The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

Authority Credulity: Antipode to Conspiracy Theory – But Even Worse

Authority Credulity. While the conspiracy theorist may allow themselves to be whipsawed into fits of paranoia concerning authority, the authority credulist employs symbols of power, identity and correctness to assuage an immature ego; to exorcise injury over past transgressions and target those whom they see as having caused this pain. It thrives inside a milieu of mindlessness which in the end serves to cause more harm than conspiracy theorizing ever could.

Authority Credulity is the paradoxical opposite of Conspiracy Theory. It is a type of gullibility and desire to allow one’s self to be comfortably fooled, through scant amounts of science and ample doses of imperiousness and insistence – especially when posed in the name of some psychological need for a symbol of power wielding authority. Virtue signalling for instance, is a common type of authority credulity. It is conducted within and exploits a cultural milieu of mindlessness. Whereas conspiracy theory may arise from various blends of paranoia, pareidolia and/or apophenia – authority credulity arises from past resentment over an injured ego, and the desire to ensure that everyone knows that the person bearing it is indeed the smartest person in the room. Science is one such identity and authority through which such a mindset can be plied. Hence the origin of this familiar tenet of ethical skepticism:

Simply because scientists use skeptical thinking discipline, does not mean that skeptics therefore represent science.  The two are not congruent.

However, authority is simply one tool in their quiver of tactics employed in winning arguments at all costs; as the Ten Pillars of Authority Credulity outline this mentality, the banal antipode of the conspiracy theory mindset.

   Authority Credulist

Believes authority with very little question. Vulnerable to and often exploited by authorized propaganda outlets, through bearing an abject weakness in ability to grasp asymmetry, spot patterns or develop intelligence.

The Ten Pillars (Vulnerabilities) of Authority Credulity:

I.        Social Category and Non-Club Hatred
II.       Narcissism and Personal Power
III.      Promotion of Personal Religious Agenda
IV.      Emotional Psychological Damage/Anger
V.       Overcompensation for a Secret Doubt
VI.      Fear of the Unknown
VII.     Effortless Argument Addiction
VIII.    Magician’s Deception Rush
IX.      Need to Belittle Others
X.       Need to Belong/Fear of Club Perception

Who of course, fall victim most often to fallacies involving the Misrepresentation through Authority. This informal error in logic does not simply comprise one fallacy, as many sophomoric philosophical sites outline, rather an entire domain of mistaken method and fallacious thinking. So while conspiracy theory critics often correctly outline an entire series of fallacies committed by those vulnerable to that ilk of ideas, they routinely miss that authority credulity is very much a similar domain of corrupted thinking.

A key indicator resides in this: to the authority credulist, everyone who holds a differing idea is guilty of magical thinking and conspiracy theorizing. It is the same as using accusation of being racist and a Nazi. The term has been emasculated through abuse. And as they age and realize the ludicrous nature of such mindlessness, they must yet still possess an anchoring bias or conflict of interest in maintaining their dogma, while at the same time appearing to be open minded. They know what the old guard social skeptics can do to them. Heck they did it to people too. This inevitably leads the authority credulist down the compromised road of liberalism or libertarianism. You are free now to think the way they think.

   Libertarian

Maintains a cynical perspective on authority, yet bears an inability to grasp asymmetry, spot patterns and develop intelligence. Totally free except where authority quietly wags a finger at them. Then, a retreat into silence.

Many social skeptics, upon encountering skeptive dissonance, tend to move toward styles of libertarianism as they recognize the shortfalls of their former philosophy. Michael Shermer offers up a great case example of such a life transition. By his own account this is actually Michael’s third manifestation of personal cosmology. Neo-Libertarians err however, in not recognizing the blinding impact which their clinging to authority has wrought in their inability to handle probative data, risk and intelligence.

The authority credulist, even in the instance where they mature into a libertarian, employs panduction in order to discredit entire domains of thought. Despite the condition of being correct for the most part, ultimately this proves only to introduce a level of harm and scientific stagnation, unequaled by most forms of conspiracy theorizing.

   Conspiracy Theorist

Maintains a cynical perspective on authority, which whipsaws into unsound levels of conjecture, stemming from a sense of asymmetry and higher developed skills in pattern recognition. Relatively unskilled at necessary forms of intelligence development.

The conspiracy theorist who cultivates a skill in intelligence, inevitably begins to find that 80% of what they regarded to be true, indeed turns out to be bunk. The value however, of bunk finding, is limited – as rather, it is the discovery of the novel, and the falsification of incremental risk in conjecture, which move science forward. Not compliance and authority. I would rather discover myself through field work to be wrong 9 times, and serendipitously accurate one time, than be compliantly correct ten times. This illuminating set of discovery leads one to begin to ‘up their game’ – heeding the cautions of skeptics certainly, but not buying into their inverse negation fallacy conclusiveness. Consensus and proof are very hard standards to attain, and an ethical skeptic begins to understand this. This is where one learns to spot and oppose agency – even conspiracy theory agency. One journeys into the realm of the ethical skeptic.

I would rather prove myself wrong on nine ideas and find one to be prodigiously valid, than wallow in the correctness of ten unquestioned norms.

   Ethical Skeptic

Maintains a healthy perspective on the role of authority tempered with the realization that proof is a hard standard to come by. Keen sense of asymmetry, skills in pattern solving and ability to develop intelligence.

Of course, ethical skepticism hinges around the ability to spot and develop intelligence.

Intelligence

/philosophy : data : decision theory/ : data is denatured into information, and information is transmuted into intelligence. Inside decision theory and clandestine operation practices, intelligence is the first level of illuminating construct upon which one can make a decision. Intelligence skills combine a healthy skepticism towards human agency, along with an ability to adeptly handle asymmetry, recognize probative data, assemble patterns, increase the reliability of incremental conjecture and pursue a sequitur, salient and risk mitigating pathway of syllogism.

Authority, Data and Fact are merely information at best. They do not constitute intelligence. One cannot adopt a belief, nor take an action bearing risk, unless based upon intelligence. And in absence of intelligence, the ethical skeptic maintains a disposition of neutrality.

This is why the appeal to authority informal fallacy exists. When I was a department head in intelligence, I was able to determine that a dignitary whom we had thought to have died accidentally, was indeed assassinated. We could not inform the nation involved, nor of course the family – but I accomplished this task through my own side investigation, examining more than simply the reliable sources and authorities. Less reliable, but high probative value and robust consilience potential channels of information gradually began to belie the standard reliable channels with the official (and easily believable) story – and turn our accidental death case into one of international intrigue. The cover story was perfect. It bore consensus.

Chekhov’s Gun

/philosophy : scientific method : intelligence/ : is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a fictional story must be necessary to support the plot or moral, and irrelevant elements should be excluded. It is used as part of a method of detecting lies and propaganda. In a fictional story, every detail or datum is supportive of, and accounted for, as to its backing of the primary agenda/idea. A story teller will account in advance for every loose end or ugly underbelly of his moral message, all bundled up and explained nicely – no exception or tail conditions will be acknowledged. They are not part of the story.

Ultimately, determining this perfectly explained accidental death to be a murder, opened up a line of investigation that helped topple an espionage ring. I refused to accept the reliable, authoritative and sensible information, and insisted instead upon critical path logic, probative corroboration and deductive falsification. Understanding reduction and critical path logic is not a skill possessed by most people, and certainly most skeptics.  But it essential to the path of ethical skepticism.

The ability to go into the field and see for one’s self, to recognize probative data and know how to convert it into reliable conjectures – these are the skills of a good detective. Such skills can be developed through a savvy or even unprecedented use of statistical inference, as is demonstrated no better than by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Or one can develop such skill by becoming an investigator or intelligence specialist. While I do not possess the skill set in mathematics any longer which NNT does, I have suffered through nine semesters in statistics, probability, hypothesis testing, modeling and simulation and decision theory (actually I loved these courses – but they were demanding). In addition I have functioned as a department head inside an intelligence organization. Authority and correctness counts for very little inside such disciplines.

These are two background sets which can serve to enhance one’s skills at the denaturing of mere information, into intelligence. And intelligence is the construct basis of ethical skepticism, not simply ‘facts’ and ‘data’. As these devices constitute merely the battle cry of the poseur, the authority credulous.

epoché vanguards gnosis

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How to MLA cite this blog post =>

The Ethical Skeptic, “Authority Credulity: Antipode to Conspiracy Theory – But Even Worse” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 29 Oct 2018; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-8uB

October 29, 2018 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , | Leave a comment

It Does Not Take a Conspiracy

At some point ignorance must betray the lie which exploits it. Mass delusions are a natural outcome of a specific recipe of commonplace cultural norms. All that is required to deploy a large scale deception, is a critical mass of ignorance and chronic angst, ignited by small repetitive prodding sourced from a position of authority. One does not have to conspire – rather only understand the malleable nature of duress inside complex social systems.
As it turns out, there is no need for a micro cause of this macro phenomena of complexity.

In order to create an exothermic nuclear decay acceleration from gamma rays, fission materials, and fast and thermal neutrons, one requires several physical components to effect such a reaction. Nuclear fuel along with a reactor core, neutron moderator, neutron poison (absorber), steady source of ignition neutrons, coolant, control rods and a reactor pressure vessel.1 Save for the mitigating features of a coolant, neutron poison, control rods and a neutron moderator – the process which foments the real social vulnerability which social skeptics falsely spin as ‘conspiracy theory’, is a natural outcome stemming from exploitation of several commonplace and naturally occurring social norms. It does not take a conspiracy after all, rather merely a pinch of chronically induced social anxiety, along with some gentle prodding in the right places, and in the right direction.

In 1990 a company called LA Gear introduced a footwear line into the high school aged buyer demographic, featuring a light emitting diode which flashed each time that the footwear user stepped on the ground. Called ‘LA Gear Lights’, these sneakers propelled this little known company to over $1 billion in sales revenue in just two short years of product maturation. Every high school socialite in California, and then the broader US demographic, desired these symbols of approved conformity.2 In similar fashion (pardon the pun), Kevin Planck at Under Armour was able to build a powerhouse brand through exploiting the tribal psychology example of college and professional athletes, upon a population thirsting for social acceptance. A momentum of such magnitude that it challenged and surmounted the pinnacle of brand strength (apologies to Coca-Cola) in the consumer goods industry, Nike. Kevin had listened to a small consumer goods advisory firm who taught that value in product strengthened brand and pricing better than did a roll of the dice on style, and creation of a margin-resilient value chain was paramount over mere purchase and operating cost minimization. Under Armour’s apparel cost them more to produce, message and deliver than did Nike’s, but they were also able to value their items at a higher price point than did Nike. They had solved a problem of tribal duress.3

Fashion science as it turns out is a very informative field of study, eliciting principles which are very useful to those seeking to exploit its elements to direct and control thought.

The essence of human interaction called a fad – elicits a principal with regard to social vulnerability, which bears dynamics similar to that of an unconstrained atomic pile (reactor core). In both of the case studies cited above, the momentum of personal statement and tribal example, was a neutron ignition source into a pile of compressed and anxious young adults (the fuel), exploiting the kinetic energy of their desire to be accepted. Starlings in group flight do not have to exhibit a specific pattern desired, all they have to do is not exhibit the pattern which is forbidden. And in order to reduce their likelihood of exhibiting the embargoed hypothesis – all we have to do is keep them under constant angst. Even an image bearing truth can be quickly dissipated through chaos and duress.

This social vulnerability does not simply end at age 25 of course. It continues to ferment and mature into less obvious forms of control-ability and fanaticism, in the average adult member of society. Nazi Germany did not proliferate its message simply through means of the concerted effort of broadscale conspiracy, rather an exploiting of the common social norms fermenting in the aftermath of World War I. Germans struggled to understand their country’s uncertain future. Citizens faced poor economic conditions, skyrocketing unemployment, political instability, and profound social change. While downplaying more extreme goals, Adolf Hitler and just a few individuals inside the Nazi Party offered simple solutions to Germany’s problems, exploiting people’s fears and frustrations.4 There existed a common nutrient solution of duress upon the general population (see The Ten Pillars of Social Skepticism). A study published in June of 2017, elicits and supports this notion that populations under duress are vulnerable to being exploited by control-minded influences. Highlighting that even our official authorized stories themselves, may yet be the result of this vulnerability, moreso than either an enormous effort of influencing or a prevailing realization of the truth inside a matter.

Evidence suggests that the aversive feelings that people experience when in crisis—fear, uncertainty, and the feeling of being out of control—stimulate a motivation to make sense of the situation, increasing the likelihood of perceiving conspiracies in social situations. We then explain that after being formed, conspiracy theories can become historical narratives that may spread through cultural transmission. We conclude that conspiracy theories originate particularly in crisis situations and may form the basis for how people subsequently remember and mentally represent a historical event.

~ Van Prooijen, Douglas; Sage – Memory Studies : “Conspiracy theories as part of history”5

Establishing Isolation and Chronic Duress is All that is Required

There is no micro cause of conspiracy. There is safety in the herd however. One does not have to conspire – rather only understand the malleable nature of social duress and establish separations between groups of people. The public does not only invent creative alternatives under chronic applications of such duress, but they are vulnerable to adopting an official version more easily as well, and spreading it predictably and habitually. This as much as anything, may be the reason behind why all our news is negatively charged. It allows for control and exploits human regularity and tribal habits. Consider for instance, the work of Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT and the director of the Collective Learning group at The MIT Media Lab, Cesar Hidalgo, and his associates.6

We find that in contrast with the random trajectories predicted by the prevailing Levy flight and random walk models, human trajectories show a high degree of temporal and spatial regularity, each individual being characterized by a time independent characteristic length scale and a significant probability to return to a few highly frequented locations. After correcting for differences in travel distances and the inherent anisotropy of each trajectory, the individual travel patterns collapse into a single spatial probability distribution, indicating that despite the diversity of their travel history, humans follow simple reproducible patterns.

~ Understanding individual human mobility patterns, Marta C. Gonzalez, Cesar A. Hidalgo, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi

Conspiracy theory accusation therefore, goes both ways. Both the dissenting minority and the conforming majority are vulnerable, and a conspiracy is not required at all in either case. Humans are creatures of habit, whether to their advantage or detriment – producing fixed patterns which become exothermic when placed under a negative vibrating energy.

  • fear of outsiders,
  • desire to regain power,
  • habit/history of religious-styled fervor,
  • emotional damage from traumatic past events,
  • overcompensation for secret doubts,
  • fear of the new and unknown,
  • cultural addiction to confrontation & denial,
  • emotional rush derived from control and deception,
  • cathartic joy of belittling those who are different and
  • the need to belong
  • the need to communicate and story-tell.

In this combination of factors, an interesting troop dynamic occurs in which humans naturally seek to reinforce, protect and promote a dogmatic message; and they will do so without much prodding. When taken inside a complex social system, this set of micro traits can serve to create disconnected, but reliable, social phenomena. It is not that we can ascribe a single mirco event or influence to be the cause of conspiracy or conspiracy thinking itself. We have to understand the nature of complex social systems and how they can be manipulated towards specific ends – and it does not take a conspiracy itself, in order to make this happen. It is a naturally exothermic process.

This combination of social factors causes a proliferation of dogmatic ignorance and compliance, which is similar in nature to an exothermic nuclear reaction. A principle called exoagnoia:

exoagnoia

/philosophy : rhetoric : exploitation : fad : ignorance/ : conspiracy which is generated naturally through the accelerative interaction of several commonplace social factors. A critical mass of uninformed, misinformed, disinformed and/or compartmentalized population under chronic duress (the ignorance fuel), ignited by an input of repetitive authoritative propaganda (the ignition source). Such a phenomenon enacts falsehood through its own inertia/dynamic and does not necessarily require a continuous intervention on the part of an influencing group.

Critical Elements of a ‘Conspiracy’ (Fad)

  • a compressed and interactive population
  • a conformance compelling and persistent angst (the duress)
  • identification of the unacceptable (bad)
  • compartmentalized organizations who apparatchiks do not fully understand the big picture
  • introduction of an easily observable ‘acceptability’ influence from a tribe or very small sliver of the population
  • social celebrity backing and praise for the influence
  • media sources who will craft ingoratio elenchi, ingens vanitatum and verum mendacium filled publications (see The Art of the Professional Lie)
  • silence about or disincentive towards considering any alternatives

There exist two flavors of this mechanism:

  1. Popular confirmation (promotion of the preferred idea)
  2. Popular inverse negation (condemnation of the full set of unsanctioned ideas)

That is all it takes folks. As it turns out, it does not take a conspiracy after all, rather merely a gentle prodding in the right places, and in the right direction, at the right time.

epoché vanguards gnosis

How to MLA cite this blog post =>
The Ethical Skeptic, “It Does Not Take a Conspiracy” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 30 March 2018, Web; https://wp.me/p17q0e-7p8

March 30, 2018 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Institutional Mandates | , | Leave a comment

   

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