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The Ethical Skeptic

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The Ethical Skeptic
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AkamiaUser avatarPosts: 147Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2016 11:41 pmLocation: Alaska Gender: Time Lord

The Ethical Skeptic

So I was watching an hbomberguy video on YouTube, and in the video, he cited an article written by someone who refers to themself as "The Ethical Skeptic".

The Ethical Skeptic appears to be a blog written by someone with a bone to pick with "Social Skeptics". Not that I believe it is entirely unwarranted, but the fact that they have the website hosting a treatise that was addressed by Martymer 81 about a year or two ago as one of their "Useful Links" raised a red flag for me. As such, I don't think I'm in any position to be properly evaluating the content of this blog. More than that, I lack the comprehension of their vocabulary to properly understand much of their content; it's either meaningless or well above my current level of education.

The article in question cited in the hbomberguy video I was watching was "The Five Types of Null Hypothesis Error", for those who might be wondering. The reason he cited that article isn't particularly relevant for the purposes of this thread; I merely wish to know if this blog is credible. I lack the capacity to understand for the time being; it's sufficiently over my head. :(
The very thing that gives us humans our advanced cognitive abilities can also be our greatest weakness.
Mon Dec 25, 2017 9:22 am
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2439Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: The Ethical Skeptic

I stopped in the second paragraph when I got to this for the second time:

Science is constantly seeking to modify, strengthen or falsify the null hypothesis.


This is a clear indicator that the commentator is talking through his butthole. The null can, by definition, never be falsified. Falsification of the null would require that every possible observation had been made and no observation that could falsify the alternative was possible, which would require omniscience.

Basically, he's completely overturning the problem of induction. Good fucking luck with that.

I dismiss the rest of what looks like little more than word salad on that basis alone. He's talking bollocks.
Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:26 pm
AkamiaUser avatarPosts: 147Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2016 11:41 pmLocation: Alaska Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: The Ethical Skeptic

I see. Fascinating...

What is there to say about the author's article on Occam's Razor, which was linked in that null hypothesis article?

I'm just trying to get my head around this blog, and it's giving me a headache. I'm hoping someone around here can understand it far better than I am apparently able to.
The very thing that gives us humans our advanced cognitive abilities can also be our greatest weakness.
Mon Dec 25, 2017 11:27 pm
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The Ethical Skeptic

Akamia wrote:I see. Fascinating...

What is there to say about the author's article on Occam's Razor, which was linked in that null hypothesis article?

I'm just trying to get my head around this blog, and it's giving me a headache. I'm hoping someone around here can understand it far better than I am apparently able to.



Well, the phrasing is contrived...

THE SIMULTANEOUS APPEAL to AUTHORITY and IGNORANCE: “OCCAM’S RAZOR”:

“All things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the correct one.”

The first statement above is most commonly employed as appeal to authority and is not Ockham’s Razor.


Most commonly employed where?

It's not an appeal to authority because there is no authority cited.

Rather, with respect to science, the reason why the simplest of a pool of hypotheses might be preferable is for methodological purposes, specifically falsifiability: it's easier to test a simpler claim than a complex one, or more succinctly, it's easier to test one variable than it is to test many.

Of course, no one believes that the simple answer is always the right answer - Ockham's Razor is not an arbiter of reality, rather a heuristic practice. Test the simplest one to test first before testing the more complex ones.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Tue Dec 26, 2017 5:58 am
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2439Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: The Ethical Skeptic

Akamia wrote:I see. Fascinating...

What is there to say about the author's article on Occam's Razor, which was linked in that null hypothesis article?

I'm just trying to get my head around this blog, and it's giving me a headache. I'm hoping someone around here can understand it far better than I am apparently able to.


There are several problems just on the face of it. As Sparhafoc has stated, Occam's Razor is a heuristic. It's a manifestation of abductive reasoning, while the argumentum ad verecundiam is a deductive fallacy, this it doesn't apply to abduction(or induction, for that matter).

Secondly, there's no appeal being made to William of Ockham, that's just the name it's given because the saying is attributed to him, despite the fact that he probably never said it.

Finally, Occam's Razor isn't a principle of simplicity, it's a principle of economy. This is a matter of semantic clarity but, unqualified, calling it simplicity is misleading. Simplicity and complexity aren't on the same spectrum. Sand dunes are incredibly simple but, because they involve the interaction of lots of parts, they're complex.

More here:

http://www.hackenslash.co.uk/2016/04/de ... n-and.html
Tue Dec 26, 2017 11:46 am
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The Ethical Skeptic

hackenslash wrote:There are several problems just on the face of it. As Sparhafoc has stated, Occam's Razor is a heuristic. It's a manifestation of abductive reasoning, while the argumentum ad verecundiam is a deductive fallacy, this it doesn't apply to abduction(or induction, for that matter).

Secondly, there's no appeal being made to William of Ockham, that's just the name it's given because the saying is attributed to him, despite the fact that he probably never said it.


To jump back on this months later... even if old Gulielmus Occamus did write it, then he wrote it in Latin and said:

Entia non sunt multiplicanda sine necessitate

As Hack has pointed out, there's little reason to believe he did write this as it's not in any of his surviving writing, but had he formulated this idea then the meaning would be not at all subtle in terms of its different meaning to the formulation given in the website....

Entities should not be multiplied without necessity.

In many ways, this actually works better as a design heuristic than as an ontological guideline (not least because William thought the Christian God was a necessary entity from which ALL else was contingent).

If you and I both built an engine with comparable technology that produced the same power output but mine had more working parts, then yours is the superior design. Having more working parts indicates mine is somewhat less efficient than yours in its power conversion, or at the very least, there's more that can go wrong.

One of my favourite quotations (and this one I believe is actually a true quote) is from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a poet, writer and aviator:

Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n'y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n'y a plus rien à retrancher. (Terre des Hommes, 1939).

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

However, again, if we take the original formulation, regardless of who wrote it, in terms of ontology then there's still a lesson, a heuristic, or a rule of thumb there (so long as one doesn't confuse a rule of thumb as being a universal, absolute law) that a proposed explanation which requires the invocation of unknown/unknowable entities is inferior to an explanation which does not so propose extra entities and yet seems to work. If objects falling can be explained by gravity, then we do not need to invoke immaterial, invisible pixies pulling objects down along with gravity as the additional entities add nothing to the explanatory power beyond that of gravity.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:16 pm
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