It is 50 years since The Structure of Scientific Revolutions presented a radically different perspective on the way scientists carry out their work. Most readers of this book would have been familiar with the scientific method, which sets out the way science is supposed to work. But the textbook “scientific method” underplays the creative contributions provided by scientists, and Thomas Kuhn knew that the history of science provides abundant evidence showing that human factors deserve a much higher profile in our thinking. Yet he knew his book was iconoclastic:
“Kuhn was not at all confident about how Structure would be received. He had been denied tenure at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a few years before, and he wrote to several correspondents after the book was published that he felt he had stuck his neck “very far out”. Within months, however, some people were proclaiming a new era in the understanding of science. One biologist joked that all commentary could now be dated with precision: his own efforts had appeared “in the year 2 B.K.”, before Kuhn. A decade later, Kuhn was so inundated with correspondence about the book that he despaired of ever again getting any work done.”
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