New ideas replace old ideas, and sometimes the whole way we view the world is shifted, rather than just modified.
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Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, people are often reluctant to accept this shift in the way we view the world. This led the scientific philosopher Thomas Kuhn to propose that science progresses as a result of a series of revolutions. But if other scientists have similar hypotheses, there is a build up of opposition to the existing paradigm. Then scientists and us will look at the world in a different way, through a new paradigm.
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It is clear why people since prehistoric times have believed that the earth is static, and the celestial bodies revolve around us. This he seemed to do after years and years of calculations. Because gravity played obviously no part in his paradigm, he could do basically what he wanted with the planets, so their orbits could involve moving at inconsistent speeds and even reversing at points. But contrary to popular belief, the Catholic Church did not oppose his ideas, and even encouraged him to publish further works.
Thomas Kuhn: the man who changed the way the world looked at science
But how does this change our perception of reality? Perhaps it is easier to consider smaller paradigms. What was the world like before mobile phones?
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Before iPods? Before Skype? Extend this a little further: what was life like before medical advances that we take for granted, like anaesthetic or antiseptics?
What other paradigm shifts in science have you been aware of during your life time, or that of your parents? What paradigms can we talk about in other areas of knowledge? Cite this page as: Dunn, Michael. How has scientific progress shaped our worldview?
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