No matter how careful you are in your research, you will eventually discover some data that does not fit your understanding of the situation. What do you do with it? Thomas Kuhn tells the story of some great leaps in science that were made when some researchers were convinced that certain data errors were not errors after all.
Upon successful completion of the course material, you will be able to:
- Evaluate the historical knowledge creation process as it regards to the scientific revolution.
- Thomas Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 4th edition (2012)
The claim that the science on a particular topic is settled has been made many times in the past; scientists trained in a particular paradigm look at data and see one picture. Data that does not fit that picture must, therefore, be data errors.
Thomas Kuhn presents a very interesting explanation of why some of the greatest leaps in science come from young scientists who see these “data errors” as the results of flaws in our theories. The Microbe nature of disease, Theory of Relativity, and semiconductors all resulted from rejecting what science had settled and seeking answers to all the data, not just the data that fit into conventional wisdom. As you begin to conduct your own research, Kuhn’s work can be helpful in keeping you from writing off data as erroneous and perhaps coming to new understandings of the world in which we live.
Prepare a discussion posting of at least 500 words that answers the following questions:
- Evaluate Kuhn’s perspective on scientific revolutions in terms of how it connects with Arbnor and Bjerke’s delineation of the research models.
- Are the paradigms identified by Arbnor and Bjerke consistent with Kuhn’s discussion of paradigmatic advancement of knowledge?
- Are there any issues with Kuhn’s key points in how knowledge advances?
- What are the advantages of a “paradigmatic approach?” What are the disadvantages?