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Discussion > Emergence and Decline of Scientific Paradigms

Physical Review Letters

A very interesting study of how ideas spread and become dominating scientific theories.
One thing I would like to ask myself. When politicians get involved and invest their future in a scientific theory and channel the research money to the proponent of this theory - how long time can they hold the next theory back?

Mar 14, 2011 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnut Witberg

Interesting stuff Knut - thank you for the link.

25 years ago I read a book by an author whose name now escapes me (age I'm afraid) but he had constructed a very successful business in the USA after WW11. He picked up the techniques he used as a young Intelligence Officer analysing German newspapers during the war. They were able to obtain copies about a week after publication and they knew that most facts in the articles would be censored to avoid giving useful information away. But they just analysed the number of articles about a given topic or happenings and looked for trends and ignored the detail.

His post war business did similar with 500 newspapers in the USA. He advised companies in the US on coming and dying trends. He had staff who would search each paper and allocate each article to a given category, under headings like "Nuclear War", Womens' Lib", "the economy", "unemployment" etc. etc. You get the idea - obviously it will be less laborious today with OCR software and the like, but in the early days it was all done by hand.

He reckoned that society as a whole can not worry about more then six things at once, and as a new concern joins the mix, then one of the others has to fall off the back.

I suppose this applies both to science and politics?

Mar 14, 2011 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave