Perhaps Some Experts Cannot Change Their Minds—Further Observations of Thomas Kuhn (2nd of 2)

Kuhn’s Theory May Explain Resistance to Ralph D. Winter’s “Two Structures” Paradigm

The reader is familiar with the term paradigm shift. Thomas Kuhn coined this term in 1962 when he wrote The Structures of Scientific Revolutions. A paradigm shift occurs when a scientist is vexed by the number or value of anomalies,[1] or problems, with a familiar theory.

For example, there were problems with Ptolemy’s idea of the arrangement of the planets, but for centuries no one offered a better idea:

Ptolemy’s Paradigm of the Solar System

A man or woman proposes a new paradigm to explain what is “really there.”[2] This new paradigm is incompatible with the existing, long-accepted paradigm. Thus, in 1543 Copernicus wrote his reasons for believing that the planets revolve around the sun:

Copernicus’ Paradigm of the Solar System

An argument ensued; experts took sides. They were forced to choose between separate, incompatible paradigms.

Resistance to a better paradigm. According to Kuhn some scientists resist a better paradigm (that is, resist a “paradigm shift”) for psychological reasons. They are “intolerant of those theories invented by others.”[3] Scientists make sentimental, “quasi-metaphysical commitments”[4] to a familiar but faulty paradigm. Older scientists often suppress novel ideas because these subvert their long-cherished notions.[5] In other words, so-called experts, even teachers at the university level, may hold on to what they are familiar with and disregard new, contrary evidence. This “unscientific” resistance to paradigm shift is of great interest to Kuhn. Resistance for sentimental reasons is always a factor. “The transfer of allegiance from paradigm to paradigm is a conversion experience that cannot be forced.”[6] When a new paradigm is “intuitively obvious,” Kuhn writes, not all scientists embrace it. Other scientists resist because their minds are not acting on logic but on psychological factors. “Such scientists are not yet and may never be ‘converted.’” [7] “The transfer of allegiance from paradigm to paradigm is a conversion experience that cannot be forced.” [8]  

Blincoe. Thus, some scientists cannot change their minds because their minds are made up. The minds of Christian leaders may be closed as well. Resistance to paradigm shift may help explain the inclination of some church leaders to oppose Ralph D. Winter’s “Two Structures” paradigm. I have let the critics speak for themselves in several blogs, such as this here and here. Most church leaders hold to a “One Structure” theory of Christianity.

Of course, the “Two Separate Administrative Structures” paradigm I am promoting may be mere piffle; I may be wrong and if a vote were taken the majority of Christian leaders would be critical. Time will tell and truth will out. Perhaps one day a critic will write, “I see it your way now, Dr. Blincoe. Thank you for helping me understand what you mean by “Lightning and Flint.” Most of all, let us study the Bible, for I am persuaded of a biblical basis for Separate Administrations for Churches and Mission Agencies.  

[1] Ibid., 53.

[2] Ibid., 206.

[3] Ibid., 24.

[4] Ibid., 41.

[5] Ibid., 5.

[6] Ibid. p. 151

[7] Ibid. 150

[8] Ibid. p. 151