The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

The Dark Side of Doubt

The issue at hand for the ethical skeptic, is not that the concept of doubt bears virtuous potential, and indeed is used for specific legitimate scientific or legal benefit – but rather, that the term offers an equivocal dark side, which can be employed to cultivate ignorance. Ethical skepticism contends that a doubt-based process of ‘sorting out true from false claims’, when exercised outside the bounds of science, is indistinguishable from faith – especially when plied inside the context of a club.
Methodical cynicism versus epochéwhen it comes to philosophical terminology, leave no doubt as to what you mean.

“Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public.”

~ Tobacco Company Brown & Williamson Action Plan Against Anti-Smoking Anti-Science Forces1

Doubt is a necessary practice of skepticism, when defined and exercised correctly. But doubt can be weaponized. Doubt, can mislead both its practitioner as well as its victims, the doubted and the third party observer. It remains the habit of social skeptics, to enthrall their egos through the misleading specter of exercising this sciencey sounding technique. Doubt, in contrast to the actual philosophical principle called epoché, is a tool which is exercised too often as a tactic of fake skepticism. Under the Tower of Wrong: The Art of Professional Lying, doubt is regarded as a form of Skulptur Mechanism; a pseudoscientific razor employed to slice off undesirable observations and data until one is left with only evidence in support of what they were looking to find in the first place. This contrasts with the legitimate forms of doubt employed inside professional contexts.

When René Descartes issued this phrase: “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” He was not speaking of the context of doubt as a form of negation or denial; rather a shift in disposition to neutral regard and no longer the credulous superficial acceptance with which all humans are born.

I am a staunch evolutionist for instance. But that being said I read eagerly articles which identify challenges2 to this important paradigm of living phylogeny. My ‘doubt’, regarding these articles is that I do not buy (nor reject) their conclusions on the spot.  Rather I suspend such contentions and hold onto them for later comparison and reflection. Were I to weaponize doubt in these circumstances and cynically filter out all such discourse – I would be doing nothing but defending my latest religion. Evolution’s acceptance as a scientific principle would impart nothing whatsoever to my personal credit. Evolution would still be evolution; however, I would simply be a cynical religious idiot babbling its familiar phrases.

This is what correctness clubs do – they imply that correctness of their positions substantiates correctness of their method of weaponized doubt.

Therefore, I utilize a person’s regard of and skill in handling doubt as a key indicator into their scientific literacy. Doubt can be a lens mechanism through which the ethical skeptic is able to examine a person’s habits relating to original thinking.  Not critical thinking mind you – as we have tons of flavors of that form of masturbation; rather original thinking. Original thinking is what distinguishes the scientist from the technician, contrary to the fantasies of 14 year old wanna-be skeptics. It is a discernment as to whether or not the ‘doubter’ has ever placed a conjecture upon the line – ever undertaken a risk, in order to prove out a potentially game changing line of investigation.  What the astute ethical skeptic will find is, that people who have had skin in the game, who understand committing ones self to researching a line of risk – these mature researchers possess a much more reserved exercise of ‘doubt’ than do persons who have only existed inside an academic or armchair discourse environment.  Having been burned several times through ‘doubting’ young researchers or ideas which I refused at first blush, I have come to understand the roles of creativity, novelty and serendipity inside research. When I observe a doubter abusing the principle, as an evidence skulpting mechanism or not even comprehending of the difference between methodical doubt and deontological doubt (see below), I know I am witness to a rote script follower. A technician, not a scientist. This is why I avoid the equivocal term altogether. I know the game the fake skeptic is playing.

Doubt is every bit the tool of deception as it is tool of inspection.

The preeminent doubt I hold, is that we possess enough knowledge to go around ‘doubting’ things as a first reaction. Real doubt is a disposition built over diligent research and time – fake doubt pops its head up, every time it senses a chance for self-aggrandizement.

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.”

~ Khalil Gibron, Lebanese Poet

Most of the time, I reserve my actual application of doubt to social situations wherein a person has an established history of lying, or might possess a key motivation for deception. Issues involving profit, opportunity to surreptitiously harm enemies or reap easy gains. I doubt human nature – but I do not ‘doubt’ first hand observations, as that is a practice of pseudoscience. Below, let’s examine some of the reasons why the ethical skeptic is very reserved in his or her usage of the term doubt, and prefers instead for the scientific principle of epoché when it regards pluralistic issues of science and even its fringe horizons.

Doubt

/verb: 1175-1225 Middle English douten < Anglo-French, Old French douter < Latin dubitāre to waver, hesitate, be uncertain/ : to call into question the truth of; to lack confidence in or distrust; to consider unlikely. Older: trepidation or uncertainty.3 4

Methodical Doubt – the first is the questionable method of denying that something exists or is true simply because it defies a certain stacked provisional knowledge. This is nothing but a belief expressed in the negative, packaged in such a fashion as to exploit the knowledge that claims to denial are afforded immediate acceptance over claims to the affirmative. This is a religious game of manipulating the process of knowledge development into a whipsaw effect supporting a given conclusion set.

Deontological Doubt (epoché) – if however one defines ‘doubt’ – as the refusal to assign an answer (no matter how probable) for a specific question – in absence of assessing question sequence, risk and dependency (reduction), preferring instead the value of leaving the question unanswered (null) over a state of being ‘sorta answered inside a mutually reinforcing set of sorta answereds’ (provisional knowledge) – then this is the superior nature of deontological ethics.

Most fake skeptics define ‘doubt’ as the former and not the latter – and often fail to understand the difference.

As we conducted in a previous blog entry regarding the term anecdote, again here we cite the broad equivocal footprint of the term doubt. This is a reasonable, generally accepted range of usage of the word. Notice the large and accommodating equivocal footprint of this word, ranging very conveniently from ‘neutral disposition’ to ‘accusation of a lie’. Again, take notice that fake skeptics have a habit of wallowing in such luxuriously equivocal terms. Avoid such skeptics.

The Illegitimate Form of Doubt

Of course, the concerns listed below, exclude the definition contexts of deontological doubt (a suspended or graceful disposition of neutrality) or ‘reasonable doubt’ as a principle expressed inside of the Law. French philosopher Peter Abelard argued that “doubt is the road to inquiry, and by inquiring we perceive the truth.” These ‘doubt is a virtue’ instances of the term’s employment bear specific meaning and application contexts which serve to constrain their equivocal potential. Below we are not talking about these forms of doubt, rather the illegitimate pop-usage which is promoted by social skepticism (see ‘Propaganda Butte’ in the graphic above). But the definition of the word has drifted socially, since the days of its employment by Descartes and Abelard. A drift rightward along the above spectrum of usage, which is extraordinarily convenient to agenda plying agents.  This drift pertains to the introduction of ‘methodological skepticism’ by later interpreters of Descartes’ Cartesian Doubt.  The following Wikipedia entry attempts to sum up this contrast:

Methodological skepticism is distinguished from philosophical skepticism in that methodological skepticism is an approach that subjects all knowledge claims to scrutiny with the goal of sorting out true from false claims, whereas philosophical skepticism is an approach that questions the possibility of certain knowledge.5

Philosophical skepticism does not ‘question the possibility of certain knowledge’, as this is a contorted-to-simple and accordingly absurd statement; bearing neither the clarifying nor practical use features requisite in sound philosophy. Ethical skepticism is a form of applied philosophical skepticism, unacknowledged inside this layman construct framed above by Wikipedia (Gee, I don’t question the possibility of certain knowledge, so I must be the skeptic type who evaluates claims then – Duh Huh!). Ethical skepticism contends that this purported process of ‘sorting out true from false claims’, when exercised outside the bounds of science, is indistinguishable from faith (methodical cynicism) – and especially when plied inside the context of a club. It does not question the possibility of ‘certain knowledge’; but rather doubts people. Ethical skepticism seeks to rob the lie spinner of the raw materials he desperately needs, but does not make pronounced dispositions on topics based on how likely things are and how smart the skeptic is. All this gamed process achieves is to make the skeptic the next lie spinner. The above bifurcation by Wikipedia is illustrative of the level of ineptness and misinformation which sustains this false form of doubt inside the social skeptic community at large. The issue at hand for the ethical skeptic, is not that the concept of doubt bears virtuous potential and indeed is used for specific legitimate scientific or legal benefit – but rather, that the term offers an equivocal dark side, which can be employed to promote agenda and cultivate ignorance (as per below). When it comes to philosophical terminology, leave no doubt as to what you mean.

Ethical Skepticism Concerns About ‘Doubt’ as a Tactic of Social Skepticism

1.  Requires No Thinking (Creative nor Critical).

2.  Can Always be Posited (feature of pseudo-theory).

3.  Requires Zero Effort or Evidence.

4.  Highly Intervolved with or Indistinguishable from Unconscious Bias.

5.  Deceives its Participant and Observers through Feigned Objectivity.

6.  Artificially Generates an Alternative which has Not Surpassed Ockham’s Razor (is pseudo-theory).

7.  Serves to Intimidate Argument Outsiders or Future Researchers.

8.  Serves a Club Quality Agenda (which never works).

9.  Usually Employed as an ‘I’m the Smartest Person in the Room’ Tactic.

10.  Equivocal Footprint is Useful to Game Playing Fake Skeptics.

11.  A Method of Accusing a Person of Lying – Without Saying as Much.

12.  Provides no Mechanisms of Parametric Argument Discipline nor Self Examination.

13.  Implies a False Dilemma/Bifurcation of Dispositions Constituting Only ‘Belief and Disbelief’.

14.  Is a Pretense/Persona/Posturing Put-On For Others.

15.  Forces a Lazy or Premature Conclusion at the Beginning of the Scientific Method as Opposed to its End.

16.  Posed in the form of a Question – When it is Not One (see The Nature of Rhetoric).

17.  Is a Skulptur Mechanism and Tactic of Inverse Negation Fallacy (Appeal to Skepticism).

18.  Tenders the Appearance of Scientific Literacy.

19.  Is Gratifying Inside of Use Contexts wherein Gratification Can Serve Only to Mislead its Practitioner.

20.  Methodical Doubt Inevitably Breeds Self-Doubting and Group Think in Young Scientific Minds.

Number twenty above, is the impact which most greatly concerns The Ethical Skeptic. This is the dark side of doubt from which we suffer today – and is the number one concern of real scientists. These are the reasons why a seasoned researcher, a life long passionate investigator – eschews the term ‘doubt’ to a level which the neophyte does not. Be on your guard as to ‘skeptics’ who insist on using the term without clarification as to their employment of deontological doubt at the least, despite knowing these pitfalls – or even not possessing awareness of them. There may well be a reason the skeptic embraces such ambiguity.

Your choice dear reader, is to hold and contemplate my words here along your journey; or to ‘doubt’ them.  Choose wisely.

epoché vanguards gnosis

How to MLA cite this blog post => 6

 

February 10, 2018 Posted by | Argument Fallacies | , , , | Leave a comment

Poser Science: Proof Gaming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proof Gaming

/philosophy : argument : pseudoscience : false salience/ : employing dilettante concepts of ‘proof’ as a football in order to win arguments, disfavor disliked groups or thought, or exercise fake versions of science. Proof gaming presents itself in seven speciations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

epoché vanguards gnosis


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

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

SSkeptic Weapon Word Top 25

Social Skepticism’s Top 25 Weapon Words (Oct 2015)

Weapon Words

/philosophy : pseudoscience : propaganda : jargon/ : Words of Mass Defamation.

Fashion terms among those who consider themselves too elite and intelligent to observe that the King wears no clothes. The manufacture, instruction and deployment of key expressions into the educational, push channel media, public and SSkeptic discourse, targeting a goal of social intimidation and indoctrination.  Celebrity SSkeptics proactively introduce a term or phrase into the SSkeptic community, which then promulgates it through repetition and finger pointing, thereby establishing a clique’ fashion statement around the expression. The words are used as weapons to artificially defame targeted individuals, observations and in the deceptive obviation of access to science by unwelcome topics. Subsequently such words are plied to place SSkeptic compliant peer pressure on budding scientists or persons of influence in high school, university and beyond.

Discern that, despite the loud proclamations to the contrary, neither these words nor their users adhere to any context of promoting the application of science or critical thinking.  These words are purposefully broad-footprint words of mass destruction employed to fight a war of oppression; wherein the SSkeptic does not care who they injure, just as long as the people they do not like are intimidated and under fear of retribution and reproach – if they think wrong thoughts – or say wrong things.  SSkeptics do not practice peer review, nor do they hold their fellows accountable. This affords them freedom to spin all sorts of deceit and harm under the delusion that 1. they are adding clarity to a discussion, and 2. they are adding value to the world.

The term ‘pseudoscience’ has become little more than an inflammatory buzzword for quickly dismissing one’s opponents in media sound-bites.”  – Richard McNally, an editor at Skeptic Magazine (UK)

Ranking of Social Skepticism’s Current Top 25 Weapon Words

nuclear weapon word of skepticsRank   Expression                                   Current Employment Context

  1.  Pseudoscience                            Reigning champion buzzword – The Forbidden 121 Topics
  2.  Magical Thinking                         To discredit all dissent as constituting a belief in magic
  3.  Pareidolia                                     Current fad word in SSkepticism
  4.  Anti-Science                                 A person who disagrees with a Social Skeptic
  5.  Manufactroversy                          Any initiative to study GMO’s, pesticides or Big Pharma
  6.  Contrarian                                    To impugn any person who holds a SSkeptic accountable
  7.  Denier                                          One who disagrees is spun as denying science – rather than being in rational disagreement
  8.  Creationist                                   Any idea which does not adhere to Naturalist Nihilism religious teaching
  9.  Privilege                                       Any action on the part of a specific race, gender and religion
  10.  Apophenia                                  Counter any medical data which shows a concerning trend
  11.  Woo                                             Ghost hunting SSkeptic buzzword now useful against all disliked data
  12.  Anti-Vaccinationista                    Safe vaccination proponents are spun as irrational militants
  13.  Confabulation                             Only SSkeptics are allowed to extrapolate off of circumstantial data
  14.  Scientific Literacy                        If you do not believe what we want, the you are to be re-educated
  15.  Neologism                                   A word which introduces or adds clarity to a threatening idea or observation
  16.  Truther                                        Anyone who dissents on a specific subject
  17.  Numpty                                       A person who is regarded as stupid and therefore not deserving of a voice, vote nor opinion.
  18. Tin Foil Hat                                 A person who thinks unauthorized thoughts
  19.  Quack                                         Any medicine which does not support big 5 Pharma/Healthcare revenue
  20.  Believer                                      One who does not loudly decry the Forbidden 121 SSkeptic subjects
  21.  Sheeple                                      Anyone who does not immediately dismiss the Forbidden 121
  22.  Bunk                                            Fading in use as debunkers are increasingly called into question
  23.  Monkey Suit                               Something presumed debunked long ago and now spun as myth
  24.  Crank                                          A Bubba who is rather insistent on what he saw or provides evidence
  25.  Conspiracy Theory                    Any questioning of a SSkeptic agenda item

October 6, 2015 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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