We had an interesting discussion in Ecosystems Ecology today (ECOL 610) on how science progresses. We listed the following processes by which science makes incremental changes. These include:
- Testing hypotheses. Sometimes these results can weaken existing paradigms.
- Development of new theories, hypotheses, paradigms or predictions.
- Synthesis of previously disconnected sub-disciplines or of existing data
- New observations
- Acceptance of a new view (almost a social dynamic)
- Emergence of “rogue” personalities who press a new agenda
- Communication of ideas
- New technologies for: observing nature, analyzing data, reducing the cost/difficulty of doing science, increased accuracy/precision in observation, conducting new experiments.
I had not previously considered the social factors.