The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appeal to Infinity (Plenitude)

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

Afford me the miracle of a plea into infinity, and I can prove anything or render anything absurd.​
Bounce your critical logic off of a boundary condition and it will come back in a completely different form.​
Love, art, music, consciousness therefore are absurd because I cannot reconcile them with my lexicon discipline. ​

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

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

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

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

Boundary Semantics – pushing the meaning of a term (such as ‘proof’ or ‘knowledge’) into highly or specially plead realms of extreme definition variants, in order to provide an special pleading exception out of any or every argument. This is never a form of being semantically precise, despite a temptation to regard these types of extreme definitions as such. Rather is simply form of equivocation based explanitude.

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

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

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

epoché vanguards gnosis

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

Ethical Skepticism – Part 6 – Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Social Skeptics bear the habit of hiding what it is they are seeking to promote. They accomplish this misrepresentation through terminological equivocation and the employment of club signature intimidation words. It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to understand what a person means when they utter certain words, and ensure that the words are not being implied as club weapons to enforce specious religious doctrines. It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to understand their own employment of such words, and exercise the use of them in a context of ethical clarity; to disarm the social inference that such words mean more, than they really do. To err in either regard is the source of all fanaticism.

Say What You Mean

Social Skeptics erroneously influence their acolytes through misleading them as to the meaning behind the terms they employ, and the nature of the underlying philosophy entailed. They believe that their use of the terms evolution, atheism and science affords them immediate scientific gravitas and a perch of correctness. When a person slings around the terms evolution, atheism and science, for me this is not tantamount to an immediate free pass into the graces of trustworthiness. I regularly encourage the Social Skeptic vulnerable among us to understand what it is indeed that they mean, by the terms they employ. Clarity is one of the consequentialist goals of Ethical Skepticism. If you represent critical thinking, science and rationality, then one would be hypocritical to not employ complex terms in a frame of meaningful reference. Otherwise the terms are simply used as a weapon of pretense and intimidation. I use the words evolution, atheism and science – therefore anything I say is scientifically correct, and I have an entire cadre of bullies available to back me up if I so choose. This is not science, it is a hypo epistemological process of fraud.

As an Ethical Skeptic, if I am to continue inside a discourse of life and meaning with such a person, I need to know if they really understand what they are saying when they spout off the words so frequently uttered by their ‘mentors.’ I really need to know what they mean by

Evolution – do they mean speciated diversity of life through the generational culling of environmentally stimulated allele changes?

Or …do they mean that life sprang up on Earth through abiogenesis and random primordial ooze, therefore we are simply a one way genetic expression machine which has deterministically resulted in the fluke illusion of consciousness?  The former fact is science, the latter argument is a highly separate religion – often protected by and conflated inside the club weapon word ‘evolution.’

Atheism – do they mean a personal ethic of not commenting or concluding around this undefinable construct called ‘god?’

Or …do they mean that they hate (and habitually apologize around this) anything to do with a certain religion, its adherents and any idea that a magical bearded entity poofed the universe into existence in 6 days, 6000 years ago? Do they really mean that they choose to venerate Material Monism, and an existential lack of any innate purpose to this biosphere Earth, or any other similar events which occur in our Universe? Really, because I am not sure how one derives such a conclusion. I did not possess their enthalpy laden spaceship, that much psychic clairvoyance, nor that much time, in order to determine such an extraordinary claim myself. The former choice is an ethical action, the latter argument is a highly separate religion called Nihilism – often protected by and conflated inside the club weapon word ‘atheism.’

Science – do they mean both the body of accepted knowledge and the method by which we objectively qualify and build that knowledge?

Or …do they mean screaming about a selective set of physical measures which target confirmation and methodically avoid falsification of a specific religious understanding of the world around us? Do they mean an ontology protected through a non acknowledged Omega Hypothesis (the hypothesis which is developed to end all argument) masquerading as the ‘null hypothesis,’ through an inverse negation fallacious approach – and therefore socially enforced as truth? The former definition is science, the latter argument is a highly separate religious hypoepistemology – often protected by and conflated inside the club weapon word ‘science.’

Science is also about clarity, value, disciplined thinking and trustworthiness. When you hear me use the words above, I mean the former and not the latter in each case. If I attempted to imply the orange ontologies in the chart below, as scientific truth – I could not look at myself in the mirror in the morning – from such a display of dishonesty. Passing off one’s ontology as a science, constitutes not only pseudoscience, but is a Wittgenstein Error (Epistemological) as well. Be wary of those who can do such without conscience. Be very wary of those who can not only look at themselves in the mirror after promoting such fraud, but aspire to celebrity in the process as well. The incorrect use of these words abrogates your claim to represent scientific thinking. Say what you mean – and you will gain the respect of those who truly understand philosophy and science.

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say - Copy

Mean What You Say

The Lie of AllegianceIf you join a movement, organization or philosophical movement – do so because you really understand and really mean and believe those tenets which are promoted by that movement. Don’t do so because you desire to appear as smart and scientific, or need some kind of self affirmation and acceptance, pep rallies or the rush of shaming others whom you regard as beneath you intellectually or socially. Such dispositions render one vulnerable to being manipulated by celebrity and malevolent influences. Otherwise, you are living what is called a Lie of Allegiance. If you, quietly over a couple beers, will soften your stance and reflect on a whole series of doubts you carry – but must hold in abeyance – then you are living a Lie of Allegiance. People in churches do this to make their families happy. People in Social Skepticism do this, and worse, in order to gain acceptance to that club. This personal foible is anathema to the Ethical Skeptic.

Fanaticist’s Error

/philosophy : self understanding : cognitive dissonance : error/ : mistaking one’s fanaticism or being ‘hardcore’ as positively indicative of the level of understanding and commitment one possesses inside a philosophy or adopted belief set. The reality is that being fanatical or hardcore indicates more one’s dissonance over not fully believing, nor fully understanding the nature of the belief tenets to which they have lent fealty.

A fanaticist is different from a fanatic. A fanatic simply loves a particular subject or brand. A fanaticist on the other hand employs their outward extremism as a cover to hide an unacknowledged and suppressed inner cognitive dissonance.

A useful tool in Social Skepticism, the Lie of Allegiance, keeps the faithful unified and aligned in playing select activist roles.  A Lie of Allegiance is often promoted through one-liners, weapon words and circularly quoted propaganda, initially deployed by celebrity SSkeptics, and enforced by the faithful, looking for purpose power and reward. It relies upon the ignorance of its participants, leveraged through the application of pep rallies and the pummeling of effigies of evil opponents. This is why the acolytes and trolls of Social Skepticism often focus on politics and persons, and not science itself. They either do not fully understand, nor do they fully believe, the philosophy to which they have lent their fealty.

This inner dissonance, prompts what we observe as fanaticism.

The Lie of Allegiance

1. The origin of fanaticism. The core argument which binds together a group on one side in a false dilemma

2.  A core philosophy (such as Nihilism or Material Monism) which is masked by a differing but similar and more attractive cover philosophy (such as atheism) because of the cover philosophy’s generally more acceptable nature.

3.  A principle which is not fully regarded as truth by many or most of the members of a club of adherents, rather is adopted as a preemptive compromise in order to gain acceptance in that club. A principle employed only as the default, Omega Hypothesis, or battle cry agenda around which to combat those on the other side of the false dilemma argument.  The measure of adherence to the Lie of Allegiance principle is more a reflection of disdain towards those of antithetical positions, than it is an expression of rational conclusion on the part of the adherent.


i.  Many of the proponents in a Lie of Allegiance based organization, do not fully understand their Lie of Allegiance, nor perceive its contrast with the cover philosophy to which they in reality adhere.

Example:  Most self proclaimed atheists cannot coherently frame the difference between atheism, skepticism, agnosticism, naturalism, nihilism, ignosticism, monism, materialism, tolerance and apatheism.

ii.  Many members involved in a Lie of Allegiance do not in reality care about the specifics of the teaching under which they profess fealty.  Specific psychologies involving the Ten Pillars are at play inside the binding power of the Lie of Allegiance.

Example:  Many self proclaimed atheists wear the badge as a result of an emotional state, rather than a discriminating choice of conscience.  This renders them susceptible to Nihilist’s, who use rally cries and the pummeling of christian issues in effigy, as a way to enlist the emotional allegiance of those who have poorly rationalized their ontology.

Social Skeptics bear the habit of hiding what it is they are seeking to promote. They accomplish this misrepresentation through terminological equivocation and the employment of club signature weapon words. It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to understand what a person means when they utter certain words, and ensure that the words are not being implied as club weapons to enforce specious religious doctrines. It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to understand their own employment of such words, and exercise the use of them in a context of ethical clarity; to disarm the social inference that such words mean more, than they really do.

I look at myself in the mirror each morning, and I like and respect the guy I see there.

November 16, 2015 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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