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Towards radical skepticism:

Philosophically, I am a radical skeptic. That is, if we think of "knowing" as meaning certain knowledge, then I don't think there is anything we can know, because all such knowledge is based on observation (which can be faulty), logic (which can be faulty) or faith (which is usually faulty).

How do we know that logic always works?\

Rather than knowing and not knowing, I think we have degrees of sureness. I am very sure that my name is Peter. But not certain. I am pretty sure I will wake up tomorrow. I am reasonably sure that it will rain tomorrow (the forecast right now is at 100% chance, and the forecasts are pretty good for the next day).

Are you certain of anything? What? Why?

plf515 4 Apr 25

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I'm 100% certain that the time I spent commenting on your post was a colossal waste of time.


I'm certain that if I don't open up my computer I'll get a lot more done .


"Knowing" has nothing to do with being certain. Repeatable, measurable and peer reviewed reports and tests are the scale.
Otherwise you are just guessing with your limited knowledge.

There have been repeatable, measurable, peer reviewed findings that turned out to be wrong.

E.g. Many experiments showed that Newtonian physics was correct. But it isn't (although it comes very close).

Wikipedia has a whole page of superseded theories []

@plf515 That's the beauty of science but could you name a few ?

@plf515 What is your point?

@PondartIncbendog That we can't really know anything

@plf515 You mean like carbon dating?


There is a large swath of things we have a high enough degree of certainty about to legitimately use the semantic shortcut of saying we know it. And most things we have some degree of uncertainty about, still fit with past experience and the shared experience of others sufficiently that you can plan around them. This is sufficient.

The thing people need more than "radical skepticism" really is "epistemological humility" around things that are ethically or morally ambiguous and exist in complex and unpredictable causal chains. People get over-invested in their ideas and are unable to flex or adjust in response to outcomes.


I think much of what we know, although not necessarily everything, is perhaps only highly probable and never really absolutely certain.


Maths, physics and the Scientific Method go a long way to replicating what is certain

almost all, huh

Not at all. Math, to quote Bertrand Russell, is "the only subject in which we never know what we are talking about or whether what we are saying is true". Physics, well, at one time, physics said the Earth was the center of the universe. Then physics said, for a long time, that the universe was basically Newtonian. Ooops. As to scientific method, it's not certain or uncertain, it's just a method.

@plf515 I Well, that will be me told then!

@plf515 Russell also coined Truth Function. So, according to the law of excluded middle, p or ~p, if p is true, then ~p is false, so, p or ~p is true. If p is false, then ~p is true, so, p or ~p is true. Regardless of whether the propositions happen to be true or false, their disjunction is true. That’s a necessary truth.
Science seems to be a mere approximation of truth. It’s always just out of reach. However, logic/math is different.

Yes but it's a tautological truth because we're defining it to be that way. we are in effect saying let's build a universe where the law of the excluded middle ( for example) is true and, voila, the law of excluded middle is always true.

However, there is no universal requirement for the law of the excluded middle and, as I said previously, there are many other logical models that don't use it at all

remember, math and logic are purely human constructs and as such have no universal truth to them and the only absolute certainty we can attach to them is the absolute certainty of a definition. Not the absolute certainty of measurement or experience.

@TheMiddleWay it’s still truth functional and within those constraints, it’s still certain.

Yes. Within those constraints.
All I'm drawing attention to is that one can always make a context where something is true and then change the context such that it's false... change the constraints, change the truth.
As such, there can be no such thing as THE truth... only things that are coherent and consistent within a particular context or particular constraints.

This is why I reject the old maths of set theory and it's truth based worldview (which leads to absolutes) and embrace the new math of category theory and it's consistent and coherent based worldview (which relies on relatives)

@TheMiddleWay I understand entirely. I think the concept of truth is obscure at best. If the only certainty you have is logically necessary truth, then you don’t have very much. But it is certain, however irrelevant.


You can go right back to the whole "I think therefore I am" kind of malarky but in the end, it all works out in the wash. On the one hand, the world is real. On the other, it is an illusion but either way, it fucking hurts when a hammer falls on your foot. So real or not, wear your steel toe-caps

Unless you "know" its going to miss you. Then wear the shoes on your head.

@PondartIncbendog Just as Murphy's law assumes that if something can happen it will. Then we have to assume a non-illusionary world because the results are exactly the same. Given that, to my mind, it then becomes a non-question.

@273kelvin I should wear my shoes on my head then?

@273kelvin Murphy was an optimist; he was positive that everything would go wrong.

@Bn4fE5 Like any law it is neither optimistic or pessimistic. In Murphy`s case, it related to ejection seat tests. So it would be worst-case scenarios but someone will win the lottery or break the bank at Monte Carlo. One day the lights will all be on green when you commute and all red another day


Well I am sure but not certain that this is a lot of philosophical waffle.


You're very sure your name is Peter, but not certain?
That's head-scratcher.

I could be delusional.

@plf515 pretty sure i am too 🙂
everything i say is a lie lol


Well spoken, hitting at kind of the core issue about "reality" here. Which as you'll see from my name here, I consider a bit of a matter of perspective - tough to define.


I like the distinction between "being certain" vs. "feeling certain." I FEEL certain about lots of things but doubt I I can BE certain about any factual claim.


Definitely in these cases is where the Agnosticism comes in. Excellent share. Made me think a little.


What we call knowledge is belief backed with such data and/or consistency of observation that we are willing to act on it. Much of what we call knowledge today will be disproven in the future.


What we perceive through the medium of our senses is subjective, how could it be otherwise? Are we all brains in a vat experiencing a "Matrix" existence? Who knows? Perhaps we're just living in a shared definition of reality. Or, we should, at least, share this reality if we want to survive. Just as our ancestors agreed, for the most part, that the saber-toothed tiger was a threat to be avoided, so should we as a species recognize the threats we face, such as pandemics and climate change.

All knowledge, including what we know today as scientific facts, is provisional, subject to future revision. To assume otherwise is to fossilize our understanding of the universe--a process frequently practiced by religion.


What's the difference between a skeptic and a radical skeptic? Is that similar to excited and 'super' excited? 🙂

Skepticism just means doubting things. Radical skepticism means doubting everything.

Excuse me for saying but that seems to be a bit like pedantry 🙂


What if we just don't give a fuck about what we know or don't know?


I only know one thing for sure, and that is that I only know one thing for sure. So far as the nature and foundation of reality, I am totally bewildered. The findings of science are superficial.

Great post!



If everything I know is wrong, and I know that everything I know is wrong, then that knowledge is also wrong. So, everything I know is true. The problem arises when I realize that I don't truly know anything beyond the fact that I don't truly know anything. But if I know that, it's wrong.


I am certain I exist right now because I know it.

Word Level 7 Apr 26, 2020

Fermat's Last Theorem is one of thinking things 🙂


“I think,
Therefore I am,”
Said the philosopher.
Bunk! He didn’t feel. He only
Half was.

Cogito ergo sum? No. Cogito sum.


I'm certain this is creative bullshit.


I am certain that the Bible is not the word of an honest and perfect god. I have proved to myself that it is full of false prophecies, contradictions and impossible stories.


you say, "...or faith (which is usually faulty)." by some definitions "faith" simply means knowledge, skill or a substance.

Word Level 7 Apr 26, 2020

pretty sure about change

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