The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

A New Ethic

Failures and agendas in the name of science are not the result of ‘scientism’ per se, as science can never be a teleological ‘-ism’ by its very definition. Science itself is neutral. Failures with respect to science are the result of flawed or manipulated philosophy of science. When social control, change or conformance agents subject science to a state of being their lap-dog, serving specific agendas, such agents err in regard to the philosophical basis of science, skepticism. They are not bad scientists, rather bad philosophers, seeking a socialized goal. They are social skeptics.

When philosophers speak of skepticism being the foundation of science, they are not referring to the inept spewing of methodical cynicism, prejudicial doubt and stacks of provisional knowledge of unacknowledged risk, which is practiced by those who today pretend to be, or pose as if representing, science. Skepticism possesses no ax to grind, save for the idempotent ethic of defending the knowledge development process. Ethical Skepticism challenges manipulation of opponents, semantics, data, method, science, argument, assumption, groups, authorities and perception of self on the part of agenda carrying agents. These agents enforce a fiat knowledge agenda through intimidation, defamation, ridicule, surreptitious malevolent activity, social control, ethnic disdain, tortious interference, business tampering, murder, targeting of ideas, observations or persons, media domination, propaganda, mafia and elite corporate power. This all oriented towards the desired set of social goals enacted under a particular cultivated ignorance. Philosophy is the moral conscience of science; yet in this role it cannot pretend to step in and act on behalf of science. Skepticism therefore, as philosophy, is the complement of sound science method, not the privilege sword of a few pretenders culling and provisionally promoting in lieu of science. Skepticism is the hallmark of those who possess the grace, integrity and acumen requisite in the wielding of great ideas.

cwv0dmqxgaaz6wsOf course the ethics (practice methods) of Ethical Skepticism are not really new. However, to most people, because of the false form of skepticism thrust upon them daily by agenda driven forces, Ethical Skepticism does appear to be novel and heretical thinking. The modern pop/lay definitions outlining the mindset of persons who identify themselves as skeptics often include some version of the task of ‘carefully scrutinizing claim validity,’ ‘doubting’ and ‘demanding proof’ as a response to novel intelligence. Skepticism, as philosophy, cannot make the boast of replacing science, as this is not the purpose of philosophy. Those that substitute skepticism in lieu of science hunger for premature conclusiveness and exploit convenient ambiguity in science method; a tacit permission which justifies just about any oppressive action of denial one chooses. It affords any jerk, know-it-all or activist the ability to promote their religious or political ideas under the luxury of cozenage as a scientist – all through the simple act of declaring themselves to be a skeptic. It revolves around a false practice set implying that you personally must derive a conclusion on every mystery in the here and now, with only the information you have been given. This is a pressure sales pitch – usually involving identifying the bad people. This is dishonesty. This is pseudoscience. It is skepticism derived for the sole sake of being identified as a skeptic. It is a pretense, purposed for power.

Ethical Skepticism in contrast, focuses on application of the scientific method to produce a consequentialist duality of clarity – regardless of whether or not the insights are liked or disliked, probable or improbable, favored or disfavored, and value – as measured by three goals: love, understanding and the alleviation of suffering.

know-the-differenceSkepticism is a practice discipline of the ethical scientist. However, being skeptical does not therefore make one a scientist. Indeed rather, such self-regard without circumspection can serve to mislead one into obsessing about skepticism itself; to stand in lieu of actual understanding or qualification history. This is the cause of much extremism in our society today, falsely in the name of science. 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.

the test of fake skepticism

Moreover, with regard to even the valid aspects of pop-skepticism, there exists a problem in that a sufficiently detrimental portion of those who identify themselves as ‘skeptics’ teach and purposely practice agenda driven methodical cynicism and promotion of their personal religion, Nihilism. The flaw in this process is embodied in The Riddle of Skepticism:

The Riddle of Skepticism

The question one must ask them self, before venturing into this hall of mirrors called skepticism, is this: It is not whether or not I can establish a likelihood of being right or wrong on a matter; the question in the mind of the ethical skeptic is ‘If you were wrong, would you even know?”  This is the focus of the philosophy of skepticism and not this business of pretending to act in lieu of science.

By proclaiming skepticism, one has already struck the tar baby and can no longer plead denial of their action in contending philosophy. The discipline of philosophy, even an examination as to how we go about developing knowledge, cannot be employed as a means to bypass science and pretend to act in its place, as this is not the purpose of philosophy.

Doubt, belief and social pressure to accede to provisional knowledge therefore are the raw materials which compose the fabric of the lie. This is why the ethical skeptic relies upon the suspension of these things – embodied in the philosophy of the epoché. Rather than decide for himself what is true and untrue, instead he robs the lie spinner (even if himself) of the raw material he desperately needs. He is not denying knowledge, rather denying the tradecraft of the lie.

The entire realm of ethical skepticism is occulted through the sleight-of-hand trick wherein Pyrrhonistic Epoché is strawman defined as a ‘denial of knowledge’. This is philosophical ineptness – and creates the false dilemma that methodical cynicism is therefore the only bifurcated alternative inside the process of seeking truth..

     ~ The Ethical Skeptic

With the exception of inalienable natural rights, philosophy, despite standing as the foundation of science, cannot be abused to supplant or act in lieu of the methods of science. Skepticism too is bound by this construct. Much of our false skepticism and scientific pretense today stems from a misunderstanding of or ignorance around this key principle. Therefore, in order to clarify the difference between false and valid skepticism based on this understanding, I have introduced a more rigorous professional definition of the mindset; one more clearly and effectively focused on application of the scientific method. One which I call Ethical Skepticism.

So let’s revise the pop misunderstandings of skepticism and the “scrutinizing validity/proof” boasts above, into the true definition; in a way that transforms it from a shill pretense, acting in lieu of science – and into real professional skepticism:

Ethical Skeptic  –  One who practices the method of suspended judgment, engages in dispassionate evidence gathering and objective unbiased reasoning in execution of the scientific method; shows willingness to consider opposing explanations without prejudice based on prior beliefs, and who pursues goals of clarity, value, discipline and the understanding of risk, in support of our knowledge development.

A personal choice of scientific professional character which is expounded upon in the series parts below:

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – The Eight Tropes

Explained how skepticism is a thirst to know and authentically investigate. An extreme distaste for man’s propensity for self deception, social power, posing and contrivance. Not solely for the sake of simply knowing; but moreover to in small part, help in easing the pain of mankind’s suffering and lack of knowledge about the realm in which he finds himself unwilling participant.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 1 – The Octavus Thesauri and What it Means to Be an Ethical Skeptic

Explained how skepticism is a method of preparing the mind and data sets to conduct the Knowledge Development Process. That it has nothing to do with simplest explanations or defending why the right answer is correct. It is a form of disciplined receptive thought; a way of handling new data without resorting to the errant method of deniability or defending pat/institutional answers.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 2 – The Riddle of Skepticism

Explained how Ethical Skepticism is a clarity and value oriented assemblage of the best of Philosophical, Empirical and Cartesian Skepticism developed in side a Kuhn Theory of Revolution context, focused on employment of the entire scientific method, not simply the experimental method.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 3 – Ethical Skepticism Detailed Through the Knowledge Development Process

The purpose of skepticism is not to defend the correct answer; rather to defend the integrity of the Knowledge Development Process, and to challenge the imposition of ignorance. The Ethical Skeptic must ever be vigilant for abrogation of the scientific method and surreptitiously promoted religion.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 4 – Ethical Skepticism and How it Relates to Religion and Belief

Explained how Ethical Skepticism’s being defined philosophically as Defense of the Knowledge Development Process, only affords room for definition of belief and religion in one way. A way in which those who pretend to represent science are correctly framed in the light of the same religious mindset as the theist religious minded opponents.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 5 – Ethical Skepticism and The Real Ockham’s Razor

The actual role of Ockham’s Razor, the real scientific principle, is to begin the scientific method, not complete it in one felled swoop. Rational thinking under Ockham’s Razor (ie. Parsimony) is the demonstrated ability to handle plurality of argument with integrity. The ability to wield great ideas and not drop them through incompetence.

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

It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to ensure that people’s words are not implied as club weapons to enforce specious religious doctrines. It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to understand their own employment of such words inside a context of ethical clarity; to disarm the social inference that such words mean more, than they really do. To err either way, is the source of fanaticism.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 7 – The Unexpected Virtue of Allow-For Thinking

The practice of Allow-For thinking is not tantamount to a confirming belief nor a denial belief on the part of the ethical skeptic. It is not a belief at all. Rather, a practical allegiance to science, a pledge to allow a matter of coherently observed plurality its day in the court of science, no matter what methods our personal prejudices, provisional knowledge, bunk intolerance, and social pressures might tempt us to bias.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 8 – The Watchers Must Also Be Watched

One of the tenets of Ethical Skepticism is “Monitor those who do the monitoring.” Two pitfalls derive from a monitoring process which has gone out of control. In-group biases tend to reinforce in the mind of the watchers, the need for their quality entity (external skepticism in lieu of science) and they may fail to be able to recognize a quality outcome – becoming the source of error themselves.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 9 – Skeptive Dissonance

The heart which is only focused upon itself, eventually tires of such a subject. There exists a discomfort one experiences in overcoming anosognosia. This is considered the first step in the journey of ethical skepticism.

epoché vanguards gnosis

April 8, 2015 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism, What is Ethical Skepticism | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ethical Skepticism – Part 4 – The Panoply of Belief

Ethical Skepticism’s being defined philosophically as a mindset defending the Knowledge Development Process, only affords room for definition of belief and religion in one way. A way in which those who pretend to represent science are cast in the light of the same religious mindset as the theist religious.

Skepticism: The Philosopher’s View of the Knowledge Development Process

The Epignosis - Copy 801Now we will discuss the perspective of Ethical Skepticism and its interplay with and dynamic as contrasted with beliefs and religions. In Ethical Skepticism Part 1 we examined a chart called “The Epignosis” or more plainly The Knowledge Development Process. Within that section, the contention was made that the role of skepticism is to defend the Knowledge Development Process and to challenge the Ignorances of religion. Specifically, pseudo-skepticism, credulity, fanaticism, denial, plausible deniability, cynicism, mores, and doctrine. These are the presumptions of a person enforcing a religion. Robert Nozick, former Pellegrino University Professor at Harvard University, avers regarding skepticism:

“The skeptic argues that we do not know what we think we do. …Given [the variety of causal knowledge] [how then] is knowledge possible? In answering this question, we do not seek to convince the skeptic [or our self], but rather to formulate hypotheses about knowledge and our connection to facts which show how knowledge can exist…”  ~Nozick¹

In other words, the purpose of skepticism, whether preparing our own mind to develop knowledge, or demonstrating to others a necessity that they develop knowledge as well, is not to defend the right answer, but rather to defend the integrity of The Knowledge Development Process, or science – as we more commonly call it.¹

Religion in Skepticism is The Illusion of the Absolute. It is Not Defined Simply by Veneration of a God or Gods

Noted philosopher Georg Wilhem Friedrich Hegel cited in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion that religion was defined as “The Image of the Absolute.”² In this context he expounds about religion in that

“Still [religion] always remains a certainty, and its rays stream as something divine into this present temporal life, giving the consciousness of the active presence of truth, even amidst the anxieties which torment the soul here in this region of time.”  ~Hegel²

The Panoply of Belief

In other words, religion as defined by Hegel, is the illusion of the presence of absolute truth, which counteracts the anxiety of our present. Notice that Hegel sets his reference to the divine as more metaphorical and not parametrical inside this context of definition. Social Skeptics are keen to equate religion with the acceptance of a god or gods. This is an artifice and non-viable definition of the principle. Religion in a skeptical sense is a defense mechanism against fear of the unknown. Indeed, one of the tenets of Ethical Skepticism is the contention that all religion, stems from the same set of common fears.² If both man A and man O are afraid of the same thing P, then the fact that they devise two diametrically opposed solutions to that anxiety, Pª and Pº, does not dismiss the reality that they have both devised an illusion of truth by which to protect them self from the incumbent current anxiety. What they have devised makes no difference in terms of their ontology constituting a religion.  One believes that benevolent frogs will welcome us into the afterlife, so we should not be afraid of death. The other believes that there is no afterlife so we should not be afraid of death. In the Robert Nozick definition of skepticism, both man A and man O have manufactured knowledge from the unknown, independent of fact, based upon anxiety. Both are not skeptics.

Man A develops knowledge (RED) to counter fear P

Man O develops knowledge (GREEN) to counter fear P

Both Pª and Pº are therefore religions

Ethical Skepticism seeks to remove the mind of the participant from this process of fear (P) and Hegel’s ‘Illusion of the Abosolute’ (Pª and Pº)

If one becomes a Nihilist over personal anger or dislike of Fundamentalists , one is nonetheless adopting a religion all the same. Simply one Illusion of the Absolute used to combat the anger and fear over another Illusion of the Absolute. There is no real difference.

For the Ethical Skeptic, there are points of interest in all these beliefs, but he adopts none as his illusion.

This principle plays out in the graphic to the right, wherein we employ the Hegel-Nozick definitions of religion and skepticism to illustrate that all beliefs, adopted to quell the anxiety of the present, are religions. You can see those belief sets which qualify as a means of deflecting anxiety by means of the illusion of truth, marked with a red star in the chart to the right.  Further then, the Ethical Skeptic defines a religion in terms of how it is expressed in the social discourse, by means of two qualifiers:

  1. If you do not accept my illusion of truth, you are ignorant, silly or unacceptable in some fashion, and
  2. My truth cannot be approached by means of falsification testing.

A Prison of Their Own Mindset – Never Aware That They Could Leave at Any Time

fear of deathIn other words, what the religious participant is really saying is “I must protect my ‘knowledge from the unknown’ (Pª and Pº) at all costs. The alternative (P) terrifies me.” It does not matter whether they have invented a deity or confabulated a ‘nothingness’ to assuage this fear. These ontological machinations are both simply relgion in the Hegel sense. It does not matter that their life practices might not keenly adhere to the tenets of the religion. It is the terror, after all which must be allayed through mindset, not practice. Fundamentalists do not seek to perfect morality, and Nihilists perform very little scientific method. These are only symbols for them. For this reason, the Ethical Skeptic should bear affinity to many of the arguments from both sides of the spectrum depicted in the chart. The Ethical Skeptic understands and empathizes with the ‘why’ of all this. This understanding of the artifice (P) which has created this polarization depicted above, frees him from this fear. Part of your ethos as an Ethical Skeptic is to recognize and work to ease the bars of the prison in which people like this exist. Remember it is not a prison of their own crafting, rather it has been thrust upon them. Your voice should work to counter those who craft and sell these prisons on other people. Those are the religious.

Given this professional definition of religion, let’s examine the field of illusions of truths, beliefs. Beliefs are not excused by the apologetic that one is applying ‘critical thinking’ or ‘rationality’ or ‘the tools of science.’ When one uses ‘science’ to refuse to collect data, and to dismiss information elements they dislike one at a time, one is not performing science, rather one is allaying their terror. Such are the actions of Social Skeptics, actions of belief as defined in the chart above. Much of this claptrap is adorned no differently than are robes and talisman. It is this chosen illusion of truth, the Image of the Absolute, which protects one from anxiety (whether fear of god or simply the unknown) which qualifies the doctrine as a religion. Indeed, it is drawing absolute out of the unknown, which is the handiwork of those protecting a religious stand. Now to the degree that some of the list of ontologies shown in the chart, are not forced on others, or their tenets are set precariously on the crucible of falsification (such as in the cases of interventionism, atheism (not Big-A Atheism) and evolution for example) these ontologies are not religions for the most part, as they do not meet the two criteria.

The Zone of Fear 23 - CopyThe Ethical Skeptic intercepts this process of illusion of the absolute via two means. First, to remove the influence of fear of the unknown in their ontological development discipline, and second, to link the development of knowledge to a professionally, ethically developed set of what can be known, with nothing thrown out. In Pyrrhonistic Greek Skepticism, the removal of this fear (and its derivative disdain, hatred or reactionary fear) and replacement of it with a suspended state of Epoché is called the state of Ataraxia.

Ataraxia (ἀταραξία, “tranquility”) is a Greek term used by Pyrrho and Epicurus for a lucid state of robust tranquility, characterized by ongoing freedom from distress and worry.³

It is the act of dismissal of an ‘anecdote’ which betrays servitude to this fear, the desire to enforce a religion. If the data you are credibly presented is inconsistent with your favorite view, collect it anyway. How will it harm you? There is no need to make a MiHoDeAL claim to knowledge. Even lies can deliver a wealth of value, and eventually under diligence of accrued verity, prove themselves to be false. In an environment where all ‘incorrect’ data is MiHoDeAL, one will only find what one has assumed to be true in the first place.

The Ethical Skeptic divests him or herself from the belief/fear/hate business, and instead chooses to let the mystery be, until sufficient knowledge can be developed which falsifies any or all of the belief sets which he has at his disposal.

He is neither accepting, nor ruling out any particular ontology, rather being patient enough to accept new data as it arrives. His chief frustration is at the hands of those who claim they have truth because ‘god told them’ or ‘science told them.’ He does not stray unnecessarily to either the red or green extremities of the panoply chart above, and moreover, removes himself from the process altogether.  He eschews subjects which are prohibited falsification by existentialism or law, and refuses to enforce belief sets on others.

For me personally, you can see my ontological preferences in the boxes marked in white at the neutral center of this chart. As an ignostic, I do not know what a god is, and moreover seek falsification bases to my perceptions about the unknown. Yet as an Ethical Skeptic, neither have I ruled out the possibility of a spiritual realm, nor the necessity to develop a spiritually advancing and enlightened life. Were I forced to make a choice today, I would have to say that both Nihilism and Fundamentalism have been falsified, along with much of their spectrum of beliefs.  The only reason they survive today, are the false skeptics who promote those religions in the name of their personal fear and Image of the Absolute.

¹  Nozick, Robert; Philosophical Explanations, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1981, ISBN 0-674-66448-5; pp. 167-171.

²  Rosen, Stanley, Editor; The Philosopher’s Handbook: A User’s Guide to Western Philosophy, Random House, Inc., New York, NY, 2000; ISBN 978-0-375-72011-6; pp. 165-169.

³ Ataraxia, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia;, extracted 8 Dec 2014.

November 27, 2014 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism, What is Ethical Skepticism | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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