The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

A New Ethic

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 are the practices on the part of those who today pose as if communicating on behalf of science. Genuine skepticism opposes such 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. 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 social ignorance. Skepticism is the complement of sound science method and not its substitute. It should never be 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’ – especially doubt which constitutes merely a masquerade, belying what is in its essence methodical cynicism. 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”) – 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. ~ Herbert Spencer

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, and catalog it. If you toss it out based upon a fallacy, trivial flaw, improbability, fear or terminal disinterest – then you are a cynic, not a skeptic.

cwv0dmqxgaaz6wsOf 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,’ ‘doubting’ and ‘demanding proof’ as a response to novel intelligence. Those who perform their twisted skepticism in such manner, 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:

Neuhaus’s Law

/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.

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 ‘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:

Ethical Skeptic

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.

Ethical Skepticism

/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:

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – The Eight Tropes

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.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 1 – The Octavus Thesauri and What it Means to Be an Ethical Skeptic

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.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 2 – The Riddle of Skepticism

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.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 3 – Ethical Skepticism Detailed Through the Knowledge Development Process

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.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 4 – Ethical Skepticism and How it Relates to Religion and Belief

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.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 5 – Ethical Skepticism and The Real Ockham’s Razor

The actual role of Ockham’s Razor, the real scientific principle, is to begin the scientific method, not complete it in one felled 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.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 6 – Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

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.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 7 – The Unexpected Virtue of Allow-For Thinking

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.

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

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.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 9 – Skeptive Dissonance

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.

deskeptorEthical Skepticism – Part 10 – The Demarcation of 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.

epoché vanguards gnosis

April 8, 2015 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism, What is Ethical Skepticism | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ethical Skepticism – Part 4 – The Panoply of Belief

Ethical Skepticism’s being defined philosophically as a mindset defending 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 cast in the light of the same religious mindset as the theist religious.

Skepticism: The Philosopher’s View of the Knowledge Development Process

The Epignosis - Copy 801Now we will discuss the perspective of Ethical Skepticism and its interplay with and dynamic as contrasted with beliefs and religions. In Ethical Skepticism Part 1 we examined a chart called “The Epignosis” or more plainly The Knowledge Development Process. Within that section, the contention was made that the role of skepticism is to defend the Knowledge Development Process and to challenge the Ignorances of religion. Specifically, pseudo-skepticism, credulity, fanaticism, denial, plausible deniability, cynicism, mores, and doctrine. These are the presumptions of a person enforcing a religion. Robert Nozick, former Pellegrino University Professor at Harvard University, avers regarding skepticism:

“The skeptic argues that we do not know what we think we do. …Given [the variety of causal knowledge] [how then] is knowledge possible? In answering this question, we do not seek to convince the skeptic [or our self], but rather to formulate hypotheses about knowledge and our connection to facts which show how knowledge can exist…”  ~Nozick¹

In other words, the purpose of skepticism, whether preparing our own mind to develop knowledge, or demonstrating to others a necessity that they develop knowledge as well, is not to defend the right answer, but rather to defend the integrity of The Knowledge Development Process, or science – as we more commonly call it.¹

Religion in Skepticism is The Illusion of the Absolute. It is Not Defined Simply by Veneration of a God or Gods

Noted philosopher Georg Wilhem Friedrich Hegel cited in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion that religion was defined as “The Image of the Absolute.”² In this context he expounds about religion in that

“Still [religion] always remains a certainty, and its rays stream as something divine into this present temporal life, giving the consciousness of the active presence of truth, even amidst the anxieties which torment the soul here in this region of time.”  ~Hegel²

The Panoply of Belief

In other words, religion as defined by Hegel, is the illusion of the presence of absolute truth, which counteracts the anxiety of our present. Notice that Hegel sets his reference to the divine as more metaphorical and not parametrical inside this context of definition. Social Skeptics are keen to equate religion with the acceptance of a god or gods. This is an artifice and non-viable definition of the principle. Religion in a skeptical sense is a defense mechanism against fear of the unknown. Indeed, one of the tenets of Ethical Skepticism is the contention that all religion, stems from the same set of common fears.² If both man A and man O are afraid of the same thing P, then the fact that they devise two diametrically opposed solutions to that anxiety, Pª and Pº, does not dismiss the reality that they have both devised an illusion of truth by which to protect them self from the incumbent current anxiety. What they have devised makes no difference in terms of their ontology constituting a religion.  One believes that benevolent frogs will welcome us into the afterlife, so we should not be afraid of death. The other believes that there is no afterlife so we should not be afraid of death. In the Robert Nozick definition of skepticism, both man A and man O have manufactured knowledge from the unknown, independent of fact, based upon anxiety. Both are not skeptics.

Man A develops knowledge (RED) to counter fear P

Man O develops knowledge (GREEN) to counter fear P

Both Pª and Pº are therefore religions

Ethical Skepticism seeks to remove the mind of the participant from this process of fear (P) and Hegel’s ‘Illusion of the Abosolute’ (Pª and Pº)

If one becomes a Nihilist over personal anger or dislike of Fundamentalists , one is nonetheless adopting a religion all the same. Simply one Illusion of the Absolute used to combat the anger and fear over another Illusion of the Absolute. There is no real difference.

For the Ethical Skeptic, there are points of interest in all these beliefs, but he adopts none as his illusion.

This principle plays out in the graphic to the right, wherein we employ the Hegel-Nozick definitions of religion and skepticism to illustrate that all beliefs, adopted to quell the anxiety of the present, are religions. You can see those belief sets which qualify as a means of deflecting anxiety by means of the illusion of truth, marked with a red star in the chart to the right.  Further then, the Ethical Skeptic defines a religion in terms of how it is expressed in the social discourse, by means of two qualifiers:

  1. If you do not accept my illusion of truth, you are ignorant, silly or unacceptable in some fashion, and
  2. My truth cannot be approached by means of falsification testing.

A Prison of Their Own Mindset – Never Aware That They Could Leave at Any Time

fear of deathIn other words, what the religious participant is really saying is “I must protect my ‘knowledge from the unknown’ (Pª and Pº) at all costs. The alternative (P) terrifies me.” It does not matter whether they have invented a deity or confabulated a ‘nothingness’ to assuage this fear. These ontological machinations are both simply relgion in the Hegel sense. It does not matter that their life practices might not keenly adhere to the tenets of the religion. It is the terror, after all which must be allayed through mindset, not practice. Fundamentalists do not seek to perfect morality, and Nihilists perform very little scientific method. These are only symbols for them. For this reason, the Ethical Skeptic should bear affinity to many of the arguments from both sides of the spectrum depicted in the chart. The Ethical Skeptic understands and empathizes with the ‘why’ of all this. This understanding of the artifice (P) which has created this polarization depicted above, frees him from this fear. Part of your ethos as an Ethical Skeptic is to recognize and work to ease the bars of the prison in which people like this exist. Remember it is not a prison of their own crafting, rather it has been thrust upon them. Your voice should work to counter those who craft and sell these prisons on other people. Those are the religious.

Given this professional definition of religion, let’s examine the field of illusions of truths, beliefs. Beliefs are not excused by the apologetic that one is applying ‘critical thinking’ or ‘rationality’ or ‘the tools of science.’ When one uses ‘science’ to refuse to collect data, and to dismiss information elements they dislike one at a time, one is not performing science, rather one is allaying their terror. Such are the actions of Social Skeptics, actions of belief as defined in the chart above. Much of this claptrap is adorned no differently than are robes and talisman. It is this chosen illusion of truth, the Image of the Absolute, which protects one from anxiety (whether fear of god or simply the unknown) which qualifies the doctrine as a religion. Indeed, it is drawing absolute out of the unknown, which is the handiwork of those protecting a religious stand. Now to the degree that some of the list of ontologies shown in the chart, are not forced on others, or their tenets are set precariously on the crucible of falsification (such as in the cases of interventionism, atheism (not Big-A Atheism) and evolution for example) these ontologies are not religions for the most part, as they do not meet the two criteria.

The Zone of Fear 23 - CopyThe Ethical Skeptic intercepts this process of illusion of the absolute via two means. First, to remove the influence of fear of the unknown in their ontological development discipline, and second, to link the development of knowledge to a professionally, ethically developed set of what can be known, with nothing thrown out. In Pyrrhonistic Greek Skepticism, the removal of this fear (and its derivative disdain, hatred or reactionary fear) and replacement of it with a suspended state of Epoché is called the state of Ataraxia.

Ataraxia (ἀταραξία, “tranquility”) is a Greek term used by Pyrrho and Epicurus for a lucid state of robust tranquility, characterized by ongoing freedom from distress and worry.³

It is the act of dismissal of an ‘anecdote’ which betrays servitude to this fear, the desire to enforce a religion. If the data you are credibly presented is inconsistent with your favorite view, collect it anyway. How will it harm you? There is no need to make a MiHoDeAL claim to knowledge. Even lies can deliver a wealth of value, and eventually under diligence of accrued verity, prove themselves to be false. In an environment where all ‘incorrect’ data is MiHoDeAL, one will only find what one has assumed to be true in the first place.

The Ethical Skeptic divests him or herself from the belief/fear/hate business, and instead chooses to let the mystery be, until sufficient knowledge can be developed which falsifies any or all of the belief sets which he has at his disposal.

Inside each of the religious pitch clubs, regardless of whether or not they purport to represent god or science, there are individuals who dissent and practice the ethic which follows.

The essence of ethical skepticism is this:

  1. There is No Club – Club Quality does not work (see #2. below).

  2. Good Intentions Serve to Harm – Good intentions are a way of deceiving self in harming others.

  3. I Do Not Hold Sophia – I do not possess the cognition of any critical entity/method/virtue. I hold myself accountable precisely because of this knowledge.

  4. Truth is Non-Robust/Change is Inevitable – If you are not evolving, you are dying.

  5. Tolerance – Others only need instruction when they operate under the Religious Pitch – then relax thereafter, as the rest will come.

  6. Never a Blind Eye – Go Look. Always question to increase value or reduce risk (not just ‘doubt’ – see #2 above).

It is not that the ethical skeptic has to arrive at a conclusion at all. Nor that he or she cannot choose and hold dear a metaphysical selection, nor any kind of inspiration or meaning to life, even if esoteric and unprovable – it is rather, the path you undertake to get there, and what you do with it thereafter, which makes all the difference.

He is neither accepting, nor ruling out any particular ontology, rather being patient enough to accept new data as it arrives. His chief frustration is at the hands of those who claim they have truth because ‘god told them’ or ‘science told them.’ He does not stray unnecessarily to either the red or green extremities of the panoply chart above, and moreover, removes himself from the process altogether.  He eschews subjects which are prohibited falsification by existentialism or law, and refuses to enforce belief sets on others.

For me personally, you can see my ontological preferences in the boxes marked in white at the neutral center of this chart. As an ignostic, I do not know what a god is, and moreover seek falsification bases to my perceptions about the unknown. Yet as an Ethical Skeptic, neither have I ruled out the possibility of a spiritual realm, nor the necessity to develop a spiritually advancing and enlightened life. Were I forced to make a choice today, I would have to say that both Nihilism and Fundamentalism have been falsified, along with much of their spectrum of beliefs.  The only reason they survive today, are the false skeptics who promote those religions in the name of their personal fear and Image of the Absolute.

¹  Nozick, Robert; Philosophical Explanations, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1981, ISBN 0-674-66448-5; pp. 167-171.

²  Rosen, Stanley, Editor; The Philosopher’s Handbook: A User’s Guide to Western Philosophy, Random House, Inc., New York, NY, 2000; ISBN 978-0-375-72011-6; pp. 165-169.

³ Ataraxia, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia;, extracted 8 Dec 2014.

November 27, 2014 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism, What is Ethical Skepticism | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Constitutes a Religion?

The necessary features which constitute a religion are a great deal less in magnitude than one might think.  There are only two necessary ingredients which are folded into the recipe formulating a religion; a body of tenets which are both compulsory and prohibited testing for falsification.  The ingredients of a religion have nothing to do with truth, deities or ceremony.  The role of priest can be played by both scientist and credulous alike.
Religion is the process of a power wielding group abusing the rights of individuals through the desire to make compulsory, that which cannot be held to account.

religionTwo necessary components form the fabric of doctrines which can be used to herd the faithful and control the fold.  The components have little to do with the subject at hand, its veracity, nor the presence of a supreme personality or ethereal spiritual principle.  By pretending that religions only involve supernatural elements and worship of deities, SSkeptics divert attention from the fact that they are priests of a specific religious order, which targets a set of non-falsifiable and highly compulsory belief requirements mandated before one is allowed to be called ‘rational.’ Fortunately, not all scientists agree with the SSkeptics and quietly go about their research, contrary to the desires of the Cabal. There are penalties for such scientists if they are caught researching/discussing unauthorized subjects.  Heavy penalties.  As a result, what scientists say in public  is a bit different than what they will tender in private.  This is the key symptom of an enforced religion.

The two features which render a person bound, and unable to extricate themselves from a belief construct (religion) are that its key tenets be characterized by the following.

1.  Prohibited Falsification (or is Pseudo-Theory)

The key doctrine of a religion, first must pass muster in that it be non-falsifiable.  That is to say, that the founding theory, construct or philosophy not be approachable by direct application of the scientific method.  The founding idea must be so untouchable, subjective or abstract in its formulation that man, in his current technological state is ill equipped to prove or disprove the contention at hand.  Non-falsifiable, of course is not synonymous with un-falsifiable.  The mathematical statement 2 + 2 = 4 is an un-falsifiable construct, in that it is proven true in finality. In fact, non-falsifiability pertains more to an idea’s status as pseudo-theory, and the eight profiling characteristic traits which distinguish psuedo-theory from real probative hypotheses.

1.  Can be developed in full essence before any investigation even begins

2.  Never improves in its depth, description nor falsifiable or inductive strength despite ongoing research and increases in observational data

3.  Possesses no real method of falsification or distinguishing predictive measure which is placed at risk

4.  Employs non-Wittgenstein equivocal/colloquial terminology or underlying premises (possibly pseudo-theory itself) where the risk of conjecture is not acknowledged

5.  Is employed primarily as a symbolic or fiat excuse to dismiss disliked or competing explanations

6.  Can explain a multiplicity of observations or even every non-resolved question (Explanitude)

7.  Is artificially installed as the null hypothesis from the very start

8.  Attains its strength through becoming a Verdrängung Mechanism (a power combination of the Lindy Effect and pluralistic ignorance)

Non-falsifiability simply pertains to our current inability to address the topic in an evidential discovery frame of reference, regardless of whether it is indeed true or not true.  This does not mean that the construct at hand cannot ever be dis-proven, rather simply that the religious priest knows that currently, it would constitute a tough challenge for the construct to be placed by our level of technology under the scrutiny of the scientific method; long enough to buy them some important time.  Moreover, the condition of ‘cannot be falsified’ includes the condition where SSkeptics block research so that falsification and predictive testing are not permitted because the subject threatens the SSkeptics’ power or Cabal teachings.  This also constitutes a condition of ‘cannot be tested for falsification.’  Albeit simply by religious enforecment itself.  Examples of religious tenets include

  • There is an old man with a long white beard and a 20 year-old’s athletic body, who is infallible and omnipotent, who created and rules the entire universe and will soon whisk me away leaving you to rot on this planet in fire and brimstone
  • Life emerged from the primordial ooze (oozeolution)
  • Life only emerged on earth
  • The bad events and the evil state of the universe are all your fault (Original Sin)
  • There is life in the galaxy but it is all microbial and none of it travels the stars
  • Raising interest rates is necessary when the economy heats up
  • Science has proved that nothing exists outside of those things which are physically and socially acceptable for measurement
  • Evolution originates from a base of solely random allele drift, culled by other environmental factors
  • The organs of the body are the result of pure accidents and may possess no current biological function whatsoever
  • The systems in the body are perfect designs of a creator and only go wrong when we do something wrong
  • The universe goes on forever and ever
  • Angels are all around us
  • Consciousness is only the firing of neurons and the interactions of chemistry
  • Our person is a soul which resides separate from and lives on after the machine of our body.

None of these items can be proven or dis-proven in our current state of technological practice.*  Each may indeed turn out to be true or not true one day – but in the meantime, it is what we do to others with these ideas which demarcates the threshold of whether or not one is seeking to establish or adhere to a religion.   Which introduces the second key component comprised by a religion, the ‘doing to others.’

*Notice here however, that Evolution is not a religion under this context, because it CAN be tested for falsification.  Were we to find an out of place genome which broke the cladistic progression history, then a component or all of Evolution could be falsified in theory.  This has not been the case; however it is this tenable exposure, the risk to be vetted under the experimental looking glass of science, which renders Evolution a science and not a religion.  Nihilism ( Big-A Atheism) on the other hand, makes a whole series of claims which are non-falsifiable under the scientific method and is contended to be an essential conclusion on the part of a rational person or by science.  Regardless of what one calculates as the likelihoods involved, as such, Nihilism (Big-A Atheism) constitutes a religion.

2. Compulsory

The key construct must constrain you of course in that you possess an abject lack of ability to disprove it, through our current limited state as man, or through active blocking of research by policing clubs – even if our technology can address the issue.  But as well, commensurate with this non-falsifiability constraint, is the door to the same cage, in that the idea must be made compulsory for membership in or entry into a formal or informal club.    This does not mean that a governing  body need enforce the tenet being pushed,  although that applies as well; only that any form of undue pressure be applied on individuals to accept it, through some subjective personal approval means.  You are irrational if you do not accept what I am saying.  A non-falsifiable construct held for personal inspiration may constitute a faith of sorts, but it only becomes a religion when one begins to require adherence to that construct in order for others to stand approved for entry into my club.  Such compulsory enforcements include

  • Considerations as enlightened
  • Allowing club membership
  • Accusations of being stupid
  • Media bullying and campaigns
  • Religious confirmations
  • Career penalties
  • To get to heaven or avoid the apocalypse (notice how there is always an apocalypse)
  • Mandatory methods of apologetics
  • Pat and authorized approaches or answers
  • Because it is the ‘simplest explanation’
  • Withholding assignments of tenure or position
  • Public ridicule, wink and nudge
  • Unfavorable personal categorization
  • Threats of being ostracized
  • Dissertation approval
  • Conforming with peer review.

Our dance from this point on more involves tactics, arguments and smoke screens targeting hiding the fact that we are indeed a religion to begin with.  One might consider that the third necessary element of being a religion would involve the requirement that the club ironically cite evidence that it is not a religion.  But some clubs are not so surreptitious, admitting freely that they are indeed a religious order.   Having a religion which requires faith in the admittedly unknown or unknowable is OK.  But it is pseudoscience, to create a religion and pretend that it has resulted from application of the scientific method. All of the pressures which are applied in order to bind the club together, are the compulsory sinews of a religion. Once combined with enforcing an idea which our victim is patently unable to disprove, we have done our job.

To stand as true hypothesis, a construct must possess testable mechanism; that is, it must place some element of conjecture at risk. It must have skin in the game. A religion never bears any skin in the game. Indeed you will find, that a religion’s greatest philosophical skill, is in avoiding this specific burden.

A theory which places nothing at risk, yet can explain everything – does not need to have a symbolic bearded grandfather icon stenciled onto it in order to qualify as a religion. Nihilist-Atheism is just as guilty of religious activity as is Abrahamism.

Religion is the process of a power wielding group abusing the rights of individuals through the desire to make compulsory, that which cannot be held to account.

An additional trap exists inside the principle of Negative Reactance. If you are pissed at your former religious mates, and for the period of time in which you exit that religion and aggressively adopt its antithesis or some, pretense to cover its antithesis, as a form of catharsis or revenge: you are still acting under a religious set of practices.  Be very cautious therefore of bifurcation fallacies and philosophies adopted in disgust or disguise.  Be honest, calm and objective. If you hold enemies, be careful as you may be susceptible to:

Corollary: Negative Reactance

/religion by default/ : Negative Reactance –  an Aristotelian posturing wherein one, upon confrontation with objectionable principles, thereafter embraces the opposite of such objectionable principles, avoiding any possible middle path or other rational option – as a defensive reaction to such objectionable principles. If one adopts a set of tenets or a lie of allegiance, even if that set of beliefs does not qualify as a religion in and of itself, solely as a reaction to a religion one has departed from recently or in the past, and/or as a way of seeking revenge or retribution or cathartic reward over past hurts and regrets regarding one’s membership in the former religion – then one is simply operating inside a duality and indeed has simply adopted another religion.

To put it in the immortal words of Darth Vader “at last, the circle is now complete.” We have established a religion in two simple steps (and a caution).

April 28, 2012 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies, Ethical Skepticism, Institutional Mandates, Social Disdain | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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