11 June 2006

Why Science (& software) "sticks"

A chap named Hubert Yockey, in a book on info theory & molecular biology, made an interesting (and relevant, I think) claim.

Once a scientific paradigm is accepted (textbooked) & regardless of any inadequacies, it is kept until an acceptable replacement is available.

Yep, that sounds like a paradigm to me.

He also says that in order to make progress in science, we need to “clear the decks” of failed paradigms — & this is the important part... this must be done even when it leaves the “decks” entirely clear, without any “acceptable” paradigms; and he does go on to say that “In science it is a virtue to acknowledge ignorance”.

What I’m guessing is widely happening today is that many paradigms are being supported as one supports a footy team: strongly, & pretty much regardless of their individual merits.

This approach ain’t science, it’s about political & social operations.

If so, then it’s no wonder we see science sticking with untenable positions: the scientists effectively aren’t being allowed to choose better stances, because none have been “accepted” by anyone authoritative.

That means trash to their careers — it seems — should they dare to try.

And... “accepted” how?

Why, according to political and social principles founded — basically — on the status quo — which ain’t working, else there’d be no urge to find new principles to replace them with.

That’s fairly strong incentive to not try new stuff... & knock me down with a feather if that isn’t happening to computer software as well — at least until FOSS gets a foot in the, er... door.

This would explain why large software companies often fear FOSS: it’s geared towards end-user needs, not so much the software company’s urge to control everything right now down to the last dot and dash.

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