Social Skepticism’s Top 25 Weapon Words (Oct 2015)
/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
RankExpressionCurrent Employment Context
Pseudoscience Reigning champion buzzword – The Forbidden 121 Topics
Magical Thinking To discredit all dissent as constituting a belief in magic
Pareidolia Current fad word in SSkepticism
Anti-Science A person who disagrees with a Social Skeptic
Manufactroversy Any initiative to study GMO’s, pesticides or Big Pharma
Contrarian To impugn any person who holds a SSkeptic accountable
Denier One who disagrees is spun as denying science – rather than being in rational disagreement
Creationist Any idea which does not adhere to Naturalist Nihilism religious teaching
Privilege Any action on the part of a specific race, gender and religion
Apophenia Counter any medical data which shows a concerning trend
Woo Ghost hunting SSkeptic buzzword now useful against all disliked data
Anti-Vaccinationista Safe vaccination proponents are spun as irrational militants
Confabulation Only SSkeptics are allowed to extrapolate off of circumstantial data
Scientific Literacy If you do not believe what we want, the you are to be re-educated
Neologism A word which introduces or adds clarity to a threatening idea or observation
Truther Anyone who dissents on a specific subject
Numpty A person who is regarded as stupid and therefore not deserving of a voice, vote nor opinion.
Tin Foil Hat A person who thinks unauthorized thoughts
Quack Any medicine which does not support big 5 Pharma/Healthcare revenue
Believer One who does not loudly decry the Forbidden 121 SSkeptic subjects
Sheeple Anyone who does not immediately dismiss the Forbidden 121
Bunk Fading in use as debunkers are increasingly called into question
Monkey Suit Something presumed debunked long ago and now spun as myth
Crank A Bubba who is rather insistent on what he saw or provides evidence
Conspiracy Theory Any questioning of a SSkeptic agenda item
It’s not just what you say, but how you present your position. I believe that merit resides in adding to our Misrepresentation by Argument subset, in the Tree of Knowledge Obfuscation, a brief listing of persuasive tacks which can be abused to constitute crooked social reasoning, or ones which by their nature of construction, are innately crooked. When an entire social club aggregates together for the sole purpose of rhetorical persuasion by polemic, philippic and obdurate arguments, – it does not matter whether they are right or wrong. They are not even wrong.
Rhetoric: An opportunistic extreme commitment to an Answer. An Answer looking for a question. A question seeking a victim.
Poetry, The Only Valid Pathos
Aristotle comments on the defining of the ethos of rhetoric,
“rhetoric is the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.”¹
As such, while rhetoric is not a means of persuasion in itself, rather residing outside such a concept; moreover neither does it fit into our domains of logic, emotions and ethics. Rhetoric seeking instead, the means by which to best persuade, the best domain through which to enforce an answer. Plato contended that the antithetical approach to such a calculating assessment as embodied in Aristotle’s rhetoric is the pathos of poetry.² In poetry one neither observes nor adopts means of persuasion, choosing instead to first express an integral honest passion and emotion unfiltered by the calculating mind. In this way he saw the two persuasion pathways, rhetoric and poetry, as constituting opposites.² The honest expression of the passion which drives the search for scientific development is ethical, sincere and persuasive in its very essence. But the remaining elements of persuasion which stem from the heart which seeks other forms of emotion or passion, are not so pure in essence.
My personal preference for discovery and persuasion is an ethical dialectic. Devil’s Advocacy is sometimes a pretense laden and academic exercise when practiced outside its disciplined application. Poetry on the other hand, stimulates an elegant nexus of ethos and logos inside a dialectic. Through easing the heart of the participants by means other than flattery, poetry (the broad discipline of the best of philosophy) reassures both parties that the best of human nature, the value of knowledge and the supreme nature of love, are the intended outcomes in any discussion. Therefore, no conclusion will be unjustifiably driven home, and the right questions can be asked. This is the trustworthiness of Ethical Skepticism.
Poetry unifies the best elements of passion and ethics; wherein, outside a context of rhetoric, it prepares the heart and mind to enter the realm of reason – outfitted with honesty and integrity. Ethical Skepticism. Hence the definition of skepticism: a means of preparing the mind and data sets to perform the method of science.
Rhetoric is an opportunist, desperate for an avenue of entry through any means of persuasion – a form of extreme commitment to a conclusion which bears not the ethics and honesty of poetry. An answer seeking a question through which to justify itself. A question seeking further a victim (topic or person).
In contrast, Social Skeptics (and Religions in the chart above – as in reality the persuasion means IS the chief distinguishing litmus of a religion) are trained to avoid dialect at all costs. They are taught disdain and final authority (God or Science), so as to not allow the potential for a threatening subject to even be objectively discussed. They only know intellectual violence. When an entire social club aggregates together for the sole purpose of media persuasion by polemic, philippic and obdurate arguments, – it does not matter whether they are right or wrong. They are not even wrong. They are operating inside the worst of human behaviors. Fear, control, disdain, arrogance and mock-mindedness.
The pathways to value and clarity – the two consequentialist goals of Ethical Skepticism take particular routes through the field of persuasion techniques. The pathway of the Ethical Skeptic tends to err away from the arrogant persuasion approach of the polemic, philippic or obdurate – realizing that everyone claims their argument to stem from reason. Instead the Ethical Skeptic opts for the elegant combination of ethos with logos; the positivist blending of logic, dispassionate clarity and the ability to put one’s self inside another person’s shoes. The Ethical Skeptic does not always have to win an argument. Many times, inside a topic of pluralistic debate, there is not enough known indeed to even converge on the possible outcome of a winner. Instead he or she focuses on the value and clarity derived in the benefit from dialectically stating the perspective. Several times I have ‘lost’ arguments because I refused to drive a conclusion home. I put my ego in check and listened to the opponent’s contention, then stated my caution around such abject certainty. Nonetheless, in many of these situations I permanently impacted the thoughts and long term contemplation of those who participated. My goal in discourse is not to ‘win,’ or tender final conclusions about a topic. That is child’s folly. Be warned about ‘skeptics’ who seek the greatest probability, conclusive rationality or simplest explanation. They are gaming the rules in order to win. Rather the goal of The Ethical Skeptic is to change the basis from which we habitually think. To de-persuade as it pertains to the ideas which harm and squelch our wellbeing. To appeal for more study, more science; accrued verity in lieu of more ‘truth.’ To shift emotion from the passion of protecting and winning, and begin to stir a new mindset; a passion for disciplined wonder from which to develop further thought. In this regard, for the Ethical Skeptic many times, the wrong pathos can be the enemy to sound consequentialism. He opts instead for the poetry of life, love, the universe and the discovering mind. This is his pathos.
pathos – passion/emotion
ethos – ethics/character
logos – logic/reason
When Pathos Pangs Hunger for Victory!!!
Such stands in high contrast to the pathway chosen by the Social Skeptic. Debate is the withered olive branch of Social Skepticism; its symbolic foray into logos, furtively foisted at the full cost of ethos. Debate is about as good as it gets with Social Skeptics. Their pathos is often hidden, politically and control motivated. This is called the krymméno akrasia, or hidden pathos of the Social Skeptic. The Social Skeptic sees his goals as correctness and victory. Persuasion is obtained by force, any means necessary to achieve dominance of thinking. The passion driven in both correctness and victory indicative of a high commitment to, and genesis inside the pathos of belief. The Social Skeptic has something to protect. Ego, power, identity, control, image, reputation, funding, club status, track record, perception, publications, politcal and religious dogma. But most of all, pathos indicates a protection of one’s self from fear. When one wins in such a way, it is not uncommon to have found, that at the end of the pathway of a continuous series of victorious battles, that one has ironically lost the war.
In this same way, Social Skeptics are losing the battle for the media, our collective conscience, and the hearts and minds of the American People.
They do not exhibit the character traits which instill trust. The ethos and logos of those who have earned wisdom. The calm poetry in the heart of one who outlasts through gentleness. The statistics on how everyday Americans regard controversial subjects such as healthcare, food and disease, pesticides/hormones, autoimmunity, oligarchy, politics, atheism, supplements, cryptids, and alternative forms of life continue to shift each year to the disfavor of the Social Skeptic. And each year, Social Skeptics become more and more shrill in their desperation to win the argument at all costs.
Pathos, in essence can be summed up in the Ten Pillars: the foundational motivations of those who choose emotion and the rule of self over the alternatives, as their basis for reason.
Pathos to Victory: The Ten Pillars of Social Skepticism – when arguments must be won at all costs
I. Social Category and Non-Club HatredII. Narcissism and Personal PowerIII. Promotion of Personal Religious AgendaIV. Emotional Psychological Damage/AngerV. Overcompensation for a Secret Doubt VI. Fear of the Unknown VII. Effortless Argument AddictionVIII. Magician’s Deception Rush IX. Need to Belittle OthersX. Need to Belong/Fear of Club Perception
In general, there are three domains of persuasive tactics according to Aristotle, pathos, ethos and logos.²
A more difficult question for informal logic is the relationship between argument and persuasion. In his discussion, Hitchcock cites Aristotle’s account of persuasion in the Rhetoric. It distinguishes three aspects of persuasion: character, emotion, and argument (ethos, pathos, and logos).³
Poetry is employed to stir the emotion to seek out character (ethos) first, and then approach the data and logic with a clean heart. Those persuading arguments which begin inside pathos from motivations besides the ethic of knowing and improving the lot of mankind, bear the greatest likelihood of being arguments which constitute invalid forms of persuasion/reason. This renders the potential of a dramatic mistake in scientific judgement much higher than persuasion/reason which originates inside either logos or ethos first. The Social Skeptic therefore, in an effort to conceal such passion as is wound up inside of non-poetic pathology, seeks to legitimize and practice magician’s sleight-of-hand – to distract attention from their concealed pathos. They focus instead on the tactics of social persuasion, methodical cynicism and the art of being right at all costs. This is the insincere application of the opposite. The misapplied rhetoric of the fallow heart.
The Persuasion Types
Rhetoric – a critique which focuses on an arguer’s ability, technique or capability to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. An answer looking for a question, looking for a victim. Persuasion and Locution crafted in such a fashion as to be the reverse of science. A method of fooling the educated and scientifically trained, into adopting shaky positions of consensus.
Angel Questions – a form of rhetoric or propaganda wherein easy lob questions are only offered to a person or organization who otherwise should be held to account. Prefabricated FAQ’s which fall in line with a prescripted set of propaganda or politically correct thinking. Questions which appear to come from a curious third party, however are scripted to hijack a discussion down an easy path of justifying the message of the person being questioned.
Persuasion stemming from pathos – arguments which stir from passion, allegiance, opposition or hatred which may or may not interfere with the objectivity of the participant.
Polemic – negative attempt to an affirm a specific understanding via attacks on a contrary position.
Apologetic – neutral, often scripted defense or vindication of a favored viewpoint as a defense against all forms of attack.
Criticism – negative attack on a specific position, often implying personal competence and/or surreptitiously promoting an antithetical position.
Philippic (Tirade) – a negative, condemning or dismissively neutral attack on a position via appeals to common sense, stupidity, rationality or specific set of assumptions.
Coercion – an argument which is decided through the power or control held by one side over the other, often in a disputation.
Obdurate – an argument which favors an intellectual or unaffected party seeking ego or power over an injured, at risk or highly involved party, often in a disputation.
Poetry – an argument which seeks first to sway the heart of the listener and soften resistance to a point or position before its presentation.
Persuasion stemming from ethos – arguments which stir from what ought to be, from a moral, enlightening, advancing, risk averse or harm minimization standpoint.
Social Gadfly – an argument which is made through an appeal to practices, risk, impacts, standards or morals as underpinning the validity of the argument.
Sophistry – an argument which is contended though a side’s claim to virtuous features characterizing their substantiation, approach or position.
Rhetoric – a critique which focuses on an arguer’s ability, technique or capability to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations.
Devil’s Advocate – neutral role play in which the favored position is probed for weakness and/or is refuted.
Permissive – an argument which is presented as neutral to falsely appearing to be in support of an idea, crafted in equivocal or ambiguous language, which can be also taken to support, permit, encourage or authorize antithetical conclusions.
Persuasion stemming from logos – arguments which employ the order of logic, reason or goal attainment in assembling a solution.
Dialectic – a positive and mutual reductive or deductive attempt to assemble a newly crafted common position.
Debate – neutral or negative bifurcated criticisms and defenses between two opposing viewpoints.
Disputation – a negative or neutral defense against an attack, in support of an attacked position or person.
Refutation – a negative or neutral criticism against an attack or position.
Rhetosophy – Rhetoric disguised as philosophy; wherein the arguer conceals his subject of contention and crafts the philosophy to appear as a stand alone ethic, independent of the point he is surreptitiously attempting to persuade.
Remember, it is not the number of people who hold something as true, which determines whether it is correct or incorrect. Rather it is the integrity through which the contention was vetted. In the end, the measure of pathos involved in a skeptic’s argument, is a measure of whether or not that person can be trusted to seek the truth with integrity. Are they passionately seeking in a wondrous universe; fascinated with each new discovery – the poetry? Or do they habitually seek to condemn new or challenging ideas or observations which should have not threatened them in the least – the obdurate. Do they seek the satisfaction of the new idea – the dialectic? Or do they feast only on the satisfaction of the win – the philippic.
Is their every pathos simply a bully displacement of the integral heart of poetry? Such are the telltale distinctions between those you can and cannot trust.
¹ “… rhetoric is a combination of the science of logic and of the ethical branch of politics …” Aristotle. Rhetoric. (trans. W. Rhys Roberts). I:4:1359.; Aristotle, Rhetoric 1.2.1,
Skepticism, as philosophy, is the complement of sound science method, not the privilege sword of a few pretenders culling and provisionally enforcing conclusions in lieu of science. True skepticism is hungry. It is foolish. Skepticism is the hallmark discipline of those who possess the grace, integrity and acumen requisite in the wielding of great ideas.
When philosophers speak of skepticism standing as the foundation of scientific reason, they are not referring to the popular fad of spewing methodical cynicism and prejudicial doubt toward any idea one’s club has mandated should be disdained. Neither are they suggesting an endorsement of entity-stacked risky provisional knowledge, framed within a miasma of social derision. These false forms of skepticism serve to do nothing but cultivate ignorance. Such are the illegitimate practices on the part of those who today pose as if communicating on behalf of science. Genuine skepticism opposes this agency, while itself bearing no agenda ax to grind, save for the idempotent ethic of defending the knowledge development process. Philosophy, despite standing as the foundation of science, cannot be abused to supplant nor speak in lieu of science – as that is neither its role nor capability. Skepticism therefore, as philosophy, is equally bound by this construct.
A military trainee is never considered a fully skilled soldier until he first knows how not to abuse, and most importantly when he should not employ, his weapon of choice. Never place a group of boot combatants, newly trained upon their weapons, into a single foggy theater with a lone enemy in their midst. Everyone will die in one sudden conflagration of friendly fire. Such is the landscape of social discourse around science which is precipitated by today’s fad skepticism. In similar critical nature, until one understands how a philosophical definition or principle can be manipulated for ill intent, one has not really learned it. This is a core precept of ethical skepticism, an applied ability to spot the condition wherein tenets of skepticism are abused to bypass scientific rigor for the purpose of cultivating ignorance. Skepticism is the complement of sound science method and not its substitute. It should never function as the privilege sword of a few pretenders deriding targeted people and subjects in promotion of their preferred conclusions, under a guise of science or critical thinking. Skepticism is the hallmark discipline of those who possess the grace, integrity and acumen requisite in the wielding of great ideas.
The core philosophical praxis of ethical skepticism is not ‘doubt’. In particular, that doubt which constitutes merely a masquerade, belying what is in essence methodical cynicism – selectively doubting what one does not like and forgetting all about doubt when a favored idea is broached. Instead ethical skepticism is founded upon this essential principle of deontological doubt, a principle borrowed from the Pyrrhonist school of philosophy, called epoché.
/philosophy : skepticism : deontological doubt/ : (Gr. ἐποχή, “suspension” or “silence”) – an active suspension of disposition. The suspended state of judgement exercised by a disciplined and objective mind, in preparation to conduct research. A state of neutrality which eschews the exercise of religious, biased rational or critical, risky provisional and dogmatic dispositions when encountering new observations, ideas and data. In contrast with a wallow in passive neutrality or apathy, epoché is a form of active investigation based upon a discipline of impartiality. A desire to find the answer, tempered by the wisdom that answers do not come as easily as most people believe.
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.
~ English Philosopher, Herbert Spencer
True epoché asks in circumspection, ‘If I was wrong, would I even know it?’
EVG – epoché vanguards gnosis – means that disciplined suspension of judgement, is the first practice on the path to establishing wisdom. I chose Usir (Osiris) as the iconic avatar for ethical skepticism because he is known as the Lord of Silence. Knowing when to draw inference, and when to remain silent (epoché) – is the key to fortress wisdom. Hence the EVG tag line of ethical skepticism. Deontological doubt is founded upon ontological silence.
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. Only describe, don’t explain.
Epoché is the step of first being skeptical of self, before addressing challenging or new phenomena. Underpinned by both examination of the disciplines of true knowledge development (epignosis) and the repository of vetted and accepted knowledge (gnosis). If someone relates a challenging observation to you, you suspend disposition (remain silent), and catalog it. If you toss it out based upon it being a ‘claim’, or by fallacy, trivial flaw, perceived personal cleverness, plausible deniability, straw man, improbability, fear, disdain, doubt, debunking, or terminal disinterest – then you are a cynic, not a skeptic.
The illiterate of the 21st-century will not be those who can’t read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
Where one is corrupt in their skepticism, there also will they be corrupt in their heart.
Of course the ethics (practice methods or praxis) of Ethical Skepticism are not really new. However to most people, because of the false form of skepticism (cynical doubt) thrust upon them daily by agenda driven forces, Ethical Skepticism does appear to constitute novel and heretical thinking. An ethical skeptic examines the practice methods of those purporting to deliver a set of information which is being claimed as false, to discern their skill in applying epoché in such a process. This because, 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,’ obfuscating, complicating, ‘doubting’ and ‘demanding proof’.
What distinguishes a good skeptic is not what one knows (critical thinking). Rather a good skeptic realizes both how risky or plenary that knowledge is, and what one should do when one does not know; or encounters novel information or new ideas.
Scepter means in Latin, to ‘palm’, hold, touch or examine – one who focuses upon methods and fruits
Cynic means in Latin, ‘dogged’, doglike in denial, doubting, scoffing – one who focuses on identity, correctness and the good and bad people
The skeptic neither cynically doubts nor believes with certainty, but rather goes there and verifies – understanding that conclusions do not resolve as easily as most think.
Accordingly, I have modified the famous quip regarding doubt, by Bertrand Russel, to reflect the differentiating elements of ethical skepticism:
The whole problem with the world is that there exists only a small set of things about which one need be certain. Fools and fanatics think that everything demands certainty or doubt.
This apothegm of course does not imply irrelevance regarding the enormous arrays of inquiry which need to be resolved by mankind. It simply means that, at any given moment, what must be saliently deliberated represents only a thin, critical-path, and incremental sliver of that domain – and not all of it at once. You will notice in contrast, that with invalid skepticism there is not one subject upon which they have not derived a conclusion or ‘doubted’. Once the subject has been targeted/addressed everything and anything inside it is either now bunk or part of an accepted doctrine – there is no in-between. A complete absence of epoché. Those who perform their twisted skepticism in such manner, especially and most often in lieu of science, hunger for premature conclusive compliance and exploit convenient ambiguity in logic, locution and 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. This form of false skepticism revolves around a disinforming practice set implying that you personally must derive a conclusion on any and 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. This serves to cultivate ignorance and suffering. It is skepticism derived for the sole sake of being identified as a skeptic. It is a pretense, purposed for the power to force scientist and citizen alike, to comply.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
~ Steven Jobs’ commencement speech to Stanford University 2005 graduating class
Ethical Skepticism, in contrast with the poseur habits of appeal to authority masquerade and insistence on abductive/panductive inference, focuses instead on application of the scientific method inside a relentless curiosity, to produce consequentialist outcomes of
clarity – agenda free and critical path cataloged essential schema, regardless of whether or not the insights therein are liked or disliked, probable or improbable, favored or disfavored,
value – as measured by three goals: love, understanding and the alleviation of suffering,
discipline – consistency in the integrity of both the methods of developing and the handling of information, principles and critical path ideas, and
risk mitigation – as measured by the ethical discernment of process design and outcome monitoring, which serve to mitigate method failure and process calamity.
Therefore, ethical skepticism hinges upon a different understanding of what constitutes critical thinking. It pertains little to what you currently know, nor pressure you receive from your peers to conform to ‘rationality‘. It does not seek to circumvent science and compulsively enforce compliant answers from barstools, parents’ basements and university cubicles. It can be regarded as a thought standard more focused upon the above set of goals. The genuine critical thinker does not rely upon current provisional knowledge, does not conform to peer pressure – however does stand in the gap for those who are at risk of being harmed. Critical thinking under ethical skepticism has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘Stanovich goal enabling behaviors and cognitive dispositions’.1 As such pretense constitutes nothing but an inevitable ergodicity of compliance; Leonard Shapiro’s “uniform pattern of public utterances in which the first trace of unorthodox thought reveals itself as a jarring dissonance.”
Skepticism is unrelenting, disciplined, incremental, and critical path foolishness. It is the eye of neutrality, inside the mercenary tempest of curious passion.
I did not know. I went and looked. Everything else was vanity.
Critical Path Elements of Ethical Skepticism
This broach of the basis of philosophy which underpins valid skepticism, serves to introduce a defining limitation to this type of thinking, which few skeptics grasp or are able to apply. A key principle which distinguishes people into three groupings, those who understand and apply the principle in their work, those who understand and do not care, and finally those who do not understand and fall victim to fake skepticism. That principle is called the Demarcation of Skepticism:
Demarcation of Skepticism
Once plurality is necessary under Ockham’s Razor, it cannot be dismissed by means of skepticism alone.
Demarcation of Ethics
Ethics is a call back to a praxis, a time-tested standard of practice, and as such does not constitute a form of personal claim to virtue. A key ethic of philosophy is to possess an aversion to adorning one’s self in virtue, even and especially those virtue costumes of science, fallacy-mongering, morality and critical thinking. A person who adheres to ethics can see through a virtue poseur very quickly.
An ethical scientist will not dismiss a subject from an armchair position, once the necessity of examining more than one alternative has been established. Skepticism is a practice discipline therefore of the ethical scientist. However, being skeptical neither serves to make one a scientist, nor equal to a scientist in credibility and expertise. Moreover, such appropriated identity, lacking in 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, spun falsely in the name of science. Therefore, ethical skepticism can be viewed as a personal practice set which seeks to avoid the pitfalls of such appropriated identity, portrayed inside application variants of Neuhaus’ and Goodhart’s Laws:
/philosophy : skepticism : fallacy/ : 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 : fallacy/ : when skepticism itself becomes the goal, it ceases to be skepticism.
“Whenever you have someone who is a professional skeptic, you should be suspicious of them” ~ Deepak Chopra
Both of these principles become favorable leverage angles for agency seeking to endact Bernaysian social engineering. The social skeptics they select and groom to enforce this stratagem 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. Ethical skepticism challenges those who fall prey to such forms of fallacy and crooked thinking. The 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. Part of our task as ethical skeptics unfortunately, is to highlight the methods of the poseur, and dispel the resulting cultivated ignorance. Despite its clarion praxis, ethical skepticism is in no way a means for personal virtue signaling – standing in fact as its opposite.
The duties of ethical skepticism therefore, and indeed ethical science (per Einstein), revolve around the protection and freedom of truth, as an outcome of neutral inquiry, and not as an exercise in abductive/panductive inference, pretentious apathy nor shallow inductive appeal to authority. Accordingly, we next examine the principal duties incumbent inside ethical skepticism.
The Duty of Science
The right to search for the truth is commensurate also with a duty that one must not conceal any part of what one finds to be true, nor obfuscate what one fears could possibly be true.
The First Duty of Ethical Skepticism
The First Duty of Ethical Skepticism is to oppose agency. In the same way that science is a method, even so ignorance is also a method. But the scope of cultivated ignorance extends further than that of science itself, in that it is also a method of conditioning and contagion. It propagates through exploiting all manner of cunning and deceit. As an ethical skeptic, your first duty of philosophical acumen is not to execute the scientific method per se, which is straightforward in comparison. You are not here to promulgate conclusions, as that is the habit of your foe. Your ethical acumen is necessary rather, in spotting the clever masquerade of science and knowledge. Ethical Skepticism’s first duty therefore resides not solely in the examination of ‘extraordinary claims’, but also in examining those claims which serve to harm through the clever masquerade, hidden in plain sight, as if constituting ordinary ‘settled science’.
“The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best—and therefore never scrutinize or question.” ~Steven Jay Gould
The ethical skeptic is therefore armed with a deep philosophical understanding of knowledge, human nature and discernment, which is embodied inside The Riddle of Skepticism:
The Riddle of Skepticism
Through claiming skepticism, one has struck the tar baby and can no longer plead denial of their action in contending philosophy. With the exception of man’s inalienable natural rights, 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. Skepticism, the philosophy in defense of the knowledge development process (science), is likewise bound by this construct.
As generals are experts at tactics of war and banks expert in the transfer and exchange of money, neither bears the right however to dictate the conduct of their citizens, nor who should be conquered nor what entities are to do with their capital. In similar analogue, an expert inside a subject of science cannot also presume to dictate to at-risk stakeholders what they must enact with regard to that science, nor tamper with the ramifications of its disposition inside the public trust. As a skeptic therefore, I cannot tell science how to do its job, but I can assert my rights as its at-risk stakeholder – even on matters which are metaphysical in nature. Science is the property of us all and it is the job of skepticism to defend that inalienable right.
The question one must ask them self, before venturing into this hall of mirrors called skepticism 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 should be “If I were wrong, would I even know it?” and “If I were wrong, would I be contributing to harm?” This is the focus of the philosophy of skepticism and not this indolent business of leveraging one’s current limited knowledge into a pretense of doubting or ‘evaluating claims’ demanded upon a silver platter. Such self deception constitutes merely cynicism and a pretense of representing science. Therefore, defending the integrity of the knowledge development process is betrayed once one starts tendering conclusions in lieu of it.
Science is the process of knowledge development and the body of accepted knowledge such process serves to precipitate. Pseudo science is a process of corrupted science method employed inside a pretense of representing science – but inside that same constraint can never be ‘a body of unacceptable knowledge’ as this violates objective logic, domain theory as well as skepticism itself. Pseudo skepticism therefore, is a process of corrupted philosophy employed inside a deciding in lieu of or pretense of representing science.
Doubt, belief, ignorance of risk, along with social pressure to accede to stacked provisional knowledge; therefore, stand as the raw materials which are spun into the fabric of the lie. This is why the ethical skeptic relies upon the suspension of these things – embodied in the philosophy of 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.
Once plurality is established inside an argument, if something indeed be false, it should eventually betray its falsification through accrued intelligence. And in being found wrong, become highly informative in the process. If we choose instead to maintain an a priori intolerance of a subject as being wrong, and then further choose to block its research through the authority of clever apothegm, then no probative critical path development (intelligence) can ever be undertaken consequently. Wrong and seeing, is a world better state than is correct and blind.
This untrod horizon of pure skepticism therefore lies fallow and misunderstood through the sleight-of-hand wherein Pyrrhonistic epoché is straw man defined as a ‘denial of knowledge’. This is philosophical domain ineptness – and creates the false dilemma that methodical cynicism is therefore the only bifurcated alternative offered to the seeker of truth. Much of our ignorance and suffering today stems from a misunderstanding of these key principles.
There are three types of person. Those who create great ideas, those who pan them, and those who take the credit for them. Strive always to be the former. The latter will most often secretly reward an ability to create value through ideas; while at the same time ignoring the midmost: the doubter, debunker and cynic. These characters reside in a perpetual state of resentment towards creatively intelligent minds, accentuated by a ripe frustration over the lack of recognition their ‘critical thinking skills’ beget. Their distress mandates the formation of clubs which offer the means of celebrity and self aggrandizement they so desperately crave. Never fathoming that their ilk come at a dime-a-dozen. Therefore, take this as the lesson of skepticism as well. It is a discipline of value creation, and not one of critique.
~ The Ethical Skeptic
Much of our false skepticism and scientific pretense today stems from a misunderstanding of or ignorance around these key principles. 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 along with its “scrutinizing validity/claims/proof in order to arrive at the conclusion which is most likely correct” boasts, into its true definition; in a way that transforms it from a shill pretense, acting in lieu of science – and into real professional praxis skepticism:
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 assessment of risk, in support of our knowledge development.
/epoché vanguards gnosis/ : Inquiry prompted by genuine curiosity under a suspended disposition of judgment, through dispassionate evidence gathering and objective unbiased reasoning in the process of executing the scientific method. A willingness to consider opposing explanations without prejudice based on prior beliefs, and a sincere pursuit of the goals of clarity, value, discipline and the assessment of risk, in the process of our knowledge development.
Two key questions of Ethical Skepticism:
1. If I was wrong, would I even know it?
2. If I was wrong, would I be enabling harm?
What Ethical Skepticism does not involve:
any form of ‘denial of knowledge’ or equivocal gaming of knowledge ‘probability’ under a condition of acatalepsia
acatalepsia Fallacy – a flaw in critical path logic wherein one appeals to the Pyrrhonistic Skepticism principle that no knowledge can ever be entirely certain – and twists it into the implication that therefore, knowledge is ascertained by the mere establishment of some form of ‘probability’. Moreover, that therefore, when a probability is established, no matter how plausible, slight or scant in representation of the domain of information it might constitute, it is therefore now accepted truth. Because all knowledge is only ‘probable’ knowledge, all one has to do is spin an apparent probability, and one has ascertained accepted knowledge. Very similar in logic to the Occam’s Razor aphorism citing that the ‘simplest explanation’ is the correct explanation.
using existing personal knowledge to ‘critically scrutinize’ and filter out disliked data
obtaining knowledge by means of skepticism itself
using systematic doubt to achieve anything novel
‘testing’ as a pretense of science, before gathering any intelligence or knowing what to test in the first place
pretense of knowing what question to ask, without any research and period of unbiased intelligence development
not a ‘mode of inquiry’ – it is inquiry itself
no decisions or dispositions, based upon skepticism itself
no targeting of subject or persons as being ‘pseudoscience’
claims of limitations of human knowledge are no more ‘claims’ than is 2+2=4
any uninformed or armchair version of ‘critical thinking’.
I would rather prove myself wrong on nine ideas and find one to be prodigiously valid,
than wallow passively inside the comforting correctness of ten unquestioned norms.
The reason ethical skepticism is critical, is that its disciplines serve as the foundation to social change and the eventual alleviation of suffering on the part of greater mankind. It is a refusal to live any longer under the spell of ignorance. We will not be acceptable to a larger outside community until we make this change as a species. Unless a mind is founded upon the ethical rigors of true skepticism – it can neither fathom nor apply the incremental advance of hypothesis – neither its intelligence, mechanism nor critical implications. Unmoored, adrift upon seas of apparent chaos, clutching desperately at the flotsam of apothegm and authority – a willful wallowing, the fruit of which is only ignorance and violence. Ethical skepticism as such, is a personal choice of scientific professional character which is expounded upon in the series parts below:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The actual role of Ockham’s Razor, the real scientific principle, is to begin the scientific method, not complete it in one fell 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.
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.
The practice of Allow-For thinking is not tantamount to conforming nor denial beliefs 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.
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.
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.
A competent understanding of the demarcation of what constitutes skepticism, is absolutely essential to the ethical skeptic’s ability to spot agency and agency’s poseur. This is the purpose of the four demarcation boundaries of skepticism.