I went looking for a quote that Loftus used a few times about what it means to be a critical scholar.
Jon D. Levenson, Professor at Harvard Divinity School in the Department of Near Eastern Studies and Civilizations, offered a great definition of what a critical scholar is when he wrote they “are prepared to interpret the text against their own preferences and traditions, in the interest of intellectual honesty.”
I like this definition, but I have trouble seeing how you can apply it to other people in any way that doesn't beg the question. I think we humans have a natural tendency to think that someone has done this when they agree with us, and if they disagree with us, they are following their preferences and traditions. I am thinking of people like Eta Linneamann, who went from a very liberal scholar to a very conservative one. Preferences and traditions could and should include prevailing winds in scholarship. Those can exercise as much peer pressure on scholars as can the religious tradition in which one grew up. Assuming that we call the more skeptical view left-wing, and the more believing views right-wing, can we call any move to the left a sign that one is a critical scholar, while any move to the right is a sign that one has become uncritical? That sounds a tad question-begging.
Another example would be John A. T. Robinson, the Anglican bishop who shocked conservatives with Honest to God, then shocked conservatives with Redating the New Testament.
I love intellectual honesty, so there is something appealing about this definition. I am just afraid that it is likely to be applied in a question-begging manner, to disenfranchise and marginalize conservative scholars.