Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

About paradigm shifts

  1. Dec 26, 2004 #1
    The devellopment of science is thought to be happening along the lines of the scientific method. A clear and obvious process.
    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?
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 28, 2004 #2
    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?
     
  4. Dec 28, 2004 #3
    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.
     
  5. Dec 28, 2004 #4
    In the end I agree but we have a long way to go. With unexplainable phenomena I'm thinking for instance of a drowned city in front of the coast of Cuba at around 700 meter below the sea level.
     
  6. Dec 29, 2004 #5
    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
     
  7. Dec 29, 2004 #6
    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.
     
  8. Dec 29, 2004 #7
    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?
    Repeat steps 3 and 4, assess, and continue
     
  9. Dec 31, 2004 #8
    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
     
  10. Jan 1, 2005 #9
    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 ancient human city on the sea bottom. 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 Kuhn 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.
     
  11. Jan 1, 2005 #10
    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'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

    I would expect those with a scientific approach to be objective and analytical in all cases.
     
  12. Jan 2, 2005 #11
    Correct, but we´re getting there:
    ----
    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

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

    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.
    Would we also need that to solve the Cuban city? Will we solve the Cuban city?
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2005
  13. Jan 4, 2005 #12
    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:

    :uhh:
     
  14. Jan 8, 2005 #13
    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.
     
  15. Jan 13, 2005 #14
    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?
     
  16. Jan 14, 2005 #15
    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
     
  17. Jan 14, 2005 #16
    By the way, I have a paradigm shift which is out of sight if you are interested.

    Have fun -- Dick
     
  18. Jan 14, 2005 #17

    Nereid

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    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.
     
  19. Jan 18, 2005 #18
    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.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: About paradigm shifts
  1. Paradigm Shift (Replies: 12)

  2. Paradigm of Brain (Replies: 9)

  3. Whoa! Paradigm Shift (Replies: 0)

  4. The next paradigm shift (Replies: 26)

Loading...