‘Friday the Thirteenth tomorrow, sir.’
‘Yes. Never mind the date, it’s Friday.’
Of course, were I to have dismissed as nonsensical the notion that 13 was somehow an unlucky number, I would have been guilty of imposing my worldview on the student. A post-modern word is one where the views of everyone are treated as equal, even if those views are not evidence-based
The post-modern approach in which every viewpoint is treated as being of equal validity can lead to unlikely ideas gaining currency. Esoteric theories abound in every corner of the Web. Notions of scientific method and peer review are dismissed and the the unsubstantiated views of ‘influencers’ are uncritically accepted. The world is run by the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, the Illuminati, the Jesuits, the Freemasons, the CIA, the Jews, the British Royal Family, MI5, Mossad, Opus Dei, medieval secret societies: the list is lengthy, always bizarre, and frequently contradictory. (Had the Freemasons one fraction of the power attributed to them, I think I should have joined so as to find it easier to get teaching jobs!)
Post-modern society has produced not people who believe nothing, but has increasingly produced people who will believe anything they read on social media and websites.
Far from becoming mature, rational and objective, the decline of traditional religion has led to the rise of the irrational and the return of old superstitions.
One of my favourite principles from medieval times is the principle which in its shortest form says that one should not make any assumptions more than the minimum necessary to explain an event or phenomenon. It was developed by the 14th Century English monk and writer William of Occam who would have been dismayed at the backward slip of civilization, William expounded the principle that became known as Occam’s Razor.
Those of us who have grown up in the culture of the Enlightenment since the 18th Century have grown used to scientific method where theories are measured against facts and adapted in the light of those facts. Hegel proposed the model of hypothesis and antithesis leading to synthesis. Furthermore, all theories, methods and conclusions are subject to peer review, by reviewers from institutions with academic credibility.
Such method runs contrary to the sort of post-modern thinking which responds to facts by creating ever more outlandish theories to account for facts that have simple explanations.
Of course, the student is entitled to his ideas about Friday the Thirteenth, but without being able to produce evidence, without proposing a theory that is amenable to falsification, without being able to propose a thesis that can be tested, it will remain a piece of ancient superstition.