Dark Energy Controversy: Kuhn
Kuhn sure knew what he was talking about. The dark energy controversy, the major elements of it that I’ve discussed in the previous two posts, are perfectly Kuhnian.
Recall that Kuhn says that controversies can arise when observations turn up anomalies in the theory; that is, when “nature has somehow violated the paradigm-induced expectations”.
When anomalies occur, Kuhn believes that there are two ways for them to be “made sense of” within a paradigm: the anomaly can be rejected or excused, otherwise the paradigm must be revised or reconsidered; the latter leads to moments of crisis within a paradigm.
Here, we’ve got anomalies arising from major discrepancies between observation and theory or expectation: the expansion acceleration anomaly, the enormous difference in calculated and observed values of the cosmological constant, and the coincidence problem. Attempts were made to reject the expansion acceleration anomaly through thorough flaw checking in the supernovae results and making many additional independent measurements, but the anomaly remained.
There are then three ways to resolve the crisis: putting it in the ‘too hard’ basket, dealing with it and retaining the paradigm, or adopting a new paradigm.
A new paradigm—Lambda-CDM—emerged from the expansion acceleration result, which resolved one crisis but introduced the crisis concerning the cosmological constant.
These two anomalies (the enormous difference in calculated and observed values of the cosmological constant and the coincidence problem) are interesting; some scientists appear to have, for whatever reason, found themselves able to reject or excuse them in order to maintain the Lambda-CDM model. But in general, I think that they’ve been put in the ‘too hard’ basket; it’s simply not yet possible to determine if one of the other proposed models is consistent with observation.
Win for Kuhn!
Filed under: Cosmological Constant, Dark Energy, Internal controversy, Scientific controversy theory | 1 Comment