PZ Meyers is ruminating on language and dichotomies, among them the axis that runs from those "committed to reason, empiricism, and natural evidence" to those "who think inspiration and intuition and all the internal imagery of their minds define their external reality." Meyers might apply to the Language Log folks. The commentators are excellent as usual, and Pierce R. Butler reminds us that Terry Pratchett has coined a word:
‘71-hour Ahmed was not superstitious. He was substitious, which put him in a minority among humans. He didn’t believe in the things everyone believed in but which nevertheless weren’t true. He believed instead in the things that were true in which no one else believed. There are many such substitions, ranging from ‘It’ll get better if you don’t pick at it’ all the way up to ‘Sometimes things just happen.’” - Terry Pratchett, Jingo, pg 238
I resolve to be more substitious and to teach and promote the substitious world-view.
The author attributes some of the negative attitudes he encounters to the versions of "postmodernism" and such that have filtered down to the student level. I tend to agree. Things were already headed in that direction when I was teaching, and what I have heard since then leads me to believe they've gotten worse. For many students, there is no "truth," no one can possibly be more intelligent or more learned than anyone else, and it is ridiculous and offensive for anyone, including a teacher, to pass judgment on other people by something like giving them grades for their work.... . One of the worst things you can do to a student-sure to raise hackles now since it's so unheard of-is to state or imply that they're wrong about something. All opinions are equal, after all, and their opinions are just as "true for them" as yours are "true for you."
In the sloppily-thought postmodernist world, all views are equal. Proof (in the sense of scientific evidence) is just another point of view.