Abstract In 1979 astronomer Carl Sagan popularized the aphorism “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (ECREE). But Sagan never defined the term “extraordinary.” Ambiguity in what constitutes “extraordinary” has led to misuse of the aphorism. ECREE is commonly invoked to discredit research dealing with scientific anomalies, and has even been rhetorically employed in attempts to raise doubts concerning mainstream scientific hypotheses that have substantive empirical support.
The origin of ECREE lies in eighteenth-century Enlightenment criticisms of miracles. The most important of these was Hume’s essay On Miracles. Hume precisely defined an extraordinary claim as one that is directly contradicted by a massive amount of existing evidence. For a claim to qualify as extraordinary there must exist overwhelming
empirical data of the exact antithesis. Extraordinary evidence is not a separate category or type of evidence–it is an extraordinarily large number of observations. Claims that are merely novel or those which violate human consensus are not properly characterized as extraordinary. Science does not contemplate two types of evidence. The misuse of ECREE to suppress innovation and maintain orthodoxy should be avoided as it must inevitably retard the scientific goal of establishing reliable knowledge. (public access) More.
It probably doesn’t matter what the state of the evidence is because the naturalist will just change the rules. Brush wars against objectivity, falsifiability, Occam’s razor, and the ability to engage in reality-based thinking are commonplace now.
Barry mentioned Jesus. For what it is worth, Jesus thought that people who didn’t want to believe something would refuse to believe it even if someone rises from the dead. One cannot know an answer to a question if one is not willing to accept it in principle even if it is correct.
Follow UD News at Twitter!