Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

FYI-FTR, # 3: KeithS doubles down on sawing off the branch on which he sits, via po-mo certainty that we cannot be certain (oopsie . . . ), multiplies it by turnabout “liar-liar, your’e a hypocrite” rhetoric


We live in an intellectually impoverished and too often uncivil era, with the rise of evolutionary materialist scientism (as in: a priori evolutionary materialist “Science” is all of ‘real’ knowledge) having no small part of the responsibility.

A squid ink cloud escape tactic
A squid ink cloud escape tactic

So, it is no real surprise to see one KeithS, one of the Darwinist anti-UD web patrol doubling down and trying to escape behind a squid-ink cloud of polarising and poisonous rhetoric,  in response to my expose of his fallacies over the past few days, and resorting to false, turnabout accusations of lying and hypocrisy to try to trumpet the pretence that he has “won” a ‘debate.”

bearing in mind that earlier expose of the many errors and absurdities in KeithS’ reasoning, let us now examine his underlying accusation of lying, point by point, which appears at 533 in the meaningless world thread:


>>Your position has now become so weak and indefensible that you’ve resorted to lying about my position just to stay afloat.

It’s pitiful.>>

1 –> This is a brazen false declaration and accusation, sustained by red herrings led away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse poison and polarise the atmosphere for discussion. Indeed, it is a case of turnabout false accusation used to pretend that one has won a case by dismissing the slandered as of dubious character and what has been said as of no account.

2 –> Ironically, this appears just above 534 in that thread, where I announced the headlined response to KS’s errors on points, which is mostly a citation of in-thread corrections that he does not cogently address but hopes to distract attention from. In that FYI FTR response (and in-thread), I predicted that KS would misrepresent what I had to say and what the balance of the matter was on the merits. Precisely what has happened. So, we know what we are up against.

3 –> Now on the particular false accusations of lying on my part . . .

>>Lie #1: You claim that my position leads to absurdities, when you haven’t been able to identify a single one.>>

{U/D July 21: It subsequently became apparent that KS chose to falsely accuse me of lying six times in his post and then refused to withdraw and make amends in order to present UD with a dilemma. A: Allow dark triad manipulators to establish the notion that abusive, slanderous commentary is a ‘right’ — as in, for evolutionary materialist nihilism, might and manipulation make ‘right.’ B: If disciplinary action for willful and incorrigible abuse is taken, the further smears that UD is censoring in absence of ability to handle critiques on the merits will be spread. Where also, enablers will play the manipulative cop role in the manipulative cop, bullying cop tactic, to drum on incessantly with B as a turnabout accusation, blame the victim big lie. [NB: To willfully continue a misrepresentation in a situation where one knows or should know and do better  is a species of willful or calculated deceit, cf. here. And yes, I am calling things by their accurate, blunt names with sobering historical connexions: we had better learn from the destructive history of the most infamous proponents of such tactics, lest we find ourselves doomed to relive some of the all-time worst chapters of history.  And, there is already a similar case that needs to be learned from, as was discussed here. Silly dismissive use of the so-called Godwin’s Law is too often little more than an excuse for refusing to learn from sobering history because of where the lessons point.] Under those circumstances, I can safely say on long track record and announced policy that UD will choose B and will point out the deviousness of the attitudes and actions that are afoot. I trust that the reasonable onlooker will see through the bad faith tactics that are being used to polarise and confuse the situation. This later FTR, should give pause as to just what is being enabled by such behaviour. Is that what you really want to enable, objectors? Do you really want a situation where, having been manipulated too many times, there is a breakdown of any respect and mutuality as has happened in too many jurisdictions where the conclusion is that all police are suspect and abusive or enabling of abuse? Think about what would happen if through the sort of cynical games going on the academy, the media, the courts, legislatures and other similar institutions find that people no longer trust them, period. In my judgement, we are already near or at this watershed. Please, think again.)}

4 –> False, and it is not just I who have pointed out absurdities, let us begin here by citing the part of the FYI-FTR where I cite my in-thread reply that begins with SB’s reply at 491 in-thread that highlights the significance of the incorrigibility and undeniablility of KS being a self-aware, conscious creature in a world:

I clip 453, and only for your record:

>> I presented my argument earlier in the thread. Can you identify a flaw in it?>>

1 –> First problem, to communicate at all, KS implies his conscious presence and perceptions, ability to act, etc, as certain realities. He may not be sure of just what I is as to specific nature and origins, but it is self evident to him that he is as a conscious entity. This was pointed out by SB above at 491, and of course ignored as to implications, and misrepresented as to even its existence:

keiths, please do not say that no one has found a flaw in your argument. I have found two in your number 2 formulation alone:

2. If God (or Satan, etc.) exists, then it is possible that he has the power to deceive us.

[a] While it may be logically possible for a supernatural agent to deceive us about many things, existence is not one of them. It is not logically possible to deceive someone that doesn’t exist into believing that he does exist. Thus, your argument that deception can prevent us from being certain of anything fails.

[b] Even the IF, THEN portion of your assertion assumes and depends on the Law of Non-Contradiction for its validity. IF God exists, >>>THEN he can…..” So, if you are not certain about the Law of Non-Contradiction, then you are not even certain about your own argument.

2 –> In short SB is highlighting not only technical flaws but a habitual pattern on KS’s part of disrespect for accuracy and fairness. That is, we are dealing with willful manipulation.

{U/D, July 21: Let me add a diagram I subsequently composed, to make SB’s point even more readily apparent to the reader:}


5 –> Oopsie, no 1. The argument fails the test of consciousness. There are more.

>>Lie #2: You claim that I’m “sawing off the branch” of logic, when I’m doing no such thing. My entire argument depends on logic, and at no point do I abandon it. I merely decline to treat it as absolutely certain, and this leads to no absurdities at all.>>

6 –> Misrepresenation — strawman fallacy — of what was actually argued.{Let me add 07/21: KS has been arguing that we may be mistaken about ANY claim or step in reasoning, i.e. he is denying that there are self-evident and so certainly true claims. We have already seen a counter-example, consciousness. Now, we need to highlight that KS is forced to rely on the utter reliability of the first principles of right reason to argue at all, so to try to undermine that reliability is self-referentially absurd. For, so soon as one says, “I think that . . . ” one is immediately and necessarily utterly relying on world partitions like {I | NOT-I} {t |NOT-t} {h|not-h} etc. Hence also, the applicability of the direct correlates of such partition — A is A A is not simultaneously NOT-A in the same sense and circumstances, by partition, we have A X-OR  NOT-A but not neither or both; thence the applicability of the sawing metaphor  that he wants to brush aside as a “lie.” If partition immediately accompanied by distinct identity thus also LOI, LNC, LEM as self evident and undeniable principles, is unreliable, KS cannot even reliably state what he wishes to communicate in order to argue. Maybe — just to illustrate — it really was “I don’t think . . . ” or anything else, for instance.} KS is sawing off the branch on which he too must sit, starting from when he (as a self-aware individual) must use symbols relying on distinction and thus LOI, LNC and LEM, in even posting in the thread. Clipping a video still, just before the branch the foolish prankster is sawing away at, breaks [his equally foolish friend to his immediate left will also fall with him as he failed to realise the branch would spring sharply upwards once part broke off]:


Sawing off the branch on which one is sitting . . .  [HT: YT]
Sawing off the branch on which one is sitting . . . [HT: YT]
7 –> By way of drawing this issue of self-referential absurdity out, let me clip the next points  from the FYI-FTR, # 2:

3 –> I also wish to extend SB’s flaw [b] a bit, as to simply post a comment or speak intelligibly, KS LIKE THE REST OF US IS DEPENDENT ON THE DISTINCT IDENTITY OF SYMBOLS AS A CERTAIN FACT. Let me illustrate from his opening words above, using ~X to mean NOT-X, and _ for space:

“I presented . . . ” –> {I | ~ I} + {_ | ~ _} + {p | ~ p} + {r | ~ r} + {e | ~ e} + {s | ~ s} + {e | ~ e} + {n | ~ n} + {t | ~ t} . . .

4 –> That is, the very act of writing and posting is critically dependent on the self evident nature of the laws of identity, non-contradiction and excluded middle, as to have a distinct identity is immediately to partition the world { A | ~ A } thus to have as immediate correlates, LOI, LNC, LEM. You simply cannot act as a communicator, without implying and accepting this, and to try to do so simply affirms the point. These are undeniable, and certain. Indeed,they are key parts of the basis of all communication and thus are necessary conditions of rationality, communication and discussion.

5 –> In addition, by speaking of “I” and “my,” KS immediately implies that he exists as a distinct, conscious entity, i.e as one with an identity and awareness of it that has power to act. If he tries to deny or obfuscate this, the proper answer is: and who is speaking? Meaningless noise on the Internet that somehow just happened to toss up what looks like a string of symbols in coherent English? (And of course, down that road lies the significance of the reality of agency with purpose and power of responsible choice, thence the capability to do that which blind chance and mechanical necessity acting on the gamut of our solar system or the observed cosmos, is not credibly able to do as an observable output. Thence the whole project of intelligent design that KS and others of like ilk are so desperate to dismiss.)

8 –> In short, KS is indeed busily sawing away at the very branch on which he is himself sitting, and will likely take down with him those who unwisely indulge in enabling behaviour for his absurdity and slander.

>>Lie #3: You claim that I deny Royce’s “error exists” argument, when I have explicitly stated otherwise. I accept Royce’s argument; I merely decline to grant it absolute certainty. Again, no absurdity follows from this.>>

Strawman9 –> Switcheroo game. In short, here is a strawman. The very point of the Royce proposition is that it is undeniably, certainly true. So to try to deny it ends up affirming it. But, KS wants to have his cake and eat it too, so he pretends to agree while disagreeing, and hopes that many will not notice the absurdity.

10 –> Again, we start with the proposition E: error exists. This is massively supported fact (and in fact by repeatedly accusing me — falsely — of lying, KS implies that indeed error exists.  Doubtless he too has had his fair share of sums exercises returned full of big red X‘s.

11 –> However, this is not just a matter of an empirical, inductive generalisation from particular cases we observe with our senses.  Try to deny E, ~ E. This immediately means: it is an ERROR to affirm ‘error exists. But that is the same as to say that you have error existing. That is, error exists cannot be successfully denied, and is necessarily and certainly true.

12 –> So, KS willfully misrepresents the facts when he tries to pretend that the agrees with the Royce argument but wishes to deny what it means, that error exists is undeniably and so absolutely, certainly true.

13 –> Where also, willful, sustained misrepresentation (i.e. where one has access to corrective facts and should know better and should speak better) is in fact a species of intentional deception.

14 –> In short this is an exercise on KS’ part, of turnabout false accusation.

>>Lie #4: You claim that I deny my status as a conscious entity, when I do no such thing. I merely decline to grant it absolute certainty, with a 0.0% possibility of error. Like any other argument, it depends on the correctness of our logic and the truth of our underlying assumptions. Being fallible humans, we can’t be absolutely certain of those; therefore we cannot be absolutely certain of the conclusion.>>

15 –> Another distortion. As seen above, SB and I have both pointed out that the first and undeniable fact we all have is that we are self-aware conscious entities who act into the world. SB uses this to point out that:

[a] While it may be logically possible for a supernatural agent to deceive us about many things, existence is not one of them. It is not logically possible to deceive someone that doesn’t exist into believing that he does exist. Thus, your argument that deception can prevent us from being certain of anything fails.

16 –> Of course, non-being has no powers to perceive much less be deceived, so if we are aware of our existence, we are immediately and absolutely certain of an incorrigible and undeniable fact. As I have said, if we try to deny {u/d 07/21: or even doubt} that degree of truth — notice, I am speaking about being absolutely and undeniably, incorrigibly certain — we open ourselves to the  question: WHO is denying/doubting this? Not, that we are not conscious, but that we cannot successfully deny {or doubt} consciousness while being conscious. {And rocks have no doubts and make no denials. That is, we have here an undeniable case of a self-evident, absolutely certain truth about which we cannot be deluded. The reality of self evident truths is shown by direct example. So, by virtue of having such cases in point, it cannot be true that we may be mistaken or deluded or deceived about ANY thought, belief, knowledge claim or conclusions.}

17 –> Again, KS has played the strawman card in the teeth of easily accessible corrective evidence, and has done so to sustain a false accusation. Which has by now collapsed, exposing the habitual tactics being resorted to. Tactics that design supporters are all too familiar with from years of dealing with the Darwinist thought police patrols. (Cf. the UD Weak Argument Correctives here.)

18 –> As his next step of slander, KS now wants to presume that he has established the case and now wants to build on the rotten foundation.

>>Amidst the prevarication, you wrote:

I have forgotten now who was the Greek thinker challenged by a member of his audience to prove the reality of logical proof. His reply was, that this exercise would require the use of that very same logic.

Oddly, you don’t seem to realize that this hurts your case and buttresses mine. The very fact that logic cannot demonstrate its own correctness shows that we cannot be absolutely certain of it!  >>

19 –> Ignoring for the moment the sustained slander, first note that SB and I have both pointed KS to something that he is IMMEDIATELY aware of, his existence as a conscious entity. This is not inferential or logical.

20 –> If he were not this, he would not be able to be deceived at all, he would simply not be aware of himself. That is: rocks cannot be deceived as they can have no beliefs. But the fact that we can have beliefs is a sign that we are indeed conscious entities, undeniably so, and that we could not have such an awareness falsely. So, we have pointed out that this is incorrigible and undeniably certain. This is a point where we cannot be mistaken so it is an error to imagine that ANY of our beliefs may be mistaken, as there are identified, demonstrated cases of absolutely certain beliefs. One doubts this particular belief of the certainty of our self-awareness only to show oneself in absurdity. (Who is doubting? . . . As in are you certain of that? Of that? Of that? . . . and so to absurdity in an infinite regress of doubts rooted in rejecting self-evidence, again.) Let me for clarity — having woken up to face the day —  add the specific pivotal argument points that KS presents in his claimed flawless demonstration, and which I refuted in my previous FTR, noting that what has been done above is to again point out that here are indeed several specific points where we cannot be deceived or which are undeniably true thus certain, i.e. the below begs the question and fails the test of pivotal counter-examples:

5. Any particular thought we have might coincide with a time when God/Satan/the demon is deceiving us.

–> Begs the question that there may be and demonstrably are certain cases where we cannot be deceived or which may be undeniably true. As is discussed above. Things which are not self-aware and conscious cannot be deceived as they cannot have beliefs or perceptions in the relevant sense. And if you are self aware, whatever erroneous beliefs you may have about your identity,t hat self awareness is immediately evident and incorrigible, thus absolutely certain. And, of course, to try to deny that error exists is to demonstrate thereby that error exists.

6. Thus, any particular thought might be mistaken.

–> this is the pivotal error, as starting with consciousness we have cases of certain knowledge and starting with error exists we have points that are undeniably true. Where also, just to use definite symbols that strung together convey meaning KS creates world partitions like { 5 | ~ 5 } + { . | ~. } . . ., which immediately bring to bear the LOI, LNC and LEM. That is KS is sawing away at the branch on which he too must sit.

7. If we claim to be absolutely certain of something that isn’t true, we have erred.

–> Notice the certainty that we cannot be certain, and notice the resort to the implication operator, which depends on the LNC etc. p => q means that p being sufficient for q, we cannot have p so and q not so: p => q means in key part NOT [p AND (NOT-q)]. KS here contradicts himself. (But, he will hardly be fazed by that. )

8. Therefore we should never claim absolute certainty for a thought that might be mistaken.

–> Notice the “never” and the “absolute”? That is KS here effectively claims to be certain that we cannot claim to be certain. The self referential  incoherence of denying self evident truth is blatant.

–> he is also, in the teeth of specific correction and cases that he has seen or should have seen over and over, refusing to address the contrary cases where we can indeed be certain per self evidence.

9. Since any particular thought might be mistaken (by #6), we should never claim absolute certainty for any thought.

–> Questions begged again. A case built on a begged question falls to the ground, especially in the face of directly shown cases of the contrary. (he was studiously ignoring that little fact earlier on, in trying to pretend that to present those counter examples and the reason for the self evidence of the first principles of right reason was “spamming” the threads of discussion..)

21 –> Next, KS makes the error (I think honestly) of failing to realise that the point of the remark on logic is that it is truly foundational. To demand a proof is to demand resort to logic. Indeed to be aware and able to communicate symbolically is already to manifest the phenomena that ground logic.  To demand a proof that proofs exist or that logic is correct, is like asking for a square circle.

22 –> What we can reasonably do, is to see that the first principles of right reason are  present so soon as anything has a distinct reality and so a distinct identity. That is, once the world is partitioned W = { “I” | NOT-I } = {Oneself | not-Oneself = the rest of reality } or more generically, W = {A | NOT-A } such as by having a bright red ball on a table:


23 –> Abstracting:


24 –> Putting in words and algebra like symbols (how the objectors love to try to deride this step):

Every step in KS’ attempted rebuttal depends on:

1: that he is a self-aware and other-aware conscious entity as incorrigibly true

2: That starting with the identity of himself, there is a whole series of world-partitions, e.g. { “I” (= KS) | NOT-I } and the direct correlates of this, i.e. LOI, LNC, LEM. Using A as symbol:

(a) LOI: the part labelled A will be A (symbolically, [A => A] = 1),

(b) LNC: A will not be the same as NOT-A ( [A AND NOT-A] = 0); and

(c) LEM: there is no third option to being A or NOT-A ( [A OR NOT-A] = 1). For those who need it, to be clearer about the significance of the dichotomy in World, W = { A | NOT-A }, let’s instead explicitly use the Exclusive OR, AUT not VEL: [A Ex-OR NOT-A] = 1. That is A, or not A but not a third option such as A AND NOT-A, and no fourth such as neither A nor NOT-A.

3: In short, it is not so much that I (KF) have been silly and begged the question of the validity of logic, but that it is truly fundamental, so that one cannot make a first step as a conscious entity without standing on it.

4: KS essays to saw off the branch on which he too must sit, and so clings to absurdity. We are simply telling him and his ilk, stop the madness!

5: Similarly, we have a perfect right to demand of the [potentially . . . it holds that nothing is certain beyond opinion] delusional entity imagining itself to be KS, whence the status of being aware, and whether this is something that one CAN be deluded of. The answer is patent, that one may be deluded as to WHAT one is, but cannot be deluded THAT one is, once one has self awareness. From which world-partition and its correlates immediately are evident and intelligible.

6: It is no accident that KS dodges this, in order to try to fixate on the alleged uncertainty of first principles of right reason. The very fact of his being as a self aware entity manifests the truly foundational nature of world partition, thus those attributes of it that we justly label the first laws of thought. We discover such, we see they are so and must be so in order that we can even have a distinct identity as going concerns, and we see the saw off the branch on which we all must sit self-referential absurdity of those who would challenge the laws.

7: Indeed, just to cast up an objection, KS inevitably depends on those same laws he would scant. He is forced to use verbal symbols, here in textual form. So, immediately, as was highlighted in the corrective — and which, as predicted, was conveniently ignored by KS — he depends on the distinction of symbols, thus a whole series of world partitions:

Every objection –> {E | ~E} + {v | ~v} + e {e | ~e} . . .

8: Likewise, if we ponder a moment, we will see that KS is implying that he accepts the reality, thus the possibility of error, no surprise he doubtless received his fair share of sums returned by a teacher, full of red X’s. Thus, he is also ducking the undeniability that error exists. Indeed, the absurdity here can be seen by casting the denial of the Royce proposition in these terms: “It is an error to imagine that error exists.” Oops.

9: KS’s objection collapses in absurdity, just as will be true of any attempt to deny a genuinely self-evident truth.

I took time to address this to simply underscore that we discover the pivotal self-evident truths, we do not prove them, and inasmuch as the first principles of right reason are embedded in these, the demand for proof reveals itself as a demand to prove that proof exists. Yet another absurdity.


Now, I put this up for record, not that I expect KeithS to acknowledge his error or to have the decency to apologise for false accusations as exposed. (KS, here is your invitation to prove me wrong on a point I would LOVE to be wrong on.)

This is for the record, that it may stand in witness regarding what has been going on for far too long and in the name of all that is decent, must now stop. END