Editor's comment

Thomas Kuhn's book produced a revolution in the way we think about change in science and introduced the word "paradigm" into public discourse.

A paradigm is a collection of understandings constructed and shared by members of a given group of people.
Examples abound. There are not only scientific but political, religious and ethnic communities. The people of these communities share a set of beliefs, concepts, and procedures that shape what is done, what is acceptable and what is not.

Because a shift in paradigm can create a new world-view the process described by Kuhn for scientific revolutions illuminates intellectual revolutions as well.

Kuhn, Thomas S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd Edition, 1970, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637 [abstract– 170 words] — how fundamental changes in thinking come about.

Kuhn introduces the term ‘normal science.’ He defines it as the ongoing investigative work based upon past scientific achievements and generally accepted theory. Students who want to become members of the scientific community study those past scientific achievements and theory. As workers in the discipline, they accept the current scientific paradigm and become part of a particular research tradition. Their careers are spent searching for facts that will confirm and enlarge the paradigm. Kuhn calls this the business of normal science.

But new and unsuspected phenomena are repeatedly uncovered by scientific research. “As more and more anomalies to the existing paradigm are found, a crises situation develops. Attempts are made to ‘fix’ the old paradigm. If the fix is unsatisfactory and an alternative paradigm is proposed that includes both the old and new facts, a scientific revolution occurs.”
The resulting paradigm shift causes scientists to see the world they study in a new way. Old instruments are used in new ways, new experiments are conceived and unexpected avenues of investigation open