March 1980

Are We in the Midst of a Revolution?

Author Affiliations

From Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital, and the Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.

Am J Dis Child. 1980;134(3):303-310. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1980.02130150057016

In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn wrote:

Normal science... is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like. Much of the success of the enterprise derives from the community's willingness to defend that assumption, if necessary at considerable cost. Normal science, for example, often suppresses fundamental novelties because they are necessarily subversive of its basic commitments, but... the very nature of normal research ensures that novelty shall not be suppressed for very long.

Major turning points in [the] scientific development [of the physical sciences] are associated with the names of Copernicus, Newton, Lavoisier, and Einstein. Each of them necessitated the community's rejection of one time-honored scientific theory in favor of another incompatible with it. They transformed the world in which scientific work was done. Such changes, together with the controversies that almost always accompany them, are the defining characteristics of