Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Quid Novi? | The Reset Button

G'day, fine hominins! As of this entry, with my schedule the way it is, I'm a bit behind on posting on all my blogs, and so have hit the reset button on them all.

So, no posting for a month, and instead I'll spend the time scheduling entries and finishing blog pages in addition to other things until the next reset is needed. I'm behind on completing pages, site maintenance and non-blogging duties and need breathing space to finish that. I'll be hitting the reset button from here on whenever time is limited and scheduling gets too tight.

Reset time from here on may take anywhere from a week to a month, but I'm not closing down any of the sites or going away from the bloggosphere. Blogging's what I do, so I'm keeping at it, and I SHALL be back.

I'll see you in July.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Caturday's Astrophenia | 2017.06.17

It's been a busy two weeks, and so no time for me to do a passable video recording for this fortnight.

But here's what's gone on the past two weeks: I'm more than halfway finished with the first sweep of edits on a new book project, The Soul Devourers, a horror/romance written by Sharmishtha Basu. I've got one more touchup set of edits to perform for her other story, Harmony, before its release.

I've updated almost all of my logical fallacy posts on my main WordPress blog at https://kestalusrealm.wordpress.com/, though I've yet to complete blog pages across my sites as I've been spending less time blogging during the last week.

I've finished previewing a fun series of lectures on The Art of Debate, by the Great Courses, and for another series, The Creative Thinker's Toolkit, I've completed the FourSight test for determining my preferences out of four creative parameters, Clarifying, Ideating, Developing, and Implementing: I've found that my strengths lie in Ideating and Developing, though I'm less prone to enjoy Clarifying, so that will be where I focus my attention for improvement.

I'm 1/3rd done taking Algebra I, having just completed the 12th lecture out of 36, and am now taking practice sessions on the workbook problems.

Finally, I've been creating fake (obviously so!) UFO pics, and billing them as such too, using Mandelbulb 3D and background pics taken from sky shots from the local area on clear or sunny days.

I'll try to find time during the next two weeks for a much better than previous video update for the end of the next fortnight, and I'll see you then!

Tf. Tk. Tts.

The Astrognuz:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Ubi Dubium... | The Three Faces of Skepticism

Rather than go into a single definition of what modern skepticism is, already done in great detail on this blog's Media Guide to Skepticism page by Sharon Hill, I’d like to discuss those aspects, those three faces, that to my understanding make it up.

What are those faces of skepticism? They are:

  1. Skepticism is a set of values, both intellectual and ethical: Skepticism favors intellectual honesty, sincerity, integrity, and a high value on the truth of whatever matter we look into. It is to have little patience with those who deceive, save those ‘honest liars,’ professional conjurors who are forthright about the inherently deceptive nature of their trade. Those who knowingly defraud, harm, or manipulate others are fair game for skeptical scrutiny and critiquing. Skepticism acknowledges and respects the limits of human perception, understanding and reasoning. It tells us about and arms us against our biases. It tells us that “I don’t know,” is a better answer to a question than an answer that is not only demonstrably false, but isn’t even worthy of being wrong. If a skeptic is in error, or is knowingly dishonest, they can be and ought to be be corrected, or exposed, by others who are not. Whatever their personal inclinations, if they are not honest, other skeptics will be, and they will be found out. 
  2. Skepticism is a set of methods, a way of evaluating arguments and evidence to determine the likely factual status of claims. These are the methods of science, empiricism, and rational inquiry. Skepticism lets us know when someone’s trying to put us on, or putting others on, and that’s the first step to exposing them. Skepticism lets us distinguish sound claims from unsound and good argument from bad. It lets us know, when we are careful, when our prejudices are being pandered to, giving us the first line of defense against fraud and chicanery. These methods assume scientific literacy, scientific thinking, and an understanding of how we deceive ourselves and others through biases and motivated reasoning. 
  3. The values and methods of skepticism assume a particular approach to reality. It assumes that there are such things as facts and truth. It assumes the world is knowable and that it is possible to tell truth from falsehood. It assumes that the world is real, regardless of the nature of that reality, it exists, and that it must for anything at all to be meaningfully true, false, or even possible. It assumes that the methods of science, empiricism, and rational inquiry are valid, useful, and powerful ways of knowing reality. It assumes in its methods that solid, reliable and effective ways of knowing are preferable to those that not only lead to error, but are neither self-correcting nor concerned with the actual truth of a matter. While it doesn’t necessarily assume philosophical naturalism, it does assume naturalistic methods, and so eschews resorting to unobservable or unfalsifiable ‘explanations’ for phenomena. But it has no trouble investigating anything that is knowably real and open to objective inquiry. 

These are the three faces and together they form the core of my understanding of skepticism as an endeavor, whatever the state of organized skepticism at any time.