Then again, JS has clarified his point a little, and it does seem like a point worth making.
…the kind of naturalistic worldview that most
materialists embrace, and the scientific methodology that goes with it,
rules out of court my kind of experience as a datum to be explained.
Therefore, if my kinds of experiences do exist, and if they also have
naturalistic explanations, they’re never going to be discovered, because the
“it must be a coincidence because it could be a coincidence” response or the
“ah but the testimony is necessarily suspect” response are both
Again, I thought that was common knowledge – but maybe I was wrong to think that. I thought it was common knowledge that the inadmissability of personal experience rules a lot of important material out of court, just as literal legal standards rule a lot of genuine evidence out of court. I thought it was common knowledge that science errs on the side of caution and that that necessarily closes off a lot of important, interesting, and perhaps valid evidence. Anyway, as JS says, it’s not something to take lightly. No, it’s not. There should be research on weird stuff like his experience. I thought there was, but I don’t know that for a fact.
Meanwhile here’s the FT making his point for him.
Peer review is a bulwark against cranks, crooks and incompetents. But too much reliance on peer review carries its own dangers. Every profession defines its own concept of excellence in inward-looking ways. Successful academics learn how to trigger the buttons that win the approval of referees…A further step down a well defined road wins easier acceptance than a deviation from the beaten track…Big advances come through the paradigm shifts and peer review makes this difficult. The line between the crank and the genius is sometimes a fine one and may only be apparent after time has elapsed.
It’s interesting that Matt Ridley said much the same thing in his contribution to the Kitzmiller article here.
There is one sentence that troubles me…: `Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community…’ My concern is…about scientific consensus. In this case I find it absolutely right that the overhwelming nature of the consensus should count against creationism. But there have been plenty of other times when I have been on the other side of the argument and seen what Madison called the despotism of the majority as a bad argument. On climate change, for example, I used to argue fervently that the early estimates of its likely extent were exaggerated, that the sceptics raising doubts should be heard and answered rather than vilified. Yet this minority was frankly `bullied’ with ad hominem arguments. Again, the reaction of many environmental scientists to Bjørn Lomborg’s splendid and thought-provoking book was to pour scorn rather than assemble counter evidence. Scientists are no better at coping with disagreement than anybody else.
So what’s the difference? I agree with the scientific consensus sometimes but not always, but I do not do so because it is is a consensus. Science does not work that way or Newton, Harvey, Darwin and Wegener would all have been voted into oblivion. Science must allow for minority views. Intelligent Design is wrong because it is dishonest, not because it is outvoted.
Consensus blocks new discovery, they both point out. Okay. We’ll try to guard against that.