The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Agency of Pseudo-Skepticism & Cultivated Ignorance

The Distinction Between Bias and Agency

Bias comes from the inside and only becomes bias when we ignore it or are compelled to act upon it. Agency comes from the outside and seeks to leverage ignorance. Bias is the prejudice of the individual. Agency is the awesome insistence of the club. Agency is that intent which seeks virtuous godship over a lesser person or at-risk stakeholder.

What is Agency?

As part of my studies of mythology and in particular Gnostic Christianity, I made an effort to transliterate my way through some of the Nag Hammadi codex material and in particular The Hypostasis of the Archons. These Second Century early-sect Christian texts were not discovered until recently, inside buried and sealed clay jars, in upper Egypt in 1945.1 2 In this version of early Christian mythology the ‘God’ which created the original failed prototype of mankind on Earth was named Samael. Pistis Sophia, the celestial and true God, took pity upon the suffering creature and made him into a fully sentient being – much to the indignation of Samael. As a result, Samael enslaved the new creature back into servitude under the Archons, or Rulers.

Samael, also called the ‘demiurge’, was a heavenly being, subordinate to the Supreme Being (Pistis Sophia), that was considered to be the absolute Ruler (Archon or Archangel) of the Earth – antagonistic to all that is celestial, enlightened and/or spiritual. Samael eventually came to be known as Ha-Satan,3 the one who in Levant mythology tempted Christ, the Son of Man, by offering him rule over all the kingdoms of Earth if he would only subjugate himself (and the coming Mankind) unto the authority of the Archons.

This Gnostic version of ancient writ was regarded as holy well before that Canonical consensus which was assembled three centuries later and eventually came to be called the Bible.4 It is no mystery why those in charge of developing that World power which would become the Christian Church would have sought to exterminate this version of scripture – causing it to flee into Egypt – because in its texts as compared to the Bible, the roles of God (Pistis Sophia, Eternal Wisdom and Faith) and Satan (Samael, Ruler of Earth) are reversed in many regards:

Of primary importance to know, is the core principal that the Chief Authority of the Rulers, Samael is spiritually blind. Because his spiritual vision was very limited in this regard, because there was apparently no one to challenge him from what he could see, and finally because he was also arrogant, he concluded that quod erat demonstrandum, he must be the most powerful entity which exists. He therefore declared himself manifestly, to be God. But as a good man knows, it is the gravest of sins to adorn one’s self in the costume of God over a fellow or lesser being.

Thereafter, the Rulers took the man Pistis Sophia had rescued from their inept hands and mercifully transmutated as well into a fully sentient being, Adam, and placed him into a great garden situated adjacent to their abode in the Levant. They tasked him to maintain and cultivate the garden. But in this garden, they had hatched another plan as well – that of a trap. The Rulers had decided to plant a Tree in the center of the garden, and to subsequently instruct their ‘Man of the Clay’, “From every tree in the garden shall you eat; yet from the tree of understanding what is not-evil and what is evil, do not eat. For in the day you eat from that tree, you will again fall under our dominion and may no longer claim this Earth which has been so unworthily bequeathed to you. You will again die like the service animal you are.” Of course the Rulers knew, that once man was told to not do something, that is the exact thing which he would elect to then do.

Nag Hammadi – The Hypostasis of the Archons (Consolidation and Transliteration)

Now of course, this cache of ancient mythological writing bears no more credibility nor lack thereof than does any other. However such mythology can stand as a form of analogue or parable relating key messages. What interests me in these passages of the The Hypostasis of the Archons, is the premise that – relative to the array of misdeeds which can be undertaken there exists no morality, there is no virtue – as every and any intent is actually good, when compared to that intent which seeks to enact godship over a fellow or ‘lesser’ being. It is not the costume one wears, nor how one appears to regard self, but rather what one does to others – which betrays the narcissist. This urge to godship is the original sin of the Archons.

Further then implicit in the Nag Hammadi mythos is the understanding that, avoiding regarding one’s self as god, and treating others accordingly is actually rather straightforward in its application:

First, there is a higher wisdom, knowledge and faithfulness (Pistis Sophia) to cherish and hold dear above all else.

Second, hold those within your reach just as worthy of this as you do yourself.

That is pretty much it. One does not have to save the world. One does not need to put on a fake humility. One does not need to extract money from hard-working people in the name of helping the oppressed refugees championed in some virtuous narcissistic fantasy. These are merely forms of godship over those ‘lesser’ than us. We are deceived often in this – that between the at-risk laborer who is harmed, and the lowly victim who is blessed, there exists an enacting, ‘humble’ and ‘virtuous’ third party who has made an implicit claim to godship inside this entire sordid play. Part of treating others as you would want to be treated, also involves holding all accountable to do their share and not simply sexually reproduce beyond sustainability and confiscate the workfruit of their fellow beings (through that third party). This does not serve to invalidate acts of taxation nor mercy of course; however, there is no mercy in this particular social play act – rather only opportunities to claim godship over one’s fellow man.

Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell.

Karl Popper

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.

Lord Acton

Therefore the mere biases of suspicion, skepticism, sponsorship, hunch, predilection or conspiracy theory are one thing – but evil is known by one signature and one signature alone – and that is agency – the intent which seeks a position of godship over a lesser being or at-risk stakeholder. To costume this intent in virtue, goodness, morality, justice, science, religious or academic robes or any other urge of the poseur, stands only to compound such evil.

Evil is known by one signature alone – agency –
that intent which seeks godship over a lesser being or at-risk stakeholder.

To costume this intent in virtue, goodness, morality, justice, science,
religious or academic robes serves only to compound its evil.

Yes, an ethical skeptic recognizes the risk inherit in bias – but also understands as well that bias, is not really our preeminent problem. This is why the First Duty of Ethical Skepticism is to oppose agency.

         Bias

Any form of development in epistemology which is conducted under a lack of epoché or skeptical neutrality. Bias is not something that one holds – as everyone possesses this form of ‘bias’. Rather bias is an action which has succumbed to such inclination, whether conscious or unconscious. It is a set of actions, postulates, questions, observations, analyses, portrayals, manipulations, methods or conclusions which are influenced in any way by a premise of non-neutrality concerning a question of inquiry or science.

         Agency

The manipulation of persons, institutions, procedures, risks, ignorance, biases or social message such that they bring to effect a particular surreptitious or manifest outcome. The seeking of godship over lesser, disdained or at-risk stakeholders in the form of power, virtue, moral authority, conflict, positional authority, defamation, control, retribution, sequestration, harm, death, justice, extermination, extraction of wealth, oppression or enslavement.

         Bias versus Agency

Bias will be acknowledged and surrendered by an honest researcher. Agency will not.

Bias can be mitigated and worked around. Agency can not.

Bias does not seek to exploit other bias. Agency does.

Bias does not form a syndicate (cartel, mafia, cabal). Agency does.

Bias does not seek to govern. Agency does.

Bias introduces error. Agency enforces it.

Bias is Tau. Agency is Indigo. (*see here)

Bias counters its potential error by means of skepticism. Agency entrenches its correctness by joining a skeptic club.

Bias can be countered by in-context methodology and researcher discipline. Agency can not.

Bias does not celebrate, exploit nor seek to wallow in ignorance. Agency does.

Bias is identified through knowledge. Agency is identified through intelligence.

Bias will seek to protect its own. Agency will seek to harm those different.

Bias might involve standing up to a bully. Agency is the bully.

Bias does not see the full set of ramifications. Agency sets those as its goal.

Bias does not seek to bolster an institution. Agency does.

Bias comes from inside. Agency comes from the outside.

Bias appeals to a higher authority aside from itself. Agency does so only in furtherance of its goals.

Bias can detect and deliberate an impact upon stakeholders. Agency does not care – or is even worse when it does.

Thus I have outlined as faithfully as I can muster, the threshing tool of the ethical skeptic allowing a distinction between bias and agency. Wise is he or she who understands and can master the difference.

   How to MLA cite this article:

The Ethical Skeptic, “The Distinction Between Bias and Agency”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 4 Jan 2020; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=42966

January 4, 2020 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism, Institutional Mandates | , , | 5 Comments

A Handy Checklist for Distinguishing Propaganda from Actual Science

The propaganda artist insists upon final conclusion from a smattering of facts. An ethical skeptic raises questions from disciplined, incremental and in-the-field observation.

How do we distinguish propaganda from genuine skepticism and science? How does the ethical skeptic discern who to engage with and whom to treat with a more asperous demeanor? Here is a handy checklist which I find helpful in such circumstances. Ethics never demands that you treat everyone nicely. Be gracious to all and tolerant of unintended ignorance – but never cozen a liar or insistent apparatchik. These are distinguished by their methods, and not their specific beliefs or stances on an issue. The central key is this:

A propaganda artist insists upon final conclusion from a smattering of facts. An ethical skeptic raises questions from disciplined, incremental and in-the-field observation.

A propaganda artist habitually defends the strong. An ethical skeptic defends stakeholders at risk.

A propaganda artist focuses on person, identity, motive and trivia. An ethical skeptic focuses on method and argument.

The propaganda artist may in fact, be correct – but this is simply by accident.

The Propaganda Artist

Seeks and targets specific groups, inserting them self into that targeted group conversations

The only ‘question’ raised is pejorative, questioning an opponent’s motive or character/person

Makes a high priority of identifying the bad guys (usually a priori)

Identifies the bad subjects a priori (by means other than actual completed science) – often in a bundle or on a t-shirt

Groups opponents into a gigantic conspiracy-theory-believing, tin-foil hat or anti-science cult

Relies upon personal attacks based simply upon an opponent’s dissent

Uses the media or a club of social superiority as their backup – bullying crowd

Comes armed with a list of disjointed facts or canned points, and calls that ‘evidence’

Issues figures and fabutistics (‘97% of scientists’, ‘less than 5% of cases’), without any qualification or understanding of them

Obtains plausible deniability stances from club doctrine and materials/sources

Uses one-liners/talking points and presumes opponent has never heard them before

An habitual attachment or reliance upon headlines or catch phrases

Fails to examine their canned talking points for any straw man of opponents

Appeals to authority or celebrity in lieu of competence, and before any argument is actually framed or established

Habitually underestimates or deprecates opponents

Relies upon partial, preliminary or outdated science

Fails to demonstrate a record of producing any original thoughts

Fails to understand what a hypothesis is, or the different Levels/strengths of study design and inference

Seeks to increase celebrity and club status through their activity

Focuses upon victory – motivated to compensate for a past anger/shortfall

Was in the opposite camp and now they have ‘seen the light’ and are still a fanatic, just merely switched sides

Significant need to be the ‘science representative’ or the smartest person in the room

‘Wears the logo or job’ as status inside the science or industry under contention, but does not seem to carry much professional knowledge of that science or industry

Insults the innocent opponent – bears a habit of insulting

Flip-flops sides (not as an outcome of scientific persuasion) unconsciously or on smaller (but critical) issues

Never applies doubt to self or favored ideas, only to disfavored ideas

Fails to grasp that simply using the tools of science (eg. Bayesian analysis, meta-study, single p-values) does not mean that one has actually done science

Habitually fails to understand or acknowledge risk or value

Seldom distinguishes a stakeholder from casual interest – never defends a stakeholder at risk

Issues conclusions based upon mere ‘facts’ and not the critical nature of argument (soundness, logical calculus and critical path)

Never ends with a question, always a final answer

Does not seem to be aware of what a syllogism or logical calculus is, and how to differentiate it from an ignoratio elenchi argument

Reliance upon informal fallacy or peripheral trivia as a means to disprove an opponent

Fails to measure or be aware of the cost in a claimed cost-benefit mechanism

Forces a simplest explanation or talks about ‘Occam’s Razor’ (sic)

Possesses a final explanation claim for all inquiries

Forces an argument to final explanation

Answers are always simple and easy (which is not the real world)

Tenders an idea equal status to a scientific hypothesis

Implies at all times that the science has been completed

epoché vanguards gnosis

How to MLA cite this blog post =>
The Ethical Skeptic, “A Handy Checklist for Distinguishing Propaganda from Actual Science” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 24 March 2018, Web; https://wp.me/p17q0e-7lR

March 24, 2018 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda | , | Leave a comment

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

One of the tenets of Ethical Skepticism is “Monitor those who do the monitoring.” A confluence of three pitfalls derive from a monitoring process which has gone awry. In-group biases tend to reinforce in the mind of the watchers, the need for their quality entity (external entity skepticism in lieu of science) and they may fail to be able to recognize a quality outcome – becoming the source of error themselves. The net result, many times is an unbound combination of lack of accountability and coalescence of power to the authority who watches. This stands as a god-proxy. A mistake wherein the network may value itself above product or topic and become a regularly self-justifying and error stimulating/generating mechanism.
Clubs fail to ensure quality. Ethical Skepticism is the very absence of club quality.

Quality is not an Add-OnIn classic quality control theory, there exist five principal approaches to improving and sustaining quality of process and delivery. They revolve around the ethos of designing elegant procedure, being smart, and treating people in an ethical manner. Accountability imbued from outsiders is rarely effective, rather only standing as a cathartic and futile gesture on the part of someone looking to profit from the process, not share in its success. Shortfalls in this regard are what result in human and systemic error. Error does not stem primarily from an absence of monitoring errors; rather, it stems from a bad assumption, bad training, bad process …and sometimes (many times), bad monitoring itself. The key elements entailed in designing a process of quality, in order, are †

I.  Craft process(es) based upon clarity and value regarding human, training, system and their symbiosis

II.  Interweave self-checking mechanisms which highlight and correct error as an elegant aspect of each step

III.  Right-Pace productivity expectations to enhance quality, not make things produce as fast or low-cost as possible

IV.  Inform those who are stakeholders, and reward those who are critical, in achieving and sustaining quality delivery – Punishment and social derision are ineffective at producing sustained quality, or even quality at all.

V.  Monitor the mechanisms which monitor the process/quality.

Skepticism as Quality

In this same manner, (Ethical) skepticism is a quality mindset one maintains while doing actual science. It is not an add-on which decides, judges, derides, intimidates, concludes or provisionally stacks externally to or in lieu of science. This latter approach is demonstrably and timelessly ineffective.

How its not doneWhat my businesses have found over the years is that, if you do the first four things right, then the majority of error will be generated regarding pitfalls inside element V. In other words, your goal is to craft a process which is effective enough from a quality standpoint, that the monitoring process itself becomes the weakest link in the chain. As a young executive, the first time my organization achieved this state, it surprised me. From then on, I understood.

Treating people ethically is the key to quality – you do not punish quality deliverers and reward external parties – this is anathema to a sound approach in establishing quality. This however, is the practice of Social Skepticism.

In real ethical business and engineered process, you inform stakeholders (those directly impacted) and you reward those who deliver quality. Unconcerned parties do not get a voice – no matter how many buzzwords they know.

This lens into the principle of quality elicits a key tenet of Ethical Skepticism. That of watching the watchers. Systems are systems and humans are humans. Once established, they tend to erect mechanisms which serve to defend the existence of the system or human organization itself. Just as in the principle where the old bootleg networks of the prohibition era simply became drug networks after prohibition was repealed, any self-justifying network (one in which the value incorrectly resides in the network itself and not the product) will find targets which serve to reinforce justification for their existence. It was the network after all which was important and not the drug they were supplying.

With this in mind, several current pitfalls intersect to produce the current reality we observe with regard to Social Skepticism:

A.  The value, in the mind of the member is incorrectly shifted from the product or topic, and into the Organization itself.

B.  The watchers or Organization themselves may be unconnected to the issue, fail to recognize success and be where the majority of the error is then generated.

C. The Organization errantly begins to see quality as an external process of authority, derision and punishment – this always fails.

A or B or C or any intersection thereof. The watcher network may value itself above product, begin to fail to be able to imbue a quality outcome and become a regularly self-justifying and error stimulating/generating mechanism of its own.

This is the condition (A or B or C or any intersection thereof) we find ourselves in today. Fake skepticism run amok; wherein its participants reside in a state of such epistemic commitment and in-group bias, that they cannot observe the ineffective and many times destructive quality role they have played inside the public’s understanding of science and skepticism. This is the condition wherein a god proxy has arisen and is now exercising power.

The watchers are abusing the public and are not being held to account themselves. They are only producing errant outcomes and quality somehow never seems to arrive. An excellent example may be found inside this blog by Vixen Valentino, where as an astute observer of process error, she has identified the hypocrisy of appeal to motive accusations carelessly foisted by this self-justifying watchers organization. This is not how science is done, and not how skepticism is done. This introduces another form of informal fallacy for our consideration, qualitas clava error.

Qualitas Clava Error

/philosophy : fallacy : demarcation of skepticism and pseudo-skepticism/ : club quality error. The presumption on the part of role-playing or celebrity-power-seeking social skeptics that their club or its power, is important in ensuring the quality of science and scientific understanding on the part of the broader population. The presumption that external club popularity and authority, lock step club allegiance and presumptive stacks of probable knowledge will serve to produce valid or quality outcomes inside scientific, rational or critical thought processes. The pretense of encouraging skepticism, while at the same time promoting conclusions. Such thought fails in light of time proven quality improvement practices.

Those who truly value the outcomes of science, those who truly seek to develop knowledge and alleviate suffering – must be ever vigilant to watch for those who are simply using science as a battering ram to build their ego, money, politics and celebrity. At the supposed benefit of increasing quality which never seems to come; all at the cost of understanding and the sustaining of human suffering.

There is no club inside Ethical Skepticism. There should not be a club, as Ethical Skepticism is the very absence of club. Nor does teaching people how to think ethically skeptical constitute a qualitas clava error – an ethical skeptic encourages dissent by means of originality of thought and hard field research – not simply parroting of the provisional knowledge and one-liners held by him or his cronies. Ethical Skepticism is a process of personal choice regarding knowledge. It is an allegiance to preparing the mind to conduct science; a respect for quality knowledge improvement and the subject at hand, above all else.

epoché vanguards gnosis


†  There are numerous references which I can cite with regard to quality and process design – however, these five principles stem from my own decades of experience. They overlap 100% with established industry wisdom, but this version is a crafting of my own, employed through 30 years of creating effective and industry leading businesses and processes. The focus of this blog is not to provide a dissertation on quality control, rather highlight this tenet of Ethical Skepticism. However, if you seek some academic backing and foundational resource on systemic quality, some excellent reading can be found here:

Oakland, John S.; Total Quality Management (Fourth Edition); Routledge, 2014; ISBN-13: 978-0415635493.

Peters, T.J., Waterman, R. H.; In Search of Excellence; Harper Business, 2006; ISBN-00-6-0548789.

Hadley, M.E., Levine, J.E.; Endocrinology; Pearson-Prentice Hall, 2007; ISBN-0-13-187606-6.

¹  Many thanks to Vixen for highlighting to me this very important aspect of Ethical Skepticism, one which I had long forgotten to address.

June 13, 2016 Posted by | What is Ethical Skepticism | , , , | Leave a comment

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