About paradigm shifts

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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

The devellopment of science is thought to be happening along the lines of the http://phyun5.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node6.html [Broken]. A clear and obvious process.
1. Observe some aspect of the universe.
2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.
3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.
4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.
One can filosophize a bit about the process of hypothesis forming. This needs good analytic minds, no doubt, and a scientific background, a thorough toolbox of applicable physical and mathematical laws and theories.

Every once and a while that scientific method seems to fail. No matter how many times steps 3 and 4 are repeated and fine tuned, the results keep generating more questions than answers. Alternatively, discoveries may be made that are obviously holding in contempt, our attemps to create order in the chaotic universe. Phenomenons that cannot be explained by our cognitive scientific feedback process, governed by our toolbox.

What now?
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Two days, 38 views, a challenging question and zilch replies? Not interesting? Taboo? Me contageous?

Anyway, what could we do if the scientific method failed to explain a certain phenomenon?

We could declare it divine, supernatural, metaphysical, little green men from Mars, whatever. Not very scientific but very human.

We could also shuffle it under the carpet, forget about as soon as possible and divert to another area of interest.

We could write a paper on it, stretching the observations a wee bit, point to the extremities and probable some contamination in the data, using lots of specialists vocabulary and convoluted phrasings. Pretend that the result is not unexpected but some elements remain not understood and then forget all about it.

More options?
 
  • #3
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That's a good question. But I don't see the scientific method failing. I'm not saying it's infallible, no. What I'm saying is that even you observe something, that innate sense of observation, in the end, will prevail because you are still learning something about that phenomenon. The reason is the observation could lead to something, the something could lead to a -- doesn't necessarily have to be the 'right' one, however, it is a conclusion at that. Even if you don't go as far as getting a conclusion, a hypothesis will be in order because you have that "need" to understand. Whilst the scientific method isn't infallible, it doesn't have to be an ordered method, it can fluctuate to me. It doesn't need to be step by step, at the beginning, it can be simple learning. By that, I mean it doesn't have to be strategic in every sence of its structure.
 
  • #4
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But I don't see the scientific method failing.
In the end I agree but we have a long way to go. With unexplainable phenomena I'm thinking for instance of a http://www.cuba.cu/ciencia/citma/ama/museo/exmari.htm [Broken] in front of the coast of Cuba at around 700 meter below the sea level.
 
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  • #5
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Okay, let's get slowly towards the point of this thread.

If our scientific method does not work, obviously we have a problem that needs to be solved, using a scientific method.

So we have to scrutinize the process itself. The quality of the the ability of observation and the quality of the toolbox that we needed for analyzing and formulating the hypothesis.

So obvious first questions is, who the h... does the observer, or phenomenon reporter thinks he is. Does he believe in little green man from Mars? Is he creationist? Is his Ph.D reliable? What else did he publish?

Many times this first step is sufficient. Another crackpot exposed. When does this deluge of nonsense ever stop?

However, if for instance in the case of the Cuban city, all phenomenon reporters (Zelitsky, Weinzweig, De la Rosa and Itturalde-Vinent) have passed the sanity check then we have a more serious problem.

Now we can again abandon it and try to forget about it (like what's happening to the Cuban City, evidently, if we experience the deafening silence that engulfs it) otherwise we are forced to open our beloved toolbox with facts, physical laws, theories, paradigms, our cumulative knowledge, that we cherish so much and we have to start to think about thinking out of it (that box that is). And that hurts
 
  • #6
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So obvious first questions is, who the h... does the observer, or phenomenon reporter thinks he is. Does he believe in little green man from Mars? Is he creationist? Is his Ph.D reliable? What else did he publish?
You, Andre, are going to assess others by if they are Creationist, if they believe in Hollow Earth, etc. etc. If you can read an article by that person, you have a better idea on how sound their thinking is. That's reasonable. Where is your article?

The deafening silence on the Cuban City is due mostly to the politics of that region, or the U.S. National Geographic would have probably already reported on it. Zelinsky was saying she needed a LOT more money in order to investigate. Why not use the emeralds from those other shipwrecks to finance such an important scientific investigation? Furthermore, why don't you appeal to Fidel Castro in the interest of science for us to move ahead with this very important study.
 
  • #7
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Two days, 38 views, a challenging question and zilch replies? Not interesting? Taboo? Me contageous?
It is not a challenging question. Therefore no one is replying.

Thomas Alva Edison said that "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration."

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up."

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

My point?
Every once and a while that scientific method seems to fail. No matter how many times steps 3 and 4 are repeated and fine tuned, the results keep generating more questions than answers.
Repeat steps 3 and 4, assess, and continue
 
  • #8
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Hi,

You need more of steps 1 and 2 also.

The process, I believe, goes like this.

Data, information, pattern, paradigm.

For the paradigm to change you need new data and information to start the change.

juju
 
  • #9
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Of course your method, Juju, is the base for developing new paradigms. That's what science loves. Paradigms enter the textbooks next and become part of the toolbox that is required for new hypotheses, etc, etc. However occasionally we allow incorrect paradigms in our knowledge base and if so, we will be confronted with that sooner our later. Then It’s time to scrutinize that box and think out of it, to find the erroneous one.

Good idea, Nilequeen, to ask Fidel Castro, however I’m afraid that no matter how closely and how long we can observe, register, investigate, measure, etc, etc, chances are that we still see a http://www.cuba.cu/ciencia/citma/ama/museo/exmari.htm. Then what?

We’ll use our standard toolbox, consisting of Newtonian physics, geophysical theories about land subsidence, natural geologic formations, catastrophic geologic events, erosion, sea level ideas of ice age theories, the archaeological theories about the Clovis people entering America for the first time some 15,000 years ago etc, etc. Trying to use all these simultaneously, explaining the city, will result in contradictions. Consequently, if the city is right, our toolbox is wrong. :frown:

By the way this tread is not about developing a theory about the Cuban city, it’s about the philosophy and psychology of finding bad scientific theories and deal with it. Therefore, I recommend https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0226458083/ref=pd_bxgy_text_1/002-3795286-8503213?v=glance&s=books&st=* as homework for the next time.
A short outline and an abstract all in relation to the revulsions of many members here :grumpy: to the TD department.
 
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  • #10
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Good idea, Nilequeen, to ask Fidel Castro, however I’m afraid that no matter how closely and how long we can observe, register, investigate, measure, etc, etc, chances are that we still see a ancient human city on the sea bottom. Then what?
Well get busy writing to Castro, please. You being Dutch, are neutral. He might reject my letter because I live in the U.S., even though I have studied Latin American geography and seen Motorcycle Diaries about Che Guevara's early life.
You really can't proceed with any clout until it is established that they are man made structures.

We’ll use our standard toolbox, consisting of Newtonian physics, geophysical theories about land subsidence, natural geologic formations, catastrophic geologic events, erosion, sea level ideas of ice age theories, the archaeological theories about the Clovis people entering America for the first time some 15,000 years ago etc, etc. Trying to use all these simultaneously, explaining the city, will result in contradictions. Consequently, if the city is right, our toolbox is wrong.
We've seen some pretty extreme tectonic movements very recently near Sumatra

"The massive earthquake that devastated parts of Asia permanently moved the tectonic plates beneath the Indian Ocean as much as 98 feet, slightly shifting islands near Sumatra an unknown distance, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday. "
http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=scienceNews&storyID=7194479

"Based on one seismic model, some of the smaller islands southwest of Sumatra may have moved southwest up to 20 m (66 ft). The northern tip of Sumatra, which is on the Burma Plate (the southern regions are on the Sunda Plate), may also have moved southwest up to 36 m (118 ft). However, other models suggest that most of the movement would have been vertical rather than lateral. Onsite measurements using GPS will be used to determine the extent and nature of actual geophysical movement."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Indian_Ocean_earthquake

Preliminary locations of larger aftershocks following the megathrust earthquake show that approximately 1200 km of the plate boundary slipped as a result of the earthquake. By comparison with other large megathrust earthquakes, the width of the causative fault-rupture was likely over one-hundred km. From the size of the earthquake, it is likely that the average displacement on the fault plane was about fifteen meters. The sea floor overlying the thrust fault would have been uplifted by several meters as a result of the earthquake. The above estimates of fault-dimensions and displacement will be refined in the near future as the result of detailed analyses of the earthquake waves.
http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/bulletin/neic_slav_ts.html

By the way this tread is not about developing a theory about the Cuban city, it’s about the philosophy and psychology of finding bad scientific theories and deal with it. Therefore, I recommend Kuhn as homework for the next time.
A short outline and an abstract all in relation to the revulsions of many members here to the TD department.
I would expect those with a scientific approach to be objective and analytical in all cases.
 
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  • #11
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You really can't proceed with any clout until it is established that they are man made structures.
Correct, but we´re getting there:
Dr Paul Weinzweig: "The marine structures ........ In our Cuban site the granite monolithic stones are foreign to the local marine and terrestrial geology."...
----
We've seen some pretty extreme tectonic movements very recently near Sumatra.
Absolutely, and the Cuban area is a highly tectonic active area. But the problem here is that this kind of seismic activity is also related to destructive earthquakes. The city is not destroyed at all and it would still not explain why the land would subside on such a distance in a relatively short time. Note that Prof dr. Itturalde-Vinent does not consider this scenario:

http://www.cuba.cu/ciencia/citma/ama/museo/exmar4i.htm [Broken]

But back to paradigm shifts, a few quotes from Kuhn:

....
Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none. Nonetheless, new and unsuspected phenomena are repeatedly uncovered by scientific research, and radical new theories have again and again been invented by scientists . Fundamental novelties of fact and theory bring about paradigm change. So how does paradigm change come about? There are two ways: through discovery - novelty of fact - or by invention – novelty of theory. Discovery begins with the awareness of anomaly - the recognition that nature has violated the paradigm-induced expectations that govern normal science. The area of the anomaly is then explored. The paradigm change is complete when the paradigm has been adjusted so that the anomalous become the expected. The result is that the scientist is able "to see nature in a different way". ...

Although normal science is a pursuit not directed to novelties and tending at first to suppress them, it is nonetheless very effective in causing them to arise. Why? An initial paradigm accounts quite successfully for most of the observations and experiments readily accessible to that science's practitioners. Research results in the construction of elaborate equipment, development of an esoteric and shared vocabulary, refinement of concepts that increasingly lessens their resemblance to their usual common-sense prototypes. This professionalisation leads to immense restriction of the scientist's vision, rigid science, resistance to paradigm change, and a detail of information and precision of the observation-theory match that can be achieved in no other way. New and refined methods and instruments result in greater precision and understanding of the paradigm. Only when researchers know with precision what to expect from an experiment can they recognise that something has gone wrong.
...
As is the case with discovery, a change in an existing theory that results in the invention of a new theory is also brought about by the awareness of anomaly. The emergence of a new theory is generated by the persistent failure of the puzzles of normal science to be solved as they should.
...
Once a paradigm is entrenched (and the tools of the paradigm prove useful to solve the problems the paradigm defines), theoretical alternatives are strongly resisted. As in manufacture so in science--retooling is an extravagance to be reserved for the occasion that demands it . Crises provide the opportunity to retool.
...

The Response to Crisis.

The awareness and acknowledgement that a crisis exists loosens theoretical stereotypes and provides the incremental data necessary for a fundamental paradigm shift.
....
In responding to these crises, scientists generally do not renounce the paradigm that has led them into crisis. Rather, they usually devise numerous articulations and ad hoc modifications of their theory in order to eliminate any apparent conflict. Some, unable to tolerate the crisis, leave the profession. As a rule, persistent and recognised anomaly does not induce crisis . Failure to achieve the expected solution to a puzzle discredits only the scientist and not the theory To evoke a crisis, an anomaly must usually be more than just an anomaly. Scientists who paused and examined every anomaly would not get much accomplished. An anomaly must come to be seen as more than just another puzzle of normal science.

Those who achieve fundamental inventions of a new paradigm have generally been either very young or very new to the field whose paradigm they changed.
emphasis mine,
So here we see the problems of a paradigm shift for instance as it has happened to the case of Alfred Wegener and plate tectonics. Kuhn actually used that example to formulate his revolutions-in-science-idea.
Perhaps Alfred Wegener's greatest contribution to the scientific world was his ability to weave seemingly dissimilar, unrelated facts into a theory, which was remarkably visionary for the time. Wegener was one of the first to realize that an understanding of how the Earth works required input and knowledge from all the earth sciences.
Would we also need that to solve the Cuban city? Will we solve the Cuban city?
 
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  • #12
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Here is another example of a potential paradigm switch.

A few characteristics:

- Once the wrong theories are removed from the toolbox, answering questions goes a lot easier.

- Answered questions do not generate a equally high rate of new questions.

- Deafening silence of the establisment.

Just running the thing along the lines of Kuhn, gives a "deja vu" idea, but we probably need a new generation to grow up first to overcome:

This professionalisation leads to immense restriction of the scientist's vision, rigid science, resistance to paradigm change.
:uhh:
 
  • #13
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Thanks for your elaboration, John, The quentensens appareantly being the loss of general overview with the increasing specialisation.

Incidentely when I was talking to a few specialists about a few pet ideas the general reaction could be compiled to: "I'm sure that things are different in those other specialisms involved, but I'm not qualified to judge that."

Apparantly the progress in science is hampered by that type of human limitations. Jump out the box and think out the box. The toolbox, of course.
 
  • #14
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I see that John's post is deleted.

Is it because I'm contageous indeed or is it a life demonstation of the taboo of paradigm shifts?
 
  • #15
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Hi Andre,

Just happened to look at this thread today (never had before) and saw your post. I have something interesting for you to look at if you can find a copy of it. It's a book written by an Englishman named Gavin Menzies around 2002 called "1421". If you can find a copy, check out page 271. I found the book quite interesting and his explanation of the "Bimini Road" seems quite reasonable if their is any decent basis for his main thesis. I think the book is worth reading in detail even if there are some problems in his ideas. Google "1421 The Year China Discovered America" and you will find some reviews of the book.

Nice to see you still here -- Dick
 
  • #16
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By the way, I have a paradigm shift which is out of sight if you are interested.

Have fun -- Dick
 
  • #17
Nereid
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Andre,

Kuhn did some good work, and us all a favour by showing that Popper didn't get it all right (or, right at all, depends). However, while his 'paradigm shift' makes great sound bites, and quite a bit of science can be packaged neatly into this model, it has its shortcomings too.

For another view, why not Lakatos? In his hands, the scientific method become a good deal richer and more nuanced, and set into a different sort of context ('programme'). The good thing about both Kuhn and Lakatos (cf Popper) is that they spent a lot of time and effort opening the horse's mouth and counting teeth.
 
  • #18
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I know DocterDick, but who am I to comprehend and to judge?


Thanks for the tips, Nereid, I'll look into it when I'm back from this field trip.
 

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