Open hostility towards a specific phenomenon has a chilling effect that prevents scholarly exploration....Both William James and Abraham Maslow had to spend extra time defending their interest in mystical experience against their skeptical and sometimes hostile colleagues. James noted that he himself “…underwent professional censure and ridicule for fervently espousing the authenticity of the spiritual orientation to mind and body, health and happiness” (Hoffman, 2010, p. 408).
It is interesting to note that sociologists have not always demonstrated wholesale neglect of religious/mystical experience. As far as 1940, Furfey (1940) argued for a supernatural sociology, i.e. a sociology that takes mysticism seriously. Sturzo (1942, p. 205) echoed this sentiment saying that “If the supernatural is a historical and social fact, it must fall within the field of sociological investigation.” Still, despite the early interest, initial calls to take religion experience seriously were not met with much interest. Bourque and Back (1971) accuse sociologists of lack of curiosity and interest, and that is certainly part of it. Some (though by no means all) academics are secular liberals and they have a secular world view. Within this secular world view there is no space for non-secular phenomenon. Why would somebody who does not believe in God be interested in the mystic’s claim to be in communication with God? The answer is, they would not be. Still, since many academics do indeed have a spiritual belief system of some sort, (Ecklund & Long, 2011), simple lack of interest cannot be the whole explanation. Other factors must be at play.[/su_spoiler][su_spoiler title="Content" style="fancy"]
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