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Kuhn's Scientific Revolutions


  04:07:37 am, by Nimble   , 397 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Science

Kuhn's Scientific Revolutions

Science has its share of philosophers. Sometimes, they have a remarkable amount of insight. One such philosopher is Thomas S. Kuhn, who is responsible for the remarkable The Structure of Scientific Revolutions back in 1962.

The thoughts still stand out freshly today.

I must say, reading a little bit of Kuhn has made me marginally less frustrated with the state of science. My long-standing frustrations with cosmology make a lot more sense against this backdrop. Anomalies in the theory require a strong theory - a paradigm, in the non-Dilbertesque sense of the word - in the first place. Anomalies will tend to get ignored or explained away, even as internal consistencies in the explanations slowly falls apart (e.g. it will not be noticed that for the explanation to hold, the universe would need to be only 8 billion years old, whereas another explanation in the same paradigm requires the universe to be at least 12 billion years old)

To get an idea what is going on with the state of cosmology today - see Kuhn's Nature of Normal Science in regards to how research proceeds:

This paradigm-based research (25) is "an attempt to force nature into the preformed and relatively inflexible box that the paradigm supplies" (24).

  • no effort made to call forth new sorts of phenomena.
  • no effort to discover anomalies.
  • when anomalies pop up, they are usually discarded or ignored.
  • anomalies usually not even noticed (tunnel vision/one track mind).
  • no effort to invent new theory (and no tolerance for those who try).
  • "Normal-scientific research is directed to the articulation of those phenomena and theories that the paradigm already supplies" (24).
  • "Perhaps these are defects . . . "
  • ". . . but those restrictions, born from confidence in a paradigm, turn out to be essential to the development of

    science. By focusing attention on a small range of relatively esoteric problems, the paradigm forces scientists to investigate

    some part of nature in a detail and depth that would otherwise be unimaginable" (24).

  • . . . and, when the paradigm ceases to function properly, scientists begin to behave differently and the nature of their

    research problems changes.

In the meantime, we are getting better instruments and more observations. From what I can tell, we are in the midst of accumulating anomalies - this will likely continue for a while before current cosmology reaches a crisis point.

I'll be patient.

However, I will spread the information that will enable us to get to the next step.

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