Monday, April 27, 2020

Kuhn’s Theory of “Bandwagon Effects” in Science

The extreme measures that many “expert” scientists and doctors are advocating for dealing with the coronavirus problem makes me remember the “bandwagon effect” that Thomas Kuhn has described in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn says that the view of the scientific community is strongly influenced by a bandwagon effect. The scientists are not open-minded. They do not base their views on evidence. They do not conduct proper experiments. Instead of being objective, they tend to view the world in terms of the prevailing paradigm (by “paradigm” Kuhn means an overwhelming consensus on what a scientific view ought to be). Over a period of time, the paradigm leads to the accumulation of anomalies, which the scientists address by allowing gradual divergences—this process leads to paradigm breakdown and the rise of a new paradigm. The work of scientists, according to Kuhn, is not fully rational. It is a sociological enterprise.

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