One of the main arguments regarding my “Cheating The Ferryman” concept is that in some way it is “unscientific”. This is usually backed up with the observation that I have no “scientific qualifications.” I would like to discuss these criticisms and I will approach the former first. Does lack of “formal” qualifications mean that somebody is not allowed to write about subjects that interests them? If this is the case then I can reasonably argue as a “qualified” sociologist, a “qualified” historian and a “qualified” psychometrician that anybody without such qualifications should be debarred from writing anything to do with human behaviour or history. Is this rule ever applied or even suggested?
Of course not because it is ridiculous. Richard Dawkins happily writes about religion (and so he should) but by this rule only “qualified” theologians trained to count how many angels can dance on the end of a pin should be allowed to write on matters theological. Indeed as I understand it the self-proclaimed “Great” James Randi is qualified to write about …. absolutely nothing as he has no qualifications of any sort as far as I can ascertain. We now also have to decide what we mean by a “qualification.” Are we talking about a degree, master’s degree, a doctorate or a post-doctoral qualification in the respective subject? Indeed how current should that qualification be? Is a PhD from forty years ago worth more in this regard than a current Bsc? Is ANY PhD worth more in any subject worth more than a current and up-to-date bachelor’s degree in the defined subject? More importantly this “rule” suggests that only writers who have been “approved” by official sanction (i.e. there “qualification” is awarded by a group of similarly “approved” academics who have proven their abilities to interpret and analyse information in the “approved” way. In other words who is “qualified” is decided upon in a series of tests to show that that candidates thought processes are”approved” by the present social system … sorry I am a “qualified” sociologist and this is how I have been trained to think … even though my “qualification” was given to me nearly 40 years ago).
Ways of thinking and understanding the world are controlled by the incumbent belief system. In the 13th century the “approved” way of thinking was rigid a Aristotelean model in which the Earth was the centre of the universe and all celestial objects moved round the Earth in perfect circles (as a historian I am “qualified” to write about this by the way). A few years later Bruno was burned at the stake for stating that this was not the case and Galileo just managed to avoid a similar fate by stating that he was in error and that the prevailing scientific paradigm was the correct and only one. So in order to be “qualified” in anything in the Medieval period one had to accept totally one “scientific” paradigm. Those who awarded “qualifications” did so by making sure that only those who towed the line were allowed to gain qualifications which in turn qualified them to teach others and inculcate the “correct”world view in the next generation of academics. And so academia progressed.
It took some very brave, independent thinkers, to break out of this intellectual straight-jacket and they did this by pointing out that the explanatory model did not work for SOME observed phenomena. Note that this was only some. The Aristotelean model was perfectly adequate, within its own rules, if explaining a great deal of what was “observed”. It was self-evident that the Earth was stationary and that everything revolved around it. If it was moving why did we not land in a different location when we jumped in the air? This was logical, evident “common sense”, it was also totally wrong. Along came Newton and there was light. And so a new orthodoxy started. But this was a hugely explanatory model that could account for virtually every observed phenomena….. with one or two small exceptions. And yet again it was those exceptions that proved the catalysts for a new scientific understanding of the universe based on quantum mechanics. But those academics with vested interests in the old order simply refused to accept the new model of understanding. However the explanatory power of quantum mechanics and Einstein’s relativity were so effective that the new paradigm grew strong.
However there are still issues within the “observed” universe that cannot be explained by the present scientific model, the major one being how does inanimate matter create self-referential consciousness? Most modern scientists avoid this question by pretending that there is no mystery here. They take two approaches; either consciousness is an illusion and therefore does not exist and therefore does not need to be studied (eliminative materialists) or it should be studied and that in some yet to be explained way, materialist-reductionism will, by taking things apart and reducing them down to their basics, will show how consciousness appears. This is known as promissory materialism.
I have spent the last thirty years of my life reading continually academic papers, books, articles and, over the last ten years or so, discussing my ideas and interpretations with physicists, cosmologists, physicians, biologists, chemists, neurologists and other “qualified” specialists. I have taken time to talk to those who have had NDEs, OBEs, lucid dreams and other experiences that suggest that consciousness may be far more than simply the brain that generates it. I have always been very careful in what I accept as evidence and always have applied healthy scepticism with regards to the “evidence” presented to me. In my books I always give my readers exhaustive bibliographies and references back to source materials, mostly academic papers and articles. I seek out the latest researchers and endeavour to speak with them to gain further information.
However my work is considered worthless by many simply because I am not, by their somewhat flexible (confused?) definition of the word, qualified. The sad thing is that as far as such critics are concerned, by simply showing interest in such matters automatically strips even the most qualified of individuals of another factor; credibility. For example Brian Josephson may be a Nobel Prize winner in physics but because he is interested in researching telepathy he is to be dismissed as a”woo-woo” by the self-ordained thought police… none of whom, I suspect are Nobel Laureates. But there you go. We don’t make the rules it we have to abide by them ……