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Open letter to science editors

 

Of all the forces we know, there is none stronger than a paradigm.  Robert Stirniman.

New Paradigms

A few words about paradigms

A paradigm is most like a container. It is a structure that holds, handles and organizes issues and information in a related, consistent way so that the whole—greater than the sum of the parts—can be seen, and so that new information can be positioned in its place. Paradigms are not important—they are crucial. Paradigms are NOT optional; everyone has them and uses them whether they realize this or not. A good paradigm is one that is able to "contain" and organize effectively ALL the issues and information, so that as more is learned, the picture that emerges makes more and more sense. A bad paradigm is one that cannot effectively "make sense" out of some or much of the information.

A paradigm is analogous to a milk jug used for holding milk. A one gallon jug will not hold 5 gallons of milk, and if you try to pour all of it in, 4 gallons will just run over the side and be lost. If you want to receive 5 gallons of milk from the dairy, you better have 5 gallons of capacity in your container.

A paradigm is analogous to a jigsaw puzzle, within the borders of which ALL the pieces must fit. The most apt paradigm analogy is a house. Most of us live in a house that has specialized rooms for different aspects of living, and storage structure. Imagine having no drawers, shelves or closets, with everything you own all in a pile. You could only see the things on the surface. A good house is one that covers the full range of domestic activities including storage, just as a good paradigm covers the aspects of the edified life. One major difference is that even though we live in our house, we can leave it to go do non-domestic activities, but we live within our paradigm and can never leave. We can only change it.

Paradigms, Reality, and Sanity

Paradigms help us understand reality, whether that reality be scientific or theological. What is not rational nor reasonable is to hang onto a paradigm when it fails in too many significant ways, i.e., when it presents us with too many enigmas or anomalies. Neither is it rational nor reasonable, in the face of a failing paradigm it is hypocritical, to reject a new paradigm a priori without seeing if it:

  • firstly, solves major problems and resolves major issues.

  • secondly, deals with or handles issues that are thought to be handled by the old paradigm,

  • thirdly, deals consistently with more issues and/or new issues raised.

Entertaining a new paradigm is thinking outside the box!

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