December 27, 2006

Kuhn't Answer The Question

Finally reading through the copy of Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" on my shelf and I am struck that Kuhn never answers the darn question --> What is the Nature of a Scientific Revolution?

He writes in very long and very thick paragraphs with endless sentences. But he does manage to introduce the world to the concept of "paradigm" (to the delight of business consultants and pop psychologists everywhere) and he tells us that "normal science" is different from a scientific revolution (thanks .. didn't know that) and he relates that when researchers find "anamolies," they may or may not cause a "paradigm-shifting crisis."

IMHO - here's the money quote from the whole book:
(paragraph 8; Section 8 "Response to a Crisis:")
It follows that if an anomaly is to evoke crisis, it must usually be more than just an anomaly. There are always difficulties somewhere in the paradigm-nature fit; most of them are set right sooner or later, often by processes the could not have been foreseen. The scientist who pauses to examine every anomaly he notes will seldom get significant work done. We therefore have to ask what it is that makes an anomaly seem worth concerted scrutiny, and to that question there is probably no general answer
His best answer that I could find is that a persistent anomaly often leads to a scientific revolution. Agree, but why is it persistent?