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/human rights (such as an election, war, pandemic or famine)
‣  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 before the game is afoot. 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.

Example: A system which administers, processes and reports election results cannot be ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Three notorious methods of election cheating my firm’s partners have witnessed in third world nations are: 1. the sudden introduction of new voting methods in the year prior to an election, 2. the EDI/physical exchange of voter ballots into foreign hands for non-monitored processing, or 3. the execution of election admin/ballot processing on the part of principally only one of the political parties (curiously always seems to be the victor). Activities which abrogate the power of constituents and instead serve to defacto consecrate kings.

The Lesson: An election system must be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to be without flaw and devoid of intent, before it is employed. It cannot be assumed as such, nor held to a standard of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Until such certification and acceptance by an impartial third party representing the constituents as a whole, agency (intent) must be presumed to be at play.

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 claim any manifestation of a ‘tampering hand’; yet as well inside which we also cannot yet aver an absence of such intent. Human origins, as in the case of voting mechanisms, demands a Dual-Burden Model of Inferential Ethics. To do anything less, is corruption.

If a logical object 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, because this action itself bears 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

Speciation (Darwinism)
Human Acceleration

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:


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


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​


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.

The Ethical Skeptic, “The Dual-Burden Model of Inferential Ethics”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 30 June 2019; Web,

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


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