When one think’s of a scientist, the first one that comes to mind is Albert Einstein. Now how would someone define science today? That’s a word that can have multiple definitions depending on the audience that you are discussing this subject with. Albert Einstein was a famous physicists, that changed how people viewed science. Actually, science is a complex and broad subject that most people associate with Einstein, Newton, or Aristotle.
Having someone sitting in a lab all day, trying to solve the world’s problems. The great part about science, is that you have to be able to replicate your experiment or hypothesis multiple times for it to become credible. In Thomas Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, he takes an in depth look at the term “science” and the way a scientist must navigate to verify new work, and replacing old scientific discoveries with new scientific discoveries.Order now
Kuhn begins by defining who a scientist is, and how they become the “Albert Einstein’s” of the science world. According to Kuhn, a scientist is someone that works within a community that shares a common set of practices, rules, and beliefs that sculpt their work.
Therefore, when an aspiring scientist is trying to make their way into the science world, they usually work underneath an established scientist who acts as their mentor. The mentor, is someone that already has a set system that he or she believes in and persuades the up and coming scientist with their beliefs. Once the scientist graduates to working on his own, his work is ultimately under the same umbrella as his mentor’s. Kuhn referred to this as “normal science.”
Basically, normal science is when an aspiring scientist is molded into a new scientist within this community, by a previous scientists beliefs and methods. A problem with “normal science”, is that the scientist only follows his beliefs and practices, and not trying new systems or methods out. The issue with “normal science”, is that they aren’t challenging previous methods. Only rival communities can force a shift in current beliefs or practices.
Kuhn uses the word paradigm throughout the book, and is essentially the framework scientist need to explain how the world works or nature. You can also think of this paradigm as a standard or benchmark that scientist must meet for this new theory or practice to become common practice. This allows for other scientists to try these methods and see if they get the same results.
The more outliers, the more likely the paradigm isn’t true and a new one must be composed. Usually, outliers lead to questions that need to be answered, which are used to understand the topic to a greater extent and replace the existing paradigm or theory. Also, a paradigm allows for research across the world to be conducted in a translatable and unified way. That leads me into the next point, how do we change an existing paradigm?
Kuhn describes how an unforeseen stress or event can interrupt the idea of “normal science”, and lead to a “scientific revolution.” Usually when one thinks about a revolution, they usually think about the American Revolution. Basically, an existing paradigm is under change due to an event or new fact, and the existing models are reevaluated and revamped due to these new fact and produce a new and improved paradigm.
This is why scientist are needed to this day, and why science is an ever evolving subject. If research was done on the previous observation, then scientists must go back and reinvestigate this experiment with the new paradigm. Imagine where we would be if we just assumed that the initial theory was correct? Imagine if Benjamin Franklin didn’t discover electricity or if we didn’t have computers? We rely on these scientific discoveries and inventions in our everyday life. Science impacts our life everyday.
Thomas Kuhn pushed the envelope with his work in The Structure of Scientific revolutions, and our thought process when it came to science. Instead of using the standard route to describe science, he took a more methodical approach. Kuhn was as step ahead for his time, he understood that the universe was always evolving, and scientist should always challenge previous scientific discoveries. Without these challenges we wouldn’t be where we are today.
As an aspiring dentist, its amazing to see the evolution of dentistry. For instance growing up my sister was placed into braces to correct the alignment of her teeth. Today, a patient can go to their dentist who is trained in Invisalign, and be placed in a set of retainers that is equivalent to braces in some cases.