Tag Archives: scientific paradigms

Resistance

This post is really about clearing out an idea that has been bouncing around in my head so that I can focus on the more important things that I want to say. It is about having a concept on the possibility and status of progressive change within a scientific paradigm. Fair warning, I go a little artsy talking about likelihood.

RESISTANCE

The night sky has been beautifully clear here over the Winter solstice. We have a low exposure to earth glow so we have had a wonderful view of the Milky Way, Venus and the Moon. I was aware, looking at the stars, that I was really looking back through billions of years of time, to where those stars were billions of years ago. It is such a contrast to the perspective of the Druids of Stonehenge, whose understanding of the workings of the universe were so much simpler. Although the modern perspective on the universe is far advanced on the Druids, there are still some aspects of science which in the distant future will be regarded as curiously and sadly limited.

Big picture scientific ideas can be as resistant to change as the belief structures of religious organisations. While science does not have a formally structured organisation, it can be considered as a structure of organised thought. This structure becomes resistant to change when it gravitates to consensus. It is in this context that I make the following observations, where the practice of science is regarded as an organisation.

The focus of this article is a laminated A4 poster, Figure 1 below, attached to the wall in our office as a permanent reminder of the need for change and improvement. It describes a formula attributed to a David Gleicher describing how organisational change only happens when the product of the drivers of change exceeds the magnitude of the factors that are the cause of resistance to change.

image

Figure 1: A formula, d x v x f > r , describing the likely success or failure of an organisational change program where change happens when d, you have dissatisfaction with things as they are now and v, a vision of what is possible and have a plan for f, the first step towards your vision where the product of these three factors needs to be greater than r, your resistance to the change.

It is my intention here to access change within a scientific paradigm, specifically climate change, to describe the likelihood of change within scientific opinion at some time in the future. It’s quite possible that social scientists may have already analysed science and other fields from this perspective, so this may not be an original concept, but it is new to me and to my mind worth a post.

A simple example of a possible application of the formula is at a personal level, where it describes the likelihood of me changing my personal opinion on certain scientific paradigms.                                                            Where,
d, is a dissatisfaction with a scientific hypothesis,
v, having an alternative vision to the one expressed by the hypothesis, and
f, planing a way to express my alternative perspective, which in this case is writing.
Where the product of
d x v x f needs to be greater than,
r, my apathy towards taking the time to make the effort to write, and my inability to think freely and arrange my thought clearly to present an independent perspective.

A higher order application of the formula can be made when science itself is viewed as an organisation. Then the formula can be applied to change within a scientific paradigm and to the development of scientific knowledge.                                                                                                                         Where
d, is dissatisfaction with regard to the compliance of the hypothesis with the scientific method,
v, is having observations which are at odds with the hypothesis, and
f, having an alternative model, as a first step, to explain the observations.
Where the product of
d x v x f needs to be greater than
r, the resistance of the scientific establishment to relinquish the nostalgic attachment to the prevailing paradigm and embrace change.

There are some notable examples of this happening in science, specifically within physics, including the heliocentric view of the universe paradigm and the late 19th century version of the black body radiation theory.

A scientific paradigm that is going through the process of change at the moment is climate change, or more correctly the Global Warming Hypothesis. I think this approach can be used to make a subjective assessment of the extent and rate of change within the paradigm.  Where,
d, is the dissatisfaction with the CAGW hypothesis and its failure to make any accurate predictions,
v, is the plateau, where the observations directly contradict the hypothesis, and
f, is a range of climate forcings which, are a first step of a plan to, collectively provide an alternate model to the greenhouse global warming hypothesis. Some of these forcings would include variations in TSI and the total effect of the sun on the earth’s climate, the effects of galactic radiation and albedo, ocean currents, the Iris Effect and the cooling effects of the dynamics of clouds at the equator.
Where the product of
d x v x f needs to be greater than
r, the difficulty socially progressive scientists have, in divorcing the practice of their science from the politics of science, to recognise that all the excuses they have made to explain the failure of the CAGW hypothesis to warm the planet are false.

Placing a form of value on each of these variables may be useful in accessing how the process of change is progressing over time. Such values could be generated with a probability/ likelihood grid, but I do not propose to address that issue. It would be a post in itself. So if there is not going to a attempt at quantifying the factors in the formula, what is my point? Well, the purpose was to prime you as a reader for my next few posts, where I will use the variables of the formula d x v x f> r , as chapter headings in an essay on some prevailing scientific paradigms with which I am dissatisfied.
The formula poster was reproduced with the kind permission of
Thomas Meier
Business Success Partner
Thexton Armstrong Meier
Thomas F. Meier@tfmeier

An update note,
In my last post, Taming Horticulture, I mentioned that I did not understanding a reference by Judith Curry, that climate change is not a tame problem. About a month later (maybe March) I came across a simple explanation of a simple concept. It turns out that a tame problem is one that can be explained in a simple linear relationship. While a problem that is not tame is one that is chaotic nonlinear, i.e.: one that is described by a complex curve. But the link that I had to that post seems to have gone missing.  No loss really, this editor will not let me place links where I want them regardless.
Cheers