Sunday, January 29, 2017

The complementary perspective of “scientific methods” of Popper and Kuhn for comprehending the nature of scientific BoK (Body of Knowledge)

Dear Friends,

One can find many WebPages, if he searches for “Kuhn Vs Popper”. Many of argue that there are certain differences or even conflicts between “scientific method” of Popper and Kuhn. But I think, Kuhn illustrates “how scientific disciplines progress over time”, while Popper provides guidance for “how scientific disciplines ought to be advanced”. I feel there is no conflict (but in fact they are perfectly complement each other): Dr. Kuhn illustrates that the BoK of scientific disciplines are accumulated by relying on “consensus”, for example, as geocentric paradox was evolved until 17th century by relying on 2300 years old “consensus” “the Earth is static”.

My intension is to highlight the complementary nature of their contributions. Dr. Kuhn, provided invaluable insights into the reasons or causes for hidden imperfections (e.g. untested “consensuses” or “received beliefs”) in the BoK (Body of Knowledge) of any scientific discipline. Dr. Popper provided invaluable methods for searching (e.g. for spotting), minimizing or even eliminating the imperfections.

When a new scientific discipline was in its infancy researchers (or wise men or though leaders) have no choice, and forced to agree upon certain “consensuses” (i.e. make educated assumptions perceived to be self-evident fact by relying on then available technology, evidence or knowledge). For example, 2300 years ago, it was inconceivable to imagine that the Earth is moving around the Sun, because it was mind baffling to explain, how could the Moon follow the Earth (i.e. without being left behind), if the Earth is moving at mind- boggling speed around the Sun (today we know that the speed is 28KM/Sec).

Likewise, software “thought leaders” (or wise men) agreed upon certain “consensus” 50 to 60 years ago. The research efforts of software researchers have been relying on the “consensuses” (believed to be self-evident facts) and these research efforts spanning over 50 years resulted in accumulating huge BoK (Body of Knowledge), which I must be 25 to 50 times bigger than the BoK existed in 17th century for geocentric paradox. I have been struggling for nearly a decade for exposing flawed “consensuses” (today believed to be self-evident facts for eternity) against huge resistance from the software establishment. I gained valuable insights from my not-yet successful struggles to expose the deeply entrenched flawed CBSD/CBSE (Component Based Software Design/Engineering) paradox (I call it the geocentric paradox of software engineering):

There is no exception to this important rule: Any flawed or corrupt evidence diverts any investigation into a wrong path. Likewise, any research efforts for any scientific or engineering discipline would be diverted into a wrong path, if it is rooted in (by relying on) flawed beliefs or “consensuses” (e.g. agreed by wise men by considering each “consensus” is self-evident fact).

Isn’t it common sense that any logical reasoning, investigation or analysis of evidence would end up in a wrong path, if it relies on beliefs or evidence, which turned out to be flawed (due to sloppiness or bad luck). Any scientific discipline ends up creating a complex paradox (i.e. fundamentally altered perception of reality) supported by huge BoK (Body of Knowledge), if considerable research effort is invested for advancing the mankind’s knowledge in the wrong path (without realizing the flawed “consensus” at the root) for long enough time. Such research effort relying on flawed “consensus” (considered to be self-evident facts) results in accumulating huge BoK (filed with epicycles and retrograde motions of respective discipline).

In the view of Dr. Kuhn, this kind of paradox (i.e. altered perception of reality) is a scientific crisis. A paradigm shift is replacing the huge BoK accumulated for the geocentric paradox of any scientific discipline by another better BoK, which can be considered as the heliocentric model for the scientific discipline. Dr. Popperian “scientific method” advocates that, each and every theory must be supported by falsifiable proof and empirical evidence, where the falsifiable doesn’t imply it is flawed, but every theory or fact must be open for testing and/or validation, so that it can be falsified, if and when new counter evidence can be discovered.

Dr. Kuhn never promoted relying on untested or unproven “consensuses” and never advocated that such unproven “consensuses” must be treated as sacred inalienable facts for eternity. Therefore, I see no conflict between the Kuhnian and Popperian philosophies for hard science. In my view, Dr. Kuhn illustrates causes for scientific crisis, where the crisis may be due to flawed “consensuses”, which are treated as self-evident sacred and unquestionable facts for eternity (e.g. as the belief “the Earth is static” was considered to be sacred unquestionable facts for eternity). Unfortunately, even in 21st century software has many such sacred “consensuses”.

In such scientific crisis, most researchers react as if it is sacrilegious or insulting their intelligence or offending common sense, if any one questions the validity of the “consensus”, which are at the very foundation for the paradox (i.e. deeply entrenched conventional wisdom supported by huge BoK accumulated for a long period). I am sure, Dr. Kuhn never supported this kind of behaviour. He merely said the concepts of new paradigm proposed to replace such paradox are incommensurable. He said such hostile reaction or fierce resistance may be normal (e.g. might be expected form the practitioners of established paradigm). Saying what could happen doesn’t imply supporting such uncivilized acts, when requesting proof for such untested “consensus” (considered to be sacred Truths) or requesting for an opportunity to present “counter evidence” for exposing flawed “consensus”.

The scientific method of Dr. Popper strongly advocates against such sacred unquestionable “consensus” (becoming inalienable Truths for eternity). In the view of Dr. Popper’s view, scientists and scientific method must not tolerate the very existence of such untested sacred unquestionable “consensuses”. Dr. Kuhn illustrates that such untested “consensuses” could be injected and go undetected for long enough time resulting in a crisis, and exposing flawed “consensuses” leads to revolution. So, I see there is no conflict between methods of Dr. Kuhn & Dr. Popper.

Dr. Kuhn illustrated how the scientific disciplines have been progressing, and based on the past experiences he drawn conclusion such as, scientific disciplines goes through normal scientific progress until it ends up in a crisis, which eventually be followed by a revolution and then normal scientific progress until it ends up in another crisis. But this kind of crisis to normal science to crisis could be avoided by following Dr. Popper’s scientific method. There is no sacred “consensus” for eternity and every theory or fact must be supported by publicly documented proof, reasoning and evidence, where the public proof, reasoning and evidence is open for questioning and falsification at any time by anyone.

Any theory or fact can be easily falsified by falsifying its proof. A documented proof invites intellectual debate, investigation and criticism for gaining insights such as degree of accuracy in each of the context or for iteratively improving the precision of knowledge. How could any one falsify sacred “consensus” such as “the Earth is static”, if it doesn’t have any proof? In fact, questioning such “consensus” (believed to be sacred unquestionable “self-evident fact”) insults common sense and deeply entrenched conventional wisdom. Today, software experts feel, it is disrespectful, arrogant or clever scam to question validity of many such sacred 50 to 60 old “consensuses”, which are the very foundation for the existing CBSD/CBSE paradox.

Unfortunately, software engineering ended up in such a crisis because computer science (i.e. software) has many sacred “consensuses”, which were agreed 50 to 60 years ago. It was inconceivable to invent real-software-components for achieving real-CBD for software 50 to 60 years ago, when Fortran and assembly languages were leading edge technologies. But, advancements in programming languages made it a trivial task to invent real-software-components for achieving real-CBD for software, if the nature and true essence of the CBD and essential properties uniquely and universally shared by each and every known physical component is discovered (which is possible but requires up to couple of weeks of investigation by analysing objective reality, facts, empirical evidence and examples).

The software researchers concluded and fiercely defending the 50 to 60 years old untested “consensuses”, as if they are sacred self-evident unquestionable truths for eternity. I have been facing hostile reaction and insults, whenever I try to provide counter-instances to expose the flawed “consensus”, as if it is heresy to question such sacred tenets. Unfortunately, there is no other way (except exposing the flawed consensus) to transform computer science from pseudo-science to hard-science. See top 2-paragraphs at:

The Kuhnian paradigm shift from geocentric paradox to heliocentric model transformed basic sciences from pseudo-science into hard-science. Usually the first Kuhnian paradigm shift in any scientific discipline is highly contentious (faces fierce resistance when exposing flawed “consensus”, which are considered sacred self-evident Truths by the establishment). The primeval paradigm of a scientific discipline would be filled with many “consensuses”, because knowledge and technologies were so primitive to validate or question most of them. There would be little or no concrete scientific achievements for providing sound foundation for further inquiry/research.

If one discovers anything subsequently, he must provide a falsifiable proof to be accepted. No discovery can be valid without a proof (backed by repeatable empirical evidence). Hence, no fact or theory can be added to the BoK of any mature scientific discipline without being supported by proof. But such stringent rules are often ignored or overlooked when forming primeval paradigm (i.e. the first paradigm formed when the discipline was in the infancy). For example, no one discovered (e.g. by providing a proof) and no one questioned the lie “the Earth is static” (at the root of geocentric paradox). But the Truth “the Sun is at centre” undergone the most intense scrutiny in the history of science. Likewise, no one discovered (e.g. by providing a proof) and no one yet dared to question the validity of each of the “consensuses” that are at the root of the existing deeply entrenched and huge BoK of the CBSD/CBSE paradox, where the “consensuses” were made up almost out of thin air 50 years ago, (based on wishful thinking or fantasy) without any basis in the reality or fact.

The first Kuhnian paradigm shift of any scientific discipline replaces most of such untested beliefs in the BoK (Body of Knowledge) that painted the old perception of reality (old paradigm) by comprehensive BoK comprising large set of theories or facts (each of which must be supported by proof backed by evidence and reasoning) for painting a new reality (i.e. paradigm), because the huge scepticism and resistance for the establishment ensures rigorous scrutiny of each fact and theory in the BoK for the new paradigm. Even politely requesting for proof for any sacred belief of old paradigm elicits hostile response or snubbing. Trying to present any theory or fact (in support of new paradigm) that appears to be contradicting any sacred belief of old paradigm elicits hostile response or insults. That is the reason the First paradigm shift of any scientific discipline is most complex and contentious.

Likewise, the existing CBSD paradox was rooted in 50 years old unproven sacred “consensuses”. The software experts feel offended or consider that it is sacrilegious, if anyone requests proof for such sacred “consensus”. I expected that, my scientific discoveries about the nature of components and CBD would face the most intense scrutiny. It is not a problem at all. Any real Truth shines more brightly under intense scrutiny (I enjoy such intense scrutiny – I feel, any researcher would enjoy intense scrutiny of his proud discovery). But how could any discovery even survive, if the establishment determined to deliberately ignore, hide or kill it. I didn’t expect this in the 21st century: Most software experts feel offended by the Truths and they are resorting to insults and personal attacks to silence me for kill the Truth.

Based on my struggles spanning many years to overcome software crisis and my understanding of the causes and effects of software crisis, I can’t see any conflict between philosophies of Prof. Thomas Kuhn and Sir. Karl Popper. Existing state of software crisis matches the symptoms, ill-effects and caused illustrated by Dr. Kuhn. I am also relying on Dr. Popper’s falsifiability to falsify the outdated sacred “consensus” (today perceived to be unquestionable self-evident Truths for eternity).

Dr. Kuhn never advocated or defended such sacred unquestionable “consensus”, but stated that paradigms could end up having unproven “consensus” (perceived to be self-evident facts, when the discipline was at its infancy). Of course, it is understandable why researchers end up relying of such “consensuses”, when the discipline was in its infancy and when very little is known (i.e. nothing is concrete to use as a reference or guiding principles). Dr. Popper not advocated against relying on such theories (i.e. consensus or assumptions), but insisted on documenting a proof (i.e. evidence and reasoning in support of the theory) to validate or falsify. There must be a debate based on observations before reaching each “consensus” – The observations and reasoning debated for reaching a “consensus” can be the proof. The proof can and must be open to falsifiability (if and when new counter evidence can be discovered due to advancements in technologies or scientific BoK).

I see no conflict between the views of Dr. Kuhn and Dr. Popper: In brief Dr. Kuhn sated that, each paradigm might end up with such untested “consensuses” due to certain reasons. Dr. Popper asked to document the reasons (and supporting evidence), so that they reasons can be falsified, if and when possible.

The things once considered inconceivable might become possible due to the advancements in technologies or serendipitous scientific discoveries. In science, there are no sacred unquestionable Truths for eternity. Each of the paradoxical paradigms is rooted in “consensuses” (i.e. unproven beliefs agreed to be “basic principles” that over time morphed into sacred unquestionable Truths as more and more research efforts are invested to evolve a complex paradigm by relying on them). No one ever said that it is desirable to root any scientific discipline (e.g. by relying) on such untested or unproven “consensus” (or received beliefs), because it would end up costing dearly (by diverting research efforts into a wrong path), if they are ended up flawed.

Dr. Kuhn observed that such unproven “consensuses” or “first principles” are defended or protected as if they are sacred unquestionable Truths for eternity, for example, by suppressing novelties (that can be backed by proof), which could expose flawed “consensuses”? Isn’t it sacred duty of scientists to prevent this kind of thing? Researchers are doomed to repeat such huge mistakes, if we don’t learn from such invaluable insights. For example, existing CBSD paradox is rooted in such primordial “received beliefs” (i.e. unproven consensuses perceived to be unquestionable) is an example for such primeval paradigm, which ended up costing a trillion to the world economy by wasting efforts and hard work of software researchers and engineers for perfecting or practicing the geocentric paradox of software engineering.

Both Kuhn and Popper provided highly complementary perspectives (e.g. as two sides of a coin) for better understanding and gaining deeper insights about various states and progress of the BoK for scientific disciplines and scientific method, where Popper promoted ideal scientific method (e.g. by providing guidance for future scientific advancements), while Kuhn describes the state and progress of the BoK for scientific disciplines (by using the historical knowledge and experiences as reference). I feel, each of them provide complementary perspective into the “philosophy of sciences” and “scientific method”, which are extremely valuable to gain deeper insights to comprehend the very nature of scientific knowledge and BoK.

I learned valuable lessons from my unique passionate research spanning 15 years that, any research effort for advancing any discipline would be diverted into a wrong path, when it started relying on flawed “received beliefs”. The discipline end up as a paradox, if huge research efforts are invested for long enough time by relying on the flawed beliefs (without realizing the error) for accumulating huge BoK. Kindly keep in mind mankind still would be in the dark ages, if the error at the root of geocentric paradox were not yet exposed. The efforts (and hard work) of researchers (and practitioners of the field) would still be wasting on comprehending the inexplicable epicycles of the geocentric paradox. Today software researchers wasting their efforts and hard work on comprehending the geocentric paradox of software engineering.

Best Regards,

Raju Chiluvuri

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