The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Agency of Pseudo-Skepticism & Cultivated Ignorance

The Dual-Burden Model of Inferential Ethics

Trust everyone, but cut the deck. So goes the famous apothegm regarding accountability being a double-edged sword. There exist certain inferential critical paths in which both the alternative sponsor as well as the null hypothesis defender, each bear the burden of proof of their contention. Conditions wherein the evidence is forcing the null sponsor to contend something other than simply ‘nuh-uh’. But beware, your discipline in contention better be just as solide-en-preuve as that discipline set you previously demanded of alternative explanation sponsors.

The Necessity of Plurality

There are certain circumstances wherein, both sides in an argument bear the burden of proof. These would be instances wherein one construct cannot claim the luxury of being the null or null hypothesis. Instances where more than one idea is necessary to research, and the actual null hypothesis is 𝑒𝑝𝑜𝑐ℎ𝑒́  itself. If two persons are caught in a room where a murder just occurred, then both are suspects. There is no null hypothesis which states that the prettier or richer of the two persons is not the guilty party. The actual null hypothesis is 𝑒𝑝𝑜𝑐ℎ𝑒́ , and both parties in a way, bear the burden of proof.

The ‘burden of proof’ of course is not a scientific principle, but rather a social idiom in most contexts. The concept of ‘proof’ is for maths and alcohol, not most science. Science hinges upon falsification, if such can be attained, not proof. However we will tolerate the term here, so as not to complicate the critical path of explanation which follows.

The condition which is called ‘plurality’ by Ockham’s Razor exists once the sponsors of an alternative (to the null) idea or construct (does not have to be fully mature as a hypothesis) have achieved any one of the following necessity thresholds:

‣  a nexus of a persistent and robust alternative construct observation base
‣  potential falsification of the ‘null’ exists (and certainly if that null is not really a hypothesis itself)
‣  the intent contribution of agency has been detected
‣  the critical issue involved is a matter of public trust
‣  the contention involves placing involuntary or large counts of stakeholders at risk
‣  there exists a critical immaturity of the entailed observation domain.

In these instances, all parties must therefore now bring ‘proof’ of their contention. The deontological burden no longer falls singly upon the alternative idea sponsor. If I introduce a new food, I must prove a negative – that it is not harmful. And if I establish that the food I have introduced is not harmful, beyond a reasoned doubt – then claims to the alternative must also be substantiated. But if such claims are inductively substantiated, then I must also respond with salient and novel investigation/proof to such claims-to-safety about my new food, and not rest on the luxury as the ‘null hypothesis’.

Proving the null is no longer a matter of ‘proving a negative’ (another incorrect idiom, as properly expressed one cannot ‘inductively infer a modus absens‘ or a ‘not p‘. One can easily prove a negative.). Rather, the proponent of the null must now mature it into a specific hypothesis, and can no longer rest on the luxuries of residing in a state as the default explanation, or continue to endure without a testable hypothesis structure (see The Elements of Hypothesis).

This principle of the dual burden model of inferential ethics is called ‘plurality’, and is the essence of principle framed in the statement attributed to William of Ockham:

Ockham’s Razor

Plurality should not be posited without necessity.

Once necessity has been achieved (persistent and robust data set, falsification of the null has been suggested, etc.) – even though a single explanatory approach has not been fully demonstrated as true, and even though the sponsor of a competing alternative might not have testable hypothesis nor mechanism of accountability full established – the construct itself becomes part of the Ockham’s Razor plurality set. We cannot afford to eliminate future scientific alternatives through protocol alone, as this is dishonesty. Bureaucracy is not part of the scientific method.

As it relates to alternatives which bear the potential of human intent (agency) for instance and in particular, the state of plurality is a given (except in a tort claim against an individual in a court of law). Intent is a game changer in hypothesis reduction theory. For instance, it is no longer permissible for skeptics to enforce the idea that the proponents of UFO/UAP study alone must ‘bring proof’. UFOs/UAPs surpass all six tests above for plurality now. One can no longer state ‘there is nothing to UFO’s’ or ‘bring me proof of UFO’s’. The evidence base is too robust and pervasive.

Such an instance where the onus falls now upon two parties represents the dual-burden model of inferential ethics.

The Dual-Burden Model of Inferential Ethics

The hypothesis reduction circumstance wherein an actual null hypothesis must be developed, and further be shown to have comprehensive explanatory potential to justify its contention – it can no longer reside as simply the lazy ‘null’ argument.

Conditions wherein the evidence is forcing the null sponsor to contend something other than simply ‘nuh-uh’ (nulla infantis). However, beware, your discipline in contention better be just as solide-en-preuve as that discipline set you previously demanded of alternative explanation sponsors.

One must, under that particular state of plurality, bring proof of a mature hypothesis which represents the null position now. The null can no longer hide and play King of the Hill science. It must step into the light of accountability as well. Plurality is now necessary under Ockham’s Razor.

This serves to introduce the principle called the Demarcation of Skepticism:

The Demarcation of Skepticism

Once plurality has been introduced under Ockham’s Razor, it cannot be dismissed by means of skepticism alone.

Ockham’s Razor, rather than being the convenient artifice of the faking skeptic, actually serves to put the skeptic out of power under this condition of inferential ethics. Celebrity skeptics of course bristle at this notion that skepticism can be disarmed and no longer act in lieu of science. You will not see them ‘comprehending’ this avenue of the philosophy underpinning science. Their income, celebrity and influence upon thought depend precisely upon such axioms not being widely understood. Simultaneously a matter of conflict of interest, convenience and ignorance on their part. We are all the lesser for such intransigence.

An Example in Poker

Let’s elicit this through the example of intent, as deployed inside the game of poker. The rules of poker are formulated around a persistent and robust human foible called cheating. Cheating is the condition where an intelligent mind, chooses to intervene (intent) and insert into a model, a constraint which normally does not exist. An ace card taped under the table or a method of dumping poker chips on insignificant hands, with specific intent to force a weaker-funds player to call a bid or withdraw from the game artificially. These are just two simple examples among many more methods of cheating at card games of chance.1

In signal intelligence, a fairly common form of encryption involves the masking of a transmission, such that it cannot be distinguished from white noise or background static.2 In such instances, finding an intervention inside such stochasticity, a contribution or presence of an external constraint of intent, is the key to detecting an encrypted signal as distinct from the background noise. In such a case of intelligence prosecution – all one need do in order to prove their case, is find one single instance of contrived signal. The signal bears intelligent intent, regardless of how random or ‘intent-lacking’ the rest of the signal might appear. Intent only has to be detected once, in order to falsify its absence.

Intent (Burden of Proof)

/philosophy : science : systems engineering : modeling and simulation/ : a novel constraint which arrives into a chaotic/complex process or a domain of high unknown, which does not originate from the natural background set of constraints, and further serves to produce a consistent pattern of ergodicity – when no feedback connection between outcome and constraint is possible. An intervening constraint in which every reasonable potential cause aside from intelligent derivation has been reduced, even if such constraint is accompanied or concealed by other peer stochastic and non-intent influences.

When one makes or implies a claim to lack of intent, one has made the first scientific claim and cannot therefore be exempted from the burden of proof regarding that claim, nor reside inside the luxury of a false null hypothesis (einfach mechanism).

So, let us then outline the practical ethics (praxis) of how card games are managed in light of such a reality of intent. A praxis which involves a burden of proof that is demanded of both parties in a deliberation.

The Dual-Burden of Intent: Trust Everyone But Cut the Deck

Two distinct conditions of proof exist with regard to poker playing. These conditions involve both the burden of proof of an intent (cheating) as well as proof that the domain is devoid of intent (visibly shuffling the deck of all cards). This double-edged sword of accountability or dual-burden with respect to intent, is outlined below. Both of these claims, bear the simultaneous burden of proof.

Yes, in order to accuse someone of cheating/intent, one bears a burden of at the least inductive plurality, if not proof. However, when one sits at a table to play poker, one is also making an implicit claim to honesty/absence of intent – which also must be proved, each and every hand of cards. Both types of claim explicit and implicit, simultaneously bear the burden of proof.

Claim 1: Accusation of Intent (Detecting the Cheat) – A sponsor must eventually prove intent, this is true. However a sponsor can raise objection and ask for research, even if such proof is not readily available. This according to house rules to prove cheating; to wit:3

If something is non-provable, your best bet is to leave the game and make mention of it to the host or the poker room manager. There won’t be much they can immediately do about it, but they can keep an eye out for it and maybe do something in the future (inductive plurality). If something is provable, you should voice your opinion to the host or poker room manager as soon as possible. If it is something that they’ll need to witness to prove, mention it to them in private so they can begin keeping an eye out for it. If it is something you can immediately prove, you can mention it out loud to the dealer and the table so they can catch the perpetrator immediately (proof).

Claim 2:  Averring Absence of Intent (The Shuffle, Cut and Player Etiquette) – However, lack of intent cannot also be casually assumed – when doubt exists as to the presence of an unseen hand. Inside a sufficiently complex or unknown system, absence of intent must also be proved to a reasonable certainty. In cards, this absence of intent is fairly easy to establish via the quod erat demonstrandum experiments of the shuffle, cut and poker-player etiquette. However, in a large domain of unknown, such a logical proof (one cannot inductively prove a modus absens) is very difficult to attain, and if concluded at all, such conclusion resides at the end of the deliberative process and not its beginning. Such lack of intent cannot be casually assumed from a small set of domain sample; to wit:4

In a player-dealt game, the pack must be shuffled and cut before the cards are dealt. The recommended method to protect the integrity of the game is to have three people involved instead of only two. The dealer on the previous hand takes in the discards and squares up the deck prior to the shuffle. The player on the new dealer’s left shuffles the cards and then slides the pack to the new dealer, who gets them cut by the player on his right. The deck must be riffled a minimum of four times. The cut must leave a minimum of four cards in each portion. The bottom of the deck should be protected so nobody can see the bottom card. This is done by using a cut-card. A joker can be used as a cut-card.

As a note, please resist the temptation to conflate absence of intent (agency) in the methods of science, as being congruent with an absence of intent in the objective system being studied (shuffling analogy above). In all cases, an absence of agency inside the methods of science, must be presumed. In the case of card games of chance cited above, as regards intent of an unseen hand inside a study domain which is chaotic or of large uncertainty – neither intent nor its lack thereof, may be assumed. In this analogy, the game of chance is the object being studied, and the House (Casino) Surveillance is the entity employing the scientific method (ensuring veracity of the ‘studied’ game).

Let’s examine now an example of just such a domain of chaotic and large unknown – inside which we cannot yet aver an absence of intent, nor currently also claim any manifestation of a ‘tampering hand’.

If something exists, one cannot say that it necessarily exists devoid of intent.
Intent is the necessary alternative to non-intent.
One cannot null hypothesis a lack of intent. The actual null is 𝑒𝑝𝑜𝑐ℎ𝑒́.

An Example Inside Evolutionary Genetics

We are all very familiar with the contentious arguments surrounding whether or not a ‘hand of God’ has either initiated and/or guided evolution. A series of Pew Research Polls showed that most Americans both believe in God, and believe evolutionary theory at the same time.5 Does this serve to imply that all these people are irrational? No, of course not. Sadly, arguments as to the veracity of creation or intelligent design are red herring arguments, simply posed by religious agency. While I suspect that both sides in the extremist Nihilist/Fundamentalist debate have played a role in the inappropriate escalation of these constructs, who originated this agency actually is not my concern; rather simply that these straw men concepts exist to mislead scientist and lay person alike. I do not have to show who crafted a fallacious argument, in order to shoot it down as invalid. The actual deliberation which exists inside of evolutionary genetics is the issue of whether or not intent is a contributing constraint to any one of five observed ergodicity sets (below). Creation, Nihilism, Materialism and Intelligent Design are irrelevant both as arguments and as contexts of research inside science. Intent however, is not.

Before we jump into this issue however, adjudicated in light of our understanding of the dual-burden ethical model above, let me comment that scientifically, I do not care what is determined to be its outcome. I mean I do care; but I divorce that care from my discipline of skepticism and epistemology. When I examine the five issues which are casually and incorrectly called ‘evolution’, I find that I cannot discern sufficient rationale to dismiss intent as a construct, a priori. In this article however we shall focus upon this issue of intent, solely with regard to Human Accelerated Regions (HAR Acceleration in red bold below), as depicted in the graphic to the right; sourced from the Doan-Bae study quoted below.6

Abiogenesis
Ordination
Speciation (Darwinism)
Human Acceleration
Epigentics

These are all separate sub-disciplines, often referred to incorrectly as ‘evolution’. Evolution is a fact, and an observed ergodicity (outcome) – it is not however a religion and should not be defended by hyperbole and apologetics. Evolution does not disprove God, it does not serve to even suggest Nihilism, nor does it prove materialism, does not make a case for atheism, does not disprove aliens nor angels and does not serve in any way shape or form, to comment upon abiogenesis. Be wary of people who seek to conflate one or more of these in terms of inferential outcome.

Most importantly, evolution does not prove, nor need assume, absence of intent.
‘Creation’ and ‘Intelligent Design’ are irrelevant red herring arguments – borne of agency.

Do not engage with people on either side of the argument who inexpertly wield such terminology.

Intent is the salient and sequitur critical path principle. Otherwise we might as well don a costume and start performing magician tricks with intimidating terminology. Watch for people who equivocally imply such derivative conclusions, employing evolution as a weapon word. They are not to be trusted – and you should certainly never get your science from them. I am not a bio-genetics expert, however I do possess sufficient organic chemistry background, and more importantly – decades of professional neural feedback systems modeling and simulation experience – experience directly critical path to genetics. In my layman studies on evolution, and in the few genetic projects I have commissioned or funded (you can find similar on the web, but I am drawing this from my Genes IX graduate course text by Benjamin Lewin), categorical (mutations) DNA changes comprise the following types:7

Base Substitutions:​

Silent – single nucleotide (letter) change, does not materially alter the amino acid expressed​
Missense – single nucleotide (letter) change, alters the amino acid expressed​
Nonsense – single nucleotide (letter) change, results in insertion of a codon stop or methionine start​
Jibberish – single nucleotide (letter) change, results in a chemical coupling which is not A, C, T nor G​
Base Mispairing – any form of anti-parallel base coupling which does not conform to the Watson-Crick rule (A-C, T-G)​

​Structure or Block Changes:​

Insertion – increases a contiguous number of codon bases inside a gene, at a specific edit location​
Deletion – remove a contiguous number of codon bases inside a gene, resplice the new regions on either side​
Duplication – an insertion which is an exact copy of another codon segment of DNA​
Frameshift – an insertion or deletion which does not adhere to a triplet (3 letter) codon basis, thereby changing the frame of codon reference​
Repeat Expansion – an insertion which replicates one codon which is adjacent to the insertion point, a number of times​
Direct Repeat – replication of an identical codon sequence in the same orientation (5′ to 3′), inside the same gene​
Codon Substitution – a non-frameshift segment of DNA is deleted and an insertion is placed into the splice where it resided​
Inversion – a segment of DNA is rotated from its 5′ to 3′ orientation, by 180 degrees​

Now, stepping into the functional-value (use) judgement of any of these above changes – not talking about the mechanics of the mutation, one could suppose then the following value assessment for any given allele, base pair or gene mutation:

Neutral​

Silent – expressive DNA is impacted by mutation but its function is not altered​
Benign – mutation occurs, but no expressive DNA is impacted​

Disadvantageous​

Repression – function altered by missense, (substitution protein) mutation ​
Blocked – all other forms of mutation besides missense and silent which result in loss of a function​

Advantageous​

Fortuitous Degeneration – a Repression, reactivated Benign or Silent, or Blocked which is coincidentally an advantageous adaptive​
Novel (Constructive) – any Base or Structural mutation which results in a new expression which is coincidentally an advantageous adaptive​

A question therefore arises in the genomic modeling (theory of constraints models sufficient to comprehensively and completely describe genetic ergodicity – not just throw out intimidating sounding terms and guess at it) of evolutionary processes:

To what portion does each type of mutation (red in group A above) inside evolution involve Novel Constructive (red in group B above), Fortuitous Degeneration, Neutral and Disadvantageous allele changes? The answer to this would be rather cool to observe and attempt to model. Because if we end up with an extreme representation of Advantageous Novel and Fortuitously Degenerative mutations (say in the 43+ Human Accelerated Regions of our genome for example) – then a priori non-intent evolution has a problem. Which it indeed does…

Human Accelerated Regions (HAR) – of the human genome.

HARs are short, [approximately 270 base pair] on an average, stretches of DNA, [which are] 97% non[protein]coding. They are conserved in vertebrates, including Pan troglodytes, but not in Homo sapiens, in whom the conserved sequences were subjected to significantly, in many cases dramatically, higher rates of single nucleotide substitutions.8 A number of genes, associated with these human-specific alleles, often through novel enhancer activity, were in fact shown to be implicated in human-specific development of certain brain areas, including the prefrontal cortex.9 10

A number of contiguous and single point intron regulatory sequences [2.5% protein coding exon] codon substitution and insertion allele differences, of 270 base pairs in average length, between humans and their last universal common ancestor (LUCA) with hominidae (apes, australopithecines and archaic homo). Non-precedented/de-Novo/non-GenBank, non-feedback-derived, non-stochastic, fatally improbable happenstance of novel first-time ergodicity inside an absence of genetic pressure – occurring simultaneously and all advantageously, 43+ times, all between 60k and 350k years ago (Neanderthal and Denisovan extant pre-archaic only).11 12 13

“Human accelerated regions exhibit regulatory activity during neural development.” (Doan-Bae, et. al.)14 Fourty-three percent of HARs function as neuronal enhancers. HARs are also enriched for de novo copy number variants and biallelic mutations in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.15

This is called Ordination (and of course Acceleration). Darwin did not address either of these facets of evolution. Our domain knowledge of this sub-discipline inside evolution is very scant. One can make no claim herein to a priori exclusions of intent. Given the fortuitous emergence of the 43 Human Accelerated Regions – their regulation of and association with human cerebral, neural and limb articulation expression, Ockham’s Razor plurality has been surpassed. The argument is manifest and the dual-burden proof ethic broaches.

Three rather stark implications develop from this understanding (much of which has arisen since 2018):

1. “Non-coding” regions is a misnomer, because these HAR non-coding regions are coding for morphological changes to the brain, neural development and limb articulation. This is deductive in its implication as to intent.​

2. The pace of these mutations far exceed the Roach-Glusman human mutation rate of 1 per 100,000,000 base pairs every 20 years.16 100 to 300 base pairs should have mutated on average in these regions – and maybe, maybe have served to produce one trivial novel trait of pan troglodytes speciation (a chimp with lighter skin tones, at the extreme). Instead, 12,000 base pairs mutated and every single one of them produced novel, first time, and highly advantageous traits with regard to neural and cerebral development. – In other words, Ordination.

And one is being gracious here by affording these changes 290,000 years inside of which to occur. The vast likelihood is that they all occurred in a shorter time span than even this.

Therefore, materialists are incorrect.

3. One must prove that intent is absent here. Such an input to evolutionary constructs and theory cannot be assumed a priori, nor as the null hypothesis (einfach mechanism).

Science has produced no evidence which rules out intent in the origin nor ascendancy of life on this planet.
However, because of the dual-burden regarding the role of intent in chaotic or large unknown domains –
it does bear the burden of proving that intent is absent (modus absens).

Previously we have even considered within this blog (see Embargo of The Necessary Alternative is Not Science), a deliberate codex which related the second digit of the DNA codon to its linear protein assignment molecule complexity. A codex which could not have evolved, since the codex was required in order to have evolution happen in the first place. Unprecedentable organization, which is arguably deduced to intent. Yet intent is embargoed from science by material nihilists who apply their religious beliefs therein. And as we have observed with regard to other embargoed subjects before:

Intent as a construct, is the necessary alternative.

This is not a case of ‘being smart enough to justify irrational things’ as fake skeptics have begun to issue as a memorized tag-line. If one is unable to discern these things, inferences which are both sound and critical path to the argument, then one has no business telling everyone what science thinks nor what evolution is or is not.

Genomic Intent

Given all this then, dismissing a priori, intent as a part or small contributor inside the ascendancy of life on this planet, is tantamount to a personal religious choice. As an atheist, I respect and understand that personal choice of faith – but I bristle when it is advertised as a conclusion of science. Such is not the case. Science makes no comment upon intent, to the positive or negative. In contrast however, sponsoring intent for Ockham’s Razor consideration, is not a religious choice, rather part of the scientific method. Modus praesens and modus absens are two completely different ethical standards of scientific inference.17 Those who insist that modus absens (intent is comprehensively absent) has been proved, are simply wrong. The standard to prove modus absens is very high – and most science communicators and enthusiasts do not understand this. So employing one’s personal religious choice that intent cannot exist, in order to squelch the scientific method – is disingenuous. A scientist ethically should say ‘Not so fast’.

Neither is intent then pareidolia, patternicity nor apophenia. Intent can be established by both science and a court of law, without knowing who bore the intention – and by means of only examining the patterns of inferential suggestion therein. Presence of intent can be inferred inductively – absence of intent cannot. Such deliberation is a must in information technology, hacking and murder prosecutions. I do not have to say where the intent came from, and indeed should not conjecture such – until I have a scientific mechanism and hypothesis which is mature and can be pursued by research. I do not have to prove intent from the beginning of space or time, nor where it originated. I only have to spot it once. In order to prove that an encrypted signal of noise bears intelligence (as an intelligence officer), I only need demonstrate one translated segment. I do not need to prove who sent it, nor that the rest of the transmission was or was not intelligence. I only have to provide veracity for that one segment.

Intent is a white crow standard of inference.

Intent is also not a means to fill a gap in scientific understanding with a ‘God of the Gaps’ argument. Such contentions are dilettante and shallow; often constituting propaganda speak on the part of amateur science enthusiasts. The 43 human accelerated regions (HAR) for instance are critical path to this argument regarding intent. The ‘gap’ in the case of HARs is 95% of the knowledge domain; so this in no way constitutes a small shortfall in understanding. No one is pretending to fill that gaping absence of domain knowledge with an intelligent designer; as that is the habit of two opposing agencies who control argument around this issue. They are both wrong in such religious pandering. In science we are trying to extricate ourselves from religion, not jump from one religion into another.

Yes, eventually we would prefer to identify the intender – maybe even one which is dead and gone now, or perhaps left us all alone. However we have to accept the reality that we may never actually resolve such understanding. We may be stuck inside ‘intent without identified intender’ for centuries. Nonetheless, science does not answer every question all at once. Such amateur insistences constitute a non rectum agitur fallacy – forcing every question to be answered before any question can be answered. Science does not work in this manner. Questions are answered incrementally – along a critical path of inference. Understanding this is critical to any claim or implication to be scientifically literate. I am an atheist; however, I cannot ethically throw out the construct of intent, just because my socially-primed buddies and I are emotionally upset about the idea of an ‘Intender’ – that is not fair to science, not fair to humanity – to force one church’s doctrinal anger upon everyone around us. Just because a few peoples’ terror-filled urges scream “There is no Intender!”, does not mean that science and humanity must thereafter cower in the shadow of that imperious religious insistence. We learned this lesson when Christianity controlled science. I do not want another religion sneaking in and doing this to us again.

If intent is here, even if tucked away and hard to find, I want it found. As an ethical skeptic, I will stand up for that human right: The Right to Know.

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June 30, 2019 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , | Leave a comment

Proof Gaming

Science begins its work based upon a principle called necessity, not upon proof. Science then establishes proof, if such can be had. Popper critical rationality as it turns out, involves more than irrefutable proof, contrary to what gaming social skeptics might contend. Proof Gaming is a method of tendering an affectation of sciencey methodology, yet still effectively obfuscating research and enforcing acceptable thought.

im-a-skeptic-burden-of-proofIn order for science to begin to prove the existence of the strange animal tens of thousands of credible persons report roaming in the woods, I must first bring in its dead carcass.  But if I bring in its dead body, then I have no need for science to examine that such an animal exists in the first place; I have already done the science.  The demand that I bring in a dead body, given a sufficient level of Ockham’s Razor necessity-driving information, is a false standard threshold for science to begin its diligence, and such a demand constitutes pseudoscience.

Now of course, Karl Popper in his brief entitled Die beiden Grundprobleme der Erkenntnistheorie contended that science should be demarcated by the proper assignment of truth values to its assertions, or ‘sentences’: ergo, science is the set of sentences with justifiably assigned truth values.¹ This was called a mindset of ‘critical rationality’.¹ It was a step above simple scientific skepticism. The task of the philosophy of science is to explain suitable methods by which these assignments are then properly made.¹ However, one can extend the philosophy of science to construct elaborate methods, which prevent the assimilation of ideas or research which one disfavors, by gaming these methods such that philosophy stands and acts in lieu of science. One such trick of conducting science research by means of solely philosophy, all from the comfort of one’s arm chair, is called Proof Gaming. Popper contended later in his work, as outlined by the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy here:

As a consequence of these three difficulties [the problem or necessity of induction] Popper developed an entirely different theory of science in chapter 5, then in Logik der Forschung. In order to overcome the problems his first view faced, he adopted two central strategies. First, he reformulated the task of the philosophy of science. Rather than presenting scientific method as a tool for properly assigning truth values to sentences, he presented rules of scientific method as conducive to the growth of knowledge. Apparently he still held that only proven or refuted sentences could take truth values. But this view is incompatible with his new philosophy of science as it appears in his Logik der Forschung: there he had to presume that some non-refuted theories took truth values, that is, that they are true or false as the case may be, even though they have been neither proved nor refuted [William of Ockham’s ‘plurality’]. It is the job of scientists to discover their falsity when they can. (IEoP)¹

Social skeptics will cite the base logic of Popper’s first work, yet omit his continued work on induction (Logik der Forschung) – as a process of sleight-of-hand in argument. So, critical rationality as it turns out, involves more than irrefutable proof, contrary to what gaming social skeptics might contend. Science begins its work based upon a principle called necessity, not upon proof. Science then establishes proof, if such can be had. Sadly, much of science cannot be adjudicated on anything like what we would call iron-clad proof, and instead relies upon a combination of falsified antithetical alternatives or induction based consilience.

The most anti-science position one can adopt is the insistence that the scientific method consists of one step: 1. Proof.

Proof gaming is the warning flag that someone neither understands, but even moreover, is terrified of science.

The gaming of this reality constitutes a process of obfuscation and deceit called Proof Gaming. Proof Gaming is the process of employing dilettante concepts of ‘proof’ as a football in order to win arguments, disfavor disliked groups or thought, or exercise fake versions or standards of science. Proof gaming presents itself in seven speciations. In the presence of sufficient information or Ockham’s Razor plurality, such tactics as outlined below, constitute a game of pseudoscience. Posing the appearance of science-sounding methods, yet still enabling obfuscation and a departure from the scientific method in order to protect the religious ideas one adopted at an early age. On the internet this is known as sea lioning.

Sea Lioning

/philosophy : deception : fake skepticism/ : is a type of Internet trolling which consists of bad-faith requests for evidence, recitations, or repeated questions, the purpose of which is not clarification or elucidation, but rather an attempt to derail a discussion, appeal to authority as if representing science or ultimate truth, or to wear down the patience of one’s opponent through half listening and repeated request. May involve invalid repetitive requests for proof which fall under a proof gaming fallacy and highlight the challenger’s lack of scientific literacy.

Let’s examine the seven types of this common social skeptic bad science method, formal and informal fallacy.

Proof Gaming

/philosophy : argument : pseudoscience : false salience/ : employing dilettante concepts of ‘proof’ as a football in order to win arguments, disfavor disliked groups or thought, or exercise fake versions of science. Asking for proof before the process of science can ostensibly even start, knowing that plurality is what begins the scientific method not proof, and further exploiting the reality that science very seldom arrives at a destination called ‘proof’ anyway. Proof gaming presents itself in seven speciations:

Catch 22 (non rectum agitur fallacy) – the pseudoscience of forcing the proponent of a construct or observation, to immediately and definitively skip to the end of the scientific method and single-handedly prove their contention, circumventing all other steps of the scientific method and any aid of science therein; this monumental achievement prerequisite before the contention would ostensibly be allowed to be considered by science in the first place. Backwards scientific method and skipping of the plurality and critical work content steps of science. A trick of fake skeptic pseudoscience, which they play on non-science stakeholders and observers they wish to squelch.

Fictitious Burden of Proof – declaring a ‘burden of proof’ to exist when such an assertion is not salient under science method at all. A burden of proof cannot possibly exist if neither the null hypothesis or alternative theories nor any proposed construct possesses a Popper sufficient testable/observable/discernible/measurable mechanism; nor moreover, if the subject in the matter of ‘proof’ bears no Wittgenstein sufficient definition in the first place (such as the terms ‘god’ or ‘nothingness’).

Herculean Burden of Proof – placing a ‘burden of proof’ upon an opponent which is either arguing from ignorance (asking to prove absence), not relevant to science or not inside the relevant range of achievable scientific endeavor in the first place. Assigning a burden of proof which cannot possibly be provided/resolved by a human being inside our current state of technology or sophistication of thought/knowledge (such as ‘prove abiogenesis’ or ‘prove that only the material exists’). Asking someone to prove an absence proposition (such as ‘prove elves do not exist’).

Fictus Scientia – assigning to disfavored ideas, a burden of proof which is far in excess of the standard regarded for acceptance or even due consideration inside science methods. Similarly, any form of denial of access to acceptance processes normally employed inside science (usually peer review both at theory formulation and at completion). Request for proof as the implied standard of science – while failing to realize or deceiving opponents into failing to realize that 90% of science is not settled by means of ‘proof’ to begin with.

Observation vs Claim Blurring – the false practice of calling an observation or data set, a ‘claim’ on the observers’ part.  This in an effort to subjugate such observations into the category of constituting scientific claims which therefore must be now ‘proved’ or dismissed (the real goal: see Transactional Occam’s Razor Fallacy).  In fact an observation is simply that, a piece of evidence or a cataloged fact. Its false dismissal under the pretense of being deemed a ‘claim’ is a practice of deception and pseudoscience.

As Science as Law Fallacy – conducting science as if it were being reduced inside a court of law or by a judge (usually the one forcing the fake science to begin with), through either declaring a precautionary principle theory to be innocent until proved guilty, or forcing standards of evidence inside a court of law onto hypothesis reduction methodology, when the two processes are conducted differently.

Proof by Non-falsifiability (Defaulting) – by selecting and promoting a pet theory or religious tenet which resides inside the set of falsification-prohibited constructs, SSkeptics establish popular veracity of favored beliefs, by default. Since their favored theory cannot be approached for falsification, it would be pseudoscience to compete it with other falsifiable constructs and claim it to be an outcome of the Scientific Method. Therefore the scientific method is disposed of, the non-falsifiable theory is assigned a presumption of truth, and furthermore can never be disproved. A flavor of unseatable ‘King of the Hill’ status is established for pet SSkeptic beliefs.

All of these tactics are common practices which abrogate the role and discipline of science.  Additionally, a key set of symptoms to look for, in determining that Proof Gaming is underway, are when

  1. one of these tactics is conducted inside a media spotlight,  and when
  2. every media outlet is reciting the same story, and same one liner such as ‘extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence’, verbatim.

This is an indicator that a campaign is underway to quash a subject.

The sad reality is, that on most tough issues, any one single person or small group of outsiders is poorly equipped to prove a subject beyond question. Popper recognized this later in his life work.  We simply do not have the resources and time to accomplish such a task.  SSkeptics know this and use it to their advantage.  The people who are calling for research for example on the connection between cognitive delays in children and the potential role which immunizations have had on this, are simply asking for science to do the research. The response they receive is “You can’t prove the link,” thus we are justified in waging a media campaign against you and scientifically ignoring this issue. This is Proof Gaming.  Complicating this is the fact that the issue is broader than simply MMR and Thimerosal (the majority body of current study), involving the demand for science to research the causes of valid skyrocketing levels of developmental delays, autoimmune disorders, and learning disabilities in our children. The issue bears plurality and precaution, but is answered with ignorance. The Proof Gamers who sling epithets such as “Deniers” and “Anti-vaccinationistas” and “Autistic Moms” are committing scientific treason. One should note that the handiwork of such SSkeptics is rarely characterized by outcomes of value or clarity, is typically destructive and control oriented, and is reliably made media-visible (see our next Poser Science series on the tandem symbiosis between virtue signalling and malevolence).

Hype and name calling has no place in pluralistic research, and the media pundits who commit this are practicing pseudoscience plain and simple. Once plurality has been established, the games should be over.  But not for Proof Gamers.   Attacking proponents who have done case research to call for further science (not proving the subject) for not “proving beyond a shadow of a doubt,” their contentions, is an act of pseudoscience.

This fake demand for proof before research is Proof Gaming, is an abrogation of the Scientific Method and is Pseudoscience.

epoché vanguards gnosis


¹  The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Karl Popper: Critical Rationalism”; http://www.iep.utm.edu/cr-ratio/#H2.

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies, Social Disdain, Tradecraft SSkepticism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Burden of Proof (in Gumballs)

Sometimes ‘simple’ is itself the extraordinary claim. A burden of proof may not always reside where we regard it. A claim that something is false, can be just as extraordinary as the claim that something is true. It is important that The Ethical Skeptic distinguish between claims which bear a burden of proof, those that do not, and those which are by their non-sequitur nature, irrelevant.

kids and teacher how many gumballs - CopyI was attending one of my kid’s school parties, a father/student night in elementary school one evening years ago, when an interesting contest arose. The teacher challenged the fathers to all guess how many gumballs were in a jar of gumballs she had on her desk. We all dutifully wrote our guesses down on a sheet of paper and tore it off into a small folded sheet to hand to the students’ homeroom teacher. Once all the slips of guesses were placed into a bowl, the teacher pulled each one out and wrote the guesses on the whiteboard for all to see.  110, 245, 43, 66, 190, and so forth. Number after number came up, and I waited dutifully for my guess of 143 to show. I had made the guess by counting the number of gumballs in the size of one fist. A fist is a common quick measure of volume in situations where one does not have any available measure for volume estimate. 11 Gumballs to a fist, 12 fists to the container – then a little sluff for the neck of the jar, which appeared to be full to the brim. 11 x 12 = 132, plus another 11 I could count in the neck. Thus my guess was 143.

Finally the teacher pulled up a piece of paper and started to read it, then stopped abruptly and smiled. “Well it’s obvious someone overhead me saying how many gumballs we had in the jar, earlier to Ms. Clemmens over here. So we won’t count that submission.” She set, what turned out to be my submission, aside.

The winning dad made a valiant guess of 127 against the correct count of 143 gumballs in the jar. Good job dad. I applauded his excellent guestimating skills and said nothing about the matter. After all, this is just elementary school. What we are taught here, does not matter in the larger scheme of things, right?  Such a drama-in-elementary exhibits an important principle with regard to claims of falseness.

When one makes or implies a claim to falseness, one assumes the burden of proof.¹

Under Ockham’s Razor, plurality should not be introduced without necessity. The homeroom teacher, by accusing me of exercising dishonesty in my submission, had violated Ockham’s Razor. The context of entrant anonymity in no way excused a direct or implicit claim of lying; as this is still the same contention. She had introduced a very complicated idea, by mistaking the challenge to be simple. She had chosen the simplest explanation – no one can guess EXACTLY the gumball count in my jar. As with fake skeptics, she failed to discern the real principle here, that of plurality – or hypothesis stacking – complicated-ness as it might otherwise be known. She chose without evidence, Hypothesis B below, and presumed it because of

Occam’s Razor‘ the simplest explanation – in my base of personal knowledge and critical thinking, the chance of guessing 143 gumballs is too unlikely to be considered as a valid outcome.

Therefore Hypothesis C below, had to be false, in her skeptical mind. Here are the available array of ideas surrounding my ‘lucky’ guess, as they stand:

Hypothesis A – One or more fathers is a psychic – one father reads minds and could ascertain from my thoughts that the gumball count was 143.

This Hypothesis fails Ockham’s Razor for the simple fact that it must first presume that psychic ability exists, that the teacher knows what being psychic even means, that there was a knowledge on my part on how to employ such skill here, that I possessed the desire to falsify a document and impress a crowd, that I was looking for glory as to how prescient I am, that this is the way I impress and provide a role model for my son, and that I held that desire so profoundly that I would apply it in the guess of a gumball count in a jar at my kid’s father/student party.

A highly stacked – or pluralistic – hypothesis

Hypothesis B – One or more fathers is a cheater and a liar – one father listened in on myself and my assistant and ascertained from my statement that the gumball count was 143.

This Hypothesis fails Ockham’s Razor for the simple fact that it must first presume that the submittant cheats and lies, that the teacher is so smart and skeptical, that she can correctly detect this condition in a person and in me, that I possessed the desire to falsify a document and impress a crowd, that I was looking for glory as to how prescient I am, that cheating and lying is the way I impress and provide a role model for my son, and that I held that desire so profoundly that I would apply it in the guess of a gumball count in a jar at my kid’s father/student party.

A highly stacked – or pluralistic – hypothesis

Hypothesis C – One father made a skilled and lucky guesstimate – from a pinch of math and a bit of english, one father correctly guessed a gumball count of 143.

This hypothesis ‘holds the razor’ even thought it could be considered unlikely to guess 143 exactly – it is the null or favored hypothesis until such time as there is necessity, and a sufficient threshold of plurality evidence is brought forward which showed I ascertained the correct count of gumballs by any mutually exclusive and alternative means.

unlikely-versus-simpleI simply employed a little bit of skill I have used in the field in Africa and Asia, with a bit of math, combined with a bit of estimator’s wisdom (english) to get lucky on my estimated count of gumballs.  Had the teacher selected hypothesis C above – perhaps I could have explained how I did this to the kids – showed an example of measuring concretions being formed into a housing brick in Africa, and how I pulled off the guess.

But, it is better that schools teach the false form of skepticism instead, right? Don’t step outside of the rules of expectations, there is no way to get the correct amount. There are penalties if you do. There is no such thing as a cure for cancer or IBS, if you feel bad it is a panic attack, supplements are all evil, there is no such thing as a spirit realm, there is no such thing as ghosts, there is no such thing as…. – All easy pat, Occam’s Razor compliant answers.

‘Occam’s Razor’ says that the simplest explanation is that 143 is a hard count to guess, and cannot be guessed realistically, right? Something is up, if it is indeed guessed. Implicit in such a claim is a boast that I personally, hold the full domain knowledge of potentiality and likelihood. This is a common Social Skeptic implicit claim. The pitfall of the fake skeptic: I fail to be a skeptic of myself. Well the simple fact is, that

…sometimes, ‘simple’ is an extraordinary claim in and of itself.

Your effort will not be regarded as valid if you do not fit this errant version of ‘Occam’s Razor’ – simple contention – complicated-ness in knowing.  When one extrapolates this claim to Hypothesis B (see The MiHoDeAL Claim and The Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy), to apply to a whole domain of subjects they seek to discredit, under an air of authority as a skeptic – one is performing under Corber’s Burden. Under this burden, the skeptic must therefore always be right. Always. Or tender the appearance of doing so. Such is the enormous burden, the implicit claim, of the fake skeptic.

Which brings up the topic of proof gaming. Let’s examine that common social skeptic bad science method and fallacy, before we move on to our gumball examples.

Proof Gaming

/philosophy : argument : pseudoscience : false salience/ : employing dilettante concepts of ‘proof’ as a football in order to win arguments, disfavor disliked groups or thought, or exercise fake versions of science. Asking for proof before the process of science can ostensibly even start, knowing that plurality is what begins the scientific method not proof, and further exploiting the reality that science very seldom arrives at a destination called ‘proof’ anyway. Proof gaming presents itself in seven speciations:

Catch 22 (non rectum agitur fallacy) – the pseudoscience of forcing the proponent of a construct or observation, to immediately and definitively skip to the end of the scientific method and single-handedly prove their contention, circumventing all other steps of the scientific method and any aid of science therein; this monumental achievement prerequisite before the contention would ostensibly be allowed to be considered by science in the first place. Backwards scientific method and skipping of the plurality and critical work content steps of science. A trick of fake skeptic pseudoscience, which they play on non-science stakeholders and observers they wish to squelch.

Fictitious Burden of Proof – declaring a ‘burden of proof’ to exist when such an assertion is not salient under science method at all. A burden of proof cannot possibly exist if neither the null hypothesis or alternative theories nor any proposed construct possesses a Popper sufficient testable/observable/discernible/measurable mechanism; nor moreover, if the subject in the matter of ‘proof’ bears no Wittgenstein sufficient definition in the first place (such as the terms ‘god’ or ‘nothingness’).

Herculean Burden of Proof – placing a ‘burden of proof’ upon an opponent which is either arguing from ignorance (asking to prove absence), not relevant to science or not inside the relevant range of achievable scientific endeavor in the first place. Assigning a burden of proof which cannot possibly be provided/resolved by a human being inside our current state of technology or sophistication of thought/knowledge (such as ‘prove abiogenesis’ or ‘prove that only the material exists’). Asking someone to prove an absence proposition (such as ‘prove elves do not exist’).

Fictus Scientia – assigning to disfavored ideas, a burden of proof which is far in excess of the standard regarded for acceptance or even due consideration inside science methods. Similarly, any form of denial of access to acceptance processes normally employed inside science (usually peer review both at theory formulation and at completion). Request for proof as the implied standard of science – while failing to realize or deceiving opponents into failing to realize that 90% of science is not settled by means of ‘proof’ to begin with.

Observation vs Claim Blurring – the false practice of calling an observation or data set, a ‘claim’ on the observers’ part.  This in an effort to subjugate such observations into the category of constituting scientific claims which therefore must be now ‘proved’ or dismissed (the real goal: see Transactional Occam’s Razor Fallacy).  In fact an observation is simply that, a piece of evidence or a cataloged fact. Its false dismissal under the pretense of being deemed a ‘claim’ is a practice of deception and pseudoscience.

As Science as Law Fallacy – conducting science as if it were being reduced inside a court of law or by a judge (usually the one forcing the fake science to begin with), through either declaring a precautionary principle theory to be innocent until proved guilty, or forcing standards of evidence inside a court of law onto hypothesis reduction methodology, when the two processes are conducted differently.

The Burden of Proof (exhibited in the oft-applied gumball analogy)

Which brings up the whole subject of the Philosophical Burden of Proof, which differs from a legal burden of proof regarding innocence.¹ When is a claim under the burden of proof, and when is it not? And when does a claim enjoy a lack of burden of proof simply because it is non-sequitur? In general, when one makes a claim to veracity (not a call for sponsorship and research – that is different) – in other words, one makes a claim that they are correct – the burden of proof falls upon them.  If I spot a big hairy man-like ‘thing’ in the forest and then make the call for more research on the observation – I am NOT MAKING A CLAIM. Rather simply calling for research – as I have no claim, save for being shocked by observing something paradigm shattering for which I have no explanation. This could be a person putting themselves in danger inside a costume, or it could be similar to what others of credible background have observed.  It is not a claim.  A claim, is a claim to empirical or analytical authority – that all must now accept as establishment of fact, reason, rationality or critical thinking – that which I am contending is substantiated by the evidence.

But with regard to the gumballs in our classroom anecdote above:

gumball analogy - CopyClaims Which Bear a Burden of Proof – regarding the gumballs to the right

  • There are 143 gumballs
  • There are an odd number of gumballs
  • There are an even number of gumballs
  • There are only red white and blue gumballs
  • There are no green gumballs
  • There is something besides gumballs in this mix
  • People who have observed green gumballs are liars
  • People who claim to have seen green gumballs are suffering memory suggestiveness
  • Observations of green gumballs are only anecdote
  • There are not an even number of gumballs
  • There are not an odd number of gumballs
  • We cannot see some gumballs currently

note that bullet points 2 and 3 above stand as an example of plurality under Ockham’s Razor

Claims Which are Non-Sequitur – they fail or skip large parts of the scientific method and cannot yet be contended or even asked

  • There are not 143 gumballs
  • The mix of red white and blue gumballs remains the same throughout those we cannot see
  • People who believe in green gumballs are credulous
  • We see an even number of gumballs, therefore the total of all gumballs is even
  • There are all sorts of gumballs of varying colors
  • There are only gumballs in this jar
  • People who attend church believe in green gumballs
  • Observations of green gumballs are pareidolia
  • Gumballs taste rancid
  • Gumballs can only be observed by a specific gumball expert team
  • Gumball skeptics are critical thinkers
  • Science does not have any evidence for green gumballs
  • Gumballs are pseudoscience
  • Gumballs are inter-dimensional and therefore hard to find
  • Dead body gumballs are necessary before I look beyond the visible ones
  • Skepticism tells me there are only red blue and white gumballs
  • The universe is so large that there must be green gumballs
  • Richard Dawkins has disproved all non red white or blue gumballs
  • Green gumballs do not exist
  • I hold the unambiguous definition of what is a gumball
  • Science holds the unambiguous definition of what is a gumball
  • There are no gumballs
  • There are no more red gumballs than what we see here, the rest are all blue and white

Claims Which are No Longer Under a Burden of Proof – established by empirical observation

  • There are 17 blue gumballs visible
  • We see an even number of gumballs (and recognize some dissent)
  • There are at least three colors of gumballs
  • Reality does not contain an empty set of gumballs
  • There are more than 0 gumballs
  • Gumballs are seen by more than one credible observing authority

In the end, is it not easier to skip a claim to knowledge and let the data accrue on its own, before one begins to invest in large grand scenarios of skepticism or launch into fanciful pathways of non-sequitur entertainment?  Or perhaps – best put, let ideas falsify themselves through accrued verity – not personal brilliance and experience.

Such is the nature of Ethical Skepticism. Man, now I am craving gumball.


¹  Philosophic Burden of Proof, Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophic_burden_of_proof

August 25, 2015 Posted by | Argument Fallacies, Institutional Mandates | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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