The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

Meta-Ethical Praxis of Science

Ethical skepticism is a form of meta-ethical philosophy which serves specific benevolent/knowledge goals. The ethics of science (a fortiori of skepticism as well) relate therefore primarily to the study of meta-ethics – and have little to do with morality or virtue. They focus on specific standards of praxis within the scientific community at large.

There exist three domain-forms of ethics. The first is normative ethics, the domain of appearances and correctness from a social perspective.

Normative Ethics – objective practices of morality and social codes of conduct (virtue, religious, moral, identity, personal conduct, etc.)

However, since one of the entire purposes of this blog is to decry pretense, false virtue, concealed religion and identity warfare (the abuse of ethics), we choose to focus instead on more professionally applicable contexts of ethics. More specifically, those of meta-ethics and praxis of science and skepticism:

Meta-Ethics – the study of the disciplines and philosophical bases behind professional standards of practice (skepticism, objectivity, consequentialism, deontology)

Applied Ethics (Praxis) – the decision theory behind professional standards of practice or social codes of conduct (law, procedure, codes of conduct, standards of practice) 1

While I am an upstanding and conscientious person in my private and professional life, one should not infer from the term ‘ethical skepticism’ a personal boast of morality (normative ethics), as those who are ignorant of graduate level philosophy are prone to accuse. Rather one should comprehend ethical skepticism as an intellectual and practical allegiance to an actual long held standard of science. After all, this is what ‘ethics’ means, the decision theory behind adherence to standing professional standards of practice (meta and applied ethics or praxis ethics). Ethical skepticism therefore, is a meta-ethical philosophy which serves specific benevolent/knowledge goals and results in specific modifications to some of our applied ethics (pseudo-skepticism, institutional propaganda and cultivated ignorance). Especially applied ethics which have been in error.

The context of the moniker I use, ‘The Ethical Skeptic’ or the general practitioner descriptive in the form ‘ethical skeptic’, are set in the impersonal; as in the case of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for instance. The context of ethics employed in this blog is deontological in as far as the adherence to standards of protocol, such as the real and complete scientific method, are regarded as both sufficient and necessary to direct our knowledge development actions. An idempotent neutral practice, characterized by an aversion to tampering with observations and data in favor of one’s ontology. Yet, still consequentialist from the perspective that the outcomes of value and clarity manifest as the signature handiwork of those who practice such ethics. In my profession and research skepticism is the substrate of science, and I feel it is abused when applied in lieu of science by agenda-schooled journalists, stage magicians, propaganda bloggers, psychologists and party/social activists.

One can make the serious contention that skepticism is itself, the philosophical deliberation of the meta-ethics of science. However, skepticism must be watched and held accountable too if it errs in consequentialist outcome, attempts to manipulate the outcomes of science itself, embargoes disliked topics or begins to step in and act in lieu of science. Hence the need for ethical skepticism – to watch the watchers.

There exists a contrast of relative movement between where the skeptic movement was 40 years ago, and where it resides now – versus the relative change in practice inside of the so-called pseudosciences during that same timeframe. It is skepticism which has had to be taught how to behave over the last 40 years, and not the pseudosciences. More people believe in a litany of pseudoscience than ever have before. I believe this be be precisely because of the mistaught version of skepticism which was hatched in the 60’s and 70’s.

Skeptics have had to be taught how to behave over the last 20 years in particular.
As a result of their malpractices so-called fringe ideas, both valid and invalid, have grown dramatically in subscribership.
If such such a fringe subject bears validity, then of course its cynics were always in error.
If the fringe subject is invalid, its ensuing popularity too is the fault of the pseudo skeptic – and for the same reasons.

Fake moon landing and flat earth proponents have learned to employ the very same methods which
have been taught by fake skepticism in the targeting of disliked ideas over the last 60 years.
The chickens of failed philosophy have come home to roost.
And the blame for this resides squarely with our floundering skeptics.

These practices are not simply unethical because of the negative consequentialist outcomes in terms of subscribership to fringe topics like fake moon landing and flat Earth theories, but as well – from the history that it has indeed been skeptics who have proved to require the most re-education in this process of deliberation, and ironically not the ‘credulous’. Finally, the specific practices which have resulted in this are detailed and cataloged by The Ethical Skeptic. Skeptics have failed us both from ontological and consequentialist perspectives. What follows is the reason for all this. Fake virtue does not work. Club quality does not work. Normative ethics can serve to provide a clever disguise for agency of malice and oppression.

Exploitation of Ethics Reveals the Necessity of Meta-Ethics

This principle of a policing club such as social skepticism introduces several problems identified by ethical skepticism regarding prima facia virtue and normative ethics:

Virtue Signalling

/philosophy : pseudoscience : normative ethics/ : the ironic principle entailed in the social observation that, prima facia ethics or normative ethics, virtue, religious precepts, morality, victimhood, identity warfare, personal conduct codes, etc. can, and often do serve as a cover for unethical agency masquerading under such pretenses. An action performed in accordance with socially correct pressure, or inside a visible boundary of political correctness, which is performed by a person wishing to show that they are on the good side in a political argument. Symbolic virtuous acts or positions adopted solely to build political power or exempt one from being accused of racism, bigotry, misogyny, greed or any of the canned talking attack points currently being fad utilized by the political left.

Exoentropy of Normatives

/philosophy : ethics : meta-ethics/ : Moreover, systemic dynamics can serve to impart unethical consequentialist outcomes which arrive as a result solely and wholly from individual efforts to maintain normatives of propriety or the appearance of such propriety; especially when coupled with the gaming and exploitation potential therein. This is also known as exoentropy, wherein a decrease in entropy of a subsystem leads further to an even greater entropic contribution to its surroundings or surrounding systems – resulting in an overall entropy or loss to the whole. An example of this can be found in the observation known as Goodhart’s Law and Goodhart’s Law of Skepticism.

Goodhart’s Law – when a specific measure becomes the sole or primary target, it ceases to be a good measure.

Goodhart’s Law of Skepticism – when skepticism itself becomes the goal, it ceases to be skepticism.

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.

This problem of a single standard of skepticism (Science Based Medicine, The Skeptic’s Dictionary, CSICOP, Skeptical Inquirer, etc.), becoming in itself the goal – or in a single measure (p-value) acting now in lieu of science elicits the central issue with regard to scientific ethics today. And in my estimation therefore, the central issue regarding skepticism as well. They have simply replaced the old-boys’ networks with a new club – however a club which is much more prone to witch hunting. One example of such single measure chicanery is outlined inside a very popular Aeon Essay on Science from 2016, by Siddhartha and Edwards.

Since the Second World War, scientific output as measured by cited work has doubled every nine years. How much of the growth in this knowledge industry is, in essence, illusory and a natural consequence of Goodhart’s law? It is a real question.

The increased reliance on quantitative metrics might create inequities and outcomes worse than the systems they replaced. Specifically, if rewards are disproportionally given to individuals manipulating the metrics, well-known problems of the old subjective paradigms (eg, old-boys’ networks) appear simple and solvable. Most scientists think that the damage owing to metrics is already apparent. In fact, 71 per cent of researchers believe that it is possible to ‘game’ or ‘cheat’ their way into better evaluations at their institutions.

~ Science is Broken, Siddhartha Roy, environmental engineer and PhD candidate at Virginia Tech and Marc A Edwards, Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech. 2

The ethics of science (a fortiori of skepticism as well) relate therefore primarily to the study of meta-ethics – and have little to do with single indicator morality or virtue. Surface measures can be gamed by forces pretending to be or manipulate science. ‘Doubt’, ‘critical thinking’, ‘focus on the data’ – can all serve as virtue costumes which agency adorns to play the role. Moreover, even truly moral and virtuous players can indeed serve to produce highly unethical outcomes, so prima facia virtue is unreliable as a predictor for ethical outcome. 3 Meta-ethics relates to the study of decision theory and how it impacts the overall quality of science inside a hyper-growth institutionalized vertical. Accordingly, the ethics of science are defined by premier ethics philosophers, biochemist Adil Shamoo, PhD and bioethicist David Resnik, PhD as such: 4

a.  Disciplined standards of conduct
b.  Discipline of study of standards of conduct
c.  Decision science incorporating standards of conduct
d.  Resulting state of character which undertakes such disciplined decisions.

Below are several standards of scientific ethics, developed in part from leading discipline materials on the ethics of science, with my own experience inside the subject incorporated therein. These ethical norms of science are re-developed from the following resources: 5 6

Paul Humphreys, The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Science; Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2016; pp. 255-9
Resnik, David B., The Ethics of Science: An Introduction (Philosophical Issues in Science), New York: Routledge, 1998

It is the purpose of the PhD program, and the examination by review board, dissertation committee and advisor, to ensure that the PhD candidate grasps and has developed the skill in applying the following principles TO SELF FIRST and not others, before they are allowed to adorn the moniker of scientist. Skepticism has mistakenly taught the less mature among us, to only examine others under cherry picked versions of these principles.

   The Meta-Ethical Praxis of Science (and Skepticism)

Integrity – responsibility with regard to both the soundness and the critical implications of one’s scientific research. Understand what constitutes data versus information versus intelligence and its probative potential versus its eventual reliability (not simply current). Understand the differing implications of various types of inference and what to do with an outcome which may not be well accepted by the community at large.

Openness – transparency of process undertaken, sources employed, assumptions made and models utilized, along with the sharing of data, results, methods and materials with other researchers – and yes, even laymen and curious stakeholders.

Diligence – maintaining good records of data, experimental protocols, and other research documentation. Take appropriate steps to recognize and mitigate potential bias and error. Subject your own work to critical scrutiny and do not overstate the significance of your results. Disclose information sufficient to allow the critical review of your work.

Freedom – support freedom of inquiry in the laboratory, research environment and in the field. Do not obfuscate scientific arguments or data, nor prohibit scientific or layman researchers from engaging in investigation and debate.

Due Credit – identify and allocate credit for prior art, investigative and analytical work, where such credit is due.

Respect for Intellectual Property and Prior Art – do not plagiarize nor steal intellectual property. Respect data sources, copyrights and patents.

Discretion – maintain the confidentiality of materials and data sources which are entrusted under such constraints or in any case where doubt exists as to such necessity. Maintain anonymity (such as in peer review, personal data or subject identity) unless identity is specifically warranted (publication) or requested.

Stewardship – take care with data, resources, test subjects, results, databases, samples, equipment, supplies, and physical research or anthropological/paleontological sites.

Development and Competence – maintain and enhance your competence inside your discipline of study. Increase awareness of the research field and impacted stakeholders. Take appropriate steps to deal with incompetence, or premature conclusiveness inside your discipline of study. Take appropriate steps to identify and hold accountable, those who fail in their burdens of service inside the public trust.

Serves Inside the Public Trust – it is necessary that science not be viewed as an activity in lieu of governance or any form of governance proxy, and must exclusively exercise its work inside the public trust.

Respect for Stakeholders – treat collaborators, data collection specialists, student and interns, and other peer and colleagues with respect. Treat impacted stakeholders with tolerance and the respect due those who will bear the burden of your outcomes. Do not discriminate against colleagues nor exploit them or their work efforts.

Respect for Humanity/Suffering – respect the rights, welfare and dignity of human or animal impacted stakeholders, research subjects, and protect them from harm or exploitation (except where exclusively proven to be unavoidable). Communicate risk in advance, in a clear and objective fashion – allowing human stakeholders to opt out, unless final proof (not simply consensus) is determined as to their necessity to comply.

Social Responsibility – prioritize research which is likely to benefit society or reduce suffering. Avoid causing harm to animals, the economy, a nation, humans or the environment. Science and scientists should never engage in activity to bypass/usurp the governance of a nation in a desire for application of their goals.  Engage in extracurricular activities which serve to benefit society.

The Human Right to Know – humans bear the right to knowledge about their origins or concerning any threat to their safety, well being or livelihood. Public access to study artifacts serving to illuminate mankind’s social, morphological and genetic history should not be denied based upon property conventions of any haplogroup, culture, owner, propriety, government, nation, intelligence group or institution. Knowledge is a basic human right; and in particular, it is a basic human right to access freely the knowledge of where mankind came from and the pathway which brought us here as a species.

Legality – comply with international, national and local laws. Comply with regulations and institutional policies – unless they compel you to violate the above ethics.

These are the standards by which an ethical skeptic regards their science. Praxis, not virtue.

epoché vanguards gnosis

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Epoché and The Handedness of Information

Epoché is the suspended discipline of the ethical skeptic, which prevents the handedness of information from impacting what he or she discerns to constitute suitable theory. It is the active inquiry of one who goes into the field and observes, crafts intelligence and frames necessity. A journey of curiosity and opposition to agency in which the ethical skeptic will disappointingly find himself alone – while the religious, both believer and cynic alike, refuse to undertake any venture of the sort.

If you are even the most casual reader of The Ethical Skeptic, you probably have observed that I begin my signature with the salutation ‘epoché vanguards gnosis‘. Epoché is the discipline wherein an ethical skeptic actively goes back to the first hand source and dispassionately and neutrally looks for themself. An ethical skeptic is never satisfied with apathetically wallowing in a mystery (this is not the same as wonder), nor celebrating its debunking as part of an effort to increase a cynical club ranking. An ethical skeptic, goes and looks, gathers intelligence, asks critical path questions, seeks novel perspectives, themself – they do not rely upon social skeptic nor true believer literature to digest and explain challenging observations for them. Aside from specious forms of Nickell Plating, it is indeed a rare sight to see a ‘skeptic’ out in the field investigating, other than to be able to say that they did, or simply on symbolic excursion to search for a priori plausible deniability in the interest of club social ranking. Aside from this I have never once seen a skeptic out with various groups I have visited, regardless of the type of extraordinary claim I seek to research.

One outcome of this disappointing reality, is the realization that most all knowledge which is held by both believer and social skeptic alike, is knowledge they have received second, third, fourth or even ninth hand from different social and agency contributors. Parties who have altered (handed) that information set through its propagation. Information transference is rarely an idempotent process. If you can find a researcher who is able to assimilate intelligence, without changing the gist of its story, hire them and keep them. This skill is rare. The arrow in the quivery of the ethical skeptic, which he or she employs to combat the role of what is known as ‘handed information’, is called epoché.

epoché

/philosophy : skepticism : deontological doubt/ : (Gr. ἐποχή, “suspension”) – 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.

It is the step of first being skeptical of self, before addressing challenging or new phenomena. Underpinned by both a 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, and catalog it. If you toss it out based upon a fallacy, trivial flaw or terminal disinterest – then you are a cynic, not a skeptic.

The bottom line is, epoché is a discipline of ‘going back to the source, and looking for yourself’. It is a methodology which seeks to circumvent the stacked plurality of what is known as the ‘handedness of information’. And in doing so, is the vanguard to what qualifies as our body of accepted knowledge, gnosis. Therefore, in order to understand why and how epoché is important, lets examine that key principle involved, the handedness of information.

Information Handedness: Social and Agency

We are used to speaking in terms of first and second hand information, socially. We as elementary school kids are taught and typically understand what the addition of a degree of separation from the source, tends to do in terms of information integrity. This principle is akin to the Ockham’s Razor axiom cautioning about adding ‘entities’ to an argument. Adding levels of exchange or conflict of interest to an information set is much akin to adding entities to an argument – it may or may not add value, but it certainly will always serve to add more uncertainty. Certain loss, combined with uncertain gain – do not go there. This risk versus benefit parsimony gives broach to the expanded idea of information ‘handedness’ (first hand, second hand, hearsay, etc.) as it relates to the entropy of intelligence.

Agency

/philosophy : pseudoscience/ : an activated, intentional and methodical form of bias, often generated by organization, membership, politics, hate or fear based agenda and disdain. Agency and bias are two different things. Ironically, agency can even tender the appearance of mitigating bias, as a method of its very insistence.

Agency and The Handedness of Information

/philosophy : Ockham’s Razor : entities : sources/ : any increase in the entropy of the integrity of a purported information set as it is developed, communicated or codified. Handedness often is expressed in terms of stacked layers of sourcing, any introduced source layer or modifier which bears a conflict of interest regarding the integrity of the information, and/or any non-idempotent exchange of that information – collectively as a series group, known as the ‘hands’ of influence. There are nine hands of information exchange. The first four hands are typically regarded as the least corrupted – expressing merely as a phenomenon of social handling, The last five hands of agency constitute the least reliable hand-offs of information; and are moreover, earmarked by any goal to exploit ‘handed’ information for organizational or personal gain or power.

Social Handedness (The ethical skeptic maintains epoché on this information)

1st Hand – Something you personally observe

2nd Hand – Something related to you by a reliable witness or trusted friend

3rd Hand – Something related to an interested group by a knowledgeable and involved party

4th Hand – Something commonly or controversially discussed/rumor

Agency Handedness (The ethical skeptic is not required to maintain epoché on this information)

5th Hand – A prejudicial spin, straw man, disinformation, or exaggeration which is extracted from 4th Hand information

6th Hand – A transformed, misleading, witness disparaging and cherry picked set of 1st – 5th Hand information

7th Hand – Codification, club review or false authority derived from 5th and 6th Hand information

8th Hand – Ongoing doctrine and pseudo-philosophy which is enforced upon the basis of official 7th Hand information

9th Hand – Power, monetary income, club authority or personal celebrity which is derived from 8th Hand information

Please notice that the first four hands of information exchange are a normal part of the function of a group of social humans. This is what we are taught in elementary school about the escalations and adaptations which occur during the spread of gossip. But also note, with hands following fourth hand information, a new agent is introduced. Beginning with the agent who seeks to cherry pick extract, exaggerate and straw man translate the material (aka ‘digest’), so that it may be used ultimately for gain – these constitute the hands who are purposing part (not typically all) of the information set, for power. These are your dogmatists who produce agency handedness. They seek more than truth. They seek the power, celebrity and income that their twist on corrupted information can serve. Benefits in terms of cabal, its authority, and their celebrity ranking therein.

Religious Information Handedness

Let’s first elicit this chain of increasing risk, in verity (handedness – a form of plurality under Ockham’s Razor) by examining an example of 7th Hand Information as it pertains to religion. Specifically, with the New Testament Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verses 1 thru 4 (New International Version).

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. ~ The New Testament Gospel of Luke, 1:1-4 (NIV)

As you may derive from (you must unshackle yourself from religious defensive bias first) this heavily equivocal-worded preamble to the history documented inside the Gospel of Luke, three elements of concern arise:

1.  The recount is delivered in a defensive and obfuscating pleonastic form. Instead of delivering a message in straightforward fashion, such as, ‘I was a 5 year-long daily associate of Jesus and this is what I saw and remember’, the delivery of information is couched in code phrases which cajole the reader into inferring a second and third hand verity to it, but never actually tenders claim to such a sound basis for its origin. This is Antoneqsue rhetoric in fine form, delivered so as to impress the reader with authoritative sounding credibility – but which actually says nothing.

2.  The information sources are neither fourth nor fifth hand, as the version the author is assembling for the reader, Theophilus, is chosen from a body of versions which are exonerated and exaggerated (hyperbole collectively) as well as compliant to a bias he holds. He implies that, sifting through this disorderly body of material (containing normal human exchange hyperbole) has been no small task.

3.  Finally the author, Luke the Historian, makes it clear that this is his version of the recount which resulted from this chaotic set of material. In this matter he has had to translate some of the hyperbole he struggled with, and then sought to formalize what he found into a codice for delivery to posterity (through Theophilus). Clearly sixth and seventh hand information sets.

As an ethical skeptic, I am not required to hold suspension on this type of information, especially as it relates to a claim to truth and action (acceptance and action on my part). This information above in Luke’s preamble, is presented as absolute authority upon which I must take action. If another agent then further pushes that information upon me (apologetics) as a doctrine or accuses me of failing science/knowledge/truth in some way by not accepting it – this is Eighth Handed Agency. It just keeps getting worse.

This verse in the Bible gave me great consternation (as did the appearance of an olive leaf Noah scraped from the dove’s beak, a mere 43 days after the first mountain tops emerged from Noah’s Flood – when it takes a 7 full months for an olive pit to ‘come true’ and produce its first leaf as a viable tree sproutling – if the ‘whole world’ was flooded, then where did this leaf come from?). Consternation because I sensed prevarication and high handedness being spun inside its text. It bothered me enormously in my sincere, god-seeking youth. Why would god prevaricate, equivocate and wax pleonastic? Just say what you mean and mean what you say; otherwise people could miss the point completely, and end up in hell. A problem with which I found the Bible to be replete.

Eventually I had to conclude that men wrote this material – men alone; not through any non-human inspiration; but rather in the same state as all information as spun by men; that the material suffered from every bit the handedness, as which does all forms of disinformation and hyperbole. It was capped off finally, in later years, by the signature earmark of being exploited for gain. It was religious Ninth Handed information – the science communication of the day.

When one undertakes such a journey of integrity, this process does not stop at neutralizing only Abrahamic religious messages – those who pretend to represent god. There are others who purport to represent truth under a burden of ‘high handedness’ as well: social skeptics. Those who pretend to represent the science-god. But before we address these quasi-religions, let us examine a corollary principle inside the concept of handedness. That of the inside player or intra ludio.

intra ludio

/philosophy : rhetoric : agency : telltales/ : the telltale of the inside actor. If someone is truly an expert proponent of a subject, then that proponent should also be able to offer his subject’s most profound expert critique as well – and be forthcoming about unanswered daunting questions inside that subject. The key is to watch for this honesty in conviction – the faker does neither of these things – an only defends his precious argument. As an evolutionist, I do not believe that you support evolution, nor really even know it – if you cannot offer up a cogent and accurate summation of its current challenges and shortfalls. You may offer them up as ‘gaps’, but to totally ignore them tells the ethical skeptic that their opponent is both ignorant and dishonest as well.

So with that definition of the telltale of agency and handedness in mind, let us broach the topic of the agency with regard to the social skeptic.

Social Skepticism Information Handedness: No Different Than That of Religion

The seeker of truth, once in grasp of this Ockham’s Razor based tenet, often in a mild funk over failure of religion to deliver under a context of handedness – should next turn and set his or her newfound lens upon the Cabal of Social Skepticism. What the sincere ethical skeptic will find, is that in terms of the handedness of information, and the earmarked goal of personal or club gain, social skepticism is indeed no different than any religion.

The social skeptic agent, much as in the instance of the agency of religious interpretation, is on a mission to build his club through debunking, translating (cherry picking and straw man framing), and promulgating a twisted version of actual events, in order to enforce a doctrine which brings his club, power and money. You will notice that the same exact social dynamics and players – all the way through to the club exploitation of the digested version of the information for power, notoriety and money – they all exist in the exact same fashion as are deployed in the religious versions of information handedness.

For an example see Not So Fast: Anatomy of a Skeptic Hack Job

Social Skepticism is a form of Agency Handedness. Perhaps you can call this process underhandedness as well. They deal with nothing but 4th Hand information at best. And what 1st through 3rd Hand information they do employ, is cherry picked and selectively informed. Such skeptics are expert at the organic lie (telling a lie through selective facts or only a subset of the truth).

Agency Handedness of Social Skepticism

5th Hand – Disinform – a prejudicial spin, straw man, disinformation, or exaggeration which is extracted from 4th Hand information

6th Hand – Debunk – a transformed, misleading, witness disparaging and cherry picked set of 1st – 5th Hand information

7th Hand – Spin Propaganda – codification, club review or false authority derived from 5th and 6th Hand information

8th Hand – Enforce Social Skepticism – ongoing doctrine and pseudo-philosophy which is enforced upon the basis of official 7th Hand information

9th Hand – Enrich Self, Club, Celebrity Skeptics and Science Communicators – power, monetary income, club authority or personal celebrity which is derived from 8th Hand information

Epoché and The Handedness of Information

With epoché the principle is very simple – one remains neutral and level minded in response to handed information. Neither believing nor disbelieving it. This is not prejudicial doubt, rather deontological doubt – and the two are different. The principle, simply put, involves – going and looking for yourself. Understanding that answers do not come as easily as most people believe they do. The world, upon closer and closer examination, tends to become stranger and stranger. This, a seasoned and qualified philosopher, understands. Epoché therefore, is an active disposition of neutrality and suspension, meaning one desires to go and look, at any time during the process of handedness, short of having used it’s uncertainty for personal power or money. Once the ninth hand is reached, it is impossible to maintain epoché.

This is our mission – to go, to see, to catalog and observe, to listen, to find, to develop intelligence and necessity. To oppose agency. In this lonely journey you may find yourself surprised at how many things which ‘cannot exist’ – likely do exist, and how many creeds of certainty, fall to question. I leave you now with The First Duty of Ethical Skepticism.

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’.

epoché vanguards gnosis

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August 19, 2018 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , | 14 Comments

Nurturing the New Mind: The Disruptive Nature of Ethics

Everyone lies. Even so, it is the legitimate role of the New Mind to not simply detect lies, but moreover to dethrone those entities which pretend to the role of God. The Ethical Skeptic does not know what a god even is; nor does he possess all knowledge and wisdom. However, he can easily spot a monkey with a gas can. Even and especially if that gas can serves to intimidate via means of institution, socialized rationality or specious claims to science, evidence or truth. Inside this awareness, several telltale character traits, life signatures, differentiate the poser elitist from someone who can be trusted. This is his threshing floor – upon which he exercises the disruptive nature of ethics.

monkey with a gas canTo a degree, ethical skepticism can be viewed as a method of exercising a New Mind. It involves a keen survey of the landscape of animal, primate and human behavior, along with an understanding of how these roles, tactics and strategies of both survival and inhabitance, have played into our success as a species. It also involves (as does true skepticism) a keen understanding of the pitfalls of each strategy and how such pitfalls might manifest in our lives inside the societies in which we dwell. Everything of merit possesses a relevant range of application, outside of the bounds of which, even the best strategy can devolve into a practice oriented towards power; producing deception and suffering. Remember, that to a sentient intelligence species, deception-based ignorance and suffering are the same thing – one is simply the expression of the other. Lacking of knowledge is not a sin. The withholding of knowledge and denial of the right to thrive is a sin. This is a key tenet of ethical skepticism. It is not so much bunk we are fighting, as bunk will eventually falsify itself in a free information environment, rather cultivated ignorance. The ethical skeptic gets this, the small mind, no matter how rational, does not.

The Knowledge of God and Not-God

Let’s take a step back and examine the myth outlaid in the Torah, a myth which has for right or wrong, ruled much of our foundational understanding of good and evil as a western superculture. A condensed version of manuscripts taken from an older Levantine religion (I suspect from which the Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite lineage spawned) now included in what we call The Bible. In the renamed condensed later manuscript now called Genesis, we see in verses 3: 22 – 24 (NASB):

Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the Tree of Life.

Now I have found manifest in my years working with nations and corporations all over the globe, that man possesses a serious dearth in ability to distinguish good from evil, nor even cozen a coherent definition of each thereof. What man understands is ‘proper’ and ‘improper’. These are simply popular constructs relating to socialized rationality. Hence the persistence of malicious religions, governments and corporations – entities which thrive on ‘rationality’ but do not serve its goals necessarily; rather ultimately their own. Were we to recognize them in the context of true good and evil, possibly we could work to mitigate their deleterious effects. But we cannot even recognize such effects, even if we did possess a knowledge of good and evil at the outset. No, we are their prey – seriously falling under the contention that we must have eaten from the Tree of Lack of Knowledge of Good and Evil, were there such a mythical flora indeed. The bottom line is that the Bible is wrong, we do not know what good and evil is. We know harm, proper and improper. That is all. Perhaps our fall after all, simply resides in our presuming of skill at good and evil discernment in the first place.

Just think to yourself, what if your family dog one day licked an electrical socket and suddenly obtained the mental clarity to ascertain your true nature and celestial position as a human being? What if in a bought of tragic rift, your beloved pet, the furry creature who used to greet you at the door with such abandon, excitement and love each day after work, became knowledgeable about just who and what you were? What if he understood that you did not really kill and prepare the food you so faithfully gave him? What if he understood that you routinely lie to your parents in order to placate them? What if he understood that you had to betray a friend and take full credit for a paper that was partly her idea, in order to make the next step in your career? What if he understood that you destroyed a friend and former lover, in order to chance a relationship with someone more attractive – and it all collapsed in a heap of angst and broken hearts? What if he knew that you habitually tolerated or promulgated lies between 10-200 times every single day – along with the rest of humanity?¹ And even lived in a state of denial of even doing so, lying even to yourself? But never mind this, what if your faithful dog – suddenly possessed even the slightest understanding of who and what you are? He would hold then the wisdom of the Knowledge of God and Not-God. He might even bite you and leave.

He would be wise to you, and no longer serve in the faithful role in which you both previously existed. Bad dog…

Everyone lies. Even so, it is the legitimate role of the New Mind to not simply detect lies, but moreover to dethrone those entities which pretend to the role of God. The Ethical Skeptic does not know what a god even is; nor does he possess all knowledge and wisdom. However, he can easily spot a monkey with a gas can. Even and especially if that gas can serves to intimidate via means of institution, socialized rationality or specious claims to science, evidence or truth. Inside this awareness, several telltale character traits, life signatures differentiate the poser from someone who can be trusted. This is his threshing floor.

The ethical skeptic knows that it is often those who adhere to the most strict appearances of honesty – who can produce the most corrupt manifestations of ignorance and suffering. They can be known by hints derived from their motivations.

Standing Up to The Monkey with the Gas Can

Ethics are therefore disruptive by this very principle alone; and in an evolutionary context actually, eruptive. And in as much as this comforting metaphor of the family dog can serve to exhibit the crucial relationship between knowledge and control, even so we as thinking and discriminating beings can fortunately now examine the playing field inside which we reside. Our task is to become more than simply the smart but formerly obedient dog.  In so far as Pamela Meyer has outlined in her work “Liespotting,” the ability to spot lies in other people;¹ even moreso, the task at hand for us the ethical skeptics, is understanding the conditions when someone is pretending to the role of God in our lives. And trust me, it is not just mainstream religion which is pretending to this role. Primates seek power, pleasure and entitlement by any means they can – and uber-correctness, fake humility and social rationality can serve as great cover for such foibles.

First however, let’s examine the transitional role which primates have played in the evolution of consciousness and conscience. The stacked hierarchy of tactic and strategy inside the reality of the need to survive or thrive within this physical realm in which we find ourselves. A New Mind may perceive itself as an unwilling participant inside the grand play in which it holds a role. And whether self-deception, illusion or none of the above, it is of no matter. The reality is that we survey this landscape nonetheless.

Perhaps two examples from the natural world, the first from the Jane Goodall Institute and the second from the work of animal psychologist Penny Patterson of The Gorilla Foundation, can suffice to elicit this graphic below. (As a note, I would ignore the abysmally incompetent, paltry and biased writeups in Wikipedia on both these matters as the authors of those entries were merely doing amateurish hackjobs, and not true research expose on each topic – so the entries are useless as information other than nominal facts and fake skeptic viewpoints on the matter):

[One Chimpanzee named Mike (1938 to 1975) began a strategy of dominance through employment of a gas can.] One day as Mike was batting a gasoline can around, the loud thuds and irritating banging noises it produced resulted in a few of his fellow chimpanzees running quickly away from the strange object and the noise it produced. Mike understood this to mean that he had found a means to intimidate his fellow chimpanzees. Mike began to practice his new brand of display with two cans bouncing off trees and earth as he went running madly down the path with hair standing erect, shoulders pushed back, and face molded into a fiercely determined look. Chimpanzees cringed in fear as they heard his noisy approach and saw him running at them. They scattered off the path and out of his way.

Large high-ranking males fled up the tree trunks when Mike began his descent down the forest path slapping, kicking, and smacking three cans in front of him! The other chimpanzees had never seen or heard anything like it. It was as if the worst thunderstorm had erupted and Mike was directing it toward them. They shrieked and tried desperately to get away from him and the terrible rattling and banging noise the cans made as they flew down the hill in their direction. Not wanting to fight with the unknown, the males of Mike’s community acquiesced. Mike became the first alpha male ever to employ his brain rather than his brawn to govern his community. One year after Mike began his unusual display, he attained the position of alpha male.²

Successively then, let us regard a tale of Koko the western lowland gorilla, the primate who has single-pawed overturned our understanding of the primate mind.

Like most people, Koko has good behaviors and bad behaviors. Like most people, she takes credit for the good behaviors and blames the bad ones on someone else. The cat [All Ball] came in handy on one particularly destructive day. When no one was around, Koko managed to rip a sink out of the wall in her habitat. When the humans returned, they asked Koko who ripped out the sink.

Koko signed, “The cat did it.”³

What this indicates is then, the death of the idea of glorified but fallen-sinful humanity, and the introduction of the idea that our vulnerabilities, our proclivities for both illicit and legitimate gain – are simply expressions of natural strategies to survive and thrive. They are natural, albeit higher DNA based manifestations of expression. We were simply blinded to this by entities pretending to the role of God in our past. Bluffing into a form of control, or what might reside inside the blue levels of the primate pyramid below. Below, I have constructed a graphic depicting the less-than-dramatic schism between humanity and the natural realm, along with the challenge resident in the mind of the ethical skeptic as to how we progress from this problem of philosophy (Social Skepticism), and onto the next step. What I call, The New Mind.

The Heirarchy of Natural Competitiveness

Traits of the New Mind

sci literacyThe decision as to whether control, coaching and conscience are sufficient to the task of fostering The New Mind, or whether or not to apply the draconian measures of culling and conversion, wholly resides inside another camp altogether. So for purposes of this blog, let’s assume that coaching and conscience are the tactics which provide for success in crafting of The New Mind. In that context, for the ethical skeptic, the matter is not simply one of determining liars and lies. Everyone lies. This is the reality of the natural realm inside which we reside. Pretending to be able to counter all the proclivities of the natural realm is a matter of magic, self aggrandizement and boast. Our task is NOT to detect every single lie which is uttered, and swell our egos in a virtual cocoon of correctness. Such a state stands itself, manifest as a sort of lie of its own crafting.  The key for the ethical skeptic is to detect when lies become institutionalized, when they begin to manifest suffering on a small or even grander scale.

The question on the mind of the ethical skeptic is “How do we get to the New Mind?” And more importantly, how do I take control of my intent and begin to serve a New Mind in myself? This is the essence of becoming an ethical skeptic. To become a skeptic of one’s self, and others – in so far as spotting the character traits of one who is – or is not – residing inside this New Mind:

  • Tenacious
  • Possessing gumption
  • Incessantly curious
  • Nurturing
  • Transparent but not full disclosure
  • Compassionate
  • Does not seek tenure nor guaranteed power and comfort
  • Willing to re-invest/risk
  • Altruistic
  • The ability to know when to not be altruistic
  • Possesses a “Value for Vision” and a “Vision for Value”
  • Hard working but not seeking entitlement
  • Balanced
  • Disruptive, firm but fair in the face of god proxies
  • Does not instinctively seek to insult
  • Examines self first
  • Does not wear fake humility as a costume
  • Does not wear social conformance as a costume

humble costumeThese are the hallmarks of the person who can be trusted, and not whether they have ever made a mistake – nor pondered pseudoscience. A person who has overcome themselves, and further then realizes that the goal of life is not simply to be happy, judgemental or controlling – and especially to not pull off primate tricks in order to amass such pleasure. Rather, possesses the quiet focus to be steadfast, faithful, compassionate, hungry and firm in the face of elite thirst for power. In a world of primate tricks, corruption, collusion and control – such traits are innately disruptive.

Epoché Vanguards Gnosis.

epoché vanguards gnosis


¹  Meyer, Pamela; “Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception”; July 2010; Pamela Meyer.

²  ChimpaZoo; The Goodall Institute, Chapter 21: “Mike the Alpha Male”; http://www.chimpanzoo.org/african_notecards/chapter_21.html.

³  “A Conversation with Koko”; Nature (1999) The Gorilla Institute; http://www.koko.org/dvds – as reported through Natural News; Mike Budrant; Jan 19, 2013; http://www.naturalnews.com/038743_primates_liars_gorilla.html.

August 31, 2016 Posted by | Institutional Mandates, What is Ethical Skepticism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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