or prove absence) – when such activity is unethical, infeasible or even unnecessary. They seek to remove any question of modus indifferens at all costs. An ethical researcher stays out of column 3 (Hempel’s Paradox) – whereas a fake researcher dwells in it most of the time.

Obtollence (The Principle of Ethical Skepticism)

/philosophy : skepticism : opposition to cyncism/ : Latin ob – against, plus tollens – denial. Fake skeptics love to ply their wares in proving an absence (Hempel’s Paradox) – applying science to deny that things exist (prove the null, or prove absence); when such activity is unethical, impossible or even unnecessary. They seek to remove any question of modus indifferens (the neutrality of skepticism) at all costs. An ethical researcher avoids any form of Hempel’s Paradox – whereas a fake researcher dwells in it most of the time.

Fake skeptics as well, tend to dwell at the bottom of the Map of Inference, inside a realm of fake knowledge (demarcated on the map above ‘Nelsonian Inference’). Such fake skeptics actually know the knowledge they are attempting to obfuscate – in the ‘you can’t awaken a person who is pretending to be asleep’ sense. Nelsonian knowledge will be the subject of my next blog article. How it works and how its tricks are plied.

Nelsonian Knowledge (Inference)

/philosophy : pretense :/ : Nelsonian knowledge takes three forms

1. a meticulous attentiveness to and absence of, that which one should ‘not know’,
2. an inferential method of avoiding such knowledge, and finally as well,
3. that misleading knowledge or activity which is used as a substitute in place of actual knowledge (organic untruth or disinformation).

The former (#1) is taken to actually be known on the part of a poseur. It is dishonest for a man deliberately to shut his eyes to principles/intelligence which he would prefer not to know. If he does so, he is taken to have actual knowledge of the facts to which he shut his eyes. Such knowledge has been described as ‘Nelsonian knowledge’, meaning knowledge which is attributed to a person as a consequence of his ‘willful blindness’ or (as American legal analysts describe it) ‘contrived ignorance’.

Again, be armed and skilled in your battle with pretend skepticism. This chart is not an easy study – nor should it be. It is the result of decades of thought, work and proving out. Use it wisely.

     How to MLA cite this article:

The Ethical Skeptic, “The Map of Inference”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 4 Mar 2019; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-9r6

 

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | | Leave a comment

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