Thursday, October 06, 2005

Kuhnian revolution

From sci.environment:

If this were usenet 1995 I could probably start an interesting and non-polarized digression by musing about when the last actual instance of a Kuhnian paradigm shift occurred.

The rise of physical climatology and its uneasy relationship to the established field of observational/statistical climatology actually has something in common with a Kuhninan shift.

Certainly Bill Gray is the very model of the old guard in that regard, and Reid Bryson also is a good exemplar. But really that story is more about the rise of a wholly new discipline, and the capacity of some but not all parts of a related discipline to adapt to it. I think it would make a nice history of science project to examine this. I'd venture that the critical moments in the transition were around 1980 and that many of the crucial players are around to interview.

But it's a marginal case; not really a revolution so much as coming to terms with an invasion.

dboh suggests that discovery of a new forcing may be discovered which would amount to a revolution in climatology. It might rock the boat, but it's hard to imagine it amounting to a paradigm shift. Snowball earth rocked the boat, but it didn't change the paradigm.

What profound new discoveries in the past 50 years really changed the way of thinking of *any* quantitative science?