A paradigm shift

I don’t like this term. I first ran across it in university reading Thomas Kuhn’s 1971 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In that book, Kuhn was trying to describe how science and scientists get into ‘paradigms’ or fundamental beliefs that no one questions on which all of their science is then predicated. Evolution, for example, would be a ‘paradigm’. Virtually all science done these days is based on the theory of evolution – although it is not proven. It is considered by scientists to be the most reasonable explanation for the origins of the universe. Therefore it is held constant and every scientific theory doesn’t have to revisit this question.

He used much more eloquent examples of Newtonism, the flat world, etc.

Anyway, as is the usual case, this term was popularized and now some people say there has been a ‘paradigm shift’ in when the mailman delivers my mail.

Don’t know why I got off on that tangent. Blogger’s perogative I guess.

The real thought of the day is this.

Al Hogan and the gang at the T&T spent seven years propping up Bernard Lord. This was self-evident and agreed by just about anyone that ever read the T&T.

When Lord quit, I just assumed we would get a long and windy “We Say” about how great he was for New Brunswick and how he fundamentally fixed every problem and how Nova Scotia should look to Lord for its vision (oops, Al already wrote that one).

So, I go to Canadaeast.com and click on Opinion expecting such as piece. What I read is an editorial on why Chris Collins would be the best choice for Lord’s old riding. Liberal Chris Collins.

Now, the I Luv Lord editorial from Al Hogan may still be coming but I am starting to think that he might be annoyed that his buddy left him.

Oh, back to the paradigm thing. It seems to me in the twisted mind of Al Hogan there must have been a mighty paradigm shift to going from savaging Saint Johners for not voting for Tory ‘Rootin’ for Hootin’ just a year ago to adovcating Liberal Chris Collins in Lord’s old riding now. From highly partisan Tory to Liberal greaser in one year.


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0 Responses to A paradigm shift

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lord dude, stick with what you know!

    You’re no scientist, that’s for sure. The basic precept for science is, unlike religion, that nothing is ‘known’ for certain. Even ‘facts’ are questioned and revisited. Then they are revisited again when the ‘paradigm’ changes based on new evidence.

    For example, Newtonian physics is not something from ‘years ago’, Einstein simply added an equation to Newton’s relativity theory. Newton, like all scientists of his time were not called scientists, but ‘alchemists’. We laugh about the idea of changing base metals into gold, but the base of that supposition is that all things are made up of tiny minute particles-something we now know is true.

    They didn’t have the understanding of the uniform structure of elements, however, with todays ability to split the atom, and the current work on merging atoms, it can easily be seen that someday we may very well be revisiting the process of changing one structure to another.

    The ‘idea’ of evolution simply comes from the generally accepted fact that nothing stays the same. There is of course ‘christian evolutionists’ who simply posit that that bible didn’t mean ‘literally ‘ seven days, but that in essence there is a ‘creator’. Science, quite obviously cannot posit that because it is beyond the realm of experience. There are all kinds of suppositions out there, “the fact that there is existence proves there is a creator” for example. Philosophers have been playing with that one for centuries.

    That quote is somewhat out of context. The ‘theory of relativity’ is of course questioned ALL the time. It’s like the ‘theory that there are no black swans in the world’. Any scientist worth his salt knows that that means no black swans have been recorded. The theory holds true when you go to each area and discover, aha, no black swans. When you hit Australia you discover there are black swans, so boom goes that theory.

    That’s metaphoric but essentially how science functions. This is why Einstein had to come up with his special theory of relativity to explain the anomalies of his general theory. This is being tested all the time in use, when a ‘black swan’ is discovered then the theory will be rewritten, but thus far it is the most accurate theory out there.

    You are mistaking the ‘books’ on evolution with the science of evolution. That our species evolved from earlier species is of course being tested all the time. Each new piece of evidence is part of the puzzle and anybody that thinks evolution hasn’t changed since darwin doesn’t read much on evolution. So the idea that ‘it is not proven’ is completely false.

    If an alien race came down and said “oh yeah, we put that there and made you people X thousand years ago” then obviously it would be reassessed. However, the DNA similarities, the knowledge of DNA mutations, geological evidence, the number of other hominid discoveries, etc., are all ‘proofs’ of evolution.

    The specific theories that explain the process are, like physics, being constantly tested and reappraised. That’s science.

    For political theory this is no surprise, as I’ve said umpteen times the ‘paradigm’ for an Irving owned paper is simply the Irving owned interests. The idea that Al Hogan was just a really good pal of Lord and now that he’s stepping down he doens’t like him any more seems strange. The Irvings interest is maintaining the status quo. You do that quite simply by saying nice things and doing good PR for the guy in power so long as he protects the Irving interests. This is why it really doesn’t mattter THAT much to Irvings which guy wins, because both won’t touch Irving interests with a ten foot pole. But if they ever ‘step out of line’ then things change.

    Quite simply the ‘paradigm shift’ you will NEVER see is the deviation from Irving interests. The CBC had two reports in one day, one about Irving selling a PCB laden ship to a company in Trinidad, something not technically against the law but definitely morally spurious, and another about how the Saint John pulp mill has been exceeding its allowed pollutant levels for the past few years.

    Neither of these stories were even covered in the press. What typically happens is they wait for a few days, weeks, or months when a ‘good news’ story comes out that they can attach it to. So when endangered Heron’s nests were being destroyed, they had a story announcing several new environmental initiatives by the company and ‘by the way’ here’s something bad that happened that we’ll make sure never happens again’.

    Yesterday’s paper was the same. Irving doesn’t like local conflict, they like to portray communities in unison, so yesterday when they had a report that five soldiers were arrested for selling drugs, they made sure that right next to it was another padded story about wonderful soldiers, so that for most people it ‘evens out’. It certainly isn’t true that every day they have a story about the military, so it seems odd that in one day they would have TWO. One, a ‘news event’, while the other could have been put in there anytime.

    Paradigm is often a useful word, more useful in media studies than in science even. More useful in politics and the social sciences as well, since unlike natural sciences most of these ‘theories’ really aren’t examined AT ALL, let alone examined all the time.

  2. David Campbell says:

    Refreshing myself on Kuhn:


    I think some parallels could be drawn in the economic development field.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You may be stretching ‘parrallels’ a bit. However, Kuhn himself makes the analogy to ‘political revolutions’ so clearly it can be stretched pretty far.

    However, ‘philosophers’ of science are a peculiar breed. They mostly ‘translate’ science to non-scientists. For example, Kuhn posits these paradigms which are ‘supplanted by scientific revolutions’. This is hardly what happens in science, however, like in politics it is the ‘criticism’ of it that makes it seem true, same as literature-since few scientists write for people, it is the critics that shape the reality of it.

    Here’s a cute trick from basic philosophy-simply test the ‘first principles’ or basis of each claim. The ‘paradigm’ Kuhn talks about exists for Kuhn himself and anybody that believes that. So ask the basic question “what if it isn’t true?” What if there are no ‘scientific revolutions’ whatsoever? Einstein is a huge figure, no doubt about that, but other people were working on similar problems, and other names were equally instrumental in bringing about modern theories in physics-names people have never even heard of.

    In reality, what does it matter if science isn’t the progression of knowledge but a succession of ‘scientific revolutions’? What does it change? LIke all ‘theories’ its useful because it make people discuss and test things, not because its true or not.

    This has more to do with media than anything else, as you’ve aptly shown. I’m not throwing stones but here is a guy with an education and not a blue collar schlub who doesn’t know Wittgenstein from Dewey like those other dummies in Moncton:)

    And here is an educated person basically questioning evolution! Something like that would have never been heard of even twenty years ago. Keep in mind that as far as the universe goes, whenevery you hear ANYBODY talk about the ‘origins of the universe’ then you know that you are either not dealing with a scientist, a scientist in a different field, or a poor scientist. Because the BOUNDARIES of the universe are not even know. Any astro-meta-physicist will tell you that the universe COULD be inside a gigantic medicine ball or testicle of some even larger being…nobody knows.

    However, anybody reading this should definitely get on emule or bittorrent and start downloading lectures on this stuff and start reading, because its important stuff. There are lectures you can download, the Richard Feynman lectures are especially worthwhile, and even Kuhn’s stuff, like most writers, can be downloaded and read. But one thing that is interesting about science right now, is how important it is. Don’t believe me, read for yourself, NOTHING is what you think it is.

    There’s a reason why fascist states try to limit knowledge, and why our society pummels people with idiosyncratic knowledge. Irvings don’t even have a science section in ANY of their papers, and there’s a reason for that.

    But if Kuhn is an interest, I’d suggest at least look at his betters, like Dewey and William James, and Wittgenstein and the logical empiricists. Kuhn just has a theory that is easily refuted, whereas scientists like Wittgenstein actual have real testable hypotheses. However, any issues in Kuhn you want to mention here, I love philosophy and its been awhile for me.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I like this…

    “In increasing numbers individuals become increasingly
    estranged from political life and behave more and more eccentrically within it. Then, as the
    crisis deepens, many of these individuals commit themselves to some concrete proposal for
    the reconstruction of society in a new institutional framework.”

    His theories at least fit political reality closer than science. The ‘crisis’, however, is not simply the problem talked about at this blog. The crisis is global with the environment, and provincially I think it has more to do with the function of society than simply the fact that ‘not enough money goes into economic development’. Let’s look at some of the issues rarely discussed in our paradigm, some I’ve brought up on blogs and people don’t even want to talk about it. Over at Spinks blog he’s adamant about ‘moving on’ from certain issues even while the christmas issue gets mentioned seemingly daily.

    1. The FACT that the sitting New Brunswick Premier isn’t even supported by the majority of New Brunswickers even though its technically a two party state. Some have even suggested that Graham told reporters not to ask him about the referendum.

    2. While jobs are the most important issue in the province, new subsidies flow into resource companies without even the single mention that these company’s at least hire X number of people, or stop laying them off. While Irving is getting millions, they are laying off people at newly purchased sawmills purchased by tax subsidies.

    3. There is literally no mention of the massive tax cuts to the wealthy that each tax cut brings across. Like the states the overwhelming majority of funds go to the wealthiest.

    4. While numerous gas lines have been struck there has been no mention of how society will prepare for any gas explosions or problems. In a recent article the Gleaner simply passed one incident off as a problem because ‘workers weren’t trained’ well enough. Interestingly, there is no mention of any government training or regulations so that people can ENSURE workers are trained or even that perhaps those who make the profits from the thing in the first place should pay for such training.

    5. In the recent insurance brouhaha it is interesting to note that even the CBC never dusted off their story from last March where the government’s regulatory body permitted an increase in 14% in profits to insurance companies, the highest in the atlantic provinces. While people like to believe a 10% cut and other changes are because of a hard line from government, in reality claim rates have been falling across the country, NB included and the 10% is just a small percentage of that.

    There’s just a few examples of the paradigm. Like science there is no guarantee that things will ever change, but they certainly won’t while Irving runs the media and the province.