8 SCIENCE CHANGES OUR VIEW OF THE WORLD

  1. 8.1 Paradigms, normal science and paradigm shifts.
    • Kuhn great contribution to scientific thinking was the concept of the paradigm.
    • Coined the word paradigm and developed the idea of a paradigm shift.
    • paradigm: a framework for thinking or knowledge. The common body of knowledge that is the state of knowledge that we work in. It is what everyone ‘knows to be true’ and therefore, you can be tempted to stop questioning it.

    • Normal science, according to Kuhn advances bit by bit within the existing paradigms. Filling the gaps.
    • As a result, normal science can also be called incremental science.


    Working within the paradigm, hypotheses are posed and models formed. If the paradigm is imperfect, anomalies arise in the data - you get results that just don't fit.

     Initially, the anomalies are ignored and put down to poor experimental design because the researchers can’t work out where they fit. Gradually over time, though, the incongruities accumulate, and eventually the sheer weight of evidence is such that the ‘problems’ can no longer be ignored.

    This leads to what Kuhn calls a ‘crisis’ in science, forcing the scientific community to re-examine the existing paradigm and eventually leading to a scientific revolution.

    If all the right experiments are done, then new models and theories are proposed and we get a paradigm shift - instead of fiddling with the old puzzle, there is a new puzzle to solve and science settles back into its incremental phase.

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  2. two different views describing the way in which science builds on previous theories.
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    • Popper philosophized that new theories encompassed existing theories. Kuhn observed that new theories largely replace old theories, such that after several shifts ideas from the oldest theories are not encompassed at all.
  3. Example of paradigm shift
    Realising the Earth moves around the sun instead of vice versa.

    The theory of general relativity
  4. 8.2 Persistence of the old
    • Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): One of the most important figures in this process was a 13th century monk. A religious thinker who incorporated some of the great Greek philosophy into the Roman Catholic Church. 
    • Important as it legitimised the study of the Greek texts, taking them from heresy to doctrine.

    Downside: false views became entrenched in western thinking and have been very hard to shift, such as the geocentric view of the Solar System or the idea that heavy objects fall faster than less massive objects.

    Other ideas that were carried forward with Aquinas’s work included: the four elements of nature - wind, fire, earth, and water; the idea that the Universe is filled with a substance called the ‘aether’; and the four humours: sanguine, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm.
  5. The four Humours
    • Four fluids (or humours) in the body that could explain everything from illness to personality.
    • Dominated medicine in the Western and Islamic worlds until quite recently.
    • Were the origin of treatments such as:
    • bleeding with leeches
    • ‘taking the vapours’

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    Recognition that the four personality types described by many modern-day psychological tests fit exactly with the four humours raises a question about whether this ancient paradigm still persists today in another form.

    The four humours, codified by Hippocrates (460-370 BC), dominated medical thinking in the west and Middle East for more than 2000 years. Similar systems can be found in Hindu and Buddhist philosophies.
  6. 8.3 Important paradigm shifts in science
    • The Heliocentric view of the Solar System - championed by Copernicus and Galileo
    • Plate tectonics - originally proposed as ‘continental drift’
    • The modern synthetic theory of evolution.
  7. 8.4 A modern-day paradigm shift
    • In 2005 Australians Barry Marshal and Robin Warren won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology.
    • Discovery that stomach ulcers were not caused by stress, but by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori.
    • Without Barry promoting the new theory, we might still be treating ulcers with antacids instead of curing them with antibiotics.
  8. Hallmarks of a typical paradigm shift.
    • The proponents were:
    • young
    • a bit outside the field
    • collaborating with others completely outside the field.



    • The traditionalists were:
    • older
    • conservative
    • threatened (Professor Marshall was the subject of personal attacks by his colleagues).
  9. Characteristics of proponents of old theories and denialists
    • Often older (>60 years)
    • Have more to lose
    • Part of the establishment
    • Some are never convinced
    • No longer feel relevant
    • But like the limelight
    • May have vested interests
    • Funding or fame
  10. Characteristics of proponents of new theories
    • Often young (in 20s) - Wegener (and Darwin on Beagle)
    • Often from outside the field - Wegener
    • Often Ignored/ridiculed by the establishment - Galileo, Wegener and Darwin.
  11. Five traps (pitfalls) for new scientists
    • Ignore or rule out data that do not support hypothesis
    • Extrapolating beyond the data
    • Mistaking the hypothesis for the explanation
    • Thinking something is so obvious it doesn’t need testing
    • Confusing correlation with causation
Author
kirstenp
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340602
Card Set
8 SCIENCE CHANGES OUR VIEW OF THE WORLD
Description
8 SCIENCE CHANGES OUR VIEW OF THE WORLD Aim To understand how science progresses through incremental phases and paradigm shifts and to understand the role of paradigms in the scientific process. Learning objectives On completion of this chapter, you should be able to: explain what is meant by a paradigm describe some of the steps in the progression of science understand the difference between normal (incremental) science and scientific revolutions in the process of science identify some of the great scientific paradigms (past and present) compare past and current paradigm shifts be aware of the five traps (pitfalls) for new/young scientists.
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