What is a Paradigm-Shift?
Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a ladder under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the ladder and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the ladder, spray all of the monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – all the monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries, the other monkeys will leap to prevent it.
Now, put away the cold water.
Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and goes to climb the ladder. To his horror, the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt, he knows if he touches the ladder he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the ladder and is attacked. The previous newcomer joins in the punishment with enthusiasm! Then, replace a third monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time a newcomer takes to the ladder, he is attacked.
Most of the monkeys beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the ladder or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
Now let’s see what happens when a new monkey is put into this group where all the original monkeys (who had actually been sprayed with water) have been replaced one by one.
The new monkey watches the other monkeys sitting in a corner looking at the bananas. He scratches his head, and immediately heads for the ladder.
Then it happens!
When the monkeys sees the new guy heading for the ladder, they again freak out, yowling and throwing their arms in the air. They chase after him, beat him and pull him off the ladder. He doesn’t even understand why, but he wanders to a corner and sits with them, disillusioned.
After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys has ever been sprayed with cold water. Still, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.
Because ‘that’s the way it was always done.’ The monkeys in that room only knew the environment they walked into. Not because it had to be this way, but because they didn’t know anything different.
And that’s how the ‘Powers-that-be’ psychologically influence mankind. You don’t sit there thinking, “what will the government think?” – no, you sit there and think, “what will my mother think?” It is a brilliant form of conditioning to turn a human into the fictional ‘well-adjusted’ individual.
But the story is not over -
Then take all the monkeys out of the cage and put one new monkey in the room by himself. The new monkey sees the ladder, sees the bananas, and climbs the ladder. He begins to eat the bananas and discovers they aren’t ordinary bananas; they are Monkey’s Pride premium bananas! He’s hit the jackpot. He savors the taste.
A few hours later, place four of the original monkeys (who were sprayed) into the cage with this guy. Put fresh bananas.
This bothers the new guy as he figures these four guys will be up the ladder in a flash. So, he sprints to the ladder and is about to climb when the original monkeys see what’s happening and immediately grab him and start to beat him and drag him down.
But there was a difference -
This monkey had actually tasted the bananas, he knew they were good. So, he fights back, beating and kicking at the other monkeys and pulling himself up until he reaches the top of the ladder. He then picks up one of the bananas and shakes it at the other monkeys.
Now the four are confused.
But it looks safe enough now, and those bananas are going fast…
This is what I mean by a “paradigm-shift.”
- A summary of a key principle from “Lessons from the Monkey King” by Arthur F. Carmazzi.
A scientific revolution occurs, according to Kuhn, when scientists encounter anomalies which cannot be explained by the universally accepted paradigm within which scientific progress has thereto been made. The paradigm, in Kuhn’s view, is not simply the current theory, but the entire worldview in which it exists, and all of the implications which come with it. It is based on features of landscape of knowledge that scientists can identify around them. There are anomalies for all paradigms, Kuhn maintained, that are brushed away as acceptable levels of error, or simply ignored and not dealt with (a principal argument Kuhn uses to reject Karl Popper‘s model of falsifiability as the key force involved in scientific change). Rather, according to Kuhn, anomalies have various levels of significance to the practitioners of science at the time. To put it in the context of early 20th century physics, some scientists found the problems with calculating Mercury’s perihelion more troubling than the Michelson-Morley experiment results, and some the other way around. Kuhn’s model of scientific change differs here, and in many places, from that of the logical positivists in that it puts an enhanced emphasis on the individual humans involved as scientists, rather than abstracting science into a purely logical or philosophical venture.