The joy of scientific revolutions:
Thomas S.Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions part of Foundations of the Unity of Science The University of Chicago Press Chicago 1962 holds that science proceeds in two fashions. 

During “normal science” (his quotes) a particular field is dominated, illuminated and systematized by a “paradigm.”  The basic rules of the field are agreed upon by the scientists in the – rather exclusive – field.  The paradigm is the basis of understanding.  Newton’s laws of motion for instance constituted a paradigm.  1) An object will remain at rest or travel in a straight line until acted upon by a force.  2) An object will accelerate at a rate that is proportional to a force acting upon it and inversely proportional to its mass.  3) For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  4) Every object is attracted to every other object by a force that is proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. 

Obviously that is plenty to work on for a long time.  Things have to be measured.  Measurements must increase in accuracy.  New things to which the laws might apply are to be sought.  But the rules themselves are not to be questioned with impunity. 

Then normal science is punctuated by episodic “paradigm shifts.”  Problems with the paradigm accumulate.  Efforts to explain results in a way that conforms to the old paradigm become ever more strenuous.  Eventually there is a new paradigm, like the theory of relativity which announces, among other things, that a mass represents energy and that energy equals the mass times the speed of light squared. 

Paradigm shifts are preceded by a kerfuffle among those involved but rather invisible to the outside world.  The new paradigm is regarded as an advance, as an addition to prior knowledge and the loss of the old paradigm is little regarded.

Let me extend the view a bit and indulge in a metaphor.  Let us imagine an initial stage, a time when nobody had an interest in the issue at all.  Maybe I should refer to it as the fetal stage.  The fetus has little opportunity to wonder at the beauty, the complexity and the tapestry of life.  I must caution you that this may some day prove to be a testable idea.  If the imaging of neurological events were to advance sufficiently one might find a pattern for “wonder” in the adult brain and find that a fetus has the same pattern in response to Mozart.  Maybe instead of a fetus I should suggest a toad or a toadstool.  Come on; there has to be something out there that doesn’t give a flip about the world.  I’ll call it the toadstool phase.  When nobody has the slightest interest in a kind of event, they are at the toadstool level.  Toadstools do not dream of the stars. 

Next comes the childhood level.  The child looks at the world with wonder, with joyous amazement.  At least that’s what they sometimes look like to me.  At that point in science people notice things.  “I lift up mine eyes unto the hills.”  One can gaze at the splendor of the colors of fall leaves in some parts of the old.  One can contemplate the downright weirdness of so many animals.  And one can work at it.  There were bestiaries and treatises on natural history long before we had what we would call modern science.  If you have not gathered in your breath at the sight of the night sky either your vision is not good or you live near too many lights or the air is never clear or you have no capacity for wonder. 

Next comes the adolescent stage.  There is the impulse to systematize and understand everything.  At least there was among my friends when I was an adolescent.  In science that is a stage at which there are multiple theories being bandied about, none able to account for everything and none consistent with the others.  There is a relic from the Stone Age.  Somebody took the shoulder blade of an animal and scratched out diagrams of the phases of the moon.  If you count the images, he missed a few nights.  Maybe it was raining.  There is no way to know what he was thinking, but it certainly would appear that he was trying to make sense of it. 

Then comes the mature stage.  The Paradigm is made … discovered … announced … accepted … I don’t know.  There is a paradigms and everybody buys into it and does Normal Science.  (my capitals) 
They scrutinize, they measure, they exhaust their brains trying to be clever enough to solve this problem or that problem – points where the paradigm does not seem to apply simply.  And usually such efforts are successful.  At this time the paradigm is the expected.  And people see what they expect to see.  If an innocent observer familiar with cards is briefly shown an anomalous card, say a six of hearts but with the hearts black instead of red, he will be able to name the card with confidence as one of the cards he expects.  He will not notice anything strange at all.  Given a longer exposure he will become quite uncomfortable until he realizes the cheat and from then on as he is shown more cards the anomaly is expected and is dealt with with the same efficiency as with ordinary cards. 

Then comes senility.  The anomalies of the paradigm accumulate to the point where they become unbearable.  Eventually a new paradigm is made … you get the picture.  The field is then reborn, not as an infant, but as a young mature adult.  Scientists never say, “We really don’t have a paradigm here.  Just at the moment things aren’t making sense.”  The old paradigm is clutched to the heart until the new is assured. 

Science never returns to childlike wonder.  From time to time somebody seems to try.  He may say, “Billions and billions of stars” in a haunting tone.  But those billions are only visible with a telescope.  You can’t really see them.  Indeed one can experience wonder through a telescope.  The first sight of the Andromeda galaxy struck some deep cord in me.  I thought, “Yes.  It really could be looking back at me.”  Or a part of it could, you know.  A part more or less my own size using an instrument kind of like my own.  But that wonder is no part of science.  We are invited to look at the paradigm with wonder but generally not the real world.

So what about what I am trying to do?  I am trying to get people to notice something that I consider well established in the literature with obvious and inescapable practical implications.  I seized on it the first time I saw incontrovertible evidence.  And independent incontrovertible evidence continues to accumulate.  But others seem to regard it as an anomaly.  It doesn’t fit the paradigm.  It isn’t in the deck.  It’s just a nuisance. 

So am I looking for a paradigm shift?  Not really.  There isn’t a paradigm.  A. J. Nicholson announced decades ago that a population will grow without limit.  Malthus beat him to it by many years.  But that is not to say that either of them even considered the possibility that kinship might be a factor in fertility.  Ignoring that, the logic of infinite exponential growth to the limits of the environment is inescapable.

So if there is no paradigm, then it really is not yet science.  Does that mean we are at the youthful questioning stage of pre-science, with efforts to systematize, with conflicting theories of varying appeal?  Nope.  I hear “choice” from time to time, but never a theory that addresses the facts.  Choice has been ruled out but nobody else has come up with a theory. 

So we must be pre-adolescent.  We might be at the stage of child like wonder.  But we aren’t.  We don’t have the poetry, the imagery, the fascination that wonder elicits.  There is a poem by a Japanese genius describing walking around his garden drunk looking at the night sky.  There is the Crusader’s Hymn going back almost a thousand years.  In form it is a devotional piece, but the imagery is that of the beauty of nature.  We don’t have anything like that on the issue of kinship and fertility.  There are a precious few papers that are relevant.  There is no myth.

So if we are not even at the childhood level, where?  We are in the toadstool phase.  Historical precedent suggests it will be thousands of years before it becomes science.  I hope that is wrong.

There have been 51,897 toadstools so far.

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