What is a paradigm shift? 

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The term "paradigm shift" was popularized by Thomas Kuhn's important book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In short, a paradigm was a generally agreed-upon set of ideas, laws, and applications. Paradigms changed, or shifted, when a significant amount of experts no longer agreed upon these ideas, and came up with new ones. This required the creation of new ideas, a new vocabulary for expressing these ideas, and even new sets of ethical premises that accompanied them. For this reason, Kuhn argues, paradigm shifts do not happen very often, and when they do, they deserve the title "scientific revolution," even though they are the culmination of a very slow process. Since the book was published in the early 1960s, however, the term "paradigm shift" has gained widespread usage, and is often used in business, politics, and other areas to connote the importance of visionary thinking.


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