I have grown tired of "expert opinions" to be sure. There is a difference between the hard sciences where things can be dis-proven (only the negative) by a careful, independently verified, scientific experiment, and the soft-science opinion parade. And yet, opinionated and controversial stances (and sloppy research) are paraded as "fact" because the source is cited to be an "expert's".
It would take a whole lot more than peer-rivalry protests in the squishy subject of folklore to convince me Campbell was completely off base. As we now know from the internet, everyone has an opinion---including "experts".
Every academic discipline has its own standards and methods of analysis which; the fact they they may be opaque to outsiders does not, in and of itself, make them illegitimate. Nor does the fact that they are not hard science.
This is why I think the death of the liberal arts education has had such a detrimental effect on society globally. Classics profs have a different perspective on events than history profs, the history profs different from the political science profs, the poli sci profs than the economics profs, the economics profs than the business profs, the physics profs than my chem profs, sociology, psychology and anthropology than biology. All have something useful to say in context, and you are richer for being exposed to so many different ways of approaching a problem as possible. This avoids the problem of being a person with a hammer who sees everything as a nail.
When evaluating academic work it is one's peers, even the biased ones, who can access the best tools to do the evaluation. I have been hearing academic concerns about Campbell's academic work for decades. I understand the concern to be that his assertions of the universality of certain elements of myths is simply not supported by an analysis of the existing myths; that is, people in the biz read the myths, counted the elements occurring in each culture, and found the correlation to be wanting. That's math and statistics; one can have arguments about methodology, but it is not a fair assessment to dismiss it as "squishy" social science and therefore meaningless.
Reading the Wiki, I see that another criticism appears to be that Campbell, a non-psychologist and non-anthropologist (folklore studies is a branch of anthropology), based a lot of his work on analyses by psychologists who were not anthropologists. That is the problem I am speaking of above where people do not understand each other's disciplines - in this case, mainly the psychs not understanding that myths often have a number of variations, and erroneously basing their conclusions on a single point in the data set, and Campbell not having a solid enough grounding in anthropology to recognize the deficiency. Campbell's own academic background was in literature
; his study of folklore appears to have been informal, so it does not appear to be unfair to describe him as an amateur.
I also note that it is Wikipedia, and if there were qualified academic supporters of his work, it would be easy enough for someone to add the references. Given the number of his supporters, the absence may be telling.
This is not to say that Campbell's work is valueless. It does resonate with many people, including me, on a psychological or spiritual level. It is only its value as academic
work that is disputed. Marketing it as an academic work has the potential to devalue the work of other academics by conflating their rigorous work with Campbell's squishyness
, and academics are right to call it out for that reason.