The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Agency of Pseudo-Skepticism & Cultivated Ignorance

Popper Demarcation Practice and Malpractice

Many people presume the Popper Demarcation Principle to distinguish the boundary between science and pseudoscience. While the Popper Demarcation indeed involves this aspect, the two ideas are not congruent. The actual delineation hinges on the role of predictive and falsifying testing practiced by those entities claiming the methods of science, or science as the body of knowledge. He contrasts this claimant group with those who make no such claim to science at all. False Skepticism to Popper, was also pseudoscience, because it claims to be conducting science – but does not employ rules of evidence or falsification. This includes the practice where his definitions are abused in order to falsely condemn disliked subjects.
If your version of skepticism purports that it ’employs the tools of science to make the most probable conclusion’ on behalf of science, or calls an entire subject a ‘pseudoscience,’ …then beware.

Popper Demarcation GuidelinesKarl Popper proposed the demarcation principle, as a means to approach the problem of how we differentiate science from non-science in principle. This categorization of that which resides outside of science is a non-pejorative filtering of those mechanisms which can be relied upon to product the body of knowledge. To put it another way, the demarcation problem consists in crafting principles, constraints, reasons, or conditions to regard something like epigenetics under “science” and place a discipline (falsified, yet still pretending to represent science) such as phrenology as a pseudoscience. The two critical aspects of the Popper Demarcation Principle involve the separate issues regarded below: The issue of the Role of Predictive Study, and the claim or lack thereof, of doing or representing science. In absence of framing Popper Demarcation inside these two clarifying factors, much confusion and false condemnation can be spun by fake skeptics, through Popper Demarcation Malpractice.

The Ambidextrous Nature of Predictive Studies

Predictive study is treated differently by Popper, as distinguished by its role of employment in the methods of science as opposed to the conclusions of science (see graphic to the right). Popper, like any scientist, fully understood the critical role of predictive studies in the scientific method, as well as the critical role of prediction making ability inside a successful theory. He was not discounting these valuable components/steps out of the process of science.  What Popper was framing, is the circumstance where predictive study alone is employed to substantiate conclusions as accepted or peer-ready science. This type of science is the chief method of hypoepistemology practices by those wishing to push a social agenda. In this role, predictive studies can be employed as pseudoscience. The Ethical Skeptic must discern the circumstance where an epistemology is based only on scant statistics, studies of studies, or predictive tests – and has not fully challenged its theory with ascertainable falsification testing or past falsification achievements (Promotification or Popper Error).

However, for those who confuse or conflate the methods of science with the body of scientific knowledge – the role of predictive study is sacrificed at the alter of agenda. In such approaches, employing equivocal terms or proxy equivocation in their articulation of the issue of predictability, every proposed claim about what distinguishes science from pseudoscience can be confused with a counter-example. Karl Popper postulated that falsifiability stands as the criterion which distinguishes science from pseudoscience. If any set of claims or theory can be shown true through the disciplines of falsification, it belongs to the domain of science. Many people wrongly presume this to mean that if any set of claims or theory is innately unfalsifiable, it belongs to the domain of pseudoscience. This delineation is incoherent as some un-testable scientific claims sets, such as M-theory or multi-verse interpretations are not considered pseudoscience.

If they were enforced based on predictive study only, as a finished body of knowledge, that would indeed be hypoepistemology pseudoscience. But in science as a method, M-theory or multi-verse predictive studies are indeed considered science.

The key opportunistic play here for Social Skeptics is that both, context dancing between science as a body of knowledge and science as a method, or the equivocation involved in merging the two ideas, produces incoherence and useful confusion. A method of condemning subjects by dancing between the two contexts of the Popperian term. A simple prima facia incoherence that Karl Popper, a seasoned scientist and philosopher surely would have, and did, recognize. Did the people who presume this equivocation, think Karl Popper to be a simpleton, more stupid than are they? The reality that escapes the philosophically dilettante is that he did indeed deal with this inconsistency. The Handbook of the Philosophy of Science expounds on this:

The phrases “demarcation of science” and “demarcation of science from pseudoscience” are often used interchangeably, and many authors seem to have regarded them as equal in meaning. In their view the task of drawing the outer boundaries of science is essentially the same as that of drawing the boundary between science and pseudoscience.

This picture is oversimplified. All non-science is not pseudoscience, and science has non-trivial borders to other non-scientific phenomena, such as metaphysics, religion, and various types of non-scientific systematized knowledge.¹

Claiming and Not Claiming to Do or Represent Science

science is moresoThere is a stark difference between those things which claim to be science, and those things which claim nothing of the sort. If my neighbor runs over and swears that he saw The Chupacabra running through his backyard, he is not claiming to do science, he is not practicing pseudoscience. If he goes to the city council and cites that there are hundreds of missing cats and dogs in the area, he is still not practicing pseudoscience. This set of activity simply constitutes observation and advocacy (or possibly fraud). This is a key understanding which differentiates the false skeptic from the real skeptic. It is when he makes the nonsense claim that he has done research, and by examining the poop of the supposed animal in a lab, now claims that what he saw in his backyard must be an interdimensional being, released by UFO’s, because its poop contained animal proteins not found on this Earth. That is when the person making such claims has indeed stepped into the bounds of pseudoscience. At no time is he ever a pseudo scientist simply because he made an observation of something called by fake skeptics ‘a pseudoscience.’ ¹ ²

Even if he becomes an advocate, and attempts to petition science to study the issue, he is not dabbling in pseudoscience. To kill this type of process through fake skepticism, is to kill the process of science; yes, even on a brazenly ridiculous topic like The Chupacabra. Presuming that one is doing science, by calling the gentleman a liar, or deluded, is in itself – a claim Ξ pseudoscience. Many fake and shallow skeptics fail to discern this important aspect of the Popper Demarcation principle.

Among things which are unfairly labeled as pseudoscience by ill intended fake skeptics, are:

  • Sponsorship of ideas for research
  • Subjects which are ignored through social epistemology or pressure
  • Positions which appear to oppose oligarch corporations
  • Political positions
  • Religious tenets
  • Citing of anomalous observations
  • Moral positions
  • Art, fiction, creative works
  • Advocacy for health observations and those who suffer
  • Anecdotal evidence which is ignored on a grand scale

By practicing Popper Demarcation Malpractice, Social Skeptics can manage the control of access to science, effectively screening out disliked topics, observations and ideas.

Popper Demarcation Malpractice

/philosophy : science : pseudoscience : malpractice/ : the dilettante presumption that if any set of claims or theory is innately non-falsifiable, it belongs to the domain of pseudoscience. Wrongly presuming a subject to be a pseudoscience, instead of false practices pretending to be science. Purposely or unskillfully conflating the methods of science with the body of scientific knowledge, employing amphibology or proxy equivocation in their articulation of the issue, wherein every proposed claim about what distinguishes science from pseudoscience can be confused with a counter-example. This renders the demarcation boundary of no utility, and reduces overall understanding.

Transactional Popper Demarcation Error – incorrectly citing a topic as being a pseudo science, when in fact its sponsors are seeking falsification based protocols to counter the antithetical premise to their case, or its sponsors are employing predictive studies being employed simply to establish plurality for sponsorship inside the scientific method.

Existential Popper Demarcation Error – citing something as a pseudoscience simply because one does not like the topic, or the topic has had pretend science performed in its name in the past.

The reality is that there exist three domains of idea development:  Science, Pseudoscience, Parascience/Non-science. Understanding these three domains and skillfully applying that understanding inside the discourse of ideas is the ethic of one who sincerely wants to know. It is the habit of one who practices Ethical Skepticism as opposed to the purposely smoke and mirrors, equivocation imbued, pretend science and idea assassinating fake version of skepticism.

Science (a method, a discipline and a body of knowledge)

The application of observation, thought, reason, testing, and peer input to arrive at conclusions which reliably can be added to the body of knowledge. That body of knowledge itself.

Particle Acceleration

Materials Fabrication

Epigenetics

Pseudoscience (a method and pretense only)

A process which claims to arrive at conclusions by means of science, or citing of elements it purports to exist in the body of scientific knowledge, where in fact neither adheres to nor originates from, actual methods of science.

Attempting to demonstrate free energy by sleight-of-hand battery switching and amperage measurements

Attempting to show one is located on the Earth’s equator by demonstrating differing water drain patterns both south and north of a fictitiously drawn line

Pseudo-Skepticism

Parascience

Thinking disciplines of benefit to mankind, which seek to improve the human condition, or solve perplexing issues, or even assist science in its overall efficacy, but do not necessarily make the claim of employing science in order to derive such ethics.

Advocacy

Observation

Science Fiction

Non-science

Disciplines of human endeavor which do not employ, nor claim to employ science in their execution. However may involve some science in their development – or turn into a discipline of science through diligent sponsorship.

Law

Religion

Public Speaking

An Example of Popper Demarcation Malpractice:

Sometimes the term “pseudoscience” is used in a wider sense in order to pejoratively filter out ideas considered by researching sponsors, advocates, legal activists, politicians and those making disturbing observations. The abuse of the term in this fashion, as constituting that which

(2′)  it is part of a non-scientific doctrine whose major proponents try to create the impression that it is scientific.

(2″)  is part of a doctrine whose major proponents try to create the impression that it represents the most reliable knowledge on its subject matter.²

This is false, because the practice which established that ‘proponents try to create the impression that it represents science’ fails the Popper Demarcation itself. So if we are applying Popper here, we cannot create postulates which violate the very principle we are seeking to construct. Declaring a subject, in absence of evidence proving such a claim, to be constituted solely by individuals who are pretending to be science – 1. claims to hold a body of knowledge, and 2. does so without a basis of true science to derive that knowledge. Therefore, such a claim is itself, pseudoscience, according to Popper.

The SSkeptics Dictionary for example (http://www.skepdic.com/pseudosc.html) incorrectly defines pseudoscience as

“A pseudoscience is set of ideas based on theories put forth as scientific when they are not scientific.”

This definition is an incoherent one-liner – Wittgenstein unsinnig: highly convoluted and implication laden professional-sounding babble, articulated so as to tender the appearance of being simple. It is incompatible with parsimony in this regard; and as well, ironically fails the Popper Demarcation of Science itself, because

  1. It conflates ideas into ‘theories’ by default in an effort to pejoratively filter them – a practice of pseudoscience. A theory implies a set of claims under science method, which ideas may not involve. A very similar equivocation to calling an observation a ‘claim.’ So you can then dismiss it as ‘failing science.’
  2. It is NOT ideas which are pseudo-scientific – rather
    1. those things purported to already exist in the body of knowledge, when indeed such is not the case, and
    2. those things purported to be based on methods which are scientific, but in reality are not.
  3. It regards a SUBJECT MATTER (theories) rather than a contention or process, as that which qualifies something as pseudoscience. This is errant and constitutes a logical fallacy – and to those who understand this – yet commit the offense so as to screen subjects from access to science, also constitutes a practice of fraud.
  4. It may or may not imply that proponents of the ‘ideas’ try to create the impression that they represent science or the most reliable knowledge on its subject matter. Again, such a claim cannot be made outside of research and scientific practice; constituting in its implied claim, defamation and pseudoscience.
  5. It makes a final contention that certain ideas are ‘not scientific’ based on a prescribed set of conclusions or the personal level of knowledge on the part of the observer. This is not how science nor skepticism work at all.

The grasp of this differentiation is a key litmus test distinguishing a false skeptic from a true skeptic. They claim to represent science to you in this misrepresentation sleight-of-hand. The shallow and inexperienced might buy this at face value, but an Ethical Skeptic will not.

It is nothing but Popper Demarcation Malpractice… scientific quackery.


¹  Mahner, Martin, 2007. “Demarcating Science from Non-Science”, pp 515-575 in Theo Kuipers (ed.) Handbook of the Philosophy of Science: General Philosophy of Science – Focal Issues, Amsterdam: Elsevier.

²  Hansson, Sven Ove, “Science and Pseudo-Science”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2015/entries/pseudo-science/&gt;.

September 20, 2015 Posted by | Argument Fallacies | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The MiHoDeAL Claim to Knowledge

In order to avoid an Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy, one must be circumspect under the scientific method as to when one can and cannot make a claim to knowledge as a means to dispose of a challenging observation. In absence of a specific claim by the observer, to dismiss observations out of hand based on Appeal to Skepticism, is pseudoscience.
Before we begin to discuss the implications of claims to absence or claims to dismissal of observation (Appeals to Skepticism), we must first define a critical path term called, MiHoDeAL.

MiHoDeAL Claim to Knowledge 

MiHoDeAL – noun \ məh -hōˈ dē-ül \  : a claim, implication or boast to knowledge, that one holds the credential and has conducted sufficient research into a subject to scientifically disposition that its underpinning observational basis consists solely of Misidentifications, Hoaxes, Delusions, Anecdote and Lies.

I'm a Skeptic MiHoDeALThe Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy stands as the essential predicate of the MiHoDeAL Claim. The MiHoDeAL Claim is a formal fallacy when used in the errant contexts cited below. While the basis of a MiHoDeAL claim to knowledge is essentially an Appeal to Skepticism, it more specifically most often constitutes a Truzzi Fallacy.

Most of the time, a MiHoDeAL Claim is employed when very little data is possessed and no real research has been conducted on the part of the challenging claimant; instances where the integrity of a specific prima facia counter-claim could be called into question (e.g. claiming that the observer is lying).  It is easier and more comforting to doubt and dispose than to actually accrue knowledge. It is in its essence, simultaneously an intellectually lazy boast, a pretense of self promotion to that status equivalent to a scientist (without the qualifications) and finally an implicit or explicit disparagement of a targeted disliked party and/or subject. It is employed as a method to circumvent the conventions of evidence, block the methods of science and to attempt to establish immediate unjustified credibility on the part of an arguer who must win at all costs.

The Appeal to Skepticism Foundation of the MiHoDeAL Fallacy

Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy (of Irrelevance)

2a.  The declaration, assumption or implication that a consensus skeptical position on a topic is congruent with the consensus opinion of scientists on that topic.

3.   The presumption or contention that taking a denial based or default dubious stance on a set of evidence or topic is somehow indicative of application of the scientific method on one’s part, or constitutes a position of superior intellect, or represents a superior critical or rational position on a topic at hand.

The MiHoDeAL Fallacy

Truzzi Fallacy (of Argument)

4.  A claim, implication or boast to knowledge, that one holds the credential and has conducted sufficient research into a subject to scientifically disposition that its underpinning observational basis consists solely of Misinterpretations, Hoaxes/Being Hoaxed, Delusions, Accident, Anecdote and Lies.

5.   The presumption that a position of skepticism or plausible conformance on a specific issue affords the skeptical apologist tacit exemption from having to provide authoritative outsider recitation or evidence to support a contended claim or counter-claim.

“Pseudo-Skeptics: Critics who assert negative claims, but who mistakenly call themselves ‘skeptics,’ often act as though they have no burden of proof placed on them at all. A result of this is that many critics seem to feel it is only necessary to present a case for their counter-claims based upon plausibility rather than empirical evidence.”  – Marcello Truzzi (Founding Co-chairman of CSICOP)

A MiHoDeAL Claim Does Not Constitute A Skeptical Position

The MiHoDeAL ClaimA MiHoDeAL claim is a formal fallacy which is committed by one claiming the informal fallacy of an Appeal to Skepticism. It is an attempt to wrest control of an argument high ground artificially in an effort to leverage by deception or means other than the evidential base.  Negations and denials are control mechanisms, and in their truest sense, can be used to control the direction of science; however, when this control is ceded into individuals, it can be abused.  The MiHoDeAL claim is the implicit or explicit boast by the claimant that simply through the act of claiming to be a skeptic, I have accessed a wealth of information which allows me to disposition a claim or observation, have assumed a superior argument position, and therefore have deflected your observation – without need to research.  This allows for a claim of default victory in undetermined pluralistic arguments, where there legitimately is no suitable basis of authority from which to declare such.  The focus by the claimant is typically on winning arguments, not in deriving clarity or value.

In a MiHoDeAL claim context, only one observation exists – yours. Because the MiHoDeAL claimant has disposed of all previous observations of this type in similar fashion, accordingly there exists only one instance of its occurrence to their cultivated perception. This is like Popeye in a cartoon fight. He can whoop 50 guys in a bar, as long as only one of them exists at any given time, and at the times of his choosing.

Example to the Right (I do not believe in Leprechauns, but it is a suitable challenging observation)

(O)  Ted observes a Leprechaun strolling through the forest on Saturday.

The three generic reactions:

R¹ ⇒ Wow, I trust Ted, the forest is full of Leprechauns.  CLAIM

R² ⇒ Ted is full of crap, and is lying, hallucinating or was hoaxed.  CLAIM

R³ ⇒ I withhold disposition and will table this until the instance where it becomes useful.  EPOCHE’

Notice that Ted has not made a claim here, only cited  an observation.  Now if Ted had claimed the forest to be full of a civilization of Leprechauns – then he would not be applying the self circumspection of skepticism, and would indeed be making a claim. The Ethical Skeptic could not accept such a claim, and would only continue to focus on Ted’s observation. So the clarity between what stands as a claim, and what stands as an observation, should not be blurred by neither the observer, nor the recipient of the information.

To dispose of observations as if they were claims, is a method of cultivating ignorance.

To the Ethical Skeptic, in a reasonable scenario, where Ted matches the reasonable profile of a trustworthy person, a choice of doing nothing with the data, is the correct posture. Any other action constitutes a claim to knowledge on his part – something he wishes to avoid.  The reason is that, he would hopefully begin to formulate a series of explanatory constructs regarding Ted and the forest, once or if this pattern of observation continues, or more data comes in.

That is what he looks for, nothing else.

One version of the MiHoDeAL Fallacy is the oft-touted “Law of Large Numbers.” This is a rationale used to convince the victim that they have won the SuperLotto Plus lottery regularly and often, just with no statistical rigor or method with which to back up such a claim, and that by the sheer enormity of the skeptic intellect, one can dismiss otherwise undeniable observations as being ‘expected.’ Notice that one wins such a lottery much less when money is actually involved. Suddenly then, we revert back to true odds and probability distributions.

Law of Large Numbers Fallacy

/philosophy : skepticism : pseudo-skepticism/ : the Law of Large Numbers does not apply ex ante, nor in any other case where there is not a large number domain to sample from in the first place. Any instance where the wrong species of probability event is selected, there does not exist a suitable measure of what is ‘large’ or ‘probable’ or the event being described constitutes only the single opportunity for the improbable event to have occurred. An ad hoc denial tactic which dismisses by presupposing the idea that one holds statistical refutation evidence based on plenitude of a sample domain. The rigor-less assumption that mass statistics will prove out any strange or unlikely observation one chooses to dismiss.  It is a form of the MiHoDeAL Fallacy. See also Appeal to Plenitude/Appeal to Lotto.

In the end, to the wise researcher and ethical skeptic, one can begin to spot the MiHoDeAL claim and false Appeals to Skepticism and science. When an opponent seems to display the irresistible desire to wrest control of an argument high ground and win at all costs, be ready for this fallacious set of deception.

Be ever vigilant as an ethical skeptic.

The Ethical Skeptic, “The MiHoDeAL Claim to Knowledge”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 7 Dec 2014; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-32A

December 7, 2014 Posted by | Argument Fallacies | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy

I doubt, therefore I am (superior)

Most of the time, an Appeal to Skepticism is employed when no real data is possessed and no real research has been conducted on the part of the challenging claimant; instances where the integrity of a prima facia counter-claim could be called into question (e.g. attempting to deny an observation made by a third party, without direct evidence – i.e. Truzzi Fallacy).  It is in its essence, simultaneously an intellectually lazy boast, a pretense of self promotion to that status equivalent to a scientist (a form of ‘social peer review’ when one does not hold the qualifications) and finally an implicit or explicit disparagement of a targeted disliked party. The Appeal to Skepticism is often also a Richeliean Appeal, progressive and destructive in nature; employed as a method to circumvent the conventions of evidence, block the methods of science and to attempt to establish immediate unjustified credibility on the part of an arguer who must win at all costs.

We initiate our first step into examining the pitfalls of skepticism, by observing those who treat skepticism as a personal identity and goal unto itself; as opposed to its true application as a tool inside science method. Therefore, Ethical Skepticism can be viewed as a personal practice set which seeks to avoid the pitfalls portrayed inside application variants of Neuhaus’ and Goodhart’s Laws:

Neuhaus’s Law

/philosophy : skepticism : fallacies/ : where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.

Therefore, by this principle, we see how skepticism, as a goal in and of itself will always escalate to extremism. Because anything which can be encompassed inside a halo of ‘doubt’ will eventually be ‘debunked’ by default, whether or not research is done inside the subject at all. All it takes is a bit of club self-delusion and a little shove of doubt. This is encompassed then as an outcome of Goodhart’s Law:

Goodhart’s Law (of Skepticism)

/philosophy : skepticism : fallacies/ : when skepticism itself becomes the goal, it ceases to be skepticism.

Both of these principles become favorable leverage angles for the adept forces seeking to conduct Bernaysian social engineering. The social skeptics they target to participate in this ploy are smart enough to support the agenda, but not smart enough to spot the methods of counter-intelligence and the role they play therein. Nassim Taleb’s ‘Intellectual Yet Idiot‘ class of smartest people in the room.

Therefore, The Appeal to Skepticism is the ethical skeptic’s way of discerning actions and people who are pushing agendas, through a fallacy of self-identifying into a fictitious form of higher office, ex opere operato (an appeal to authority principle found inside similar religious doctrine):

ex opere operato

/philosophy : deception : sophistry/ : a form of appeal to skepticism, wherein the person who has declared them self to be a skeptic, believes that therefore they justly derive their credibility from a higher office. The fallacy wherein one regards the superiority of their position to not be derived merely from their own opinion; implying rather, that all their thoughts, rationalizations, conclusions and beliefs confer from a higher authority – that of scientists or science, the evidence, doubt, critical thinking or skepticism.

With this escalation in thinking, from Neuhaus’s Law through to the office ex opere operato, let us now outline the Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy.

The Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy (Informal)

Ergo Sum Veritas Fallacy (of Irrelevance)

1a.  The contention, implication or inference that one’s own ideas or the ideas of others hold authoritative or evidence based veracity simply because their proponent has declared themselves to be a ‘skeptic.’

1b.  The assumption, implication or inference that an organization bearing a form of title regarding skepticism immediately holds de facto unquestionable factual or ideological credibility over any other entity having conducted an equivalent level of research into a matter at hand.

1c.  The assumption, implication or inference that an organization or individual bearing a form of title regarding skepticism, adheres to a higher level of professionalism, ethics or morality than does the general population.

1′ (strong).  The assumption that because one or one’s organization is acting in the name of skepticism or science, that such a self claimed position affords that organization and/or its members exemption from defamation, business tampering, fraud, privacy, stalking, harassment and tortious interference laws.

Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy (of Irrelevance)

2a.  The declaration, assumption or implication that a consensus skeptical position on a topic is congruent with the consensus opinion of scientists on that topic.

2b.  The argument assumption or implication that an opinion possesses authoritative veracity or a proponent possesses intellectual high ground simply through allegiance to a consensus skeptical position on a topic.

3.   The presumption or contention that taking a denial based or default dubious stance on a set of evidence or topic is somehow indicative of application of the scientific method on one’s part, or constitutes a position of superior intellect, or represents a superior critical or rational position on a topic at hand.

Richeliean Appeal to Skepticism

4. /Appeal to Skepticism : coercion/ – an inflation of personal gravitas, celebrity or influence by means of implicit or explicit threats of coercive tactics which can harm or seek to embarrass a victim one wishes to be silenced. Coercive tactics include threats to harm family, contact employers, ridicule, tamper with businesses, employment of celebrity status to conduct defamation activities or actions to defraud, or otherwise cause harm to persons, reputation or property. This includes the circumstance where a Richeliean skeptic encourages and enjoys a form of ‘social peer review,’ empowered via politics or a set of sycophants who are willing to enact harm to a level which the Richeliean power holder himself would not personally stoop.

Inverse Negation Fallacy (of Presumption)

5a.   The asymmetrical strategy of promoting an idea through negation of all its antithetical concepts. A method of undermining any study, proponent, media byte, article, construct, data, observation, effort or idea which does not fit one’s favored model, in a surreptitious effort to promote that favored model, along with its implicit but not acknowledged underpinning claims, without tendering the appearance of doing so; nor undertaking the risk of exposing that favored model or claims set to the scientific method or to risky critical scrutiny.

5b.  Omega Hypothesis (HΩ) – the argument which is foisted to end all argument, period. An argument which has become more important to protect, than science itself. An invalid null hypothesis or a preferred idea inside a social epistemology. A hypothesis which is defined to end deliberation without due scientific rigor, alternative study consensus or is afforded unmerited protection or assignment as the null. The surreptitiously held and promoted idea or the hypothesis protected by an Inverse Negation Fallacy. Often one which is promoted as true by default, with the knowledge in mind that falsification will be very hard or next to impossible to achieve.

predatory doubt

Truzzi Fallacy (of Argument)

6.   The presumption that a position of skepticism or plausible conformance on a specific issue affords the skeptical apologist tacit exemption from having to provide authoritative outsider recitation or evidence to support a contended claim or counter-claim.

Pseudo-Skeptics: Critics who assert negative claims, but who mistakenly call themselves ‘skeptics,’ often act as though they have no burden of proof placed on them at all. A result of this is that many critics seem to feel it is only necessary to present a case for their counter-claims based upon plausibility rather than empirical evidence.”  – Marcello Truzzi (Founding Co-chairman of CSICOP)

These two general forms of The Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy eventually produce an habituation in individuals with compromised integrity, whereby they will begin to see denial as a mindset or reward reinforced mental state. Whether or not this condition is a strategic goal of Social Skepticism; regardless, the observed prevalence of this effect is undeniable. In addition, this habituation may be rewarded by the heady nature of power which comes through a Richeliean Appeal to Skepticism. In this final state, it is the reward of celebrity and power which is the goal of Social Skepticism, and not the status of science or correctness of the conclusions touted by the SSkeptic.

Negare Attentio Effect

/cognitive bias – unconscious self positioning/ – the unconscious habituation of a person seeking publicity or attention in which they will gravitate more and more to stances of denial, skepticism and doubting inside issues of debate, as their principal method of communication or public contention. This condition is subconsciously reinforced because they are rewarded with immediate greater credence when tendering a position of doubt, find the effort or scripted method of arguing easier, enjoy shaming and demeaning people not similar to their own perception of self or presume that counter-claims don’t require any evidence, work or research.

Explanation of The General Forms

An Appeal to Skepticism is an Irrelevant Appeal which in one of three ways, cedes control of an argument high ground artificially to the person attempting leverage by deception or means other than the evidentiary base.  Negations and Denials are control mechanisms, and in their truest sense, can be used to control the direction of science; however, when this control is ceded into individuals, it can be abused.  The Appeal to Skepticism is the implicit or explicit boast by the claimant that simply through the act of doubting, I have assumed a superior argument position, all things being equal.  This allows for a claim of default victory in undetermined pluralistic arguments, where there legitimately is no suitable basis of authority from which to declare such.  The focus by the claimant is typically on winning arguments, not in deriving clarity or value.  There are two general forms of this Fallacy of Relevancy.

Declaring Myself As A Skeptic Defaults Me Unearned and Unassailable Credibility

Whether I use my self-awarded moniker as ‘skeptic’ to attempt to drive home a political goal, or squelch a subject I dislike, or improve my standing and notoriety, self developed claims to skepticism are designed to serve exactly that: self.  Most commonly, self appointed skeptics are only skeptical about the set of data and ideas they do NOT believe, and tender their favorite subjects a coddling and shallow appearance of scientific veracity.  In similar fashion to the Texas Barn Logic Fallacy, where one shoots at the barn wall and then draws the target bullseye around the bullet holes, the faker skeptic will challenge every subject EXCEPT those which they surreptitiously are promoting.  So rather than taking the ethical pathway of developing hypothesis and methodical testing of their favored claims, the faker skeptic shoots at everything except their favored claim.  The only thing left standing, is that which they wished to promote in the first place.  This is called the Inverse Negation Fallacy approach to agenda sponsorship, and is a method of deception; and when used in this context by SSkeptics, is Deskeption.

Example

(1) Astronomer Phil Plait is a skeptic, by his own admission.
Therefore:
(2) Astronomer Phil Plait should be published as an authority on a variety of subjects aside from Astronomy, such as issues of health practices, gun control, and bigfoot.

Assuming A Position of Doubt Affords Me Immediate Rational Gravitas

It is a damaging and deceptive tactic to create un-level argument playing fields simply for the benefit of personal victory and ego.  It is fallacious to presume that taking a denial based or default dubious stance on a set of evidence or topic is somehow indicative of application of the scientific method on one’s part.  Yes science uses doubt as a lever.  But science also understands when data has produced a sufficient threshold of plurality.  SSkeptics do not grasp this, as understanding was not the goal in the first place.  Inside the notorious Climate Change denial antics, those who defended Climate Change data – were quick to disallow “Deniers” the high ground of being called ‘skeptics’, as they knew the deceptiveness wound up in this moniker tactic well.  Taking a position of denial or cynicism does not guarantee one a position of superior intellectual approach, nor does it represent a superior rational position on a topic at hand.  As with most arguments, the mere presence of plurality, the fact that science has not yet definitively answered or addressed the question, means that ‘doubt’ can unethically be used as a battering ram, just as easily as it can be used to enforce an ethical falsification hierarchy under the scientific method.

Example

(1) Evidence has been purportedly gathered that ulcers are caused by a bacterium, helicopter pylori.  I am in an association which represents antacid manufacturer interests.
Therefore:
(2) Denial of this claim as false, implies that there is a current understanding of what causes ulcers, which has evidence, and will tender our stalling the appearance of being a legitimate facet of ethical science.

This argument is fallacious because it only serves to aggrandize the person making the appeal to skepticism, and tenders the false appearance of science.  It suffers from the diminishing gains failure problem in that:

When the one making the Appeal to Skepticism is correct:  There is no added Value or Clarity gain (goals of Ethical Skepticism)     OUTCOME = ZERO SUM GAIN

When the one making the Appeal to Skepticism is incorrect:  Damage is done through obfuscation   OUTCOME = LOSS

This is why, on average, skepticism should be used as a technique which aids in good science.  But to take on the identity of being a skeptic, to chest-pound, dominate discourse and to begin to wield such self declaration as a political or argument position basis, causes no net benefit to mankind and science; only loss.

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Argument Fallacies | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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