Normal Science

The natural sciences—normal science—as Thomas Kuhn labels it in “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” move forward in a “successive transition from one paradigm to another”. A paradigm defines the theory, rules and standards of practice. “In the absence of a paradigm or some candidate for paradigm, all of the facts that could possible pertain to the development of a given science are likely to seem equally relevant.”

Practitioners of normal science are expert puzzle-solvers. “One of the things a scientific community acquires with a paradigm is a criterion for choosing problems that, while the paradigm is taken for granted, can be assumed to have solutions…One of the reasons why normal science seems to progress so rapidly is that its practitioners concentrate on problems that only their own lack of ingenuity should keep them from solving.”

I conclude that the domains of knowledge regarding business, economics and medicine are also ‘normal science’. I suspect that at least 90 % of our graduates of higher education have a degree in one of the normal sciences. Less than 10 % of our graduates have degrees in other than normal science.

Practitioners of normal science have:

  1. A paradigm that defines the theory, rules and standards of practice.
  2. Expertise as puzzle-solvers. Puzzles are assumed to have solutions.
  3. A criterion for choosing problems for solution.
  4. Concrete problems for solution i.e. problems with solutions and only lack of ingenuity causes failure.

Practitioners of other than normal sciences must depend upon their combined wisdom to muddle through problems dropped in their laps by fate. We all, in our normal routine of living, are practitioners of other than normal science. Our educational system offers all of us little preparation for the problems we encounter in life.