The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

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 : knowledge obfuscation/ : both, that knowledge which is used as a placeholder for the sole purpose of displacing other critical knowledge which could ostensibly serve to alleviate ignorance (and therefore suffering) – as well as, that displaced critical knowledge itself. The latter 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 ‘wilful 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.

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

Adoy’s Principle – or the Principle of the House Hedge

Penalty systems rarely fail, while reward systems are dispositioned to do so.
With benefits there is no do, only try. Master Yoda is rolling in his Jedi grave. The House which employs this precept has an edge; and as a result, always wins. Adoy’s Principle is both a tactic and strategy of Rent Seekers. When processes are set up such that rewards are at risk, while penalties are guaranteed in their enforcement, this displacement of risk downward and monetary reward upward, is called a House Hedge. It applies to skepticism as well as to the economics of extraction.

My dealings with the Social Security Administration and our Internal Revenue Service, combined of course with my longstanding experience in clashing with fake skeptics, has prompted me to develop a new axiom or principle. Its embodiment relates to a favorite statement of mine made by Master Yoda in the celebrated Star Wars saga episode The Empire Strikes Back. Inside the scene in question, Padawan Luke responds to a request by Master Yoda with the complaint “I’ll try”. To which Mater Yoda responds, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

This principle of human nature (or foible) can be inverted and extrapolated to stand as a truth inside broader systems of human social structure, which include of course social skeptics and governments. Systems which effect benefit to those at risk, such as the Social Security SSI Disability Administration or other social benefit, ‘try’ to attain their goal. Systems which administer punitive actions, such as the IRS, ‘do’ attain their goals. When have you ever had the IRS mistakenly forget to extract a penalty fee from you over a violation they have detected? Never. How many failure points exist inside an application for a disability benefit under SSI jurisdiction? At least six to eight failure points, all of which are guaranteed to fail to a high degree upon any application for benefit. This is the essence of Adoy’s Principle, or the Principle of the House Hedge. You will notice, that in keeping with not naming my axioms and philosophical principles after myself, I have chosen the name Yoda spelled backwards as the mnemonic for this element of the Tree of Knowledge Obfuscation. But first, let’s take a refresher look at the principle of who benefits: The Rent Seeker.

Rent-Seeking

/philosophy : appeal to authority : exploitation/ : a version of appeal to authority, coined by Nassim Taleb, in which a person derives income simply because they are touted as an authority, or hold a position inside an organization with such authority, or hold a bureaucratic or power influence over the administration of assets/money – drawing unjustly thereof. Under such a model of value chain theory, even the rental of an asset involves some risk – however the principle hinges more around the idea that, for every dollar of compensation an equal and opposite flow of value should be provided. In similar context this is the origin of the statement of ethical skepticism ‘Risk is the leaven of the bread of hard work. Beware of those who’s trade is in neither.”

Adoy’s principle, a corollary to or form of rent seeking, is in effect no different than a casino’s 0.5% to 17% house edge (although in this usage it is technically a hedge, since it involves two unrelated processes with countering influences/effects – making it more akin to the hedge inside an investment fund context).1 The casino wins no matter what happens, even if every game was as fortuitous as black jack, the house will win an average of 5% to 10% because of the agency of process design. Gambler takes are designed to fail; house takes are designed to not fail (or curiously more ethical in the case of the casino, ‘fail less often’). The principle is embodied below.

Adoy’s Principle (House Hedge)

Penalty systems rarely fail, while reward systems are dispositioned to do so.

/philosophy : entropy : suffering/ : (an inversion of Yoda’s axiom in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back: “Do, or do not. There is no try.”) – systems which administer punitive actions and/or penalties rarely if ever fail (they ‘do’); while systems which deliver awards and/or benefits often fail or are designed so as to increase the likelihood of failure (they ‘try’). The difference is called a ‘house hedge’. The house hedge is expressed in two ways.
First as the economic inefficiency of extraction by taxation: the taxing body gets to keep the house hedge illegitimately as a defacto program inefficiency.
Second as a feature of club quality: fake skeptics are allowed to deliver condemning dispositions without any scientific rigor, while their victims must produce flawless science in order to negate the easy proclamations of the fake skeptic.

There is No Do, Only Try

Take for example the benefit which is the ‘try’ of the Social Security Administration’s SSI Disability Benefits process versus an IRS ‘do’ tax penalty. Recently I had to file my taxes late because of a delayed overseas income statement. The penalty voucher for that delay, was issued without exception nor delay – as it should. No big deal: $350. I paid it – as just part of the expense of doing difficult business. Many opportunities for the working class have shifted out of the United States and overseas – and the IRS knows that it can make more money in that circumstance. It could care less where you have to go in order to earn the money. It is rent seeking.

However in contrast, my daughter’s cerebrum was crushed during her process of birth. This resulted in birth trauma cerebral palsy and her being permanently disabled. She was found to have a 75% tear (a definitive zig-zagged scar characteristic of this type of injury) through her brain (corpus callosum), on CAT scans subsequent to detecting the entailed cognitive and physical impacts. The scar had resulted from trauma during birth canal compression. It took 3 years after detection, just to get a medical diagnosis and special needs education plan in place, then a further 2 years in order to obtain a final clinical and causal diagnosis. By the time the doctors finally determined the complete degree of magnitude and cause of her cerebral palsy, it was too late to seek relief from the very insurers who are compensated highly to protect victims in such cases. Those insurers actually wrote the law under an Adoy’s Principle. This system of benefit, ostensibly created to offer relief to victims like in the case of my daughter, was purposely designed to fail. Her cost of care? …$2.6 million for lifetime. 

So I work two jobs, take no vacations, drive 10+ year old cars, get my teeth serviced at charity clinics, have had no health insurance for years at a time, and will not be able to retire. I am willing to do all this – but I am not willing to do this so that the lawyer who developed the Adoy’s Principle can sit on his yacht in Nantucket Sound and marvel at how virtuous he was.

This is a visceral example of why it is important that science be held accountable under the public interest – and not reside as the lapdog of corporations and their fake skeptics.

We thereafter fight the battle to get SSI Disability for my daughter, now in her 20’s – the period in which she should have been a taxpaying professional. We have battled for 6 years to get her warranted benefits, unsuccessfully so; ostensibly because she took out an $8,000 loan years ago to try and attend a vocational rehabilitation school. We had not the first inkling that this would disqualify her for disability. The school did not pan out as viable for her because of her mental and physical limitations, and so we immediately repaid the loan back to the bank, continuing her status as financially destitute. But because she had ‘cash’ in her bank account 7 years ago (forget her net worth of $0 before, during and ever since), she is ineligible for disability benefits. This process was ‘designed to fail’ for those whom it was meant to serve. We should have never tried anything and just sat on our asses and waited for a check. Seek reward for being rent seekers ourselves. Instead we were penalized for being ethical Americans. Do you see the pattern developing here? As a society we reward the foibles of deception, disdain and despondence – not aid those who face a bleak future because of their disability. This increase in human suffering comes incumbent with the House Hedge.

We are required to be there for our government, but they do not have to be there when we need them. In fact they design the very process of benefit such that they will not be required to help at all when the need time comes. This is the essence of Adoy’s Principle. It inevitably destroys the very culture it is meant to serve.

Below are the generic comparative risk chains for those three value chain examples I just cited (two ostensible benefit cases – cerebral palsy legal and SSI benefits – versus one IRS penalty example). One could also apply this to the relief to be derived from a vaccine injury, versus the $40 billion in profit reward which flows annually to vaccine manufacturers and their hired ‘skeptics’. The same principle applies therein. Skeptics profit from guaranteed penalizing of stakeholders, who’s incumbent relief is at high risk.

Those who are going to pay you something, will always find an excuse to not have to pay you. But the minute you owe them something, there will be hell to pay if you do not comply immediately. Those who condemn you in the name of science, do so without any course of rigor or scientific ethic; yet at the same time will demand unattainably flawless science as the requirement for release from the prison of their crafting.

Both entities are rent seekers. The skeptic who practices such rent seeking is pretending to the role of government and god.

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February 25, 2019 Posted by | Institutional Mandates | Leave a comment

Rumors of Philosophy’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

I rapped upon the front door, as if a stranger – its familiar ornate knocker now cold hard liaison into my very own cherished childhood. Entering the house while my Father shut the door behind us, I felt the incumbent rush of joy as he rattled off his favorite Mark Twain quip, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” This just could not be you see, as my Father was dead.

My father was a great man. He was a lawyer by education, accountant by training and a philosopher by life experience. He grew up in a small Appalachian town – which his heart really never left. I have only partially grasped the reasons why he wanted to move his family back there. There was the presence of some extended family, and that mattered of course. But it has only dawned on me in these latest years, the full set of rationale as to why he returned to this little town. He worked for and eventually bought, the largest factory in the town – an operation employing close to 1,000 persons. He spent his life guiding both the business and ethical direction of that plant along its mission.  Not a mission to make money, and not a mission to protect the environment nor make quality its product – although it succeeded in all this. Rather a mission to serve the citizens of that town. To serve both his love for honor, and his abject love for the small community inside which he had grown up.

My father came to me in three dreams after he died suddenly of a heart attack back in the 1990’s. Evil services the aimless but good man through a slow and torturous death, but an effective good man it must kill with swift errand.

In the first dream he pulled alongside of me in our old yellow Buick Skylark as I walked along a roadside, and bade me to get into the car with him. Once inside he said “I want to thank you for helping your mother since I passed and for all the hard work you did in closing my estate.” I replied “Sure Dad.” We drove along for a few moments and he asked “Is there anything you want to ask me, or are curious about?” I thought for a moment, and replied “No, just listening to you come through here, is enough in itself.” He smiled and acknowledged the incurred wisdom.

Around the time of the second dream, my company faced the burden of the 2004 recession. We held a monthly sales backlog of $80,000 and monthly payroll liability of $380,000, about a month out. My four senior partners, who had gotten rich off decades of more heady days inside the business, decided that rough times were not part of the formula, and therefore it was time for their exit. They handed me an 80% upside-down business, along with all the employees, their families, their healthcare and college education benefits, and then bolted with the cash and past profits. To say I was terrified, both for myself and the wide-eyed employees who feared for their livelihoods, was an understatement. My father came through in a dream that month and said “TES, I know you are scared, but I want you to stick with this company. A large interest is going to come and it will turn things around.” I complied. That next few weeks, the phones started ringing, clients descended upon us in droves – and the large interest turned out to be the People’s Republic of China. We survived, we thrived.

In the third dream, I found myself walking up to our old family home in that small Appalachian town. The centerpiece of my youthful existence. I rapped upon the front door, as if a stranger – its familiar ornate knocker now cold hard liaison into my very own cherished childhood. My Dad answered the door and threw his arms into the air and exclaimed in reference to himself, “It’s Alive!!” An homage to his favorite movie of all time, Young Frankenstein. It became clear to me in that moment that it was Friday night, and we were all going to watch a movie. Entering the house while he shut the door behind, I felt the incumbent rush of joy as he rattled off his favorite Mark Twain quip, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Stephen Hawking was wrong.

Philosophy is not dead.

We may suffer from a plurality of dilettante who conflate an affinity for arguing, religious doctrines or memorization of Kant, Plato and Hume as constituting an expedient corner on wisdom. However, we cannot afford to allow the philosophy underlying science, skepticism, to be corrupted in such fashion that its wisdom is eclipsed by shallow or academic ego – adrift and impotent inside its charter of holding science accountable.

This new dawn of artificial intelligence, genetic technology, corporate power and social monitoring mandates that our philosopher be better equipped. Bearing prerequisite skills in science, business and government; experience in human nature and deception, and finally possessing an accrued and heartfelt love for humanity – traits which abet and check science along its course in serving us all, and prohibit its ethical neutrality from warping it into mankind’s greatest enemy.

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January 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | | 5 Comments

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