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Does Natural Science Encourage a Narrow Mind?


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Does Natural Science Encourage a Narrow Mind?


Paradigm directed science encourages the scientist to steadfastly adhere to carefully crafted narrow minded thinking. Because “normal science” has been so successful in achieving its narrow goals I claim that our whole society has become dangerously enchanted into viewing all domains of knowledge in restricted narrow constraints.


Normal science is a puzzle-solving enterprise. Normal science is a slow accumulation of knowledge by a methodical step-by-step process undertaken by a group of scientists.


‘Paradigm’ is a word that was given great meaning and clarity by Thomas Kuhn in his book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”.


“One of the things a scientific community acquires with a paradigm is a criterion for choosing problems that, while the paradigm is taken for granted, can be assumed to have solutions…A paradigm can, for that matter, even insulate the community from those socially important problems that are not reducible to the puzzle form, because they cannot be stated in terms of the conceptual and instrumental tools the paradigm supplies.”


The author notes that all “real science is normally a habit-governed, puzzle-solving activity” and not a Critical Thinking activity. Paradigm and not hypothesis is the active meaning for the ‘new image of science’. Paradigm is neither a theory nor a metaphysical viewpoint.


Kuhn’s new image of science—the paradigm—is an artifact, a way of seeing, and is a set of scientific problem solving habits. Normal science means research based upon one or more past achievements ‘that some particular community acknowledges for a time as supplying the foundation for its further practice…and these achievements are sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group pf adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity’ furthermore they are sufficiently open-ended to leave all sorts of problems for the redefined group of practitioners to solve’. Such achievements Kuhn defines as paradigm.


“A puzzle-solving paradigm, unlike a puzzle-solving hypothetico-deductive system, has also got to be a concrete ‘way of seeing’.”


Kuhn constantly refers to the ‘gestalt switch’ when discussing the switch in reference from one paradigm to another as ‘re-seeing’ action. Each paradigm has been constructed to be a ‘way-of-seeing’. Here Kuhn is speaking not about what the paradigm is but how the paradigm is used. He is defining a paradigm as a newly developed puzzle-solving artifact that is used analogically to understand another artifact; for example, using wire and beads strung together to facilitate understanding the protein molecule.


I think that we place “Science” (meaning normal science) on too high a pedestal and thereby distort our comprehension of political and social problems. We cannot solve social and political problems like we solve the questions formed by the normal sciences.


Do you think that the techniques of normal science are directly applicable for solving the social and political problems of society?

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  • 11 months later...


I think that we place “Science” (meaning normal science) on too high a pedestal and thereby distort our comprehension of political and social problems. We cannot solve social and political problems like we solve the questions formed by the normal sciences.


Do you think that the techniques of normal science are directly applicable for solving the social and political problems of society?


I'm not sure I understand the question. Science is rational, deals with facts, whereas politics and social issues often fall into the emotional category.


Very often when emotion enters in, rationale goes out the window. I would rather have a rational discussion than an emotional one. But I'm not sure if that answers your question!

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I agree that paridigm is in a sense a box that limits.


They are useful to inteligently guide direction to productivity.


They are also useful in delineating where "outside the box" thinking can be directed.


Outside the box can be risky but also rewarding.


It's understandable that the productive paradigm is supported because it produces its own support.


Limiting support for outside the box persuits minimizes downside risk.


Paradigmatic thinking, however, tends to overlook succsessful outside the box results that have been accomplished. Paradigmatic thinking should, therefore, be redefined not as a box but as a net. There would be a certain loss in efficiency but currently there are guiding paradigms that are so ald fasioned and overlook so many succsessful advances that they could be overturned with little effort.


For instance, ideas that were widely discussed in the sixties were new then as far as being widely discussed. But that was half a century ago.


Some people took some ideas and made practical technology. The communicator is an obvious example.


For obvious reasons hardware technology paradigm changes are adopted more quickly than social ones.


There are social tecnologies that have been developed but havn't been widely adopted.


One I could mention because I have personal experience with it.


We are in an economic downturn. This causes many social ills that many would say should be avoided. The downturn in sales causes layoffs so employers can reduce expenses while sales decline. As layoffs threaten, employees, fearful of finacial turmoil and loss due to inability to pay their expenses, hoard money against the future when they may be layed off. Hoarding money reduces sales thus causing a feedback loop that results in worsening downturn.


A practical solution that has been developed is a variation in unemployment insurance payout and layoff structure called "work share". Rather than all employees being threatened with layoff, and no one knowing where the ax will fall, so everyone hoarding against it. All emlpoyees in work share agree to take a certain amount of time off and collect limited unemployment for that time off.


It works like this; Lets say you have a 20% unemployment rate. In the current paradigm that would be really bad. One in 5 employees would lose their jobs. All 5 would be threatened untill the ax falls. But with workshare all 5 take one day a week off. Wor 4 days, get payed for 4 and a half and take a three day weekend.


Employees like it for obvious reasons, No loss of job, work 4 get payed for 4 1/2, three day weekend. Employers like it because when sales pick up production can be increased immediately without having the time loss and expense of retraining new workers. It doesn't cost unemployment department a dime more because the money would have been payed out anyway.


Because the employees are not nearly as afraid of losing their jobs they don't hoard money and so sales don't decline as much. The economy doesn't decline as much and recovers more quickly.


This results in greater economic flexibility generally. Downturns can be weathered with less destabilizing feedback looping. Larger downturns can be weathered as little more than a minor reduction in income. Some may even look forward to downturns.


This would be a major paradigm shift in how downturns as great as 20% unemployment are viewed and recieved.


It's already available, on the shelf in law. It just needs to be picked up an used.


It needs those who are stuck in the old paradigm of terror of a 10% decline to learn about it, promote it and use it.


The current downturn would disapear in monthsa.

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Work Share is a really great solution to a real problem.


What's the difference between 'puzzle-solving activity' and 'critical thinking activity', I thought they were the same!

A "Puzzle solving paradigm" has certain "rules". For instance a rule for solving a jigsaw puzzle is you follow the edges.


Critical thinking means that you look criticly at the rules themselves as part of the problem solving procedure. That's not really a good way of putting it. It presupposes a problem to be solved. It might be better to view it as values or exegencies to be negotiated or navigated.

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