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firstname.lastname@example.org got it wrong..., 17. August 1999
As a scientist and someone who has always loved this book, I wanted to try and clarify Kuhn's message for Chris.
Kuhn is NOT arguing that anything that silly socio-psychobabble that all science is colored by personal perspective, and therefore faulty. What Kuhn doing is making the essential connection between the immutable fact and the people discovering and interpreting it. Scientists collect facts and build from them an idea of how things work as a whole. This is what he calls a paradigm. It thoroughly describes our reality as we have thus far been able to describe it. BUT: when a fact is discovered that does not fit this paradigm, the reality itself is discarded, and after a bit of chaos, a new paradigm is installed. Thus, science uses fact to produce a way of interpreting the world that more and more closely approximates reality. Point is, until anyone proves otherwise, the paradigm in place is the one that works. Science is the continual establishment and discarding of these paradigms as fact permits.
While this seems simple now, when it came out it was a revolutionary contradiction to the staid and now seemingly antiquated belief that science is a clean, steady progression to a full understanding of all phenomena. Truth is that, as Kuhn so elegantly illustrates, it moves by jumps and starts, with periodic changes in the equilibrium of things.