October 03, 2007

Scientific observations become accepted through repetition

Andy Smith Says: October 2nd, 2007 at 4:48 pm I think this is a no-win situation, Alan. If you cite the data or experiences of others, some may accuse you of lacking originality. But if you cite your own experiences, others will say, why should we believe you?
Indeed, Wilber has at times cited his own experiences, as in One Taste. If he has not used these experiences extensively in support of his system, that’s because this would turn off even more the academics he is trying to woo. The academic approach, we all know, is to establish observations or concepts by reference to others, in this case to show that certain kinds of experiences are cited often enough by others to make them believable in somewhat the same way that scientific observations become accepted through repetition. There are certainly problems with this approach, but some of them–such as the cherry-picking that Meyerhoff has discussed–are simply reflections of Wilber’s poor methodology. Carried out more rigorously and honestly, the approach does at least have the potential to get academia to pay attention.
In the meantime, I don’t see that the alternative is any better. There have always been people who claim to be realized, and build schools entirely on their own experiences. People argue endlessly over who is and who is not genuine, but the dominant Western political and cultural systems remain unswayed by any of them.

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