Thursday, December 4, 2014

553: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Till now we have focused on the methods of science, logic, mathematics. We get a different story when we take a closer look at the content of science.
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Then we don’t see logic and reason at work, but we see man at work, the individual that associates  his achievements not only with the increase of knowledge,
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but also with his Ego, prestige and status. Today a first look at it thus, based on the ideas of Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962).
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He speaks of  'normal science’, meaning research firmly based on one or more past scientific achievements,
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achievements by a particular scientific community that recognizes these for a long  time as a basis for its work.
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Nowadays such achievements are listed in textbooks for beginners and advanced. These textbooks explain the essentials of the accepted theories,
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explain their successful applications and illustrate them with relevant observations and experiments. Such books became popular in the early nineteenth century.
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Before that Aristotle's “Physica”, Ptolemy's “Almagest”, Newton's “Principia” and “Opticks”, Franklin's “Electricity,” Lavoisier's “Traite √©l√©mentaire chimie” and Lyell's “Geology” served this function.
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These books implicitly determined what were authorized problems and methods for successive generations of practitioners of a particular science.
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They were able to do so, because they had two essential characteristics in common. Their performance
was sufficiently unprecedented 
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to have a stable group of supporters kept away from competing modes of scientific activity. 
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At the same time there remained all kinds problems enough to the group of researchers to solve them.
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Achievements like this, Kuhn calls 'paradigms'. Existing scientific work - examples of laws, theories, applications and tools - create models for particular coherent traditions.
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These are the traditions which historically can be describes as 'Ptolemaic' or "Copernican astronomy ',' Aristotelian 'or' Newtonian dynamics, "" particulate "or" wave optics ", etc. 
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Historically interesting is here, that such a paradigm defined what were meaningful experiments and research and what was, so to speak, “not done’ in science.
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For instance regarding the question, what is light? Is it waves or is it particles? Depending on what the scientific community supports, it tells what experiments are meaningful and which are not.
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The most interesting observation here is, that after centuries of development the human mind shifted to the idea that there had to be one scientific truth only.
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However,  no period between antiquity and the end of the seventeenth century inaugurated a generally accepted view about the nature of the light. 
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Instead, there were a number of competing schools, which usually adhered some variant of the theories of Epicurus, Aristotle or Plato. 
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One group took that lights consisted of particles from material bodies; for another, it was a change in the medium, which was located between body and eye; 
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yet another one saw light in terms of an interaction between the body and something that comes from the eye
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Thus science is controlled by the community of scientists, who adhere to a certain paradigm, a set of theories, laws and explanations.
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Next question will be….how do these paradigms change and get overrun by a scientific revolution?
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Thank you…. the floor is yours :-))


Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, John Losee (2001)

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, T. Kuhn (1962)


The Discussion 

[13:19] Roger Amdahl: well thanks Herman ... that is quite a question you leave us with
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: for sure
[13:19] Corona Anatine: well paradigm shift usually occurs when there are competing theories and one proves to be a better fit
[13:19] Beertje Beaumont: as always
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:19] herman Bergson: I'll dig into it and help you answer it Roger :-)
[13:19] Roger Amdahl: those paradigms are overruled by the one experiment that does not fit into their theories
[13:19] Corona Anatine: or when a new discovery undermines exisitng ideas
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:20] Corona Anatine: and it gains ground in the scientific community
[13:20] herman Bergson: Most important point today is that science is not primarily defined by its method, but by a paradigm....
[13:20] Corona Anatine: the false idea is to think of it as a single cmmunity
[13:20] herman Bergson: a view supported by a scientific community
[13:20] Corona Anatine: like religion there wil be competing schism
[13:20] druth Vlodovic: so is the experiment the deciding factor, or does it tend to be more about convincing personalities in the field?
[13:20] herman Bergson: if it were there never would change a thing Corona :-)
[13:21] Roger Amdahl: you can't blame a theoretical physicist have to deal with paradigms ...
[13:21] Corona Anatine: yes it would become dogma Herman
[13:21] herman Bergson: Well Druth....the later is a serious issue indeed
[13:21] Corona Anatine: personalities help to an extent
[13:22] Corona Anatine: but the process of peer review does perhaps help in this
[13:22] Corona Anatine: although such wil also of course reinfcre the exisitnign paradigm
[13:22] druth Vlodovic: scientists are humans who have put a fair amount of work into their current ideas,you have to expect some pushback,the difference with religion is that science has a moral of accepting overwhelming evidence
[13:22] herman Bergson: A nice sidetrack here is fraude in Science...:-))
[13:22] Roger Amdahl: in science everything is true, until proven wrong ... isn't that beautiful ?
[13:22] Corona Anatine: oh fraud is definitely a personality thing
[13:22] Bejiita Imako:
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes Druth....that is what makes progress possible
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: there are lot of fraud nowadays it seems, "scientists" scaring us that everything we eat are deadly so they can sell their own ideas
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita.....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: see it in paper every day almost a new such case
[13:24] Corona Anatine: [fetches Mary Midgely -evolution as a religion from her bookshelf
[13:24] herman Bergson: as soon as something becomes a money issue this happens....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: latest is that eco farming would not sustain us and not absorb carbon dioxide and bla bla
[13:24] herman Bergson: Ahh Mary Midgley..
[13:25] Roger Amdahl: where is humans, there is fraud, thiefs, robbery ... 90% of science goes for the evidence ..and is true about it
[13:25] Corona Anatine: well yes - science is study of experimental data
[13:25] druth Vlodovic: that is more economics than science
[13:25] Corona Anatine: and of course there will always be a certain selectivity of choice in what is studied where and what quations are asked etc
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes Corona....that is governed by the leadin paradigm...
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: however science is also somewhat hindered
[13:27] herman Bergson: so...how does a paradigm get dropped ...exchanged for another one...
[13:27] herman Bergson: that is our next question
[13:27] Corona Anatine: plus in the case of studies with corporate interests there will be pressure and - who idea gets more funding
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: take this Rossi guy, he under no circumstances want to reveal how his energy machine works, it does but how
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: and thus all say he is just a bluff
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: and Rossi prevents further fast development cause of greed i guess
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: instead of helping actually using this machine to solve energy crisis
[13:28] druth Vlodovic: what have you found in your career in your field Herman, does it tend to be more open minded, or more personality driven?
[13:28] herman Bergson: Who is Rossi, Bejiita....never heard of:-)
[13:28] Corona Anatine: it appears to happen when a new idea is taken up by increasing numbers of other scientists - such as for example plate tectonics
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: he developed some sort of reactor that produce lot of energy 
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: he just want money and all think its some sort of advanced bluff
[13:28] Corona Anatine: that sounds like the scientific equivalent of joseph smith
[13:29] Roger Amdahl: if he wait for a patent .. I understand .. else it is not done to keep science to yourself
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: would be better he revealed it , if it actually worked could solve energy crisis
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: instead of hiding it away
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: might be
[13:29] druth Vlodovic: "pay no attention to the extension cord attached to the back of the device."
[13:30] herman Bergson: sounds like a lot of bogus, Bejiita...
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: but al scientists everywhere want to check how itworks
[13:30] herman Bergson: And to answer Druth....
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: cause it indeed produce as much power as a nuclear reactor without nuclear reaction
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: its like cold fusion
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: he might have invented it or its all bluff,
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: no one knows
[13:31] herman Bergson: What I experienced in my carreer was a colleague who was terribly jealous of my achievemnts and has tried everything to shuffle me under
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: as said it seem to work
[13:31] herman Bergson: and with it he blocked a lot of positive developments
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: its called the E Cat
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Catalyzer
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: his machine
[13:32] Roger Amdahl: if it is nuclear power invented in the backyard of his home , he should glow in the dark ... and fusion ... pff... get real ... not possible he invented that in his backyard ... so I go for bogus
[13:32] Corona Anatine: but that is a personal politics thing Herman - does it relate to paradigm shifting ?
[13:33] herman Bergson: lol ...no Corona....I never formul;ated a paradigm for a field of science...Einstein did :-)
[13:33] herman Bergson: And I am no Einstein ^_^
[13:33] Bejiita Imako:
[13:33] Corona Anatine: not many are
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: aaaa come on now mr E = mc2
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:33] Bejiita Imako:
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: Einstein was special indeed
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: ahead of his time
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: but he was right
[13:34] Corona Anatine: oh yes
[13:34] Corona Anatine: no in everything
[13:34] Corona Anatine: he had problems with quantum theory
[13:34] Corona Anatine: but then so do many modern thinkers
[13:34] herman Bergson: Bejiita it is really brilliant to be able to say that einstein was right ^_^
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: hmm but can ANYONE understand that?
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:34] Roger Amdahl: no Einstein was just a weirdo in his own era ... a very brilliant weirdo for sure,
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: quantum physics is even trickier then relativity theory
[13:35] Corona Anatine: it depends what you mean by 'understand'
[13:35] herman Bergson: Well..I think the point of today is clear....:-)
[13:35] Roger Amdahl: relativity is relatively simple, while quantum physics is quite predictable ...
[13:35] herman Bergson: Science is a social activity of a group of people....
[13:36] Corona Anatine: the thing to remember about quantum is that it is about vibrational wavelengths
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: string theory
[13:36] Corona Anatine: in what medium is a good question
[13:36] herman Bergson: That group takes control...their point of view is aparadigm...
[13:36] Corona Anatine: but at a basic level it is about moving fields
[13:36] Roger Amdahl: 10 spacial dimensions is enough medium ?
[13:36] Corona Anatine: indeed so herman
[13:37] Corona Anatine: might be more some say 26 dimensions
[13:37] Roger Amdahl: eeps
[13:37] herman Bergson: And please stop about quantum physics and string theory.....
[13:37] Corona Anatine: kk
[13:37] herman Bergson: completely irrelevant here :-))
[13:37] Bejiita Imako:
[13:37] Corona Anatine: yeah stick with the established paradigm
[13:38] Roger Amdahl: deal with the paradigm you earlier described, Herman :) ... quantum rocks !!!
[13:38] herman Bergson: I always get the feeling that if someone doesn’t know the right answer anymore he refers to quantum physics as the example of....bla bla :-)
[13:38] Roger Amdahl: *smiles
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: ehe
[13:38] Corona Anatine: yes it does but it disputs paradigms cos it allows all side to be right at the same time
[13:38] herman Bergson: Yes Roger it rocks indeed ^_^
[13:39] herman Bergson: Ok...we'll get to that issue in future lectures :-)
[13:39] herman Bergson: For today...thank you all again for your participation:-)
[13:39] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ...^_^
[13:40] Corona Anatine: a small question -does religion with god behind everything count as a separate paradigm?
[[13:40] druth Vlodovic: I'm not sure this relates directly to science as a social activity,but the page on the energy catalyzer suggests you can't get as patent on something that doesn't work
[13:40] Corona Anatine: one would hope not
[13:40] druth Vlodovic: that can't be true or new things would be very hard to make money from
[13:40] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty herman & class!
[13:40] Corona Anatine: otherwise you could patent alien death rays made of wood
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: if he want to et some luck with e cat he beter show that his device really work and how, scintific organisations dont grant bogus patents
[13:41] druth Vlodovic: well,why not? that would just prevent other people from making alien death rays made of wood in the same design as yours
[13:41] herman Bergson: Who is this Rossi, Bejiita....what nationality?
[13:41] Corona Anatine: ones with any credibility anyway
[13:41] herman Bergson: Where does he work?
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: Italian
[13:41] Corona Anatine: sounds italian
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: Andrea Rossi
[13:42] druth Vlodovic: I thought the patent office was a political/government thing,rather than scientific organization
[13:42] herman Bergson: In Peyton Place there also was a doctor Rossi...:-)
[13:42] Corona Anatine: it is a gov funded body yes
[13:42] Beertje Beaumont: lol..you said it a sec earlier than I
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:42] Roger Amdahl: Peyton Place ...?? Herman , you're old !
[13:42] Corona Anatine: does not mean it is gov influenced by political thought
[13:42] herman Bergson: 65
[13:43] Roger Amdahl: LOL
[13:43] Beertje Beaumont: omg 65!
[13:43] Bejiita Imako:
[13:43] Beertje Beaumont: jeez
[13:43] Corona Anatine: you couldn’t tell from his avi?
[13:43] Corona Anatine: not that old
[13:43] herman Bergson: so young enough to have seen Peyton Place in black and white
[13:43] Corona Anatine: 65 is not old
[13:43] Roger Amdahl: :)
[13:44] herman Bergson: it is a number Corona...that is all :-)
[13:44] druth Vlodovic: lol
[13:44] Beertje Beaumont: all old man say that...
[13:44] Corona Anatine: yes -age is a state of mind
[13:44] herman Bergson: I'll talk to you later Beertje ^_^

[13:44] Beertje Beaumont: grins..

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